In The Know: Oklahoma must continue to reduce juvenile incarceration, Oklahoma childhood obesity rate holds steady, Cases of congenital syphilis are climbing

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.

New from OK Policy

To minimize disruption to youths’ lives,Oklahoma must continue to reduce juvenile incarceration: Open Justice Oklahoma’s recent juvenile justice report highlights decreasing crime and arrest rates for Oklahoma youth. While the data are encouraging, it is important to remember why we must continue our progress: incarceration itself is extremely disruptive to young people and their families. [OK Policy]

Prosperity Policy: No going back: It may be hard to recall, but less than a decade ago, if you struggled with a chronic medical condition, such as diabetes, arthritis, or epilepsy, or if you’d ever suffered a stroke or heart attack, or been diagnosed with cancer, you stood almost no chance of being able to buy health insurance. [David Blatt / Journal Record]

In The News

‘Very alarming’: Cases of congenital syphilis are climbing in Oklahoma: More Oklahoma babies are being born with a disease that is potentially fatal yet easily preventable. In the past year, cases of congenital syphilis in Oklahoma — when a mother passes syphilis along to the baby during pregnancy — have nearly doubled. [The FrontierMedicaid expansion is key to healthier moms and babies in our state

Oklahoma childhood obesity rate holds steady at 18%: Oklahoma’s childhood obesity rate is the sixth-highest in the nation, according to a newly released data report, and the figure hasn’t changed much from recent years. Eighteen percent of 10- to 17-year-olds in the state are obese, which is about 72,500 teens. Although the rate hasn’t necessarily improved, state officials view the steady figure as progress. [Tulsa World] Survey Says: Oklahomans are fat — state is No. 3 in obesity. [The Oklahoman]

Editorial: The Commutation Project: One year later: Everyone made mistakes at 18 that they regret. Unfortunately, I have been living with the consequences of mine for the past nine years. In 2011, I made some bad choices that led to three felony convictions and a 20-year prison sentence for simple drug possession and theft. [Kayla Jeffries / NonDocDespite some progress last session, criminal justice reform was not enough of a priority

Audio: Solar energy advocates say the industry could help schools: An Oklahoma Senate committee recently held a study session regarding Oklahoma’s solar energy potential. Former school officials attended to advocate for expanding the industry, which could help lower utility costs and free up resources for classroom materials. [KGOU]

Editorial: For the Children: If you did not make it to the 2019 Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) Fall Forum last week, then you missed quite an event! [Joe Dorman / CNHIOklahoma ranks in the bottom 10 for child well-being in the 2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book

GRDA board approves cost increase for firm planning Illinois River white water park: The Grand River Dam Authority’s board of directors voted unanimously on Wednesday to pay an additional $585,000 to a Denver, Colo., engineering firm hired through a no-bid contract to design a whitewater rafting park on the Illinois River near the Oklahoma-Arkansas border. [The Frontier]

City Council approves Boathouse Dist $1.4 million, hist preservation ord argued: Purchase of a surf machine for the whitewater facility in the Boathouse District, the potential rezoning of a formerly agricultural plot for affordable housing, and the controversial Greenwell Ordinance on Historic Preservation, contributed to a five-hour OKC Council meeting Tuesday. [Free Press OKC] A project using available tax credits to create affordable housing in southwest Oklahoma City met with nearly an hour of citizen protest at Tuesday’s Oklahoma City Council meeting. [Journal Record ????]

Ex-Tulsa police officer fired after complaints of anti-Islam posts sues city: A former Tulsa police officer who was fired last month amid complaints about posts on his Facebook page filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging his termination was a violation of the First and Fourteenth amendments. [Tulsa World]

Tulsa ranks in top third nationally in report on senior-friendly cities: The city comes in 91st out of more than 300 cities considered for’s 2019 Senior Living Report, making it second in Oklahoma, behind Oklahoma City, which was 84th. [Tulsa World]

Ex-employee wants dogs gone from medical facility: A policy that allows employees to bring their dogs to work is causing fear and consternation at a state-run pediatric rehabilitation hospital that serves developmentally disabled youth, a former employee said this week. [CNHI]

Freedom fighters: Freedom Oklahoma aims to build off a successful year for Oklahoma’s LGBTQ+ community by focusing more on diverse sects of the community and advocating for more issues. [Oklahoma Gazette]

Horn opposes Medicare-for-All concept: U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn said Wednesday that she opposes so-called Medicare-for-All proposals because single-payer coverage wouldn’t resolve problems in the health care system. [The Oklahoman]

Lankford says Syria situation is like ‘Game of Thrones’: The ongoing situation in northern Syria is like the TV series “Game of Thrones,” U.S. Sen. James Lankford said Wednesday prior to an appearance at the Tulsa Regional Chamber. [Tulsa World]

Cornett won’t seek congressional seat, sources say: Former Oklahoma City mayor Mick Cornett has called several Republicans this week to notify them he will not run for Congress, multiple GOP sources said. [The Oklahoman]

Archeological expert explains why unmarked graves search team can’t explore for possible remains under IDL: Three days into the tedious process of searching Oaklawn Cemetery for unmarked burial sites from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, the lead scientist in charge of the surveying work took time Wednesday to explain why his team would not be able to search under the adjacent Inner Dispersal Loop. [Tulsa World] ‘It is a crime scene’: Demonstrators call for reparations, repentance for 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“SQ 780 retroactivity is going to be life-changing for tens of thousands of Oklahomans, their families and communities. Unfortunately for me and many others who are getting our lives back together, the expungement fee (minimum of $1,000) is just too high.”

– Kayla Jeffries, who recently received commutation  and was released from prison [NonDoc]

Number of the Day


The projected number of new housing units Oklahoma will need by 2020.

[Source: Oklahoma Housing Needs Assessment]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Job training can change lives. See how San Antonio does it: Project Quest has succeeded where many similar retraining efforts have failed, taking workers lacking in skills and successfully positioning them for jobs where they can earn double or triple what they did previously. [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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