In The Know: Creek Freedmen file federal lawsuit against tribe

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 Know will go on hiatus next week as we host our annual Summer Policy Institute. You can follow what’s happening at the Summer Policy Institute at the hashtag #okspi. In The Know will return Thursday, August 2nd.

In The News

Creek Freedman file federal lawsuit against tribe: Another Oklahoma tribe is facing litigation over the citizenship status of the descendants of its former slaves. With about 20 challengers on hand, attorneys with Riggs Abney formally announced a lawsuit Thursday afternoon at the Greenwood Cultural Center against leaders of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the U.S. Department of Interior [Tulsa World].

U. of Oklahoma Official Hired in Wake of Racist Fraternity Chant Says He Was Forced Out: A vice president at the University of Oklahoma who says he was forced to resign after being accused of improperly using a state vehicle for personal reasons denied the charge on Thursday. The real reason Jabar Shumate contends he was forced out involved his opposition to a fraternity whose racist chant three years ago plunged the university into turmoil and led to the creation of his position [The Chronicles of Higher Education].

Prosperity Policy: Still a Conservative State? Is Oklahoma a conservative state? The answer might seem obvious. Oklahoma has the well-earned reputation as one of the nation’s reddest states. Republicans dominate at all levels, including controlling every statewide office and congressional seat and three-quarters of state legislative seats … And yet, there are increasing signs that conservatism’s grip on Oklahoma politics is loosening [David Blatt / Journal Record].

Apply Now to Be an OK Policy Paid Intern This Fall: OK Policy is now accepting applications for paid, part-time internships in our Tulsa office during the Fall 2018 semester! If you’re looking to be part of a team that’s fighting to make Oklahoma better for all Oklahomans, this might be the place for you. As an OK Policy intern, you may be asked to do things like help with data collection and formatting, write blog posts on state policy issues, assist with our advocacy efforts, help to coordinate events, and help with office administration [OKPolicy]. We’re also now accepting applications for a Justice Data Analyst, a Mental Health Policy Analyst/Fellowship Coordinator, and two Mental Health Policy Fellows. See our jobs and internships page here

Hamilton: Health Care, Policymakers and Lousy Governing Principle: When it comes to health care for the poor, Oklahoma’s policymakers routinely ignore the adage against cutting off your nose to spite your face. In 2012, Gov. Mary Fallin and the Republican statehouse supermajority rejected Medicaid expansion because it was a pillar of – gasp! – Obamacare. This year, the governor and lawmakers embraced a Medicaid work requirement that seems likely to cost more to administer than it will save lopping off anyone gaming the system [Arnold Hamilton / Journal Record]. Advocacy Alert: Protect SoonerCare for Oklahoma Families [OKPolicy].

Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority Releases Application Information: The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority has posted information and instructions for medical marijuana licensing. The agency was required by State Question 788 to have the application information and instructions for patients and businesses up by July 26, 30 days after the election. Oklahoma State Department of Health Interim Commissioner Tom Bates said the applications should clear up information on what is required to apply for a license [KTUL]. Business as usual for Tulsa police, sheriff’s office with new pot laws — for now [Public Radio Tulsa].

As Cannabis Groups Talk Medical Marijuana, Legislators Ask Why ‘Force the State’ with Tight Timeline on Law: Each of the four pro-medical marijuana groups at the Capitol on Wednesday told legislators the state Board of Health overreached in its handling of medical marijuana rules and offered a range of regulations that are best for State Question 788. A joint working group of 13 lawmakers held a public meeting to discuss what should happen next after the state question, which passed by a double-digit margin, takes effect on Thursday [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma Could Become the Only State to Require Pregnancy Tests for Medical Marijuana: Here’s how Oklahoma’s medical marijuana licensing process works: Doctor and patient discuss if medical marijuana is right for the patient. If a doctor thinks it is, a male patient gets a medical marijuana recommendation and moves to the next step of applying for a license with the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The process is different for female patients [State Impact Oklahoma]. The only draft of full legislation for medical marijuana removes thc limits, allows smokables. What else would it do? [Tulsa World].

Northeast OKC Rep. Young Wants Interim Study on Domestic Violence: During his three decades as a minister, state Rep. George Young has counseled couples, many of whom didn’t even go to his own church. Couples and women sought help because of violence within their relationships and within their families. Not all of them could find answers in their own congregations. “They would say, ‘Well, I talked to my pastor, and my pastor said that it was my responsibility as the wife to stay with my husband,’” Young said. “That has always stood out in my mind” [Journal Record].

Oklahoma Earthquake Lawsuit Moves to Class-Action Status: Central Oklahoma residents won’t get a trial this fall for a case against an oil company accused of triggering earthquakes that damaged homes and buildings. The Journal Record reports that a Cleveland County judge outlined rules for the class-action case that Jennifer Lin Cooper brought against New Dominion LLC. The judge issued a journal entry July 13 on the limited class certification, which allows the defendant to begin an appeal process [Public Radio Tulsa].

Oklahoma Prison Guard Fired, Charged with Hitting Inmate: The Oklahoma Department of Corrections says it has fired a prison guard who is now charged with hitting an inmate. The department said Thursday that Cpl. Tyler Cravens was fired on June 6 after hitting the inmate he was escorting to his cell in the face. The department says the inmate showed no signs of aggressiveness or resistance when Cravens hit him because of a previous incident in which the unidentified inmate spat on Cravens [Public Radio Tulsa].

OKC Mayor Takes Public Health Approach to Criminal Justice Reform: Oklahoma City was recently named the incarceration capital of the world, after a new report ranked the US at the top of the list. Now Mayor David Holt hopes some deep pockets can help change that. The mayor’s office is utilizing the Oklahoma City-County Health Department to take a community approach to criminal justice reform, connecting non-violent offenders to the actual services they need [News9].

Education Board Puts Tulsa Charter School Langston Hughes Academy on Probation: The Board of Education on Thursday put a troubled Tulsa charter school on probation and asked it to fulfill some conditions. An Oklahoma Department of Education probe into the Langston Hughes Academy of Arts and Technology found a variety of problems. It found discrepancies between teachers’ records of grade transcripts, suspensions and attendance and what was submitted to the state as required by law in what could have been an effort to illegally obtain state funding [Tulsa World].

Rural Oklahoma School District Allowing Staff to Carry Firearms: It’s a controversial policy that school officials in one Oklahoma district say will keep students safe. The Hartshorne Public Schools Board of Education unanimously voted last month to allow personnel to carry guns so long as they’re certified by the Oklahoma Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training. School officials say they started talking about the plan following several school shootings in recent years [KFOR].

Thanks to New Law, $63.2 Million in Lottery Proceeds in Last Fiscal Year Will Go to Education: The Oklahoma Lottery’s annual education contribution rose 19 percent last fiscal year to $63.2 million, and officials are crediting a year-old law with providing the spark. Lottery officials announced Thursday that with sales up 47 percent for fiscal year 2018, which ended June 30, $63.2 million will go to education — $10 million more than the previous year. It includes $13.2 million earmarked specifically for public school programs in reading, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) [Tulsa World].

‘Gasinos’ Offer Revenue Source for Tribes, but Come with Challenges: When Kaw Nation Gaming Inc. CEO Pam Shaw took the fried chicken restaurant out of the tribe’s travel plaza in Braman, she heard about it from customers … The chicken restaurant was removed nearly two years ago to make room for 46 slot machines. “That little space is making a lot of money for the tribe,” she said. But these operations can come with challenges for the tribes and definitely need to be evaluated for their financial feasibility, said Jim Klas, partner at KlasRobinson consulting firm [Journal Record].

Despite the Heat, No Record Use of Electricity Is Reported by Major Utilities: Despite the 109 degree temperatures of last week in Oklahoma, power usage did not hit a record high. At least that’s the word from  OGE spokeswoman Kathleen O’Shea. “While OGE did hit a system load high for this year on 7/20, it was considerably less than last year’s high,” she said in an email response to OK Energy Today. “We haven’t had record-setting highs since the summer of 2012 when we experiences almost three weeks of sustained temperatures above 100 degrees. [OK Energy Today].

Quote of the Day

“They would say, ‘Well, I talked to my pastor, and my pastor said that it was my responsibility as the wife to stay with my husband.’ That has always stood out in my mind.”

-Rep. George Young, who requested an interim study on domestic violence patterns, speaking about people who sought help from him because of violence in their relationships [Journal Record].

Number of the Day


Number of federally recognized tribes in Oklahoma, more than any other state except California

[National Conference of State Legislatures

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Medicaid Expansion Leads to Higher Employment: Researchers from the University of Kansas examined data from the Health Reform Monitoring Survey from 2013 to 2017. They found that in 2013, 41.3 percent of people with disabilities in states with expanded Medicaid were employed or self-employed. In 2017, the percentage increased to 47 percent. During the same time period, the percentage of people with disabilities that reported not working because of their disability decreased from 32 percent to 27 percent. These trends were not observed in states that did not expand Medicaid, the study found [US 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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