The Weekly Wonk: Workforce training in prison; school discipline disparites; the remaining budget issues; & more…

What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.

This Week from OK Policy

Thursday, April 25 was the deadline for bills to pass the full chamber opposite from where they originated. But there is an exception. New bills — say, to expand coverage or restore the state EITC — can be introduced in the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget (JCAB). Check out our latest Bill Watch post for updates on bills we’ve been tracking closely.

Stable employment is the single biggest factor in determining whether Oklahomans released from prison are likely to re-offend, but unfortunately, the unemployment rate for justice-involved Oklahomans is five times higher than the statewide average. Criminal Justice Policy Analyst Damion Shade explains why legislators should invest in workforce training to address Oklahoma’s incarceration crisis.

Students with disabilities in Oklahoma public schools have experienced disproportionately high rates of exclusionary discipline, such as corporal punishment and suspension, compared to students without disabilities. Fall 2018 Intern Jared Poulter researched numerous bills introduced this session which would address these disparities and encouraged the legislature to reconsider these bills next session.

In his weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt noted that it has been a “low-key budget” year and described the three remaining issues of contention. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update gave us a look at the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling on the legislature’s ability to place a cap on non-economic damages. The Enid News & Eagle published Mental Health Policy Analyst Lauren Turner’s piece on substance use disorders as a public health crisis in Oklahoma. 

Upcoming Opportunities

2019 Summer Policy Institute: The Summer Policy Institute offers participants a unique opportunity to become better informed about the most important Oklahoma policy issues, network with fellow students and leaders, and prepare for their future studies and work in policy-related fields. The application deadline is May 27th, 2019.

Weekly What’s That

Motion to reconsider, what’s that?

A motion to reconsider is a procedural action in the Oklahoma Legislature that allows a member the option to bring a bill or resolution back for another vote. A member must serve notice of a motion to reconsider immediately following a vote in the House or Senate before any other business is disposed of. Click here to read more.

Look up more key terms to understand Oklahoma politics and government here.

Quote of the Week

“Increasing access to health care for hard-working Oklahomans is good for our district, our hospitals, our health clinics and our state. Being a business person like Governor Stitt, I see the 900% return available to us on the tax dollars we pay to the federal government and I want to bring those dollars back to Oklahoma.”

-Rep. Marcus McEntire (R- Duncan), on why he is advocating for a plan to expand health coverage in Oklahoma [Source: Duncan Banner]

Editorial of the Week

Denney: Flawed criminal justice system disproportionately affects rural Oklahomans

Rural America has been hit hard by over-incarceration. Between 1978 and 2013, rural jail incarceration levels increased a staggering 888% nationally with no end in sight. In Oklahoma, the situation is particularly dire. Rural counties make up 33% of Oklahoma’s population and account for 39% of all prison admissions, 43% of female prison admissions and 44% of people sent to prison for drug-related offenses. This is not because more serious or violent crimes are occurring in rural counties; it is because Oklahoma’s criminal justice policies allow for lengthy sentences for low-level, non-violent crimes.

[Lee Denney / Journal Record]

Numbers of the Day

  • 438,000 – Estimated number of Oklahoma workers who would directly benefit if the minimum wage was increased to $15 by 2024
  • 22.6% – Percentage of Oklahoma citizens age 18 to 24 who voted in November 2018 elections, third lowest in the nation.
  • 590 – Number of municipal governments in Oklahoma (2017)
  • $121 – Average annual loss for the average state EITC recipient in Oklahoma since the credit was made non-refundable in 2016
  • More than $173,000 – Amount of SNAP benefits that were used at farmer’s markets across the state in FY 2018

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Syphilis is spreading across rural America. [The Daily Beast]
  • A mother’s zip code could signal whether her baby will be born too early. [The Atlantic]
  • I’m embarrassed by my prenatal depression. Here’s why I talk about it anyway. [New York Times]
  • New study uncovers the heavy financial toll of untreated maternal mental health conditions. [Mathematica]
  • When rural hospitals close, more than health care is lost. [Governing]


Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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