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
Prosperity Policy: Walkout message not being heard: Last year, when tens of thousands of teachers walked out of their classrooms and rallied for two weeks at the state Capitol, they had a clear message. They greatly appreciated the pay raise that lawmakers had just approved, but more dollars were desperately needed for the classroom to hire additional teachers, school counselors and other support staff, and to pay for supplies and equipment. [David Blatt / Journal Record]
OK Policy’s David Blatt joins us for a 2019 legislative outlook: In the immediate wake of Governor Stitt’s State of the State Address, and as the 2019 legislative session gets underway in OKC, we welcome back to StudioTulsa our longtime colleague David Blatt, who’s been the Executive Director of the non-partisan, non-profit OK Policy think tank since 2010. Blatt chats with us in detail about what lawmakers at the State Capitol might attempt or accomplish regarding education, criminal justice, health, economic opportunity, taxes, and the state’s budget. [Public Radio Tulsa]
ICYMI: Legislative Primer is your guide to Oklahoma’s 2019 legislative session: Whether you are a veteran advocate, a complete novice to Oklahoma politics, or anyone in between, the 2019 Legislative Primer will provide you invaluable information in a concise, user-friendly format. You are welcome to download, print, and share the Legislative Primer with anyone who may need it to figure out what’s happening at the Capitol. [OK Policy]
In The News
Stitt says business savvy, diversity are priorities in search for new OU regent: Gov. Kevin Stitt said he plans to add business savvy and diversity to the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents during a Q&A session with a group of Oklahoma journalists on Thursday at the state Capitol. Former OU board of regents chairman Clayton Bennett resigned during the regents meeting last month for health reasons. [Norman Transcript] On Thursday, the University of Oklahoma announced 28 employee reductions split between the Norman and OU Health Sciences Center campuses. [Norman Transcript]
Gov. Kevin Stitt reaffirms pro-life stance, declaring ‘life begins at conception’ during Rose Day address: Cementing his deep-rooted position on abortion, Gov. Kevin Stitt made clear his conviction that life begins at conception. “As I have said all along, I believe that life begins at conception,” Stitt said Wednesday on the House floor during the 28th annual Rose Day at the Capitol. [Tulsa World]
Some say proposed reforms could bring relief to overcrowded prisons: Calling it a critical need, Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt urged state lawmakers to plug $10 million into drug intervention and treatment programs and make changes to the state’s criminal justice system in an effort to reduce the state’s skyrocketing prison population. [Journal Record] OK Policy’s 2019 criminal justice policy recommendations include reforming cash bail and court fines and fees, funding public defenders and courts, making SQ 780 retroactive, and adding racial impact statements on criminal justice legislation.
Legislative leaders discuss issues at First Week Forum: Education, criminal justice reform, medical marijuana and access to health care were among the issues legislators discussed during The Journal Record’s First Week Forum and reception Wednesday evening, and while both Republican and Democrat panelists were aligned on most issues, how they intend to tackle those issues varied. [Journal Record]
Permitless carry gun bill sails through Oklahoma committee: A bill vetoed last year by then-Gov. Mary Fallin that would allow Oklahoma residents to carry a gun without any training or a background check appears to be sailing toward the new Republican governor, who has said he’ll sign it. [AP News]
Medical marijuana working group to consider several outstanding issues: A meeting of the legislative working group on medical marijuana is scheduled for Wednesday to discuss a “unity proposal” that will address several outstanding issues. The proposal would provide guidelines and regulations for the state’s rapidly growing industry. [NewsOK]
Bill aims to stop stalled trains at intersections: At one point, we’ve all experienced a train blocking intersections. Now State House Speaker Rep. Charles McCall (R-Atoka) has written a bill that if passed, would fine railroad companies up to ten thousand dollars for stalled trains. [KJRH]
EDITORIAL: We’d like to see classroom spending at the forefront this legislative session: The good news to come at the start of the new legislative session is that common education seems to be a priority at the Oklahoma Capitol. Gov. Kevin Stitt and legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle all put education at the top of their priority lists. [Editorial Board / Enid News & Eagle] OK Policy’s 2019 Policy Priorities include increasing PK-12 state aid funding to restore school staffing and programs.
State investigators say sexual assault kit tracking system will aid investigations, inform victims: A state agency is preparing to launch a website to keep tabs on forensic evidence collected after a sexual assault. State officials hope to launch the site in March. The new system and newly proposed legislation could help investigators solve sexual assault cases and give victims more peace of mind. [StateImpact Oklahoma]
Area woman pioneers sexual assault legislation, aims to change rape culture: An area sexual assault survivor is pioneering rape legislation in Oklahoma, working hard to bring the state up to par with the rest of the country when it comes to victim’s rights. After an uphill battle trying to have her voice heard, five new pieces of legislation have been introduced, a breakthrough for survivors across the state. [KJRH]
Attorneys create group to give free legal advice at Oklahoma County Courthouse: A group of attorneys created a non-profit called Oklahoma County Courthouse Access Clinic to help Oklahoma families navigate the judicial system. They just started the first of February and they’ve already helped nearly 25 families. [KFOR]
Flu hospitalizations increase about 29 percent in Oklahoma as two more die from flu: Oklahoma experienced about a 29 percent increase in flu hospitalizations compared to last week’s report on flu numbers. Two additional deaths were reported in the state, including one death in Tulsa County. [Tulsa World]
Secrets of the Oklahoma Capitol dome: For more than 100 years, the Capitol building has been the epicenter for change in our state. The building is no stranger to innovation either. If it’s walls could talk, it’d have quite a bit to say. Unlike many Capitol buildings, Oklahoma’s originally had no dome. [News9]
Four hopefuls file to run as new chief of Cherokee Nation: The filings are in and four candidates are seeking to be the next chief of the Cherokee Nation. Rhonda Brown Fleming, Chuck Hoskin Jr., Dick Lay and David Walkingstick all submitted paperwork with the Cherokee Nation Election Commission by 5 p.m. Thursday to run for principal chief. [Tulsa World]
Death looms over Feb. 12 Edmond mayoral election: An Edmond mayoral election is often sedate. There are winners, and losers, and in the end, someone is selected by voters to lead the city. But that’s not exactly the script this time around. [NonDoc]
Candidate for Norman mayor hypes morals, oil, war bonds: Norman voters will cast ballots Tuesday, Feb. 12, to decide which of three candidates will become the next mayor of Norman. With Mayor Lynne Miller not seeking re-election, two city council members and a community activist seek to fill her spot. [NonDoc]
Quote of the Day
“The more people protected from the flu, the more we can protect our populations who can’t get the shot.”
-Tulsa City-County Health Department spokeswoman Leanne Stephens, encouraging more Oklahomans to get flu vaccinations after hospitalizations increased 29 percent and two more died from flu [Source: Tulsa World]
Number of the Day
Net migration of 25-34 year olds out of Oklahoma, 2012-2017.
[Source: Brookings Institution]
How the shutdown opened a window on poverty in America: Last month, Congress ended the federal shutdown — at least for now — slowing the daily flow of stories about furloughed workers who cannot pay their rent, work but have no savings, or are insured but cannot afford their medication.But while those workers have returned to their jobs, the problems that come with economic insecurity remain top of mind for millions of poor and even middle-income Americans living on the financial edge. Most of these Americans are white, but a disproportionate share are not. Many of them work, but they’ve been crushed for at least a decade since the Great Recession by stagnant wages and rising costs for everything essential to live. [NBC News]
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