In The Know: Report states DHS failing children in foster care, state disputes findings; future of medical marijuana in OK…

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.

[NOTE: In The Know will be not be published on Monday, September 3, for Labor Day. We will be back Tuesday morning with a round-up of the 3-day weekend.]

In The News

Report: Oklahoma slow to remove some children from abusive foster homes: Oklahoma has been slow to remove children from abusive foster homes in some instances and children in state custody continue to experience abuse and neglect at “an alarmingly high rate,” according to a new report from the monitors of a class action, civil rights settlement to improve Oklahoma’s child welfare system. [The Frontier] The Oklahoma Department of Human Services on Thursday took issue with the latest report by monitors that downgraded the agency’s progress in improving the state’s foster care program for children. [AP News]

The future of medical marijuana in Oklahoma: More than half a million Oklahomans voted in favor of State Question 788 legalizing medical marijuana, making Oklahoma the 30th state in the nation to legalize the drug in some form. SQ 788 directed the Department of Health to issue rules governing the implementation of the law, and after a flurry of controversy and a do-over forced by Attorney General Mike Hunter, Governor Fallin signed new emergency rules on July 31. [OK Policy] The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority’s application for a license became available last weekend, and some people have already received their medical cards. [KOCO] Oklahoma’s newest legal industry already is attracting interest from companies throughout the country. [NewsOK]

As physicians again push for unpopular medical marijuana restrictions, one lawmaker ‘a little frustrated’: A coalition of medical professionals pushed again for the reinstatement of medical marijuana rules limiting product potency and banning sales of smokable cannabis, drawing pushback from a legislative working group handling the issue. [Tulsa World] A co-chairman of the medical marijuana legislative working group said Wednesday that he is working with cannabis advocates and other lawmakers on language to expand regulation of State Question 788. [Tulsa World]

The shadow of the opioid crisis looms over doctors considering medical marijuana: So far, 38 physicians have registered with the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority to help streamline the process for their patients who apply for licenses. Doctors aren’t required to register to recommend medical marijuana, and Yarborough, like many Oklahoma doctors, isn’t sure yet if he will. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

The national implications of Oklahoma’s GOP primary: If you’re reading National Review, you’ve no doubt digested the news from the recent primaries in Florida and Arizona. But did you catch the primary runoff in Oklahoma? Because the results in Oklahoma might tell us more about the future of American politics than the higher-profile results from elsewhere. [National Review] As Oklahoma heads into a legislative session where public health and safety will become paramount issues, top-ranking lawmakers will have to decide who is leading the show. [Journal Record ????]

Gubernatorial candidates ran two races in one: Kevin Stitt’s successful Republican primary campaign for governor can’t be explained quickly, observers said. Too much came into play. A political scientist and a few campaign consultants said geography, anti-establishmentarian sentiment and several other factors created the environment in which he and Mick Cornett had to run their races. [Journal Record ????] What went down in Florida, Arizona and Oklahoma [FiveThirtyEight]

Anthony vs. McCray: A battle of polar opposites: Bob Anthony, Oklahoma’s longest-serving member of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, is facing a younger, Native American Democratic challenger, Ashley Nicole McCray. He is 70 and she is 34. The two are campaigning during a season in which the prevailing narratives are voting for experience or choosing change, said Keith Gaddie, University of Oklahoma political science professor. [Journal Record]

Four private firms have until Dec. 31 to audit six state agencies: Four auditing firms will have until the end of the year to conduct performance audits of six of the state’s biggest agencies. The Agency Performance and Accountability Commission (APAC) confirmed the choices on Thursday and will oversee the process until reports are turned in to lawmakers ahead of the next regular session. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma City surgery center loses federal funding despite pleas it would be forced to close: surgery center in Oklahoma City has lost its Medicare and Medicaid funding, despite an attempt to halt the termination in federal court. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, terminated its agreement with ESEC Surgery Center on Aug. 18, citing three state inspections that found multiple disqualifying deficiencies. [The Frontier]

Oklahoma counties show improvement in unemployment: Every Oklahoma county and the state’s largest metro areas showed improvement in July unemployment rates from last year. The jobless rate fell 0.4 percentage points in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas, hitting rates of 3.3 and 3.6 percent, respectively. The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission released a report Wednesday showing the July 2018 unemployment rates for all 77 Oklahoma counties. [NewsOK]

Oklahoma construction companies say it’s hard to find workers: Oklahoma construction companies want to hire more craft personnel in the next 12 months, but they’re having a hard time finding them, according to a workforce survey by the Associated General Contractors of America. No respondents said it’s easier this year to hire positions like carpenters, heavy equipment operators, truck drivers, mechanics, welders and concrete workers. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Cheniere Energy obtains approval to build its $1 billion Midship Pipeline in Oklahoma: Cheniere Energy Inc. hopes to begin work on its $1 billion Midship Pipeline soon, now that it has obtained approval for the project from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The 200-mile-long pipeline will start in Kingfisher County and head south and east to southeastern Bryan County on the Oklahoma/Texas line, where it will hook into the nation’s interstate pipeline system. [NewsOK]

Should I still root for my college football team? Whenever I mention where I go to school, people don’t ask me about my classes or professors. They ask me about football. I don’t mind. Every fall, when tens of thousands of people pour onto the University of Oklahoma campus for games, I feel proud. Or maybe I should say felt. Part of me can’t wait for football season to start. The other part of me wonders: Is it O.K. to be a football fan in 2018? [Tim Hatton / New York Times]

Quote of the Day

“They are all very interested in ensuring that the program works correctly and that it’s the best program we can build for the state. The ones we’ve spoken to have an open mind. I think they’re not buying the reefer madness propaganda. I think we have full faith that they will implement the legislation that we envisioned for 788.”

-Frank Grove, co-leader of Oklahomans for Cannabis, speaking about his interactions with the medical marijuana legislative working group [Tulsa World]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

In U.S., wage growth is being wiped out entirely by inflation: Without raises, workers are opting to work more hours to stay afloat. The Labor Department reported that Americans are putting in more time on the job this summer vs. last summer, which is helping to keep family earnings about the same for now. Penny Harford, a 67-year-old in Filer, Idaho, thought she would be retired by now. Instead, she’s working two part-time jobs at retail stores. She took on the second job last year as energy prices started to climb and she realized she needed more hours to pay bills. [Washinton Post]

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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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