In The Know: Gallogly retiring; budget deal prospects; hospital fights for its life…

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

Bill Watch: End of legislative session is in sight: Yesterday Governor Stitt announced that he expects to have a budget deal by early next week — an event which typically signals that the legislative session is coming to an end. Lawmakers must adjourn by May 31st, but they can adjourn sooner. We expect the 24th, two weeks from today, to be a likely last day for this year’s Legislature. [OK Policy]

In The News

OU President Jim Gallogly announces retirement: Less than one year into his tenure, University of Oklahoma President Jim Gallogly announced via press release this evening that he will retire. A timeline for his retirement and replacement is not immediately clear, though Gallogly said his exit will occur when the OU Board of Regents has a transition plan in place. [NonDoc] During Gallogly’s 10 months as university president, OU has been rocked by an investigation into former President David Boren, numerous on-campus incidents and a budget upheaval. [NewsOK]

As legislative session winds down, Oklahoma lawmakers scramble to make budget deal: Oklahoma lawmakers are facing a deadline to finish their work in the next three weeks. The most important duty of the legislature is crafting a budget for the 2020 fiscal year, which starts on July 1. But, so far, nothing has been released. Oklahoma House Appropriations and Budget Chairman Kevin Wallace read some highlights and new developments below. [StateImpact Oklahoma] Some Capitol insiders expect an agreement within two or three days, but others suspect the process could drag on further after a series of chess moves last week. [Tres Savage / NonDoc]

Stitt working on a health care plan, looking at agency reform, consolidation and use of federal funds: Gov. Kevin Stitt last week said he expects to roll out a health care plan in the fall. Many of the details are still in the works. “We will give Oklahomans a great option sometime in the fall,” he said. “We are working on the Oklahoma Plan on the overall health care options.” [Tulsa World]

‘Who’s going to take care of these people?’: The hospital had already transferred out most of its patients and lost half its staff when the CEO called a meeting to take inventory of what was left. Employees crammed into Tina Steele’s office at Fairfax Community Hospital, where the air conditioning was no longer working and the computer software had just been shut off for nonpayment. “I want to start with good news,” Steele said, and she told them a food bank would make deliveries to the hospital and Dollar General would donate office supplies. [Washington Post]

School choice at the heart of state ed board debate: Democrats in the state Senate have revolted against the governor’s picks to the state Board of Education, a product of a mostly partisan divide over school choice policies. Advocates for charter schools and school vouchers have praised some of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s picks to the board for their depth of education policy and their experience with nontraditional public schools. [NewsOK]

Stitt’s picks for State Board of Education to be considered Tuesday: A Senate panel on Tuesday is expected to take up two of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s nominations to the State Board of Education. They are expected to pass. Sen. Carri Hicks, D-Oklahoma City, on May 2 said she would not carry the nominations of Estela L. Hernandez and Jennifer Monies, citing philosophical differences. [Tulsa World] Oklahoma Senate Democratic Leader Kay Floyd pushed back this week on claims of obstruction from the governor’s office over some of his executive nominations. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Governor Stitt wants to see compromise in Patient’s Right to Pharmacy Choice Act: Time is running out for HB 2632, which would allow patients to use the pharmacy of their choice. Governor Stitt vetoed a similar version of the bill in hopes that the legislature could compromise and find a middle ground. [KFOR]

Attorney announces intent to sue after Oklahoma governor signs bill on medical marijuana waste disposal procedures: A Tulsa attorney said he plans to sue after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill requiring commercial medical cannabis licensees to work with a waste disposal company when they need to discard certain products. [Tulsa World]

Truck driver testing bill sent to governor: A bill passed in the Oklahoma Legislature and sent to Gov. Kevin Stitt would allow for truck driving schools and career technology centers in the state to become sites for testing of people who want to be licensed as commercial truck drivers. [Journal Record]

Route 66 Centennial Commission established: The Oklahoma Legislature has created a 21-member Oklahoma Route 66 Centennial Commission to plan, coordinate and implement a statewide effort celebrating the 100th anniversary of Historic Route 66. Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the bill. [Journal Record]

Hofmeister applauds new law ensuring high-quality computer science instruction: State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister made the following comments today in response to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s signing of Senate Bill 593. The new law prioritizes high-quality professional learning opportunities in computer science. [Duncan Banner]

Melissa Abdo: Advocacy is key to reaching ‘Top 10’: By now, many people have heard or read of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s goal for Oklahoma to be a “Top 10” education state. It’s an ambitious pursuit with many hurdles to overcome, but the results of achieving this goal will be more than worth it for our children and our state. When Oklahoma is a Top 10 education state, we will see an increase in economic development, higher wage jobs and improved health outcomes for our citizens.  [Melissa Abdo / Tulsa World]

Tulsa World editorial: New law brings transparency to virtual charter schools: With no opposition, the Oklahoma Legislature has passed and Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed new limitations on how virtual charter schools can operate in Oklahoma. House Bill 1395 essentially holds virtual charter schools, such as the fast-growing Epic Charter School, to the same reporting standards as traditional public schools. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]

Teachers backing Oklahoma County sheriff deputies in political fight: Oklahoma County sheriff deputies have influential new allies in their ongoing feud with county commissioners — teachers. “Contact your county commissioner and tell them to fund Oklahoma County Law Enforcement Services!!” the Oklahoma City chapter of the American Federation of Teachers wrote in a Facebook post Friday night. [NewsOK]

Cell by Cell: A teenage suicide sheds light on a lack of oversight for juveniles in county jails: Before his death, 16-year old John Leroy Daniel Applegate was secluded from other juveniles in a cell in the Oklahoma County Detention Center. The teenager was also placed on suicide watch intermittently during his time at the detention center before jailers ultimately found him unresponsive in his cell in April, said County Commissioner Carrie Blumert. [The Frontier]

Meloyde Blancett: Five reasons why bail reform is esssential: In some public remarks I was making recently, I emphasized the important role that bail reform plays in making a dent in our state’s massive overincarceration rates. When a person raised their hand and asked why that was important, it struck me that there are a whole lot of people who support reform but know nothing about why bail is such a critical issue. [Rep. Meloyde Blancett / Tulsa World]

Prisons in Oklahoma struggling to halt contraband cellphones: The Oklahoma Department of Corrections is asking federal lawmakers to authorize the use of cellphone signal jamming technology after being bombarded by an overflow of smuggled cellular devices they say gangs use to commit crimes inside and outside prison. [AP News]

Overall health pilot program expands statewide: A pilot program that connects patients in Oklahoma and Tulsa counties with social service programs to improve their overall health will be expanded statewide based on its initial success. “Health care delivery itself is like 10% of what it takes to be a healthy, thriving person,” said Dr. David Kendrick, a key partner in the program. [NewsOK]

A healthy reprieve: Moratorium designed to bring better grocery options to northeast OKC: Ward 7 Councilwoman Nikki Nice hasn’t slept since the May 7 council meeting. She said she has about 170 days left of not sleeping. Nice proposed and had passed a 180-day moratorium on constructing or issuing building permits for small-box discount or convenience stores within 1 mile of another small-box discount or convenience store. [Journal Record]

Homeless Alliance may see funding boost: Oklahoma City’s proposed Fiscal Year 2020 budget increases funding for the Homeless Alliance by nearly a third, providing a significant financial boost for one of the city’s only day shelter of its kind. “Because the day shelter is really the front door to services in Oklahoma City … the city views it as a valuable asset for our municipal government to fund,” said Dan Straughan, executive director of the Homeless Alliance. [NewsOK ????]

OKC homeless shelter for youth at capacity, seeking donations: Officials at Sisu Youth Services say their numbers keep growing, and community assistance is needed. For more than a year, Sisu been providing a place for young people to get off the streets safely, seven nights per week. [News9]

Dorman focuses on child advocacy after legislative career: To successfully talk to a legislator, Joe Dorman suggests a friendly interaction with their assistant, a 90-second speech and a firm handshake. These tips were part of a list he gave advocates who assembled at the Capitol last week for the third annual Child Advocacy Day, an event co-hosted by the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, of which Dorman is CEO. [NewsOK]

Former lawmaker in Oklahoma settles ethics case: Former state Rep. Scott Biggs has turned over the last of his 2016 campaign funds to the state. The Oklahoma Ethics Commission agreed Friday that the $19,674 payment settles its ethics case over unreported donations to his 2014 campaign. [NewsOK]

Cole trying to save Indian land bills after Trump tweet: President Donald Trump’s tweet attack on an Indian land bill this week helped derail a related measure by Rep. Tom Cole that was on a fast track to passage. Cole, R-Moore, said his legislation, the product of 10 years of effort, was “collateral damage” after Trump urged lawmakers not to pass a bill backed by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren related to a tribe in her state. [NewsOK ????]

Quote of the Day

“If we aren’t open, where do these people go?” … “They’ll go to the cemetery. If we’re not here, these people don’t have time. They’ll die along with this hospital.”

-Employees at Fairfax Community Hospital, which has dropped down to just an ER and is facing permanent closure [Washington Post]

Number of the Day


Percentage of children in Adair County who are American Indian, the most of any county in Oklahoma.

[Source: KIDS COUNT Data Center]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Researchers say there’s a simple way to reduce suicides: Increase the minimum wage: Since 2000, the suicide rate in the United States has risen 35 percent, primarily because of the significant increase in such deaths among the white population. There are hints that these deaths are the result of worsening prospects among less-educated people, but there are few immediate answers. But maybe the solution is simple: pursue policies that improve the prospects of working-class Americans. [Washington Post]

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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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