In The Know: Second special session opens with little activity

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Today In The News

Second special session opens with little activity: The Oklahoma Legislature convened for the year’s third legislative session on Monday, and almost nothing happened. Lawmakers warned that the day, which cost the state about $30,000, would be unproductive. They blamed the governor’s late executive order, which called the Legislature into the session and limited the scope of what lawmakers would address [Journal Record]. Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special session [OK Policy].

After this week, lawmakers expected to return in January: The second special session that began Monday likely will extend into the new year, as lawmakers again try to fix long-standing issues with the Oklahoma budget. House Floor Leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, said he has told fellow Republicans that after working this week, they should prepare to meet again sometime during the first two weeks of January. The regular session begins in February. Both the House and Senate convened Monday to begin a legislative do-over of sorts [NewsOK].

Fallin’s executive order won’t help mental health services: Gov. Mary Fallin’s executive order allowed the Legislature to seek funding for Medicaid and human services, but it excluded provisions for other state agencies facing budget shortages. Mental health services and several others that care for seniors, disabled adults and foster children remain at risk because of the limited special session call. Combined, they are about $48 million short, officials said. Their cash on hand would likely allow them to operate until March, a month into the regular legislative session [Journal Record].

Lawmakers being asked to support State Chamber ‘strategic vision’ recommendations: A laundry list of massive policy changes that lawmakers are being asked to support is nearly identical to a “strategic vision plan” recently released by the State Chamber. Members of the Senate Republican Caucus discussed the items last week, while the House Republican Caucus went over them Monday. The State Chamber last week released its OK2030 strategic vision plan which contains many of the items being pushed as policy reforms to advance the state’s future [Tulsa World]. 

Auditor won’t step down after finance secretary calls for resignation: The state’s elected auditor said Monday he won’t resign the day after the state’s finance secretary demanded his resignation. On Sunday, Gov. Mary Fallin’s appointed finance cabinet secretary Preston Doerflinger attacked state Auditor Gary Jones on Facebook calling for the Republican auditor to step down. He said Jones waited too long to report troubles an audit uncovered at the state Health Department [CNHI].

Oklahoma Poised To Cut Off 20,000 Disabled and Elderly People From Life-Sustaining Home Care: In early November, the Department of Human Services (DHS) in Oklahoma sent letters to more than 20,000 disabled and elderly residents informing them that the in-home care services they were currently receiving as part of the ADvantage Waiver and In-Home Supports Waiver for Adults programs could be cut in one month. The full consequences of eliminating such vital programs are unimaginable but include reduced quality of life, poor health outcomes, extensive job loss and increased care costs [In These Times]. The doomsday scenario has already begun — but it can be stopped [OK Policy].

Oklahoma County jail officials refuse to release records on jail deaths: Moments after his September inauguration, newly elected Oklahoma County Sheriff P.D. Taylor pledged to clean up problems plaguing the sheriff’s department, including a string of inmate deaths at the Oklahoma County jail. But months later, sheriff’s department officials have refused to release emails and other records that would shed light on how the department handles such deaths [NewsOK].

Freedom Center board will seek to take activist’s name off civil rights landmark: One of the last remaining board members for a nonprofit group that owns an Oklahoma City civil rights memorial says he will seek to have the property taken out of a local activist’s name. Anthony R. Douglas, president of the Oklahoma NAACP, said he is one of the last surviving board members of Freedom Center Inc., which owns the historic Freedom Center at 2609 N Martin Luther King Ave. Community activist Michael Washington says he now controls the civil rights memorial and said he wants to raise money to have the property restored [NewsOK].

OKC district plans to disregard suggested Confederate names: Although hundreds of people voted to keep the names of Confederate leaders on three elementary schools, Oklahoma City School Board members said Friday it won’t matter. “It doesn’t mean anything. The decision’s made, and the names are going to be changed,” member Mark Mann said. “The encouraging thing is there are a lot of good names, a lot of people who are worthy of having a school named after them.” [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Stores Prepare For Liquor Law Changes: Oklahoma’s liquor laws will change next October, but that means many stores that sell alcohol have to start making changes now in order to be ready. Tulsa’s largest convenience store chain is testing out walk-in beer coolers and liquor stores are adding space to handle what’s expected be new demand for alcohol [NewsOn6].

Oklahoma among 13 states suing to stop cage free eggs law in Massachusetts: Massachusetts is being sued by 13 other states that claim a voter-approved law to ban the sale of eggs and other food products from farm animals that are confined in overly restrictive cages is unconstitutional. The states, led by Indiana, filed the lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court last week. It follows another action filed by more than a dozen states earlier in the month against California, which has a similar law [KOCO].

Labor commissioner candidate Cathy Costello talks mental health: Cathy Costello wants to protect the workforce in a personal way of life experience. The essence of work is deeper and more spiritual than affording food or a roof over one’s head, said Costello, a 2018 candidate for state Labor Commissioner. Costello would take a more holistic approach to the office. “Work brings dignity to who we are as people who have been created to be productive,” said Costello, R-Edmond [The Edmond Sun].

Edmondson: State is hungry for change in leadership: Drew Edmondson did not anticipate being in another campaign, ever. “I kept watching the newspaper every morning,” he said. “I’d hoped that somebody with the ability to raise funds with a statewide name would get in the race, and it didn’t happen. At least not talking about the issues in the manner I wanted them discussed. Finally, I decided to make the race myself.” Edmondson, a democrat, announced his intentions to run for governor of the State of Oklahoma on May 1 [The Claremore Daily Progress].

Zebra mussel fight could cost OKC millions, study says: A tiny, shelled creature, no larger than a thumbnail, will cost Oklahoma City more than $6 million to fight, according to a recent environmental study submitted for City Council review Tuesday. And even then, it’s a matter of management instead of eradication. Zebra mussels are here to stay, officials said [Journal Record].

Quote of the Day

“We will definitely need additional funding. We’re watching and waiting to see what happens.”

– Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) spokesperson Sheree Powell. Governor Fallin revised her special session call Monday night to include funding for DHS (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma workers who drove alone to work in 2016, higher than the national average of 76.4%

Source: US Census American Community Survey

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How Dollar General Became Rural America’s Store of Choice: The local Dollar General store, built on a rural highway and surrounded by farmland, sells no fresh meat, greens or fruit. Yet the 7,400-square-foot steel-sided store has most of what Eddie Watson needs. The selection echoes a suburban drugstore chain, from shower curtains to breakfast cereal, toilet paper, plastic toys and camouflage-pattern socks. Refrigerators and freezers on one wall hold milk, eggs and frozen pizza. Many items are sold in mini bottles or small bags, keeping costs lower than a trip to the Wal-Mart Supercenter down the road. The two registers are staffed by one cashier, except during rush hours after school and after work [The Wall Street Journal].

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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