In The Know: Jail’s poor design; Public School Week; opioid manufacturer settles…

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.

New from OK Policy

Release: OK Policy announces that Executive Director David Blatt will be leaving later this year: Oklahoma Policy Institute announced today that David Blatt, its longtime Executive Director, will leave the organization later this year. Blatt intends to remain with the Tulsa-based think-tank through the transition process to a new Executive Director. [OK Policy] The search for a new executive director will begin April 2. [Journal Record]

In The News

Cell by Cell: Oklahoma County jail’s poor design contributes to safety, security issues: Since 2016, 35 inmates have died at the Oklahoma County jail. The poor design of the building has likely contributed to that problem. In each two-tiered jail pod, a guard sits in glassed-in room overlooking the area—but the guard can’t see into every cell. There’s only a small, rectangular window at the top of each heavy metal cell door. [The Frontier]

Parent Legislative Action Committee launches Public School Week as they advocate for additional funding: This session families came together to create the Parent Legislative Action Committee. The goal is to be a face for schools as lawmakers debate dozens of bills aimed at education. This week parents and teachers across the state plan on writing letters and calling lawmakers with personal stories about public schools. [KJRH]

Purdue pharma reaches deal to settle Oklahoma opioid case: Purdue Pharma LP agreed to settle the state of Oklahoma’s claims its illegal marketing of the Oxycontin painkiller caused financial devastation to local communities, the first accord in a recent wave of lawsuits stemming from the U.S. opioid crisis, according to people familiar with the matter. The settlement comes more than two months before the scheduled start of a trial against Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. in Norman, Oklahoma. Terms of the deal, which covers only Purdue, weren’t immediately available. [Bloomberg] The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday declined to intervene in the state’s lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, leaving the trial on track to begin May 28. [NewsOK]

Bill to split OMES IT advances in Legislature: A small panel of lawmakers on Monday narrowly agreed the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services should be split in two, with the Information Technology services division having its own agency. If adopted into law, Senate Bill 227 would create the Oklahoma Information Services Department and pay between $130,000 and $160,000 to the person selected to be chief information officer and executive director. [NewsOK]

Oklahoma moves to stop towns from fees, bans on plastic bags: Oklahoma lawmakers are considering legislation to prevent cities and towns from imposing a fee on single-use plastic and paper bags, a measure that officials in one Oklahoma community say encroaches on their search for an innovative way to protect the environment from the problems of carelessly discarded bags. [Journal Record]

Legislators could fine tune state’s liquor laws: Six months after beer modernization implementation, legislators are ironing out the finer details of Oklahoma’s alcohol laws to ensure consumers and businesses can shop and operate without unnecessary restrictions. [Enid News & Eagle]

Retirees converge on Capitol seeking cost-of-living adjustment: Retirees were at the Capitol on Monday to let lawmakers know that 11 years is too long to wait for a cost-of-living adjustment. House Bill 2304, by Rep. Avery Frix, R-Muskogee, would provide a 4 percent cost-of-living adjustment for all six of the state’s retirement systems. [Tulsa World]

ACLU: State question an effort ‘to appease anti-abortion activists’ upset after GOP leaders buried abortion abolition bill: The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma is weighing its legal options after the Senate advanced a measure that would ask voters to determine that the state constitution does not afford the right to an abortion. [Tulsa World]

Evictions costing Oklahoma: On average, nearly 60 families face eviction every day in Oklahoma according to data collected by the Princeton University project, Eviction Lab. The website shows Oklahoma’s eviction rate is twice the national average, but Oklahoma City’s rate of eviction is nearly four-times as high as the rest of the country. [FOX 25]

Oklahoma near last in adding new solar capacity: Oklahoma has the sixth-highest potential among all 50 states for developing solar power. Yet, Oklahoma was among the nation’s worst in adding new solar capacity in 2018, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association’s latest market report. [Journal Record ????]

Editorial: Legislature needs to protect delicate patients, not insurance companies: A touching column by University of Oklahoma Regent Renzi Stone described the heartbreaking death of his son, Isaiah, just before the child’s first birthday. Born with epilepsy, the child experienced terrifying seizures from 4 months. [Editorial Board / Enid News & Eagle]

Editorial: Oregon and Oklahoma: Similar issues, different details: Don’t call this a travel blog, but my recent trip to Portland, Oregon, left me with a journalistic observation: Residents of the Beaver State are fortunate to have thorough coverage of their government from The Oregonian. [Tres Savage / NonDoc]

Tulsa Public Schools expects to spend $3 million less than budgeted this school year: Tulsa Public Schools expects to spend $3 million less than what the district originally budgeted for this school year. The district’s midyear budget adjustment, which was presented to school board members Monday night, shows an overall expenditure of $636 million for the 2018-19 school year. [Tulsa World]

Proposed north Tulsa redevelopment plan includes eminent domain authority; City Council addressing plan Wednesday: The City Council on Wednesday is scheduled to vote on a proposed amendment to an urban renewal plan that would, among other things, give TDA the authority under state law to issue tax-exempt bonds and initiate eminent domain proceedings on blighted properties targeted for redevelopment. [Tulsa World]

Former OU employee’s discrimination suit moves to federal court: A former employee of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center is suing the university for disability discrimination, and the case has been moved to the U.S. Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. [Norman Transcript]

Quote of the Day

“If landlords did what they are supposed to do and tenants did what they are supposed to do they wouldn’t need me, I wouldn’t be here. But that’s not what’s happening.”

-Richard Klinge, Director of the Pro-Bono Housing Eviction Assistance Program at Oklahoma City University School of Law, which is helping tenants who are evicted after they complain to landlords who are not maintaining safe properties [Source: Fox 25]

Number of the Day


Number of substantiated reports of child abuse and neglect in Oklahoma in FY 2018, a 62 percent increase since FY 2012.

[Source: OKDHS]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

A new explanation for the stubborn persistence of the racial wealth gap: Few data points more clearly illustrate how decades of discrimination affected black Americans than the racial wealth gap. As of 2016, the typical black family had a net worth of $17,100, roughly one-tenth the $171,000 accumulated by a white household, federal research shows. [Washington Post]

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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.

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