In The Know: New Census data reports 1 in 6 Oklahomans in poverty in 2013

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Yesterday, new data released by the Census Bureau revealed that 1 in 6 Oklahomans lived in poverty in 2013. The Tulsa World used the new data to examine poverty in Broken Arrow, Tulsa and Muskogee. Journal Record columnist Arnold Hamilton argued that the movement pushing to raise the minimum (and sub-minimum) wage is gathering steam. A federal judge has expressed concerns that the state Corrections Department will be unable to revise its executions protocol before a scheduled November execution.

The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office is searching for more women who may have been attacked by a deputy who was recently arrested on on-duty sexual battery allegations. Fort Sill has been officially released from its mission to provide temporary housing for unaccompanied children. We’ve previously debunked myths about the children who were housed there this summer, and discussed what may happen to them next.

Following five patient overdose deaths, a Shawnee doctor has surrendered his medical license. The Rogers County Sheriff’s Office is holding a “mobile take-back event” tomorrow where task force officers in marked vehicles will drive to the homes of residents who have arranged a pick-up to collect unused prescription medications. We’ve written about Oklahoma’s prescription drug problem before. The Cherokee Nation has opened a career services center in Tulsa to help the long-term unemployed locate work.

Oklahoma oil and gas regulators are struggling with oversight of the state’s growing and contentious wind industry. Environment activists are planning a demonstration in Oklahoma City on Sunday to call for greater action to combat climate change. Owasso officials say that a Macy’s distribution center under construction could employ 5,000 people, twice as many as had been expected. Public Radio Tulsa attended a presentation Executive Director David Blatt gave on the state’s health issues and concluded that Oklahoma isn’t doing so well.

The Number of the Day is the percentage of Oklahomans in poverty in 2013. In today’s Policy Note, the Washington Post discusses the growing movement to end lending discrimination against women who are pregnant or on maternity leave.

In The News

New Census data shows Oklahoma’s economy is leaving too many behind

New data shows that poverty remained high in Oklahoma last year, highlighting that many people have not yet recovered from the recession and underscoring the need for Oklahoma to do more to help people struggling to afford basics like decent housing, affordable health care, nutritious food, reliable child care and transportation. Just over 625,000 Oklahomans lived in poverty in 2013, or about one in six residents, according to Census Bureau data released today. That’s less than $24,000 a year for a family of four.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

See also: Broken Arrow poverty rate climbs while state and Tulsa levels remain steady from the Tulsa World.

Tide is rising for wage increase

Oklahoma lawmakers broke a solemn promise last spring. They abruptly decided local control wasn’t such an inviolable concept, after all. At the urging of well-heeled campaign donors, and with the blessing of Gov. Mary Fallin, the Legislature’s Republican majority moved swiftly to block cities from establishing a minimum wage or requiring that employers provide a minimum number of paid sick or leave days. Legislative leaders and Fallin defended the about-face, warning that Oklahoma otherwise could end up with an economy-chilling, patchwork quilt of employment regulations.

Read more from the Journal Record.

Judge worries Oklahoma execution protocol changes will not be timely

A federal judge expressed concern Thursday over whether or not the state can put in place changes to execution protocol in time for upcoming lethal injections. The state Corrections Department is currently revising execution protocol to address concerns raised after the April 29 lethal injection of Clayton Derrell Lockett, which went awry and lasted 43 minutes, much longer than typical lethal injections.

Read more from NewsOK.

Sheriff’s Office looks for additional victims after deputy quits amid sex accusations

Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office investigators believe that a deputy who was arrested Tuesday on on-duty sexual battery allegations regarding two women has “five or more” other victims. Gerald Nuckolls remains jailed in lieu of $125,000 bond on two complaints of sexual battery and one complaint of indecent exposure. He was arrested late Tuesday after a woman notified another deputy that Nuckolls reportedly had exposed himself and assaulted two other women earlier that morning while on a call in northern Tulsa County.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Fort Sill released from immigrant children mission

Officials at Fort Sill in southwestern Oklahoma say the fort has been officially released from its mission to provide temporary housing to unaccompanied immigrant children. The base said in a news release Wednesday that the Secretary of Defense has signed an order ending a memorandum of agreement between Fort Sill and the Department of Health and Human Services. The MOA had required Fort Sill since early June to temporarily house unaccompanied children from Central American countries.

Read more from SF Gate.

See also: Debunking myths about migrant children at Ft. Sill and The kids are out of Fort Sill. Now what? from the OK Policy Blog.

Facing complaints of five patient overdose deaths, Oklahoma doctor surrenders license

At 32 weeks, her baby’s organs were likely almost developed, besides its lungs. The baby likely had finger- and toenails, maybe even a little bit of hair. The mother had only about eight weeks before her baby was considered full term. But the mother and baby never made it. In September 2011, the mother died of a prescription drug overdose. Six days before her death, she filled a prescription for 120 oxycodone 10 milligram pills, prescribed by Dr. Glenn Stow, a Shawnee family medicine doctor.

Read more from NewsOK.

Rogers County Sheriff’s Office To Collect Prescription Drugs In ‘Mobile Take Back Event’

The Rogers County Sheriff’s Office will collect unused prescription drugs in its first-ever Mobile Take Back Event on Saturday, September 20, 2014. The office says it’s partnering with the Rogers County Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force to collect unused drugs. If you choose to participate, a uniformed Rogers County officer in a marked vehicle will pick up your unused medications at your home from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. All you have to do is call 918-342-9727 to arrange the pick up.

Read more from NewsOn6.

See also: Oklahoma’s biggest drug problem isn’t what you think from the OK Policy Blog.

Cherokee Nation Helping Unemployed Tulsans Find Work

The Cherokee Nation is helping some people in Tulsa find work. It opened its first career service center in Tulsa Wednesday afternoon, and the help isn’t limited to just tribal members. The Cherokees are the only tribe in the nation to be awarded a grant to help the long-term unemployed. Career Services Executive Director, Diane Kelley said, “Anybody that’s been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer can come in and apply for, through us and we’ll be able to assist them, and that one is not Cherokee and it’s not just Indian, there will be veterans preference, and it will be anybody who meets the criteria.”

Read more from NewsOn6.

Oklahoma Oil and Gas Regulator Wrestles With Oversight of Wind Industry

Corporation Commission meetings are usually pretty dull, but the Sept. 11 technical conference on wind energy was standing room only. It was lively — and theatrical. When Tammy Huffstutlar of Calumet took her turn at the microphone, she cued up recordings of whirring wind turbines to accompany her testimony. “I don’t know if you can hear this or not, but this is my life,” she told Corporation Commissioners Dana Murphy and Bob Anthony, who presided over the meeting. “That’s why I’m here talking about property rights and regulation.”

Read more from StateImpact.

Oklahoma City marchers will call for greater action to combat climate change

A group of environmental activists, clergy and others plans a demonstration Sunday in Oklahoma City to call for greater action to combat climate change. Nathaniel Batchelder, one of the organizers, said the march will emphasize three points: climate change is real, it’s predominantly caused by human activity, and all humanity must participate in solutions. Batchelder, director of the Peace House in Oklahoma City, said the march is intended to challenge federal policymakers and others who question the science behind climate change. Marchers will be encouraged to contact their elected officials to demand action, he said.

Read more from NewsOK.

Owasso official: Macy’s could hire up to 5,000 for Tulsa County distribution center

A new Macy’s distribution center being built in north Tulsa County could employ 5,000 people by this time next year, an Owasso official said. “That is twice as much as we were anticipating,” said Chelsea Levo, Owasso’s director of economic development, on Wednesday. “It is a 1.3 million-square-foot footprint, but it is two-tiered space, which we didn’t realize. That’s additional production.”

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma is in a Tough Place When it Comes to Health

First, some good news from Oklahoma Policy Institute Executive Director David Blatt on the state’s health rankings. “Chlamydia, we’re only ranked 23rd, so you can maybe see that on a T-shirt someday soon: Oklahoma — only 23rd in rates of chlamydia!” Blatt said Wednesday during a presentation at Morton Comprehensive Health Services. “But for the rest of it, we’re really not doing so well.” Oklahoma ranks 44th in overall health according to United Health Foundation. That includes bottom-10 rankings in heart disease, diabetes and infant mortality.

Read more from Public Radio Tulsa.

Quote of the Day

“Politicians like to talk about our low unemployment, but it’s clear that a huge number of families are working hard but not getting ahead. As long as Oklahoma continues to block minimum wage increases, underfund education and refuse billions in federal funds to expand health coverage, it’s not going to get any easier to move up the economic ladder.”

– Oklahoma Policy Institute Policy Director Gene Perry, speaking about new Census Bureau data showing 1 in 6 Oklahomans lived in poverty in 2013 (Source:

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahomans in poverty in 2013, according to data released by the Census Bureau yesterday.

Source: US Census Bureau.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

On maternity leave? You may face lending bias, HUD says

The couple, who had just had twins, thought everything was on track when their mortgage application was approved and the closing for their new Virginia home was scheduled. But when the bank learned that the wife was on maternity leave, the lender — FirstBank — reversed its decision, denied the loan, and caused the wife and infant twins to move in with her parents. There wasn’t enough space, so her husband moved to an apartment with their 3-year-old. Despite the fact that three-quarters of American moms are in the labor force, securing a mortgage while on maternity leave or pregnant is “a significant challenge and producing a steady flow of complaints,” even though the practice violates federal law, said Bryan Greene, HUD’s general deputy assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity.

Read more from the Washington Post.

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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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