In The Know: Dental therapy could expand access to oral health, address workforce shortage | Controversy over Oklahoma adjunct teaching laws | Early look at 2023 elections | More

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. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

Dental therapy can improve Oklahoma’s oral health, help address dental workforce shortage (Guest Post): Oklahoma has a severe shortage of dental providers, and authorizing dental therapists to work in the state would expand access to necessary oral health care. Further, dental coverage and oral health are vitally important for overall health and well-being. This means that dental therapists can bring more than just dental care to communities; they can also provide a culturally responsible, trusted community member to support desperately needed mental health needs. [Michelle Dennison / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Greg Williams steps down as Oklahoma County jail administrator: Williams, 62, announced he is stepping down just four weeks after surviving a call for him to be fired by a newly appointed member to the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority. As the trust met in executive session Monday, Williams said he had done his part. [The Oklahoman]

  • Timeline: Greg Williams’ troubled tenure as Oklahoma County jail administrator [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma in top 10 states for alcohol-related deaths: Oklahoma ranked within the top 10 states for alcohol-related deaths in 2021 – despite having relatively low alcohol consumption as a state – according to a recent report issued by NiceRx. But the state’s latest tool to address mental health and substance abuse is already making headway, placing the state at fourth in the nation in implementation, according to state officials. [Journal Record]

Voting and Election News

An Early Look at 2023 Election Dates and Deadlines: It’s already time to start looking ahead to elections set for the first three months of 2023. For those experiencing lingering election fatigue from November, there is good news: Except for the March 7 special election to decide State Question 820, these are local and county-level races, so television and radio airwaves likely won’t be bombarded with political advertisements. [Oklahoma Watch]

Health News

Oklahomans turn to vasectomy following overturning of Roe v. Wade: In response to the loss of constitutional protection for abortion and Oklahoma’s strict abortion laws, some Oklahomans are choosing sterilization to avoid unwanted pregnancies. [KGOU]

Criminal Justice News

Okmulgee slayings: District attorney announces charges in deaths of four men: Prosecutors announced formal charges Monday against a salvage yard owner accused of killing and dismembering four men in early October. Joseph Lloyd Kennedy II, 67, faces four counts of first-degree murder in the Oct. 9 deaths of Mark Chastain, 32, Billy Jack Chastain, 30, Mikel Sparks, 32, and Alex Stevens, 29. [Tulsa World]

  • Joseph Kennedy charged with 4 counts of murder in case of dismembered Okmulgee men [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma drug dealer ordered to prison after customer died from fentanyl poisoning: Drug dealer Cameron Jermaine Payne knew his pills may have contained fentanyl, but he sold them anyway on Oct. 16, 2020, to a former high school classmate. The next day, that customer was found dead of an overdose. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Expert: Higher unemployment needed to tame inflation: The U.S. has reduced unemployment from a record high 14.7% early in the pandemic to a near record low 3.7% in November. That number will have to grow to about 4.5% to 5% to tame inflation, said Dauffenbach, professor emeritus at the University of Oklahoma. [Journal Record]

Williams, others invest in firm’s emissions detection technology: LongPath Technologies has garnered $22 million in investment in its patented methane emissions detection technology, the company said. The technology is intended to help oil and gas producers and others detect, quantify and mitigate emissions harmful to the environment. Tulsa-based Williams was identified as an investor. [Journal Record]

Bison acquires Lagoon, Overflow Energy assets: Bison Water Midstream has acquired Oklahoma assets of Lagoon Water Midstream as well as water infrastructure of Overflow Energy. The moves position Bison as the only large-scale commercial water infrastructure provider serving the SCOOP, STACK and MERGE plays in the state’s Anadarko Basin, the company said in a release. [Journal Record]

Education News

Fact Check: How new Oklahoma adjunct teaching law impacts degree requirements: Across the state there’s been recent controversy over teaching requirements. A law that went into effect over the summer is raising questions on who is allowed to teach, and if your child’s educator even needs a college degree. [OKC Fox 25]

Many kids are struggling. Is special education the answer?: Schools contending with soaring student mental health needs and other challenges have been struggling to determine just how much the pandemic is to blame. Are the challenges the sign of a disability that will impair a student’s learning long term, or something more temporary? [Associated Press via Tulsa World]

General News

  • Watch: Thousands on waitlist for housing vouchers in Tulsa [2 News Oklahoma]

Oklahoma Local News

Water treatment plant found to be spilling raw sewage into Edmond creek: The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality has taken legal action to stop a wastewater treatment plant from leaking sewage into an Edmond creek. The plant treats wastewater for Bethany and Warr Acres. Instead of discharging treated water, the plant was pumping raw sewage into Bluff Creek, which flows into nearby Liberty Lake in Guthrie. KFOR reported an equipment failure at the plant was responsible. [KGOU]

At least 3 dead after small plane crashes in Yukon: At least three people are dead after a small plane crashed at the Clarence E. Page-Cimarron municipal airport near Yukon Monday night, according to the Oklahoma City Fire Department. The fire department responded to the crash scene near NW 23 and Cimarron Road shortly after 9 p.m. When fire crews arrived, the plane and the surrounding grass were on fire. [The Oklahoman]

Tulsa City Council sworn in with three new members: Monday’s City Council inauguration had several special moments. It “snowed,” for one. A charming 1-year-old made an appearance, and camaraderie and good cheer ruled the day. What happens over the next two years is anyone’s guess. But as Mayor G.T. Bynum noted, people don’t run for City Council because it’s a glamorous job. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Spend money on mental health instead of criminalizing mental health issues. Spend money on transitional housing for the homeless instead of criminalizing homelessness. Spend money on drug and alcohol treatment instead of criminalizing people suffering [from those afflictions].”

– Mark Faulk, one of eight residents who addressed the Oklahoma County jail trust after jail administrator Greg Williams resigned from his post Monday. [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma has the nation’s 11th lowest ratio of dentists serving resident needs at 48.5 per 100,000 residents, compared to the national average of 61 per 100,000. [American Dental Association]

Policy Note

Policy Brief: Oral Health Policy and Improvement Strategies in Oklahoma: Despite being a large contributor to overall health and wellness, oral health care is an overlooked and underprovided service in Oklahoma. Oklahoma’s oral health statistics reflect a population with high rates of childhood tooth decay, adult tooth loss and avoidance of regular oral health appointments due to cost. [Native Oral Health Network]

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Hana Saad joined OK Policy in August 2022 as the Communications and Operations Fellow. She graduated from the University of Tulsa with degrees in Media Studies and English and is part of Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society. At TU, Hana regularly wrote for The Collegian and was the Co-Editor of the Stylus Journal of Art and Writing. She also serves on the team at Puppy Haven Rescue to help in their mission of saving rescue dogs across Oklahoma. Hana is eager to learn more about public policy in Oklahoma and use her skills to support the OKP work to build a more equitable state. In her free time, she loves to read fiction and poetry, walk her dog, and make copious cups of tea.

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