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
Recent revenue measures have helped Oklahoma’s long-term budget outlook but the work isn’t done: A new research brief prepared by Dr. Kent Olson, Professor of Economics Emeritus at Oklahoma State University, examines the effect that passage of HB 1010xx and other recent revenue measures will have on the state’s long-term fiscal outlook. He finds that these revenue measures reduce the state’s budget shortfalls over the next decade, but a significant and growing funding gap will remain in the absence of new revenues. [OK Policy]
In The News
Criminal justice reform advocates: ‘Stop prison growth’: A large coalition of criminal justice reform advocates rallied Tuesday on the second floor of the Oklahoma State Capitol, clapping and cheering as speakers touted five pieces of legislation they say would end state prison growth in coming years. [NonDoc] But the person who spoke most passionately during a press conference at the Capitol organized by Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform was former prison inmate No. 377488. [Journal Record]
The Oklahomans Editorial Board: Is Alabama a cautionary tale for Oklahoma? A state House committee recently approved a bill to pay Oklahoma correctional officers an extra $2 per hour. The raises are needed and the bill’s passage is encouraging, but lawmakers must keep the big picture in mind regarding the Department of Corrections. That picture includes aging prisons housing far more inmates than they were designed to accommodate. [Editorial Board / NewsOK]
AG assigns interim board of directors to handle city, county Purdue settlement funds: The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office is in the midst of establishing a foundation to divvy out the more than $12 million that was set aside to go to cities and counties from the recent settlement of the state’s lawsuit against drug manufacturer Purdue Pharma. [The Frontier]
U.S. Census: Number of Oklahoma farms down, acreage of farmland remains flat: The number of farms throughout Oklahoma is declining. There were 78,531 farms in 2017, a 9% decrease from the 86,565 farms in 2007, according to the latest U.S. Census data. During the same time period, the amount of land being farmed across the state remained relatively flat with 34,156,290 acres farmed in 2017 compared to 35,087,269 acres farmed in 2007. [Tulsa World]
Legislative coffee in Duncan focuses on Medicaid, education: The Duncan Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with Cameron University’s Duncan campus and other sponsoring organizations, played host to the second legislative coffee of the season. Local legislators Rep. Marcus McEntire, Rep. Brad Boles and Sen. Paul Scott spent a majority of the time focusing on education and healthcare, but only after updating constituents on their own progress this session. [Duncan Banner] Take Action: Contact your legislators and ask them to expand coverage in Oklahoma at CoverOK.org.
Vaping banned: Stitt signs bill expanding tobacco-free schools law: Vaping in Oklahoma schools will soon be illegal. Gov. Kevin Stitt signed legislation Tuesday aimed at preventing teenagers from vaping. Stitt signed Senate Bill 33, which prevents people from vaping in schools and on school campuses. The measure also prevents people from vaping in their cars on school property and vaping at school-sponsored events. [NewsOK]
‘Abortion reversal’ bill passes Oklahoma House, headed to governor: An abortion bill opponents say will require doctors to lie to their patients but that supporters believe will save lives cleared the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Tuesday and is headed to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk. [Tulsa World]
Oklahoma lawmakers approve measure to transform step therapy: Oklahoma lawmakers unanimously approved a measure that gives Oklahomans quicker access to medications prescribed by their doctor. Right now, some insurance companies require patients to try cheaper or generic drugs for some chronic conditions, stepping up to other drugs only if the cheaper ones don’t work. [KFOR]
Bill that would open public lands for hunting guide operations goes to governor’s desk: A bill that would direct the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to create a system for hunting guides to operate in public hunting areas narrowly passed the state House on Monday. [Tulsa World]
Lawmakers pass bill designating Rosette Nebula as state astronomical object: Oklahoma now has a state astronomical object. On Tuesday, the state Senate passed House Bill 1292, which designates the Rosette Nebula, which is in the Monoceros constellation, as the official astronomical object of Oklahoma. [KOCO]
Confirmed Senate appointments include Tulsa banker Sean Kouplen: The Oklahoma Senate on Tuesday unanimously confirmed three of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s appointments. Sean P. Kouplen of Tulsa was confirmed by the Senate to serve as Cabinet secretary of commerce and workforce development, a new position at the state level. [Tulsa World]
New TSET director has bold vision: Julie Bisbee’s goals are so lofty, to the point of being almost ethereal, that it’s stunning even to hear them said out loud. “In my lifetime,” she says, “I hope that we’re no longer talking about tobacco … that cigarettes are no longer being sold.” [Journal Record 🔒]
Wives of Oklahoma lawmakers visit Little Light House to talk about special needs education: Oklahoma’s First Lady Sarah Stitt was joined by Lisa Pinnell, the wife of Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell, and congressman Kevin Hern’s wife, Tammy Hern, as they toured the Little Light House. [FOX25]
Gov. Kevin Stitt names OPUBCO executive Gary Pierson to OU Regents: Businessman Gary Pierson is Gov. Kevin Stitt’s choice for the remaining open spot on the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents, the governor announced Tuesday. If the Oklahoma Senate confirms the nomination, Pierson will fill the remainder of Bill Burgess’ term. [Tulsa World]
Special counsel appointed to oversee investigation of former OU President David Boren: A former U.S. attorney who prosecuted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh has been appointed as a special counsel over the investigation of David Boren. [NewsOK]
Audit: Lack of Supervision for Murray County’s 911 System: A state audit shows that financial supervision of Murray County’s 911 emergency call center was so slack that governing board members once gave a $65,000 check to a company that was only required to be paid $650. [AP News]
Federal lawsuit alleges official is lying to farmers to deter them from Oklahoma hemp program: A complaint filed in federal court alleges that a Farm Service Agency official in Oklahoma has been lying to and threatening farmers who express interest in growing hemp under an official state program. [Tulsa World]
Oklahoma congressional delegation to host town halls: Congress is not in session this week or next, so Oklahoma’s congressional delegation will return home to meet with people and organizations across the state. Some members will host town halls to give legislative updates, discuss their recent work and answer questions from Oklahomans. [NonDoc]
Freshman Horn leads Oklahoma delegation in early fundraising: U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn, the Oklahoma City Democrat who scored an upset victory in November, collected nearly $378,000 in the first three months of this year for her re-election campaign as Republicans made her one of the top targets in the country. [NewsOK]
At 84, Sen. Jim Inhofe hasn’t said he’s running for re-election, but he’s raising money as if he is: Inhofe, first elected to the Senate in a 1994 special election, took in $310,000 during the first three months of this year and is well ahead of the fundraising pace of his 2013-14 reelection campaign, according to Federal Election Commission reports. [Tulsa World]
Quote of the Day
“Locking people up for offenses that are now misdemeanors is really crippling our workforce because these people should be at work, and our employers need them.”
-Roy Williams, president of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, speaking about the need to pass reforms that would end state prison growth in coming years [Source: NonDoc]
Number of the Day
Number of opioid prescriptions dispensed in Oklahoma in 2017, which equates to 106.7 opioid prescriptions per 100 people.
Special Report: What happens when a state expands Medicaid? The data are overwhelming. In states that have expanded, the move has been a boon, both for the health of patients, the strength of local economies bolstered by thousands of new health care jobs, and increased stability, in particular, for rural hospitals that have been buffeted by changes rocking the health care system. [North Carolina Health News]
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