In 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 News
Oklahoma teachers learn about 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre history at OSU-Tulsa instructional workshop: Standing in a circle inside the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park looking at a statue depicting an African American man with his hands up — depicting an example of race humiliation — a group of area teachers were taking notes. It was during a workshop that introduced them to the history of the Greenwood District and 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. [Tulsa World]
Additional layoffs at OU impact 69 employee positions: The University of Oklahoma went through its third recent round of layoffs on Thursday, as officials said they continue to work to fix the university’s finances. OU announced on Thursday evening a reduction of 69 employee positions, saving the university an estimated $4.2 million. [Tulsa World]
Criminal justice reform task force seeks input from public: A newly formed task force charged with making criminal justice reform recommendations is soliciting input from the public. The 15-member Criminal Justice Reentry, Supervision, Treatment and Opportunity Reform (RESTORE) Task Force set up an email account for people to submit ideas or express interest in participating in some way. [The Oklahoman]
What happened when Oklahoma raised petroleum taxes modestly? The petroleum industry boomed: So much for the fiction that modestly raising gross production tax levels would destroy the state’s oil industry. On his way out the door, retiring Oklahoma Policy Institute Executive Director David Blatt has written a convincing analysis of what happened to the industry since the Legislature begrudgingly raised taxes last years. It’s booming. [Wayne Green / Tulsa World] Our blog post found that increased gross production taxes are fueling the state’s revenue boom.
Interest dims in Oklahoma shale play as drilling results disappoint: It promised to be the next great shale play, but an oil-and-gas-rich area of central and south Oklahoma has confounded many of the producers lured there, with one of its biggest champions warning that its business may struggle to survive. In recent years, the SCOOP (South Central Oklahoma Oil Province) and the STACK (Sooner Trend, Anadarko, Canadian and Kingfisher) basins drew producers and private equity firms willing to wager billions of dollars on what many considered the next Permian basin, the largest and most prolific U.S. oilfield. [Reuters]
Opioid epidemic expert criticizes marketing statements made to doctors by drugmaker’s sales reps: A key witnesses for the state ripped into Johnson & Johnson on Thursday, accusing the company of engaging in aggressive and disturbing opioid marketing practices. “I believe Johnson & Johnson was a major cause of our opioid crisis,” New York City psychiatrist Andrew Kolodny testified Thursday afternoon. “I believe it’s fair to characterize them as the kingpin in our opioid crisis.” [The Oklahoman]
A possible public-policy turning point: The long-term consequences of the state’s opioid lawsuits are potentially profound, starting with the Purdue settlement that will help fund addiction treatment and research at Oklahoma State University’s Center for Wellness and Recovery in Tulsa. Is it also possible this could be a public-policy turning point stretching far beyond the opioid crisis? [Arnold Hamilton / Journal Record]
State Regulators to consider rules to enforce blocked railway crossing law: A new law giving law enforcement officers the power to issue citations to railway companies for blocking street intersections will be taken up June 20 by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. House Bill 2472 was signed into law last month by Gov. Kevin Stitt and it carries up to a $10,000 fine for a train operator to block a street intersection for a period longer than 10 minutes. [OK Energy Today]
Google investment in Pryor reaches $3 billion with new expansion: An estimated crowd of 150 people turned out Thursday to watch the California-based internet services firm announce a $600 million expansion of its data center at the MidAmerica Industrial Park, pushing to $3 billion its total investment in Mayes County. The project, which increases its staff by 100 in Pryor, is part of Google’s $13 billion investment to expand data centers across the United States. [Tulsa World]
OIGA chairman resigns amid allegations by gaming commission: Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association Chairman David J. Qualls resigned from his post after being accused of pocketing casino earnings from the Peoria Tribe of Indians, based in Miami. The National Indian Gaming Commission issued a notice of violation to the tribe, listing 77 times the tribe violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Most of the violations involved Qualls’ company, Direct Enterprise Development, which had a management contract with the tribe for its Buffalo Run Casino & Resort in Miami. [Journal Record 🔒]
OU Ends Sexual Misconduct Investigation Into Former President Boren With His Resignation: The University of Oklahoma’s Board of Regents announced Wednesday that former President David Boren resigned from his position as president emeritus and professor. The news came about 8 months after the board began investigating alleged sexual misconduct by Boren. [KGOU]
Northeast High School alumni see “takeover” in OKCPS merger plan: Northeast High School alumni are describing the current plans for a merger between Classen School for Advanced Studies and Northeast High School as a “takeover.” And some believe that the move is part of a larger “takeover” of the east side by people who have little respect or concern for the black people who live there or their traditions. [Oklahoma City Free Press]
Five OKC-area nursing homes listed on national poor care list: Five nursing homes in the Oklahoma City area have shown a documented pattern of poor care, according to a U.S. Senate committee list made public last week. On June 3, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services followed through on a request from the U.S. Senate Committee on Aging to release a list of more than 400 nursing homes nominated for the Special Focus Facility program. [The Oklahoman]
Quote of the Day
“During the last boom, we undercut the state’s most important general tax, the personal income tax, under the false premise that a series of tiny cuts there would lead to prosperity. It didn’t, and in the following bust, we had no petroleum revenue and insufficient income tax revenue to do the things the government is supposed to do. We all remember what followed.”
Number of the Day
Percentage of Oklahomans age 25 and over with a bachelor’s degree in 2017, up from 23.5 percent in 2013.
D’Angelo Burgess Fled From Police. Does That Make Him a Killer?: D’Angelo Burgess was at least 100 yards away from the high-speed car crash that killed Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. Heath Meyer in July 2017. Meyer was struck by a fellow trooper who lost control of his cruiser as he sped north in pursuit of Burgess on Interstate 35 near the Oklahoma City line. But in March Burgess was convicted of first-degree felony murder in Meyer’s death. He faces life in prison at sentencing later this month. Experts say the Burgess case stretches the felony murder rule—a rule that five states have recently reassessed—to its breaking point. [The Marshall Project]
You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.