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.
[ICYMI: OK Policy is celebrating its 10th Anniversary with a gala dinner. We hope you will join us on September 13th, 2018 as we celebrate our first decade of advancing policy change benefiting Oklahomans through research, education, and advocacy.]
In The News
Oklahoma governor places Vision Fund on November ballot: Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has placed on the Nov. 6 general election ballot a proposal to create a new oil and natural gas trust fund to help operate state government. Fallin said Thursday she signed an executive order scheduling a statewide vote on the Oklahoma Vision Fund ballot question. If State Question 800 is approved, at least 5 percent of gross production tax receipts would be deposited into the fund annually. [AP News]
How many Oklahomans would lose health coverage under reporting requirements? The state doesn’t say: As required by both executive order and state law, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) released an 1115 Medicaid waiver proposal for SoonerCare on July 3. Oklahoma hopes to join a handful of states in requiring some adults on Medicaid to report their work-related activities to the state, without any misunderstandings or technical glitches, or risk losing their health coverage. [Dana Bacon / OKPolicy]
Still too high, but OK teen birth rate trending in right direction: As a mother at just 17 years of age, Leslie Marban of Oklahoma City has a tough road ahead. The statistics make that abundantly clear. Only about 50 percent of teen mothers earn a high school diploma. Leslie, who gave birth to her daughter last month and who was featured in a story Sunday by The Oklahoman’s Darla Slipke, will get a late start on her senior year but intends to finish and hopes to become an architect or an emergency medical technician. [NewsOK] Increasing access to long-acting reversible contraception brings lasting gains for Oklahoma women and girls [OKPolicy].
Few statewide candidates voluntarily disclose financial information: Only four of 28 candidates for statewide elected office in Oklahoma have voluntarily released specific details about their personal finances similar to what is typically disclosed by federal candidates and state-level candidates in other states. Three of them, including Democratic gubernatorial nominee Drew Edmondson, provided their federal income tax returns as part of their response to a request sent by Oklahoma Watch to all statewide candidates on July 6. [Oklahoma Watch] Some candidates made it clear why they refused to provide details about their personal finances as requested by Oklahoma Watch. [Oklahoma Watch]
Education and tax vote winning and costing Oklahoma candidates elections: About 100 teachers and school administrators filed for political office in the 2018 election. Most are not shy about supporting the first tax increase in nearly three decades, even though it’s a progressive political message in a deeply conservative state. Pro-tax campaigns from educators seem to be resonating with voters in many parts of Oklahoma — but not everywhere. [KGOU]
Cornett, Stitt dodge questions and each other in debate: At times, Tuesday night’s GOP gubernatorial runoff debate felt like a dystopian Tom Stoppard play in which none of the characters on stage acknowledge each other. While TV cameras have a way of sucking all the air and humanity out of a room, former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and Tulsa mortgage mogul Kevin Stitt avoided answering various questions with the wheedling whimsy of a college student trying to pass classes without reading course materials. [NonDoc]
State investigation finds Veterans Affairs didn’t violate medical privacy laws with cellphone access: A state investigation has concluded the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs did not violate privacy laws when it allowed medical aides to search patients’ records on their cellphones. Mark Gower, the state’s chief information security officer, wrote in a memo Thursday that the practice did not violate state or federal privacy laws. Veterans Affairs had requested that the state investigate the matter after three Democratic lawmakers claimed the incident could cost Oklahoma millions of dollars in federal funding. [NewsOK]
House Energy and Natural Resources Committee to host two oil and gas interim studies: The Oklahoma House of Representatives Energy and Natural Resources Committee will kick off the legislative interim studies by hosting a deep dive on two oil and gas topics in mid-August. The legislative committee will utilize the morning session to address municipal and state guidelines concerning oil and gas production within municipal boundaries. [OK Energy Today]
OSHA cites and fines three oil and gas companies after deadly rig explosion: Federal authorities cited and fined three oil and gas companies for exposing workers to dangerous hazards after a deadly explosion and fire on a drilling rig in January. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Crescent Consulting of Oklahoma City and Patterson-UTI of Houston for not maintaining proper controls while drilling a well. [StateImpact Oklahoma]
Twelve named to state Medical Marijuana Food Safety Standards Board: The Oklahoma Health Department has appointed 12 members to the Medical Marijuana Food Safety Standards Board. The group is now tasked to recommend standards for processing and handling medical marijuana. The members come from a wide range of fields. [News on 6] The University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University both say all marijuana, including medical marijuana, remains banned on the two campuses. [Public Radio Tulsa]
ODOT to sell surplus land, acreage: Seven parcels of surplus, undeveloped land owned by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation – including a lot in Oklahoma City’s Bricktown district – will be sold at auction. Six of the properties will be on the auction block this month and the seventh will be sold in September. All six of the properties will be sold at auction, by sealed bid, on Aug. 16, starting at 1:30 p.m. [Journal Record]
DA requests audit of alleged overpayments to Grady County officials: A special state investigative audit has been requested into allegations that Grady County elected officials have been overpaid for years, Grady County District Attorney Jason Hicks confirmed Wednesday. The salary overpayments are believed to be as much as $20,000 each per year, Hicks said, adding that the Grady County Excise Board took action Tuesday to cut the salaries of the county’s eight elected officials from about $80,000 a year to about $60,000 a year. [NewsOK]
Frank Keating: OU President Gallogly should consider not accepting students who need remedial classes: At a Wednesday speech at OU-Tulsa, former Gov. Frank Keating said he has encouraged President Jim Gallogly not to admit students who need remedial classes. Keating, a member of the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents, compared his idea to policy at the University of Notre Dame, where he said students needing remedial classes are sent to an associated college until they are up to the university’s standards. [Tulsa World]
Edmond Public Schools seeing less teacher vacancies: A week before classes begin, Edmond Public Schools says it’s not in scramble mode to hire more teachers. Last year at this time, the district had about 40 teaching vacancies. This year, Edmond Public Schools has 10 openings. The district says pay raises have helped in recruiting teachers and administrators, including a principal and assistant principal. [News9]
Teachers shop for free supplies, books: The line started forming bright and early early outside the Oklahoma City headquarters of Feed the Children. Teachers from places such as Noble, Okemah, Sulphur and Snyder waited patiently — some for two hours — to stake their claim on a warehouse full of donated books and classroom supplies. Cristy Gosset, a vocal music teacher at Western Oaks Elementary School in the Putnam City District, picked up dry erase markers, spiral notebooks and tape, along with a new printer. [Tulsa World]
Oklahoma library launches career program for correctional, rehabilitation centers: A public library in Oklahoma is implementing a program to help inmates get the training and education needed for a job. TEL Library announced that it is implementing a partnership with Oklahoma rehabilitation and diversion centers to introduce its Career Foundations curriculum. The program prepares adults with high school or equivalent education for middle-skills jobs and career development. [KFOR]
OKC awarded $1M grant to help families with transportation: One of the biggest obstacles for struggling Oklahoma City families could soon be eliminated. According to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, transportation is one of three major challenges for the families they serve. “We require a lot of our families to be able to get back together with their kids. Many have to go to court hearings, parenting classes, substance abuse treatment, on and on,” Sheree Powell with DHS said. [News9]
Nebraska, Kansas file amicus brief in Murphy case: The states of Nebraska and Kansas are filing an amicus, or friend of the court, brief in the Murphy v. Royal case. Joining Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt on the brief are the attorneys general from Texas, Michigan, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. The Murphy case dates back to 1999, when Patrick Murphy was convicted of killing George Jacobs. Murphy was tried in state court but appealed his conviction because he’s a Muscogee (Creek) citizen, as was the victim, and the murder occurred in Indian territory. Under the Major Crimes Act, a murder in Indian territory must be tried in federal court. [Journal Record]
Tell us your story about Oklahoma rehabs that use unpaid labor: In July, The Frontier joined Reveal’s Rehab Reporting Network, a coalition of more than 100 local journalists who are investigating rehabs that require residents to work for free in exchange for treatment. This arrangement has led to abuse and exploitation across America. In Oklahoma, people struggling with addiction were forced to work in chicken plants under threat of prison. [The Frontier]
Rep. Mullin still holds stock in company at center of New York criminal case: An Oklahoma Congressman who last year purchased more than $100,000 worth of stock in a pharmaceutical company at the center of federal insider trading charges against a New York Congressman still owns that stock and is not under investigation, a spokesman said Thursday. [The Frontier]
Quote of the Day
“My older brother had to take a remedial math course at OU. He graduated in the top 10% at OU Law. He’s now a District Judge.”
-Rep. Emily Virgin (D-Norman), responding to University of Oklahoma Regent Frank Keating calling for OU to refuse admission to students who need remedial classes [Twitter]
Number of the Day
Percentage of SoonerCare recipients who could lose health coverage under Oklahoma’s proposed job and reporting requirements who are mothers of dependent children.
As states legalize sports gambling, convenience and tax rates are key: States legalizing sports gambling will not only see more in-state gross gaming revenue but also private sector economic activity that boosts their gains beyond any tax on proceeds, according to an analysis by Regional Economic Models, Inc. Gross gaming revenue, or GGR, refers to the amount of money retained by betting operations after payouts. Following the Supreme Court’s May 14 decision, in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, striking down federal restrictions on sports gambling, many states are considering GGR taxes to fund highway construction, pay for social services or make infrastructure repairs. [RouteFifty]
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