In The Know: Oklahoma optometry petition gathers enough signatures to appear on ballot

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.

In The News

Oklahoma Optometry Petition May Appear on Ballot: A state question that would allow eye doctors to practice inside Oklahoma retail establishments has enough signatures to appear on the November ballot if approved. The Oklahoman reports that Oklahoma’s secretary of state has certified nearly 250,000 signatures gathered to put the state question up for a vote. The petition needed just 123,725 valid signatures of registered voters [AP News]. Oklahoma 2018 State Questions and Elections [OKPolicy].

Oklahoma’s Medical Marijuana Proposal Borrows from Other States’ Existing Policies, but Opponents Cite That as Cause for Concern: Proponents of legalized medical marijuana in Oklahoma had 30 other states’ policies to look to in drafting a ballot measure, but opponents of State Question 788 say those trailblazing states set a bad example. “All of 788 is borrowed from policies in other states,” said Frank Grove, chairman of the Vote Yes on 788 political action committee and co-author of the state question that will go before Oklahoma voters in the June 26 primary [Tulsa World]. Fact sheet: State Question 788 – medical marijuana legalization initiative [OKPolicy].

Oklahoma Gubernatorial Candidates Split by Party on Expanding Medicaid: After months of considering the possible fiscal and political impacts, Gov. Mary Fallin decided in late 2012 not to expand Medicaid, the state-federal health care program for the poor. If Fallin is replaced by a Republican, that posture will remain. If a Democrat wins the gubernatorial race, there will be an immediate push to add more than 200,000 Oklahomans to the Medicaid rolls [NewsOK]. Gubernatorial candidates lay out their platforms at Oklahoma Press Association meeting [Tulsa World]. Expanding Medicaid would give Oklahoma the freedom to take better care of our people, grow the economy, and save state funds [OKPolicy].

Oklahoma’s Work Requirements for Medicaid Criticized in New Report: A national policy group has criticized Oklahoma’s new policy, and others across the nation, that would implement work requirements on some people who receive Medicaid benefits. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities claims that states without Medicaid expansion, like Oklahoma, face a Catch-22 by taking coverage away from parents who don’t meet work requirements [NewsOK]. Many devils in the details as Oklahoma moves toward a medicaid work requirement [OKPolicy].

Youth vs. Experience: Democratic Commissioner of Labor Candidates Debate: Democratic candidates for commissioner of labor Fred Dorrell and Sam A. Mis-soum debated Friday night at the Trolley Stop Record Shop in Oklahoma City. The candidates were cordial and jovial as they answered 10 questions that distinguished nuances in their visions for the Oklahoma Department of Labor. Much like last week’s GOP commissioner of labor debate, there was a good amount of consensus among the candidates, but a contrast between the parties was apparent [NonDoc].

Oklahoma House of Representatives Dist. 26: Candidates Offer Views at Forum: Residents had an opportunity to get to know more about some of the candidates running in the area’s state Representative race. The second in a series of three candidate forums was held Thursday night at Shawnee City Hall. The Primary Election is June 26. After that vote, the winning Democrat and Republican will then fight for the seat in the Nov. 6 General Election [Shawnee News-Star].

3 Democrats, 3 Republicans Vying for House District 80 in Broken Arrow: Three Democrats and three Republicans, including the five-term incumbent, are running in the upcoming June 26 primary to represent House District 80 in Broken Arrow. Republican incumbent Rep. Mike Ritze, a family practice physician and surgeon, will face Capt. Stan May, long-time spokesman for the Tulsa Fire Department and Cody Coonce, a Bixby High School teacher. The Democrats all have backgrounds in education: Helen Beth Davis is a middle school teacher, Janice Graham spent 35 years in education before becoming a realtor and Jennifer Youngberg is a teacher for Haskell Public Schools [Tulsa World].

Capitol Insider: Keith Gaddie on Incumbent Challengers and Open Seats Ahead of Primary: Ahead of the June 26 primary election, KGOU’s Dick Pryor and eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley are joined by University of Oklahoma political scientist Keith Gaddie to discuss the nearly 600 candidates running for office ahead this year in Oklahoma. The three talk about everything from the large number of challengers to incumbents, to hotly contested open seats, to the high percentage of women seeking election in 2018 [KGOU]. This Week in Oklahoma Politics: Teacher raise arguments, Oklahoma number one for incarceration & general revenue increase [KOSU].

Adam Kupetsky: The Oklahoma Foxes Want to Audit the Henhouse … to Justify Foxes: Lately, auditing has become all the rage in Oklahoma politics. As an auditor, this excites me; audits can identify mismanagement, waste, fraud and inefficiency, and in the case of government, can make worthwhile government programs work better. No one wants to spend good money on badly run programs. The recent state auditor’s report on the Oklahoma Health Department shows the power of auditing. Unfortunately, the auditing envisioned by Oklahoma politicians allows the foxes to audit the henhouse [Adam Kupetsky / Tulsa World].

Tulsa World Editorial: Solutions Are Available for Oklahoma to Shed No. 1 Incarceration Ranking: It’s official. Oklahoma has the nation’s highest incarceration rate. It’s a solvable embarrassment, but not without some realistic thinking about crime, substance abuse, mental health, education and job training. The state has been No. 1 in the rate of female incarceration every year but one since at least 1991. The male imprisonment rate has fluctuated within the top rankings [World Editorial Writers / Tulsa World]. Investments in justice reform are a good start, but savings are a long ways away [OKPolicy].

Oklahoma Unemployment Rate Holds Steady: Unemployment in Oklahoma remained at 4 percent last month for the third consecutive month. The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission said Friday that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment remained unchanged in May. Unemployment declined three-tenths of a percentage point when compared to May 2017 [Public Radio Tulsa].

Oklahoma Teachers’ Salary Raise in Limbo Following Historic Win: Striking Oklahoma teachers, the worst paid in the US, won a historic pay rise in the spring. Now, conservative groups have targeted the tax hikes earmarked to pay them, and by November the cash could be gone, leaving schools and educators in limbo. In March, teacher salaries in Oklahoma were raised by an average of $6,100 a year, a raise paid for by a bill that raised taxes for cigarettes, cigars, motor and diesel fuel and the gross production of energy, and initially a $5-a-night hotel tax [The Guardian]. What we know – and don’t know – about the revenue bill veto challenge [OKPolicy].

Hofmeister Says Good Education Is Good for Okla. Business: Oklahoma is improving its educational standards along with raising teacher pay, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said. Hofmeister was the keynote speaker at the Norman Chamber’s annual legislative luncheon Thursday at the NCED Conference Center. Several locally elected state lawmakers also spoke briefly on what they’ve been doing this year and what they want to accomplish next year. Education was the main topic of the day [Norman Transcript].

Libation Contentions: Liquor Law Changes Create Issues near Campus, Elsewhere: With less than four months before the state’s liquor laws change, the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission is already seeing some concerns about the new regulations. ABLE Public Information Officer Brent Fairchild said during the commission’s meeting Friday morning that the agency had recently met with business owners from Campus Corner in Norman regarding the law changes. Campus Corner businesses, especially bars, were concerned about how they would be able to sell beer outside their doors on football game days [Journal Record].

DACA Recipients Living Through Political Tug of War: As his long-sleeve shirt soaked with sweat under the blistering summer sun, Gerardo Rico would wonder if this was all his life would amount to, tending rice and peanut fields in southwest Oklahoma. While in high school, Rico’s summer job opportunities were limited to hard labor in the fields around Anadarko because his undocumented status made work at the nearby McDonald’s or the casino out of reach. Even though Rico had been smuggled into the “land of opportunity” at age 4, his parents had taught him to limit his expectations [NewsOK]. As the race to replace Governor Fallin heats up, dubious claims about the effects of undocumented immigration have appeared in candidates’ platforms [OKPolicy]. 

Protests Held in Tulsa over Families Separated by Immigration Policy: The protests over immigration enforcement have shifted, to focus on the children brought over the border by their parents. Their outrage was fueled by new images of a holding facility for children in Texas. One center alone has 1,500 children, who are processed separately from their parents. It comes as the Trump Administration strengthens prosecution of people crossing the border illegally [News on 6]. Sen. James Lankford breaks from Trump on zero-tolerance border policy [Washington Times].

Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Wyrick a U.S. Senate Vote Away from Federal Bench: With a party-line vote, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee moved Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Patrick Wyrick closer to a federal bench. The American Bar Association has not yet issued a recommendation on whether Wyrick is qualified to be a judge for the Western District of Oklahoma, a practice standard for all judicial nominees. Chairman and Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley said he doesn’t need it [Public Radio Tulsa].

Wind Group Leader Gets out of Testifying Before Oklahoma Grand Jury: Oklahoma’s multicounty grand jury spent last week investigating Medicaid fraud instead of the placement of a tracker on a state legislator’s pickup. Jeff Clark, president of The Wind Coalition, and George Shipley, a longtime political consultant, had been subpoenaed to appear last week before the grand jury. A Texas judge, however, ruled June 1 they didn’t have to come. The Texas judge was involved because both Clark and Shipley live in Austin [NewsOK].

McCurtain County Commissioners Seek Assessor’s Ouster: A district attorney’s investigation is underway into whistleblower allegations of maladministration involving McCurtain County Assessor Stan Lyles, 49, of Broken Bow. County commissioners have asked prosecutors to look into ouster proceedings against Lyles. The assessor has been accused of running a loose office where employees were often absent and sometimes “drunk on the job,” but were not reprimanded for their behavior, according to an article in a Sunday edition of the McCurtain Daily Gazette, that cited an unnamed whistleblower [NewsOK].

Untapped Aquifers May Help Quench State’s Water Needs: Water or lack of it plagues Oklahoma. It’s almost impossible to wrap the mind around how much water the state needs daily, let alone each year. There are 3.9 million Oklahomans drinking at least a half gallon of water daily. That doesn’t include flushing toilets, taking a bath or shower, brushing teeth and washing clothes. Some figures have the average Oklahoman using up to 85 gallons a day for personal needs [Tulsa World].

Quote of the Day

“The recent auditing ideas are just a ruse to avoid spending money on Oklahoma’s needs, and they spend more money doing it. Education, prisons, roads, human services — these are services that the vast majority of Oklahomans believe the state should be providing. By auditing them only to identify cost savings, the Republicans are violating all the rules of effective auditing.”

-Adam Kupetsky, a Tulsa resident and member of the Tulsa World Community Advisory Board [Tulsa World].

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahomans who are uninsured

[Prosperity Now Scorecard]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Why Rich Kids Are so Good at the Marshmallow Test: These findings point to the idea that poorer parents try to indulge their kids when they can, while more-affluent parents tend to make their kids wait for bigger rewards. Hair dye and sweet treats might seem frivolous, but purchases like these are often the only indulgences poor families can afford. And for poor children, indulging in a small bit of joy today can make life feel more bearable, especially when there’s no guarantee of more joy tomorrow [The Atlantic].

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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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