In The Know: Legislature in limbo as Fallin delays calling second special session

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.

Today In The News

Legislature in limbo as Fallin delays calling second special session: Lawmakers and their families are living in a state of limbo as Gov. Mary Fallin continues to delay calling a second special session. Family trips have been postponed or are on the chopping block and outside jobs are stalled as Oklahomans wait on Fallin to announce when she’d like lawmakers to return to the Capitol to hash out a new budget agreement. “Honestly, it’s frustrating,” said state Rep. John Paul Jordan, R-Yukon. “It makes it very difficult planning-wise. We’re hopeful that the dates for special session get called with a plan in place this time.” [CNHI] Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special session [OK Policy].

Q&A: Tax bill impacts on health law coverage and Medicare: The tax overhaul Republicans are pushing toward final votes in Congress could undermine the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance markets and add to the financial squeeze on Medicare over time. Lawmakers will meet this week to resolve differences between the House- and Senate-passed bills in hopes of getting a finished product to President Donald Trump’s desk around Christmas. Also in play are the tax deduction for people with high medical expenses, and a tax credit for drug companies that develop treatments for serious diseases affecting relatively few patients [AP]. How Oklahomans would fare under the Congressional GOP tax plan [OK Policy].

House Speaker blaming Medicaid provider cuts on Gov. Fallin’s budget veto: An Oklahoma lawmaker is calling out Gov. Mary Fallin, blaming her for recent Medicaid provider cuts. On Friday, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority voted to reduce reimbursement rates for its providers. The board passed a 6% reduction for medical care and 1% for nursing facilities Friday [KFOR].

Inside a judge’s rehab: Unpaid work at a local Coca-Cola plant: Retired Oklahoma Judge Thomas Landrith is hailed as a hero of criminal justice reform. He started the first rural drug court in the nation and has reaped awards for sending defendants to treatment rather than prison. Most judges in the state model their drug courts after his. But Landrith also is involved in a more sinister byproduct of criminal justice reform [Reveal].

Oklahoma City halfway house contract canceled after inmate death: The Oklahoma Department of Correction has ended its contract with the operator of an Oklahoma City halfway house after officials say lax oversight led to an inmate’s death. Department Director Joe Allbaugh said Monday that Catalyst Behavioral Services did not “conduct necessary functions effectively,” including allowing inmates to come and go without accountability. Allbaugh says inmate Justin Sullivan left the facility Nov. 11 and was not noticed missing until after Ardmore police found his and a woman’s burned bodies in a charred vehicle [AP].

Despite Objections, Oklahoma Schools Use ‘Seclusion Rooms’ to Isolate Students: A controversial practice of shutting children alone in small closet-like rooms to control their behavior has led Oklahoma parents to withdraw their children from school, seek police intervention and take legal action. School officials give the rooms benign-sounding names like “blue room,” “cool-down room” or “de-escalation room” and say they’re intended to provide a healthy temporary separation. But many parents and child advocates say the practice is like being locked in a closet, and some liken it to solitary confinement in prison [Oklahoma Watch].

OKC school board votes to keep existing calendar: Oklahoma City Public Schools, at the request of its leader, will reprise a committee to study the district’s calendar in an effort to find a model that maximizes student learning and teacher retention. School board members debated the pros and cons of the continuous calendar — which includes an early August start date and two-week breaks in October and March — before voting 7-1 to keep it for the 2018-19 school year and reinstate the district’s calendar committee in the spring [NewsOK].

Indian education officials meet with school leaders in Oklahoma: Long accused of under serving thousands of Native American students, the federal agency that oversees 183 Indian schools across the country — including five in Oklahoma — is working to establish a new direction. Officials with the Bureau of Indian Education held a town hall Tuesday at Riverside Indian School in Anadarko to present a draft of a new strategic plan, inviting feedback from educators and tribal leaders [NewsOK].

12 States Launch New Legal Challenge To California Egg Law: A dozen states want the U.S. Supreme Court to block a California law requiring any eggs sold there to come from hens that have space to stretch out in their cages. The Missouri attorney general says a lawsuit will be filed Monday alleging California’s law has cost consumers nationwide up to $350 million annually because of higher egg prices since it took effect in 2015. The lawsuit claims California’s requirements violate the U.S. Constitution’s interstate commerce clause and are pre-empted by federal law [AP].

Quote of the Day

“We send them into school, and we trust these other adults have been trained to deal with these problems … and they do these outrageous things and we don’t know.”

– Jennifer Ashford, a mother who in 2010 sued the Edmond Public Schools district over their practice of shutting students alone in small closet-like rooms to control their behavior (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of school-age children in the Idabel Public Schools district living in poverty, the highest percentage of all districts in Oklahoma.

Source: OK Policy analysis of U.S. Census data

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Bronx Charity Founder Wants to Pay Bail for Poor Defendants Nationwide: In the last 10 years, a small charity called the Bronx Freedom Fund has donated bail money to thousands of poor New Yorkers charged with crimes, freeing them from jail and helping them avoid the dispiriting delays of backlogged local courts as they wait to go on trial. Now, after a decade in operation, the founder of the Freedom Fund is set to announce a new and unprecedented effort: the nation’s first fund designed to post bail for more than 150,000 indigent defendants being jailed across the country [New York Times].

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Ryan Gentzler worked at OK Policy from January 2016 until November 2022. He last served as the organization's Reserach Director and oversaw Open Justice Oklahoma. He began at OK Policy as an analyst focusing on criminal justice issues, including sentencing, incarceration, court fines and fees, and pretrial detention. Open Justice Oklahoma grew out of Ryan’s groundbreaking analysis of court records, which was used to inform critical policy debates. A native Nebraskan, he holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Oklahoma and a BA in Institutions and Policy from William Jewell College. He served as an OK Policy Research Fellow in 2014-2015.

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