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.
The OK Policy staff will take Monday, September 2nd to observe Labor Day. We’ll be back with a new edition of In The Know on Tuesday!
New from OK Policy
Oklahoma Policy Institute is endorsing State Question 802. Here’s why: OK Policy’s Board of Directors has voted to officially endorse State Question 802, the initiative petition to expand Medicaid coverage in Oklahoma to low-income adults. OK Policy rarely takes a position on state questions and has done so only twice before. [OK Policy]
Don’t Believe the Hype: Recent justice reforms are working: Anecdotal stories about crime should not be the basis of policy, and Oklahoma should continue to pursue evidence-based criminal justice reform to reduce our state’s expensive incarceration crisis. [OK Policy]
Medicaid expansion could help address Oklahoma’s surging meth crisis: In 2017, methamphetamine (also known as speed or ice) was one of the main contributors to Oklahoma’s overdose deaths. It’s difficult to recover from methamphetamine addiction — most individuals relapse within their first year of treatment. [OK Policy]
In The News
Epic Charter Schools promoting itself with multimillion-dollar advertising campaign, plus $9,000 per month shopping mall playground sponsorships: Advertising and marketing efforts to children, parents and potential new hires has persisted even amid new public revelations about the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation’s probe into allegations of embezzlement, obtaining money by false pretenses, racketeering and forgery at Epic. [Tulsa World] Several bills were considered last session to better regulate virtual charter schools, and they could still be taken up again next spring.
Latest vaccination rates rise, but exemption rates also increase: The share of Oklahoma kindergartners up to date on all their vaccines rose slightly last year, but the percentage who were granted exemptions from at least one vaccine also increased, according to the latest survey’s preliminary results. It was at least the third straight year that Oklahoma’s overall exemption rate has risen – a trend that has worried contagious disease experts. [Oklahoma Watch] What are the latest vaccination rates for your school? [Oklahoma Watch]
Tribes to Gov. Stitt: Acknowledge automatic renewal of gaming compacts before trying to renegotiate: Several tribes have told Gov. Kevin Stitt that he must first recognize that gaming compacts renew automatically before negotiations to change them can begin, according to documents released Thursday. [Tulsa World] Oklahoma’s Native American tribes will not meet next week with Gov. Kevin Stitt to negotiate the tribal gaming compacts because “fundamental differences” still divide the two parties. [The Oklahoman]
Petition effort to nullify gun law continues up to Thursday deadline but appears to come up short: Supporters of a petition drive to nullify permitless carry raced to meet their Thursday deadline but appeared likely to have fallen short of securing enough signatures to get a referendum on the ballot. [Tulsa World] A few hours before the deadline, the group said it had 50,000 signatures and hoped to come close with some last-minute additions. [The Oklahoman] What’s That? Veto Referendum
Alcohol distribution ruling appealed to Oklahoma State Supreme Court: A much-debated alcohol distribution law is headed back to court. An appeal filed Thursday seeks to reverse a ruling by Oklahoma County District Judge Thomas Prince on Aug. 12 that claims Senate Bill 608 violates the state’s constitution. [The Oklahoman]
Editorial: For The Children: Oklahoma experienced a severe undercount in 2010. The Census Bureau reported that only 75% of households in Oklahoma responded by mail. An in-person follow-up by Census workers helped to reach some people who do did not respond by mail, but many Oklahomans remained uncounted. [Joe Dorman / CNHI] It will take work to make sure we count every Oklahoman in the 2020 Census.
Families of Oklahomans Who Died from Overdoses Rally for Awareness: White crosses lined a fence in front of the Tulsa County Courthouse on Thursday, each one bearing the name of someone who died from a drug overdose. [Public Radio Tulsa]
Editorial: State gears up to make sure every Oklahoman is counted in the 2020 census: The constitutionally mandated U.S. census is ramping up for next year, and Gov. Kevin Stitt has created a committee to encourage full Oklahoma participation. An executive order signed last week establishes the Oklahoma Census 2020 Complete Count Committee. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]
Wayne Greene: Gov. Kevin Stitt wants new leadership for the state’s system of colleges and universities, but if Glen Johnson is cast as John Blake, then who’s Bob Stoops? Gov. Kevin Stitt is publicly trying to push Chancellor Glen Johnson out of the top spot in Oklahoma’s higher education system. [Wayne Greene / Tulsa World]
‘It means they haven’t forgotten’: Greenwood residents hope presidential candidates bring exposure, reinvestment after touring historic district: Within a span of 10 days, the Greenwood District has hosted a pair of Democratic presidential candidates in search of support and enlightenment about an area that was the site of one of the worst displays of race-related violence in American history. [Tulsa World]
Editorial: Johnson & Johnson ruling yields profits, questions: In the 24 hours after Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman issued a $572.1 million ruling against Johnson & Johnson for Oklahoma to address an opioid “nuisance,” the company gained $4.9 billion in market value, Attorney General Mike Hunter declared victory and other state leaders wondered whether the Legislature had just been put in a $12 billion bind to fund a multi-decade abatement plan proposed by Hunter in court. [Tres Savage / NonDoc]
Norman includes LGBTQ community in non-discrimination protections: Last week, Norman became the first city in the state to pass an ordinance specifically extending non-discrimination protections to the LGBTQ community. [The Oklahoman]
Influence of Indian tribes strong and getting stronger: The rising strength of Native American tribes in recent years has yielded huge benefits for the state of Oklahoma and the rest of the nation, and there’s potential for greater gains still. [Journal Record 🔒]
Cory Booker visits Norman: ‘Oklahomans are good folk’: Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) brought his campaign to Oklahoma on Thursday, visiting Tulsa and then Norman where he held a rally to discuss America’s criminal justice system, domestic terrorism and hate crimes. [NonDoc]
Hoskin establishes At-Large Cherokee Advisory Committee: Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. signed an executive order Tuesday establishing an At-Large Cherokee Advisory Committee to better engage the policy perspectives of at-large citizens in Oklahoma and across the United States. [CNHI]
Panel: Oil and gas industry in a painful period of adjustment: The future of the oil and gas industry is bright beyond a difficult short-term growing period, but a major adjustment of focus needs to happen, according to a panel of industry professionals. [Journal Record 🔒]
Quote of the Day
“A conservative estimate of dollars associated with each person counted by the Census is $1,600 annually. For Oklahoma, with our estimated population of about 4 million, that translates to $6.4 billion a year. For every person not counted, subtract $1,600. For every person we can find and accurately report, add that same amount to funding for roads, health care and other resources.”
– Joe Dorman, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy [CNHI]
Number of the Day
Median hourly wage for workers in Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations in Oklahoma – half of the 158,940 workers in this occupation make less than this hourly wage.
More kids are getting placed in foster care because of parents’ drug use: The number of cases of children entering the foster care system due to parental drug use has more than doubled since 2000, according to research published in JAMA Pediatrics. [NPR]
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