In The Know: DPS lifts 100-mile daily driving limit for Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers

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.

Today In The News

DPS lifts 100-mile daily driving limit for Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers: The Department of Public Safety on Thursday announced an end to the travel restriction for its troopers. The limit of 100 miles per day was implemented in December as a result of budget reductions. “And with the lifting of the mileage restriction, our troopers will be able to be proactive instead of reactive and hopefully result in a safer Oklahoma,” said Public Safety Commissioner Michael Thompson [Tulsa World].

Questions Of Constitutionality Surround New Oklahoma Budget: On Wednesday, Gov. Mary Fallin signed the state’s $6.8 billion budget, passed at the 11th hour last week. However, the state’s budget woes are far from over. Some lawmakers and political groups are raising concerns over some of the revenue raising measure. In a series of late night negotiations legislators hammered out the details in the final days of May [News9].

The State Budget, Trim by Trim: The Oklahoma Legislature approved a fiscal 2018 appropriated budget totaling $6.9 billion, which is essentially the same as last year’s. Still, among 68 agencies or entities listed, 50, or nearly three-fourths, saw their budgets shaved and three were held flat. Although cuts were relatively small for most, some, such as higher education, have seen cumulative declines in recent years even as demand for their services has grown [Oklahoma Watch].

Education: ‘Rural is hot, who knew?’: The surprising election of President Donald Trump put a spotlight on rural America, where voters across “Flyover Country” helped put him in office. Since Trump’s election, major news outlets based in America’s coastal urban hubs have descended on rural communities in an effort to refocus on issues of poverty, unemployment and drug abuse in the nation’s small towns and agricultural communities. It has made rural America a trendy subject in mainstream media [NewsOK].

Rye: The Underappreciated “Poverty Grain” Enjoys A Renaissance: The Oklahoma rye harvest gets underway within the next few days. Oklahoma is the country’s number one producer of what is occasionally referred to as the ‘poverty grain.’ Rye doesn’t have the best reputation, but demand is on the rise. About 200 people call the northwestern Oklahoma town of Ames home. There’s not much here, but one feature dominates the tiny town: The massive white grain elevator run by the Farmers’ Elevator Coop, a featureless prairie skyscraper [StateImpact Oklahoma].

$2.3 million awarded to OSU-CHS for rural health care initiative from Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation: The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation this week awarded a $2.3 million grant to the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences to fund improvements to health care delivery in rural areas of the state. The majority of the funding, $1.8 million, will be used to underwrite service lines for mental health and addiction medicine through Project ECHO, a program that connects rural providers with specialists at the OSU Center for Health Sciences. The remaining funds will be directed to the Rural Oklahoma Network [Tulsa World].

Water fight still costing Oklahomans millions: Although it was settled almost a year ago, a conflict over access to reservoir water on tribal land will continue to cost Oklahomans millions of dollars. The fight between the state, Oklahoma City and two Native tribes started six years ago. Oklahoma City depends on reservoir water from southeast Oklahoma, in the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations’ jurisdictions. The city needed more water and applied to get more access from Sardis Lake, about 45 miles southeast of McAlester [Journal Record].

The Constitution’s limits on the Legislature’s tax powers sure look dead to me: For 25 years, Oklahoma Democrats have railed against State Question 640, a 1992 amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution that limits the Legislature’s ability to raise taxes. If the Oklahoma Supreme Court allows measures approved in the final days of the 2017 Legislature to stand, SQ 640 is effectively dead … thanks largely to Republicans. Provoked by a set of tax increases passed by the Democratically controlled Legislature in 1990, a grassroots group organized the SQ 640 rebellion [Wayne Greene / Tulsa World].

Oklahoma Legislature passes bill to help eliminate food deserts: Liz Waggoner was ready to hear how a grocery store’s return to an area of New Orleans, which was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and left residents without access to fresh and healthy foods for years, was nourishing the people. As she toured the shop, which was strategically rebuilt through the city’s Fresh Food Retailer Initiative to address food deserts in New Orleans’ poorer neighborhoods, more than the aisles of fresh foods caught her attention. With its modern, slightly more upscale and inviting look, this grocery store also strengthened the community [Oklahoma Gazette].

Sharing your story can help end stigma about mental illness: A year and a half ago, my mom, Dawn Davis, ended her life at the age of 74. My mom was extraordinary. And brilliant. And beautiful. She was much loved by many, and she gave of herself through years of community service throughout Oklahoma City. She was an astute businesswoman, incredibly successful as a residential realtor. And she was also mentally ill [Kristin Davis / NewsOK].

How do we spend $34 million? Council seeks input on Tar Creek restoration: An early step in Tar Creek restoration efforts asks the public for direction on how best to spend at least $34 million collected so far from damage settlements. Comments, due at the Tar Creek Trustee Council by Friday, will help the group in choosing one of four possible guidelines moving forward. The process is explained in the 65-page “Draft Natural Resource Programmatic Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment” that, essentially, lists environmental challenges and asks the public for flexibility in spending [Tulsa World].

Tone remains cordial at Lucas town hall meetings: Many in Congress have been avoiding town hall meetings, which have become increasingly confrontational since November, but U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas faced mostly cordial crowds in his two stops on Wednesday. Lucas often highlighted his differences with the Trump administration during his discussions with constituents — positioning himself as a more traditional, moderate Republican [NewsOK].

Inhofe: Pulling out of Paris climate talks protects U.S. but maintains ‘place at the table’: It was a good morning for U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe. As he toured an oil pipeline construction site south of Tulsa — “visible evidence,” he said, “the war on fossil fuels is over” — word reached him early Thursday that President Donald Trump is taking the United States out of the Paris climate agreement. Both the pipeline and Trump’s decision counted as personal and political victories for Inhofe [Tulsa World].

Hate incidents like the graffiti on LeBron James’ home ‘happen every day,’ Tulsan says: Basketball star LeBron James’ remarks after vandals spray-painted racial slurs on the gate of his Los Angeles home this week seemed to fit into Thursday’s program for the John Hope Franklin Symposium at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Tulsa. James told reporters that racism remains a part of daily life, and he was “OK” with the incident if it opened discussions about the subject [Tulsa World].

The 8 Oklahomans who want to be the next governor are … The list of candidates for the 2018 gubernatorial race just keeps growing. Here are the individuals who have put names in the hat so far [NewsOK]

Quote of the Day

“This legislation promotes innovative ideas in de-stressing food deserts. It could be something like a mobile market food truck or renovate a grocery or corner store to allow for more space for healthy foods. … The money is really intended to help people get off the ground and help address the food desert issue.”

– Effie Craven,  state advocacy and public policy director for Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, on SB 506, which created the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, a public-private program to eliminate the state’s food deserts by encouraging construction and expansion of grocery stores, corner stores, farmers markets and more (Source)

Number of the Day


Oklahomans’ per capita personal consumption spending on health care in 2015

Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The most important part of the Republican health bill is mostly getting ignored: The frenetic final days of the debate over the American Health Care Act in the House of Representatives focused largely on patients with preexisting medical conditions — but not on sweeping cuts to Medicaid, which have the potential take health care from tens of millions of Americans. A massive expansion of the Medicaid program was one of the key pillars of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, and the AHCA rolls it back in a sneaky way. That rollback will deprive millions of vulnerable people of health insurance on its own terms if the bill is ever enacted in its current form. But the AHCA actually goes even further with Medicaid cuts — enacting broad cuts to the program’s spending that compound over time, offsetting a massive package of tax cuts for the rich [Vox].

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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