In The Know: Impacts of record-breaking heatwave | Plan for DDS waitlist released | Reaction to federal audit of state funds

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. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma’s top climate expert discusses heatwave, cites climate change as a potential factor: Heat records are being shattered in Oklahoma this week. On Tuesday, for the first time in its 25 years of collecting this data, the Oklahoma Mesonet recorded temperatures of 103 degrees or higher at every single one of its 120 weather stations around the state. [KGOU

DHS unveils plan to end 13-year waitlist for developmental disabilities services: Help is finally on the way for more than 5,100 families who have been waiting more than a decade for state assistance. On Thursday, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services laid out a timeline for families to receive the long-awaited call. [KOCO] The timeline release comes after a $32.5 million bump in funding was allocated during the latest legislative session to eliminate the 13-year waiting list. [News on 6

State Government News 

(Audio) Tulsa World Opinion podcast: Oklahoma taxpayers paying for state’s mistakes: Ultimately, the state may be forced to repay about $653,000 that auditors said was misspent by families on noneducational items such as televisions, washers and dryers, air conditioners and Christmas trees. Are we used to federal investigations to the point that people aren’t paying attention? [Opinion / Tulsa World

Voting and Election News

Three Quapaw Nation leaders challenged in election: Two years after Quapaw Nation voters ousted their longtime Business Committee chairman and secretary-treasurer — who have since been charged with financial crimes in tribal court — new Chairman Joseph Tali Byrd and new Secretary-Treasurer Guy Barker are facing challengers in their reelection campaigns, which will conclude Saturday. [NonDoc

Health News

Oklahoma businesses should foster positive support for mental health: In the construction industry, the suicide rate for workers is four times higher than the national average. To address this growing problem, construction companies should implement a suicide prevention program, providing safe places for employees to share their struggles. [Opinion / The Oklahoman

Criminal Justice News

Op-ed: It’s time for the data revolution to improve U.S. policing: Recently, the federal government took positive action to remedy the persistent danger posed by overly aggressive police officers. The fact is: for all the country’s progress on using data to inform decision making, local police departments across the country continue to lag in their data gathering and sharing efforts. [Editorial / The Black Wall Street Times

Worried about catalytic converter thefts? A new Tulsa program might help deter popular crime: Anew program to help prevent catalytic converter theft by using an identification number to deter criminals could save Tulsa-area vehicle owners thousands of dollars in repair costs. The thefts of about 2,000 catalytic converters locally since March of last year spurred the program, according to Lt. Brad Staggs with the Tulsa Police Department. [Tulsa World

Oklahoma woman arrested for attacking U.S. Capitol during Jan. 6 insurrection: Court records indicate Dova Winegeart, of Fairview, was charged with six federal offenses after several friends tipped off the FBI that Winegeart had been involved in the attack. [Public Radio Tulsa

Judge, prosecutor’s secret relationship results in new trial for drug trafficking case: The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on Thursday threw out a drug trafficking conviction because the judge and prosecutor were engaged in a secret sexual relationship at the time of trial. More than a dozen other convictions could be reversed because of the judicial sex scandal. [The Oklahoman

Economy & Business News

First-time state jobless claims up 17%: First-time jobless claims in Oklahoma jumped 17% from the previous week for the week ending July 9, officials reported. Meanwhile, continued unemployment claims and continued claims’ four-week moving average decreased. [Tulsa World

Education News

State education leaders tussle over funds for early childhood program: The state’s secretary of education Ryan Walters is refusing to release $12 million specifically earmarked in the state budget to fund programs benefiting impoverished infants and toddlers, the Oklahoma superintendent of public instruction said Thursday. [Enid News & Eagle

Joy Hofmeister helps spike school dropout-prevention program backed by Gov. Stitt: A proposal to fund a $433,000 dropout-prevention program that was a priority of Gov. Kevin Stitt failed Thursday in a state board vote. State schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, a Democrat challenging Stitt for governor, said the program would help too few students at too steep of a price. [The Oklahoman

Oklahoma Local News

Moms Demand Action volunteer advocating for gun safety after recent youth violence in Tulsa: For years, motor-vehicle accidents have been the number one cause of death in U.S. children. But since 2020, firearms have become the leading cause. [Public Radio Tulsa

“Dead deal,” attorney says flaws will mean no turnpikes in Norman: A room full of protestors against plans to build two toll roads in Norman cheered as attorneys in two lawsuits reassured them there is hope in their fight. The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority plans to build two new toll roads in Norman as part of a statewide expansion of the system. [The Norman Transcript

Quote of the Day

“We’re really happy to see DHS put out the information with a timeline. Since the legislature passed the funding bills back in May, families have been anxious, just not knowing what the process is, everyone is excited to get services.”

-Roseann Duplan, Oklahoma Disability Law Center policy specialist, on the Oklahoma Department of Human Services’ newly-released plan to move families off the development disabilities services waiting list. [News On 6

Number of the Day

13 years 

The number of years it has been since the federal minimum wage was last adjusted, which was July 24, 2009 [U.S. Bureau of Labor]

Policy Note

The value of the federal minimum wage is at its lowest point in 66 years: The value of the federal minimum wage has reached its lowest point in 66 years, according to an EPI analysis of recently released Consumer Price Index (CPI) data. Accounting for price increases in June, the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is now worth less than at any point since February 1956. At that time, the federal minimum wage was 75 cents per hour, or $7.19 in June 2022 dollars. [Economic Policy Institute] NOTE: July 24th marks the 13th anniversary of the last time the minimum wage was increased. 

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Kristin Wells served as the Communications and Operations Fellow for OK Policy from October 2021 to July 2022. She previously worked as a digital content producer for News On 6. A native Kansas Citian, Kristin graduated with a B.A. in Media Studies and a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Tulsa in 2020. While there, she was accepted into the Global Scholars program, spurring her interests in policy, social movements, global identities, and the importance of education and advocacy. She hopes to use her skills to continue to learn and create a more equitable future for Oklahomans. An avid sports fan, Kristin lives in Tulsa with her rescue dog and is passionate about college basketball, documentaries, and coffee.

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