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.
Today In The News
2016 sees increase in women running for Oklahoma Legislature: The number of female candidates for the Oklahoma Legislature is almost as high this year as the last two election cycles combined. If these candidates are successful, the state could boost its current low ranking for women holding legislative positions. Seventy-seven women filed for a state legislative seat this year and 56 were still in the race after last month’s primaries, according to Oklahoma State Election Board records [NewsOK]. There are some offices in Oklahoma where women already hold most of the seats [OK Policy].
Oklahoma Democrats heading to Philadelphia for historic national convention: Isabel Baker attended her first Democratic National Convention in 1960 in Los Angeles, where John F. Kennedy won the nomination. She’s been to quite a few in between and is looking forward to being a delegate in Philadelphia next week to help Hillary Clinton become the first female presidential nominee of a major U.S. political party. “I never in my 87 years thought I’d see a woman at this point,” said Baker [NewsOK].
Oklahoma senator’s opponents say consulting payments to candidate from PAC are unfair: A political action committee formed to support Republican candidates for state Senate has paid state Sen. Greg Treat more than $61,000 since 2014. Had the money come to Treat in the form of campaign contributions, it would have been a state ethics violation. Treat, R-Oklahoma City, only has general election opponents, so his 2016 campaign is prohibited from receiving more than $5,000 from any particular PAC. These payments appear to be permissible, however, because the PAC was paying Treat as a consultant rather than making a contribution to his re-election campaign, said Lee Slater, former executive director of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission [NewsOK].
Oklahoma Leaders Looking At ‘Iowa Model’ To Improve Education: At some point in every week in every classroom in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, you’ll find two teachers – one for the kids, one for the teacher. Karen Phillips is what is called an instructional design strategist. “I actually carry with me the six steps that we’re looking for when we meet with teachers to co-plan,” Phillips said. “I coach teachers.” She spends time in every classroom in her building once a week, followed by a planning session with the classroom teacher. Together, they review strategy and look to the week ahead. It’s all part of Iowa’s teacher leadership program, enacted by the legislature just three years ago [News9].
Battle over ‘Right to Farm’ proposal continues across Oklahoma: An Oklahoma community is speaking out against a proposed state question. State Question 777, also known as the Right to Farm Act, guarantees broad farming and ranching practices, and would prevent the legislature from passing laws against those practices without a “compelling state interest.” It has sparked a lot of controversy from many saying that it simply helps big corporations and puts Oklahoma’s natural resources at risk [KFOR]. The number of agricultural jobs in Oklahoma has plummeted 77 percent since 1990 [OK Policy].
Oklahoma energy sector down nearly 10,000 jobs since June 2015: The most recent jobless figures released by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission reveal a continuation of job losses among energy-related sectors during the past year. The State’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose 0.1 percentage point to reach 4.8 percent for June as the energy sector, defined in the Mining, Logging and Construction industry per state classifications, showed a loss of 9,900 jobs from June 2015 to June 2016. That’s a drop of 18.4 percent from year to year [OK Energy Today].
Oklahoma drug law enforcement agency moves toward ‘treatment option’ to combat addiction: There was an important announcement this week by leaders of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (OBNDD) that they would like to start offering a “treatment option,” in conjunction with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) for people who show up on their prescription monitoring program as serial purchasers of certain addictive drugs. The treatment option was an important announcement because it signifies a new and better approach by law enforcement agencies to combat the scourge of addiction [OK Policy].
Oklahoma Corrections Department has no issue with for-profit inmate transfer service: While the industry itself has come under scrutiny in recent weeks, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections has encountered few problems with a for-profit inmate transport company it has contracted with in recent years. Since 2014, state Corrections Department records show the agency has spent $99,009 with Texas Prisoner Transportation Services, a private company that specializes in busing inmates from one place to another — for a price [NewsOK]. A recent investigation conducted by The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that covers the American criminal justice system, found inmates entrusted to companies like Texas Prisoner Transportation Services face a ride that could potentially leave them dead, sexually assaulted or mentally scarred [The Marshall Project].
2016’s new hope for criminal justice reform: American prisons are too often graduate schools of crime, places where foundational purposes of Western law – restitution and justice – have become distant dreams, the equivalent of myths. In Oklahoma, prisons and jails are more crowded than ever, as Corrections trails only Health Care as a cost-driver in state government. People convicted of comparatively minor offenses, including low-level drug crimes, receive such long average sentences that the state has the top incarceration rate for women, and one of the top five rates for men [Patrick McGuigan / CapitolBeatOK].
Quote of the Day
“More diversity is a good thing, period. I think that different life experiences, different backgrounds make for better governing because iron sharpens iron.”
-Tammy West, a businesswoman running for House District 84, speaking about the uptick in women running for the Oklahoma Legislature, which currently has near the lowest percentage of women in the nation (Source).
Number of the Day
Number of free lunch eligible students in Oklahoma, 52 percent of all students in 2013-2014.
The $4.3 Billion That States and Localities Are Missing Out On: Want to grow your economy? Close the gender gap. That’s the advice from a new report that says states and cities could add up to $4.3 billion to their annual economic output simply by focusing on policies that create a more equitable environment for women in the workforce. The report, produced by the think tank McKinsey Global Institute, looked at levels of gender equality in measurable areas like political representation; workforce participation and leadership; educational attainment and teenage pregnancy rates [Governing].
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