In The Know: Oklahoma gaming revenue up three percent during statewide recession

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 gaming revenue up three percent during statewide recession: While other funding sources lagged, the state of Oklahoma got a three percent bump in gaming revenue in the 2016 fiscal year. Tribes paid the state $132 million in exclusivity fees from certain electronic and table games. According to the state’s Office of Management and Enterprise Services that $132 million in state funding, which mostly goes to education, is generated from about $2.2 billion in casino revenue from well more than a dozen tribes across the state [Tulsa World].

Legislators push for Real ID fix: Two Republican lawmakers say they will introduce legislation to bring Oklahoma into compliance with the Real ID Act, nine years after the Legislature passed a bill forbidding the state from meeting provisions of the congressional action. Congress passed the act in 2005 to make driver’s licenses harder to forge. Fake ID’s were used by the 9/11 terrorists to carry out their attacks. Oklahoma lawmakers have been reluctant to allow the state to comply with the act, citing concerns over privacy and federal overreach [NewsOK]. 

Oklahoma Natural Gas to pay over $1M in fines over explosion: Oklahoma Natural Gas must pay more than $1 million in fines after a gas explosion destroyed one home and damaged about 50 others in Oklahoma City. One person was burned and two people were treated for breathing problems in the Jan. 2 explosion. ONG agreed Wednesday to pay $1.01 million to settle complaints by the Transportation Department of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. The proposal says no money will come from customer rates and it must be approved by the commission [NewsOK].

Are Gaps in Child-Abuse Registries Endangering Children? Child and other advocates are criticizing gaps in Oklahoma’s child-abuse registry, saying they prevent thousands of teachers, nonprofit volunteers and others who work with children from being screened for a history of child abuse. A coalition of groups is calling for legislators to close the gaps. Like all other states, Oklahoma maintains a list of names of those who have committed child abuse or neglect. But lawmakers were told during a legislative hearing Tuesday that Oklahoma has some of the strictest confidentiality laws in the country for deciding who can access that data [Oklahoma Watch].

Health clinics pinched with fewer state dollars: A man went to a hospital emergency room here 75 times before turning up in Lou Carmichael’s health clinic. Her staff realized that his only reason for visiting the ER so many times — and running up thousands of dollars in medical bills — was because he couldn’t afford the $10 co-pay for inhalers he needed to stabilize his allergies. The hospital gave him one every time he was discharged. Carmichael, CEO of Variety Care, which operates 16 clinics in five counties, said her staff helped the man pay for his inhalers, and he hasn’t returned to the ER since [Enid News]. This spring, due to budget cuts, the state Department of Health temporarily eliminated the fund clinics like Variety Care use to pay for uncompensated care [OK Policy].

Crashes the No. 1 killer of Oklahoma teens: Car crashes are the No. 1 cause of death for Oklahoma teens, according to AAA. Twenty-one percent more Oklahoma teens were involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes in 2015 than in 2014, according to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office. The figures represent a sobering trend before National Teen Driver Safety Week, set for Oct. 16 through 22. A spokesman for Oklahoma Highway Safety Office also says the number of drivers age 16 to 19 involved in motor vehicle crashes in 2015 in the state — 13,683 — is 8.5 percent more than the 12,611 teens involved in crashes the year before [Enid News].

Troubling by definition: Legal expert says ‘Right to Farm’ puts burden on the state: Critics of State Question 777, commonly called the “Right to Farm” bill, express concern about how difficult it would be to address unforeseen consequences if it becomes part of Oklahoma’s constitution. …But University of Tulsa law professor Gary Allison says most people are still overlooking the most troubling part. Allison, a professor of constitutional, environmental and water law, is concerned about what the state would have to do and possibly pay for, under the standard contained in SQ 777 [Woodward News]. The Tulsa City Council is afraid a constitutional change through state question 777, could threaten Tulsa’s water supply [NewsOn6]. OK Policy’s fact sheet on SQ777 is available here

State Question 780, 781 debate ignites as election nears: Stephens County witnessed a mini debate on Wednesday night when Duncan Chamber of Commerce hosted a forum on State Questions 780 and 781. State Questions 780 and 781, which focus on criminal justice, are contingent upon one another, Estela Hernandez, of OCPA, said. In order for SQ 781 to work, SQ 780 must first pass. District Attorney Jason Hicks and Stephens County Sheriff Wayne McKinney argued against the pair of questions. Kris Steele, Executive Director for TEEM (The Education and Employment Ministry) and former Judge Bill Kellow argued in favor of the measure [The Duncan Banner]. OK Policy’s fact sheet on SQs 780 and 781 are available here.

Prosperity Policy: A prayer for all faiths: This Thursday is Oilfield Prayer Day, an annual event whose mission is to build a stronger Christian fellowship in the oil field. To honor the event, the state of Oklahoma last month issued an executive proclamation, which states in part that “Oklahoma is blessed with an abundance of oil and natural gas, allowing the state to be a prosperous producer of these valuable resources.” The proclamation, signed by Gov. Mary Fallin and affixed with the Great Seal of the State of Oklahoma, continues: “Christians are invited to thank God for the blessings created by the oil and natural gas industry and to seek His wisdom and ask for protection.” [David Blatt / Journal Record]

OKC prepares to issue GO bonds: City Hall is asking Oklahoma City residents for their expectations on infrastructure repair and improvements before officials renew a nine-figure debt next year. The 2017 general obligation bond issue is a necessity regardless of feedback. General obligation, or GO, bonds are primary budget resources that many municipalities tap into each year. Unlike Metropolitan Area Projects developments that focus on a handful of highly visible, quality-of-life projects, GO bonds fund hundreds of mundane tasks such as building bridges, drainage, parks and streets [Journal Record].

City Council considers details for Vision Tulsa teacher fund: City leaders discussed options We:dnesday for how Vision Tulsa funding will specifically be spent to increase teacher retention and recruiting. Passed by Tulsa voters in April, Vision Tulsa will generate an estimated $10 million over the next 15 years to improve teacher retention and recruiting through investments in housing options and training. Now, city leaders just need to figure out the details on how they want to do that [Tulsa World].

DHS hoping to raise domestic violence awareness: The Department of Human Services held a domestic violence awareness event Wednesday, one of several planned to educate and end domestic abuse in the state. Wednesday’s event at the University of Oklahoma DHS Training Center began with a 93-second pause for victim’s of domestic violence. Norman Police Department officers and DHS made their message clear through numbers and paper cut-outs representing those affected by domestic abuse. Norman Sgt. Raymond Goins says even with illustration we don’t know the exact numbers [FOX25].

Not voting is a shameful kind of apathy considering those who fought for that right: It was just shy of a century ago when the Tulsa World continued its push against the movement for women to vote. The writer lamented many evils to be unleashed, including the possibility of prostitutes or Mormon women going to the polls. It pondered how suffragists must be sexually frustrated or bad at cooking and other homemaking chores [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World]. When a majority of citizens don’t turn out to select their Governors, Congressmen, and other top state and federal elected officials, the question that most urgently needs to be asked may not be “Why I vote” but rather “Why I don’t vote.” [OK Policy]

Quote of the Day

“We have a tremendous amount reported but we probably only have less than 50 percent of the incidents that actually occur reported to the police.”

– Norman Police Department Sgt. Raymond Goins, speaking at a DHS event raising awareness of domestic violence in Oklahoma (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of new HIV diagnoses in Oklahoma in 2014

Source: AIDSvu

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Welfare and the Underappreciated Value of Long-Term Thinking: Shelanda McHie came to the welfare office bearing good news. Applebee’s had given her more shifts. On her previous visit to the office, she had reported that the restaurant had cut back her hours to 25 a week. Now, with Applebee’s and some shifts she had picked up at a second job, she was back above 40 hours again. “Are you? Awesome!” said Lisa Lee, her employment counselor. “That’s what we’ve been working towards. Congratulations!” Lee’s cubicle was peppered with positive affirmations. One said, “You are capable of more than you know.” Another read, “Dear weary mom, you are courageous.” [Governing]

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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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