In The Know: Department of Health says it will be ready to implement marijuana law

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

Health Official: Will Be Ready to Implement Marijuana Law: Oklahoma’s interim health commissioner says the state Department of Health will be ready to implement a new law allowing medical marijuana.Tom Bates said Wednesday the agency has been working to develop rules and regulations for medical marijuana since he was appointed on April 1. He said the rules will be ready according to the requirements of the law, which is scheduled to go into effect 60 days after passage [AP News]. First medical cannabis clinic sets up shop in Tulsa, but licensing guidelines and protocols yet to be established [Tulsa World].

Sen. Greg Treat: ‘No Desire to Unwind the Will of the People’ on SQ 788: The people of Oklahoma spoke loudly Tuesday night to say they want medical marijuana, and at least one leader of the Legislature says the body plans to listen. “I don’t think anyone in the Legislature or the governor’s office but especially the Senate wants to go against the will of the people,” Senate Majority Leader Greg Treat (R-OKC) said during a conference call this afternoon to discuss State Question 788’s implementation [NonDoc]. Mapping the medical marijuana vote, by county [Oklahoma Watch].

Report: Oklahoma Drops into the Bottom 10 States for Child Well-Being: Oklahoma ranks as one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to the general well-being of its children, according to an annual national report. The 2018 Kids Count Data Book, released Wednesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, ranks Oklahoma 44th out of 50 states for child well-being. The state ranked 36th overall last year and had hovered in the lower 30s for several years after once ranking in the mid-40s [Tulsa World].

New KIDS COUNT Data Book Ranks Oklahoma near the Worst in the Nation for Child Well-Being: A new report shows the youngest generation of Oklahomans face far-reaching challenges. The state ranks near the bottom in the nation for most measures of child well-being, according to the 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Overall, the report ranks Oklahoma 44th out of all 50 states for child well-being. Even in areas where Oklahoma has seen the most improvement recently, we’re not keeping up with the progress in other states [OKPolicy].

Prosperity Policy: Food Security Under Attack: Access to vital food assistance for tens of thousands of Oklahomans depends on which version of a farm bill is passed by Congress in the coming weeks. Both the U.S. House and Senate are considering measures to reauthorize the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), as part of a larger farm bill. SNAP is an effective program that helps struggling families buy groceries and put food on the table [David Blatt / Journal Record].

The Oklahoma Primaries Show the Lasting Impact of the Teacher Walkout: Yesterday was primary day in Oklahoma. More than a hundred current or retired educators were running for positions in the state legislature. I was meeting David Blatt, of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, an independent think tank, for coffee in the afternoon, but he was voting first. “I’ve been in line for twenty minutes and there are still thirty people in front of me,” he wrote to me [The New Yorker]. Two Republican state representatives who voted against a tax hike to fund teacher raises this year lost their primaries. They were among six GOP state lawmakers who lost to primary challengers on Tuesday [TIME]. It appears Oklahoma Republicans punished lawmakers who voted against raising taxes [NewsOK]. 

You’re Out! Primary Election Shakes up #Okleg: On an Oklahoma night when medical marijuana passed and congressional races were close, Tuesday’s primary election featured no shortage of drama in legislative face. Six sitting lawmakers lost to primary opponents, three sitting and three new lawmakers secured their seats, and 34 races will have runoff primaries [NonDoc]. Three Oklahoma lawmakers who had climbed the ranks and attained committee chairmanships lost their primary elections on Tuesday. One of the most visible committee chairmen in the Senate and two committee chairmen in the House will not return to their posts in February. Top officials in each chamber said they weren’t sure who would step in as replacements [Journal Record].

Capitol Insider: Nearly All Republican Statewide Candidates Face Runoffs: On this episode of Capitol Insider, KGOU’s Dick Pryor and eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley assess the results of Oklahoma’s June 26, 2018 primary election. Voters approved State Question 788, which will legalize medical marijuana, by 58 percent. And approximately 25,000 more people cast votes for 788 than did for the governor’s race. Kevin Stitt and Mick Cornett will face off in a runoff election, as will Republican candidates in five other statewide races. Overall, six out of Oklahoma’s seven statewide races will appear on the August 28 runoff ballot [KGOU].

Five Remaining Questions After Tuesday’s Primaries: Tuesday’s primary elections settled some lingering questions but raised a host of others. In a historic vote, voters in one of the nation’s most conservative states indicated a readiness to legalize medical marijuana. And Oklahoma’s Republican voters decided that their choice for the next leader of the state will come down to former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and Tulsa businessman Kevin Stitt. But as the dust settles on one of the most competitive primaries in years, questions remain about what Tuesday’s victories mean and how the results will impact elections in the months ahead [Oklahoma Watch].

Amid Many Runoffs, Edmondson Awaits Cornett or Stitt: Only a one-word answer is needed: Cornett or Stitt? After being bombarded for more than a year with phone calls and messaging from GOP gubernatorial hopefuls, registered Republicans are going to hear even further from and have to choose between former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and Tulsa businessman Kevin Stitt. On the other side of the fence, former Attorney General Drew Edmondson topped former state Sen. Connie Johnson, earning the Oklahoma Democratic Party’s gubernatorial nomination that escaped him in 2010 [NonDoc].

Kevin Stitt goes from political unknown to gubernatorial contender: In some ways, Kevin Stitt is like many of the Oklahomans whose growing interest in state politics resulted in record turnout for Tuesday’s primary elections. In 12 months, Stitt has gone from a political unknown to the Republican gubernatorial runoff election. All it has taken is hard work, a persuasive message and a few bucks — around 4.8 million of them [Tulsa World].

Murphy, Pinnell Headed to Runoff in Lieutenant Governor’s Race: Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy and longtime Republican Party officer Matt Pinnell headed to a runoff in the GOP lieutenant governor’s race on Tuesday, while Democrat Anastasia Pittman held a slight lead for her party’s nomination. With 1,948 of 1,951 precincts counted, Murphy garnered 196,017 votes, or 46 percent, and Pinnell had 152,716 votes, 36 percent [NewsOK].

Costello, Osborn Headed to Runoff: The race for state labor commissioner eliminated two candidates in Tuesday’s primary, leaving a clear Democratic contender and a runoff for the Republican ticket. The Democratic ballot had only two names in the race. Republicans fielded three candidates. Voting results affirmed earlier polling that predicted a tight race between Cathy Costello and state Rep. Leslie Osborn [Journal Record].

Top Vote-Getters Bob Anthony, Ashley Nicole Mccray Face Runoffs in Oklahoma Corporation Commission Bids: Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony will face former Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman in a Republican runoff to be the party’s nominee for the seat in the November general election. In a Democratic primary election for the same seat Tuesday, community organizer Ashley Nicole McCray was the top vote-getter in a four-way race, receiving 180,121 votes, or nearly 49 percent. She’ll face Blake Cummings in the Aug. 28 primary, who recieved 81,890 votes, or about 22 percent [NewsOK].

Incumbent Tulsa County DA Kunzweiler, Challenger Fu Headed Toward Runoff: Incumbent District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler, despite maintaining a double-digit lead throughout Election Day, will have a runoff in August against a former colleague. The biggest surprise Tuesday wasn’t that Kunzweiler received more than 40 percent of votes cast, but that less than 1 percent separated Ben Fu — who received key endorsements from the Tulsa and Broken Arrow fraternal orders of police — and Tammy Westcott, who raised a fraction of Fu’s reported contributions [Tulsa World].

Reports: Dismal #Oklaed Spending Hurts Poor, Minorities: Oklahoma City can’t afford to ignore national reports by journalists and scholars on the state of our #oklaed spending and society. Perhaps predictably, a Magnify Money report released in April ranked Oklahoma City 48th out of 50 in terms of largest education-spending cities. The average metro included in that study spends $12,807 per student, but Oklahoma City spends only $8,898 per student [NonDoc].

Oklahoma DHS Closes Last State-Run Emergency Shelter: The Oklahoma Department of Human Services announced that it has officially closed its last emergency shelter. Officials say the Laura Dester Children’s Center in Tulsa was the last state-run shelter and had become the last resort for children who could not be immediately placed in foster homes or other facilities [KFOR].

Agency Visibility: Outpatient Mental Health Counselors Put Emphasis on Community: North Tulsa Counseling Services is an outpatient mental health facility that offers individual and family therapy and rehabilitation and case management for clients ages 3 and older, said Sharon Briggs, senior clinical director. “A lot of our job is strengthening and rebuilding families, just letting the African-American community know that mental health is not a stigma, that it’s OK to seek help and to get help,” she said [Tulsa World].

Marijuana Advocate Sues Oklahoma Sheriff for Forced Removal: A marijuana advocate is suing a northeastern Oklahoma sheriff who he alleges grabbed him by the throat and escorted him out of a community forum on a state ballot measure on medical marijuana. Court records show Charles “Chip” Paul filed the lawsuit June 20 against Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton [KFOR].

Quote of the Day

“It’s the opposite of the way it has been, when legislators expected to pay for it in votes if they supported a tax increase. Now they’re paying for it in votes for having been against a tax increase. That is pretty dramatic for Oklahoma.”

-Oklahoma Policy Institute Executive Director David Blatt [New Yorker]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma drug overdose deaths per 100,000 population (24th out of all 50 states).

[Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

You’ve Been Arrested. Will You Get Bail? Can You Pay It? It May All Depend On Your Judge: In New York City, when clients of The Legal Aid Society who were charged with a misdemeanor in 2017 entered their initial arraignment, they had anywhere between a 2 and 26 percent chance of the judge setting a cash bail, depending on which judge was randomly assigned to oversee the court that day. For felonies,2 the range was even wider: anywhere between 30 and 69 percent. Those not assigned bail are likely to be released without having to pay, which means getting arrested on the wrong day can have a major consequence: You are more than twice as likely to have to pay your way to freedom. Can’t find the money? You’re stuck in jail [FiveThirtyEight].

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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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