In The Know: Oklahoma is fourth in the nation in number of women killed by men

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

Oklahoma is fourth in the nation in number of women killed by men: Just as Oklahoma’s rate of deadly violence against women by men seemed to be improving, an annual report finds the state turning in the opposite direction. Oklahoma has consistently ranked high in the annual Violence Policy Center report, which examines the states’ homicide rates of women killed by men. The data are based on two years prior to the reports, meaning this year’s ranking is for murders committed in 2014. Oklahoma rose two spots this year to No. 4. Last year, the state had shown a slight improvement by moving from No. 3 to No. 6 [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World]. The report from the Violence Policy Center is available here.

Debate Over Civil Asset Forfeiture Heats Up Again: A contentious hearing held Wednesday at the State Capitol provided hints that civil asset forfeiture will again be a hot topic during next year’s legislative session. Civil liberty groups and law enforcement representatives debated for three hours on whether Oklahoma should continue to allow police to seize people’s cash or property without securing a criminal conviction. But after the hearing, two prominent backers of overhauling the state’s civil asset forfeiture laws said they are unlikely to pursue legislation to end the practice [Oklahoma Watch]. New Mexico stopped civil asset forfeiture abuse; Oklahoma can, too [OK Policy].

Medical marijuana backers prepare for 2018 vote: It will likely be two years until medical marijuana shows up on Oklahoma’s ballot, which gives supporters that much time to prepare a campaign. It also provides time for the opposition. Oklahomans for Health Chairman Chip Paul, who helped lead a successful signature-gathering effort this year that secured the proposal’s place in the November 2018 election, said he will start organizing in earnest after the presidential election [Journal Record].

The dangerous hidden agenda behind State Question 776 (Guest Post: Sen. Connie Johnson): I’ve worked throughout Oklahoma these past few months to defeat State Question 776 as Chair of the Say No To SQ 776/Think Twice Oklahoma campaign. I know why its sponsors put it on the ballot. When you push the hot-button issue of the death penalty on average Oklahomans, most won’t think about any details, regardless of their opinion on the issue. Many think SQ 776 is an up or down question on capital punishment. It’s not. Instead, the authors are trying to dupe Oklahoma voters into putting the death penalty in Oklahoma above the law. That’s what makes SQ 776 so dangerous [OK Policy]. OK Policy’s fact sheet on SQ 776 is available here

State representative brands CAIR-OK, its director and a local imam as terrorists: The head of CAIR-OK, his organization and a well-known local spiritual leader were called terrorists Tuesday during a House interim study. Adam Soltani, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, members of the organization and Imam Imad S. Enchassi of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City were in the audience when the remarks were made. An imam is an Islamic leadership position. CAIR is a Muslim civil liberties and advocacy group working to enhance the understanding of Islam [Tulsa World].

Prosperity Policy: Who’s not voting? With Election Day fast approaching, I can assume most readers of this column plan to exercise the basic civic right of voting. It may be hard for us to understand why many of our fellow Oklahomans – quite possibly a majority – will not vote on Nov. 8. Four years ago, just 51 percent of voting-age Oklahomans cast a presidential ballot. Two years ago, fewer than one in three eligible Oklahomans (32 percent) cast a ballot for governor and other state and federal races. Our turnout rates are among the nation’s lowest [David Blatt / Journal Record].

Tulsa Public Schools teacher vacancies persist despite cutting positions, over-hiring: Less than two months after starting the school year with fewer teaching positions to fill than in years past, and overhiring in anticipation of teachers leaving, Tulsa Public Schools officials say schools already have several vacancies they may not be able to fill this semester. The teacher vacancies have emerged in the first school year since the district cut 92 teaching positions to reduce the district’s budget and despite recruiting year-round and prioritizing retainment efforts, Chief Talent Management Officer Talia Shaull said in an interview Thursday [Tulsa World]. 

Garden at Tulsa MET School gets boost to provide fresh produce in north Tulsa food desert: In an area where nutritious, fresh food is not easily accessible or affordable for many residents, the garden at an alternative school in north Tulsa got a boost from Tulsa Community College students and a local gardening expert Tuesday afternoon. TCC students and Carla Grogg, owner of Grogg’s Green Barn, worked with Tulsa MET Junior High and High School students, teachers and administrators for a fall planting at the school, located just north of Pine Street near Sheridan Road [Tulsa World].

Corrections Department does the right thing with its fiscal jackpot: State prison employees will have a little something extra to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. The state Board of Corrections has approved one-time stipends of $1,750 for all of its employees who have been with the agency for at least six months. Those who have been with the agency for less than six months will get their stipend after they’ve been around half a year [Editorial Board / Tulsa World].

OU Medical Center affiliation changing to St. Anthony parent company: A new health care giant is emerging with the announcement Wednesday that SSM Healthcare of Oklahoma is taking over operations of the OU Medical Center and affiliated campuses. The agreement signed by University of Oklahoma President David Boren, William Thompson, SSM Health president and CEO, and Mike Samis, University Hospitals Authority and Trust Chairman, creates a new nonprofit corporation that is set to fund construction of a new hospital tower and digital upgrades for patient records [NewsOK].

Health insurance hikes will drive up taxpayer subsidies: Skyrocketing premiums for health insurance policies on the federal marketplace will be offset with higher tax subsidies, keeping premium costs for most Oklahomans below $100 per month, according to the Obama administration. “Thanks to financial assistance, the large majority of current Marketplace consumers in Oklahoma will be able to find plans with premiums between $50 and $100 per month,” Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said [NewsOK].

Iron Gate’s relocation plan appears destined for district court: Iron Gate’s plan to build a new facility on the eastern edge of downtown now appears destined for district court because of an unusual set of circumstances. The plan is dependent on approval of a zoning change that Iron Gate will be unable to get through the Tulsa Board of Adjustment because three of the five board members are recusing themselves or abstaining from any action related to the proposal. Under normal circumstances, a vote of three board members is required to grant a variance or special exception [Tulsa World].

With Tulsa311 up and running, city campaigning to get residents online for customer care: The head of Tulsa311 told city councilors the new customer-care system for Tulsa residents was humming along without a hitch Wednesday. “We are up and running on all platforms,” said Michael Radoff, director of the city’s Customer Care Center. “We got what we paid for, and I’m really proud of that.” The cost of the new system, which includes a phone app, the new 311 phone number, website and a system that connects them all, cost about $980,000, Radoff said [Tulsa World].

Edmond bus riders say they would be willing to pay: Nearly 60 percent of Edmond Citylink riders who responded to a survey said they would be willing to pay for their bus rides. “In 2016, we wanted to get more focused in terms of what the commuters really wanted in terms of their choices,” said Koorosh Zahrai, a member of the Edmond Public Transportation Committee. The majority of riders surveyed said the reason they use the service is because it is free or allows them to save money on gas [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“I personally feel you shouldn’t be able to take someone’s property without a criminal charge. But we have a bicameral Legislature and the governor’s office to deal with, and I don’t think the mood of either of those bodies would be to do a wholesale ban of civil asset forfeiture.”

– Rep. Cory Williams (D-Stillwater), who says he and Rep. Kyle Loveless (R-Oklahoma City) are considering proposal to make smaller-scale changes to civil asset forfeiture laws (Source)

Number of the Day


Suicide rate per 100,000 in Oklahoma, 2014

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How some Blues made the ACA work while others failed: The individual health insurance marketplace is not a small capillary for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Arkansas, the dominant insurer in the fourth-poorest state in the country. It’s a main artery. And the good news for the Arkansas Blues is that the individual market—a “disaster” according to presidential hopeful Donald Trump—is pumping black ink, not the blood-red ink reported by some insurers selling individual plans on the Affordable Care Act exchanges across the country [Modern Healthcare].

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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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