In The Know: Three of four Republican gubernatorial candidates pledge continued support for education

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.

[TOMORROW: Join us in Tulsa for “Black Lives Lost: An evening with author Danielle Allen.” See more about the event here.]

In The News

Republican Gubernatorial Candidates at Jenks Forum Pledge Continued Support for Education: Three of the four Republican gubernatorial candidates at a forum at Jenks High School on Monday night turned thumbs down on a campaign to cancel $400 million in new revenue tied to pay raises for teachers and state employees. Mick Cornett was the most blunt in his rejection of the petition drive to put a repeal proposition to a statewide vote, but state Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones and Jenks businessman Kevin Stitt agreed [Tulsa World].

Two Candidates Add Transparency to Platforms: After a major agency financial scandal and years of midnight budget hearings, two of Oklahoma’s gubernatorial candidates have added government transparency to their campaign platforms. Democratic candidate Drew Edmondson and Republican candidate Kevin Stitt have both offered plans to increase access to government information. Edmondson, a former attorney general, said he would create a new office under the governor’s to promote and aid open government. Stitt, an entrepreneur who owns a nationwide mortgage company, has proposed an interactive platform for residents to examine agency budgets [Journal Record].

Tulsa Chamber Joins Coalition Against Medical Marijuana State Question: The Tulsa Regional Chamber has joined the “SQ 788 is NOT Medical” coalition of organizations opposing a ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana in Oklahoma. “This bill comes across, really, as more or a recreational marijuana bill and one that really ties the hands of employers as well as putting employers at severe risk of liability,” said Tulsa Regional Chamber President and CEO Mike Neal [Public Radio Tulsa]. SQ 788 supporters, opponents stay low-key, for now [Journal Record]. Fact Sheet: Medical marijuana legalization initiative [OKPolicy].

DHS Names Interim Director of Child Welfare Services: Oklahoma Department of Human Services Director Ed Lake named Millie Carpenter interim director of Child Welfare Services. Carpenter has served as a deputy director in the division since 2012 and has worked in numerous positions within child welfare services during her 24-year career with the agency [Journal Record].

State Turns to Urgent Placement of Foster Kids with Relatives, Friends: Placing children with relatives or other families connected to children is a long-standing practice. Kinship placements account for more than 3,000 of the 9,000plus children in DHS custody. But last year the department launched a new protocol after an in-house evaluation showed that children in kinship foster care were less likely to move from one foster home to another, said Ledoux [Oklahoma Watch].

Questioning Oversight Panel’s ‘Wisdom’ Isn’t Grounds to Rule Against Laura Dester’s Closure by June 30, Plaintiffs’ Attorneys Say: Questioning the wisdom of an oversight panel’s order to close the Laura Dester center as a children’s shelter by June 30 isn’t justification for a judge to rule in the state’s favor, according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys. The contract monitors overseeing implementation of the Pinnacle Plan — a settlement agreement in a 2008 federal class-action lawsuit alleging abuse of state foster care children — have asked a federal judge to enforce its order [Tulsa World].

New Oklahoma Health Website Shows Progress, Room for Improvement: Oklahoma has improved on 18 major health measures, ranging from the percentage of adults who smoke to the number of babies who die in their first year of life, but it’s a little early to celebrate. The state went in the wrong direction on 12 other health measures, according the new State of the State website and the last report, which was released in 2014 [NewsOK]. State’s health outcomes low, but improving [Enid News & Eagle]. 

OSU’s Center for Health Systems Innovation Uses Big Data to Tackle Rural Health Issues: OSU created the Center for Health Systems Innovation after the health care database was donated to the university by the late Neal Patterson, an alumnus who founded the Cerner Corp. based in Kansas City, Missouri. The Cerner Health Facts Database contains clinical data collected from patients across the United States over an 18-year period [NewsOK].

A Look at Which Oklahoma Law Enforcement Agencies Failed to Report Their Number of Untested Rape Kits: More than one-quarter of the law enforcement agencies in Oklahoma that were supposed to report their number of untested rape kits failed to respond to a directive from Gov. Mary Fallin to do so. A total of 120 agencies statewide didn’t respond to two deadlines set by the governor and a final May 31 deadline set by the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Task Force [NewsOK].

Small Government and Students: Edmond-Guthrie Area’s HD 31 Race: Due to term limits, Rep. Jason Murphey (R-Guthrie) is ineligible for re-election. House District 31 drew no shortage of contenders for the conservative-leaning district, with three Republicans and two Democrats filling out the primary ticket [NonDoc]. Two educators, a firefighter and a “Rhino” seek Ada’s House District 25 [NonDoc]. More from the #HotRace series [NonDoc].

Oklahoma House Race Features 12 Republican Candidates with Divergent Views: Even in a year of crowded primaries, state House District 82 in Oklahoma County stands out. It’s the state’s 2018 political scene on steroids. Twelve Republicans and one Democrat filed for the state House seat being vacated by Rep. Kevin Calvey because of term limits. The candidates include lawyers, teachers, business owners and a college student battling it out in a heavily Republican area that includes parts of Oklahoma City, Edmond and Deer Creek [NewsOK].

Meals Available to Hungry Students on Summer Break: For the second year, the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma announces the sponsorship of the Summer Food Service Program for children. Summertime presents significant nutritional challenges for children who no longer receive school meals, and the summer meals help to address that issue [Public Radio Tulsa]. Why is Oklahoma worst in the nation for feeding hungry kids in summer? [OKPolicy]

Tulsa Public Schools Kicks off Emergency Certification Program for Special Ed Teachers: Tulsa Public Schools kicks off a month-long boot camp to emergency certify special education teachers this week. Those who enlist in the program have to commit to an eventual certification in special ed. For now the only requirement is a college degree with a 2.75 GPA as well as a recommendation and background check. Some teachers fear this is throwing the under-trained into the deep end [KJRH].

Mayor G.T. Bynum to Unveil Major Plan Tuesday to Move City Forward: Mayor G.T. Bynum’s most comprehensive and ambitious plan yet to improve the city will be unveiled Tuesday with the release of the Resilient Tulsa strategy. The plan includes 41 actions intended to help create an equal playing field for all Tulsans, and in so doing, lift the entire city [Tulsa World]. OK PolicyCast with DeVon Douglass on taking on Tulsa’s toughest challenges [OKPolicy].

OKC Council Expected to Approve Convention Center Contract: The vast majority of taxpayer money going to build the MAPS 3 downtown convention center will go through local companies subcontracting through Tulsa-based Flintco LLC, officials said. The City Council is expected to approve the construction contract worth up to $168.3 million at Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting. It includes an incentive/disincentive clause to pay a bonus of $5,000 per day for completion up to 30 days early and a similar per-day penalty for completion behind schedule. The grand opening at 500 S. Robinson Ave. is expected by mid-2020 [Journal Record].

State Agency Awards Contract Santa Fe Station Improvements: A $2,287,250 contract to continue the work of transforming Oklahoma City’s historic Santa Fe Station into an intermodal transit hub was approved Monday by the Oklahoma Transportation Commission. The contract is part of a $28.4 million project to renovate the downtown 1930s-era train station and convert it to a transit hub to serve passenger trains, a new streetcar system, city buses, a bicycle sharing service, taxis and ride-sharing services [NewsOK].

Key Tinker Command Position Changes: With a handoff of a unit flag and a salute Brigadier Gen. Christopher Hill took command of the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex on Monday at a ceremony in front of about 400 Air Force personnel and civilians inside Building 9001 at Tinker Air Force Base. Hill now leads more than 10,000 Air Force and civilian workers in charge of maintaining a variety of aircraft including the KC-135 tanker, B-1 and B-52 bombers and the E-3 Sentry or AWACS, among others [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“To the best I can tell, this is the most comprehensive plan to address inequities that our city has produced in our history. And I think it says a lot about Tulsans in 2018 who want to play a role in making it be a city for everybody.”

-Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, who is releasing his ‘Resilient Tulsa’ strategy today to engage Tulsans in addressing racial and other inequities [Tulsa World].

Number of the Day

$78 Million

Amount of Tobacco settlement payments made by cigarette companies to Oklahoma in 2017.

[Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Have You Ever Seen Someone Get Killed? The typical measures of trauma — “adverse childhood experiences” that include growing up in a household with physical or substance abuse — don’t gauge anything quite like witnessing lethal violence. That distress alters the picture of the population the Boston Reentry Study followed: These adults in the criminal justice system were once children exposed to awful things. What, then, is to be done with the knowledge that four in 10 prisoners typical to the Massachusetts state prison system saw someone killed as a child? [New York Times].

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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