In The Know: Budget deal nears; opioid case transforms; give and take on Medicaid expansion…

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.

New from OK Policy

Miss The Give & Take? Listen Here! Unable to attend our March Give & Take on Medicaid expansion? No worries! You can hear the recording of the event here. Our conversation focused on Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma, what exactly this means, what the barriers are to expansion, and current proposed policy changes. Policy Director Carly Putnam was among the panelists. [Public Radio Tulsa] Contact your legislators about expanding coverage in Oklahoma using our easy online form at

In The News

Lawmakers say they are well on their way to finishing up state budget: Lawmakers are about 80% in agreement on the provisions of a state budget, Sen. Roger Thompson said Wednesday. Thompson, R-Okemah, is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “We are closer than we are apart on our numbers,” Thompson said. Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, agreed. [Tulsa World]

State’s opioid case transforms in surprising turn of events: In a surprising turn of events, attorneys for the state of Oklahoma on Thursday dismissed everything but a public nuisance claim against opioid manufacturers and announced they will seek to have the case tried by a judge instead of a jury. [NewsOK] Acting to steer the state clear of “a blizzard of pretrial motions” and an obvious “stall” strategy employed by defendants in Oklahoma’s lawsuit against manufacturers of highly addictive painkillers, Attorney General Mike Hunter on Thursday dismissed a number of the state’s claims against the defendants. [Journal Record]

Mayes County deputy accused of stealing meth from evidence pleads guilty to federal charges: The former head of the Mayes County Sheriff’s Office’s drug interdiction team pleaded guilty on Wednesday to stealing methamphetamine that had been seized by investigators during numerous investigations, according to U.S. Attorney Trent Shores. [The Frontier]

Committee Sends Senate Lt. Gov. Pinnell’s Nomination to be Oklahoma Secretary of Tourism, Branding: Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell laid out his priorities Thursday for a state Senate panel considering his nomination to be secretary of tourism and branding.  [Public Radio Tulsa]

Former state Supreme Court justice appointed to Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education: Gov. Kevin Stitt announced on Wednesday the appointment of Steven W. Taylor to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. Pending Senate confirmation, Taylor will serve a nine-year term, effective May 17. [Tulsa World]

House member explains how naming a state steak benefits education: One might not think elevating the status of rib eye steaks has much to do with funding education, but one would be wrong. At least that’s what one state representative tried to tell six colleagues Thursday morning during a House Tourism Committee meeting. [Tulsa World]

Legislation creating task force on drilling regulations advances: A bill creating a task force to evaluate the impacts of new drilling on existing wells, a topic that has horizontal and vertical drillers at odds, is moving to the Oklahoma Senate Appropriations Committee after winning unanimous approval from the Senate Energy Committee on Thursday. [Journal Record ????]

Another round on the House (floor): Bill allowing businesses to serve clients alcohol moves out of committee: Hairstylists, barbers, bridal shops and other businesses in Oklahoma are one step closer to being able to serve beer or wine at their establishments. On Thursday, Senate Bill 813 and two other alcohol-related bills made it through the state House of Representatives’ Tourism Committee. [Journal Record ????]

Stitt signs bill capping some damages in nuisance suits against farmers and ranchers: Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill on Thursday to cap some damages in lawsuits against farmers and ranchers in Oklahoma. Stitt signed House Bill 2373, by Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore, and Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville. [Tulsa World]

Senator says leadership retaliated against him for controversial abortion bill: The author of a controversial abortion bill said state Senate leadership is retaliating against him. Sen. Joseph Silk, R-Broken Bow, said Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, removed him from a committee vice chairmanship as a result of his effort to push Senate Bill 13, which would have made abortion murder in Oklahoma. [Tulsa World]

Local woman on legislative committees regarding guardianships, long-term care: A local woman is working at the state level to help develop options regarding long-term care for older Oklahomans. She’s also working with another group searching for ways to strengthen Oklahoma’s guardianship laws. [McAlester News-Capital]

Legislative pages return to Capitol: Oklahoma legislative pages returned to the state Capitol this week, but male and female pages will not serve together for the remainder of the session following allegations that a teenage girl was sexually assaulted by a fellow page last month. [NewsOK]

Hamilton: Voter purges, civic engagement and the greater good: Oklahoma’s biennial voter roll purge is about to commence. Purge? Yep, state law requires that the voter registration list be culled every other year, in the April after a general election. Last time, starting in 2017, nearly 300,000 were lopped off for failing to cast ballots in the previous eight years or respond to address confirmation requests from the state Election Board, according to Oklahoma Watch. [Arnold Hamilton / Journal Record]

Private testing for Oklahoma truck drivers questioned: Operators of an Oklahoma City-based truck driving school are hoping state lawmakers will put the brakes on a bill that would allow for third-party testing of prospective big rig drivers. [Journal Record ????]

Cherokee Nation not happy with ruling on ‘Native American’ art: A ruling last week that could change the description of what constitutes Native American art has raised objectieral tribes, including the Cherokee Nation. U.S. District Court Judge Charles Goodwin rejected an Oklahoma law requiring artists who want to label their work Native American to be members of federally recognized tribes. [Tahlequah Daily Press]

‘Of crucial importance’: Tulsa Mayor, community leaders begin push for 2020 census participation: Mayor G.T. Bynum’s daughter, a third-grader, was worried about not scoring well on standardized testing this week. But Bynum reassured her the same way he hopes to reassure Tulsans about participating in the upcoming 2020 census. Much like his daughter’s testing evaluates the efforts of her schools and teachers, the census tracks Tulsa, not individuals. [Tulsa World]

Woman wanted in connection with racist graffiti turns herself in to police: A local woman wanted on charges of terroristic threats turned herself in to Norman police Thursday afternoon. Allison Christine Johnson, 45, was arrested in connection with two different incidents of vandalism where racist messages were spray-painted at five different locations in Norman and Oklahoma City in the past week. [Norman Transcript]

Quote of the Day

“The Census Bureau wants you to know completing the census is safe, it’s confidential and it’s easy. Each Oklahoman is counted as $1,675 in federal funds available from the federal government for programs we utilize in the city and the state.”

-Tricia Woodward, a partnership specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau [Source: Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Average amount less of per pupil funding that high-poverty, nonwhite students receive in Oklahoma compared to high-poverty white students.

[Source: EdBuild $23 Billion]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Unpacking the Power of Privileged Neighborhoods: Conventional wisdom says that place matters more for people who live in distressed neighborhoods—places with low median incomes and not a lot of opportunity. A new study shows that growing up in an affluent community brings “compounding privileges” and higher educational attainment—especially for white residents. [CityLab]

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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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