In The Know: Budget rebuilding continues; college athlete’s overdose issue at trial; bill to curb 4-day school weeks signed…

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

Budget Overview: The rebuilding project continues: In the final days of session the Legislature adopted the state’s $7.9  billion budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020 (FY 2020). The main budget, or General Appropriations bill (HB 2765), and several dozen companion bills lay out the blueprint for state government in the coming year. The budget is $434 million (5.7 percent) above the original budget for FY 2019 and an increase of $1.0 billion (14.9 percent) over the final budget for FY 2018, continuing a welcome trend that can help move Oklahoma toward greater and more widely shared prosperity. [OK Policy]

Prosperity Policy: Serving the public: This past Saturday night, violent tornadoes swept through much of Oklahoma for the fourth time in a week. As warning sirens blared, people again took cover in shelters, basements and bathtubs. In El Reno, two people lost their lives and dozens more were injured. The Tulsa area, where I live, has been hit especially hard by the week of severe weather, with numerous neighborhoods underwater and a growing threat of massive flooding if rising water levels overwhelm an aging levee system along the Arkansas River. [David Blatt / Journal Record]

In The News

Oklahoma is the “World’s Prison Capital.” That won’t change any time soon: Last year, Oklahoma edged out Louisiana for the dubious honor of being the “world’s prison capital”—locking up a higher proportion of its residents than any other state or country. Since then, lawmakers and businesspeople from both parties have taken up the cause of reforming their state’s criminal justice system. Yet as this year’s legislative session comes to a close, only one major criminal justice reform bill ever crossed the governor’s desk. [Mother Jones]

Strangulation of women is common, chilling – and often a grim harbinger: Strangulation of women is a persistent and increasingly reported form of violence in Oklahoma, with hundreds of cases reported annually, criminal justice system officials say. It is not always fatal, but it is terrifying and can cause long-term injuries and trauma. It also has been shown by researchers to be a precursor to homicide, a signal that this type of domestic violence often leads to a lethal assault. [Oklahoma Watch]

U.S. football player’s overdose death spotlighted in J&J Oklahoma opioid trial: The father of a college football player who died of a drug overdose gave emotional testimony about the U.S. opioid epidemic’s personal cost on Wednesday in the second day of trial of a lawsuit by the state of Oklahoma accusing Johnson & Johnson of fueling the crisis. [Reuters] Craig Box was the first witness called by the state in the second day of a civil trial launched to determine whether Johnson & Johnson and subsidiaries of the drugmaker should be held accountable for an epidemic of opioid addiction that has ruined countless lives in Oklahoma and across the nation. [Journal Record]

Stitt signs bill to curb 4-day school weeks: Gov. Kevin Stitt signed legislation Tuesday to curb four-day school weeks. He signed Senate Bill 441, which requires school districts to be in session for a minimum number of school days, making it more difficult for schools to operate on four-day weeks. SB 441 replaces the current option for school districts to be in session for 1,080 hours each year and instead requires schools to be in session for a minimum of 165 school days, 158 of which must be instructional days. [The Oklahoman]

Stitt signs bill lifting ban on ballot selfies: Ballot selfies will soon be legal in Oklahoma. Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday signed a bill that will allow Oklahoma voters to snap and share cellphone photos of their ballots. Voters will be able to take and share photos of their absentee ballots on social media. In-person voters also will be allowed to take pictures of their marked ballot in the voting booth for posting on social media after they leave the polling place. [The Oklahoman]

Senate Pro Tem Treat names Roger Thompson co-chair of LOFT oversight committee: Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat has named Senator Roger Thompson as co-chair of the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT) oversight committee. Senate Bill 1, signed into law recently, created LOFT to serve as an independent office to provide the Legislature and the public with objective data on agency budgets and programs. [The Duncan Banner]

State health officials confirm three additional measles cases: Oklahoma health officials have identified three additional measles cases related to an exposure in Okmulgee County. The Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Okmulgee County Health Department confirmed that the recent cases stemmed from a previous case discovered May 15. [Tulsa World]

Ginnie Graham: Mental health needs emerging as flood waters rise and tornado potential continues: After the third time taking shelter in our laundry room within days, we were exhausted. It was somewhere around 1:30 a.m., and we woke the kids, grabbed the dog and trapped the cat as tornado sirens wailed. Power flickered and our smartphones were tuned into three different streaming weather broadcasts. [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World]

Point of View: Officer-involved shootings of black children must be addressed: In the past month in Oklahoma, at least four children younger than 18 have been shot and wounded, and one shot and killed, by police. We cannot accept the pattern of black children and teens being shot by law enforcement. Although these issues are rarely simple, they are not impossible to solve. With the community at the table, we need to work to prevent officer-involved shootings from happening again. [Jenny Birch / The Oklahoman]

Here’s what 5 teachers in different states are fighting for a year after walkouts and protests: It has been a year since teachers began walking out en masse to protest the state of public education in the U.S. But in many of the states that saw significant activism from teachers in the past year, educators say they’re still fighting for the same changes. [TIME]

Why retired teachers struggle to make ends meet: Many teachers go into the profession, despite the relatively low wages, with the expectation that they will be taken care of in retirement through their pension. But in many places, that promise isn’t being met. In several states, retired teachers and other state workers haven’t gotten a cost-of-living adjustment to their pension checks in years. And with the cost of health care continuing to rise, retirees say they’re reaching a breaking point. [PBS News Hour]

For teen parents in Tulsa, respect in school is the key to success: Inside the halls of Tulsa’s Nathan Hale High School, pregnant and expectant youth gathered with a counselor to learn safe sleeping tips for their babies on the way. They’d already had in-depth and vulnerable conversations about what to expect during labor and delivery, how to deal with incessant crying, and at what age babies could start eating solid food. [Teen Vogue]

School fights fear as part of defense against network intrusions: Oklahoma City Public Schools just spent seven days, including a weekend, paying a contractor to help their own IT staff recover from a malware intrusion to the district network. Coming right at the end of classes when grades were being processed, it was a severe blow to Oklahoma’s largest school district of 40,000 students. [Free Press OKC]

Poll: OKC voters want more than capital projects in MAPS 4: When it comes to how to spend money from a proposed MAPS 4, Oklahoma City residents want fewer big ticket infrastructure projects and more things that benefit them directly. Those are the findings of a recent SoonerPoll survey of 406 likely OKC voters conducted between April 24 and May 9. [NonDoc]

D’Angelo Burgess fled from police. Does that make him a killer?: D’Angelo Burgess was at least 100 yards away from the high-speed car crash that killed Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. Heath Meyer in July 2017. Meyer was struck by a fellow trooper who lost control of his cruiser as he sped north in pursuit of Burgess on Interstate 35 near the Oklahoma City line. [The Frontier]

Former student files lawsuit against OU for providing false data to US News & World Report, inflating university’s ranking: A former OU student has filed a class action lawsuit against the University of Oklahoma as a result of the university being stripped of its U.S. News & World Report ranking. The lawsuit, which was filed May 28 on behalf of former OU student Elani Gretzer and all OU undergraduate students since 1999, alleges the university broke contract by providing false alumni giving data to U.S. News & World Report, inflating its ranking in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” ranking as a result. [OU Daily]

Supreme Court upholds Walkingstick disqualification: The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court on May 29 denied David Walkingstick’s appeal to rejoin the principal chief race. In a 4-0 vote on May 17, the Election Commission disqualified Walkingstick, the Dist. 3 tribal councilor, for violating tribal election law. He filed an appeal that Supreme Court justices heard. [Cherokee Phoenix]

The Cherokee Nation’s next chief will have a big footprint in Indian Country: Members of the Cherokee Nation — the largest Native American tribe — will cast votes for a new principal chief this week from every corner of the United States. With nearly 229,000 of the nation’s 370,000 living outside the 14 counties in eastern Oklahoma that comprise tribal lands, voters will send their ballots from major cities like Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., as well as the Colorado Rockies and the rolling hills of Georgia. [High Country News]

Quote of the Day

“I didn’t think at this age I would still have to be working to make ends meet. I thought I’d be more comfortable, be able to travel a little, help my kids and grandkids — I’m not able to do that.”

-Mary Brancich, who is still working at age 73 even though she retired from a nearly 30 year teaching career in Oklahoma [PBS News Hour]

Number of the Day


The percentage increase in obesity among adults in Oklahoma from 2012 to 2018.

[Source: United Health Foundation]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

A decade after the recession, 40% of U.S. families are still struggling: Four in 10 Americans sometimes face what economists call “material hardship,” struggling to pay for basic needs such as food and housing, according to a new study from the Urban Institute. Even middle-class families routinely struggle financially and are occasionally unable to pay their bills. [CBS News]

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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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