In The Know: Expert says recovery from opioids crisis could take decades; court limits lawsuit options for prisoners…

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

Wellness expert: Recovery from state’s opioids crisis could take decades: It will take a commitment of billions of dollars to reverse effects of Oklahoma’s opioid abuse and addiction epidemic, experts who developed a long-term recovery plan for the state testified Thursday. Croff said it will take 20-30 years to reverse harms inflicted upon the state by dangerous over-prescription of powerful, highly addictive drugs like Duragesic, Nucynta, OxyContin and Vicodin. [Journal Record]

In Oklahoma, opioid case windfall starts winners squabbling: When Oklahoma settled a landmark lawsuit against drugmaker Purdue Pharma in March, the state and some of its cities looked on with irritation as nearly $200 million went to a new addiction treatment and research center at Oklahoma State University. [Washington Post]

In Oklahoma, lawsuit options limited when prisoners claim constitutional rights violations: When a private citizen’s civil rights are violated by the government, typically, they have the opportunity to sue, but under a recent Oklahoma Supreme Court decision, that might not be the case for inmates in Oklahoma jails and detention centers. The Supreme Court ruling was a huge setback for people arguing jail policies, practices and misconduct led to their own suffering or the deaths of family members. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Nearly 70 applications received for Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Community Advisory Board: The sheriff’s office, along with County Commissioner Carrie Blumert and VOICE OKC, a local civic engagement group, are creating the advisory board after calls for improved transparency and citizen involvement in local law enforcement, said Sundra Flansburg, a VOICE OKC organizer who is helping process the applications. [The Oklahoman]

In northeast OKC, residents, community leaders discuss policing: Community leaders and residents of northeast Oklahoma City came together Thursday evening to have a discussion on a number of topics surrounding policing in the community. Part of the Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City’s State of Black OKC series, the discussion focused on the current relationship between law enforcement and the community and how to improve it. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice Reform: What passed, and what’s next? This session the Oklahoma Legislature passed a handful of bills (H.B. 1269, H.B. 1373, and S.B. 694) with approval from Governor Stitt aimed at reforming the state’s criminal justice system and reducing Oklahoma’s high incarceration rate. [CapitolBeatOK]

Hamilton: Corrections Department – an agency on the brink: That Oklahoma’s prisons are woefully understaffed and overcrowded cannot be a revelation to the powers that be at NE 23rd and Lincoln Boulevard. Nor can the fact they’ve failed, for a decade, to defuse this powder keg, exposing the state to unacceptable risks – think: another deadly riot or a federal court takeover. [Arnold Hamilton / Journal Record]

Referee hears arguments on controversial liquor law: An Oklahoma Supreme Court referee heard oral arguments Thursday in a challenge to a law that will alter the state’s alcohol distribution system. The Institute for Responsible Alcohol Policy and others filed suit against the law created by Senate Bill 608, which will require alcohol manufacturers to make their top 25 brands available to all wholesalers in the state. [Tulsa World]

Corporation Commission sets up rules to implement new train law: Starting July 1, railroad companies will face consequences if a train stops at a crossing for more than ten minutes. Thursday, the Corporation Commission voted on the rules that will be used to implement the new law. [KFOR]

Tourism revenue hit record high in 2017, department ambitious to improve: Travelers spent a record amount of money in Oklahoma in 2017, and the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department hopes it can continue that growth. In a news release Thursday, the department announced about 21 million visitors generated $8.9 billion in travel spending in 2017. [Tulsa World]

Wayne Greene: The Oklahoma’s best and the brightest are following the Yellow Brick Road … to Dallas: Oklahoma is losing its educated people. The June issue of Oklahoma Economist, a quarterly publication from the Oklahoma City branch of the Federal Reserve of Kansas City, says more people with bachelor’s degrees and graduate degrees left the state than moved here in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017. [Wayne Greene / Tulsa World]

Update: ACT Scores for Public and Private High Schools: In the table below, you can find out your public or private high school’s average score on the 2018 ACT college-readiness exam. These scores are averages of the highest score achieved on the test by graduating seniors. The number of Oklahoma students taking the ACT decreased slightly, from 41,338 in 2017 to 41,092 in 2018. [Oklahoma Watch]

Ag in the Classroom tour takes teachers on an Oklahoma adventure: The 2019 Ag in the Classroom Rt. 66 Tour commenced June 4, and sent Oklahoma teachers on an ag-filled, three-day excursion with presentations and teaching tools to fill the educator’s lesson plans for years to come. [High Plains Journal]

SMC leader supports Medicaid expansion: Stillwater Medical President and CEO Denise Webber is part of the coalition promoting Medicaid expansion. She says she has seen how Oklahoma’s decision to reject federal funds has hurt lower-income residents and healthcare facilities, especially in rural areas. [Stillwater News Press]

Vaping a growing issue in Oklahoma: Oklahoma is ranked the highest electronic cigarette usage in the nation, according to a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analysis by QuoteWizard, an insurance comparison platform. People have the misconception that vaping is healthier than smoking, but it’s not true, according to Maria Guel-Rodriguez, Woodward County Health Department wellness coordinator with the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) Healthy Living Program. [Woodward News]

Oklahoma oil rig count down 39 from a year ago: Oklahoma has 101 oil rigs in operation, which is 39 fewer than this time last year and the lowest the state has had since March 2017. Journal Record editor Russell Ray discusses what this means for the state’s oil and gas industry. [KGOU]

Shadid seeks new tax for parks, transit that could join MAPS 4 vote: Former OKC City Councilman Ed Shadid filed an initiative petition effort today aimed at funding Oklahoma City’s parks department operations and maintenance expenses. The campaign needs 6,500 signatures to end up on a future ballot, Shadid said. That ballot could come in December at the same time the fate of MAPS 4 is expected to be decided. [NonDoc]

Six more counties impacted by severe weather granted federal assistance: Federal authorities granted disaster assistance to six more Oklahoma counties, totaling 27 counties in the state. Alfalfa, Craig, Garfield, Kingfisher, Pawnee and Woods counties were granted disaster assistance for storms affecting those areas since May 7, according to a news release from Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office. [Tulsa World] The water is on for residents of northeast Rogers County, but rationing still is mandatory and boiling water is recommended, and it will be days yet before things are back to normal. [Tulsa World]

House approves Horn amendment on police training, rejects Mullin effort to kill methane rule: The U.S. House on Thursday approved a proposal by Rep. Kendra Horn to fund grants to train law enforcement officers to deal with mentally ill and developmentally disabled people. Horn’s amendment was approved by voice vote and added to a spending bill for the U.S. Justice Department and several other departments and agencies. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“[Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh’s] frank assessments about Oklahoma’s prison needs and Texas’ experience undoubtedly encouraged state voters to approve State Questions 780 and 781, aimed at getting us smart-on-crime. Unfortunately, legislative leadership slow-walked many of the proposals voters embraced. Inmate populations still grow. And now the Corrections Department’s highly regarded director has bailed. If the unthinkable occurs, there’s little doubt who’s to blame.”

-Oklahoma Observer editor Arnold Hamilton [Journal Record]

Number of the Day


Decline since 2008 in the number of specialized foster homes for children in Oklahoma DHS custody who need therapeutic care.

[Source: Tulsa World]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024 would lift pay for nearly 40 million workers: Gradually raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2024 would directly lift the wages of 28.1 million workers. The average directly affected worker who works all year would receive a $3,900 increase in annual wage income—equal to a raise of 20.9 percent. Another 11.6 million workers would benefit from a spillover effect as employers raise wages of workers making more than $15 in order to attract and retain employees. [Economic Policy Institute]

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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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