In The Know: AG to appeal opioid decision, state officials finish counting Medicaid expansion signatures, and more

In The KnowIn 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.

In The News

Oklahoma Attorney General to appeal Balkman ruling in opioid trial: Nearly a week after Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman issued his final order in the landmark trial, state Attorney General Mike Hunter announced that he and his team will appeal the judge’s decision. [NonDoc] Attorney General Mike Hunter said attorneys disagree with Judge Thad Balkman’s ruling that requires Johnson & Johnson to only pay one year of the costs to abate the public nuisance. [CNHI] Johnson & Johnson previously announced that it, also, plans to appeal the ruling Balkman issued Nov. 15, but for far different reasons. [The Oklahoman]

State officials finish counting Medicaid expansion signatures: State officials have completed their review of 313,677 signatures turned in to put the question of Medicaid expansion to a statewide vote next year. The secretary of state’s office counted 299,731 signatures, leaving the Medicaid expansion campaign more than enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. Now, it’s up to the state’s high court to issue an order stating whether the number of certified signatures is sufficient to put the Medicaid expansion question on the ballot. [The Oklahoman] OK Policy supports SQ 802 and has provided information and resources to better understand the issue. 

Wayne Greene: Gov. Kevin Stitt should look at Puerto Rico’s Medicaid mess before he signs up Oklahoma for block grant funding: Gov. Kevin Stitt should look at Puerto Rico’s Medicaid mess before he signs up Oklahoma for block grant funding. … A reduced variation of Medicaid in Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories is funded through annual block grants. [Wayne Greene / Tulsa World] OK Policy examined another state’s Medicaid block grant proposal, noting that it threatens access to health care and rests on shaky legal ground.

State sends fewer kids to juvenile lockups as focus shifts to rehabilitation: The recent release of hundreds of inmates isn’t the only way the state of Oklahoma is addressing the number of people behind bars. It’s locking up fewer young people, too. KOCO 5 News was given rare permission to go inside the Central Oklahoma Juvenile Center in Tecumseh to see how the Office of Juvenile Affairs has shifted its focus from punishment to progress. [KOCO] An OK Policy analysis recently noted that Oklahoma must continue to reduce juvenile incarceration to minimize disruption to youths’ lives. 

(Audio) Cost of living adjustments, Governor Stitt testimony & tribal gaming compacts & more: This Week in Oklahoma Politics discusses the renewal of calls to provide a Cost of Living Adjustment for state retirees, Gov. Kevin Stitt goes before the U.S. Senate to support a federal proposal to stop states from using the Clean Water Act to block energy projects, and time is running out in the stalemate between the governor and tribal leaders over gaming compacts. [KOSU]

A breakdown of the nearly $139 million that Oklahoma collected from state tribes in fiscal year 2018: Since 2005, the State of Oklahoma has collected money from tribal gaming in the state. The yearly fees collected by the state have increased every year since 2005. The current agreement provides that, in exchange for exclusive rights to conduct gaming in Oklahoma, the tribes pay the state an exclusivity fee starting at 4% and topping out at 6% on electronic Class III games. They also pay 10% on the monthly net win from table games. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma State Election Board debuts new OK Voter Portal: The Oklahoma State Election Board will allow voters to have more information at their fingertips thanks to their new OK Voter Portal. “The OK Voter Portal is a one-stop-shop for voters. It’s convenient, mobile-friendly, and most importantly—it’s safe and secure,” Paul Ziriax, State Election Board Secretary said in a news release. [CNHI]

State pays to eradicate bed bugs from education department: Officials have paid nearly $7,200 to eradicate bed bugs inside the state building that houses education officials. Ultimately, one dead bed bug was discovered inside the Oliver Hodge Building, said Jake Lowrey, a spokesman for the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, which manages the building. [CNHI]

Speakers discusses impact of colonization on mental health: As part of American Indian Heritage Month, Northeastern State University hosted Dolores Subia Bigfoot to give a presentation on the impacts of colonization on American Indian mental health. [CNHI]

Oklahoma schools teach native history in Thanksgiving: Oklahoma teachers are painting a more complete picture of Thanksgiving as they embrace the Native American perspective of the holiday’s origins. School districts across the state have requested to use a lesson booklet developed from the Native American Student Services office in Oklahoma City Public Schools. [The Oklahoman]

Chuck Hoskin Jr.: New Cherokee outpatient facility will transform health care for generations: The largest tribal outpatient health facility in America is now open in Tahlequah. It was a transformational moment in Cherokee Nation’s history. The new facility – which includes more than 240 exam rooms, two MRI machines, an ambulatory surgery center, 34 dental chairs, full-service optometry and many specialty health services – will have a generational impact on health care in the Cherokee Nation and Northeast Oklahoma. [Chuck Hoskin Jr. / CNHI]

Will Oklahoma County officials raise their own salaries?: Oklahoma County’s elected officials put off a vote Thursday on raising their own salaries “effective immediately” because of legal concerns. The three county commissioners, sheriff, treasurer, assessor, clerk and court clerk now make $105,262 a year. At issue is whether they legally can accept almost $13,000 more a year in salary now or after they are reelected. [The Oklahoman]

OKCPS appoints ‘good listener’ Meg McElhaney to board: The Oklahoma City Public Schools Board filled its vacant District 7 seat by appointing marketing executive Meg McElhaney to the unexpired term this evening. [NonDoc] The empty seat represents District 7, which covers much of the southeast side of Oklahoma City. Many of the schools in the district are majority Hispanic. [The Oklahoman]

Cooper: This MAPS about ‘people, parks and places’: About 50 Oklahoma City residents quizzed city officials on what MAPS 4 would mean for their neighborhood, while also getting updates on the progress of the Better Streets, Safer City initiative passed in 2017.[NonDoc]

Parking discussion for new police headquarters cut short: Plans to demolish the old Oklahoma City police headquarters and municipal court buildings were approved by the Downtown Design Review Committee on Thursday, but a discussion about creating a parking lot where the buildings now stand was cut short due to legal considerations. [Journal Record ????]

Broken Arrow mayor claims victory in medical marijuana ordinance lawsuit; plaintiff says court ruling is not ‘vindication’ for city: The city of Broken Arrow claimed victory Thursday in a lawsuit that challenged medical marijuana ordinances it approved last year, but the attorney who filed the petition argued the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling does not vindicate the city. [Tulsa World]

Editorial: How a City Fought Runaway Capitalism and Won: Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood survived the Black Wall Street massacre. It wasn’t going to back down when the dollar stores came to town. [Victor Luckerson / New York Times]

Tulsa demonstrates inclusiveness as it seeks true reconciliation of 1921 Race Massacre, John Hope Franklin dinner speaker says: Tulsa is willing to dive deep into its tragic history to heal pain in the present, which Imam Omar Suleiman says is instrumental to “build beyond the moments.” Too often, he explained, people are comfortable simply gathering for events or news conferences. The community must construct solid relationships between terrible tragedies. [Tulsa World]

Former State Rep. Elmer Maddux dies Wednesday: Former State Rep. Elmer Maddux, a long-time farmer and rancher in Mooreland and champion of rural Oklahoma, died Wednesday night. Maddux represented Northwest Oklahoma (District 58) in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1988-2004. [CNHI]

Quote of the Day

“We can keep locking them up and locking them up – I’ve been in law enforcement for 20 years and that hasn’t changed at all, so we’ve got to start rethinking the way we serve our communities. Yes, there’s always going to be jails and there’s always going to be bad-doers, but what are we doing on the front end to prevent people from even going there?”

-Lt. Wayland Cubit with the Oklahoma City Police Department speaking about the pilot Man-Up program for justice-involved youth in Oklahoma [KOCO

Number of the Day


The number of jobs that Oklahoma tribes supported in the state in 2017, representing $4.6 billion in wages and benefits to Oklahoma workers.

[Source: Oklahoma Native Impact]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Tribal Technology Assessment: The state of internet service on tribal lands: Access to high-speed Internet service has become an essential component to the nation’s economy, education, and healthcare. However, federal data continues to show tribal lands are the least connected areas of the country. [American Indian Policy Institute]

Note: November is Native American Heritage Month. We recognize and celebrate the history, cultures, and contributions of American Indian and Alaska Native people in the state and across the country.

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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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