In 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
Meet OK Policy: Shiloh Kantz, Deputy Director and Opearations and Development Director: “The people have always been my favorite part of my job. The staff of OK Policy is the reason I get up and come to work every day. I am invested in them personally and professionally.” [OK Policy]
In The News
From business to politics: How Gov. Stitt’s CEO background shapes his governing: Before Gov. Kevin Stitt was trying to boost Oklahoma’s Rainy Day Fund, he was squirreling away half the profits from every loan he processed. Before he was thinking about how the state can better serve 4 million Oklahomans, he was focused on how his company, Gateway First, could offer more financial services to his customers. [The Oklahoman]
Two OKDPS leaders named in lawsuit retire, Stitt appoints new commissioner: Gov. Kevin Stitt accepted the retirement of Oklahoma Department of Public Safety Commissioner Rusty Rhoades today and appointed the state narcotics agency director to replace him, according to a press release. Col. Michael Harrell, OHP chief trooper, also resigned Monday. [NonDoc]
Career tech funding in Oklahoma boosted by $19M: Oklahoma continues to ramp up its investment in career training, including at the Moore Norman Technology Center, where new chief executive Brian Ruttman said there’s room for growth in programs that ready people for careers in everything from health care to auto repair. [Journal Record 🔒]
Local Republicans say agencies more accountable: In Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s first year, he received unprecedented control of five state agencies after a slate of bills passed giving him the ability to hire the agencies’ directors. The change aligns the state’s system with that of the federal level, and State Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, R-Muskogee, said it provides more accountability over state agencies. [Tahlequah Daily Press]
Court must rule before permitless carry petitions are counted: The Oklahoma Supreme Court has asked organizers behind a petition to halt the state’s new permitless carry law to provide a final count before it moves forward in reviewing a legal challenge to the petition effort. [The Oklahoman]
Working group dives into health info exchange after Stitt promises one for Oklahoma: This week, Gov. Kevin Stitt promised to roll out a plan aimed at improving Oklahomans’ health later this year, one that will include a statewide exchange for their health data. [Public Radio Tulsa]
MRHC CEO: Medicaid expansion could impact rural communities: The Oklahoma secretary of state recently released the SQ 802 ballot initiative for Medicaid expansion. “Oklahoma Decide Healthcare” signature petition drive has begun. [David Keith / CNHI] To help rural families, expand Medicaid.
Support could be building for restoring Oklahoma’s Earned Income Tax Credit: There may be interest at the state capitol next year in beefing up Oklahoma’s Earned Income Tax Credit. Oklahoma’s credit offers low-income families significantly less than other states’ credits do — as much as a $435 difference in some cases — and lawmakers made it non-refundable in 2016, so those families get no money back in their pockets. [Public Radio Tulsa] Oklahoma’s EITC is non-refundable and less valuable than other states
Rep. Emily Virgin: It’s time to restore the EITC: “The truth is poor people don’t have lobbyists.” This was a quote from one of the presenters during my interim study on restoring the refundability of Oklahoma’s Earned Income Tax Credit last Thursday. [Emily Virgin / Norman Transcript]
Fight over liquor distribution rules continues: Groups at odds over the lucrative business of alcohol distribution in Oklahoma are continuing to clash over a judge’s ruling that a new state law is unconstitutional. [Journal Record 🔒]
Leslie Osborn: On this Labor Day, let’s start working for safer workplaces. And more civil ones too: From statehood, Oklahoma recognized the importance of our workforce and created a state agency with the mandate to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners of Oklahoma. [Leslie Osborn / Tulsa World]
Jury deadlock latest example of death penalty’s decline: Death sentences have become increasingly rare in Oklahoma and nationwide as opposition to the punishment grows. In May, New Hampshire became the 21st state to abolish the death penalty. [The Oklahoman]
Jail’s troubled history leads to its being removed from sheriff’s management: Two years of targeted reforms were not enough to curb the power of a 28-year tidal wave of public frustration, costly lawsuits, inmate deaths, mismanagement and political scandal. [The Oklahoman] After Okla County Jail youth suicide, sheriff gets requested evaluation [Free Press OKC]
In McAlester officer-involved shooting, many questions, but few answers: “There are a lot of missing pieces,” Anson’s father Mark said recently in an interview with The Frontier. “I really just can’t rest until I have the answers.” [The Frontier]
Banking services hard to find for medical marijuana industry: The federal government still considers marijuana a banned substance, which creates significant legal liabilities for banks, which have largely turned their backs on medical marijuana businesses. [Journal Record 🔒]
The Oklahoman: Program to help traumatized kids expanding in Oklahoma: The roots of a program planted last year by the Oklahoma City Police Department are spreading to other law enforcement agencies, to the benefit of Oklahoma school children dealing with trauma. [Editorial Board / The Oklahoman]
OKC district asks judge to freeze Seeworth bank accounts: Oklahoma City Public Schools, alleging obstruction on the part of an embattled Seeworth Academy, is asking a judge to freeze the charter school’s bank accounts and allow the district access to school facilities to collect all equipment, including buses. [The Oklahoman]
News on urgent side for hospital in Pauls Valley: After months of grieving the loss of having a hospital open the Pauls Valley community got some much needed good news this week. It came with two city votes this past Tuesday night allowing a medical group to open the local hospital building as an urgent care facility. [CNHI]
Oklahoma hospital used dirty gastroscopes on almost 1,000 patients; no infections reported: An unnamed hospital in Oklahoma used contaminated gastroscopes in procedures performed on nearly a thousand patients in recent months, device maker Pentax Medical told U.S. regulators last month, putting the patients at risk of exposure to bacteria that can cause infections. [Reuters]
‘Stand firm’: Choctaw chief reiterates gaming stance at annual address: Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Chief Gary Batton is standing firm on the gaming compact with the state. Batton said he and other tribal leaders across the state believe the gaming compact will automatically renew in January if a new compact is not made — despite Gov. Kevin Stitt’s belief the 15-year gaming compact that expires January 1, 2020 will not be automatically renewed. [CNHI]
Cherokee Nation’s council OKs pick for US House delegate: The Tribal Council of the Cherokee Nation has unanimously approved the newly elected chief’s selection to be the tribe’s first-ever delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. [AP News]
Quote of the Day
“The impacts of poverty on early brain development — as well as the ability of caregivers and parents to form and nurture high-quality interactions young children, which in turn fosters brain development — they’re affected by the stressors of poverty.”
– Dr. Amy Tate of the Birth through Eight Strategy for Tulsa (BEST) on why lawmakers should restore the state EITC [Public Radio Tulsa]
Number of the Day
Estimated number of opioids dispensed to Oklahoma residents in 2015 according to the evidentiary findings from the Johnson and Johnson trial in Norman.
[Source: Ruling in Oklahoma v. Johnson & Johnson]
Why are many of America’s military families going hungry? To make ends meet, Mieir and thousands of other military families around the country routinely rely on federal food assistance, charities or loans from family. Their struggles are caused by a variety of factors: the high cost of living in cities like San Diego, difficulty qualifying for federal food assistance, and a transient life that makes it challenging for spouses to build careers. [NBC]
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