In The Know: Emergency teacher certifications up 54%; dams near expiration dates; feds seek cut of Oklahoma opioid settlement…

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

Rose named Oklahoma Policy Institute executive director: The Oklahoma Policy Institute announced on June 26 that Cherokee Nation citizen Ahniwake Rose has been chosen to lead the organization as its next executive director. Rose, who is serving as deputy director and interim executive director of the National Congress of American Indians in Washington, D.C., will replace longtime director David Blatt, who earlier this year announced his intention to step down this fall. [Cherokee Phoenix]

In The News

Oklahoma’s teacher shortage: 3038 emergency certifications approved, up 54% in 2018-19: Oklahoma public schools hired 3,038 nonaccredited teachers to work in classrooms in 2018-19, representing a 54% increase over the previous school year’s 1,975. The upward trend looks to continue, as 818 emergency certifications — including 531 renewals — are up for approval Thursday at the monthly meeting of the Oklahoma State Board of Education. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma dams near expiration dates as scientists predict more extreme weather: Two-thirds of the watershed dams managed by the Conservation Commission have met or exceeded their 50-year design life, Caldwell said. The oldest dam, in the Cloud Creek Watershed near Cordell, was built in 1948. The average age for all of Oklahoma’s dams is 53 years, according to the National Inventory of Dams. [StateImpact Oklahoma] May floods prompt congressmen to ask for study of Tulsa’s flood levees. [OK Energy Today]

Banker named to Wildlife Conservation Commission: The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission will welcome southwestern Oklahoma bank executive Rick Holder, 60, of Creta in July. Gov. J. Kevin Stitt appointed Holder to an eight-year term from District 7. He is filling the seat that was held by Robert Dan Robbins of Altus, whose term is expiring. [OK Energy Today]

Muscogee (Creek) Nation: ‘Dust will settle’ after Supreme Court pass on treaty case: The 2019 term ended Thursday with a no decision in a case from Oklahoma that could determine the extent of Indian Country. The court had been expected to rule one way or another on the status of tribal lands in Oklahoma. [Indian Country Today] The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday asked for additional arguments from attorneys representing the state of Oklahoma and an Oklahoma man who claimed he should have been tried in federal court rather than state court. [Tulsa World]

Federal government wants cut of Oklahoma’s $270 million opioid settlement: The federal government says it is entitled to a portion of a $270 million settlement the state reached with Purdue Pharma to end an opioid lawsuit. [Tulsa World] Read the CMS letter seeking Oklahoma opioid settlement money [NonDoc]

Cell by Cell: Suspected of driving drunk, a long-haul trucker died in jail—but he actually had pneumonia: The police officer who pulled over long-haul trucker Michael James Hoeppner for weaving erratically across lanes on U.S. Route 69 in March thought he was high or drunk. The state medical examiner’s office would later find that Hoeppner had no drugs or alcohol in his system but that he had died of pneumonia caused by the flu. Hoeppner had not been high or drunk — just deathly ill. [The Frontier]

The Oklahoman Editorial Board: Good advice from an Oklahoma ex-convict: A former inmate at Oklahoma’s McLeod Correctional Facility in Atoka has a solid suggestion for policymakers. If the state is serious about reducing its inmate population, he said, “then this is the program they should be growing.” He was talking about a program he had completed that teaches inmates how to become machinists. [Editorial Board / The Oklahoman]

Tulsa World Editorial Board: TCC Second Chance program working to give better future for inmates: Tulsa Community College continues to give a better path for incarcerated Oklahomans with the increasing success of its Second Chance program. On Tuesday, more than 70 people incarcerated at the Dick Conner Correctional Center in Hominy graduated with degrees or certifications they earned while beyond bars. [Tulsa World]

Hamilton: An interim study proposal that needs to be approved: It’s well documented that native women living on tribal lands are murdered or go missing at alarming rates – 10 times the national average in some communities. What’s often less known is that indigenous women living in urban areas apparently are killed or disappear at extraordinary rates, too – and their cases frequently go unsolved. [Arnold Hamilton / Journal Record]

Despite new appropriations, 16 Oklahoma colleges raise tuition or fees: The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education approved increases to tuition and/or mandatory fees for 16 of Oklahoma’s 25 public colleges and universities Thursday, despite the system receiving $28 million in new appropriations from the Legislature for next year. [NonDoc] State spending on higher education has decreased by 26 percent since 2008 with Oklahoma leading the nation for the most drastic cuts between 2012 and 2017. 

State’s noncompliance for selling tobacco to minors has increased during recent years: Oklahoma’s reported retailer violation rates for selling tobacco to minors continue in an upward trend as Oklahoma’s violation percentage increased from 13 percent in the 2017 fiscal year to 17.9 percent in 2018’s fiscal year. [Stillwater News Press]

Ardmore community seeking ways to address childhood trauma amid low state rankings in well-being, high drug-related arrests: Most parents would never look at their child and say, ‘I can’t wait to mess you up.’ Instead, it’s often ‘I want better for you than I ever had,’ said Ardmore Behavioral Health Collaborative Director Ashely Godwin. [The Ardmoreite] Read more about Oklahoma’s ranking in the 2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book.

After canceling last day of school, Jenks Public Schools receives waiver from state after narrowly missing hourly instruction minimum: The state education board on Thursday approved a request for Jenks Public Schools to receive a waiver for failing to meet its annual instruction minimum after canceling the final day of school due to flooding. [Tulsa World]

‘No foul play’ involved in death of former state lawmaker: Police investigating the fatal shooting of a former state senator concluded there was no foul play. Jonathan Nichols, 53, died inside his home from “an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound,” police said Thursday in a three-paragraph news release. [The Oklahoman]

Ackerman McQueen challenges claims as NRA cuts ties, ends NRATV: The NRA is cutting ties with its longtime advertising agency Ackerman McQueen and is also ending operations at NRATV. The Oklahoma City firm has worked with the National Rifle Association for 38 years, but that relationship imploded over the past few months with lawsuits filed by both sides alleging fraudulent billings, betrayal, blackmail and lies. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“We do know that heavy precipitation events, more intense precipitation events, have been increasing over time. And that is expected to continue to increase as we warm the atmosphere.”

-State Climatologist Gary McManus, speaking about increasing pressure from climate change on Oklahoma dams, most of which have have met or exceeded their 50-year design life [State Impact Oklahoma]

Number of the Day


Percentage of children in Oklahoma whose parents lack secure employment (2017).

[Source: KIDS COUNT]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

An unlikely weapon in battling poverty: Diapers: While Americans are aware that people in poverty must apply for food stamps, stand in line at food pantries, and generally fight and fret to stay clothed, housed, and insured, many don’t realize how big a problem the lack of diapers poses. [Inquirer

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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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