In The Know: Restoring the Earned Income Tax Credit is necessary and overdue, Oklahoma lawmakers interested in tax credit to encourage apprenticeships, Pot laws to take effect despite questions

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

Restoring the Earned Income Tax Credit is necessary and overdue: When the Legislature ended Oklahoma’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) refundability in 2016, they reduced an essential tax benefit for over 200,000 Oklahoma families. Families use these refunds to meet basic needs like food and housing, and to pay off traffic tickets, court costs, and other debts. [OK Policy]

In The News

Expecting labor shortage, Oklahoma lawmakers interested in tax credit to encourage apprenticeships: Oklahoma lawmakers think apprenticeships could help solve a looming worker shortage in the state, and they’re willing to use tax incentives to encourage employers to offer them. Lawmakers heard about South Carolina’s incentive on Wednesday during an interim study. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Pot laws to take effect despite questions: More than a year after voters legalized the drug, the vast majority of the state’s permanent and long-awaited medical marijuana laws take effect. State leaders, though, couldn’t agree whether the new laws actually take effect Thursday or Friday. [CNHI News] Nearly three dozen other new laws will also take effect this week. Here’s a look at some of the new laws. [The Oklahoman] Unity Bill hits a high note with legislators and advocates. [OK Policy]

Rape counts keep rising even as police clear fewer cases: The number of reported rapes and attempted rapes in Oklahoma climbed for the seventh consecutive year in 2018, reaching its highest level in at least 20 years, new data shows. But it’s unclear whether most of the increase came from a rise in sexual violence or a greater willingness to report the crime. [Oklahoma Watch]

Gov. Stitt helps state kick off Oklahoma Census 2020 Complete County Committee: Governor Kevin Stitt kicked off the 2020 Census Symposium on Monday, August 26, at MetroTech Conference Center with the announcement of Executive Order 2019-32, which establishes the Oklahoma Census 2020 Complete Count Committee. [Shawnee News-Star] It’s essential that Oklahomans are accurately counted in the 2020 Census. Unfortunately, Oklahoma contains many of the hardest to count Census tracts in the nation. [OK Policy]

Pemberton named Legislator of the Year by OSSBA: The Oklahoma State School Boards Association (OSSBA) recognized Sen. Dewayne Pemberton for his dedication to Oklahoma schools this session by naming him Legislator of the Year. [Muskogee Phoenix]

OSBI meets with DA about Epic, OKCPS discusses plan to take on students: Two OSBI agents on Wednesday updated Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater about their progress on the investigation into Epic Charter Schools, the state’s largest virtual charter school system. [The Oklahoman] A number of bills in the most recent Legislative session sought to impose greater oversight for virtual charter schools. [OK Policy]

Editorial: Virtual learning oversight: ‘Riding a donkey into the space age’: Earlier this month, I met with three administrators at the Oklahoma State Department of Education  who have been wrestling with accountability issues for virtual and blended schools, especially for-profit charters like Epic Charter Schools. [John Thompson / NonDoc]

Oklahoma wins $572 million from opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson: An Oklahoma judge has ruled that drugmaker Johnson & Johnson helped ignite the state’s opioid crisis by deceptively marketing painkillers, and must pay $572 million to the state. [StateImpact Oklahoma] Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $572 million for its role in the opioid crisis. With similar lawsuits across the country, that could be just the beginning. [TIME] Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceuticals probably won’t be writing Oklahoma a check anytime soon, despite a judge’s ruling that the drug companies should pay more than $572 million to help the state recover from an opioid abuse and addiction epidemic. [Journal Record 🔒]

Signature collection on permitless carry referendum goes to the wire: Rep. Jason Lowe, D-Oklahoma City, on Wednesday said he is optimistic but could not say with confidence those seeking to nullify House Bill 2597 had obtained the 59,320 signatures to get the issue on a ballot in 2020. [Tulsa World]

Nikki Nice continues efforts to address Oklahoma City’s Ward 7 food desert: Tuesday’s meeting of the City Council included an item from Ward 7 Councilwoman Nikki Nice seeking solutions to the lack of fresh food in Northeast Oklahoma City. It resulted in a new ordinance proposal being introduced that could give the City more teeth in addressing Oklahoma City’s food desert on the east side. [Free Press OKC]

Upcoming Forum: MAPS 4 – What’s at Stake in OKC Vote: Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt will be the featured guest at a public forum Sept. 17 on the city’s ambitious MAPS 4 proposal that would generate close to $1 billion in public funding – much of it aimed at addressing human-services and neighborhood issues. [Oklahoma Watch]

Tulsa City Council delays vote to consider changes to proposed police oversight program: After months of discussions regarding Mayor G.T. Bynum’s proposed police oversight and community engagement program, city councilors Wednesday voted to give themselves more time to craft a final ordinance. [Tulsa World]

Tulsa City Council approves breastfeeding resolution: City councilors on Wednesday approved a resolution stating the city’s support for a woman’s right to breastfeed and express milk on public property and in public facilities. [Tulsa World]

What do students learn about slavery? It depends where they live: “And so even if you are a person who wants to go deep into the real stuff, sometimes you’re forced to just skim over to get what you need to get done in the time you’re allotted.” said Jordan Dunkerson-Hurst, who teaches American history at Ernest Childers Middle School in Broken Arrow, Okla., a suburb of Tulsa.  [Washington Post]

Doctors say new rule will mean sicker immigrants: Doctors and public health experts warn of poor health and rising costs they say will come from sweeping Trump administration changes that would deny green cards to many immigrants who use Medicaid, as well as food stamps and other forms of public assistance. [AP News] The Administration’s new immigration rules are already hurting families – and it’s going to get worse. [OK Policy]

Trump’s tweets at issue in bid for dismissal of illegal immigration charge in Oklahoma: A defendant in an illegal immigration case is complaining President Donald Trump has made it impossible for him to get a fair trial anywhere in the United States. [The Oklahoman]

Trade war leads to new challenges for Oklahoma pecan producers: Oklahoma’s pecan producers expect the largest crop yield in years. But trade tensions with China, the largest buyer of U.S. pecans, could make exporting the product difficult. [KGOU]

Horn urges caution on “red flag” laws: U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn said Wednesday that Congress should move cautiously in approving so-called “red flag” laws on gun possession to avoid further stigmatizing people suffering with mental health issues. [The Oklahoman]

Hoskin: Time is right to name delegate to Congress: The new principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, Chuck Hoskin Jr., expressed optimism when asked Tuesday about prospects of the tribe becoming the first in the nation to seat its own delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives. [Journal Record 🔒]

Former Muscogee (Creek) Nation principal chief arraigned on federal bribery charge: Former Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief George Tiger was arraigned Wednesday on a bribery charge linked to his work for another tribe. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Beyond the Constitutional mandate requiring the decennial Census for reapportionment, the 2020 Census will be used over the following ten years as a baseline to distribute federal funding from approximately 300 federal programs. These programs impact the state, tribal nations and our local communities in many aspects of our lives including education, healthcare, housing, and transportation among others. If we are not accurately counted, it will place a burden on our state, tribal and local governments as they provide services to larger populations with fewer federal resources.”

– Jon Chiappe, Director of Research & Economic Analysis, Oklahoma Department of Commerce [Shawnee News-Star]

Number of the Day

11

Number of Oklahoma counties experiencing persistent poverty, or poverty rates greater than 20%, from 1990 to 2015

[Source: U.S. Treasury, CDFI Fund]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Employers urged to find new ways to address workers’ mental health: While a diagnosis of cancer might garner sympathy at work and a casserole to take home to the family, an admission of a psychotic disorder might elicit judgment, fear and avoidance among co-workers. And even if such illnesses are not talked about much, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. have a mental health disorder, and 1 in 22 adults live with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. [Kaiser Health News]

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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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