In The Know: From police custody to psychiatric care; mental health first aid; the crisis of rural and small-town Oklahoma…

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

Task force wants better process for getting mentally ill from police custody to psychiatric care: A task force involving psychiatrists, first responders and hospitals wants to streamline the process for getting people having a mental health emergency into proper care. Project Blue Streets Chairman Jason Beaman said the idea behind the task force is simple. “Our police officers are spending hours and hours and hours in emergency rooms, often waiting on unnecessary and nonscientific-based tests and labs instead of out patrolling our streets,” Beaman said. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Learning the skills of mental health first aid ‘could be a game changer: If you take a CPR class, that doesn’t mean you are qualified to be a cardiologist. But CPR is an important step in the first aid to a patient who may be having a heart issue. Tulsa Community College believes a first-aid course for mental health could be a similar lifesaver for those showing some warning signs of a mental health issue. [John Klein / Tulsa World]

Prosperity Policy: The crisis of rural and small-town Oklahoma: At a recent candidates’ forum in Lawton hosted by Oklahoma Watch and Together Oklahoma, Republicans and Democrats alike said access to health care is one of the top challenges facing rural and small-town Oklahomans. “Two years ago, the hospital in my district, in Frederick, closed,” said Trey Caldwell, the Republican candidate in House District 63. [David Blatt / Journal Record]

Upcoming forum in Muskogee: Legislative candidates discuss issues: Candidates in two Muskogee-area state House districts will discuss important state and local issues in a public forum Tuesday at the Roxy Theater in Muskogee. The forum, which is free, is being presented by Oklahoma Watch, a nonprofit media organization, and Together Oklahoma, a nonprofit education and advocacy group. Those interested in attending are encouraged to register online. [Oklahoma Watch] Find more upcoming events by TogetherOK here.

What else do Oklahomans care about this election season? As the 2018 election season hits a fever pitch in Oklahoma, residents across the state are scrutinizing the credentials of the candidates. And with November 6 just three weeks away, some new political concerns are coming to light. When Oklahoma’s public radio stations started the Oklahoma Engaged series this spring, there was one big issue center stage in Oklahoma: education. While education is still a crucial issue, other topics are percolating. [KGOU] Find more about Oklahoma’s upcoming elections and state questions at OK Policy’s resource page here.

Stitt and Edmondson view Mary Fallin label as insult: When gubernatorial candidates are not raising money for campaign expenses and TV commercials, they visit different communities and recite stump speeches. Sometimes they appear with other politicians of note, accepting endorsements and earning media coverage, such as today when Oklahoma GOP nominee Kevin Stitt will appear with Vice President Mike Pence in Tulsa. [William W. Savage III / NonDoc]

(Guest Post: John Kusel) SQ 793 will expand vision care access for low-income Oklahomans: While the rising costs of healthcare can often force low-income families to make difficult decisions between their health and their financial well-being, we can break down one of these financial barriers in Oklahoma by creating new options for affordable vision care. Voters in Oklahoma will have an opportunity to do this on Election Day in November by voting “Yes” on State Question 793. [John Kusel / OK Policy]

(Guest Post: Joel Robison) SQ 793 is about corporate control of a medical profession: State Question 793 is a November 2018 ballot initiative that would allow big retailers like Walmart to open corporate-run optometry clinics inside their stores. It was put on the ballot after a successful signature gathering drive led by Oklahomans for Consumer Freedom, a group created by and paid for by Walmart. The “yes” campaign is being funded by Walmart, with some help from other big retailers like Costco. [Joel Robison / OK Policy]

Video: ‘Watch-Out’ Forum on SQ 801 – Your schools, your taxes: Watch a video of our “Oklahoma Watch-Out” forum on State Question 801, which would allow school districts to spend a portion of their property tax revenue on operations. Featured panelists were Shawn Hime, executive director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, and Jennifer Monies, executive director of Oklahoma Achieves, an education initiative of the State Chamber of Oklahoma. [Oklahoma Watch]

District attorneys seek appropriations hike: As the state’s district attorneys work on a budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2019, officials face a recurring philosophical problem. Although the push to reduce court fines and fees is building to a near consensus, the state’s district attorneys will likely continue their dependence on the revenue stream in the absence of increased state funding. The agency overseeing the state’s 27 district attorney offices is drafting its budget request to the Legislature as well as implementing recommendations from a financial auditor. Fee revenue will likely maintain its position as a funding pillar for fiscal 2020. [Journal Record ????] This OK Policy report shows how excessive fines and fees have locked Oklahomans into the justice system without increasing state revenue.

Judge rules against BA in medical marijuana business regulations battle: A Tulsa County judge says the City of Broken Arrow can’t adopt regulations limiting medical marijuana business activities in their city limits that are authorized by the state’s Medical Marijuana Act. Judge Patrick Pickerill ruled in support of businessman Austin Miller and Cloudi Mornings, LLC. The court ruled that Oklahoma cities are not allowed to adopt regulations, zoning laws, fees or other restrictions authorized under terms of Oklahoma’s Medical Marijuana Act approved by voters. The ruling notes that the issue is one of statewide concern that would benefit from final resolution by Oklahoma’s Supreme Court. [News On 6]

Fearing lawsuits, police to scale back on rules enforcement at the Gathering Place: Acting on new guidance from city attorneys, Tulsa Police officers will not respond to “rules violations” at the Gathering Place indefinitely — and it may take a court ruling for that to change. Gerry Bender, city of Tulsa Litigation Division Manager, told The Frontier that although officers were originally told to respond to the park for rules violations — such as smoking, or having a dog on the premises — attorneys for the city have determined they are “not comfortable” with the park’s status as a private facility. [The Frontier]

Quote of the Day

“Our police officers are spending hours and hours and hours in emergency rooms, often waiting on unnecessary and nonscientific-based tests and labs instead of out patrolling our streets.”

-OSU Center for Health Sciences chair of psychiatry Jason Beaman, who is leading a task force that wants to streamline the process for getting people having a mental health emergency into proper care [Public Radio Tulsa]

Number of the Day


Percent of total sales of all Oklahoma grocery stores that were meat and poultry, compared to a national average of 10.5%.

[U.S. Census 2012 Economic Census]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Reduce opioids deaths — and chronic pain: And our medical system could do much more to encourage other forms of treatment — be it exercise, physical therapy, other therapy or many other possibilities. “The problem is, there is no money to be made from these nonpharmacological interventions,” Arthur Stone of the University of Southern California told me. And there is no powerful industry — like the pharmaceutical industry — lobbying for insurance coverage of these treatments. Employers and policymakers would likely need to intervene. [New York Times]

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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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