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.
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In The News
As opioid crisis surged, state pharmacy board member had the busiest pharmacy in Tulsa County: During a seven-year period, the pharmacy that received the highest-number of opioids in Oklahoma was a long-term care pharmacy in western Oklahoma City. Coming in second was a southern Oklahoma City Walgreens. The third was a small, independent pharmacy in Sand Springs, population 20,000. The pharmacy, Spoon Drug, sits in a small shopping center just off the Sand Springs Expressway next to a Taco Bueno and a nail salon. It is owned and operated by James “Jim” Spoon, a longtime member of the state’s pharmacy board and current Sand Springs mayor. [The Frontier]
Doctor traces history of opioid epidemics, explains how heroin use is increasing: With a large presence by police officers, medical professionals and representatives of nonprofits, Dr. Jason Beaman dove into the history, causes, and statistics of the current opioid epidemic, as well as treatment efforts, during a talk in the Cherokee County Community Building Tuesday evening. [CHNI]
Cigarette sales down 25% in Oklahoma, tax revenue up $133 million: In 2018, cigarettes received an additional $1-per-pack tax as part of an effort to help fund teacher pay raises. Journal Record editor Russell Ray discusses the impact of the tax increase, how our tax rate on cigarettes compares to other states and the history of tobacco taxes in Oklahoma. [KGOU] Recent revenue measures have helped our long-term budget outlook, but there’s still work to do.
Southeastern Oklahoma school district facing forced consolidation says under-fire Epic Charter Schools offered to come to rescue: The lone remaining board member of a school district facing forced consolidation says the co-founder of Epic Charter Schools offered to rescue the district in an unorthodox move. The Oklahoma State Board of Education is poised to vote Thursday morning on the consolidation of Swink Public Schools, a rural district between Hugo and Idabel that serves 140 students in prekindergarten through eighth grade. [Tulsa World]
More Oklahoma kids are eating for free during summer: Oklahoma children were better fed through the Summer Food Service Program last summer than they were the year before, according to the 2019 Food Research & Action Center report. And, advocates expect even more kids in the state to eat free meals through the program this summer. [KOSU] Some schools are using new strategies to make sure students don’t go hungry
72 Senate interim studies approved: Education, health care and mental health services, criminal justice policies, and retirement issues are among the topics approved for interim studies in the Oklahoma Senate. Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat’s office on Tuesday released the list of 72 interim studies. House Speaker Charles McCall approved 90 House interim studies last week. [Journal Record] What’s That? Interim Study
Stitt to host series of public cabinet meetings across Oklahoma: Gov. Kevin Stitt is taking his Cabinet meetings on tour. The Governor’s Office announced Wednesday that Stitt will kick off his Cabinet tour next week with a public meeting in Woodward. Stitt and the 15 members of his Cabinet will meet in Woodward to talk about what’s being done under the current gubernatorial administration and take questions from the public. [Tulsa World]
With politicians who set up Oklahoma’s gaming compacts no longer in office, tribes are told to court Republicans: Oklahoma’s gaming Indian tribes may feel secure in their position concerning state gaming compacts, but political strategist Tyler Powell offered a chilling word of warning to them Wednesday. [Tulsa World]
Attorney: Tribes may have a case for lower gaming fees: If Gov. Kevin Stitt is intent on renegotiating a legal compact with Indian tribes that sets new terms for how much money the state receives from gaming operations, the tribes might reasonably negotiate the fees downward, a lawyer who represents the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association said Wednesday. [Journal Record 🔒]
Place your wagers: Will sports betting come to Oklahoma through new tribal compacts? In Oklahoma, sports betting is one of the chips in the high-stakes game playing out between Gov. Kevin Stitt and the state’s gaming tribes — a fact reflected in the schedule of this week’s Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association convention at the Cox Business Center. [Tulsa World]
OK County Commissioners divided on ICE officers stationed in County Jail: Oklahoma County’s three commissioners are divided in their opinions about U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents being stationed full-time in the Oklahoma County Jail. Commissioner Carrie Blumert has come out clearly against the agents being present and Commissioners Brian Maughan and Kevin Calvey have taken a strong stand for the agents’ presence. [Free Press OKC]
Dept. of Ed responds to comments on lack of diversity in Teacher of the Year Finalists: The Oklahoma State Department of Education is responding to comments questioning the diversity of the 2020 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year finalists. The finalists, announced Tuesday, were all selected as Teachers of the Year for their respective districts. [FOX25]
Southern Oklahoma Leaders Luncheon: Economic growth slows; Chad Wilkerson of the Federal Reserve talks about the economy: While the economy is still strong, the expansive growth of the last few years has begun to slow down. Chad Wilkerson, branch executive of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank’s Oklahoma City branch office, provided some insight to the situation Thursday afternoon at the Southern Oklahoma Leaders Luncheon. [The Ardmoreite] Read the first edition of our new paper series that sheds light on Oklahomans left behind by the economic recovery
Where Oklahoma’s worst drivers are, according to one survey: Nary a car horn was heard on a recent Friday afternoon in downtown Chickasha, where according to one survey, the best drivers in Oklahoma reside. The city of 16,000 was named tops in the Sooner State by QuoteWizard, a consumer insurance research company that ranked Oklahoma’s 50 largest cities by analyzing more than 65,000 insurance quotes, as well as the rates of accidents, speeding tickets, DUIs and citations. [The Oklahoman]
OKC’s sign code violates Constitution, judge rules: A district court judge has found Oklahoma City’s sign code violates the First and 14th amendments of the Constitution in ongoing litigation filed by a resident against City Hall. U.S. District Scott L. Palk wrote in an order released this week that plaintiff Fredrick B. Knutson’s constitutional rights were violated because the sign code creates a content-based scheme of speech regulation rather than serving a compelling government interest. [Journal Record 🔒]
Oklahoma’s historic all-black towns: Built on hope, survived by pride: Thirteen historic all-black towns are still incorporated in Oklahoma. Most feature abandoned and run-down buildings, but a nonprofit group is working to preserve and revitalize the towns. [NonDoc]
Federal government rejects plan to bring Medicare dollars to Oklahoma nursing homes: According to an Oklahoma Association of Health Care Providers 2016 release, a plan to participate in the federal Upper Payment Limit (UPL) program would have increased federal reimbursements to participating Oklahoma hospitals and nursing homes by as much as $275 million per year. [News9]
Quote of the Day
“It is a prescription-driven epidemic. We’re all one car accident away from getting an opioid prescription, and if you have the right kind of brain, you can get addicted.”
– Dr. Jason Beaman, chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at OSU Center for Health Sciences, speaking about the history and current state of the opioid epidemic in Oklahoma [CNHI]
Number of the Day
Percent the mean hourly wage for all workers in the OKC metro was below the national average in May 2019.
[Source: U.S. Department of Labor]
Minimum wage workers can’t afford housing: In a national poll commissioned by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, most people said they believe “a safe, decent, affordable place to live should be a national priority.” However, this is not a luxury many Americans share, according to the coalition, an organization that works to assure low-income individuals affordable and decent housing. [US News]
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