In 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.
Today In The News
Study Ranks Oklahoma 36th In Nation In Raising Kids: An annual report detailing the well-being of children in each state was released Tuesday. Oklahoma received an overall ranking of 36th from the Kids Count Data Book which uses 16 indicators in its rankings system. “We did improve one percentage point,” said Joe Dorman of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, “We did move from 37th in the nation to 36th. So, while we’re happy that we’re taking the right path there’s still far more work to be done.” [News9] The report is available here.
Oklahoma cancels ‘managed Medicaid’ RFP: The Oklahoma Health Care Authority has cancelled its request for proposal asking private companies to manage Medicaid coverage for aged, blind and disabled patients. The agency sent out a press release around 2:20 p.m. today… OHCA’s decision comes after tense behind-the-scenes debate over appropriations for the experimental program, which many criticized as unlikely to work based on results in states like Iowa and Florida. Managed Medicaid programs involve private entities attempting to save states money by finding care efficiencies [NonDoc]. Oklahoma’s efforts to privatize expensive care for the most fragile SoonerCare patients was contentious from the beginning [OK Policy].
Oklahoma abortion sign law faces uncertain future without funding: A new state law that received overwhelming legislative support in Oklahoma only a few weeks ago already faces a questionable future after lawmakers apparently failed to fund it. The measure, which lawmakers declared as an “emergency” before passing it unanimously, was supposed to go into effect July 1. “I’m excited,” said state Sen. A.J. Griffin, R-Guthrie, earlier in the week. “Anytime we can link pregnant women to prenatal care, we not only reduce the chances of abortions, but as importantly, or more importantly, we encourage healthy pregnancies, healthy babies and healthy moms.” [CNHI]
SQ 780 should save Oklahoma millions next year: Last November, Oklahoma voters passed two significant criminal justice reform measures by wide margins. SQ 780 reclassified simple drug possession and low-level property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, taking away the possibility of prison time for these less serious offenses. SQ 781 directs state officials to calculate the savings from keeping those people out of prison and send it to counties to invest in rehabilitative programs like mental health and substance abuse services. Using any reasonable calculation method, the savings from SQ 780 should be several million dollars in FY 2018, the first year that the questions go into effect [OK Policy].
Federal Court Sides With Oklahoma, Blocks Caps on Inmate Phone Costs: A legal challenge, partly spearheaded by Oklahoma leaders, has blocked the federal government from setting limits on how much inmates and their families can be charged for in-state telephone calls. The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2-1 decision Tuesday that the Federal Communications Commission exceeded its authority in creating a national rule that sought to cap fees on intrastate phone calls for the first time [Oklahoma Watch].
Oklahoma governor’s executive order rankles authors of DUI bill: In a move that has rankled state lawmakers, Gov. Mary Fallin last week quietly signed an executive order that appeared to countermand some provisions in a new state drunken driving bill that she signed into law. The bill — touted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving for expanding the use of ignition interlock devices — contained provisions that would have abolished the civil administrative appeals process individuals currently can use to try to keep their licenses after being arrested [NewsOK].
Prosperity Policy: Lessons of our history: At the Oklahoma Policy Institute, we often take stands on hotly debated issues. We’re used to controversy, but one of our stands has become surprisingly controversial – our optimism about Oklahoma’s future and conviction that we can come together to make big improvements in the quality of life in our communities. We don’t hear much of that optimism these days when it comes to politics. On social media and other forums, far more passion goes into condemning politicians and tearing down the other side than to identifying what we have in common [Gene Perry / Journal Record].
ACLU seeks re-examination of Oklahoma domestic violence case: The American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday that it will ask an Oklahoma court to review the case of a woman who was sentenced to 30 years in prison for failing to report the abuse of her children by her boyfriend, who received only two years behind bars for the abuse. Brady Henderson, the legal director for the ACLU’s Oklahoma chapter, said the group plans to file a lawsuit that will challenge what it believes was a disproportionate sentence given to Tondalao Hall, who said her boyfriend was also abusing her [AP].
VA hospital to add residential substance abuse program: The Oklahoma City VA Medical Center will add the first veterans’ substance abuse residential program in the state this winter. Michelle Johnston is the chief of social work at the center. She worked with Lindsay Shaw, the mental health coordinator for social work, to write a business plan for the Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Treatment Program. The program will help provide treatment plans for veterans with substance use disorders or co-occurring disorders [Journal Record].
Voters overwhelmingly back county sales tax extension: Muskogee County voters who took time to cast ballots in Tuesday’s special election showed overwhelming support for a 10-year extension of the county’s half-penny sales tax. Half the revenue generated by the sales tax is shared equally by the commissioners in support of their efforts to maintain roads and bridges. The other half is used by the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement activities and courthouse security [Muskogee Phoenix].
OKC school board to reconsider rejected pay increases: Oklahoma City School Board members who said no to pay increases for central office workers on Monday will meet Thursday to consider a revised proposal. The board has called a special meeting for 4:30 p.m. to discuss the proposal behind closed doors. Members voted 4-3 against increases totaling nearly $1 million for 202 central office staff and select operations workers, including members of Superintendent Aurora Lora’s cabinet [NewsOK].
One of Oklahoma’s historic all black towns keeps it memories alive with an annual reunion: You and I might see an abandoned building, an old foundation. People like Shirley Nero see them as the stores she used to run through as a kid. The Bush Brothers ran three of them in Clearview back when this all black town had a thousand people living here. There was a post office, a movie theater and railroad station established by that all American dream of seeking freedom and new beginnings [KFOR].
CAP Tulsa to open early childhood education center in former Union elementary school: The Community Action Project of Tulsa County is opening an early childhood education center this fall in a former Union Public Schools elementary school. The center, for children up to 3 years old, will be located at the former Briarglen Elementary School, 3303 S. 121st East Ave. Steven Dow, executive director of CAP Tulsa, said the center will help meet an “enormous” demand for early childhood education in the community [Tulsa World].
OU shuts down file sharing service after failing to protect thousands of students’ records: OU unintentionally exposed thousands of students’ educational records — including social security numbers, financial aid information and grades in records dating to at least 2002 — through lax privacy settings in a campus file-sharing network, violating federal law. The university scrambled to safeguard the files late Tuesday after learning The Daily had discovered the breach last week. The Daily spoke to vice president for admissions and records Matt Hamilton Tuesday afternoon, when he said OU IT was aware of the breach and was working to secure the files [OU Daily].
Names released of deputies, officer who fatally shot mentally ill man armed with knives: Authorities released the names Wednesday of the police officer and sheriff’s deputies who fatally shot a mentally ill man as he entered a north Tulsa convenience store while carrying knives last week. Joshua Barre, 29, was fatally shot Friday morning by two Tulsa County deputies and one Tulsa police officer as he held two large knives in his right hand and entered the Super Stop convenience store at 4449 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The shooting sparked demonstrations at the site, with hundreds of people turning out to protest [Tulsa World].
Quote of the Day
“You cannot sentence one of an abuser’s victims to 30 years in prison for failure to stop his crime, particularly when that abuser walks free the day he pleads. That creates an incredible injustice.”
– American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma Legal Director Brady Director, on the ACL’s plan to file a lawsuit challenging the 30-year prison sentence given to Tondalao Hall in 2006 for failing to protect her children from her abusive boyfriend, who was sentenced to two years (Source)
Number of the Day
Amount of one-time funds and non-recurring revenue in Oklahoma’s FY 18 budget
How Some Kids Escape Poverty: More than 1 in 10 American children spend more than half their childhood in poverty—that’s a whopping nine million kids. Most of these children, the majority of whom are African American, are trapped in a cycle of deprivation: As young adults, they’re unlikely to be in school or working, and their children will likely follow a similar path. But a small percentage manage to escape their circumstances and become economically successful. Researchers with the U.S. Partnership on Mobility from Poverty—an initiative supported by the Urban Institute—set out to determine what factors help make it possible for this group to succeed. Their report, published yesterday, is based on data from the University of Michigan’s Panel Study of Income Dynamics, which has tracked 18,000 individuals and their descendants since 1968, looking at such areas as employment, income, health, marriage, and child development [CityLab].
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