In The Know: Child care becoming scarcer as costs, closures take toll

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

Child Care Becoming Scarcer as Costs, Closures Take Toll: The unexpected closure of a well-regarded, highly rated child care center in Oklahoma City has put parents in an all-too-familiar, tough spot: scrambling to find places for their children amid a drop in the number of daycares. For Jennifer Morton, the closure of Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City’s Child Development Lab School means she’ll likely have to take off work as she awaits word from other centers that have a waiting list [Oklahoma Watch]. Child care is getting less accessible for Oklahoma’s working parents [OKPolicy].

Episode 34: No Job? No Doctor. (With Carly Putnam & Hannah Katch): This year, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and the state Legislature ordered the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which runs Medicaid in Oklahoma, to come up with a plan to require Oklahoma adults on Medicaid to work at least 20 hours each week. If they don’t meet this requirement, or if they don’t do the paperwork to report their work or get an exemption in time, they will lose their Medicaid coverage and become uninsured [OKPolicy]. Advocacy Alert: Protect SoonerCare for Oklahoma Families [OKPolicy].

Meetings Set Owing to Medical Marijuana Controversies: Two state boards embroiled in controversy surrounding Oklahoma’s new medical marijuana law have announced meetings to address legal situations. The Legislature is getting in on the action, too. The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced this morning that its governing body — the Oklahoma Board of Health — will meet at 3 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 1, to consider changes to the medical marijuana rules it originally passed July 10 [NonDoc].

Medical Marijuana Trade Group Unveils Bill to Regulate Oklahoma Market: A trade group for medical marijuana businesses says it has a foundation for lawmakers to start with as they prepare to meet Wednesday, but it’s not clear if the model bill will gain traction. New Health Solutions Oklahoma unveiled a 275-page sample bill it called the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act this weekend. Jed Green, the group’s political director, said he hopes lawmakers will use it as a starting place in a special session to craft regulations for the medical marijuana market [NewsOK].

The Meat Man v. The State of Oklahoma: Laverne Berryhill died in prison for stealing $52 worth of meat from an Oklahoma City grocery store. He was 33 in 1990 when an Oklahoma County judge sentenced him to 40 years for shoplifting. The sentence might as well have been life without parole — Berryhill died while still incarcerated in 2017. He was 60 years old. In the intervening 27 years, Berryhill never gave up fighting for his freedom. [The Frontier]

Older Voters Criticize State Spending, but Candidates Face a Dilemma in Addressing the Issue: People over 65 are the most likely to vote. They’re also the group that’s most likely to point to government issues — like mismanaged taxpayer money — as their biggest political concern, according to a poll commissioned by Oklahoma public radio stations. Martha Buehring, a 71-year-old Republican and former military wife, is one of many older Oklahomans who are frustrated with the state budget [KGOU].

Blumert v. McCaffrey: Dem Runoff for Oklahoma County Commissioner Seat: Voters will decide the Democratic nomination for Oklahoma County Commissioner District 1 during the Aug. 28 primary runoff election. Al McAffrey and Carrie Blumert are competing for the nod, and the winner will face Republican Brad Reeves in the general election. County commissioners are responsible for handling a county’s real estate, property tax dollars and county road maintenance. Oklahoma counties are separated into three districts, and each district elects its own commissioner [NonDoc].

Voters said ‘Yes,’ but charter change amendment expanding city employees’ campaign rights remains unsigned: The leaders of the city’s police and firefighters unions say they are hopeful Gov. Mary Fallin will sign off on a city charter amendment that would give them — and other city employees — more leeway to participate in municipal election campaigns. But the governor would need to sign the amendment soon if city employees are to play a significant role in the Aug. 28 municipal elections. Tulsa voters approved seven city charter amendments in November, two of which the governor has yet to sign [Tulsa World].

City of Tulsa Looks for More Public Input on Arena District: The City of Tulsa holds the second of three public meetings tonight as it comes up with a plan to make the Arena District a bigger, better part of the city. Goals include promoting redevelopment and growth, forming better ties between the 30-block area and the rest of downtown, and giving the Arena District a strong brand. The meeting is from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Tulsa Community College Metro Campus Thomas McKeon Center for Creativity, 910 S. Boston Ave [Public Radio Tulsa].

OU Foundation withdraws plans for entertainment district, athletic arena: The Norman City Council withdrew a resolution regarding the University North Park development at the request of the OU Foundation, effectively ending the foundation’s pursuit of tax increment financing for a proposed new arena district at this time. The OU Foundation sought assistance from the city of Norman to finance some development through a renewed TIF district, a plan that received pushback from members of the community and members of the city council. [NewsOK]

Creek County Residents Challenge Wind Catcher Eminent Domain Claim: The landowners have denied PSO survey crews access to their lands, and if a court challenge to the company’s claim of eminent domain is successful, it could cripple the project, Weeks said. The tie line project relies on crossing private lands for about 380 miles, from the Oklahoma Panhandle to Tulsa. Hearings are set in the Creek County Courthouse in Sapulpa for Friday morning and the afternoon of July 30 before District Judge Douglas Golden [Tulsa World].

Committee recommends Council Oak for new name of Lee School: The committee tasked with renaming Lee School deliberated about six hours Tuesday evening, arriving at the name Council Oak Elementary School around 11:30 p.m. Provided the Tulsa school board adopts the new name on Aug. 6, the Lee renaming process will draw to a close after nearly a year of controversy. The other names the committee was considering were Clara Luper, Woody Guthrie, Abraham Lincoln and Maple Ridge. [Tulsa World]

Two TPS Administrators Were Paid After Required Certifications and Contracts Expired: Two key Tulsa Public Schools administrators were without current Oklahoma credentials for about three weeks and were paid after their certifications and contracts expired. Errick Greene, TPS chief of schools, and Devin Fletcher, chief talent learning officer, certifications’ as principals expired on June 30, about three weeks ago. They were renewed Tuesday after the Tulsa World’s inquiry, the district said [Tulsa World].

“A Matter of Dignity” — Feminine Hygiene Donations Sought for Girls in Need: Youth and Family Services of North Central Oklahoma is coordinating efforts to provide feminine hygiene kits to girls in need at Enid Public Schools, and seeking public donations to cover the cost of the items. Youth and Family Services (YFS) community development coordinator Barbara Sweatt said a new “Girls Empowerment” group recently was launched, with the help of student volunteers, to provide feminine hygiene items for low-income students [Enid News & Eagle].

Oklahoma Lawmakers Tackling Childhood Trauma with Task Force, Interim Study: State officials are going all-in to reduce the trauma experienced by Oklahoma children. A three-year task force and a Senate interim study will come up with ways to reduce the number of adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs. Those can include emotional, physical or sexual abuse; drug use by a family member; divorce; violence in the home; and neglect. Researchers have tied ACEs to health problems like heart disease and diabetes once those traumatized kids become adults [Public Radio Tulsa].

Oklahoma City Fire Deaths Highest in 2018 Than in the Last 12 Years: Shortly before noon on a Sunday earlier this month, firefighters arrived at a burning house on Oklahoma City’s northwest side. Inside, they found the body of Charles Allen Jr., 49, the 17th person to die in a fire this year in Oklahoma City. It’s been 12 years since Oklahoma City confronted so many fire deaths in one year. And there’s almost six months still to go. “Honestly, it’s a little baffling why there are so many this year,” Fire Battalion Chief Benny Fulkerson said [NewsOK].

Second Sex Shop Cited Under Oklahoma City ‘Adult Novelty’ Stores Ordinance: Oklahoma City authorities have cited a second sex shop under an ordinance prohibiting “adult novelty” stores near residences, churches, schools, libraries and parks. Documents filed Monday in Oklahoma City Municipal Court say the Christie’s Toy Box at 3126 N May Ave. is within 1,000 feet of residentially zoned property, a violation of the municipal code. The documents name Bahram Heidari, a resident of northwest Oklahoma City, as the “owner or occupant” of the May Avenue location [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“Girls are missing out on school because they are having periods and don’t have anything to help with it.”

-Chelsea Hughes, who is volunteering with Youth and Family Services of North Central Oklahoma to help provide feminine hygiene items for low-income students [Enid News & Eagle]

Number of the Day


Decline in Tulsa County’s teen births from 2016 to 2017, significantly more than the overall statewide decrease (11 percent).

[Healthy Teens Oklahoma]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The big warning in the Kentucky Medicaid decision: The federal court decision on Kentucky’s Medicaid waiver may be more sweeping than has been recognized — because it shows how any state proposal to impose work requirements, or make other changes that reduce coverage, could be immediately vulnerable to legal challenges. The bottom line: The DC District Court shot down the Kentucky waiver, including its work requirements, because the Health and Human Services secretary did not address the likelihood that it would cause people to lose their health coverage. And whether you are for them or against them, all work requirement programs will cause some coverage losses [Axios].

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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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