In The Know: ‘Retroactivity’ bill passes Oklahoma House of Representatives; Senate advances bill creating budget office; Medical marijuana ‘Unity Bill’ headed to governor

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

We’re now accepting applications for the 2019 Summer Policy Institute: The Institute is hosted and led by the staff of OK Policy and involves leading policy experts from government, academia, and community organizations throughout Oklahoma. Participants have a chance to network with fellow students, leaders in the policy process, and past SPI alumni. [OK Policy]

(Capitol Update) Push for agency accountability produces a mixed bag: Last week the Legislature turned its accountability focus toward state government, with leadership announcing agreement between the House, Senate and the Governor on five bills to reorganize the governance of five larger state agencies.  The agreement resulted in committee substitute bills being filed and expedited through the legislative process. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

In The News

‘Retroactivity’ bill passes Oklahoma House of Representatives: The Oklahoma House of Representatives agreed Monday night to controversial legislation that would make the provisions of State Question 780 retroactive. The state question, passed by Oklahoma voters in 2016, reclassified some felony drug and property crimes as misdemeanors. [Tulsa World] We previously discussed how making SQ 780 retroactive is smart policy and a moral necessity.

Senate advances bill creating budget office: The Senate approved a bill Monday to create a new state budget office, advancing a central part of the Republican agenda that aims to give lawmakers more accurate financial numbers. Senate Bill 1 creates the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT), an eight-person department that would conduct performance evaluations of state agencies. [NewsOK]

Medical marijuana ‘Unity Bill’ headed on to governor after easy passage in state Senate: The Oklahoma Senate easily passed a bipartisan bill Monday regulating the state’s medical marijuana industry, meaning the legislation will go to Gov. Kevin Stitt for his consideration. [Tulsa World] The so-called “Unity Bill” passed the Senate on a 43-5 vote and is headed to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office for his signature. [Journal Record] TPS board passes policy banning medical marijuana on property, limits CBD. [Tulsa World]

Groundwater protection bill awaits action in Oklahoma Senate: A bill protecting groundwater rights from being taken by eminent domain awaits a vote in the Oklahoma Senate after winning approval last week in the State House. HB 1048 by Pottawatomie County Rep. Danny Sterling of House District 27 won approval in the House on a 97-1 vote. [OK Energy Today]

Want strong beer and wine at sporting events, festivals, some businesses? Bills approved by Oklahoma Senate would allow that: Bills that would further modernize the state’s liquor laws were approved by the Senate on Monday. Senate Bill 804 would let municipalities approve plans to allow patrons at sporting events and art and music festivals to carry strong beer and wine. [Tulsa World]

Parents, students pack Capitol to tell lawmakers about ‘the array of reasons to choose Epic’: Thousands of students and their parents descended on the state Capitol Monday to share with lawmakers their myriad reasons for choosing an online education through Epic Charter Schools. Not all of them came to oppose various pieces of legislation that would require the school and its for-profit management company to disclose more about how it spends public tax dollars. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma advocates for expansion of federal preschool grant: Early childhood education leaders in Oklahoma just returned from Capitol Hill, where they advocated for the expansion of the federal Preschool Development Grant. They are hoping to help other states as well as our own, but they may be facing an uphill battle. [News9]

Dr. Nyla Ali Khan appointed as Oklahoma Status of Women Commissioner: Dr. Nyla Ali Khan has been appointed as a Commissioner on the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women. She has been appointed for a five-year term by Senator Greg Treat (R-Oklahoma City), Republican President Pro Tempore of the Oklahoma Senate. [City-Centinel]

United Nations delegate looks at status of women in OKC: Women in Oklahoma City have a chance to push for change through filling out a survey created by Cheryl Pennington to determine the status of women in OKC. Pennington, a retired teacher and Oklahoma City native, will attend the 63rd session of United Nations Commission on the Status of Women as a delegate this coming week. [NonDoc]

Unemployment worsens for first time in years: Oklahoma’s unemployment rate worsened in January for the first time in nearly three years. The state’s rate of 3.2 percent for the month was a tenth of a percent worse than December’s revised rate of 3.1 percent. May 2016 was the last time the state’s rate increased, when it rose from 4.8 to 4.9 percent. [NewsOK]

How to protect yourself: Oklahoma City ranked third deadliest city for pedestrians: Experts with AAA Oklahoma are urging pedestrians and drivers to stay vigilant days after we move the clocks forward for daylight saying time, saying the time change increases pedestrian and driving dangers. [FOX25]

Communities lose when newspapers die or slide into decline: It is a story of corruption that will stay secret, politicians who will need fewer votes to win, even dangerous communicable diseases that will spread faster as our best scientists struggle to fight them. The story is the slow and painful demise of local newspapers, a story whose ending is not yet written but which — without bold intervention and strong reader support — could bring catastrophic repercussions. [Joyce Terhaar / Muskogee Phoenix]

The Invisibles: Paying the consequences of deportation: Last year, 266 immigrants were deported from the Tulsa County Jail. In many cases, their families were left behind, dealing with the financial and emotional fallout. [Oklahoma Watch]

High school junior plans to fight for Muskogee city council seat: While other kids were out on the playground, Mason Page was making plans. A suit is his outfit of choice, and it’s been that way since kindergarten. That’s why Page’s family finds it no surprise he plans to run for city council. [KJRH]

Need “much greater” than expected in first year of Tulsa’s A Better Way program: A program offering homeless Tulsans cash, a meal and referrals to social services for work like picking up trash in parks has made it through its first year. A Better Way Director Kellie Wilson said they expected around 200 participants. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Tulsa police chief responds to city councilor’s ‘unfounded accusations’ against the department: Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said a city councilor’s allegation that her husband, a police officer, is being targeted by the police union over his work on an investigation into the stabbing of a district judge is unfounded. [Tulsa World]

EPA announces $16 million annually for Tar Creek Superfund Site cleanup: The EPA announced a way forward for the cleanup of the Tar Creek Superfund Site on Monday with continued commitment of more than $16 million annually on the effort. The draft plan lays out goals for federal, state and tribal cooperation over the next five years. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“It’s been 11 years [since the last cost-of-living increase for state pensioners]. I think it’s time. I think it’s the right thing to do.”

– Rep. Avery Frix, on the passage of HB 2304, which provides a 4 percent cost of living adjustment from all six of the state’s retirement funds [Source: Tulsa World]

Number of the Day

$8.2 million

The amount of nonrefundable bail bond fees paid by defendants accused of nonviolent offenses in FY 2018

[Source: Open Justice Oklahoma]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Do states regret expanding Medicaid? Drawing from all of the above, claims are not well founded that Medicaid expansion will cost states considerably more than what objective analysts project. Instead, those claims are based on sources that are either incomplete, inaccurate, misleading, or out of date in various ways. Although it is unlikely that Medicaid expansion will turn out to be entirely free to states, based on the considerable experience to date, the probable costs appear to be quite low in comparison with the economic and public health benefits of expansion. [Brookings]

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. Born in Tamaulipas, Mexico, she immigrated to Oklahoma with her family at a young age and 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, a community organization dedicated to advocating and empowering immigrant youth in the state.

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