In The Know: School funding promise; Gov. Fallin to retire from politics; largest class of freshmen lawmakers…

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.

In The News

School funding promise draws cautious optimism from teachers: Following an election year largely defined by battles over education, legislative leaders say public school funding will be a priority in 2019. Teachers and school organizations plan to hold lawmakers accountable to that pledge. [NewsOK ????]

After decades in politics, Gov. Mary Fallin says she is done: After nearly three decades of service, Gov. Mary Fallin said Friday she is done with politics. “I think so,” Fallin said when asked if her political career was over when her current term ends. “I have been serving in office since I was 35 years old.” Fallin is 63 and recently welcomed her first grandchild. [Tulsa World]

Lobbyists await largest number of freshmen lawmakers since statehood: Casey Murdock admits that he was lobbyists’ prime target during his first year at the state Capitol. After discovering conversations were happening outside the halls of the Capitol, the then-state representative said he went to every possible lobbyist-sponsored dinner he could in an effort to be the most informed legislator. [CHNI]

Gender balance shifts in Oklahoma Legislature: After ranking second-to-last for several years, Oklahoma more than doubled its female representation in the Legislature. Nearly a third of all lawmakers will be women. And for the first time in state history, two caucus leaders will be women: Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd and House Minority Leader Emily Virgin. [Journal Record]

Wave of new members enters Oklahoma state House: Rep. Nicole Miller, who was sworn into office Thursday, said her job as a freshman lawmaker will include a lot of “listening and learning.” But with almost half of the state House now made up of first-term representatives, the Edmond Republican may need to be a bit more involved. [NewsOK ????]

Former OU SGA president heading to Capitol: Most 23-year-olds in the Oklahoma Capitol building are there for a tour. Daniel Pae will represent the 35,000 or so residents of House District 62. But while Pae is only a year removed from graduating from the University of Oklahoma — where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science/economics and a master’s degree in public administration in four years, and served as president of the Student Government Association — he’s ready to represent the district, which includes his hometown of Lawton. [Norman Transcript]

More signatures will be required on recreational marijuana, other petitions, due to high voter turnout: Recreational marijuana supporters haven’t given up a desire to get the issue on the ballot, despite having a steeper hill to climb following the Nov. 6 election. Increased voter turnout resulted in a larger number of signatures required for a citizen-led effort to change a law or amend the constitution. [Tulsa World]

Our divides are real, but we can fix them… Right? Despite setting statistical recordsit hurts that only 56 percent of eligible voters turned out for Oklahoma’s midterm election, and it hurts even more that 40 percent of those who did participate wound up voting straight party. [Ben White / NonDoc]

Prison population booms; Many from Tulsa County: A new report says Oklahoma prison admissions are rising despite efforts to slow the state’s incarceration rate, which is the highest in the U.S. The Tulsa World reports that prison reform advocates Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform and released the study Friday. [AP News]

Responding to security concerns, Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority removes addresses of growers, processors from online database: The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority removed the addresses of growers and processors from its commercial license database this week, a move the cannabis industry considers a positive step for safety and security. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma researcher weighs in on proposed menthol ban: Federal health officials have signaled the days of menthol cigarettes may be numbered, but no one’s quite sure what smokers will do if their favorite brand goes off the market. Ted Wagener, director of regulatory science at the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center, hopes to be able to shed some light on that soon. [NewsOK]

Point of View: Vaccines crucial to better public health in Oklahoma: Nearly four years ago, there was an outbreak of measles at Disneyland. Three years ago, I discovered Oklahoma’s vaccination rate for MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) in kindergartners was 90.3 percent, which was even lower than California’s rate of 92.6 percent that same year. [Sen. Ervin Yen / NewsOK]

Tulsa Public Schools reimagining education with “Beyond Tulsa” project: Tulsa Public Schools wants to change the way education looks for high school students. The “Beyond Tulsa” project features teams of students, teachers and school leaders who are reimagining the high school experience. [News On 6]

Change is coming to school district: The definition of a process is a systematic series of actions directed to some end. The process underway through Oklahoma City Public Schools’ “Pathway to Greatness” is exactly that. Our end result will be a redefining and reshaping of our school district. [Mary Mélon / NewsOK]

Bus route changes will help homeless access services, city officials say: Oklahoma City transit officials are considering a plan to redraw two bus routes to offer homeless and low-income residents better access to services they need. The move comes amid an ongoing conversation about how the city’s transit system can better serve residents who don’t have cars of their own. [NewsOK]

City receives grant to assist immigrants petitioning for citizenship: The city of Tulsa and YWCA Tulsa have partnered to receive a two-year, $50,000 grant to help fund support services for individuals applying for U.S. citizenship. The America is Home grant is awarded by the National Partnership for New Americans and will be matched with local, private dollars. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“I will be the youngest member of the legislature, and people are excited about that. I thought there would be a lot of push back, but quite the opposite. People were very excited that someone as young as I am was throwing their hat in the ring.”

-Rep. Daniel Pae, R-Lawton, on being the youngest member of the Oklahoma legislature. [Source: Norman Transcript]

Number of the Day


Out of all Oklahoma parolees sent back to prison, the percentage who were reincarcerated for a technical violation of their parole rather than committing any new offense (2016). 

[Source: Prison Policy Initiative]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Eight Keys to Mercy: How to shorten excessive prison sentences: After decades of explosive growth, prison populations have mostly flattened. Much of that is due to lawmakers lessening penalties for drug possession or low-level property offenses. While a welcome start, a bolder approach is necessary to truly begin to make a dent in the numbers of individuals who have served and will serve decades behind bars. This approach will take political courage from legislators, judges, and the executive branch of state governments. [Prison Policy Initative]

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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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