In The Know: Opioid treatment access an issue for Medicaid patients, State lawmakers begin efforts to improve health care system, Bill to reinstate tax exemption for foster parents signed by Stitt

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: Damion Shade, Criminal Justice Policy Analyst: “Kris Steele, the Director of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, likes to say ‘There’s no such thing as a spare Oklahoman.’ Honestly, that sentiment helps drag me out of bed many mornings. I don’t believe we should give up on someone just because they made a mistake.” [OK Policy]

In The News

Opioid treatment access an issue for Medicaid patients: After losing two sons to drug overdoses, an Edmond mother said she’s pressing forward with an effort to get Oklahoma Medicaid patients better access to one of the nation’s top opioid treatment medications. Denise Roberts said the state’s Medicaid program only allows doctors to prescribe one form of the “gold standard” in addiction care — buprenorphine — without prior authorization. In order to access two other types, she said patients have to await pre-approval, which “could mean death.” [Norman TranscriptExpanding Medicaid would reduce deaths due to substance abuse and suicide.

State lawmakers begin efforts to improve health care system: One of the co-chairs of a bipartisan group of state lawmakers working on a plan to improve Oklahoma’s health care system said it will be important for many voices to be heard in a discussion likely to continue through the fall. State Rep. Marcus McEntire, R-Duncan, said at the conclusion of the first meeting of the Healthcare Working Group this week that plans are to hear from Oklahomans who are patients as well as from those who are health care experts. [Journal Record ????

As Stitt plans DC office, some agencies have their own lobbyists: As Gov. Kevin Stitt moves to create a Washington, D.C., office to monitor federal policy and funding, some state governmental entities are already paying contract lobbyists in the nation’s capital for that same purpose. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is paying $84,000 a year for a Washington lobbyist. The University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University together paid about $700,000 in 2018 for D.C. lobbyists. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma unemployment unchanged in July: Oklahoma’s unemployment rate held steady in July, half a percentage point better than the national average. The state’s rate is 3.2% for the third straight month. The state labor force grew by 6,519 last month, a 0.4% change, according to figures from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. However, that number is 2,603 fewer than last year, a 0.1% decrease. [The OklahomanLow unemployment doesn’t mean we’re all doing well. Click here for our paper series exploring the economic health of Oklahomans.

I used to be the police chief, and I say Tulsa must confront and eliminate racially biased policing; here’s how to start: To move our police officers out of a policing culture that denies, in the face of its own data, that racially biased policing practices permeate their behavior, elected and police leadership must recognize it is real and move immediately to policing in full accord with democratic principles. [Drew Diamond / Tulsa World] Read OK Policy’s report on strategies to build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

Bill to reinstate tax exemption for foster parents signed by Stitt: Gov. Kevin Stitt ceremoniously signed legislation from Sen. Paul Scott, which will reinstate a $5,000 tax exemption for foster parents inside the State of Oklahoma. [Tahlequah Daily Press]

Capitol Insider: The longshot effort to repeal permitless carry: In this episode of Capitol Insider, KGOU’s Dick Pryor and eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley discuss a last minute effort to repeal Oklahoma’s newest gun law and more. [KGOUWhat’s That? Veto Referendum

State wildlife commissioner is on a mission: Jim Barwick of Edmond is doing something no other state wildlife commissioner has ever done. He is visiting every public hunting area in the state managed by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. [The Oklahoman]

‘You can’t just power wash him’: Officials ponder plan to remove statue from top of Capitol for cleaning: Officials with the Oklahoma Arts Council are trying to figure out how to remove a nearly 6,000-pound statue from the top of Oklahoma State Capitol for cleaning. [Tulsa World]

First-generation college students are looking to improve their future: In Oklahoma, more than 40% of undergraduate students are first-generation — the first in their family to attend college at any level. Studies estimate that more than half off all college students nationwide are the family pioneers when it comes to higher education. [The Oklahoman]

Local effort to put Medicaid expansion on the ballot begins: Indivisible Stillwater is hosting multiple opportunities to sign the petition to put State Question 802 on the ballot and put Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma to a vote of the people. [Stillwater News Press] Click here for more information on SQ 802.

Ginnie Graham: How a Tulsa nonprofit set and met an ambitious goal to reduce teen births: Last week, the nonprofit and its partners celebrated reaching that ambitious goal two years early. That significant accomplishment proves the programs and partnerships launched just a few years ago work. However, the achievement is tempered by Oklahoma remaining quite a bit higher than the national average. Oklahoma improved to No. 3 in the country, down from No. 2.  [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa WorldOther programs to reduce teen pregnancy are struggling due to a loss of federal funds.

Hank, Susan Binkowski promise new northeast OKC grocery store: In an hour-long Facebook video released Friday by Pastor Derrick Scobey of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Hank and Susan Binkowski — owners of Smart Saver, Buy For Less, Super Mercado and Uptown Grocery stores — announced a plan to open a new northeast OKC grocery store within 60 to 90 days. [NonDoc]

Tulsa, OKC mayors work together to make positive statewide impact: Spending time together has become commonplace for Holt and Bynum since the two took office, meeting and talking often to update each other on their vision for Oklahoma City and Tulsa. So much, even their kids have an opinion on that. [NewsOn6]

Medical marijuana inhales some warehouse space in Oklahoma City: Medical marijuana lit up demand for certain kinds of industrial property the past year, flex space that can be switched from warehouse to office or showroom as needed and older service warehouses, according to Price Edwards & Co. [The Oklahoman]

‘They will be our future’: New CASA volunteers serve foster-care youth, break growth records: Advocates, known as CASAs, are volunteers assigned to legal cases to advocate for the best interests of children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect. They monitor the case, meet with the children regularly, talk with family and guardians, attend all court dates and file reports. [The Oklahoman]

Without federal aid, states help themselves: But unless the incident is declared a major disaster by federal authorities, public and individual assistance aren’t available. Instead, FEMA recommended in a March 21 report, states should create and pay for their own individual assistance programs for disaster recovery. [NonDoc]

Increasing competition is key to lowering drug prices, Markwayne Mullin says: Adjusted for inflation, Americans’ per capita spending on prescription drugs has increased tenfold since 1960, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. [Tulsa World]

Country’s largest tribal nation seeks congressional delegate: The newly elected chief of the Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation plans to appoint the tribe’s first-ever delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, a right outlined in a nearly 200-year-old treaty with the federal government. [AP News]

Quote of the Day

“I don’t believe we should give up on someone just because they made a mistake. Every time I go into a courtroom or a jail I feel like I’m looking at myself. That could’ve been me. I’ve been broken before and felt like a person who didn’t deserve anything, but people loved me and gave me the chance to live beyond my circumstances. I believe in redemption, and my favorite thing about working for OK Policy is having the opportunity to see it up close.”

– Damion Shade, Criminal Justice Policy Analyst [OK Policy]

Number of the Day


The number of Oklahoma residents in federally recognized drought areas as of August 13th 2019.


See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Digital Jail: How electronic monitoring drives defendants into debt: Ankle bracelets are promoted as a humane alternative to jail. But private companies charge defendants hundreds of dollars a month to wear the surveillance devices. If people can’t pay, they may end up behind bars. [ProPublica]

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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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