In The Know: Meet OKC’s jail trust; new state office for mass transit; improvement on deficient bridges…

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

(Capitol Update) Preview of an attack on Oklahoma’s judicial nominating process: I heard Professor Andrew Spiropoulos of the OCU Law School speak last week about the need to restructure the way we select our supreme court justices in Oklahoma. Spiropoulos is also associated with the Heritage Foundation and the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. His ideas are worth noting because they will likely influence what will become known as “court reform” when the next legislative session rolls around. [OK Policy]

In The News

Meet the members of the Oklahoma County Jail Trust: The nine members of the recently created Oklahoma County Jail Trust will determine the future of the struggling county jail, playing a key role in identifying problems and implementing solutions. The experiences of trustees range from elected officials and police officers to city managers, lawyers and community advocates. Officials hope these diverse perspectives will bring new outcomes to longtime jail issues. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma’s medical marijuana enrollment among top in U.S.: The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority has already enrolled more than 3.5% of the state’s population as patients in its first year, and there’s no indication that applications will slow. The Tulsa World reported that that Oklahoma’s participation rate places it among the top of the 33 states that have some form of medical cannabis legislation. [AP News]

State improves rankings on structurally deficient bridges: Oklahoma improved its national ranking on reducing its structurally deficient bridges, Transportation Secretary Tim Gatz said Monday. Gatz’s comments were made during the Oklahoma Transportation Commission meeting in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma went to 13th in best bridges from 17th in 2017, he said. [Tulsa World]

ODOT creates office for mass transit: The Oklahoma Department of Transportation announced Monday the formation of the new Office of Mobility and Public Transit, which will focus on coordinating statewide efforts to expand Oklahoma’s public transportation infrastructure. Legislated under House Bill 1365, the new office will take on all existing responsibilities from ODOT’s Transit Division, including oversight and management of the state’s public transit systems and the federal grants the agency receives. [Journal Record]

New law hopes to fix issue of stalled trains in Oklahoma: A new law taking effect this week cracks down on stalled trains at intersections. Under House Bill 2472, local officials can issue a fine of up to $1,000 if a train blocks traffic with a public highway or street for more than ten minutes. Davis Police Chief Dan Cooper says a stalled train on highway seven recently meant his officers took 20 minutes to respond to a call two and a half blocks from his police station. [KOSU]

Risk of opioids addiction questioned by J&J witness: People who suffer from opioid use disorder aren’t doomed to life sentences of enslavement to addiction, an expert witness testified on Monday as Johnson & Johnson continued to respond to allegations that it ignited a deadly opioid abuse epidemic in Oklahoma. [Journal Record]

Mobile Disaster Recovery centers opening in 6 Oklahoma counties: Six additional state and federal Mobile Disaster Recovery Centers are opening in northeastern Oklahoma, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Monday. [Tulsa World] The deadline to apply for individual assistance for those in Oklahoma’s disaster area is July 31. [Tulsa World]

Consulting company selected to perform OKC homeless study: A consulting company will be paid $100,000 to develop a comprehensive plan to improve homelessness in Oklahoma City. The funds were donated to City Hall in April by the nonprofit Inasmuch Foundation. In preparation for issuing a request for proposals on how to best use the money, Mayor David Holt formed a task force including local service providers, philanthropic organizations, City Council members and municipal staff. [Journal Record 🔒]

‘Point In Time’ count shows another rise in homelessness in Tulsa: The needs of those living on Tulsa’s streets are numerous. New numbers released by The Community Service Council of Tulsa show 987 homeless people, an increase of more than 50 people compared to last year. [The Frontier] A community study reveals that one in five homeless people in Tulsa were employed last year, including almost 100 people who had no home despite having a full-time job. [AP News]

Greenwood residents feeling pushed out: Wright, who owns the Black Wall Street Gallery, in the heart of iconic Black Wall Street, believes not enough has been done to protect black culture in the Greenwood District from outsiders who historically haven’t sought to respect it. He is not alone in expressing that sentiment. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Extractions, exploitation, destruction: How state-sanctioned disenfranchisement stunted black wealth acquisition: Earlier this year, Tulsa Development Authority (TDA) once again came under scrutiny by Tulsans concerned about the displacement of Black North Tulsa residents. In March, City Councilor Vanessa Hall Harper warned residents of District 1 that a proposed amendment of the Greenwood/Unity Heritage Neighborhoods sector plan subjected approximately 2,000 addresses to eminent domain. After significant and sustained opposition, the City put the plans on hold. [Tulsa Star]

Tulsa group working to reduce suicide rates in Latino community: A Tulsa group is working to reduce suicide rates within the Latino community. Oklahoma is eighth in the nation for suicide deaths. Counselor Ericka Quick told us that a person between the ages of 20 to 40 is dying by suicide every 11 minutes in the United States. [KJRH]

Tulsa-area residents seek answers at forum about President Trump’s mass deportation threat: They were at the east Tulsa church for a forum, organized by the Greater Tulsa Area Hispanic Affairs Commission, at which area residents could ask panelists about their rights as immigrants in the wake of a series of tweets from President Donald Trump. [Tulsa World]

Horn district race already sparks accusations of extremism: Dashing to raise money before the second quarter ends, U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn and a Republican vying for her seat have begun the 2020 contest with accusations of extremism. Horn, a freshman Democrat from Oklahoma City, said she was in for a long and tough re-election fight up against “right-wing extremists” on the Republican side, according to a fundraising letter reported by Muskogee Politico. [The Oklahoman]

On recent energy votes, Horn breaks from long tradition of backing oil and gas industry: In a series of recent votes, freshman U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn broke with the longstanding practice of Oklahoma lawmakers from both parties voting to open more public land to oil and gas exploration. Horn, an Oklahoma City Democrat, voted this month to block even preliminary steps toward drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and around Florida. She also voted to prevent drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“If they don’t call us, we’re not going to catch people. If bad guys are out there basically preying on people who are undocumented or here maybe illegally, then they’re going to continue doing that. They’re going to continue attacking this group of the population, and we’re never going to know about it.”

-Tulsa Police Sgt. Richard Meulenberg, at an event encouraging the immigrant community to not be afraid of being deported if the police are aware of their presence [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day

15.5%

Percentage of voter registration forms that were invalid or rejected in Marshall County in 2018, the most of any county in Oklahoma. The statewide average was 3.2%.

[Source: U.S. Election Assistance Commission]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

One possible solution to the opioid crisis in the U.S. has been inexplicably ignored: The U.S. is suffering from a severe shortage of primary care professionals; a whopping 80 million Americans lack adequate access to primary care. The shortage is particularly bad in rural areas, where patients are “almost five times as likely to live in a county with a primary care physician shortage compared to urban and suburban residents,” according to a 2018 UnitedHealth Group report…Empowering nurse practitioners to treat addiction—and removing unnecessary restrictions at the state level—can go a long way in liberating American patients. [TIME]

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. Born in Tamaulipas, Mexico, she immigrated to Oklahoma with her family at a young age and obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy from Oklahoma City University as a Clara Luper Scholar. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked as an Inbound and Digital Marketing Specialist for an OKC based firm. She is an alumnus of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a Board Member for Dream Action Oklahoma, a community organization dedicated to advocating and empowering immigrant youth in the state.

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