In The Know: OK ranks 42nd for child well-being; protest to Medicaid expansion at Supreme Court…

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

Meet OK Policy: SE Oklahoma Field Organizer Kyle Lawson: Oklahoma Policy Institute has grown a lot in the past few years. From humble beginnings in 2008, we now have a staff of 19, including talented individuals who focus on a wide range of policy issues, intensive data analysis, outreach, communications, events and operations, and more. To give you a better idea of who we are and what we all do, we are running an OK Policy Blog series highlighting our staffers. [OK Policy]

In The News

Oklahoma ranks 42 in the nation for overall well-being of kids, new data shows: Oklahoma ranks in the bottom 10 states in the nation for the overall well-being of its children, according to new data released Monday. The 2019 Kids Count Data Book ranks Oklahoma 42nd using census data from each state during 2017. The count was put together by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, with Oklahoma-specific data and distribution help from the Oklahoma Policy Institute. [The Oklahoman]

Protest to Medicaid expansion goes before makeshift Supreme Court: A makeshift Oklahoma Supreme Court is set to hear arguments Tuesday about a proposed state question to expand Medicaid to cover more of Oklahoma’s uninsured. A petition filed in April to put the question on a state ballot has been stalled by a protest from a conservative think tank called the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. [The Oklahoman]

As Gov. Stitt says budget is ‘fully funding’ prosecutors, some state officials set record straight: A top lawmaker disagrees with Gov. Kevin Stitt’s assertion that his budget is “fully funding” district attorneys, and the legislator says much more must be done to wean the state off its reliance on court collections to fund government. Stitt announced in mid-May that the Legislature would appropriate an additional $20 million this budget cycle to be “fully funding” prosecutors. [Tulsa World]

Governor’s task force faces criticism for lack of transparency, diversity: A governor-created task force to make criminal justice reform recommendations that is largely made up of public officials will not meet in public. The 15-member group is also drawing criticism for a lack of diversity. Oklahoma, which leads the nation in incarceration, also has one of the highest rates of black incarceration. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board sees increase in commutation requests: The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board is being inundated with requests for commutation, a form of clemency meant to correct an unjust or excessive sentence. At the end of April, the number of applications so far this year — close to 750 — was about twice the number of applicants the board had received at the same point in time last year, said Justin Wolf, the board’s general counsel. More than 560 inmates submitted applications last month. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma’s governor picks interim head of corrections: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has named the Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ operations chief as interim director of the agency. Stitt announced Scott Crow has the job Friday following the sudden resignation Joe Allbaugh, who quit as director Wednesday. [AP News]

The Oklahoman Editorial Board: Allbaugh served Oklahoma well as DOC director: After 3 1/2 years as director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, Joe Allbaugh has decided he’s had enough and is resigning. The governor will be hard-pressed to find a more passionate advocate for his employees, the taxpayers and those who are locked up. [Editorial Board / The Oklahoman]

Lawmakers file brief in opioid case: A potential showdown is brewing in Cleveland County District Court over who will get to control the spending of proceeds from a pending $85 million settlement agreement between the state of Oklahoma and opioid maker Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. Gov. Kevin Stitt and leaders of the Oklahoma House and Senate weighed into the controversy Friday, filing an amicus brief with the court demanding that the proceeds be paid into the Oklahoma state treasury in accordance with a new state law. [The Oklahoman]

Opioid epidemic expert criticizes marketing statements made to doctors by drugmaker’s sales reps: A key witnesses for the state ripped into Johnson & Johnson on Thursday, accusing the company of engaging in aggressive and disturbing opioid marketing practices. “I believe Johnson & Johnson was a major cause of our opioid crisis,” New York City psychiatrist Andrew Kolodny testified Thursday afternoon. “I believe it’s fair to characterize them as the kingpin in our opioid crisis.” [The Oklahoman]

New transparency website is ‘bright light shining in dark places’: A new Oklahoma website will make keeping an eye on state spending so easy that middle school-age students can do it. Or that’s at least the hope of state Secretary of Digital Transformation and Administration David Ostrowe, who unveiled the state government transparency website last week. [The Oklahoman]

Ethics Commission says money is tight: A year after the state’s watchdog agency sued unsuccessfully for more funding, its financial situation remains dire, officials say. “It will be a very tight year,” the Oklahoma Ethics Commission executive director, Ashley Kemp, said Friday at the agency’s regular monthly meeting. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Securities Commission administrator to retire: The longtime administrator of the Oklahoma Securities Commission is retiring from his post, effective Aug. 1. Irving Faught’s departure comes after the Securities Department faced a massive data breach late last year, but the two incidents are not related, said commission Chairman David Aboud. [The Oklahoman]

Jake Henry: Waiting is no longer an option. It’s time for Oklahoma to act on Medicaid expansion: News coverage of health policy is often caught up in complicated technical jargon and abstract concepts, but as a hospital CEO I know at the end of the day the most important question is very simple: Can we all go to the doctor when we get sick and access lifesaving care when we need it? For far too many hard-working Oklahoma families, the answer to that question is no. [Jake Henry / Tulsa World]

With only one full-time firearm examiner on staff, the police department’s backlog of cases has swelled to more than 800 this year: In a building next to the Oklahoma City Police Department’s headquarters, members of the city’s ballistic team work daily to connect crimes to hundreds of guns taken off the city’s streets. But with only one full-time firearm examiner on staff, the unit’s backlog of cases has swelled to more than 800 this year. [The Oklahoman]

The current landscape of Oklahoma’s medical marijuana laws and what’s to come: On June 26, 2018, about 507,000 Oklahomans voted yes on State Question 788, legalizing medical marijuana in the state. The initiative for the legalization of medical marijuana began as a petition by a group called Oklahomans for Health. The group gathered around 67,000 signatures to have their volunteer-written state question put on the ballot. [CHNI]

Legacy of teacher walkouts could be more political activism: Betty Collins was born and raised in Tulsa, but the eighth grade history teacher hadn’t been to the state Capitol in Oklahoma City until last spring, when she and educators throughout the state walked off the job to protest for better wages and public school funding. [AP News]

Starting July 1, car tags will remain with the owner, not the vehicle: If you like your car tag, you can keep it. In fact, after July 1, you’re not going to have much choice in the matter. That’s when a law passed in 2018 goes into effect. It fundamentally changes the car registration and tagging process in Oklahoma so that car tags remain assigned to car owners even after they sell the vehicle to which it’s been attached. [Tulsa World]

Why Fort Sill and other US Army bases are used to house migrant children: The Trump administration is running out of space to house migrant children who arrive at the southern border without a parent or legal guardian, prompting the Health and Human Services Department to look elsewhere for assistance. [CNN

Quote of the Day

“For almost a decade, I have watched with frustration as Oklahoma has missed out and other states across the country have ensured access to care for hard-working families, improved their health outcomes and grew their economies by expanding Medicaid. Nearly 10 years of debate in the Legislature is enough.”

-Jake Henry Jr., CEO of Saint Francis Health System, on why he is endorsing an initiative petition to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Days since Oklahomans received a minimum wage increase, the longest period without an increase since the minimum wage was created in 1938.

[Source: U.S. Department of Labor]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Policy Basics: The Minimum Wage: In 2017, 1.8 million workers earned wages at or below the federal minimum, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). About half of these workers were over age 25, and over a third worked full time. Women were more likely to hold minimum wage jobs than men, and Black people were more likely to hold minimum wage jobs than people of other races and ethnicities. Almost 70 percent of those who make the minimum wage or below were in the service industry, and about 16 percent were in sales or administrative support. [Center for Budget and Policy Prorities]

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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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