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
Track Oklahoma’s prison population with Open Justice Oklahoma’s new dashboard: Though Oklahoma’s incarceration crisis is a constant topic of debate, it is often difficult to find basic information about where it stands. The Oklahoma DOC Tracker, a tool released today by Open Justice Oklahoma, aims to bridge that gap by providing convenient access to the most current data about our state’s incarceration crisis and allowing comparisons to other states and to benchmarks like the national average. [OK Policy] Read our press release on the Oklahoma DOC Tracker.
New online tool tracks Oklahoma’s prison population: A policy think tank has published a new online tool to provide Oklahomans with up-to-date information about the state’s incarceration rate. At a time when Oklahoma has the nation’s highest incarceration rate, the tool, called the Oklahoma DOC Tracker, will be updated weekly with data from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. [The Oklahoman]
In The News
Oklahoma rests case in opioid trial against drugmaker Johnson & Johnson: The state of Oklahoma rested its case Tuesday in a historic opioid trial against Johnson & Johnson after grilling a former sales representative about her lack of scientific training and her awareness of the state’s painkiller epidemic. [CNN] A longtime Oklahoma sales representative for Janssen Pharmaceuticals defended the company’s record Tuesday, testifying that its goal has been to sell quality products, to tell the truth about them and to help doctors provide the best treatment for patients. [Journal Record]
To add hundreds of faculty, Epic Charter Schools obtained personal information of thousands of Oklahoma public school teachers: On April 5, Epic spokeswoman Shelly Hickman sent an open records request to the Oklahoma State Department of Education asking for physical addresses of every person certified to teach in the state of Oklahoma. While state law prohibits state agencies from releasing the home address of their employees through a records request, the Oklahoma Open Records Act requires agencies to release information provided by “an individual/non-employee.” [The Frontier]
Early childhood advocates discuss hurdles to health care, education access: Discussion about early childcare turned to talk of the barriers working families face in seeking and attaining it during an information-gathering session Friday at the Stillwater Public Library. Of all the concerns brought up in the discussion, the major concern affecting Payne County is the ability for working families to be able to work and have proper child care. [CHNI News]
Steps taken to mitigate effects of ‘returned mail’ rule: The Oklahoma Health Care Authority has taken steps to ensure that people won’t lose health care coverage in the wake of a new federal rule that mandates confirmation of a mailing address to sustain enrollment in Medicaid programs. The “returned mail” policy was adopted in response to a directive communicated to the OHCA last fall by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. [Journal Record 🔒]
Oklahoma cigarette sales declining 1 year after tax hike: One year after state lawmakers passed a dollar tax hike on cigarettes, the Oklahoma Tax Commission says the number of packs sold have dropped by 25% compared to the same time period a year ago. According to the commission, since June 30, 2018, more than 168 million packs have been sold in the state and on tribal lands. That’s nearly 60 million fewer than over the same period in 2018. [News9]
Universal Service Fund increase generates calls to Corporation Commission, lawmakers: Oklahomans who are upset about phone bill increases tied to a hike in the Oklahoma Universal Service Fund fee are phoning in their complaints. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the state agency that sets the fee, already is hearing about consumers who are letting both the agency and state lawmakers know they don’t like the increase, which took effect July 1. [The Oklahoman]
Oil, gas production slowing as companies shutter rigs: Oklahoma’s oil and gas economy is slowing as the price of oil continues to seesaw and companies shutter rigs, industry advocates said Monday. In December, Oklahoma had 141 rigs. The state ended last week at 100, said Chad Warmington, president of the Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma. He said he expects that number will continue to drop. [CHNI News]
Cosmetology school gives inmates new hope: When a judge offered to release Stacey Goad from prison in January, she said she asked him to postpone her release by six months. Goad wanted to graduate from the R.I.S.E. Program, a cosmetology school at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center. On Tuesday, she proudly accepted her certificate of completion with her mom, aunt and two of her children watching. [The Oklahoman] We previously discussed how investments in prison job training will lower the cost of Oklahoma’s incarceration crisis.
Point of View: Oklahoma’s poor health outcomes tied to low access to primary care: Recent polls show that Americans view health care as a top priority. Yet a recent study showed that although the U.S. possesses one of the most sophisticated and expensive health care systems in the world, most states are losing ground on key measures related to life expectancy. [Dee Porter / The Oklahoman]
Free tick testing starts today in Oklahoma: ‘Help us learn more about ticks and tick-borne illness in our state,’ researcher says: Dr. George Monks, who with his wife, Rachel, created testmytick.com last summer announced via email Friday that the Oklahoma State Medical Association Foundation provided a grant to make the testing free and unlimited for Oklahoma residents from July 1, 2019, through July 1, 2020. His slogan is “save the ticks! — for testing.” [Tulsa World]
Small-town marijuana dispensaries becoming accepted one year after SQ 788: As dispensaries celebrate one year since State Question 788 was passed, some owners look back at the fight they had to put up to be the first dispensaries in their small towns. Owners say for a while, it wasn’t easy to open up a dispensary in a small town. As the industry has grown, though, so has the acceptance of their store fronts. [KJRH]
Neuhold-Ravikumar set to take over as President at UCO: Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar, 46, will take over officially as UCO’s 21st president on Monday, becoming the first woman to hold the position in school history as she moves into the president’s office inside Old North. When she started at UCO in 2007, it was not a role she ever envisioned for herself. [The Oklahoman]
Tulsa school board hears recommendation for naming combined Gilcrease/Bunche school after John Hope Franklin: The Tulsa school board on Monday heard a committee’s recommendation to name a newly consolidated school in north Tulsa after the city’s own John Hope Franklin. [Tulsa World]
Sand Springs Board of Education meeting focuses on finance issues: The Sand Springs Board of Education meeting July 1 focused on the upcoming teacher pay raise and other district finance issues. Sand Springs Public Schools Superintendent Sherry Durkee said the minimum amount of the teacher pay raise will be $1,220 per year and a new pay scale will be on the Board of Education’s August agenda. [Sands Spring Leader]
Protesters oppose Rep. Tom Cole’s immigration stance at congressman’s Norman office: A crowd of protesters gathered outside Rep. Tom Cole’s Norman office Tuesday to express displeasure with the Oklahoma Republican’s support of President Donald Trump’s stances on immigration. [OU Daily] Dozens of people protested outside the Tulsa offices of U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe Tuesday, July 2. They want Inhofe and Congress to close the camps where the children are being held. [NewsOn6]
Quote of the Day
“While Oklahoma’s incarceration crisis is a constant topic of debate, it is often difficult to find basic information about where we stand. We hope that the Oklahoma DOC Tracker provides an easy-to-use way to measure and contextualize our overincarceration problem.”
Number of the Day
The number of Oklahoma counties designated as federal disaster sites eligible for individual assistance from FEMA as of July 1st 2019
[Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency]
Food stamps helped lift the US economy out of the Great Recession: Economists at the US Department of Agriculture found that government spending on food stamps has been pretty effective in stimulating the economy since the start of the Great Recession. And more specifically, it has been most effective in helping rural America. [Vox]
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