In The Know: Oklahoma high court says state law would ban all drug-induced abortions

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that in response to a question from the US Supreme Court, the Oklahoma Supreme Court said a state law would effectively ban all drug-induced abortions, including for ectopic pregnancies that have no chance of a viable birth. A former office director for Gov. Mary Fallin is suing the governor, alleging wrongful termination and Oklahoma Open Records Act violations. A judge allowed former state lawmaker Randy Terrill to remain free on bond while he appeals his conviction for bribery.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education will ask for nearly $175 million in additional funding for fiscal year 2015. Broken Arrow Superintendent Jarod Mendenhall is calling school administrators statewide to move on a vote of “no confidence” in State Superintendent Janet Barresi. Broken Arrow Public Schools is posting a series of articles assessing Oklahoma’s education reforms and funding. You can read the series here.

David Blatt’s Journal Record column discusses how lawmakers are talking about moving Oklahoma Medicaid to a managed care system without considering how a similar experiment in the 1990s already failed. The OK Policy Blog examines food stamp cuts taking effect in November will reduce aid for 1 in 6 Oklahomans. In response to a growing number of earthquakes linked to oil and gas industry activities, the state Insurance Commissioner said Oklahomans should buy earthquake insurance.

The New York Times reports on how Texas is seeking to redraw its border with Oklahoma in a dispute over water. A PBS documentary on the Latino dropout crisis and efforts to increase graduation features a Tulsa teenager. The OK Gazette reported on how Oklahomans increasingly support medical marijuana and decriminalization, even as that state enforces some of the harshest marijuana laws in the nation.

The Number of the Day is how many veterans in Oklahoma receive SNAP benefits (food stamps). In today’s Policy Note, Business Insider explains why ‘private’ health insurance in the US is already a government benefit provided through private channels.

In The News

State law would ban all drug-induced abortions, Oklahoma high court says

A state law on the use of drugs to induce abortion would effectively ban a federally approved method to terminate pregnancies, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in a closely watched case that ultimately will be decided by the nation’s highest court. The Oklahoma Supreme Court — responding to questions from the U.S. Supreme Court — said the law passed in 2011 would prohibit all drug-induced abortions. The state court struck down the law as unconstitutional last year. The case gives the U.S. Supreme Court — which hasn’t accepted an abortion case in several years — an opportunity to decide whether states can ban a method of abortion that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Read more from NewsOK.

Gov. Fallin accused of violating Open Records Act

A former office director for Gov. Mary Fallin is suing the governor, alleging Oklahoma Open Records Act violations. Wendy Gregory, who directed the governor’s Tulsa office from January 2011 to December 2012, filed the lawsuit in Oklahoma County District Court on Tuesday. Gregory seeks her personnel and employment records, as well as the office’s policies and procedures manual. In an Oklahoma County wrongful termination lawsuit filed Jan. 31, Gregory claimed Denise Northrup, Fallin’s chief of staff, asked her to turn in her smartphone and keys Dec. 10, 2012, after learning of an IRS garnishment filed against her.

Read more from NewsOK.

Judge allows ex-lawmaker to remain free on bond as he appeals bribery conviction

An Oklahoma County judge on Wednesday allowed a former state lawmaker convicted of bribery to remain free on bond while he appeals his conviction. District Judge Cindy Truong set a $10,000 bond for former Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore, who was found guilty by a jury Tuesday evening of offering a bribe for withdrawal of candidacy, a felony. Terrill’s jury recommended he serve a one-year prison sentence and pay a $5,000 fine. Formal sentencing is scheduled on Dec. 5.

Read more from the Associated Press.

Extra $175 million sought for state Department of Education

The Oklahoma State Department of Education will ask for nearly $175 million in additional funding for fiscal year 2015, bringing the total budget request to $2.58 billion. State Superintendent Janet Barresi also briefly addressed the problems with the A-F school report cards at Tuesday’s state Board of Education meeting. More than 1,100 data verification requests were made by school districts, she said, which resulted in the numbers jumping around throughout the review period. The state school board will hold a special meeting in November to finalize the school report cards and release them to the public.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Broken Arrow superintendent calls for vote of “no confidence” in state superintendent

Broken Arrow Superintendent Jarod Mendenhall is calling school administrators statewide to move on a vote of “no confidence” in State Superintendent Janet Barresi. “It has become quite evident that it is time to strike,” Mendenhall wrote in an email sent Saturday to school administrators in both the Tulsa and Oklahoma City areas. He recommended that educators “move sooner rather than later on a ‘no confidence’ statement regarding our current state Department of Education leadership.”

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Broken Arrow school district posts series on state education woes

Broken Arrow Public Schools is taking a fresh approach to changing the direction of public education. “While it would be simple to only attack the incompetency of the leadership at the state department (of education), I believe our community deserves a clear understanding of all the issues affecting their child’s education,” Superintendent Jarod Mendenhall said. On Tuesday, the district launched a four-part series of articles on its website called “Pass or Fail? A Comprehensive Look at Our Students’ Educational Future.” The district mailed out 40,000 fliers to patrons in Broken Arrow over the weekend to alert them to the website series.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

See also: Pass or Fail? A Comprehensive Look at Our Students’ Educational Future from Broken Arrow Schools

 Prosperity Policy: Lessons unlearned?

Last week, the Oklahoma Senate held an interim study to examine proposals to move the state’s entire Medicaid population, including seniors and people with disabilities, into managed care plans that pay health care providers a set price for each patient (known as full capitation). The legislators listened to guests from Florida, Georgia and Kansas who have embarked down the managed care road. What legislators didn’t hear was anything about Oklahoma’s failed experiment with Medicaid managed care.

Read more from the Journal Record.

SNAP Down: Reduced food benefits set to hit one in four Oklahomans

The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP, is a lifeline for low-income Oklahomans. Residents whose net earnings total are at or below the federal poverty level – just shy of $20,000 per year for a family of three – may be eligible. Over 615,000 Oklahomans, or one out of every six residents, receive SNAP benefits. This includes 24,600 veterans, 116,000 disabled or elderly adults, and 294,000 children. Four out of every ten SNAP recipients in the state is a child.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner’s advice: Buy earthquake coverage

A week after the U.S. Geological Survey warned of increased earthquake risk in central Oklahoma, possibly because of oil and gas activity, state Insurance Commissioner John Doak is urging Oklahomans to buy earthquake insurance. Most homeowners and renters policies don’t cover earthquake damage, which can cost $100-$150 a year. Oklahoma’s earthquakes are expected to continue and don’t appear to be naturally occurring, federal seismologist Bill Leith wrote in in the USGS alert.

Read more from StateImpact Oklahoma.

Rethinking the Oklahoma border

Inside a dimly lit water-pumping station that juts over choppy waters, Denise Hickey toes an imaginary line that has fueled real disputes over water, oil and property taxes, dating back to the Louisiana Purchase. “You’re in Texas, and I’m in Oklahoma,” said Ms. Hickey, a spokeswoman for the North Texas Municipal Water District, to a reporter standing five feet away. The boundary, marked by three orange circles painted on the concrete floor, passes through two of the largest water pumps. Four pumps sit squarely in Oklahoma, while one, a smaller structure resembling the “Star Wars” robot R2-D2, lies in Texas. So it is, and will always be across this vast reservoir along the Red River. Or will it?

Read more from the New York Times.

Documentary “The Graduates/Los Graduados” features Tulsa teen

Darlene Bustos is working toward the rest of her life. One day at a time. She became pregnant at 15, dropped out of school, had a baby and then learned a valuable lesson as a teen mom. Bustos, 19, is one of six Latina/Latino students from across the country featured in the documentary “The Graduates/Los Graduados,” which traces how their road to high school graduation and beyond was detoured and then reclaimed. The documentary, examining the roots of the Latino dropout crisis and efforts to increase graduation, aired nationally as a presentation of “Independent Lens” with the first part Monday and the second part Nov. 4 on PBS.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma residents increasingly support medical marijuana and decriminalization

Faced with some of the harshest marijuana laws in the nation, Oklahoma residents overwhelmingly favor its use for medical purposes while also endorsing decriminalization. Recent survey data from shows 71 percent of likely Oklahoma voters support amending the law to allow for physician-authorized patients to consume cannabis for therapeutic reasons. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have enacted similar measures since 1996. Other survey results show 57 percent prefer treating minor marijuana violations as noncriminal, fine-only offenses.

Read more from the Oklahoma Gazette.

Quote of the Day

Why should anybody who is not Latino care about the education of Latino students? The nation as a whole will not be able to compete in a global marketplace unless we can educate these young people. How can we accept having huge swaths of our population simply marginalized, left out

-Patricia Gandara, co-director of The Civil Rights Project at UCLA, in a PBS documentary on the Latino dropout crisis and efforts to increase graduation. One of the students featured in the film is a Tulsa teen (Source:

Number of the Day


The number of veterans in Oklahoma receiving SNAP benefits (food stamps).

Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis of data from the U.S. Census

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Here’s the truth — Your ‘private’ health insurance is already a government program

Health insurance isn’t a “product” like a toaster. It’s a government benefit provided through private channels. I did not expect to spark mass outrage when I said this on Twitter Monday. But I did get a lot of outrage. So let me explain why health insurance isn’t like a toaster or, more to the point, why it isn’t like other kinds of insurance. Most insurance products are designed to turn an individual’s risk of loss into a predictable cost. For example, if your home is in a high-crime neighborhood or especially susceptible to natural disasters, you’ll pay more. Because of this, we can more or less let people buy whatever kind of homeowner’s insurance they like, or none at all. But health insurance doesn’t just allow individuals to turn risks into fixed expenses. It is also designed to shift costs across individuals, away from the sick and toward the healthy.

Read more from Business Insider.

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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.

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