In The Know: State officials rebuff deadline; counties wrap up election totals; state office independents team up

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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In The News

State education officials rebuff Fallin’s deadline to report: With its attorney raising challenges, the state Board of Education did not comply by a Sept. 1 deadline with Gov. Mary Fallin’s order to identify for possible consolidation school districts that spend less than 60 percent of their funds on instruction. In a six-page memo dated Aug. 30, attorney Brad Clark said that Fallin’s Nov. 21, 2017, order doesn’t clearly define “instructional expenditure” and the governor’s staff has so far been unwilling to clarify or modify the order. [Oklahoma Watch]

All 77 counties wrap up election totals: Election officials in Oklahoma’s 77 counties have completed counting the votes in the Tuesday primary runoff election. Officials on Friday considered nearly 400 provisional votes that were cast, finding about half are from eligible voters. The still unofficial results show Kevin Stitt received 54.5 percent of the vote to defeat Mick Cornett for the Republican nomination for governor. Stitt faces Democrat Drew Edmondson in the November general election. [Public Radio Tulsa]

State office independents running as a team on open government: The five independent candidates for statewide office will run a coordinated campaign based on open government, they announced Thursday. Led by lieutenant governor candidate Ivan Holmes, the “hard working, middle-class” quintet have agreed to support open records, open meetings, open audits and a fully funded, independent Ethics Commission. [NewsOK]

Oklahoma City police chief proposes reduction in penalties for marijuana possession: The price you pay for being caught with a pocketful of marijuana could be going down. The Oklahoma City Council will hold a public hearing Sept. 11 on Police Chief Bill Citty’s proposal to relax penalties for marijuana possession. Citty’s “cite-and-release” proposal is part of a broader criminal justice-reform effort to reduce the number of arrests made for nonviolent offenses [NewsOK ????].

Wayne Greene breaks down the governor’s race between Kevin Stitt and Drew Edmondson: Kevin Stitt has great momentum going into the November election and a lot of important political assets. He’s rich, good looking, successful and has a bit of charisma. He’s tested his message and has proven it wins with the state’s biggest voting bloc, Republicans. Put him next to Donald Trump in an ad, and you may have a winning combination. [Wayne Green / Tulsa World]

‘In One Minute’ video series kicks off with look at governor’s race: Oklahoma Watch, in conjunction with the League of Women Voters of Oklahoma, is launching a video series to promote voter engagement during the 2018 general-election campaign. The series, titled “In One Minute” (the length of each video), will provide facts on who’s running for statewide offices, the role of each office in state government, the state questions, and voting tips and deadlines. [Oklahoma Watch]

How close was Oklahoma AG race in the end? After all the bright orange bags were opened and the provisional ballots inside were counted or rejected, Attorney General Mike Hunter was still the winner Friday — by 271 votes. The outcome will go down as one of the closest in a statewide race in Oklahoma history. Hunter had been ahead of first-time candidate Gentner Drummond by 269 votes in unofficial runoff results posted after the polls closed Tuesday. [NewsOK]

Is bad news for Republican incumbents bad news for the Oklahoma Republican Party? This summer’s primaries have been bad news for incumbent Republican lawmakers, particularly House members. But are they bad news for the Republican Party? Twelve Republican incumbents — 11 from the House — lost either a primary or runoff this summer. In almost every case, the successful challengers could be described as somewhat more moderate than the people they beat. [Tulsa Word]

Seven candidates sign up to run for open City Council District 7 seat: The filing period for the open District 7 City Council seat ended Friday with seven candidates filing for office. The special election will be held Nov. 6, the same day as the City Council runoff elections for Districts 3, 4 and 5. The top vote-getter in the special election will win the District 7 seat. [Tulsa World]

Lawmaker pushing to change Oklahoma’s labor laws: The state of Missouri passed a referendum to reverse its right-to-work law, and Oklahoma state Rep. Mickey Dollens thinks Oklahoma needs to do the same thing. “Right-to-work sounds like a good thing, but it’s not — it’s really no rights and no work,” Dollens told KOCO. [KOCO] Rep. Mickey Dollens: Here’s why labor unions are key to Oklahoma’s future. [Rep. Mickey Dollens / NonDoc]

Point of View: Improvements made in Oklahoma Department of Labor: This will be my last Labor Day to serve as Oklahoma’s commissioner of labor, an appropriate time to reflect on my tenure and on the incredible challenges and opportunities. Cries for state agency accountability and “waste, fraud and abuse” abound. This is an important time in state government and we need to ensure it works on behalf of our citizens. [Melissa McLawhorn Houston / NewsOK]

Licenses aside, buying legal marijuana will take time: More than 800 Oklahomans can now legally possess marijuana, but buying it is another story. The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority opened license applications a week ago Saturday. [Journal Record] The latest version of a draft bill touted as “unity” legislation among several medical marijuana advocacy groups would protect Oklahomans who receive state and federal benefits like Medicaid and food stamps. [NewsOK]

Oklahoma follows most states in Rx pot, with some unique aspects: Ever since Oklahoma voters legalized medical marijuana in June, doctors and law enforcement officials have warned of a coming increase in crime, business leaders have predicted mass confusion for employers and other opponents have cautioned the state is journeying into the unknown. [NewsOK ????] Most doctors won’t sign medical marijuana recommendations. Here’s why, plus a list of those who will. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Medicaid could up provider pay after years: Oklahoma providers who treat patients covered by Medicaid may soon get their first pay rate increase in nearly a decade. The Oklahoman reports that the Oklahoma Health Care Authority announced Wednesday it’s considering raising rates paid to providers. [Public Radio Tulsa]

STDs on the Increase in Oklahoma: Oklahoma is following a national trend with a sharp increase in the number of sexually transmitted diseases. The Oklahoma State Department of Health says chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis cases rose from 29,716 in 2016 to 31,779 in 2017. [AP]

New documentary looks at opioid crisis in Oklahoma: In a new documentary, U.S. Sen. James Lankford warns that the opioid addiction problem in Oklahoma is not being overblown and is actually worse in some parts of the state than most anywhere else in the nation. Among the other voices in the documentary are experts, state officials, a drug court judge and individuals who have been personally affected by the epidemic. [NewsOK]

My migration on immigration, part 3: 3 myths debunked: In my previous two commentaries, I explained how both the Declaration of Independence and the New Testament have influenced my thinking about immigration. In this final installment, I will examine how my study of economics has also contributed to my “migration on immigration.” Specifically, this piece will examine the impact of immigration on employment, crime and government services. [James Davenport / NonDoc]

Cherokee Nation State of the tribe address: ‘You don’t have to leave Oklahoma to change the world’: On the 180th anniversary of Chief John Ross leading the Cherokee Nation tribe on the Trail of Tears Principal Chief Bill John Baker used his State of the Nation speech to honor Ross’ great-granddaughter — an aerospace engineer. The theme for Saturday’s 66th Annual Cherokee National Holiday was “Family: A Bridge to the Future, A Link to the Past.” [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“I think Oklahoma is in a crisis they don’t realize they’re in. They seem to think that the opioid addiction is still something that’s out in other places. It’s not. It’s here.” 

-U.S. Senator James Lankford, in Killing Pain, a new documentary on the opioid crisis in Oklahoma. [NewsOK]

Number of the Day


The percentage increase of the average daily Tulsa County Jail population from 1970 to 2016

[Vera Institute of Justice]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

When will the U.S. Finally act boldly on paid family leave? We are losing the full economic potential of much of the population because our country still hasn’t figured out how to support working families. This hurts women the most because women bear the brunt of family caregiving. But this has a wider impact as well. Researchers have found that paid family leave increases the number of hours that new mothers work. When more women stay at work through their childbearing years, wages rise across the board, household income grows, and the GDP is likely to increase. One recent study found that if the American female workforce participation had grown at the same pace as other developed countries like Norway, our economy would be $1.6 trillion larger. Equitable family leave policies that encourage male participation in caregiving can address this problem. We can’t afford to get this wrong. [Harvard Business Review]

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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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