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.
New from OK Policy
OK PolicyCast 50: The past and future of OK Policy (with David Blatt and Kara Joy McKee): Hello and welcome to episode 50 of the OK PolicyCast. This is also my last episode as a host of this podcast, because my last day at OK Policy was July 5th. With OK Policy’s founder and long-time executive director David Blatt also passing the torch later this year, we decided to do something special for this episode. [OK Policy]
In The News
Stitt calls for renegotiating Oklahoma tribal gaming compacts: Gov. Kevin Stitt is trying to force Oklahoma’s Native American tribes to renegotiate their tribal gaming compacts that are set to expire Jan. 1, 2020. Stitt appears to be using the impending expiration date as a chance to push for the state to get a larger slice of tribal gaming revenue. [The Oklahoman] The chairman of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association said Tuesday that many tribal leaders in the state may have felt “caught off guard” this week by a letter written by Gov. Kevin Stitt stating his interest in renegotiating an important “compact or contract” agreement with tribes that would affect hundreds of millions of dollars in tribal government gaming revenues. [Journal Record] Osage Chief Standing Bear is wary of tribal gaming compact renegotiations. [Public Radio Tulsa]
Uncompensated Loss: Black families of murder victims more likely to be denied aid from state program: Families of black homicide victims were much more likely to be denied victim’s compensation funds than non-black victims of homicide, often based on the premise that the victims somehow contributed to their own deaths, Victim’s Compensation Program data analyzed by The Frontier shows. [The Frontier]
Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority announces legislative changes to program: On Tuesday, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority says it is currently taking steps to implement statutory modifications to the state’s medical marijuana program that was made during the 2019 legislative session. [KFOR] OMMA has met with policymakers to gain common understanding and agreement on the work plans underway to bring about operational changes required per statute. [Journal Record] The Unity Bill established regulations for the implementation of SQ 788.
Health department stresses water safety as drowning deaths climb: As the number of drowning deaths continues to climb, Health Department officials are urging people to exercise extreme caution when heading to Oklahoma lakes and pools this summer. [The Oklahoman]
Retired Baylor med school professor defends studies that cited low opioid addiction rates: A recently retired Baylor College of Medicine professor defended several controversial studies that reported quality of life improvements and low addiction rates among certain opioid patient populations Tuesday as testimony resumed in the state’s public nuisance case against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries. [The Oklahoman]
Oklahoma ranked 47 in women’s rights: A recent study released by Security.org ranks the 50 states in the U.S. as well as Washington D.C. from best to worst in women’s rights and freedoms across four key categories, and it puts Oklahoma at number 47 overall. With a score of 40.6 percent, Oklahoma was only two percent higher than the state with the lowest overall score, Louisiana. [Duncan Banner] Women still earn less than men, and it’s putting them at risk of poverty.
Dr. Donald E. Loveless Jr.: I’m a Tulsa doctor, and I must speak out for Medicaid expansion: As a father, physician and Oklahoman, I am compelled to be a voice and an advocate for Medicaid expansion. I am called to fight for the needs of families, neighbors and those on the margins of society. As a physician, I took an oath to “first, do no harm.” Without Medicaid expansion, we are quickly approaching the threshold of harm. [Dr. Donald E. Loveless Jr. / Tulsa World] Legislators decided not to expand health coverage to more than 100,000 Oklahomans last session.
Tulsa World editorial: No home, no mail, no health care: Some 5,600 Tulsans — according to the latest count — were homeless at some point last year. The figures were the result of the Community Service Council’s annual census of homeless people, released this month. That number was down a little compared to 2018, which is good, but really in the same range of the past several years. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World] OK Policy previously expressed concern that this policy will result in eligible individuals losing health coverage.
Trucker who died of pneumonia in Atoka Co. Jail told police he was sick, video shows: Before he died of pneumonia in the Atoka County Jail, Michael James Hoeppner appeared disoriented and short of breath. Hoeppner told a police officer he was tired and sick, according to police body camera footage of his arrest. [The Frontier]
Audit documents embezzlement allegations against Hunter, Kremlin official: An investigative audit report released Monday by Oklahoma State Auditor & Inspector Cindy Byrd has uncovered allegations of embezzlement by the town clerk and treasurer for the towns of Hunter and Kremlin. The audit found between Nov. 10, 2015, and April 9, 2019, Donna Rainey, then clerk and treasurer of Hunter, misappropriated 74 payroll checks totaling $29,783.15. [Enid News & Eagle]
OKC voters approve both propositions: Oklahoma City voters decided to let first-year councilman James Cooper return to his job as a public school teacher by approving a change to the city charter. Voters also approved an update to the franchise fee that will increase Oklahoma Natural Gas bills by an estimated 0.1%, or 10 cents on a $100 monthly bill. [The Oklahoman]
Project ideas for MAPS 4 pitched to OKC Council: The first in a series of public meetings to pick the next MAPS sales tax projects began with family justice and ended with civil rights Tuesday. [Journal Record] Mayor David Holt promised transparency in developing MAPS 4 ideas and asked Oklahoma City residents to dream big. [The Oklahoman] Palomar, Oklahoma City’s family justice center, is seeking MAPS 4 funding to build a new, permanent facility. [The Oklahoman] Presentations will continue through this month and August. The OKC City Council will eventually whittle the list down for a final MAPS 4 package. Voters could decide its fate in December. [NonDoc]
OKCPS approves $500k building sale to Harding Fine Arts: For a price of $500,000, the Oklahoma City Public Schools Board has agreed to sell Harding Fine Arts Academy the building it has called home for the past 14 years. Specific contract negotiations are ongoing. [NonDoc]
More teachers to begin training for Emerson’s growing Montessori program: As the state’s first public Montessori school continues to expand, more teachers are set to begin the unorthodox specialized training needed for the child-centered method of education. [Tulsa World]
U.S. News Requests Data Certification From University of Oklahoma Chairman and President: In light of both these misreporting issues, U.S. News has asked Oklahoma University’s Chairman of the Board of Regents Leslie Rainbolt and Oklahoma University’s president, Joseph Harroz Jr. to provide a letter certifying the accuracy of Oklahoma University’s data in its data submissions to U.S. News for the next three Best Colleges rankings. [US News]
Cherokee Nation partnership tackles HIV epidemic: The federal government has set a goal of ending the HIV epidemic, and it’s receiving the help of Cherokee Nation, as the tribe and Indian Health Services are launching a new HIV pilot project, “Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America.” [Tahlequah Daily Press]
Quote of the Day
“As a physician, I took an oath to ‘first, do no harm.’ Without Medicaid expansion, we are quickly approaching the threshold of harm. Many have already been affected, and some harmed, by lack of access to proper health care.”
– Dr. Donald E. Loveless, Jr., a Tulsa Physician, on the harms that are befalling Oklahomans due to a lack of health coverage [Tulsa World]
Number of the Day
Number of Oklahomans who died of unintentional overdoses of opioids in 2017. That’s about 32 each month
[Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse]
Disability and technical issues were key barriers to meeting Arkansas’ Medicaid work and reporting requirements in 2018: While proponents of the work and reporting requirements sometimes describe them as applying to “able-bodied” adults, some people with disabilities were subject to the requirements. Only people who receive federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits or are otherwise eligible for Medicaid based on a disability were entirely excluded from the requirements. Notably, 55% of nonelderly adults with Medicaid in Arkansas who report a disability do not receive SSI. [Kaiser Family Foundation]
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