In The Know: Youth movement on OKC Council; 30,000 Oklahoma teachers have left in 6 years; House leader promises more higher ed funding…

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.

New from OK Policy

Bill Watch: Quieter year expected on the tax front: Lawmakers filed hundreds of bills this session that would revise Oklahoma’s tax system. As the 2019 session gathers steam, here are a few of the tax bills that are worth careful attention. [OK Policy]

OK PolicyCast 43: 2019 Bill Watch, Part 1: In this episode, Gene Perry talks to OK Policy’s Executive Director David Blatt and Policy Director Carly Putnam about the big issues we’re keeping an eye on this year related to the state budget, taxes, and health care. [OK Policy]

Statement: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reversal of rules protecting consumers from payday debt trap will harm Oklahomans: Last week the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) proposed to reverse their own rule, issued in 2017, protecting consumers from the harms of predatory lending, despite the lack of new evidence that the rule needs to be reconsidered. [OK Policy]

In The News

Cooper, Hamon continue youth movement on Oklahoma City Council: James Cooper will be Oklahoma City’s first openly gay councilman, winning a five-way race in Tuesday’s primary to take inner-northwest’s open Ward 2 seat. JoBeth Hamon will succeed retiring Meg Salyer as the central city’s councilwoman in Ward 6 on the strength of a grassroots campaign that topped a far better-funded competitor. [NewsOK] When Tuesday’s winners are seated, five of Oklahoma City’s nine elected officials will be 40 or younger, as the generational shift highlighted by David Holt’s election as mayor last year deepens its hold on governance. [NewsOK]

Voters keep late Edmond mayor on ballot for general election, select new Norman mayor: A deceased man is headed to a runoff election for Edmond mayor after voters on Tuesday gave late Mayor Charles Lamb enough votes for a top-two finish with former Mayor Dan O’Neil. Lamb was being promoted by some Edmond residents who hoped he will be re-elected posthumously, giving the city council the authority to pick his successor. [NewsOK] Breea Clark is Norman’s next mayor, incumbents Kate Bierman and Stephen Tyler Holman won re-election and the Ward 3 race is headed to a runoff. [Norman Transcript]

Voters OK school bond issues in Edmond, Norman: Voters in Edmond and Norman on Tuesday approved school bond issues that will pay for new schools, classroom additions, storm shelters and security and technology upgrades among other improvements. Both proposals easily surpassed the required 60 percent support to pass. [NewsOK]

30,000 Oklahoma teachers have left profession in the past 6 years, report shows: A new report released by the state shows 30,000 Oklahoma teachers have left the profession in the past six years. The exodus represents an average of 10 percent of Oklahoma’s teacher workforce, in comparison to a national attrition rate of 7.7 percent, the state Department of Education said in a news release. [Tulsa World]

House leader promises additional funding for higher education: The days of budget cuts to Oklahoma’s higher education system are over, the majority floor leader of the state House of Representatives said Tuesday. Oklahoma’s colleges and universities, state Rep. Jon Echols said, will see an increase in their funding, including more money to pay tuition for students who attend both high school and college at the same time. [Journal Record 🔒] Restoring higher education funding to ensure a well-educated workforce is one of OK Policy’s 2019 legislative policy priorities.

Bill aimed at reforming Oklahoma’s parole process approved by House committee: A bill aimed at reforming the state’s parole system was approved Tuesday by the House Judiciary Committee, as state lawmakers continued to advance changes sought by a criminal justice reform coalition. House Bill 2273 would require the Pardon and Parole Board to state the reason when denying an inmate parole. [NewsOK]

Cell by Cell: Tracking every jail death in Oklahoma: Over the past five years, at least 115 people have died in Oklahoma jails. The Frontier is tracking every jail death in Oklahoma in 2019. We hope to uncover more about how and why people die in Oklahoma jails. [The Frontier]

Tulsa nonprofit reconnects kids with incarcerated parents: New Hope Oklahoma is a non-profit in Tulsa is working to end generational incarceration. Right now, Oklahoma incarcerates more people at a faster rate than any other state, impacting 10 percent of Oklahoma’s children. [KJRH]

Anti-abortion rally draws hundreds to state Capitol: Several hundred anti-abortion activists gathered Tuesday at the state Capitol to urge Republican lawmakers to criminalize abortion. The rally focused on Senate Bill 13, which would classify abortion as murder. [NewsOK]

$2.1 million county error due to software glitch: The Grady County Treasurer’s Office has traced a school funding error to a software glitch.  During November 2018, December 2018 and January 2019, ad valorem taxes had not been transferred to Chickasha Public Schools. As of Monday the funds are to be transferred to Chickasha Public Schools. [Norman Transcript]

Gatz appointed ODOT executive director: The Oklahoma Transportation Commission appointed Tim Gatz as executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, effective April 1. Gatz is secretary of transportation and the executive director of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, responsibilities he will retain in addition to his role at ODOT. Gatz was appointed secretary of transportation by Gov. Kevin Stitt in January. [Journal Record]

Group accuses Tulsa County Court Clerk employee of Ku Klux Klan ties: A Tulsa County Court Clerk employee has been accused of being a member of the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist and Christian identity groups by an organization that tracks and exposes hate groups. [The Frontier]

Quote of the Day

“It’s heartbreaking. Sometimes I feel like screaming at the top of my lungs, ‘Help us! Help our kids!’”

-Shawna Mott-Wright, Tulsa Classroom Teacher’s Association vice president, speaking about a new report finding that 30,000 Oklahoma teachers have left the profession in the past 6 years [Source: Tulsa World]

Number of the Day

34.3

Fatalities per 10,000 people who bike to work in Oklahoma City, 2012-2016, the highest fatality rate among all large U.S. cities.

[Source: League of American Bicyclists]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Tech Is Splitting the U.S. Work Force in Two: The forecast of an America where robots do all the work while humans live off some yet-to-be-invented welfare program may be a Silicon Valley pipe dream. But automation is changing the nature of work, flushing workers without a college degree out of productive industries, like manufacturing and high-tech services, and into tasks with meager wages and no prospect for advancement. [New York Times]

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gene Perry joined OK Policy in January 2011. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism. Gene also serves on the board of the Oklahoma Sustainability Network, is a trustee of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors, and has chaired the communications advisory committee for the State Priorities Partnership, a nationwide network of state fiscal policy think tanks. He lives in Tulsa with his wife Kara Joy McKee, who is a Tulsa City Councilor.

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