In The Know: Regents seek funding increase, new Oklahoma health laws now in effect, and more

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

Monday is the deadline to apply to join our team as a Spring intern: We are still accepting applications for paid, part-time internships in our Tulsa and Oklahoma City offices during the Spring 2020 semester. The deadline to apply to join our team is Monday, November 11 at 5:00 p.m. Click here to learn more and apply today.

In The News

Oklahoma State Regents seek funding increase for higher education: The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education are asking lawmakers for a $125 million budget increase during the 2020 legislative session. The regents voted unanimously Thursday morning to pass a budget request that would increase the state’s appropriation to colleges and universities to $927 million. The request, formally called the system’s “budget needs,” serves as a wishlist. Historically, state lawmakers have not granted the requests. [KOSU] OK Policy: A recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that higher education funding cuts have had numerous negative impacts on students and their families.

How Oklahoma’s new health laws will affect you, from short-term health policies to eye clinics: At the beginning of November, hundreds of new laws took effect in Oklahoma, including a big change to short-term health policies. Driven by rising premiums for Affordable Care Act plans, interest in short-term insurance is growing, boosted by Trump administration efforts to ease Obama-era restrictions that limited the duration of the plans to just three months. [StateImpact Oklahoma] OK Policy took a look at short-term insurance plans, noting they often leave people without the care they need when disaster strikes. 

Mother to be freed after 15 years in prison for father’s abuse: A domestic violence survivor will walk free on Friday, her lawyer said, after spending 15 years in prison for failing to report that her boyfriend was also abusing their children. Her boyfriend, Robert Braxton Jr., who pleaded guilty to child abuse, received a 10-year suspended sentence and was released on probation after having served two years in jail [New York Times] Tondalao Hall’s sentence drew attention to Oklahoma’s harsh sentencing laws. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal justice reform advocate gets her own pardon 17 years after leaving prison: Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a pardon for Rhonda Bear in front of a packed house Thursday. Childhood trauma led Bear into a cycle of addiction, culminating in losing her children and serving 19 months in prison. [Public Radio Tulsa] About half the town of Claremore seemed to be crammed into a tiny coffee shop on Will Rogers Boulevard, cheering for Rhonda Bear, crying for joy and wanting to shake her hand. [Tulsa World] There wasn’t a dry eye in the place. [Claremore Progress]

(Audio) Mass inmate release, permitless carry concerns, President Trump highway & more: During This Week in Oklahoma Politics, the hosts discuss the commutation of more than 500 prisoners in state custody, the concerns growing from law enforcement and citizens over permitless carry, and the State Supreme Court listening to the challenge of a controversial alcohol distribution law. [KOSU]

OK insurance commissioner won’t enforce pharmacy choice law pending litigation: Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Glen Mulready will not enforce many provisions of a law that is intended to give patients the right to choose a pharmacy provider without paying a penalty while the measure faces a legal challenge. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Mobile ID made widely available: More than 12,000 Oklahomans have acted to get mobile identification cards that may largely replace plastic driver’s licenses and other older-style, state-issued ID cards in the future. [Journal Record]

OKCPD wants to hire a scientist to analyze internal data: The Oklahoma City Police Department has created a new position that will analyze mountains of data with the goal of making the department more efficient. OKCPD has data analysts, but the focus is on crime statistics. This job instead would sift through the millions of lines of information produced in the administrative side of the department, like fleet management, computer-aided dispatch, records management system and investigator caseload. [The Oklahoman]

Open seat on OKC school board still vacant for southeast side: An empty seat on the Oklahoma City School Board remains vacant, as the state’s largest school district has yet to receive any applications for the position. The board extended the application deadline to Nov. 20 for the District 7 seat. [The Oklahoman]

Outside activists threatening energy industry, industry alliance reports: Heavily funded, out-of-state activists are threatening Oklahoma’s oil and gas resources and vast pipeline network, a consumer energy group warned in a recent report. [CNHI]

Cherokee Nation proposal could cut funding to public schools that prohibit students from observing cultural practices: The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council will weigh a proposal that, if passed, grants the tribe power to deny vehicle tag funds to schools that prohibit Native American students from observing cultural practices during events such as graduations. [Tulsa World]

Attorney discusses impact of Murphy case on tribes: A pending case before the U.S. Supreme Court has captured the attention of many in Northeast Oklahoma, because it will address the question of whether Congress disestablished the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation. [CNHI]

Muscogee (Creek) primary results stand, for now: On Thursday morning, Muscogee (Creek) Nation District Court Judge Jeremy Pittman dismissed a motion from Principal Chief candidate Bim Stephen Bruner to allow tardy absentee ballots to be included in the count from Saturday’s primary election. [Tulsa World]

Native American woman hopes to make history with first US Congress seat: Giving a Native American tribe a seat in Congress would “send a huge message” to the world, the woman poised to make history as the first delegate to formally represent an indigenous community in the U.S. House of Representatives has said. The right of the Cherokee Nation, home of the largest U.S. tribe, to take a seat in Congress dates back to treaties signed in the 18th and 19th centuries. [Reuters]

Honoring Native American Heritage Month in Oklahoma: November is a significant time for the Cherokee Nation and other tribal nations across the United States. This is the time that we commemorate Native American Heritage Month. Long before there was a United States, Native people on this continent were thriving. [CNHI]

Quote of the Day

“I’m hoping that I’ve paved the way for the men and women coming behind me to know that they can get their pardon, that just because they wear the label of felon doesn’t mean that it has to stop them from accomplishing anything.” 

-Rhonda Bear, a criminal justice reform advocate who was pardoned by Gov. Stitt on Thursday [Public Radio Tulsa]

Number of the Day

26,000

The estimated number of children living with incarcerated parents in Oklahoma in 2017

[Source: Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Researchers say there’s a simple way to reduce suicides: Increase the minimum wage: Since 2000, the suicide rate in the United States has risen 35 percent, primarily because of the significant increase in such deaths among the white population. There are hints that these deaths are the result of worsening prospects among less-educated people, but there are few immediate answers. But maybe the solution is simple: pursue policies that improve the prospects of working-class Americans. Researchers have found that when the minimum wage in a state increased, or when states boosted a tax credit for working families, the suicide rate decreased. [Washington Post]

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy from Oklahoma City University as a Clara Luper Scholar. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked as an Inbound and Digital Marketing Specialist for an OKC based firm. She is an alumnus of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a Board Member for Dream Action Oklahoma.

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