In The Know: How to improve mental health in Oklahoma; restoring the EITC; state revenue up, but low oil prices threaten…
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
Want to improve the mental health of Oklahomans? Expand Medicaid: Oklahoma is in crisis. While need for mental health care climbs, Oklahomans overwhelmingly lack access to the care needed to address these sometimes preventable, always treatable conditions. This has serious consequences: untreated mental illness can mean increased risk for other health problems, incarceration, difficulty keeping a job and keeping up with financial responsibilities, and homelessness. [OK Policy]
Prosperity Policy: A chance to boost working families: Too many Oklahoma families are working hard but are still not getting ahead. We are among the top 10 states for workers in low-wage jobs – 28.7 percent – according to 2018 data from the policy think-tank Prosperity Now. More than one in five Oklahoma children live in poverty. The working poor struggle with a whole range of obstacles to financial stability, including unreliable access to food, health care, child care and transportation. [David Blatt / Journal Record]
Friday is the last day to take advantage of our early-bird discount for the 2019 State Budget Summit: Our 6th Annual State Budget Summit will bring together Oklahomans with an interest in state policy issues to gain a clearer sense of our challenges and how they can be resolved. The event will be held Thursday, January 24th, 2019. Early-bird registration is $80 per ticket and ends tomorrow, January 11th. Registration will be $95 per ticket starting January 12th. Visit our event page for more details.
In The News
State gross revenue up 13 percent for calendar year 2018, but low oil prices not yet reflected: The state’s economy as measured by gross revenue to the state treasury remains strong, but falling oil prices, turmoil in the stock market and trade disputes are a cause for concern, state Treasurer Randy McDaniel said Thursday. [Tulsa World]
Bill would give schools access to opioid overdose treatment: As Oklahoma continues its fight against the opioid epidemic, one lawmaker wants to improve access to overdose antagonists in schools. Several officials within the state, including those at the Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, have been working to familiarize the state with naloxone. [Journal Record]
Bill would allow sheriffs to delete certain videos after 90 days: As body camera use becomes more prevalent among law enforcement agencies, an Oklahoma lawmaker is trying to reduce costs by cutting the minimum storage period for some videos. Major cities across the country have established surveillance systems for their police departments, and that has been the case in Oklahoma. Oklahoma City, Norman, Tulsa and several other agencies have fully implemented programs. [Journal Record]
A year after work began, mold problem persists at Oklahoma County jail: A year after the project began, workers are only about halfway finished cleaning a heavy infestation of mold out of the Oklahoma County jail, the county engineer said Wednesday. Stacey Trumbo told Oklahoma County commissioners that, because of a high jail population, the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office had struggled to find space to move inmates out of cell pods, allowing workers to treat rooms for mold. [NewsOK]
U.S. Supreme Court leaves Osage County wind developments in doubt: With the U.S. Supreme Court refusing to hear a case against an 8,400-acre project west of Pawhuska, the future of wind development in Osage County seems clouded. Five years ago, after previous legal efforts failed to stop construction, the federal government filed a lawsuit arguing that massive wind turbines interfered with the Osage Nation’s mineral rights and that wind developers should have obtained permits from the tribe before building the project. [Tulsa World]
State board approves bank charter for Stitt’s company: The Oklahoma Banking Board, which includes members appointed by the governor, has approved a bank charter application for the Jenks-based mortgage company founded by Gov.-elect Kevin Stitt. The board also has agreed to relinquish future examinations of the possible bank. [NewsOK] AG examining Stitt conflict-of-interest plan as Banking Board approves merger. [Oklahoma Watch]
Lt-Governor Lamb gets new job: Oklahoma’s outgoing lieutenant governor has landed a job with an Oklahoma City cybersecurity technology firm. Two-term Republican Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb announced Tuesday that he’s joining TriCorps, a privately held company that operates in 12 states and the District of Columbia. [AP News] Michael Teague, Oklahoma’s outgoing secretary of energy and environment, will start a new job Feb. 1 as an adviser in the field. [NewsOK]
More Health Department review in 2019: Last spring a grand jury blamed mismanagement at the Oklahoma State Department of Health for a financial deception that fueled resignations, layoffs and months of heated capitol hearings. In response, state Senator Ron Sharp filed a trio of bills that he says will improve agency transparency. [Public Radio Tulsa]
Improved tone after latest Oklahoma child welfare report: The latest report from experts overseeing reform of Oklahoma’s child welfare system is a mixed bag — some positive reviews, some not so positive. On the whole it’s an improvement from the previous report, though, and that’s a good sign. [Editorial Board / NewsOK]
Deadly deliveries: What Oklahoma is doing to combat rising maternal death rate: American women are dying every day from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. The maternal death rate in the U.S. and in Oklahoma is on the rise. “You would think in the United States, with the sophistication of our healthcare system, that we would not have this issue,” said Barbara O’Brien, director of the Office of Perinatal Quality Improvement at OUHSC. [KTUL]
Unemployment down across state: A release from November 2018 indicates that unemployment is down for every county across Oklahoma. According to a report from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC), Latimer County had the highest unemployment rate at 5.6 percent, while Cimarron County had the lowest unemployment rate at 1.3 percent. [Duncan Banner]
Only half of Tulsans say they’re thriving in first Gallup-Tulsa CitiVoice Index: How are Tulsans doing? Results from the first Gallup-Tulsa CitiVoice Index say overall, half are thriving. “Thriving” means a respondent rated their life at least seven now and at least eight five years in the future on a 10-point scale. [Public Radio Tulsa] You can learn more about the Gallup-Tulsa CitiVoice Index on the Gallup blog and read the full report on the City of Tulsa’s website.
‘You cannot design boldly within the constraints of the law’: TPS seeks legal flexibility for Tulsa Beyond schools: The masterminds behind Tulsa Beyond want to take advantage of a state law that would provide better statutory and regulatory freedom for the four involved high schools. Design teams have spent months building the foundation for the ambitious Tulsa Public Schools project, which seeks to redesign its high schools to better prepare students for a rapidly changing future. [Tulsa World]
Sands Springs Public School District officials discuss dispute over motor vehicle tax distribution, welcome new board member: Former Sand Springs Public Schools Chief Financial Officer and General Counsel Gary Watts said the district is expected to receive $465,832 over the next 13 months as a result of a lawsuit he worked on beginning in 2016. [Sands Spring Leader]
Oklahoma’s US House delegation splits on Affordable Care Act vote: Oklahoma’s U.S. House members were split along party lines Wednesday over whether the House should join a lawsuit involving the Affordable Care Act, a vote that Republicans called political theater and Democrats said showcases their defense of people with pre-existing conditions. [NewsOK]
OETA finds new fundraising friend: OETA officials have identified a new organization to replace the television network’s fundraising foundation, a nonprofit that was registered with the state in November. “OETA is moving expeditiously to protect donor funds with the creation of a new charitable organization called Friends of OETA Inc.,” a spokeswoman for the authority said Wednesday. [Journal Record]
Quote of the Day
“You would think in the United States, with the sophistication of our healthcare system, that we would not have this issue.”
-Barbara O’Brien, director of the Office of Perinatal Quality Improvement at OUHSC, speaking about the rising number of deaths from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications in Oklahoma [Source: KTUL]
Number of the Day
Average annual pay for manufacturing jobs in Oklahoma, 2017
[Source: Incentive Evaluation Commission]
Getting past the barriers: When a mother is in prison: But when family visits are appropriate, studies show that implementing them in a child-friendly way helps maintain the familial connection, potentially mitigates some of the separation trauma for both parent and child and reduces recidivism. In many states, children in foster care have mandated visits with incarcerated parents, facilitated through state agencies. But when children with incarcerated mothers are cared for by family members, two-thirds of those caregivers struggle with poverty and often have trouble arranging to travel for visits — especially if the mother is in prison in another state. [New York Times]
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