In The Know: Gov. Fallin signs bill requiring sexual assault prevention programs in schools

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.

Governor Fallin has signed bills requiring schools to develop rape and sexual assault prevention programs for students and staff, allowing juveniles in the criminal justice system to undergo competency evaluations to determine whether they understand the proceedings, and expanding charter school options statewide. The Washington Post spoke to Oklahoma oilfield workers who lost their jobs in the recent downturn and found fading hopes that their jobs will return. On the OK Policy Blog, intern Derek Wietelman argued that implementing the EPA’s climate change rules should be easy in Oklahoma.

Over the last five years, the state Tax Commission accidentally paid more than $90 million to insurance companies to provide worker’s compensation coverage, although lawmakers believed they had rewritten the state’s compensation laws to end the payments. Vox summarized the various possible outcomes of the state’s death penalty case in front of the US Supreme Court, which concerns the use of midazolam in executions. A decision is expected by the end of the month. A hospital in Durant charges uninsured patients almost 10 times the actual cost of their care, placing it among the 50 hospitals in the US with the highest markups, a Washington Post investigation found.

The committee overseeing repairs to the state Capitol building has approved plans to renovate the building’s interior. The Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation received more than $16 million in cuts in the new state budget, prompting concerns that the department will have to close some state parks or transfer them to private ownership. The Number of the Day is 32.6% – the obesity rate in Oklahoma in 2014, the fifth-highest in the US. In today’s Policy Note, an anonymous Oklahoma corrections officer discusses the stress and danger of understaffed prisons with The Marshall Project.

In The News

Oklahoma Bill Requiring Sex-Assault Prevention Programs In Schools Becomes Law

A bill requiring Oklahoma school districts to develop rape and sexual assault prevention programs for students and staff in schools has been signed into law. Gov. Mary Fallin on Wednesday signed House Bill 1684, which amends the Safe School Committee legislation to include “adding duty to develop a rape or sexual assault response program for students and school staff, providing an effective date and declaring an emergency.”

Read more from The Norman Transcript.

New Law Allows Juvenile Justice Competency Evaluations

With passage of a new law, Oklahoma has become the last state to allow juveniles in the criminal justice system to undergo competency evaluations. On Friday, Gov. Mary Fallin signed Senate Bill 457 into law. That bill requires that if there is suspicion that a child facing a delinquency petition in the juvenile justice system does not understand the proceedings or is unable to assist in his or her defense, the child may be declared incompetent and the proceedings halted until competency is restored.

Read more from Oklahoma Watch.

Charter school options expand across Oklahoma

All 77 counties in Oklahoma received the public charter school option Wednesday when Gov. Mary Fallin signed Senate Bill 782 into law. The Senate bill expands the Oklahoma Charter Schools Act beyond Oklahoma and Tulsa counties. Each school district will determine if a charter school is necessary. It is not a state mandate.

Read more from The Stillwater News Press.

After plunge in oil prices, hope fades for group of long-beleaguered workers

Other men bought big houses or new pickups with their oil money. Mike Gillham bought his favorite bar. He heads there most nights, to lug in more beer, to throw darts with his regulars, to smoke Camels and sit with his wife and wonder how to keep getting by, now that his oil job is gone.

Read more from The Washington Post.

Implementing EPA climate change rule should be no problem for Oklahoma

Last summer, the Environmental Protection Agency issued its proposed Clean Power Plan Rule in an attempt to lower the emissions of carbon dioxide from electric power plants nationwide. A finalized version of the rule is expected to be released in the coming weeks. In late April, Governor Fallin issued an executive order directing state agencies not to prepare for or implement any provisions of the finalized rule.

Read more from The OK Policy Blog.

State Leaders: Mistake Led to Insurers Reaping Rebates

Because of a failure to write clear laws, Oklahoma leaders say, the state paid more than $90 million to insurance companies it shouldn’t have over the past five years in the form of rebates. The rebates were paid to insurance firms that provide workers’ compensation coverage in Oklahoma and that had paid assessments required by state law to a fund called the Multiple Injury Trust Fund.

Read more from Oklahoma Watch.

The most likely outcomes of the Supreme Court’s death penalty ruling

The Supreme Court is considering a legal challenge to Oklahoma’s use of lethal injection this month — but chances are the effects of a ruling will be quite limited. The case follows several botched executions in the past couple of years, particularly that of Clayton Lockett in April 2014. Lockett’s execution, in which experimental drugs were used because of a nationwide shortage of lethal injection drugs, took an excruciating 43 minutes.

Read more from Vox.

Oklahoma hospital charges patients almost 10 times cost of care, report says

A Durant hospital charges uninsured patients almost 10 times the actual cost of their medical care, the Washington Post reports. The Medical Center of Southeast Oklahoma is among 50 hospitals across the United States that have the “highest markup of all 5,000 hospitals in the United States,” Gerard Anderson, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told the Post for their story.

Read more from NewsOK.

See also: The top 50 hospitals that gouge patients the most from The Washington Post.

Capitol Repair Panel Approves Interior Renovation Plan

A committee that’s overseeing the renovation of the nearly 100-year-old Oklahoma Capitol has approved preliminary plans for overhauling the building’s interior. The State Capitol Repair Expenditure Oversight Committee met Thursday and approved the scope of the interior work and how the project will be phased in over the next six years.

Read more from KGOU.

State Parks in Danger After Tourism Department’s $16 Million Budget Cut

The $7.1 billion state budget Governor Mary Fallin signed in June 2015 included deep cuts to the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation — the agency that runs the state park system. That could mean some parks will have to be closed or transferred to new operators, and some eastern Oklahoma lawmakers are fuming.

Read more from StateImpact.

Quote of the Day

“That’s only part of the cut, which is approximately $1 million. There were also cuts to apportionment of $7.8 million, and some of the Tourism funds were swept, so to speak, at $7.5 million. Which is on top of approximately 26 percent cuts that have happened in the past several years.”

– Claudia Conner, deputy director of the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation. Between a 5 percent budget cut, reductions to use and sales tax money set aside for tourism, and cuts to two revolving funds, her department is facing over $16 million in cuts this year. (Source)

Number of the Day


Obesity rate in Oklahoma 2014, the fifth-highest obesity rate in the US that year

Source: Gallup Healthways.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

‘I Feel Unsafe Every Day.’

An Oklahoma corrections officer on the stress and danger of understaffing, and why each inmate should be given a joint twice a day.

Read more from The Marshall Project.

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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