In The Know: Ed Lake out as Oklahoma DHS director; opioid manufacturers targeted veterans; lawmakers get new budget office…

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

Now Hiring: Outreach & Legislative Liaison: Are you an experienced advocate committed to expanding opportunity and social justice for all Oklahomans? You could join our growing team at Oklahoma Policy Institute as an Outreach & Legislative Liaison. The new hire will report to OK Policy’s Outreach & Legislative Director Sabine Brown. [OK Policy]

(Capitol Update) Justice delayed… On Monday of the last week of the legislative session, criminal justice reform bills that had worked their way through committee and earlier floor passage for months were primed for final consideration on the House and Senate floors. Instead, Governor Stitt issued an executive order creating a new task force to “study, evaluate, and make recommendations regarding policies” for criminal justice reform. Effectively, criminal justice reform died for the year. [OK Policy]

Budget 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 budget is $434 million (5.7%) above the original budget for FY 2019 and an increase of $1 billion (14.9%) over the final budget for FY 2018, continuing a welcome trend that can help move Oklahoma toward greater and more widely shared prosperity. [Paul Shinn / Enid News & Eagle]

In The News

Oklahoma Department of Human Services director replaced: The Oklahoma Department of Human Services is getting a new director. Gov. Kevin Stitt is replacing Ed Lake, who held the job almost seven years, The Oklahoman learned Monday. The governor is expected to announce his choice Tuesday morning. Lake, now 70, made $185,000 a year at the agency that calls itself the state’s largest. DHS has around 6,000 employees — about a thousand fewer than when he started — and a budget of more than $2 billion. [The Oklahoman]

Vaccines become untouchable issue in Oklahoma politics: Vaccination has become a dirty word at the Oklahoma Capitol. Public health policies that drew little attention for decades are now so politically toxic that few lawmakers want to take a recorded vote on the issue. And fewer still feel comfortable talking about updates to the state’s vaccination schedule or getting rid of certain vaccine exemptions. Even bills mandating vaccine information for adults are shot down as they wend their way through the legislative process. [Oklahoma Watch] Where does Stitt stand on required vaccinations? [Oklahoma Watch]

Opioid manufacturer’s sales team targeted high prescribers of opioids for top marketing efforts: Sales representatives for opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson targeted doctors who were high prescribers of opioids for frequent sales calls, according to testimony in the Cleveland County court case where Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries are accused of helping cause an opioid epidemic that has led to thousands of Oklahoma overdose deaths and addictions. [The Oklahoman] According to company internal documents, large numbers of military veterans returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were identified especially for their potential as new opioid users. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma opioid prescriptions, overdoses by the numbers: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that between 1999 and 2017 almost 218,000 Americans died from overdoses related to prescription opioids. In October of 2017, President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency, publishing a three-step plan that includes reducing the amount of prescribed and illicit opioids, as well as providing funding for addiction treatment. [Norman Transcript]

Oklahoma lawmakers to get $1.7M for new budget office: State lawmakers will receive $1.7 million to create a watchdog budget office to oversee state agency spending and performance. Gov. Kevin Stitt recently signed into law legislation to create the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency, which would conduct performance evaluations of state agencies. [The Oklahoman]

Teacher pleased with pay increase, believes legislature could do more: Make no mistake about it, Edmond school teacher Kimberly Cross is happy to have a second increase in pay. But state lawmakers, she said, have a lot more to do. And even though the Oklahoma Legislature passed the largest budget in Oklahoma history this week — earmarking $203 million more for Oklahoma’s public education systems — Cross said the legislature still faces many issues on the public education front. [Edmond Sun]

Reforms, funding for long-term care ‘big winners’ this legislative session: Reforms and funding for long-term care facilities and support for family caregivers were signed into law this session, the first of such reform in 15 years. “It was a banner year. We were big winners in this legislative session,” said Sean Voskuhl, AARP Oklahoma state director. AARP is a national organization offering support to aging adults. [The Oklahoman]

Before dying in prison of a ruptured appendix, Joshua England begged for medical attention: Before he died from complications of a ruptured appendix in an Oklahoma prison, 21-year old Joshua England was doubled over in pain, sweating profusely and possibly hallucinating, according to a lawsuit his mother has filed against state prison officials. Over the course of seven days, England asked for medical attention five separate times, but prison staff never summoned a doctor to examine him, the lawsuit claims. [The Frontier]

OKC Council to vote on plan to tear down old city jail: The old Oklahoma City jail building may be torn down soon and converted into parking space for lack of a better plan, city officials said. City Council members are expected Tuesday to approve staff’s proposal to raze the jail, 200 N. Shartel Ave., as well as the police headquarters at 700 Couch Dr. and municipal court building at 701 Colcord Dr. [Journal Record ????]

Repair costs for state roads after May storms: Early estimates for repairs to roads and bridges from May storms are coming in at two million dollars. Transportation Secretary Tim Gatz says he expects those numbers to rise as crews run conditional assessments and the cost could rise to ten million dollars. He says the Department of Transportation is monitoring the situation on roads and bridges as more rain is expected this week. [KOSU] Vice President Mike Pence plans to visit homes damaged by flooding in Oklahoma as residents and volunteers work toward recovery. [AP News]

Oklahoma’s green rush indicates booming market but numbers suggest approaching bubble: Oklahoma’s green wave has yet to crest. Last month, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority reported that Norman now has 54 licensed dispensaries, out of 1,459 statewide. Some have yet to open, but many are up and running. [Norman Trancript] As of June 3, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority says 130,288 patient applications have been accepted. Also, the agency has received 1,022 caregiver and 5,528 business applications. [KFOR]

What marijuana boom means for cities: Marijuana sales have continued to rise since SQ 788 went into effect in July, topping $18 million last month. That’s good news for the state, which has reaped over $3 million in sales tax revenue and roughly $23.4 million in registration fees to date. Despite the meteoric rise of the medical marijuana industry in Oklahoma, however, city governments don’t appear to be getting the same lift. [Norman Transcript]

Food inspections to begin for CBD, medical marijuana businesses in Oklahoma: Another layer of protection is being added to CBD and THC food products sold in our state. The Oklahoma State Department of Health says inspectors will be visiting businesses making or selling food and drink products infused with CBD or THC to ensure they’re in compliance with the law. [KFOR]

Chickasaw Nation’s governor to seek 9th term, run with son: The Chickasaw Nation’s longtime governor has filed for a ninth consecutive term as the tribe’s leader and his son is joining him on the ticket. Gov. Bill Anoatubby announced Monday that he’d filed for re-election to a four-year term and that his son, Chris Anoatubby, will run as his lieutenant governor. [AP News]

Tulsa World editorial: Cherokee Principal Chief-elect Chuck Hoskin faces many challenges: Congratulations to Chuck Hoskin Jr., who won this weekend’s election for principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. Hoskin, a former secretary of state and council member for the tribe, won nearly 58% of the vote in the unofficial, preliminary count. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]

Tulsa authors release book about little-known Oklahoma case with profound historic impact: Long before Thurgood Marshall became the first African-American named to the U.S. Supreme Court, he spent a good portion of time in Oklahoma. In the mid-1940s, Marshall was the lead attorney for the NAACP representing Ada Sipuel Fisher in her successful effort to challenge the University of Oklahoma’s segregationist policies by becoming the first African-American admitted to the university’s school of law. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Basically, they belittled him and suggested he was malingering or faking it. In one case they gave him Pepto-Bismol. It was a whole assortment of grossly inadequate care.”

-Paul DeMuro, an attorney for the mother of Joshua England, a 21-year-old who died in an Oklahoma prison after being denied treatment for a ruptured appendix for 7 days [The Frontier]

Number of the Day


Estimated number of immigrants in Oklahoma who would be eligible for protection and a path to citizenship under the American Dream and Promise Act introduced in Congress.

[Source: Center for American Progress]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

States can help lower income families save, starting with the Earned Income Tax Credit: More short-term economic stability makes it easier for people to save more. One standard economic argument suggests that families should know that their income is unstable and thus be willing to save more. The evidence, though, suggests that the logic runs the other way around. Families need some predictability of their incomes to make them breathe a little easier. They then can focus more easily on their future, knowing, for example, that their basic expenses are covered. The general policy implication is to make it easier for people to get help from programs such as the earned income tax credit (EITC), for instance, through a partial refund of the EITC during the year. The payoff will not only be more economic security now, but also in the future. [Forbes]

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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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