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.
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Prosperity Policy: Send me back? Last month, in one of his signature Twitter rants, President Donald Trump lashed out against a group of four Democratic congresswomen, known familiarly as the “squad,” who have gained notoriety as outspoken critics of his administration. They “originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe,” he tweeted. “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” [David Blatt / Journal Record]
In The News
Oklahoma’s economy may be slowing, new tax data suggests: For the second day in a row, state officials have released tax figures that seem to indicate a slowing of Oklahoma’s economy. On Friday, Treasurer Randy McDaniel reported that gross sales tax payments to the state treasurer were off in July for a second straight month. McDaniel also noted that gross production receipts would have been lower if not for rate increases on certain wells. [Tulsa World] For a closer look at how Oklahomans are doing since the Great Recession, check out our State of Work in Oklahoma series.
Lawmakers urge collaboration in gaming compact negotiations: Oklahoma legislators have been hesitant to wade into the the debate over the state’s tribal gaming compacts, which has Gov. Kevin Stitt at odds with many of the state’s Native American tribes. But some of the state’s Native American legislators chimed in recently, disputing Stitt’s assertion the compacts don’t automatically renew and criticizing the governor’s handling of the situation. [The Oklahoman] What’s That? Tribal Gaming Compacts
Despite gains in 2018 elections, women still underrepresented at Oklahoma’s Capitol: Oklahoma voters elected a record number of women to the state Legislature last year, but the state is still in the bottom 10 states for its percentage of women serving at the state Capitol. Women make up 50% of the state’s population, but make up just 22% of Oklahoma’s Legislature, up from about 14% last year. [The Oklahoman]
Political donations around legislative session leave lawmakers’ campaigns $1.3 million wealthier: Oklahoma state elected officials received nearly $2 million in campaign donations in the weeks leading up to, during and after this year’s legislative session, with two-thirds of those donations going to lawmakers, according to the most recent data from the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. [The Frontier]
Oklahoma judge has not disclosed her final campaign donors for months: A newly elected Oklahoma County district judge was ordered to pay $3,000 for campaign reporting violations, more than any other judicial candidate who ran last year, records show. Kendra Coleman was assessed the compliance fees for not disclosing her campaign donors on time. Her last required report was due more than six months ago at the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. [The Oklahoman]
Finalists for Oklahoma Supreme Court spot have similar legal backgrounds, experience: The three finalists for an Oklahoma Supreme Court district in northern Oklahoma all got their undergraduate and law degrees in Oklahoma, spent time in private practice and now serve as judges. [The Oklahoman]
Emergency teachers failing to finish certification: A growing number of emergency certified teachers are dropping out of school and failing to complete a state program that allows them to become trained and licensed educators. The number of nontraditional teachers who go on to receive full certification in their emergency subject area is plummeting, according to data compiled by the State Department of Education in response to an open records request filed by CNHI Oklahoma. [CHNI] What’s That? Emergency Certification
Among SoonerPoll results, 56% support Medicaid expansion: In its quarterly poll, SoonerPoll surveyed 373 likely Oklahoma voters on a variety of topics including Medicaid expansion, raising the age to 21 for tobacco consumption, the 2020 Census and much more. The poll, conducted July 17 through July 27, also examined how voters view Gov. Kevin Stitt half way through his first year in office. Among those surveyed, 66 percent approve of Stitt’s job so far. [NonDoc] Visit our resources page for more information about SQ 802
Stitt appoints new Health Care Authority director: Gov. Kevin Stitt has named Kevin Corbett as the new director of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, effective Aug. 15. The new Health Care Authority director will succeed Becky Pasternik-Ikard, who announced her intent to retire on July 30. A certified public accountant, Corbett recently worked as interim chief financial officer at Lagoon Water Solutions, an Oklahoma City company that provides wastewater disposal services for petroleum midstream companies. [NonDoc] What’s That? Oklahoma Health Care Authority
Oklahoma hospitals sue thousands each year over unpaid medical bills: An Oklahoma Watch review of court records since 2016 found that dozens of hospitals across the state have filed at least 22,250 lawsuits against their former patients over unpaid medical bills. In many of those cases, the hospitals have garnished wages to collect anywhere from a few hundred dollars to more than $10,000. [Oklahoma Watch]
State argues for abortion ban to take effect: A law banning a common second-trimester abortion procedure should be allowed to take effect, state attorneys argue in a court document filed Thursday. The state filed its response to a request by a Tulsa abortion provider that the law remain on hold pending an appeal to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. [Tulsa World]
Medical boards lack process for opioid complaints: The ongoing court case against opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson highlighted the role that doctors, and the medical boards who regulate them, have played in the continuing public health crisis. [StateImpact Oklahoma]
Side effects: Medical community dealing with benefits, issues surrounding cannabis: As soon as State Question 788 passed in 2018, a team from OU Medicine went to work. “We realized that we needed to have a structure around medical marijuana to educate providers and effectively respond to patients,” said Dr. Lynn Mitchell, chief medical officer of OU Physicians, the state’s largest physician group. [The Oklahoman] Oklahoma’s young marijuana industry’s growth exceeds expectations [The Oklahoman]
In Oklahoma, political focus is on mental health, not guns: In the days following two mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, Oklahoma politicians have affirmed their support for guns and said the focus should be on mental health laws rather than firearm regulations. [The Frontier] Gun Deaths in Oklahoma: Trends, laws and survival. [Oklahoma Watch]
A third of Oklahomans lack broadband internet choice, report shows: Oklahoma ranks 47th for broadband connectivity, highlighting how rural areas struggle with access to high-speed internet. About one in three Oklahomans have fewer than two providers to choose from. [The Oklahoman]
Oklahoma driver’s license, meet smartphone: Oklahomans will soon have access to their own digital identification cards, but it could take some time for businesses and government agencies to accept them. [The Oklahoman]
New business investments in Oklahoma top $1.4 billion so far this year: In the first half of 2019, 38 businesses have announced plans to make investments in Oklahoma. Journal Record editor Russell Ray discusses the reason for this wave of investments and the potential economic impact on the state. [KGOU]
FEC concludes audit of state Democratic Party: The Federal Election Commission recently completed an audit of the Oklahoma Democratic Party’s finances and found the party misstated some financial activity and did not keep required payroll logs for employees during the 2015-2016 election cycle. [The Oklahoman]
National child sex trafficking investigation leads to 19 arrests in northeastern Oklahoma: Nineteen people in northeastern Oklahoma face charges after a joint child sex trafficking investigation involving local, state and federal authorities. [Public Radio Tulsa]
Cherokee Minimum Wage Set to Increase Oct. 1: Incoming Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Junior has announced another “first 100 days” initiative: raising the Cherokee Nation minimum wage from $9.50 to $11 an hour. [Public Radio Tulsa]
Quote of the Day
“How many women is enough? Our Legislature has been predominantly white men for the history of the state and nobody’s called the question of how many men is enough.”
– Sen. Carri Hicks (D-Oklahoma City) on the pushback after the influx of new women legislators following the 2018 elections [The Oklahoman]
Number of the Day
The number of petition signatures required to get Medicaid expansion (SQ 802) on the ballot in 2020. This is 15 percent of the total number of votes cast in the last gubernatorial election.
Reefer Madness or Pot Paradise? The surprising legacy of the place where legal weed began: Colorado’s first-in-the-nation experiment has reshaped health, politics, rural culture and criminal justice in surprising ways that often defy both the worst warnings of critics and blue-sky rhetoric of the marijuana industry, giving a glimpse of what the future may hold as more and more states adopt and debate full legalization. [New York Times]
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