In The Know].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.

In The News

Oklahoma Comes in 51st for Summer School Lunch Participation, Officially: Oklahoma officially ranks last in summer lunch participation for 2017, the same spot it held in 2016. That’s according to the Food Research and Action Center’s review of programs to feed low-income kids last year in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report shows fewer than one in 20 kids eligible for free and reduced-price lunches received summer meals [Public Radio Tulsa]. Why is Oklahoma worst in the nation for feeding hungry kids in the summer? [OKPolicy]

Magnetic Survey Surprises Scientists with ‘Numerous’ Potential Faults in Oklahoma near Perfect to Host Earthquakes: Underground imaging of seismically active swaths of Oklahoma revealed the state’s “basement” granite rock is near perfect orientation for faults to rupture, suggesting there are “numerous” faults prone to earthquakes, according to a recent scientific study. Aerial surveys were flown from August to October in north-central Oklahoma to collect magnetic data on geologic structures deep underneath the state. Estimating the state’s seismic hazard is difficult because the earthquakes predominantly pop off on faults previously unknown to scientists [Tulsa World].

On Immigration Rhetoric, Consider the Facts: Undocumented Oklahomans are woven into the fabric of our communities in countless ways. Many have lived here for decades as they raise U.S.-born children, and they often work difficult, labor-intensive jobs that few legal residents will take. As the race to replace Governor Fallin heats up, it’s disappointing – if unsurprising – that dubious claims about the effects of undocumented immigration have appeared in candidates’ platforms [OKPolicy].

Terence Crutcher’s father to City Council: ‘My son … was killed because of a flawed system within the Tulsa Police Department’: For the last two months, friends, supporters and members of the Terence Crutcher family have stood before the City Council and Mayor G.T. Bynum to demand changes in police practices. On Wednesday night, Terence Crutcher’s father took his turn at the podium, where he began his remarks with a few heart-wrenching facts [Tulsa World]. Tension between law enforcement and communities of color is not new or specific to our state, but statistics suggest that the problem could be more severe here compared to many other places [OKPolicy].

Resurgence of poultry houses raises concerns in eastern Oklahoma counties: A pleasant breeze from the south made the covered front porch at the home of Jerry Linn and Tena Doan a nice place to hang out Monday morning. “It’s our favorite place to be,” Doan said. “As long as the wind is right,” she added with an exaggerated roll of her eyes. When the chicken farm across the road from their Colcord home increased its operation from four houses with 40,000 to 60,000 birds per house to 10 houses 18 months ago, it came as a shock [Tulsa World].

New Law Allows School Districts to Transfer Land to the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation: A new bill signed into law Tuesday, June 12 now allows Oklahoma School districts to transfer surplus land to the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation. Transferring surplus land will allow communities to grow and help their local school districts. Gov. Mary Fallin signed House Bill 1334 into law on Tuesday, allowing school boards to transfer land to tribal housing authorities. Two Cherokee Nation citizens authored the bill, Representative Chuck Hoskin of Vinita and Senator John Sparks of Norman [Cherokee One Feather].

Cherokee gaming compact amended to add ‘ball-and-dice’ gaming: Tribal Councilors on June 11 unanimously passed a gaming compact supplement with Oklahoma to allow Cherokee Nation’s casinos to begin offering Las Vegas-style table games such as craps and roulette. The resolution follows Gov. Mary Fallin signing House Bill 3375 into law on April 1o, making the state’s tribal casinos eligible to begin offering “ball-and-dice” games as soon as Aug. 2 [Cherokee Phoenix].

Governor Signs Bill Protecting Military Airspace from Turbine Encroachment: Gov. Mary Fallin signed Senate Bill 1576 Tuesday, enacting a law designed to protect military airspace from encroachment by wind turbine development. The bill, passed by the Legislature in April, addressed concerns over wind farm development encroaching on military training routes, drop zones and runway approaches. Legislators met last October to discuss ways the state’s wind industry could negatively impact the multi-billion dollar aerospace industry by preventing military aircraft full use of training areas and low-level training routes [Enid News & Eagle]. 

We Ask the Governor Candidates: Even if pay raises associated with HB 1010xx go into effect, schools say they don’t have the money to add new positions, reduce class sizes and restore courses and programs cut over the past decade. What is your response? [Tulsa World]. There has been a great deal of discussion about auditing state agencies. How would you increase oversight of state government and how would you pay for the upfront costs? [Tulsa World]. What are your views on legalization and or decriminalization of marijuana? [Tulsa World]. What is your opinion of President Donald Trump? [Tulsa World]. Oklahoma 2018 State Questions and Elections [OKPolicy].

Debate Set for State Auditor and Inspector GOP Primary: NonDoc, Let’s Fix This, Generation Citizen and Folded Owl will be co-hosting a public primary election debate between Republican candidates for state auditor and inspector. Financial sponsors for the debate include the Oklahoma Society of CPAs and Edwards Capitol Partners. The primary debate will be held 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 20, at the Trolley Stop Record Shop, 1212 N. Pennsylvania Ave. in Oklahoma City. Cindy Byrd, Charlie Prater and John Uzzo have all said they plan to attend the debate [NonDoc].

Views on Medicaid Vary a Lot: Six candidates who are seeking to represent the area in the state House of Representatives fielded written questions from an audience Tuesday during a forum at Bartlesville City Hall sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Bartlesville. In the House District 10 race, three Republicans — incumbent state Rep. Travis Dunlap, Michael McFarland and Judd Strom — and one Democrat, Kevin Stacy participated in the forum. For House District 11, two Republicans, Derrel Fincher and Martin Garber, also answered questions from the audience [Examiner Enterprise].

Candidates See Need for Mental Health Court: The three candidates for the position of district judge for Oklahoma’s 11th Judicial District discussed solutions to the mental health crisis and the impact on the state’s judicial system, as well as two other topics, during a League of Women Voters of Bartlesville forum Tuesday night at Bartlesville City Hall. Incumbent District Judge Curtis DeLapp will face challengers Alan Gentges and Linda Thomas in a nonpartisan race on the June 26 ballot. the 11th Judicial District encompasses Washington and Nowata counties [Examiner Enterprise]. Updating drug courts is important, but Oklahoma must invest in all forms of substance abuse treatment [OKPolicy].

Tulsa County DA Candidates Express Views on Medicinal Marijuana State Question: With two weeks left until the primary elections, two Republican candidates for Tulsa County District Attorney expressed concerns on Tuesday about the possible risks to public safety if voters approve the legalization of medical marijuana through State Question 788 [Tulsa World]. Group says coalition against medical marijuana question is growing [KFOR].

Education System Study Requested: Two members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives have requested a bipartisan study to compare Oklahoma’s educational system with other education systems across the country. Rep. Scott Fetgatter, R-Okmulgee, and Rep. Collin Walke, D-Oklahoma City, requested the study. “During our first two years as lawmakers, Representative Walke and I both realized that as a state, we can no longer afford to have Republican ideas and Democrat ideas,” Fetgatter said. “What we need are good ideas that are going to move this state in a better direction” [Journal Record].

OG&E Bills to Drop in July—AG Reaches Settlement over Rate Reduction: Attorney General Mike Hunter announced Wednesday parties involved in the OG&E rate case have reached a historic $64 million rate reduction settlement agreement, resulting in lower utility bills for OG&E customers beginning in July. Customers will also receive a one-time refund as a result of the $18.5 million federal corporate income tax cut, after the attorney general called on companies to pass on the savings to customers in January [OK Energy Today].

OKC Volunteers, Clinics Support Moms to Save Babies: The group McKnight joined, Leading Ladies, is just one effort to connect new moms with a community that supports them and can help them to meet their babies’ needs. It pairs pregnant women with mentors who offer support and help them find resources during their pregnancies and their babies’ early years. It has focused particularly on black women, because black babies in Oklahoma are nearly twice as likely to die in their first year of life as white babies [NewsOK].

Book Details Struggles of Immigrant Children in OKCPS: One of the most inspiring things I’ve ever experienced was the opening reception for Diary of Some Webster Kids: Advocacy in Action on May 24 at Commonplace Books. Middle school English-language learners from Oklahoma City’s Webster Middle School wrote and edited this powerful anthology, which has since sold out of its initial run [John Thompson / NonDoc].

Oklahoma City Welcomes 50 New ‘Teach for America’ Teachers to the State: It’s a problem that has plagued school districts across the state; funding cuts and lack of pay raises have forced many qualified teachers out of the classroom. As a result, several school districts are being forced to make some tough decisions when it comes to retaining and recruiting teachers. McLoud Public Schools announced that the school district will move to a four-day school week this fall in an effort to recruit teachers [KFOR].

Point of View: ‘Wealth Shock’ and Elderly Victims of Financial Abuse: Each June 15, as part of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, governmental entities and organizations recognize the ongoing need to prevent elder abuse in all its forms — physical, emotional, neglect and financial. Our goals are two-fold. We must strive to maintain the dignity and independence of elders who have worked hard to have retirement nest eggs, as they simply do not have the time to recoup their losses. And, we must learn to recognize when our older clients, patients and family members are vulnerable to or are victims of financial abuse [Irving Faught and Robert Roush, M.D. / NewsOK].

Oklahoma Is Officially Number One: As Oklahomans, we are accustomed to bracing ourselves for the worst whenever a new list of state rankings comes out. But our newest claim to the bottom spot should alarm taxpayers above and beyond the norm. Oklahoma has long claimed the dubious distinction of being the number-one incarcerator of women. However, as of this month, we have officially overtaken Louisiana as the state with the largest per capita prison population across the board [Right On Crime]. Investments in justice reform are a good start, but savings are a long ways away [OKPolicy].

Quote of the Day

“You (Mayor Bynum) made it your charge as mayor of this city that you would seek justice for my family and community, that what happened to my son would never happen again on your watch. We believe that tragedies like this will continue to happen if you don’t make some major changes.”

-Rev. Joey Crutcher, the father of Terence Crutcher who was fatally shot by a Tulsa police officer in 2016, speaking to the Tulsa City Council. A coalition of community leaders and activists have outlined requested reforms to the city’s police training and practices [Tulsa World].

Number of the Day

53.1%

Percentage of Oklahomans who have employer-provided health insurance

[Prosperity Now Scorecard]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The Largest Health Disparity We Don’t Talk About: Americans with depression, bipolar disorder or other serious mental illnesses die 15 to 30 years younger than those without mental illness — a disparity larger than for race, ethnicity, geography or socioeconomic status. It’s a gap, unlike many others, that has been growing, but it receives considerably less academic study or public attention. The extraordinary life expectancy gains of the past half-century have left these patients behind, with the result that Americans with serious mental illness live shorter lives than those in many of the world’s poorest countries [New York Times].

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