In The Know: Unprecedented number of women candidates; Rainy Day Fund gets refill; opioids back in court…

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.

In The News

2018 Elections Yielding Unprecedented Numbers of Women Candidates: When Oklahoma voters head to the polls this fall they will see an unprecedented number of women on state ballots, driven in part by political fervor surrounding the April teacher walkout. Fifty-five women — 45 Democrats and 10 Republicans — already have made it to the Nov. 6 general election for Oklahoma House and Senate seats, and another 30 — 10 Democrats and 20 Republicans — face runoffs on Aug. 28 [Enid News & Eagle]. Oklahoma 2018 state questions and elections info [OKPolicy].

Oklahoma’s Rainy Day Fund Gets Much-Needed Refill: Oklahoma’s Constitutional Reserve Fund, also known as the Rainy Day Fund, will get a sorely needed refill after years of budget crisis. According to an end-of-year report, the state’s general revenue fund collected almost $400 million more than what economists predicted. The general revenue fund is the pool of money lawmakers use to appropriate each year [NewsOK].

Federal Judge Sends Oklahoma Opioid Lawsuit Back to State Court: The state of Oklahoma’s lawsuit against opioid manufacturers is returning to state court. Defendants had the case moved to federal court, saying the state is asking them to make different disclosures to the public than required by federal law. But U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange in Oklahoma City ruled Friday that the lawsuit does not “necessarily raise” a federal issue [Public Radio Tulsa]. The Chickasaw and Choctaw nations have each filed lawsuits against 19 opioid manufacturers — joining a long list of tribes, states, cities and counties that have accused drug companies of deceptive marketing practices that contributed to the nation’s opioid addiction epidemic [NewsOK].

Commission Analyzing Oklahoma Agency Performance Eyes Auditors: The newly created Agency Performance and Accountability Commission has not yet picked the auditing firm that will take an in-depth look at state agencies over the next four years. Time is running out to complete the first round of audits, as the proposed contract requires six of the largest agencies to be reviewed by Dec. 31. Lawmakers approved the creation of APAC this year and hoped to have an initial report by the time they returned to the Capitol in regular session. [NewsOK].

Ginnie Graham: I’d Rather Pay the 9 Percent Tax for School Supplies to Help Public Education: If a sale advertised 9 percent off merchandise, I wouldn’t stop. I need at least 15 percent off to grab my attention enough for browsing a store. My frugal grandmothers would have frowned upon my attitude and shaken their heads before explaining every discount, every dollar, counts. I love them, but not all discounts are worth it [Ginnie Graham / NewsOK]. Sales tax holiday is poor policy [OKPolicy].

Medical Marijuana Will Be a Cash-Only Market, with Hassles for All: Oklahoma’s adoption of medical marijuana will be green in more ways than one: Retail dispensaries, processors, growing operations and tax agencies will have to work within a cash-only industry. With marijuana still illegal at the federal level, businesses involved in medical marijuana won’t have easy access to the federal banking system to move money around. Customers will have to pay in cash at dispensaries and can’t write checks [Oklahoma Watch].

What ‘gaps’ will the Legislature need to fill in medical marijuana regulations?: The Oklahoma State Department of Health will participate in a question-and-answer session Wednesday with the bipartisan, bicameral working group assigned to handle medical marijuana regulations. Although the group cannot enact policy until the Legislature is in session, Interim Health Commissioner Tom Bates has said there were “some gaps” in the newest iteration of emergency rules that lawmakers should address. Buffy Heater, chief of data, public policy and promotion for the Health Department, said Friday that the board was unable to enact rules it wanted on three major issues: laboratory testing, product recalls, and product packaging and labeling [Tulsa World]. Overflowing Crowds Attending Medical Marijuana Meetings [Ada News].

Debate: Voters See Hunter, Drummond in Action: During the Griffin Communications event, Drummond continued his aggressive arguments against the incumbent Hunter, calling him out for “failed leadership” and even critiquing Hunter as not having tried a “jury trial” before. Drummond’s assertion put Hunter on defense early, leaving him to state that he has tried “one” jury trial in his career [NonDoc].

Tulsa World Editorial: Oklahoma Is Saving Millions with Smart-On-Crime Efforts to End Mass Incarceration: In its first year, State Question 780’s reform of state criminal sentencing statutes saved Oklahoma taxpayers more than $60 million. A report from the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services shows that in its first five years, SQ 780 savings will approach $137 million. To put those numbers in perspective, the one-year savings are about one-and-a-half times the annual cost of running the Tulsa County jail [Editorial Board / Tulsa World].

OU Repays the Oklahoma City VA About $14,000 After Federal Report: The University of Oklahoma has repaid the Oklahoma City VA Health Care System more than $14,000 after a federal report found medical residents were paid for times when they were not working. The two sides have worked together to find overpayments since a VA inspector general report in late March found a lack of proper accounting for millions of dollars. The deadline for repayment was July 31 [NewsOK].

Enid’s Bryant Reappointed to Oklahoma Health Care Authority Board: Gov. Mary Fallin announced Friday she has reappointed Enid’s Ann Bryant to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority Board. Bryant will serve a four-year term effective Sept. 2, and expiring Sept. 1, 2022. She serves on the board as a consumer member from the 3rd Congressional District. Bryant has served on the board since 2010. Fallin reappointed her in 2014 [Enid News & Eagle].

Rule Requires Flood Insurance Education: Property insurance professionals in Oklahoma will soon be required to expand their knowledge on flood insurance. Gov. Mary Fallin signed a rule requiring one hour of flood insurance continuing education beginning January 2019. “Many Oklahomans don’t know they can purchase flood insurance if they don’t live in a flood zone,” Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak said [Journal Record].

Jones Residents Told to Boil Water: The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality  has advised the Town ofJones City Public Water Supply, a community water supply located in OklahomaCounty, to inform users of its drinking water to use water that has been brought to a full,rolling boil for at least one minute, bottled water, or water from another acceptable source for consumption, use in food preparation, dishwashing and brushing teeth [Public Radio Tulsa].

Trump Administration Asks US Supreme Court to Side with Oklahoma in Dispute Involving Muscogee (Creek) Nation: The administration of President Donald Trump has urged the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court’s ruling that found the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s reservation in eastern Oklahoma still exists. In a court filing last week, the Justice Department claimed Congress disestablished the Creek reservation as it made way for Oklahoma statehood in the early 20th century [NewsOK].

Oklahoma Lawmaker: Congress Should Back Net Neutrality Bill: A long and storied strain of populism runs through the history of our great state. Oklahomans have always had an independent streak and since statehood, we’ve been able to transcend partisan politics and understand some economic issues as just plain old common sense. Today, the people of Oklahoma understand that a free and open internet is critical to our ability to connect with loved ones and to have our voices heard, not to mention our ability to thrive in a competitive 21st-century economy [Rep. Mickey Dollens / NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“That’s really what compelled me to run for office. I do think my interaction with the legislators are a huge part of why I decided to run because … it just didn’t seem that we were getting anywhere talking to them, like they just didn’t care about their constituents.”

-Garfield Elementary School teacher and Oklahoma HD 41 candidate Jennie Scott, who said she was inspired to run during the teacher walkout [Enid News & Eagle]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahomans age 15 and over who are divorced and not now remarried.

[American Community Survey]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The Downsides of Property Tax Caps: Because of property tax caps, “states are pushing too many costs down to the lower level,” said Ron Deutsch, executive director of the Fiscal Policy Institute, during a press call about the report. Property tax caps, according to the analysis, also contribute to inequality. For one, the caps strangle funding for public education, which the researchers see as a pathway for minority and low-income children to move up the socioeconomic ladder [Governing].

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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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