In The Know: Regulating virtual charters; private school tax credit advances; pay hikes for teachers, corrections…

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.

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Virtual charter schools are a cause for concern. These bills could help: A slew of education bills this session seek greater regulations for virtual charter schools, and these calls for greater oversight are warranted. Since the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board was created in 2012, total enrollment in virtual charter schools has soared to over 24,000 students. Students enrolled in virtual charter schools take classes online and may receive some face-to-face instruction with a teacher. Skyrocketing student growth over the past seven years means that virtual charter schools receive a growing share of state funding, and concerns center around how these public dollars are used and their impact on student outcomes. [OK Policy]

Prosperity Policy: Smarter on crime: “We just heard from a gentleman who has been incarcerated for 33 years for writing $400 of bad checks, after several other convictions. He was 39 when he began his incarceration and is 72 now. His incarceration for $400 in bad checks cost the taxpayers of Oklahoma at least $594,000.” [David Blatt / Journal Record]

Health care forum set for Thursday: A free public forum on the state of health care in Oklahoma has been set for Thursday evening at Fairview Missionary Baptist Church, 1700 NE Seventh St. in Oklahoma City. Sponsored by the Oklahoma City chapter of Together Oklahoma, the forum is scheduled to run from 6:30-8 p.m. [Journal Record]

In The News

Controversial school tax credit bill survives House test: A revamped proposal to allow $30 million a year in tax credits for contributions to certain organizations supporting public and private schools won narrow approval Wednesday in the Oklahoma House of Representatives’ appropriations and Budget Committee. [Tulsa World] The Oklahoma Education Association (O.E.A.) said they’re against a bill that would improve tax incentives for donations to schools. [FOX25] We recently discussed how increasing the scholarship tax credit hurts public schools and benefits affluent Oklahomans.

Pay hikes for teachers, correctional officers advance in Senate panel: $1,200 teacher pay raise bill is headed for the Senate floor. The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday passed House Bill 1780 by a vote of 21-0. It also passed a bill to pay correctional officers $2 more an hour. The teacher pay raise bill has a fiscal impact of nearly $71 million, according to legislative staff. [Tulsa World]

Elementary students take action after learning Moore schools will cut art programs: A post on social media sheds light on programs that are being cut from a few Moore Public Schools this upcoming school year. At this time, News 9 has yet to hear from the district, but parents and teachers are speaking out. [News9] We previously discussed how budget cuts have impacted fine arts education in our public schools.

McCall bill regulating stopped trains fails, stirs drama: A high-priority bill for House Speaker Charles McCall failed Tuesday on a 0-9 vote in the Senate Transportation Committee, sparking frustration among House leadership and concerns from senators that their bills are being stalled in the House as a response. [NonDoc] Speaker of the House Charles McCall is looking for a way to get his stopped trains bill back on track after Senate Transportation Committee members overwhelmingly derailed it this week. [NewsOK]

Bill allowing out-of-state occupational licenses advances: Legislation aimed at making it easier for active and retired military members and their spouses to go to work in Oklahoma could potentially add to the ranks of nurses and other occupational professionals in the state. Senate Bill 670, called the Military Service Occupation, Education and Credentialing Act, would direct occupational licensing boards in Oklahoma to accept as valid licenses issued by other states to military members, veterans and their spouses. [Journal Record]

Doctors say “backdoor maneuvers” revived bill on nurse anesthetists: The state’s doctors accused a nursing group on Wednesday of using “backdoor maneuvers” to revive legislation granting more autonomy to nurse anesthetists in Oklahoma. The statement came a day after a state House committee approved legislation by a vote of 7-3 that would allow nurse anesthetists to work in collaboration with doctors, rather than under their supervision, and to administer anesthesia without a doctor on site. [NewsOK]

Discussions planned to reach compromise over mineral rights legislation: The Oklahoma Municipal League is working with the oil and gas industry on solutions to avoid a proposed law boosting protections of mineral owners. House Bill 2150, which passed the state Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday in a close 7-5 vote, would prohibit municipal- and county-level policy from interfering with the use and development of oil and natural gas. [Journal Record ????]

Oklahoma Senate approves bill allowing 80 mph speed limits: A bill that would raise speed limits on parts of some state turnpikes to 80 mph passed a final vote in the state Senate on Wednesday. House Bill 1071 would give the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority discretion to raise maximum legal travel speeds on certain turnpikes from 75 mph to 80 mph. [Journal Record ????]

Corps could soon take on ‘benefit’ status: A proposed law would let corporations focus less on profits and more on their mission without stirring trouble with shareholders. House Bill 2423 creates a new incorporation class in Oklahoma, called a “benefit corporation.” Similar laws have been adopted in at least 36 states. Oklahoma’s version has passed both the House and Senate, and now awaits the governor’s signature. [NewsOK]

Debtors’ prison faces Oklahoma defendants, lawsuit states: As she was released from a juvenile detention facility in 2013, Tulsa teenager Sharonica Carter still was facing a $2,700 fine imposed when Carter first pleaded guilty in 2011. Five years and two jail stays later, the amount that Carter now owes totals $5,000. [Injustice Watch]

Oklahoma’s prison libraries struggle to meet demand: Oklahomans in prison face many challenges, but one of the most constant is how to stay mentally sharp in an often chaotic, difficult situation. For some, turning to books offers comfort, respite and an education inside the confines of prison walls. But some prisons in Oklahoma are running low on reading material. [NonDoc]

For The Children: Participation in the U.S. Census is a civic duty: In just under one year from today, the U.S. Census Bureau will be contacting Oklahomans – via phone, internet, mail and in-person surveys – to seek their participation in the 2020 U.S. Census. The results are secure and confidential, and it is vital that every Oklahoman who is contacted participate. [Joe Dorman / Ada News]

Tulsa World editorial: Legislature looks to meddle in local government options to tax and regulate single-use plastic bags and straws: A bill pending in the Oklahoma Legislature would prevent local communities from banning or taxing plastic bags, cups or straws used in retail or fast-food businesses. Senate Bill 1001 pits the interests of pro-environment local governments against businesses, and the retailers are winning. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]

Oklahoma medical pot sales still climbing, top $12M in March: Oklahoma tax officials say medical marijuana sales topped $12 million last month, marking the sixth straight month of explosive growth for the new industry. The Oklahoma Tax Commission reported the state collected more than $870,000 in March from the 7% excise tax on marijuana. The state collected an additional $1.2 million in state and local sales tax on medical pot in March. [AP News]

Request made for opioid case to go to jury trial: Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. filed a motion Tuesday requesting a jury trial in the Oklahoma opioid lawsuit. “We filed a motion seeking a jury trial because we believe Oklahoma law affords us the right to a trial by jury on the state’s remaining claims,” the company said in a press release. [Norman Transcript

Oklahoma orders Tulsa District to review all students’ special education plans: The Tulsa, Okla., school system will be required to review students’ individualized education programs and retrain staff in IEP writing, after a parent complaint revealed that a school in Tulsa was using the same educational goals verbatim on multiple IEPs. [Education Week]

Tulsa Mayor outlines proposal for independent police monitoring: The Mayor’s Police and Community Coalition has been meeting for 10 years to discuss how to improve relationships between Tulsa police officers and the residents they serve. Mayor G.T. Bynum attended Tuesday’s coalition meeting to present an idea of his own — creation of the Office of the Independent Monitor. [Tulsa World]

Innovation Fellows tackle City of Tulsa’s approach to property code violations: The City of Tulsa sends out thousands of property code violations a year, but a new approach could change that. Civic Innovation Fellows have come up with a way to reduce the City of Tulsa’s workload when it comes to code violations for tall grass and weeds. [Public Radio Tulsa] A study identifies Tulsa property owners most often cited for nuisance violations. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“All of us should remember, there is nothing partisan or agenda-driven about taking an accurate headcount of our population. We all want properly funded roads, schools and health care programs, and all of that hinges, in part, on the results of the U.S. Census.”

-Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy CEO Joe Dorman, writing about the importance of accurately completing the 2020 Census [Source: Ada News]

Number of the Day


2018 homeownership rate for the Tulsa metro, 11th highest out of the 75 largest metro areas. Oklahoma City ranked 34th with a homeownership rate of 64.6%.

[Source: U.S. Census]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Report: SNAP work requirements cause job losses, not gains: A plan to put work requirements on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – formerly food stamps – would cost the American economy nearly $180,000 jobs, according to a new analysis. Language requiring that able-bodied adults prove they are working or moving toward jobs to get SNAP benefits was defeated when proposed for the last federal Farm Bill. [Public News Service]

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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