In The Know: State agencies add earthquakes to disaster drill

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today In The News

Oklahoma state agencies prepare for disaster with drill: In an underground bunker on the Capitol grounds, dozens of state and local emergency workers prepared for disaster. The annual “Earth, Wind and Fire” drill began at 10 a.m. Wednesday, with staged natural disasters and weather emergencies hitting towns, cities and counties. As emergency responders worked through their protocols, state agencies were alerted to the fictional emergencies unfurling across the state [The Oklahoman].

Oklahoma Contractors say road construction work plan may be in jeopardy: In 2016, the Association of Oklahoma General Contractors (AOGC) and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation are preparing to continue the Eight-Year Construction Work Plan designed to improve state and U.S. highways, interstates, roads, and bridges amid state funding uncertainty. Amidst state government budget challenges, the top executive at AOGC says the long-term stability of the methodical plan to improve and maintain transportation infrastructure could be at risk [City Sentinel].

Oklahoma higher education institutions cutting costs, sharing resources: Higher education officials across Oklahoma are taking steps to cut costs as they brace for a huge state budget shortfall next fiscal year. “We are making plans today — and we have the past two months — to be prepared to deal with what will be a very significant budget deficit,” higher education Chancellor Glen Johnson said Wednesday at the first of a series of meetings at campuses across the state [The Oklahoman].

Budget troubles rolling back Oklahoma’s gains on health care: The Oklahoma Healthcare Authority (OHCA) announced last week that it will implement a 3 percent cut in medical provider rates beginning January 1, 2016. This is due to state funding shortages that are making it difficult for OHCA to meet the state match for federal Medicaid funds. I don’t know if a 3 percent pay cut is enough to cause some doctors and other medical providers to stop taking Medicaid patients, but certainly a continuation of the trend will at some point have that result [OK Policy].

Scrutiny of Oklahoma tax credits is worthwhile effort: There oughta be a Dank’s Law. Actually, there is. It’s just not called that. State Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, was an advocate of scrutinizing state tax credits, to ensure that the credit-incentivized behavior is equal to or greater than the cost of the credit [Editorial Board / The Oklahoman].

Unemployment rate ticks down in October despite weakness in key industries: Oklahoma went through a recession in the first half of 2015 and that didn’t really let up in October, even though the unemployment rate dropped a tenth of a percentage point to 4.3 percent. The unemployment rate was also down two-tenths of a percentage point from October 2014. Overall employment has grown over the past year by about 5,500 people or 7.6 percent [Tulsa World].

Is your grandmother hungry? As we enter the most bountiful time of the year, take a moment and think about this question, which was passed on to me a few months ago: Is your grandmother hungry? I’m not talking about Thanksgiving Day, when families gather, our splendid tables overflow and everyone eats well and plenty. I’m talking about all the other days of the year when we have no idea what our grandmothers — or any other elderly relatives and friends — are eating, or if they’re eating [Julie DelCour / Tulsa World].

Key Obama administration officials seek to reassure Fallin about refugees:  Top administration officials are hoping to convince Gov. Mary Fallin to drop her opposition to accepting more Syrian refugees, telling her the screening process is “extremely thorough and comprehensive.” In a letter obtained by The Oklahoman, Secretary of State John Kerry and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told Fallin, “We have tremendous faith in this system’s ability to detect, investigate and disrupt terrorist plotting in this country, as it has done repeatedly” [The Oklahoman].

Audit finds Workers’ Comp Commission wasn’t tracking payments: An audit of the Workers’ Compensation Commission shows the fledgling agency didn’t have controls in place to track some mandatory assessments. According to the office of state Auditor Gary Jones, a sample test of claims paid from two funds showed roughly half had no supporting documentation to determine the calculation used to make the assessments [Journal Record]. 

Tulsa County bucks incarceration trend, finds options for prison-bound women: It was a new experience for Janet Steed to be shivering in a high school football stadium instead of wallowing in the fog of addiction. She is a mom again. Sober and doing what so many other moms do — cheering on her oldest son in each of his senior games at Union High School. Steed is grateful for the moments like playoffs and senior night. By the grace of a judge and a new alternative sentencing service, she is not in prison [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma cuts back on Christmas lighting this year: It’s a sign of tough financial times at the state Capitol: There won’t be as many Christmas lights this year. Gov. Mary Fallin is foregoing many of the sparkly bulbs that normally adorn her mansion, saving $9,000 in installation and decoration costs, plus undetermined savings in electricity, said Michael McNutt, her spokesman [The Oklahoman].  Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister plan to host schoolchildren from across the state for the lighting of the Capitol Christmas tree [KWGS].

Quote of the Day

“We try to go as statewide as possible, so we’ve got ice storms going on, we’ve got earthquakes going on, we’ve got severe weather. You know, a typical day in Oklahoma.”

– Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management Director Albert Norwood, on last week’s annual disaster drill for state agencies and state emergency officials. For the first time, this year’s drill included earthquakes (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of Department of Veterans Affairs facilities in Oklahoma

Source: Census Bureau.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How Texas Is Learning to Like Obamacare: The online federal insurance marketplace opened for business Sunday. It’s the third year of open enrollment for these subsidized plans, established by the Affordable Care Act. Many Texans still oppose the law, even though the state is home to the most uninsured people in the country. For the moment, Texas Republicans still consider the Affordable Care Act to be political kryptonite. But the story on the local level is different [Kaiser Health News / Governing].

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.