In The Know: Local lawmakers waiting to hear from leadership

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.

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Today In The News

Local lawmakers waiting to hear from leadership: Oklahoma’s second special session is supposed to be looking for a budget fix, but most lawmakers are back in their districts as negotiations are conducted by legislative leaders behind closed doors.With the Legislature convening for its regular 2018 session on Feb. 5, there is some talk about what effect the special session can have. [Tahlequah Daily Press] Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special session [OK Policy]

New Year, Same Budget Issues: Oklahoma lawmakers are still in a special session looking to find additional revenue, one month before the next regular session is scheduled to begin. If nothing else is done to provide additional revenue, the next session will begin on February 5 with a $425 million hole. [Capitol Insider/KGOU] Oklahoma’s budget outlook is improving, but major challenges remain [OK Policy]

Tulsa, Oklahoma Pre-K Shows Benefits Into Middle School: Middle school-students who were enrolled in Tulsa’s prekindergarten program as 4-year-olds were more likely to be enrolled in honors courses, and were less likely to be retained in a grade compared to their peers who were not enrolled in pre-K. That’s according to the latest study to find long-lasting benefits from high quality early-childhood education. [Education Week]

Program Aims To Help Those In Poverty: According to the Oklahoma Policy Institute, 16 percent of Oklahomans were living below the federal poverty line in 2016. The poverty rate in Comanche County is 4 to 5 percent above that state average, according to Debra Johnson, poverty initiatives coordinator for the Salvation Army. [Lawton Constitution] 2016 Oklahoma Poverty Profile [OK Policy]

Polticizing the judicial selection process is an idea whose time has not come: There were a lot of good ideas in the state Chamber’s recent OK2030 Strategic Vision Plan. But there’s at least one clunker mixed into the program that makes no sense: “Change the process by which judicial vacancies are filled in the state’s courts to mirror the federal process.” [Wayne Greene/Tulsa World]

Oklahoma local health departments see opportunity in state-level ‘crisis’: Some leaders of Oklahoma’s local health departments hope that chaos at the state level will prove to be an opportunity for deeper changes to the health system. [The Oklahoman]

Three mistakes the Oklahoma House made in 2017: When the Oklahoma House of Representatives reconvenes for the 2018 legislative session, it should buck its past 12 months of bad mojo by re-establishing a series of traditions it eschewed in 2017. [William W. Savage III/NonDoc]

Are Oklahomans more likely to die of cancer than most Americans?: Oklahomans aren’t much more likely to get cancer than other Americans, but when they do, it’s more likely to kill them. The American Cancer Society projected about 19,000 people in Oklahoma will be diagnosed with cancer this year, and more than 8,000 will die. [The Oklahoman]

Kids in greatest need are reason Laura Dester Shelter hasn’t closed yet: Three years ago, officials at the Oklahoma Department of Human Services announced the closure of the state’s emergency shelters for children in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma City shelter shut its doors more than a year ago. Laura Dester is nothing like it used to be, from the needs of the kids to the effort to find them permanent homes. [Ginnie Graham/Tulsa World]

Bill could give schools flexibility in spending property taxes: A state lawmaker wants to give school boards and superintendents more flexibility in how they can spend property taxes. Under current law, districts must spend a certain portion of their ad valorem funds on capital improvement projects like school buildings, furniture, equipment, computers, telecommunication and utility costs, insurance premiums or to pay the salaries of security guards. [CNHI] Two big myths that distort Oklahoma’s education funding debate [OK Policy]

House special investigation expands to include Dept. of Tourism, OMES: A House Special Investigation has expanded to include the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and the Office of Management and Enterprise Services. The committee has been looking into the mismanagement of state funds in the Oklahoma State Department of Health. [Fox 25] Breakdown Of Misspent Money At State Department Of Health [News9]

Group looks at addiction issues: Poverty that spans generations is a major social issue impacting families and the economy of the Muskogee area, and part of the issue is tied to addiction.  Rich Schaus, executive director of the Gospel Rescue Mission, hosted a roundtable discussion among community health care providers and stakeholders interested in targeting some of the root issues of addiction on Friday morning. [Muskogee Phoenix]

Bad law played a role in Oklahoma Health Department’s woes: The State Department of Health’s “Corrective Action Report” suggests the agency is on track to address millions in financial mismanagement and prevent reoccurrences. That’s encouraging. The bad news is the report also suggests state law has discounted prudent financial management — with predictable results. [Editorial Board/The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma City teachers turn to crowdfunding to afford resources for students: With the current budget crisis in Oklahoma and cuts to education in recent years, more and more teachers are turning to crowdfunding to get resources for their students. [Fox25] Another year goes by, and Oklahoma still leads the nation for cuts to education [OK Policy]

Quote of the Day

“I’ve wondered why we didn’t have a caucus this week, or heard from the governor. I thought we would try to do something, but it doesn’t look like they are in any big hurry. Either the governor knows she has run out of time, or they have cooked something up between all the parties that they think we can vote on quickly.”

– Sen. Dewayne Pemberton (R-Muskogee) commenting on the lack of communication from leadership on the plan for a third special session (Source)

Number of the Day


One year cost to the state for one chronically homeless man in Oklahoma City.

Source: Oklahoma City Planning Department

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Research Says Juveniles Need Their Own Miranda Rights: Anyone who’s watched a cop show on television in recent decades has a decent understanding — or at least a memory — of the rights accorded to those arrested: the right to an attorney, the right to remain silent and all the other protections given to the accused over the past half-century, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1966 decision in Miranda v. Arizona. But juvenile offenders often don’t have a clear understanding of what those rights entail. Back in 2013, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry concluded that Miranda warnings are “too complex and advanced” for most juveniles [Governing].

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Courtney Cullison worked for OK Policy from 2017 to 2020 as a policy analyst focused on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma. A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve.

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