In The Know: Fallin asks feds to support Insure Oklahoma program without changes

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that Gov. Fallin has asked White House officials to reconsider a federal decision to pull out of the state’s Insure Oklahoma program, even though the state has not made any requested changes to the program. Oklahoma Watch reports on the impacts of Oklahoma having the worst access to dental health care in the nation. Attempts to sell underutilized state properties are being hampered by long-neglected maintenance problems. Chesapeake Energy Corp shareholders rejected a proposal that would have made it easier to replace the entire board of directors all at once.

NewsOK profiles an undocumented Oklahoma City University student who is benefiting from the Obama administration’s deferred action policy for immigrants brought to the United States as children. The Muskogee Phoenix examined reasons behind the high levels of food insecurity in Muskogee and surrounding counties. The Oklahoma-based charity Feed the Children is lobbying to stop the Farm Bill currently under consideration by Congress because it would cut billions from SNAP (food stamps).

The Tulsa World reported on homeless foster care kids in Tulsa who have fallen through gaps in the safety net. Julie Delcour writes about the “Ban the Box” movement to prevent employers from discriminating against workers with criminal records. Joining “ban the box” was one of the policy recommendations in OK Policy’s proposed action items for criminal justice reform. The Executive Director of the Oklahoma Women’s Coalition and the Oklahoma County district attorney wrote in NewsOK that Oklahoma’s high rate of female incarceration is caused by our state’s lack of support for abused of girls and women. Janet Pearson writes that the Oklahoma Legislature is continuing an assault on women’s health care.

The Number of the Day is the amount of wealth per household lost to foreclosure in communities of color in Oklahoma. In today’s Policy Note, Wonkblog explains why throwing children in prison makes them less likely to finish high school and more likely to commit crimes as adults.

In The News

Fallin asks feds to support Insure Oklahoma program without changes

Gov. Mary Fallin has asked White House officials to reconsider a federal decision to pull out of the state’s Insure Oklahoma program, which subsidizes private health insurance for 30,000 working poor Oklahomans. Fallin said she called David Agnew, head of intergovernmental affairs for the White House, on Wednesday to ask that the Insure Oklahoma decision be reconsidered. When asked if she was optimistic about the chances of a reversal of the federal decision, Fallin said, “Well, I have got to ask.”

Read more from the Tulsa World.

A scarcity of dental care

Removing teeth is routine for dentist Randi Hobbs. At least once a month, she removes a full set of decayed teeth and replaces them with dentures. Hobbs works at Arbuckle Dental in Sulphur, where many patients come in with long-neglected teeth and severe pain. Some have come straight from the emergency room. Many are in need of teeth extraction because they “wait until it gets bad,” Hobbs said. “They’re usually malnourished, they’re sick, they’re already in pain,” she said. “We’re trying to get them out of pain.” The problems Hobbs sees are pervasive in Oklahoma, which ranks among the worst in the nation on key measures of oral and dental health.

Read more from Oklahoma Watch.

Unused state property up for bid

A former pizza parlor on North Sheridan Road is scheduled to become the first state property sold under a highly touted program championed by Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon. The 6,500-square-foot building at 811 N. Sheridan Road was acquired by the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority in 1984 and converted to a studio and offices. It is now vacant. OMES, in fact, tried to sell the building earlier this year but could not get a bid. The minimum bid has been lowered from $165,000 to $99,000, with a new bidding period scheduled to close on June 28.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Chesapeake Energy shareholders reject board declassification

Chesapeake Energy Corp shareholders on Friday rejected a proposal that would have made it easier to replace the entire board of directors of the natural gas driller in one step. The proposal to declassify the board, which the board itself supported, would have eliminated the current board structure, where the three-year terms of the eight directors are staggered. Only 60 percent of shares outstanding voted for the proposal to declassify the board. At least 66.7 percent was needed to change Chesapeake’s certificate of incorporation. Shareholders also soundly rejected a proposal to move the company’s incorporation to Delaware from Oklahoma.

Read more from Reuters.

Undocumented Oklahoma City University student benefits from federal DACA policy

Most days, Ulises Serrano spends an hour or so standing in his bedroom with a music stand on his bed and a viola tucked under his chin. The music filling the room is a viola suite by 20th-century Swiss-American composer Ernest Bloch. Serrano, 21, is studying music business at Oklahoma City University, where he’ll be a senior in the fall. Eventually, he’d like to start a concert venue of his own — something like the University of Central Oklahoma’s Jazz Lab or the Diamond Ballroom, he said. After a recent federal policy change, that goal may be within easier reach. An undocumented immigrant, Serrano received temporary work authorization earlier this year under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Read more from NewsOK.

Food insecurity affects many in Oklahoma

Access to enough nutritious food to live an active and healthy lifestyle is tough for tens of thousands of eastern Oklahoma residents and could get even tougher. Food insecurity impacts 18.3 percent of the 70,600 people who live in Muskogee County, and it’s not much better for those in surrounding counties. Of the 17,500 children in Muskogee County, 4,602, or 26.3 percent, are considered food insecure. This information comes from Feeding America, in findings from its Map the Meal Gap project. The county-by-county analysis is based upon 2011 data collected by the Economic Research Service arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Read more from the Muskogee Phoenix.

Oklahoma-based charity fighting against Farm Bill, food assistance cuts

An Oklahoma-based charity with the mission of helping hungry people eat says it’s lobbying hard to stop the Farm Bill currently under consideration by Congress. Feed the Children sent KRMG a statement outlining its concerns, and Director of Communications Tony Sellars tells us it’s not about politics. If the Farm Bill passes as written, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) would get cut by $20.5 billion over the next ten years. Since the Great Recession, food banks have seen a nearly 50 percent increase in demand. All the food provided by charities in the United States only amounts to about 6 percent of the food distributed by federal food programs such as SNAP and school meals.

Read more from KRMG.

Invisible kids: Homeless in Tulsa

Kyle Kirk is a foster care kid who fell through every hole of every safety net to become one of Tulsa’s 1,500 homeless youths. He was saved from an abusive and neglectful household at age 4. Since then, life has been a rough road of at least 30 placements in foster and group homes and several episodes of running away. Kirk, 20, aged out of foster care and has been couch hopping and living on the streets for the past three years. During the past five years in Oklahoma, the state Department of Human Services has decreased the number of foster children becoming adults while in care by about 200 teenagers, going from 500 to 303 last year. This means more permanent homes are found before they turn 18. But despite these supports, a population remains of foster-care teenagers who have trouble finding stability.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Ban the box: Felony records can be job deal-breaker

We Oklahomans like to think of ourselves as people of conviction: moral, religious, political, personal. We’re also a people with another set of convictions. At least one out of 12 Oklahoma adults has a felony record. Oklahoma’s former offenders are not alone – 65 million Americans have a conviction (or arrest) in their backgrounds. Most employment forms contain a box asking applicants if they’ve ever been convicted (and sometimes if they’ve ever been arrested). Check that box yes and HR departments get heartburn. Nearly nothing torpedoes a job application quicker than a criminal record. Felons who’ve served their sentences and stayed out of trouble often find the term “paid one’s debt to society” hollow. Saddled with too much past and not enough future, some end up back in prison; others settle for dead-end jobs because that’s all they can get.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Previously: Criminal Justice Action Items for Oklahoma from Oklahoma Policy Institute

Fathers, why does Oklahoma lock up your daughters?

Oklahoma incarcerates women at the highest rate per capita in the United States, nearly twice the national average. Is our female population born with a greater propensity for criminal behavior? No. The high incarceration rate of women in Oklahoma is driven by the oft-ignored or denied issues of physical and sexual abuse of girls and women. As children, 67.1 percent of our incarcerated females were victims of physical and/or sexual abuse. As adults, 70.9 percent were victims of domestic violence, 44 percent were victims of rape and 37.6 percent were victims of domestic violence and rape. Oklahoma has a disproportionate number of women who suffer trauma. They carry the symptoms of trauma that lead them down a path to self-medication and addiction. Eighty-two percent of prison receptions were assessed with a moderate to high need for substance abuse treatment.

Read more from NewsOK.

Women’s health care still a legislative target

For those who might have wondered if the legislative assault on women’s health had continued in the past session: Take a wild guess. Of course it did, and as usual, some of the misogynistic measures that flew through the Legislature last session likely will again spawn lawsuits. Business as usual, in other words. Among the measures passed quietly in the final days of the session was House Bill 2226, which would require that the so-called “morning-after” emergency contraceptive be available to women under the age of 17 only by prescription. Among other problems with this legislation, it flies in the face of recent national developments allowing EC to be made available to females of all ages without a prescription. The judge in the case called any restrictions on sales of Plan B ”politically motivated (and) scientifically unjustified.”

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Quote of the Day

As millions of families are struggling to put food on the table, now is not the time to cut SNAP. Feed The Children daily witnesses the success and efficiency of this program in meeting the basic needs of the most vulnerable. SNAP works, reaching those greatest in need.

-Kevin Hagan, president of the Oklahoma-based non-profit Feed the Children, which is fighting to stop a federal Farm Bill that would cut $20.5 billion from SNAP (food stamps) over the next 10 years. He said all of the food provided by charities in the United States only amounts to about 6 percent of the food distributed by federal food programs (Source:

Number of the Day


Amount of wealth per household lost to foreclosure in communities of color in Oklahoma, more than double the amount lost per household in the state’s predominately White communities ($640), 2012

Source: Alliance for a Just Society

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Throwing children in prison turns out to be a really bad idea

The United States still puts more children and teenagers in juvenile detention than any other developed nations in the world, with about 130,000 detained in 2010. And as it turns out, this is very likely a bad idea. A new paper by economists Anna Aizer and Joseph J. Doyle, Jr. offers strong evidence that juvenile detention is a really counterproductive strategy for many youths under the age of 19. Not only does throwing a kid in detention often reduce the chance that he or she will graduate high school, but it also raises the chance that the youth will commit more crimes later on in life.

Read more from Wonkblog.

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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