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.
In The News
Ban on dispensary sale of ‘smokables’ could set up legal challenge as new rules for medical marijuana approved: The Oklahoma Board of Health, by a 5-4 vote on Tuesday, approved a last-minute amendment banning the sale of smokable medical marijuana products at dispensaries — a move that shocked cannabis industry representatives and could lead to legal challenges [Tulsa World]. The Oklahoma State Medical Association and a host of other health care organizations had called for the Board of Health to ban the smoking of marijuana entirely [NonDoc]. ACLU of Oklahoma threatens lawsuit over newly-adopted marijuana rules [KFOR]. Criminal Justice Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler spoke with KTUL about medical marijuana revenues [KTUL].
Aug. 28 #okleg runoffs: ‘Education is the No. 1 issue’: Runoff-primary elections typically feature lower turnouts than their parent elections. Yet without SQ 788 on the ballot as it was in June, Oklahoma could see a large drop in participation come the Aug. 28 runoff. However, #oklaed issues remain a top priority for many Oklahoma voters, and stakeholders say the topic could shape the outcomes of several legislative runoff elections [NonDoc].
OEA President: Editorial Mischaracterized Our Efforts: An important byproduct of the teacher walkout in April was the unprecedented number of candidates filing for office in mid-April, including record numbers of teachers. We count 115 educators or people with close ties to education (e.g. a spouse who teaches) who filed for the state Legislature or Congress. That has been a huge story locally as well as nationally. In “Union targeting its allies in GOP” (Our Views, July 6), the Oklahoma Education Association was accused of ignoring Republicans who supported last session’s revenue-raising bills and the teacher pay raise in favor of Democrats. Nothing could be further from the truth [Alicia Priest / NewsOK].
One Political Attitude That Crosses Party Lines: Distrust for Politicians of Any Kind: As focus shifts from the primary election to upcoming runoffs followed by the November general elections, candidates seek votes from a public that is expressing significant discontentment. Data from a survey on political attitudes conducted for the Oklahoma Engaged project show Democrats don’t trust Republicans — and vice versa.On its own, this might not seem surprising, but a closer examination of the data suggests Democrats really don’t trust Democratic politicians — and Republicans in Oklahoma don’t trust fellow Republicans either [KGOU].
Episode 33: Keith Gaddie on the Forces Shaking Oklahoma Politics: A couple weeks ago was one of the most interesting and unexpected elections in Oklahoma in a long time. From a big surge in turnout, strong approval of medical marijuana, and numerous incumbents either being forced into a runoff or voted out altogether, it’s clear that something is changing in Oklahoma politics. What happened, what does it mean for the coming runoffs and general elections, and what will our state look like after it all shakes out? [OKPolicy].
What Is Your Take on Oklahoma Schools? Here Are Wayne Greene’s Educated Answers: A friend recently told me that I should give my “take” on education. That struck me odd because it seems like I’m constantly publishing my take on education. No, he said. You write about education a lot, but you write about the details of policy. You’ve never slowed down and given the readers your take on it. I was puzzled [Wayne Greene / Tulsa World].
Role Reversal: Students Share Lessons Teachers Can Learn From: A panel of about a dozen area high-schoolers shared some keen insights on everything from school safety and bullying to classroom cellphone policies and instructional tips for teachers at Tuesday’s Tulsa-area stop of the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s traveling summer conference [Tulsa World]. Students who are planning to enroll in college or enter the workforce said they would appreciate more classes that would help them start the next chapter in their lives [Ada News].
Two Oklahoma City Colleges Closing Child Care Centers Due to Budget Concerns: Two Oklahoma City colleges are closing their child care facilities this summer due to budget concerns. Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City and Oklahoma City Community College opened the centers in conjunction with their child development degree and certification programs. The academic programs will continue at both campuses [NewsOK].
State to Hold Public Hearings on Energy Assistance for Low-Income Families: Two public hearings on the Low Income Energy Assistance Program run by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services will be held in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. The DHS administers the federally funded program commonly referred to as LIHEAP. The program offers financial help to low-income families for home energy costs [OK Energy Today].
Oneok Versus Red Bluff Continued: The fight between two energy companies over a single horizontal well will continue at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. Attorneys for the state’s utility and oil and gas regulator have joined a case that involves the integrity of the natural gas storage reservoir that supplies fuel for millions of Oklahoma electricity customers. Red Bluff wants to drill a well about 313 feet below the bottom of Oneok’s Edmond Gas Storage Unit and facility. Red Bluff initially gave the gas transportation company a week to analyze the underground gas storage reservoir’s integrity. When Oneok requested more time to examine its underground infrastructure, Red Bluff resisted, so Oneok sought an emergency [Journal Record].
Perry Lott Released from Prison After 30 Years of Wrongful Incarceration: Today, Innocence Project client Perry Lott walked out of prison after 30 years of wrongful incarceration in Pontotoc County, Oklahoma. Despite exculpatory DNA evidence, District Attorney Paul Smith offered Lott a sentence modification in the form of time served. Lott agreed to accept this settlement so he can move forward with certainty in regaining his life and not risk years of litigation while a motion to vacate his conviction is resolved in the courts [Innocence Project].
New Fiscal Year Begins with Strong Sales Tax Results for Oklahoma City: July sales tax results indicate underlying growth of 8 percent in economic activity over July 2017 in Oklahoma City. The city’s budget director, Doug Dowler, said Tuesday the results are a “good start” to fiscal 2019, exceeding projections. Sales tax revenue is up 15 percent overall to $39.8 million [NewsOK]. Several public and private redevelopment projects are underway in northeast Oklahoma City that offer economic revitalization and increase the health and well-being of the residents in this area of the city [Journal Record].
OKC Pays Former 911 Supervisor $150,000 to Settle Retaliation Claims: Oklahoma City has paid a former 911 supervisor $150,000 to settle claims she was harassed and retaliated against after she reported she was sexually assaulted. Nealy, 32, filed an employment discrimination lawsuit last year in Oklahoma City federal court. In part, she alleged she was “passed over” for promotions because she is black. She also alleged her superiors retaliated against her after she accused a longtime city employee of rape [NewsOK].
Clark Wants to Bag Single-Use Plastic in Norman: Councilwoman Breea Clark is leading the charge to do something different with single-use plastic bags. The Ward 6 councilor said she’s hesitant to call it a ban just yet. But whatever changes the city might adopt, it must be done before the Oklahoma Legislature comes back into session next February. She said she’s worried state policymakers will pre-empt her ability to add restrictions to plastic bags [Journal Record].
Tulsa Race Riot Eyewitness Recalls Fire as Community Burned: One of the last surviving eyewitnesses to the Tulsa Race Riot still recalls the glow of a massive fire that lit the horizon as a community known as “Black Wall Street” burned. Wavel Ashbaugh, who turned 108 Sunday, was 11 when her Oklahoma hometown was ripped apart in 1921 by some of the worst racial violence in U.S. history. The Tulsa World reports Ashbaugh watched her mother help a black husband and wife hide from National Guard troops for safety [AP News].
Norman-Based Weather Company Aids in Thai Cave Rescue: Saturday morning, Weather Decision Technologies received an email from Google: Elon Musk’s SpaceX and The Boring Co. needed help. Since then, the Norman company’s WeatherOps team has been running high-resolution forecast models and creating graphics to aid the rescue of the Thai youth soccer team that has been trapped in a cave by floodwaters for weeks [NewsOK].
Quote of the Day
“Anything would go a long way for a lot of high school students, because that’s one of the main complaints all of them have when they get out. They’re like, ‘Yeah, I know mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, but how do I file my taxes?’”
-Ada High senior Coleman Prince, who said he thought students would benefit from a personal-finance class [Ada News]
Number of the Day
Projected number of uninsured people who would enroll in coverage if Oklahoma expanded Medicaid in 2019.
We Must Take Disability and Aging Support Work Seriously: From 2005 to 2015, personal care attendants – the most common type of in-home support worker – saw their wages drop in real terms. The bulk of the in-home support workforce is part-time, and over half must rely on public assistance to make ends meet. Unsurprisingly, turnover rates are estimated at between 45 to 65 percent, meaning that people with disabilities, seniors and families face an ongoing battle to get access to support workers that can meet their basic needs, let alone support the kind of independence Charlie had [People’s Policy Projects].
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