In 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
The Administration’s new immigration rules are already hurting families – and it’s going to get worse: Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security issued a final rule that will make it harder for low-income immigrants to legally come to the United States, and more difficult to stay here once they’ve come. [OK Policy]
In The News
At first Tulsa Chamber State of the State, Stitt promises health, criminal justice reforms in 2020: After running through the accomplishments during his first eight months in office, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt offered a general look at what’s to come in 2020 in his first Tulsa Chamber State of the State. [Public Radio Tulsa] Gov. Kevin Stitt said his administration is looking into letting communities vote for higher property taxes to better fund schools without having the increase offset by the state’s funding formula. [Tulsa World] Read our end-of-session summaries to find out what happened at the Capitol in health care and criminal justice reform this year.
Stitt creates a committee to assist with Oklahoma’s 2020 census count: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday announced an executive order to create a panel to help officials get an accurate count in the 2020 census. The 20-member Oklahoma Census 2020 Complete Count Committee will issue recommendations on how Oklahoma can receive the most complete and accurate census count. [Tulsa World] Oklahoma has a lot of hard-to-count areas, and we have work to do to make sure we count all of Oklahoma’s kids in 2020.
Epic allocated $112.96 million as enrollment continues to rise: Epic Charter Schools will receive nearly $113 million in state aid funding this fiscal year as enrollment at the virtual charter school continues to experience rapid growth despite allegations from state investigators that the school embezzled millions in state funds. [The Oklahoman] Several bills were considered last session to better oversee virtual charter schools.
Oklahoma on track for new emergency teacher record: As the new school year gets underway, Oklahoma’s teacher shortage persists. The state is on track to set a new record for the number of emergency certified teachers in K-12 classrooms. The State Board of Education has approved over 2,300 emergency teacher certifications as of Aug. 22. The total so far is more than it was at the same time last year, when Oklahoma approved a record 3,038. [KGOU] What’s That? Emergency Certification
Oklahoma Attorney general Mike Hunter says Johnson & Johnson CEO should ‘write a check’ instead of filing an appeal: Since a $572 million verdict was announced Monday in Oklahoma’s opioid case, state Attorney General Mike Hunter has been trying to goad Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky into paying the judgment rather than filing an appeal. [The Oklahoman] That money likely won’t be available to help stem the state’s opioid crisis anytime soon. [The Oklahoman]
Shares of Johnson & Johnson rally after smaller-than-expected opioid fine: Shares of Johnson & Johnson rose in early trading Tuesday after an Oklahoma judge ordered to pay a far smaller fine than expected as a result of its involvement in the state’s opioid crisis. [CNBC] Johnson & Johnson’s brand falters over its role in the opioid crisis. [New York Times] Opioid lawsuit echoes this country’s legal history with big tobacco. [CBS]
Editorial: $572 million verdict in Oklahoma’s opioid case recognizes a monumental human tragedy: The temptation of a $572 million windfall is to celebrate, and it certainly beats losing. But we haven’t lost sight of the fact that the money is compensation for the state’s costs in a horrific crisis. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]
Water leaks into state Capitol Senate chamber during Monday night storm: The state Capitol is undergoing a major restoration, including replacing the roof, in a project that began four years ago and is funded by $245 million in bonds. [Tulsa World]
OKC Council passes MAPS 4 package – voters have final say in December: The MAPS 4 package passed the Oklahoma City Council Tuesday in a unanimous vote, although not smoothly. The broad spectrum of project ideas covers some of the city’s most pressing needs as well as some aspirational desires for infrastructure to attract visitors to the city. [Free Press OKC]
OKC Council rejects resolution to support permitless carry repeal vote: The Oklahoma City council rejected a measure Tuesday to show support for a statewide vote on permitless carry in Oklahoma. The council vote was five to four. [The Oklahoman]
City Council modernizes Civil Rights Ordinance: The City Council passed the amendments on a vote of eight to one, with Ward 6 council member Bill Scanlon voting against. The amendments add further protections for the LGBTQ+ community and modernize the ordinance, which hasn’t been changed since 1996. [Norman Transcript] The city of Norman is seeking residents to serve on Mayor Breea Clark’s newly created Inclusive Community Subcommittee of the Human Rights Commission. [The Oklahoman]
Tulsa City Council to vote on breastfeeding resolution: The Tulsa City Council is expected to vote on a resolution involving breastfeeding mothers Wednesday night. Breastfeeding in public already protected under Oklahoma law, but the council’s resolution would support the right of women to breastfeed where they work and in all public places in Tulsa. [KJRH]
Amazon expects to open Tulsa fulfillment center in second quarter 2020: Amazon’s $130 million fulfillment center, 4040 N. 125th East Ave., is expected to open in the second quarter of 2020, the e-commerce company said. [Tulsa World]
Postoak takes on national role, encourages Native Americans to pursue medical careers: The Association of American Indian Physicians has named an OSU Medicine student to serve as the first medical student ever appointed as an osteopathic medicine liaison for the Association of Native American Medical Students. [CHNI]
Quote of the Day
“We now have children who have adverse childhood experiences that are profound. The world outside the classroom impacts the world inside the classroom and teachers are shouldering the brunt.”
– State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister on how things other than teacher pay (like large class sizes, under-resourced classrooms, and insufficient support staff) are contributing to the teacher shortage [KGOU]
Number of the Day
Number of dispensary licenses approved by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority as of August 26, 2019.
[Source: Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority]
Your local library may have a new offering in stock: A resident social worker: Esguerra says the idea of bringing social workers into libraries isn’t just meant to help librarians; it encourages people in need to take advantage of the services the library-based social workers offer. “Coming to the library is not attached with any stigma, unlike coming to, like, you know, other traditional settings,” she explains. “So public libraries really are the best places to reach out to the population and be effective at it.” [NPR]
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