In The Know: Opening statements in opioid trial; report on Boren allegations; Medicaid reduces maternal, infant mortality…

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

AG Hunter: Drugmakers’ ‘greed’ helped ignite opioid crisis in Oklahoma: Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson oversaturated the market with addictive painkillers and helped fuel an opioid crisis in Oklahoma out of greed, the state’s attorney general told a crowded courtroom in Norman on Tuesday. [The Frontier] The trial, heard by a judge without a jury but livestreamed to the public, is being closely watched not only by those affected by prescription opioid addiction, but also by lawyers in almost 1,900 similar federal and state cases nationwide. [New York Times] The Oklahoman published photos and video from the first day of trial. [The Oklahoman]

Jones Day assessment: Jess Eddy ‘generally credible’ on Boren allegation: In his allegations against former University of Oklahoma President David Boren and Vice President Tripp Hall, former OU employee Jess Eddy was deemed “generally credible” by investigating attorneys from Jones Day. The analysis was included in a four-page excerpt of the law firm’s report on allegations against Boren. [NonDoc] Six witnesses gave accounts about encounters with David Boren to the law firm that conducted a sexual misconduct investigation of the retired University of Oklahoma president, according to an excerpt from the law firm’s report. [The Oklahoman]

Study: Medicaid expansion tied to drops in maternal, infant mortality rates: Oklahoma’s maternal and infant mortality rates are 34th and 43rd in the U.S. Researchers report Medicaid expansion could make a difference. Reviews found Medicaid expansion states saw infant mortality rates fall 50 percent more than states that did not expand Medicaid and saw maternal mortality rate declines of 1.6 deaths per 100,000 women. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Five things from the 2019 legislative session: The 2019 legislative session, which ended Thursday, produced some important changes in state government. It also left some things on the table that can be viewed as missed opportunities or disasters averted, depending on one’s point of view. [Tulsa World]

Governor signs legislation to make State Question 780 retroactive: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday signed into law a criminal justice reform measure that will make State Question 780 retroactive. Voters passed the state question in 2016 to reclassify some drug possession and property crimes as misdemeanors instead of felonies. The retroactivity legislation, which takes effect Nov. 1, establishes an expedited commutation process for people who are serving felony prison sentences for offenses that are now misdemeanors. [The Oklahoman] HB 1269 is a positive step for justice reform in Oklahoma, but a late amendment complicates the bill’s resentencing process and create financial hurdles that will lessen the positive impact of retroactivity.

Stitt signs bill clarifying AG’s role in settling lawsuits: Oklahoma’s attorney general could not make the same $270 million settlement with opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma today that he made in March because of a change in state law. Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law Friday a bill that requires any funds from lawsuits involving the state of Oklahoma and settled by the attorney general to go into the state treasury so lawmakers can decide how it is spent. [The Oklahoman]

Governor signs mining-water bill into law: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill into law this week amending the state’s mining rules and regulations as they relate to the impact on water. Senate Bill 1080 focuses on mines that overlay a “sensitive sole source groundwater basin or subbasin.” [OK Energy Today]

Oklahoma Legislature Passes ‘Ballot Selfie’ Bill: Oklahoma lawmakers have passed a bill clarifying when ballot selfies are OK. If House Bill 1259 is signed by the governor, voters will be able to take a photo of marked ballots in the voting booth and post it on social media once outside. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Tulsa World Editorial Board: Tulsa Regional Chamber makes public act of atonement concerning what happened after the 1921 race massacre: The Tulsa Regional Chamber did the right thing when it publicly donated copies of its records concerning the Tulsa race massacre to the Greenwood Cultural Center on Tuesday. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]

20,000 Worker Shortage Predicted By 2028 In Oklahoma: A new report from the Office of Workforce Development shows Oklahoma is on track to experience a shortage of nearly 20,000 workers next decade due to projected economic growth, high rates of retirement, and a lack of local talent. [KGOU]

Ceremony celebrates literacy program graduates: In 2013, the Ardmore Literacy Leadership program came to Ardmore to help citizens get a second chance at life. On Thursday, gathered in the First United Methodist Church Ardmore Colvert Ministry Center, 55 adults and teenagers crossed the stage, earning diplomas and certificates ranging from GEDs to technology skills. [The Ardmoreite]

Oklahoma college grads find jobs in business, health, education fields: Oklahoma’s public and private colleges and universities awarded degrees to more than 193,300 graduates during the past five years. Nearly half of those were bachelor’s degrees. Business, health professions and education were the most popular fields of study. [The Oklahoman ????]

Oklahoma students poised to shape future of oil and natural gas: According to the Education Commission of the States, STEM jobs are projected to grow 13% between 2017 and 2027. Todd sees future opportunity for his students right here in their home state, specifically with the oil and natural gas industry. [Tulsa World]

Public provides input on pending rate case for Oklahoma Gas and Electric: The director of the Oklahoma Sierra Club and a dozen other individual customers affected by Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co.’s ongoing rate case told an administrative law judge and the elected members of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission on Tuesday a pending agreement that would leave rates unchanged should be rejected. [The Oklahoman]

Pharmacy at Homeless Alliance to expand days of operation after funding increase: The Oklahoma County pharmacy plans to expand days of service for one of its two locations in the coming months, benefiting Oklahoma City’s low-income and homeless population. The pharmacy location inside the Homeless Alliance’s day shelter near downtown Oklahoma City is currently open only two days a week. [The Oklahoman]

Climate change figures in water management: Climate change is going to have a direct effect on the quality, quantity and price of drinking water in Oklahoma City. Utilities Director Chris Browning told the city council Tuesday that the Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust has the highest possible ratings for its debt. But Browning said ratings agencies “have a few different considerations today than they did in the past.” [The Oklahoman]

Proposed MAPS 4 river wish list includes fourth dam, equestrian park, swimming beach: A fourth dam that would extend the navigable Oklahoma River waterway east of Interstate 35 and into east Oklahoma City is among several improvements set to be added to a growing MAPS 4 wish list being assembled by Mayor David Holt. [The Oklahoman]

Chicken litter piles highlight enforcement issues for Save the Illinois River founder: When Save the Illinois River founder Ed Brocksmith reported a chicken litter issue to state officials, he expected some action, but it didn’t turn out how he expected. Uncovered piles of chicken litter left in pastures near Lake Tenkiller concerned him during April’s rains. He complained to state officials, who looked into it but said no rules were broken. [Tulsa World]

Blumert sisters active in Oklahoma criminal justice reform: At the Oklahoma County Courthouse, a woman with thick-rimmed glasses and dark, curly hair is often discussing criminal justice reform. But be careful not to confuse her with the other woman in dark curls and glasses advocating for change at the downtown courthouse. [The Oklahoman]

US Supreme Court rejects Comanche casino case: The U.S. Supreme Court declined on Tuesday to review a case in which the Comanche Nation sought to block the Chickasaw Nation from building a casino in southern Oklahoma. Without comment, the justices let stand a ruling by U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals against the Comanche Nation. [The Oklahoman]

O’Rourke, Sanders lead Democratic fundraising in Oklahoma: Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders raised the most money in Oklahoma for their Democratic presidential campaigns in the first quarter of the year. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“Mothers had early initiation of prenatal care. There was also better care for women of childbearing age in these states before they became pregnant — better screenings, better prenatal vitamins.”

-Georgetown University Center for Children and Families’ Adam Searing, on a study that found Medicaid expansion states saw infant mortality rates fall 50 percent more than states that did not expand Medicaid [KWGS]

Number of the Day


Number of schools in Oklahoma with vaccination rates below 50 percent.

[Source: Oklahoma Watch]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How bad prosecutors fuel America’s mass incarceration problem: We have this idea of a legal system in which prosecutors and defense lawyers are equal, with dispassionate judges presiding over everything. But Bazelon argues that this balance has been lost over the past several decades. Now prosecutors wield limitless power, deciding whom to charge, who gets a second chance, and, in some cases, who lives and who dies. If there’s an underreported piece of the mass incarceration puzzle, Bazelon says this is it. [Vox]

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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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