Lawmakers adjourned the 2019 legislative session Thursday. StateImpact newshounds accompanied several troubles this 12 months. They take a seat down to talk about the payments that made it to the quiet of the session and people in limbo. This session was much less contentious than ultimate consultation in component because lawmakers were operating with a budget surplus. Oklahoma teachers didn’t stage any walkouts, but training became a dominant topic nonetheless. Most of the debate was targeted at funding. Lawmakers permitted a 2nd trainer pay boost of about $1,200, which Gov. Kevin Stitt insisted on after office. It places Oklahoma instructors on track to have the very best average income compared to teachers in neighboring states. Public schools will even receive a further $74 million to apply however they see suit, and lawmakers improved investment for better education for the first time in over 10 years.
School weeks and constitution schools
Lawmakers additionally held long debates earlier than passing Senate Bill 441, an invoice that efficiently calls for schools to operate 5 days per week. Republican leaders said the circulate would assist entice commercial enterprise. Some Democrats, however, said the bill is simply cosmetic because it doesn’t change the minimum quantity of instructional hours for college students. Before nation sales tanked in 2008, Oklahoma lawmakers eliminated the country’s faculty day requirement.
The change observed a particularly horrific wintry weather. It allowed colleges to make up instructional time by extending college days rather than adding new ones, so long as they finished 1,080 hours. Nearly 20 percent of Oklahoma faculty districts have adopted the 4 day week intending to cut prices. However, a 2017 study confirmed brief weeks were costing a few districts extra money, and savings somewhere else have been negligible. Some lawmakers say short weeks have to turn out to be popular with parents and instructors.
The rules include exemptions for schools that can prove financial and educational benefits, and it goes into effect for the 2020-2021 college yr. Additionally, lawmakers handed new policies for online charter schools. House Bill 1395 brings them below the same accounting and warfare of interest necessities as traditional public faculties. This law became apparently a reaction to concerns about Epic Charter Schools, which is being investigated by nation and federal regulation enforcement.
Criminal justice reform stalls
Criminal justice reform debates focused on numerous bills this 12 months. Late within the session, Gov. Stitt threw his weight behind several of these bills, and he brought a few new proposals. Many criminal justice reform advocates idea this will be the yr Oklahoma addressed its jail population. It handed Louisiana in 2018 to become the nation with the very best incarceration fee. Despite the governor’s help, only a few criminal justice bills cleared both legislative chambers.
Senate Bill 252 failed in the House 45-49. This contentious reform bill would’ve required courts to offer low-priced bail terms to defendants charged with nonviolent felonies and misdemeanors. The aim was to ensure the general public could find the money to get out of jail earlier than their trials, with exceptions for people considered dangerous and defendants who were unlikely to return to court docket. Several other payments did not acquire the very last approval, but they might be reconsidered during a unique session or through the following ordinary session in February 2020.
Senate Bill 616 focuses broadly speaking on parole. The regulation would get rid of nation prisoners’ capacity to waive their parole hearings. The bill also might create an elevated parole system for prisoners who have six months or less left on their sentences. In addition, the invoice dictates what type of parole violations should allow authorities to send someone returned to jail. House Bill 1100 would give courts clear rules for determining when a defendant should be prosecuted for a legal drug crime together with ownership with the rationale to distribute.
House Bill 2009 shortens jail sentences for repeat offenders convicted of most nonviolent felonies. House Bill 2218 creates new regulations governing crook defendants’ payment of courtroom fines and prices. It additionally raises the bar for probation violations that would earn people a prison sentence. Under House Bill, 2310 defendants could pick whether a jury or a judge would decide their sentence. If the defendant chooses a jury trial, the invoice calls for juries to decide if the defendant is responsible first. Juries could be required to determine a guilty defendant’s sentence at a later time. Judges might additionally acquire updated instructions for the jury.