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
Prosperity Policy: Bad breaks: Oklahoma’s budget is currently enjoying a healthy stretch – the result of a strong economy and recent sound policy choices that have brought tax revenues into closer alignment with our budget needs. But we should not expect the good times to last forever. [David Blatt / Journal Record]
In The News
Medicaid expansion proponents kick off 90-day drive to get issue before voters: The grassroots campaign Oklahoma Decides Healthcare kicked off its voter signature collection drive Wednesday in Oklahoma City. Supporters of Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma have until Oct. 28 to collect 178,000 valid signatures to put State Question 802 on the ballot in 2020. [The Oklahoman] Specific locations for circulating the petition have yet to be publicly announced but will be posted on social media at the Yes on 802 Facebook and Twitter accounts and Yeson802.org. [Tulsa World] Need more information about SQ 802? We’ve got that here!
Oklahoma ranks lowest on key rare disease programs on NORD’s 2019 State Report Card: The Sooner State has a new dubious claim to fame: it’s the worst place in the United States to live for anyone with a rare disease. That’s according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), which every year since 2015 has graded all 50 states from A to F for their performance on issues affecting the roughly 30 million Americans who have rare illnesses. [ALS News Today]
‘Huge problem’: Company mum on closing northeast OKC grocery store: Less than three years after customers were disappointed when an Oklahoma City grocer abandoned plans to upgrade its northeast OKC grocery store, community members are now aggravated by news the store will close altogether Monday. [NonDoc] It is the only large, full-service grocery store in the area bounded by I-40, I-35, I-44, and I-235, the area traditionally thought of as the “east side” of the city. [Free Press OKC]
Voters ask Legislature for more action on criminal justice reform: In 2016, Oklahoma voters passed two state questions intended to reduce the state’s prison population. Every year since, lawmakers have introduced bills designed to help decrease the number of people serving time. In the last two legislative sessions, lawmakers passed some of those reforms, but most proposals have stalled in committee. [StateImpact Oklahoma] Criminal justice reform was not a high enough priority for the legislature in 2019.
New law restores tax deductions for Oklahoma businesses: A new state law signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt applies to pass-through corporations and will allow some business owners and others in the state to save money on federal taxes. The new law gives pass-through businesses, including limited liability corporations, partnerships and S corporations, the option of paying their taxes at the “entity level.” [Journal Record]
Governor, cabinet members kick off Top Ten tour: Turning Oklahoma into a Top Ten state is an important goal for Gov. Kevin Stitt. Stitt and members of his cabinet stopped in Woodward Wednesday at High Plains Technology Center for his first Top Ten Cabinet Tour stop. [Woodward News] Stitt and several of his cabinet members spoke to about 200 Oklahomans and one well-behaved dog about his first six months as governor and what’s to come. [The Oklahoman]
Pawhuska PD using tablets to connect people to mental health professionals: An Osage County man is getting help after police said he asked an officer to kill him. Pawhuska Police said the mental health tablets they use allowed the man to connect with a professional instantly. [NewsOn6] Increased funding and access to mental health treatment could lower crime rates
State and drug makers make final pitches to judge in opioid trial: Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries should be ordered to pay the state of Oklahoma more than $17.17 billion to help abate a devastating opioid epidemic that they “willfully, wantonly and intentionally” helped cause, attorneys for the state of Oklahoma told a Cleveland County judge in court documents filed Wednesday. [The Oklahoman] Attorney General Mike Hunter in a brief filed in a state court in Norman, Oklahoma, argued that evidence presented during the first trial nationally in litigation over the epidemic showed J&J was “at the root of this crisis.” [Reuters]
Citizen Potawatomi Nation files opioid lawsuit: The Citizen Potawatomi Nation of Oklahoma filed a lawsuit in Pottawatomie County District Court against several opioid manufacturers and distributors. The law firm of Fulmer Sill is representing CPN. [Journal Record]
BNSF cited by Edmond police after road-rail blockages: The Oklahoma Corporation Commission announced Wednesday it has set a hearing before an administrative law judge on two citations a local law agency issued to BNSF Railway that accuses the railroad of blocking a road-rail intersection for longer than 10 minutes without good reason. [The Oklahoman]
Oklahoma energy project to be largest of its kind in US: Western Farmers Electric Cooperative has entered into an agreement with NextEra Energy Resources to build the largest combined wind, solar and energy storage project in the country. Journal Record editor Russell Ray discusses how this project could impact Oklahoma and potential challenges these companies could face. [KGOU]
Proposal for independent police oversight goes before Tulsa City Council: Tulsa City Council is now formally considering ordinances to set up a police oversight office proposed by Mayor G.T. Bynum in January. The Office of the Independent Monitor would review Tulsa Police internal affairs investigations and notify the chief if they don’t follow policy. [Public Radio Tulsa] The OIM as outlined in the ordinance would review police use-of-force incidents, review best practices and make policy recommendations, and conduct community outreach. [Tulsa World]
‘We are here to do good’: Free clinic opens to serve area residents without insurance: The volunteer-run clinic, occupying a small donated space in a shopping center, is able to see up to 16 patients on Tuesdays. It welcomed nine on July 23, its first time to be open. This Tuesday, with word having spread, a line of around 30 were waiting when the doors opened. The office phone had 40-plus messages. [Tulsa World]
‘The possibilities are endless’: New STEM spaces come to OKCPS: Volunteers from Engage Learning Oklahoma, Home Depot, Devon Energy and the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation began work Wednesday on three new spaces geared toward STEM education at Mark Twain Elementary about two miles west of downtown Oklahoma City. [NonDoc]
Lawmaker says the US Navy’s failings on its new $13 billion supercarrier ‘ought to be criminal’: During the confirmation hearing for Vice Adm. Michael Gilday, who is set to become the next chief of naval operations, Sen. Jim Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, unleashed a string of criticisms about the first ship of the Navy’s Ford-class carriers. [Business Insider]
Quote of the Day
“I’d be in trouble. I’d probably be back in the hospital.”
– Jenny Box of Sapulpa says without the new Cura Clinic for patients without health insurance she might be unable to manage her health condition [Tulsa World]
Number of the Day
Percent decrease in Oklahoma’s teen birth rate from 2010 to 2017.
[Source: KIDS COUNT]
Black workers are being left behind by full employment: The unemployment rate is 15.8% in Newark, N.J. It’s an alarming 17.4% in Detroit. And in Flint, Mich. more than a quarter of the population is unemployed. If these numbers referred to the white unemployment rate, our leaders would be doing everything possible to improve it. But these rates represent black unemployment, and no one is sounding the alarm. [Brookings]
You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.