In The Know: Voter registration deadline today; plan to cut smoking unveiled; educators wary of no tax promises…
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.
In The News
Voter registration ends on Friday: Today is the deadline for Oklahomans to register to vote or update their registration ahead of the November general election. Voters can pick up a voter registration form at any of the state’s 77 county election boards or download it from the State Election Board website. It must be delivered in person or postmarked by Friday in order to qualify for election in the Nov. 6 general election. [AP News] Find more information from OK Policy on Oklahoma’s upcoming elections and state questions here.
Anti-tobacco groups see opportunity in new lawmakers: At least one-quarter of the Oklahoma Senate and nearly half of the House could be new members in February, and John Woods sees that as an opportunity to change the state’s tobacco laws. Woods, executive director of the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, unveiled a plan Wednesday to cut Oklahoma’s adult smoking rate nearly in half. It includes some major policy shifts, such as raising the age to purchase tobacco to 21; prohibiting smoking in cars when children are present; banning menthol and other flavors in tobacco; increasing penalties for selling to underage people; raising the cigarette tax by $1.50; and getting rid of a provision in Oklahoma labor law that makes it illegal to discriminate against workers based on their smoking status. [NewsOK]
Educators wary of political hopefuls promising school funding without tax increases: Public school teachers are watching closely as Oklahoma gubernatorial candidates promote and debate their plans for improving health care, tax policy and education. Alberto Morejon is one of them. Morejon is an 8th-grade teacher at Stillwater Public Schools largely credited with organizing the teacher walkout in April. He now runs a Facebook page with nearly 80,000 followers, many of them Oklahoma educators. [StateImpact Oklahoma]
Oklahoma gubernatorial candidates Drew Edmondson, Kevin Stitt, answer questions from high school students: It will take additional mental health, drug and alcohol treatment programs to reduce the state’s incarceration rate, Democrat Drew Edmondson said Thursday. Republican Kevin Stitt said the state needs more rehabilitation and transition programs so offenders can succeed once they leave prison. [Tulsa World]
Stitt welcomes Cornett’s endorsement but not Fallin’s: More than six weeks after losing the runoff election to become his party’s nominee for governor, former Oklahoma City mayor Mick Cornett has publicly endorsed Kevin Stitt. Cornett’s endorsement of the Republican candidate may not be surprising, but it came several weeks after the end of a campaign that turned negative down the stretch. [NewsOK]
2 Of 3 Gubernatorial Candidates Release Tax Returns: With the midterm elections looming, the candidates looking to become Oklahoma’s next governor have been railing against government waste and a lack of financial transparency. However, only two of the three have made their own finances public. [News9]
In One Minute: State Question 798, on Joint Ticket for Governor-Lieutenant Governor: In this short video, find out the basics, including some pro and con arguments, about State Question 798, which would require that the governor and lieutenant governor run on a joint ticket. [Oklahoma Watch] See more background information and arguments for and against SQ 798 on OK Policy’s fact sheet here.
In One Minute: State Auditor and Inspector Race: Do you know who’s running for state auditor and inspector on the Nov. 6 ballot? In 60 seconds, learn the candidates’ names, the duties of the office and where to get more information. [Oklahoma Watch] Find more information from OK Policy on Oklahoma’s upcoming elections and state questions here.
Full-grown cannabis plant sales among new rules legislators ask health board to adopt in lieu of special session: The medical marijuana legislative working group showed support Wednesday for a special session if the state Board of Health opts to take no action on lawmakers’ recommended protocols. Among the proposed rules are permission for commercial establishments to sell seedlings, which became legal as of Sept. 3, and mature plants, which will be legal to have starting Oct. 26. [Tulsa World]
Judge who resigned amid state Supreme Court inquiry accused of misspending public funds: Former Washington and Nowata County District Judge Curtis DeLapp resigned in August amid abuse of power allegations and an Oklahoma Supreme Court inquiry, but his problems may not necessarily be over. On Thursday at a public Washington County Building Commission meeting, chairman Russell Vaclaw discussed with other board members several checks DeLapp had written from the Building Commission’s fund prior to his resignation. [The Frontier]
Statewide emergency declaration is uncommon: After a week of record-breaking heavy rain pelting the state and with more expected to come, Oklahoma officials are battening the hatches in case of more flooding. Gov. Mary Fallin announced a state of emergency on Tuesday, and updates continued into Wednesday. For several days, rainstorms and heavy winds have damaged power lines, power poles, trees, roofs and buildings statewide, Fallin’s release states. [Journal Record]
Data Center: The Latest ACT Scores for Public and Private High Schools: Research has shown that low performance on standardized tests tends to correlate with lower income levels. Still, students at some Oklahoma schools with higher poverty rates averaged above the statewide composite-score average of 20.8. Since 2017, Oklahoma students have been required to take either the ACT or SAT in 11thgrade, and most schools use the ACT. [Oklahoma Watch]
Sand Springs awarded for community policing effort: When it comes to community policing, Sand Springs is tops. The community was presented the top award at the International Police Chiefs Conference in Orlando. Sand Springs Police Chief Mike Carter says the department as been very proactive in the community. [Public Radio Tulsa] An OK Policy report examined community policing and other strategies for building trust between law enforcement and communities here.
VA to replace Ardmore home: The Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs plans to build a new veterans center in southern Oklahoma. The Oklahoman reports that the agency announced on Wednesday that a new Ardmore facility will replace the city’s existing center. Doug Elliott is the department’s executive director. He says the century-old Ardmore center needs to be replaced before it becomes more antiquated. [Public Radio Tulsa]
Oklahoma City kicks off planning for next phase of MAPS: Oklahoma City residents are being invited to submit ideas for the next chapter of MAPS, the initiative that has built “transformative” public projects and spurred a wave of private investment over the past 25 years. The mayor traditionally has led planning and the campaigns to win voter support for MAPS proposals. [NewsOK]
Quote of the Day
“Teachers have been down this road. I think if we get somebody else to hold that football we’ll be a little better off.”
-Retired teacher Rob Reck, who said that claims by Kevin Stitt and other candidates that Oklahoma can fully fund schools without ever increasing taxes are like Lucy repeatedly pulling the football away from Charlie Brown [State Impact Oklahoma]
Number of the Day
Percentage of Oklahoma’s undergraduate students who attend a public college or university.
Unkept promises: State cuts to higher education threaten access and equity: Overall state funding for public two- and four-year colleges in the school year ending in 2018 was more than $7 billion below its 2008 level, after adjusting for inflation. In the most difficult years after the recession, colleges responded to significant funding cuts by increasing tuition, reducing faculty, limiting course offerings, and in some cases closing campuses. Funding has rebounded slightly since then, but costs remain high and services in some places have not returned. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]
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