Capital City: Mayor to deliver his first State of the City
Good Thursday morning.
A group of parents and school advocates are officially launching a new statewide coalition today, calling itself the Oklahoma Parent Legislative Action Committee, or OKPLAC.
The organizers are scheduled to hold a press conference this morning at the state Capitol.
“We want to build on the first steps which were taken during the last legislative session and look forward to working with our elected leaders to create the education system every Oklahoma student deserves," said Melissa Abdo, a school board member at Jenks Public Schools
Andrea Eger of the Tulsa World has more on the formation of this group, which doesn't consider itself a lobbyist group.
I would expect to see a lot of education advocacy at the Capitol this year. Not only are several groups of teachers and parents still gathering following last year's teacher walkout, but education funding and teacher pay raises have been listed as priorities for both Gov. Kevin Stitt and legislative leaders.
MEETING: Stitt's first cabinet meeting is expected to be today.
Also today ... Oklahoma City Mayor Holt will deliver his first State of the City speech. The event, which is hosted by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, is sold out but the speech will be streamed on Facebook Live via the City of Oklahoma City’s Facebook page: fb.com/cityofokc. The Oklahoman's Bill Crum says to look for Holt to focus on four the four priorities that were the cornerstone of his campaign: Core city services such as public safety, streets, transit and utilities; Quality of life, in the context of public investments via MAPS; Public schools, and the role the city has in improving learning; and Bringing diversity to the city's decision-making processes.
"The speech is forward-looking about the opportunities we have in the next year, and it explores where we are today in our city’s journey," Holt said Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Mayor Holt was on PBS NewsHour to discuss the continued federal government shutdown. "As a mayor, if I told my citizens we were shutting the government down it would not be acceptable," Holt said on the program. "Keeping the lights on is basically the bare minimum requirement for competency."
Bills filed to give governor more power ... Oklahoma's governor would be given the authority to appoint five of the state's top agency directors under a series of bills filed Wednesday by state Senate leader Greg Treat.
If all five bills pass, the governor would be given the authority to appoint the administrator of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority; the director of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation; the director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections; the commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; and the executive director of the Office of Juvenile Affairs.
The five are currently appointed by the agencies' governing boards and commissions.
Fallin left office with unfulfilled records requests ... At least 24 open records requests made during Gov. Mary Fallin's tenure appear to be outstanding, according to a list of all record requests obtained by The Oklahoman. The office of Gov. Stitt is now responsible for fulfilling outstanding requests and his general counsel began reviewing the unfulfilled requests on Tuesday.
Data breach found at state agency ... A cybersecurity research team discovered millions of files unsecured and open to the public on a server belonging to the Oklahoma Department of Securities, team members reported Wednesday. The data included names of AIDS patients, details about FBI investigations and personally identifiable information for at least 100,000 finance brokers going back three decades.
Alcohol law changes ... Despite the increased availability of alcoholic beverages sold by retailers across the state, Oklahoma collected only about $900,000 in additional alcohol sales tax revenues compared to the fourth quarter in 2017. “There's only so many drinkers in Oklahoma. All they've done is spread out the places to buy it,” Pancho's Liquortown Owner Brenda Wilson said. “They didn't add drinkers. They just spread out the tax dollars.”
Long-term effects of the state's new cold beer and expanded sales law are still just speculation at this point, with only one quarter of data to analyze. But The Oklahoman's David Dishman has a detailed look at the first few months.
Voter registration in Oklahoma has reached an all-time high ... Following the November mid-term election, the Oklahoma State Election Board's annual Jan. 15 voter registration count eclipsed 2.1 million.
TEACHER CAUCUS ... Dozens of Oklahoma educators were elected to the state House and Senate last year, including Sen. Carri Hicks, D-Oklahoma City. I visited with Hicks last week and asked her about the qualifications teachers bring to the state Capitol. She said people often mistake teachers for being single-issue candidates, when in reality they have some of the broadest perspective. Here's what she told me:
“I think there is a sense from some that I am a teacher so that should be the reason that you vote for me since education is so important. But that’s kind of a weak argument because being a teacher actually gives me a command of issues beyond education.
“My background in education does translate into meaningful criminal justice reform and health care, because we know that these issues are interwoven with education. Teachers in particular undersell their credentials in really seeing our state’s biggest problems up close and personal, and we take it for granted that other people don’t see how those things are interconnected.
“As a teacher, some people on the doorsteps viewed me as a single-issue candidate but I’m really not. If you view me as a single issue candidate then we need to have a longer conversation because my experience in the classroom makes me qualified for a variety of reasons."
Thanks for reading. Got questions, suggestions or complaints? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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