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
Oklahoma’s spending on senior tax breaks is costly and poorly targeted: Tax breaks for seniors cost Oklahoma an estimated $310 million annually and do little to help the seniors most in need, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. These senior tax breaks caused Oklahoma to forego an estimated 9.0 percent of income tax revenue in 2017, a percentage share that was more than all but ten other states. The $310 million dedicated to senior tax breaks exceeds legislative appropriations for all but six state agencies. [OK Policy]
Prosperity Policy: Time to redraw the rules: For voters concerned that elections be fought fairly and free of political bias, last month’s Supreme Court ruling that federal courts are powerless to stop partisan gerrymandering was a major setback. But it may also hold the seeds of new opportunities. [David Blatt / OK Policy]
In The News
Majority of claims by sexual assault survivors to state crime victim program are denied, data shows: An analysis of Oklahoma Victims Compensation Program data, as well as interviews, by The Frontier show that few sexual assault victims apply to the fund. But the data shows that even when adult sexual assault survivors do apply to the program, the majority are denied. Nearly two-thirds of sexual assault victims who applied for funds from Oklahoma’s Victim’s Compensation Program between Jan. 1, 2014 and Dec. 31, 2018 were denied, according the data. [The Frontier]
Tribes weigh in on debate over gaming fees: The governor of the Chickasaw Nation said Wednesday that Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s plan to pursue a renegotiation of a long-standing compact dealing with tribal gaming operations in the state should be considered carefully. [Journal Record 🔒] Leaders with Oklahoma’s powerful Native American tribes are voicing frustration with the state’s Republican governor after they say he caught them off guard with plans to force renegotiations for a bigger piece of the billions of dollars tribal casinos generate each year. [AP News]
OSBI short dozens of field agents after a decade of budget cuts: The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is dozens of agents short of where its staffing level ought to be for all the cases it fields around the state. Budgetary cuts during the last decade resulted in layoffs throughout the agency, heavily affecting investigators, OSBI Director Rick Adams said. [Tulsa World] The legislature began restoring funding for some agencies this session, but there’s still a long way to go.
CNBC: Oklahoma one of the worst states for business: “The Sooner State is one of the most affordable states in which to live and work, but the state’s education system needs some attention,” explains CNBC’s data analysts. [KFOR] Oklahoma ranked 43 of 50 in CNBC’s annual America’s Top States for Business. [CNBC]
Opioids trial: Expert points to nation’s rise in chronic pain: The origin of the opioid crisis confronting Oklahoma and the rest of the nation can’t be neatly traced to a single cause, a witness who once was a “key opinion leader” utilized by drug companies testified Wednesday as the state’s civil lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceuticals continued in Cleveland County. [Journal Record]
Special Report: For many trauma survivors, the key is breaking down what happened to them: For many trauma survivors, the key is breaking down what happened to them. That’s what therapy and mental health programs like the Mental Health Association of Tulsa’s Walker Hall can do. [Tulsa World]
Oklahoma first responders rescue at least 45 children from hot cars in June and July: Paramedics say they have responded to five cases of children locked in cars since Sunday and 40 incidents in June. Those numbers are staggering, and first responders say July is the worst month. [News9]
Tulsa mayor describes seeing police officers’ interactions with black youths differently from speakers at council meeting: Mayor G.T. Bynum stepped into the middle of the city’s raging discussion of race, policing and perceptions on Wednesday when he disagreed with how speakers at a City Council meeting described police officers’ interactions with residents of Town Square Apartments earlier in the week. [Tulsa World]
Tulsa officials pleased with sobering center’s first year: During its first year, 767 people visited the Tulsa Sobering Center, a program offering adults arrested for public intoxication a place to “sleep it off” rather than go to jail. Addiction treatment program 12&12 runs the Tulsa Sobering Center. [Public Radio Tulsa] Appropriate alternatives to jail, like sobering centers, can help people avoid the crippling fines and fees that come along with entering the criminal justice system.
Tulsa sheriff says those who oppose controversial immigration arrest program are ‘anti what’s right’: Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado and County Commissioner Ron Peters reiterated their support for the Sheriff’s Office’s participation in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement 287(g) program on Tuesday, with Regalado saying those who oppose the partnership are “anti what’s right.” [Tulsa World]
Voters strongly approve both props in Oklahoma City election Tuesday: In Tuesday’s special election, Oklahoma City voters approved two propositions by wide margins. One called for changing the city charter to allow state and federal employees to serve on the City Council, which 68% of voters approved. Voters approved the other proposition by 62%, which makes changes in the franchise agreement the city has with Oklahoma Natural Gas. [Free Press OKC]
Muscogee (Creek) Nation hosts education conference to strengthen relationships between school districts, tribal nations: An ongoing mission for collaboration drew many tribal and state educators to Tulsa on Wednesday to discuss how to better support Native students in Oklahoma. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Education and Training hosted the 2019 EDGE Conference at the River Spirit Casino Resort and invited hundreds of public school educators, state officials and representatives of the Five Civilized Tribes of Oklahoma to the daylong discussion. [Tulsa World]
IHS, Cherokee Nation launch HIV pilot project: On National HIV Testing Day, Indian Health Service and Cherokee Nation officials announced an HIV pilot project to ensure the success of the Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America. Tribal officials said the project will begin implementing and evaluating key foundational activities that will help accelerate progress toward ending the HIV epidemic in Indian Country. [Cherokee Phoenix]
Plan to send 1,400 migrant children to Fort Sill on track despite protests: An arrival date hasn’t been set, but the plan to send about 1,400 migrant children to Fort Sill, Oklahoma to relieve overcrowding at border facilities is on track, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said Tuesday. [Military.com]
Cole says he will oppose a national defense bill for first time in 17 years: U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, whose Oklahoma district includes Tinker Air Force Base and Fort Sill, said Wednesday that he will oppose the national defense bill for the first time in his 17 years in Congress because it doesn’t include enough money and is being pushed through without enough Republican input. [The Oklahoman]
Quote of the Day
“Two years ago, that would equate to over 3,000 man hours the police department spends on taking those same 767 to jail. By the time they arrest them, book them, do their paperwork and court followup, that’s a lot of time.”
– Tulsa Police Department Deputy Chief Jonathan Brooks on the benefits of the Tulsa Sobering Center, which took in 767 people last year [Public Radio Tulsa]
Number of the Day
Children served in fiscal year 2018 by the State Department of Education/State Department of Health SoonerStart program for infants or toddlers who have developmental delays
[Source: Oklahoma State Department of Health]
Punishing kids with years of debt: Across the nation, children and teens who commit crimes are routinely ordered to pay their victims restitution for damaged property, lost wages and medical bills, leaving many saddled with a financial burden that can follow them long into adulthood. Just a half-dozen states cap these payments, which often reach into the tens of thousands of dollars, according to a Marshall Project review of five years of cases in 10 states that collect data on juvenile restitution. [Marshall Project]
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