In The Know: Transportation agency consolidation proposed, criminal justice reform conference held, and more

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

Stitt aims to merge Department of Transportation, Turnpike Authority: Gov. Kevin Stitt wants to consolidate the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. Combining the two state agencies makes sense because they both focus on improving transportation in Oklahoma. [The Oklahoman]

OCU School of Law holds inaugural criminal justice reform conference: The daylong event brought together more than 100 law enforcement officers, public defenders, prosecutors, judges, nonprofit workers, students, law school faculty and others involved in the criminal justice arena. [The Oklahoman]

TSET Targeted: Argument emerging about spending priorities: Amid the state’s ongoing health care crisis, an argument is emerging about how a state agency is spending millions in tobacco settlement funds intended to improve health outcomes statewide. [CNHI

Oklahoma unemployment rate steady; slowdown projected: Oklahoma’s unemployment rate held steady last month at 3.4 percent and the state’s economic slowdown is projected to continue in 2020, state officials reported. [AP /Public Radio Tulsa]

OKC school enrollment on 5-year decline, more losses expected: As public-school enrollment hit record highs in Oklahoma, the state’s largest school district has trended in the opposite direction for half a decade. Oklahoma City Public Schools has lost more than 5,000 students in the past five years, and officials are predicting another decline next year. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma lawmakers to mull rules limiting four-day school weeks: The Oklahoma Legislature will consider new rules that would raise the student performance standards for schools to operate on a four-day work week. [AP / Public Radio Tulsa]

Proposed legislation on virtual charters misses a significant improvement, Tulsa World editorial: Oklahoma should eliminate the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board and place its responsibilities with the State Board of Education.  [Tulsa World / Editorial]

State school board approves TPS proposal allowing Tulsa Beyond participants to receive provisional certification on journey to becoming fully certified: The Oklahoma State Board of Education has granted Tulsa Public Schools’ request to secure provisional certification instead of emergency certification for participants of its accelerated teacher training program. [Tulsa World]

The Oklahoman: How should we cover Oklahoma’s Legislature? Tell us: Too often, everyday Oklahomans are left out of the political discussion. The Oklahoman is asking what statewide political issues matter to you and your family. What do you want to know about what your state legislators are doing at the Capitol? [The Oklahoman]

Bill would allow survivors in address confidentiality program to sign petitions: Rep. David Perryman, D-Chickasha, filed legislation that would allow participants in Oklahoma’s address confidentiality program to sign initiative or referendum petitions without disclosing their actual address. [The Oklahoman]

Tulsa lawmaker’s bill could make it a crime if law enforcement officers misuse body cameras: A Tulsa lawmaker has proposed legislation that would subject Oklahoma law enforcement officers to potential criminal charges for improperly using body-worn cameras.  [Tulsa World]

Bill designed to strengthen state’s seat belt laws for children: When Oklahoma lawmakers convene next month, they may consider a bill mandating seat belts for children ages 8-17. [CNHI]

Oklahoma legislation seeks to prevent missing, murdered Native Americans: A bipartisan group of state lawmakers has introduced several bills to improve the state’s response when Native Americans go missing in Oklahoma. [The Oklahoman]

In first State of the Nation address, Muscogee (Creek) chief says tribe will ‘stand firm’ on gaming compact position:  Delivering his first State of the Nation address, Principal Chief David Hill reiterated that the Muscogee (Creek) Nation will continue to defend its sovereignty while working to expand programs and services across eastern Oklahoma. [Tulsa World]

State superintendent thanks tribes for investment in education: Oklahoma’s state superintendent of public instruction, Joy Hofmeister, said since the beginning of her term in 2014, the state’s tribes have invested more than $575.8 million in gaming funds to the state’s education system. [Chickasaw Nation / CNHI]

Norman again at odds with state lawmakers after recommendation to become sanctuary city: As Norman residents push for increasingly progressive policies, conservative lawmakers continue attempts to shut down those efforts. [The Oklahoman]

Proposals to limit production from Oklahoma natural gas wells made to regulator: Up for debate is a question about whether the state’s 8 billion cubic feet per day of production is wasting a precious natural resource.  [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“The cash bail system in this country has created nothing short of a human rights crisis. It is what holds the overwhelming majority of people in jail regardless of guilt or innocence, and it is the oil that keeps the machine of assembly line justice running and churning out millions of people every year with criminal records that sink them deeper into poverty.”

-Robin Steinberg, co-founder and executive director of the Bail Project and Still She Rises [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Percent decrease in state funding for Oklahoma higher education during the past five years. Nationally, state higher education funding increased by 18.8 percent during the same time period. [StateImpact]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Why Child Care Is So Ridiculously Expensive: Child-care spending is unlike other spending. By some measures, it’s getting more expensive faster than almost every other consumer good or service that the government tracks. The Census Bureau has found that child-care expenditures rose more than 40 percent from 1990 to 2011, during a period when middle-class wages stagnated. Since the 1990s, child-care costs have grown twice as fast as overall inflation. [The Atlantic]

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David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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