In The Know: Gov. Fallin signs bill to finish American Indian Cultural Center and Museum

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.

Gov. Fallin has signed a bill calling for $25 million in state bonds to finish the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City. The facility is expected to be completed in 2018. House Minority Leader Scott Inman (D-Del City) and other legislators are requesting Gov. Fallin call a special session of the Legislature to address rural roads and bridges damaged by flooding. In his Journal Record column this week, Executive Director David Blatt questioned why legislators rushed through passing the this year’s budget, the most important legislation this session. Policy Director Gene Perry wrote in The Oklahoman that we need to have an honest conversation about what Oklahomans expect from state government, and how to pay for it. Officials warn that the overcrowded, outdated Oklahoma County jail could be the subject of a federal lawsuit.

Arnold Hamilton, editor of The Oklahoma Observer, wrote in the Journal Record praising the implications of the state Democrats’ biennial convention, where the party will decided whether to allow registered independent voters vote in the party’s primary. On the OK Policy Blog, prior intern Drew Capps explained that the state’s decision to reject federal funds to expand health coverage particularly harms African-American and Hispanic families. The state Board of Education heard from an expert on Thursday that schools with high minority and low-income populations have fewer experienced and effective teachers, harming learning opportunities. The Tulsa World reports that incoming Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Gist will maintain her membership with education advocacy group Chiefs for Change, and that the state Board of Education has issued Gist a one-year waiver of Oklahoma certification requirements. Gist has said that she expects to attain the required certification as soon as possible.

Following a month of heavy rain, Tulsa County is officially drought-free for the first time in over a year, and Oklahoma is under its lowest drought status statewide since 2010. Dawn Warrick, the director of Tulsa’s Planning and Development Department, was interviewed about PLANiTULSA, the city’s general plan, in Planetizen. StateImpact described the process by which oil and gas wells deemed earthquake risks are augmented with cement to make them shallower and guide them away from granite basement rock. The Number of the Day is 23,852 – the net international migration into Oklahoma from April 2010 to July 2014. In today’s Policy Note, The New York Times shares how hospitals are increasingly becoming economic anchors in rural towns.

In The News

Gov. Mary Fallin signs bill to finish American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in OKC

Gov. Mary Fallin on Thursday signed a bill to finish the mothballed American Indian Cultural Center and Museum. House Bill 2237 calls for issuing up to $25 million in state bonds to finish the Oklahoma City facility, a project that became stalled in 2012 after lawmakers balked at providing additional funding.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Democratic Leader Asks Governor For Special Session

The Democratic leader in the Oklahoma House is joining a growing chorus of state legislators asking Gov. Mary Fallin to call a special session to address county roads and bridges damaged or destroyed by heavy flooding. Rep. Scott Inman said Thursday he wants the Legislature to access as much as $175 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to help county commissioners pay for extensive damage that resulted from record-breaking rainfall this month.

Read more from KGOU.

Why the rush?

When legislators adjourned Friday, much self-congratulation was expressed for saving taxpayers money by going home a week early. But whatever modest savings were achieved by early adjournment came with a heavy cost for all Oklahomans. Legislators rushed through a budget for next year without near enough time for oversight and review by lawmakers or the public.

Read more from the Journal Record.

Honest conversation needed about the state budget

Deciding how to pay for schools, roads, health care and other crucial public services is the most important job of Oklahoma lawmakers. Hot-button social issues usually get more attention, but to see what makes the biggest difference in the lives of regular Oklahomans, we need to follow the money.

Read more from NewsOK.

Oklahoma County could face threat of lawsuit over jail woes

Oklahoma County could be staring down a federal lawsuit over conditions at its downtown Oklahoma City jail. Aaron Etherington, an assistant district attorney, on Thursday told a seven-member jail working group seeking solutions to persistent problems that U.S. Justice Department officials have indicated they are “moving forward towards initiating litigation.”

Read more from NewsOK.

Hamilton: Does Independents Day loom for Democrats?

The calendar still reads May, yet Saturday could turn out to be Independents Day in Oklahoma. There won’t be fireworks, parades or any of the Yankee Doodle Dandy revelry associated with July Fourth’s Independence Day. But what happens at the biennial state Democratic Party convention may be no less revolutionary, at least politically.

Read more from the Journal Record.

Oklahoma’s refusal of federal dollars especially hurts African-American and Hispanic families

We’ve discussed previously, and at length, why Governor Fallin’s decision to reject federal funds to expand health coverage to low-income Oklahomans is the wrong move, especially when research shows that Medicaid expansion in other states has proven a good deal. Now, new analysis from Families USA lays out more of what Oklahoma gave up by not expanding coverage.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Minority and low-income students are denied same learning opportunities, Oklahoma educator reports

Schools with high minority and low-income populations have fewer experienced and effective teachers, a top educator told state Board of Education members Thursday. Robyn Miller, deputy superintendent for educator effectiveness and policy for the state Education Department, said it’s “an issue of equity of opportunity.”

Read more from NewsOK.

Incoming TPS Superintendent Deborah Gist to remain with national policy group Chiefs for Change

Incoming Tulsa Superintendent Deborah Gist plans to continue her membership in an advocacy group created by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to promote his K-12 education policies around the country. Her affiliation with Chiefs for Change was cited frequently by local teachers and parents and even the leadership at the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association as cause for concern when Gist was first revealed as a candidate.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

State Board of Education OKs exemption for incoming TPS Superintendent Deborah Gist

Tulsa Public Schools received the all-clear Thursday for a one-year waiver of Oklahoma’s certification requirements for incoming Superintendent Deborah Gist. The Oklahoma State Board of Education approved TPS’ request for the exemption without comment as part of a consent docket that included a host of school district requests it considers routine.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Tulsa County free of drought classification for first time since January 2014

The U.S. Drought Monitor has no drought classification for all of Tulsa County for the first time in more than a year. In a report released Thursday, Tulsa County’s final designation, D0 for abnormally dry in the northern region of the county, was removed.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Planners Across America: Dawn Warrick On Implementing Tulsa’s Comprehensive Plan

By her own admission, Dawn Warrick has dedicated herself to serving cities that sometimes are not considered remarkably urban—or remarkably urbane. She has been a planner in Fayetteville, Ark.; Louisville, Ken.; and, as of 2011, was named director of the Planning and Development Department of Tulsa, Okla.

Read more from Planetizen.

Plug-Back or Prove It: Oklahoma’s Anti-Earthquake Orders in Action

Two burly men armed with sledgehammers take turns bashing a khaki-colored steel flange fastened to a pipe in the middle of a soggy, gravely lot near Wakita in northwestern Oklahoma. The tangle of valves and fittings, called the Christmas tree, has to come off before Jay Storm’s crew can start their work in earnest.

Read more from StateImpact.

Quote of the Day

“I cannot say when that will happen, but that’s certainly the direction that they’re heading.”

– Oklahoma County assistant district attorney Aaron Etherington, speaking about the likelihood of a lawsuit from the US Department of Justice over the county’s overcrowded, outdated jail. (Source)

Number of the Day


Net international migration into Oklahoma from April 2010 to July 2014.

Source: U.S. Census.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Hospitals Provide a Pulse in Struggling Rural Towns

“This real estate to be auctioned,” reads a banner stretched across the abandoned warehouse of a store-shelving manufacturer that once employed generations living in and around this town of about 12,000. This isolated rural community has lost a lot of the energy of its heyday, when shoppers roamed downtown sidewalks, freight trains rumbled past the Big Blue River, and streets clogged at quitting time as factory workers spilled out of their plants. But it has yet to lose its economic pulse, thanks in large measure to the Beatrice Community Hospital and Health Center, housed in a sprawling new building of concrete and green glimmering windows on the outskirts of town. The hospital has become an economic anchor for the area.

Read more from The New York Times.

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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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