In The Know: State braces for further flooding

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.

Officials warn that further flooding is likely as heavy rainfall returns today, and flash flood warnings extending through the weekend are in place in central and western Oklahoma. KGOU reported that although strides have been made, gaps remain in Oklahoma’s Spanish-language weather warnings. Gov. Fallin has instructed the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to expedite bidding on repair efforts and explore additional opportunities to fund those repairs. The state Department of Environmental Quality will provide free bacterial testing of private well water through August because of the floods.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, House Minority Leader Scott Inman (D-Del City) said that the most recent legislative session hurt middle-class Oklahomans. In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt questioned why legislators rushed through passing the most important legislation this session. The slowdown in oil and gas production prompted the state’s unemployment rate to inch upward to 4.1 percent. Experts say that wind energy can bring consistency to electrical bills in Oklahoma because it is predictable and its long-term price is stable. Following the shooting of an unarmed suspect by a reserve deputy, the Tulsa County Sheriff’s office has received three bids for a top-down assessment of its performance, and a contract is expected next month.

Researchers with OU have been awarded one of seven $15 million grants to improve heart health by the US Department of Health and Human services. The grant will allow researchers to partner with primary care physicians across the state to determine best practices for improving heart health and preventing heart disease. The Oklahoman reported that abused and neglected children as young as seven were handcuffed and threatened with pepper spray and Tasers at a state-run emergency shelter in Oklahoma City. The state Department of Human Services says that it has replaced the two off-duty law enforcement officers responsible. Mental Health Association Oklahoma hosted a Twitter chat on mental health and suicide prevention on Wednesday.

The Number of the Day is 3 percent – the total additional increase in Oklahoma Medicaid expenditures from 2015 to 2024 were the state to accept federal funds to expand health coverage to 150,000 low-income Oklahomans. In today’s Policy Note, The Washington Post discusses a new report revealing that one in four Americans see their income swing widely every month.

In The News

More flooding likely as heavy rain returns to Oklahoma

With another round of heavy rainfall predicted to sweep across Oklahoma on Thursday, forecasters are confident the state will see more flooding. Flood warnings are in place Thursday for areas along the Red, Cimarron, Washita and Canadian rivers.

Read more from NewsOK.

Gaps Remain In Oklahoma’s Spanish Language Weather Warnings

There have been a number of weather-related deaths in Oklahoma since storms and flooding began on Friday, including a firefighter who died during a water rescue, and a 48-year-old woman who was killed after a tornado struck her home. Nearly two years ago, a powerful tornado – the widest on record – struck the rural outskirts of Oklahoma City.

Read more from KGOU.

Gov. Mary Fallin instructs ODOT to increase support for repair efforts

Gov. Mary Fallin instructed the Oklahoma Department of Transportation on Wednesday to expedite bidding on county infrastructure projects and to explore additional means of supporting recovery efforts, according to a news release. Fallin does not have legal authority to redirect money from the “rainy-day fund” to county infrastructure projects, but she said she is confident the state will find other ways to provide additional support to county-led recovery and repair efforts.

Read more from KOCO.

Oklahoma Agency Allows Free Bacterial Testing Of Well Water

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality is offering free bacterial testing of private well water due to statewide flooding. The agency announced Tuesday that the testing will be available until August 15.

Read more from KGOU.

House Minority Leader Scott Inman says GOP-run Legislature has hurt middle class Oklahomans

Oklahoma’s middle class residents were the losers when the legislative session ended Friday, House Minority Leader Scott Inman said Wednesday. Lawmakers adjourned a week early after sending Gov. Mary Fallin a fiscal year budget of about $7.1 billion that contained standstill funding for common education and cuts to other areas, such as higher education.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Why the rush?

When legislators adjourned Friday, much self-congratulation was expressed for saving taxpayers money by going home a week early. But whatever modest savings were achieved by early adjournment came with a heavy cost for all Oklahomans.

Read more from the Journal Record.

Unemployment rate increases in Oklahoma

Employment in Oklahoma’s mining sector, which is mainly oil and natural gas drilling jobs, fell for the fifth straight month in April, pushing up the state’s jobless rate to 4.1 percent. The figures, from a Labor Department report on state unemployment rates released Wednesday, show how the slowdown in the nation’s energy sector is weighing on the economy.

Read more from NewsOK.

Wind energy brings consistency to electric bills in Oklahoma

Wind energy continues to play a key role in electricity generation in Oklahoma through its predictability and long-term price stability. Oklahoma wind farms generate more than 3,000 megawatts of electricity — enough to power more than one million homes.

Read more from NewsOK.

Three bids received for Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office internal performance assessment

Three proposals received Tuesday for a top-down assessment of the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office’s performance will be evaluated with the goal of having a contract in place next month. One of the bidders is the Community Safety Institute, to which Sheriff’s Office officials had said it initially reached out for an assessment.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

OU researchers get $15 million federal grant to improve heart health in state

Researchers with the University of Oklahoma in Tulsa and Oklahoma City have received a $15 million grant to improve heart health in residents throughout the state. OU is one of seven grantees in the nation for the award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Abused, neglected children handcuffed at state-run shelter in Oklahoma City

Abused and neglected children being cared for at a state-run emergency shelter in Oklahoma City have been handcuffed and threatened with pepper spray and stun weapons, The Oklahoman has learned. The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has replaced the two off-duty law enforcement officers responsible for the conduct, admitting the armed officers went too far.

Read more from NewsOK.

Let’s talk about mental health, suicide prevention

Mental Health Association Oklahoma hosted a Twitter chat Wednesday to discuss mental health and suicide prevention. Below is a transcript of the chat, using the hashtag #mhaokChats.

Read more from NewsOK.

Quote of the Day

“As we look back on the last four months, my caucus can’t help but think about how in this game of winners and losers, the people who truly lost this legislative session were middle class Oklahomans, and in particular those Oklahomans in rural parts of our state.”

– State House Minority Leader Scott Inman (D-Del City), speaking out against the budget passed by the state legislature late last week. The budget left in place wasteful tax breaks and allowed an income tax cut to go into effect, while leaving some state agencies unable to continue providing services at current levels. (Source)

Number of the Day


Total additional increase in Oklahoma Medicaid expenditures 2015-2024 were the state to accept federal funds to expand health coverage to 150,000 low-income Oklahomans

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

A surprising number of people see their pay swing widely every month

One feature of having big banks in your economy is that they have access to some really big data, which, when parsed and studied, can hopefully give you some big insights into how your economy works. This is a hope behind the JPMorgan Chase Institute, which formally launches Wednesday with a report that sheds new light on how volatile personal finances are for many Americans.

Read more from The Washington Post.

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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.

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