In The Know: Stitt’s inner circle; jobs for Oklahomans with disabilities; helping trauma-exposed kids…

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 Know will be off for the rest of the week as we attend a conference. It will return next Monday.

In The News

Stitt’s orbit: The outsider’s inner circle: It was October 2017, and with the general election more than a year away, Stitt had launched his bid for governor as a political nobody, an unknown name even to a person like Donelle Harder, who had worked for U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and recently moved to Oklahoma to work for the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association. A few weeks later Harder joined a campaign that was mostly made up of Stitt’s family and friends, an orbit of political outsiders who remain by his side today and likely will play a significant role in how the governor-elect chooses to shape policy and tackle some of the state’s biggest challenges. [NewsOK ????]

Stitt Transition Chair Steps Down From Controversial Christian Group: Marc Nuttle Gov.-elect Kevin Stitt’s pick to lead his transition team is facing heat for his connection to a Christian nonprofit organization that has been accused of making disparaging comments about Muslims, gays and liberal. [Oklahoma Watch]

Retired Oklahoma Supreme Court justice to help with Stitt transition: Retired Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice Steven Taylor, of McAlester, is taking on a new role.Oklahoma Governor-Elect Kevin Stitt has asked Taylor to join his gubernatorial transition team. Taylor has been tapped by the Republican governor-elect to oversee Stitt’s public safety policy committee. [Stillwater News-Press]

Kevin Stitt faces better first-year budget prospects than Mary Fallin ever knew: Anyone who has ever heard Gov. Mary Fallin speak knows the enormity of the budget problem she faced in her first year in office.As she is fond of repeating in her speeches, Fallin had to deal with a $500 million budget hole in year one as governor. At the time, the state only had $2.03 in its rainy day fund to deal with the crisis. [Wayne Greene / Tulsa World]

More than 3,400 Oklahomans moved from waiting list into job market with rehabilitation services: After waiting on new funding, the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services has taken more than 3,400 clients off waiting lists and into the job market in 2018. The agency’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Visual Services staff have helped with career planning and job hunting for 505 clients in November alone, according to a news release. DRS has had waiting lists since March 13, 2017, because of budget cuts, but $11.6 million for 2019 let the agency take on more clients. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma City police, school district team up to help children exposed to trauma: Oklahoma City school officials and police have teamed up to help students who are exposed to trauma through a new initiative called Handle with Care. It’s a simple idea, but one that they hope will have a big impact on the lives of local students. [NewsOK]

Emergency rooms may not be the best place in a mental health crisis: When The Oklahoman asked people with mental illnesses and their loved ones for their stories of seeking care in emergency rooms, it turned up a mix of relief and frustration. In some cases, people described nearly opposite experiences at the same hospital, perhaps reflecting whether they had the bad luck to need help on a busy night. [NewsOK]

Growth rate of marijuana dispensary applications slows: As Oklahoma continues approving licenses, the ratio of medical marijuana dispensaries to patients is dropping and likely getting more manageable. In October, it was looking as though there might be a glut of dispensaries bound to open in the state. The ratio of patients to anticipated dispensaries was 11-to-1. Since October, the number of patient license applications has more than tripled, but the number of dispensary license applications is growing slowly. [Journal Record ????]

Tulsa County farmer’s large medical marijuana harvest nears completion: Once Oklahomans voted in favor of medical marijuana, Sage Farms operator Ben Neal saw an opportunity for continued expansion of his agriculture operation in rural Tulsa County. Between regular at-home deliveries of farm-grown products and monitoring the growth of his own produce, Neal and his staff set aside one of his six hydroponic greenhouses for sheltering 1,000 cannabis plants. [Tulsa World]

Committee agrees on standardized rape kit for statewide use:A committee has reached a consensus on a standardized rape kit that officials hope to eventually begin using statewide, replacing three different kits that are now in use. People who are sexually assaulted can choose to have a forensic exam done to receive medical care and preserve potential DNA evidence. Evidence that’s obtained is collected in a sexual assault evidence kit, commonly known as a rape kit. [NewsOK ????]

State school board member Dan Keating dead at 74: Prior to serving on the state board of education and as the state co-chairman of the Trump for President Campaign in 2016, Keating had multiple roles in state government and nonprofit governance over the years. Keating, twin brother of former Gov. Frank Keating, was appointed to the board in 2013 to replace Joy Hofmeister, who resigned her position to run for state superintendent. [Tulsa World]

Did Congress Dissolve Muscogee Creek Nation’s Reservation? SCOTUS To Hear Oral Arguments Next Week: The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments next week that could return millions of acres of land to an Oklahoma tribe while redrawing the boundaries of a 150-year-old reservation. Murphy v. Carpenter, a case centered around a nearly 20-year-old murder involving two Muscogee Creek Nation citizens, will appear before the Supreme Court for arguments on Tuesday. [KGOU]

How the Pawnee Nation saved ancestral corn by returning it to its Nebraska home: Each ear of corn was sacred and symbolic.The husks were gently peeled from the kernels by a group of Pawnee Indians gathered recently at the Pawnee Nation Round House. The treasure they discovered gleamed for all to see — blue-speckled corn, and corn with tan-colored kernels known for its sweetness.”This is our Christmas,” Sonny Howell said of the unique unveiling. [NewsOK]

Quote of the Day

“If we have a kiddo that has experienced trauma and we don’t know about it, that student is sitting in class dealing with a lot of feelings and thoughts, maybe feeling alone. And if we have a staff member who just pays that extra attention, they don’t feel so alone.”

-Teri Bell, executive director of student support services for Oklahoma City Public Schools, speaking about a partnership with Oklahoma City police officers who will notify the district when they encounter a child who has experienced a traumatic situation [Source: NewsOK]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s rank out of all 50 states and Washington D.C. for lowest cost of living in the 3rd quarter of 2018.

[Source: Missouri Economic Research and Information Center]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The Success of the Earned Income Tax Credit: The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a major anti-poverty program that benefits both children and adults. It is a program with wide bipartisansupport since, by providing a tax credit to lower-income working families in a way that incentivizes work, it both promotes greater laborforce participation and supports the working poor. It currently does not provide much support for individuals or households without children,but there has been bipartisan support in the past for an expansion of the program to provide greater benefits to this group as well. [Econofact]

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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