In The Know: Health Care Authority budget; OK in top 3 medical marijuana states; OK Supreme Court broadens same-sex custody rights…

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

Oklahoma Health Care Authority approves $6 billion budget: The Oklahoma Health Care Authority Board on Tuesday approved a budget for fiscal year 2020 of more than $6 billion. The budget represents an increase of 2.9%, or about $169 million, over fiscal year 2019. The budget includes just over $1 billion in state funding. That is less than the Health Care Authority received from the state this fiscal year, but the agency will receive more federal dollars due to an increase in its Federal Medical Assistance Percentage rate. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma among top 3 medical marijuana states by patients one year after SQ 788 vote: When Oklahomans voted one year ago in favor of State Question 788, officials thought about 80,000 patients, or about 2% of the state’s estimated population, would register in the first year of a legal medical marijuana program. As of June 24, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority has already registered more than 3.5% of the population as patients, with little sign of applications slowing. [Tulsa World]

Denying dispensaries: Not all property owners interested in this booming business: Medical marijuana as an industry is booming in Oklahoma, with sales, patients, growers, processors and dispensaries continuing to increase throughout the state. But while it may seem like there is a dispensary on every corner, not every property owner is open to leasing to marijuana-related businesses. [The Oklahoman]

Ed secretary backs funds for inmate education during Oklahoma visit: Each carrying a diploma, more than 70 incarcerated men walked across the stage to shake the hand of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Tuesday morning was graduation day at Dick Conner Correctional Center in Hominy, as dozens of inmates graduated with a degree or certificate at the 2019 Tulsa Community College Second Chance Commencement. [The Oklahoman] Click here to read prepared remarks by Secretary DeVos at Tulsa Community College’s Second Chance Commencement.

State official: Marketing worsened Oklahoma’s opioid crisis: Johnson & Johnson “unleashed a series of bombs on the United States of America” that caused the opioid epidemic, Oklahoma’s mental health commissioner testified Tuesday. “Those bombs hit squarely, squarely in the middle of our country in Oklahoma,” said Terri White, commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Supreme Court broadens custody rights for same-sex parents: A non-biological parent who was in a same-sex relationship can establish custody and visitation rights on equal terms with the biological parent, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Tuesday. “Consistent with the best interests of children in similar scenarios, we hold that non-biological same-sex parents may attain complete parity with biological parents,” the court said in an 8-1 decision. [The Oklahoman]

Misinformation biggest threat to elections, Oklahoma official says: As the U.S. House prepared to take up an election security bill, Oklahoma state Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said Tuesday that states should have the latitude to design their own systems. “I encourage federal policy makers to keep in mind that each state is different,” Ziriax said in testimony in Washington, D.C., to House Science, Space and Technology subcommittees. [The Oklahoman]

A tough place to be a kid: State ranks 42 out of 50 in the KIDS COUNT Data Book: Oklahoma has ranked in the bottom 10 in the United States for child well-being in areas like education, health, food security and family and community in the latest edition of the KIDS COUNT Data Book. The report is released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and is considered the most comprehensive annual report on child well-being in the United States and has been published since 1990. [Duncan Banner]

Film shows effect on kids of locking up parents: A new film documenting the impact on children whose parents are in prison will air this week on public television. Produced by Norman veterinarian John Otto and Oscar winner Gray Frederickson, the heart-wrenching documentary, titled “Children of Hope,” gives kids of incarcerated parents a platform to share the pain and long-term repercussions of having a mom or dad behind bars. [The Oklahoman]

Why we’re covering Epic Charter Schools, and what’s next: Our first stories about Epic Charter Schools ran in 2016, back when the Oklahoma City-based virtual school enrolled about 6,000 students. It has since grown to more than 21,000 students. And with that, its share of state funding has increased substantially, to $112.9 million in fiscal year 2019. [Oklahoma Watch]

OU regents keep tuition and fees level for second straight year: In his first meeting as University of Oklahoma president, Joe Harroz praised the Oklahoma Legislature’s appropriation increase for higher education and presented the OU Board of Regents with a budget that “eliminates a structural operating deficit,” offers a faculty and staff pay raise and holds mandatory tuition and fees level for the second straight year. [NonDoc]

OKCPS board approves leasing empty schools: Oklahoma City Public Schools will begin repurposing 11 closed schools after receiving board approval Monday night to lease the buildings. The school district’s Board of Education voted in favor of allowing Superintendent Sean McDaniel to sign leases for eight new tenants should OKCPS complete negotiations on the buildings. [The Oklahoman]

Joy Hofmeister to succeed Garrett King as OETA board chair: The Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA) Board of Directors today named Joy Hofmeister to succeed Garrett King as Chair of the Board for Oklahoma Fiscal Year 2020. King was nominated by Governor Mary Fallin and confirmed by the Senate in 2015. His appointment ends June 30, 2019. [KFOR]

Initiative aims at neighborhood park enhancements: An initiative drive to enact a dedicated sales tax fund for parks is to begin Thursday, seeking new money to benefit neighborhoods throughout Oklahoma City. Former Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid, a physician and leader of the petition drive, said Wednesday that studies show vibrant, active urban park systems are central to residents’ overall good health. [The Oklahoman]

Turnpike tolls set to rise again for cash customers: The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority on Tuesday voted to increase tolls by an average of 2.5% for cash customers. The hike is the third and final increase to pay for Driving Forward, a turnpike expansion and improvement project, said Jack Damrill, Turnpike Authority spokesman. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Democrats ask DNC to order new state party election: Members of the Oklahoma Democratic Party are calling on the Democratic National Committee to invalidate the results of a June state party election to elect a new party chair. Eight Oklahoma Democrats, including Christine Byrd, who lost the party chair election, sent a letter to the DNC on Monday requesting a new election to select a party leader. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“Look at what divides opportunity in society. Usually what makes the difference is education. So if an education is inaccessible, if it’s only available based on your economic circumstance, then I don’t know how you can be a great university.”

-University of Oklahoma President Joe Harroz, after the OU regents approved a budget that keeps tuition and fees level for a second straight year [NonDoc]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma 6th to 12th graders who said they have seriously considered attempting suicide in the past 12 months.

[Source: ODMHSAS]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The city that’s giving people money: The program’s proponents have argued that its test subjects would be good stewards of the resources. They would use the money to improve their lives, keep the bills paid, and plan for the future—and Stockton would benefit from a little economic stimulus as they did. But the project has country-sized ambitions, not just neighborhood-sized ones. It wants to show the United States, in this age of late-capitalist excess, fear-stoking automation, polarized politics, and surging socialism, that individuals are the best judges of how to spend the resources that they have. [CityLab]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.