In The Know: Edmond quake could bring policy decision home to leaders

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

Edmond quake could bring policy decision home to leaders: Most of Oklahoma’s earthquakes rattle rural homes far from the political and commercial epicenter of the state. Tuesday morning’s quake, however, struck at the heart of an affluent, more politically conscious city – Edmond. That does more to set the political dialogue than tremors in far-flung places like Medford in northwestern Oklahoma, said state Rep. Jason Murphey [Journal Record].

State plans legal action after company refused to shut down 6 wells: SandRidge Energy Inc., the financially troubled oil producer focused on earthquake-prone northern Oklahoma, is defying a state directive to shut down six disposal wells linked to quakes. “They are in operation, and we are preparing a case” to formally shut the wells, Matt Skinner, spokesman for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, said Friday. The case sets up a potential showdown on whether the commission has the power to halt activities thought to be triggering earthquakes [Energywire].

Anatomy of a Forfeiture Case: On a March day in 2009, Moua Yang and his father, Chao Yang, were driving west from Oklahoma City in a rented Nissan sedan with more than $25,000 in cash in the back seat. A Canadian County deputy stopped them for driving 76 mph in a 70-mph zone on Interstate 40. The Yang case illustrates the sometimes ambiguous circumstances surrounding the controversial practice of law enforcement agencies’ seizing assets from people whose only provable offense was a traffic violation [Oklahoma Watch].

With Teachers and Students, a Racial Divide: Diversity in Oklahoma classrooms is increasing, but the teachers leading them remain mostly white. Public school districts across the state and the nation are scrambling to address the racial and ethnic disparity between students and teachers. School leaders and education experts say a more diverse teaching corps is needed to establish positive role models for students and to better ensure teachers connect culturally with students [Oklahoma Watch].

Public defender aims to help offenders complete probation: Public Defender Rob Nigh says many defendants violate the terms of their probation by failing to pay the fines and costs associated with their charges, meet with supervision officers or fulfill other requirements such as passing drug tests or participating in treatment programs. So Nigh has created a team of assistant public defenders who have volunteered to help clients successfully complete their probation [Tulsa World].

Federal inquiry opens amid care complaints at Oklahoma City VA Medical Center: The Veterans Health Administration’s Office of the Medical Inspector has launched a federal inquiry into allegations that missed diagnoses and poor patient care at the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center have resulted in life-altering consequences for a number of veterans. USA Today reported that the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center has been plagued by high staff turnover and ranks poorly in patient care [NewsOK].

New Creek Nation chief talks housing needs for tribe following inauguration: A standing-room-only crowd packed in the Mvskoke Dome on Saturday morning for the inauguration of the tribe’s principal chief, James Floyd, and second chief, Louis Hicks. With the new administration emphasizing service to the people, additional focus will be placed on the housing assistance programs offered through the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, including looking at the possibility of putting tribal citizens to work building houses within its jurisdictional area [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma City wins extension in finalizing plans for American Indian Cultural Center and Museum: Acting under provisions of a law passed earlier this year to transfer responsibility for the center to the city, a state official on Wednesday extended the deadline for a deal from Jan. 15 to March 15. City Manager Jim Couch requested the extension after the Chickasaw Nation offered to partner with the city, potentially bringing millions of dollars to the effort to get the dormant project on track [NewsOK].

Group seeking medicinal marijuana don’t expect signatures: Organizers seeking a public vote on whether to legalize the use of medicinal marijuana in Oklahoma say they expect to fall short of the number of signatures needed to get the issue on a statewide ballot. Isaac Caviness with the group Green the Vote said Tuesday that the group had about 70,000 signatures, well short of the roughly 124,000 signatures of registered voters needed to qualify for a state question. Tuesday was the deadline to submit signatures following a three-month effort [Associated Press].

Oklahoma finance officials order 3 percent budget cuts: The Office of Management and Enterprise Services announced the actions Wednesday as a result of a projected $157 million shortfall in revenue collections for the rest of the 2016 fiscal year that ends June 30. The office announced last week that updated projections show the state will miss the original estimate on which the budget was based by 7.7 percent, or $443 million [Associated Press]. Agencies that receive 100 percent of their state funding from the General Revenue Fund will take the largest cuts, while others will take smaller cuts or no cut at all [OK Policy]. Gov. Mary Fallin has ruled out a special session for lawmakers to handle the revenue failure, but she didn’t rule out a discussion on the income tax-cut trigger that is expected to cut $57 million in income tax revenue in the 2016 fiscal year [Journal Record].

Low energy prices could punch bigger hole in Oklahoma budget: A $900 million hole in next year’s Oklahoma state budget and a projected shortfall for the last six months of the current fiscal year could deepen if the price of oil and natural gas stays at low levels not seen for more than a decade. The price of oil has hovered around $35 per barrel for nearly two weeks; forecasters predict an average price of $42.83 through June 30. The Oklahoma Tax Commission’s projected price of oil for the fiscal year that begins July 1 is $53.57 a barrel [Associated Press].

Leadership failure: Today, as Oklahomans gather together to enjoy the first day of the new year by watching Bowl Games, feasting on black-eyed peas, and nursing hangovers, two significant and seemingly irreconcilable events are occurring simultaneously in the world of state budget and taxes. The first is that the budget cuts occasioned by the state’s mid-year revenue failure take effect. Today also marks the day when Oklahoma’s top income tax rate falls from 5.25 to 5.0 percent [OK Policy].

Quote of the Day

“We are very concerned we don’t have seismologists we can consult.”

-Oklahoma Corporation Commission spokesman Matt Skinner, expressing concerns about Oklahoma’s lack of a replacement for former state seismologist Austin Holland as the state prepares a case against Sandridge Energy, which has refused to shut down six wells linked to earthquakes (Source).

Number of the Day


Percentage of children age 19 – 35 months in Oklahoma who are immunized.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

To understand climbing death rates among white Americans, look to women: Two studies from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the Institute of Medicine (one of which was directed by the first author of this post) have shown that Americans are slipping behind other high-income countries when it comes to mortality and survival, and that this “US health disadvantage” has been growing particularly among women. There is simply no mistaking the reality that American women are currently dying much earlier than their counterparts in other advanced nations [Urban Institute].

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

One thought on “In The Know: Edmond quake could bring policy decision home to leaders

  1. The story on the Edmond earthquakes will not open. It takes readers to a page wanting a ridiculous sum of money.Why bother posting links to sites that can’t be accessed?

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