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In The News
Health Leaders Push the State to Adopt More Restrictive Marijuana Rules: Modeling their recommendations on some of the most restrictive medical marijuana laws in the country, a group representing doctors, hospitals, clinics and other health professionals on Monday urged the state to prevent smokable marijuana from being sold at dispensaries, limit the number of dispensaries to 50 statewide, and require a pharmacist to be in the dispensary and “part of the approval process” [StateImpact Oklahoma]. Medical industry won’t rule out lawsuit on medical marijuana if smokables aren’t banned from dispensaries [Tulsa World].
Oklahoma Is Looking for Ways to Stop Marijuana-Impaired Drivers, but Solution May Not Be Cut-And-Dry: As Oklahoma works to implement medical marijuana following the passage of State Question 788, law enforcement is working to establish ways to field drivers under the influence of the drug. But finding a solution may not be easy. Agency leaders say funding is an obstacle, and at the same time, defense attorneys say a state law could further complicate the issue [The Frontier].
(Capitol Update) With Revenue Growing Again, Can Oklahoma Make up for a Lost Decade? According to State Treasurer Ken Miller, gross receipts to the state treasury during FY-18 were at an all-time high. Receipts for the 12 months ending June 30, 2018, were $12.18 billion, an increase of $1.2 billion, or 11% over FY-17 gross receipts. According to Treasurer Miller, last month marked the 15th consecutive month of positive growth in monthly gross receipts compared to the prior year. Interestingly, only $33.8 million of the increase in receipts are attributable to revenue measures passed by the legislature in the 2017 session. This year’s tax increases only began to be collected on July 1, so none of the FY-2018 increased revenue is attributable to the 2018 tax measures [OKPolicy].
Oklahoma School to Allow Licensed Staff to Carry Firearms: A school in eastern Oklahoma has added a security measure allowing staff to carry firearms during school and at events. The McAlester News-Capital reports that the Hartshorne Public Schools Board of Education unanimously voted last month to allow personnel to carry guns so long as they’re certified by the Oklahoma Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training. Any teachers wanting to carry a firearm on campus will be required to obtain certification and must be approved by the superintendent [AP News].
Can Schools Meet Fallin’s Demand to Spend More of Their Money in the Classroom? Amid an intensifying drumbeat of political promises to propel schools to spend more of their dollars in the classroom, Crescent Public Schools stands out. The district of 600 students in Logan County spent 64 percent of its total funding in 2016-17 on instruction, which includes things like teacher salaries, textbooks and smartboards. That’s an unusually high proportion. According to one state agency, Oklahoma as a whole spent 57 percent on instruction, and most districts spent less than 60 percent [Oklahoma Watch].
Early Career Education Program Seeks to Help New, Struggling Teachers: In response to an overwhelming need across the state, two Oklahoma education organizations are joining forces to help a growing population of new teachers. The Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration and The K20 Center at the University of Oklahoma have developed a program to provide training for struggling teachers [NewsOK].
Editorial: High Price of Oil Shapes Oklahoma Political Landscape: Since October, the price of crude oil per barrel has climbed from $50 to more than $70. Such a rebound in price has helped spur the United States’ highest rig count since March 2015. It has also helped shape the political landscape in Oklahoma over the three months since the Legislature raised gross production taxes on oil and gas wells. In fact, it has affected Oklahoma’s political landscape in three distinct ways [William W. Savage III / NonDoc].
New Diesel Tax Won’t Hurt Farmers: State lawmakers hadn’t passed any major revenue increase packages since 1990, and motor fuel taxes have remained at the same rate since 1986. They raised several rates this year, including the rate on diesel, which saw a 6-cent increase. Although most farm equipment runs on diesel, Oklahoma’s farmers and ranchers won’t see an increase, said Amy Hagerman, an Oklahoma State University professor who studies food and agriculture policy in the school’s agricultural economics program [Journal Record].
Health Department Investigations Find Unreported Neglect, Clients Cut Without Good Cause at Gatesway: A Broken Arrow facility that provides housing and employment services to adults with intellectual disabilities is facing possible termination from the Medicare and Medicaid program after an Oklahoma Department of Health investigation found evidence of neglect and “immediate jeopardy” to residents. The Gatesway Foundation, a nonprofit organization that has helped adults with intellectual disabilities with housing and employment for more than 50 years, could also face sanctions from the state for the alleged violations found at one of its facilities during the May 29 investigation, which found evidence of neglect, according to the Oklahoma Health Department. [The Frontier].
For Three Families, Tulsa Experiment Offers Chance to Grasp American Dream: Normally all three kids would be at daycare but it’s closed for staff training. Since it’s also Ms. Nichols’s day off work she has decided to take the family to the opening day of “Incredibles 2.” She plans to nap once everyone settles down in the front-row recliners. But she’ll also pump extra breast milk for Loyal, her three-month-old daughter, just as she does on her daily breaks at the call center. For Nichols, multitasking is just another word for making it [Christian Science Monitor].
Oklahoma Camp Offers Help for Childhood Trauma Victims: Children ages 7 to 16 lean against the parked police car and pose for pictures while some crawl through the seats. The car is part of a law enforcement demonstration at Camp Hope, an annual weeklong camp for kids who have witnessed or been victims of domestic violence. The demonstration is one of many activities meant to help kids cope with the traumas they have endured. In fiscal year 2017, Oklahoma had 15,289 confirmed cases of child abuse — the highest rate in at least decade, according to a report by the Department of Human Services [NewsOK].
Downtown Oklahoma City Grocery Options Improve Despite Absence of New Full-Service Store: A long-neglected Homeland on the western edge of downtown is set to be unveiled this week while Walmart is introducing Post Mates delivery and Uptown Market continues to take steps toward rebranding and potentially expanding the Native Roots grocery in Deep Deuce. The renewed focus on grocery options coincides with a significant increase in population [NewsOK].
State makes changes to roadside mowing to help monarch butterflies with habitat: A new voice may influence when and where the Oklahoma Department of Transportation mows alongside highways in the future, and it comes from a simple weed. It’s milkweed, which is the lone host plant for the monarch butterfly. With growing concerns about the shrinking monarch population, which migrates through Oklahoma annually, a six-state collaborative was formed under the Federal Highway Administration and in 2016 designated the Interstate 35 corridor as the “Monarch Highway.” [Tulsa World]
Quote of the Day
“You need the kids to be able to get to school, and you need them to be in a school building that is not 105 degrees, and you need to be able to identify if a kid is not able to hear the teacher. These are generally considered worthy expenditures.”
-Michael Leachman, senior director of state fiscal research for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, speaking about why school funding needs go beyond paying for teachers and direct instruction [Oklahoma Watch]
Number of the Day
2017 median wage for Oklahoma kindergarten teachers, lowest in the U.S.
Finally, Some Answers on the Effects of Medicaid Expansion: The Medicaid logjam appears to be breaking. When the Affordable Care Act first invited states to make more low-income people eligible for Medicaid, pretty much all the blue states said yes, but many red ones said no. Now, the Maine Legislature seems poised to overcome Gov. Paul LePage’s opposition to expanding the program. Just weeks ago, Virginia voted to expand Medicaid as well. They would join 32 states that have already expanded the program, and three others actively considering it. But many are still arguing about whether the expansion actually provides adequate care for more Americans. Dozens of studies are starting to answer those questions [New York Times].
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