In The Know: Gov. Fallin applied for $3 million Affordable Care Act grant

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.

A new report released by Oklahoma Watch reveals that Gov. Fallin applied for a $3 million Affordable Care Act grant designed help states develop innovation and efficiency in health care delivery. The Governor has previously steadfastly refused to consider accepting federal funds to expand health coverage to low-income Oklahomans. In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt discusses the release of 31 emails from the Governor’s office concerning with the state’s refusal to expand eligibility, noting that they deal far more with a 2012 blog post written by the right-leaning think tank Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs than they do with the impact of leaving 150,000 Oklahomans without health care.

NewsOK reports that Oklahoma has one of the highest teen birth rates in the nation, and that its teen birth rate has declined more slowly than most states. Vox discusses the falling teen birth rate nationwide. Oklahoma City Public Schools are considering expanding its partnership with the state Department of Human Services, including placing social workers in high-poverty schools to help connect students and parents with social services. OKCPS Superintendent Rob Neu is challenging local business leaders to play a greater role in funding schools and supporting students. Class started on Tuesday for students in the rebuilt Moore elementary school after the previous building was destroyed by a tornado, killing seven students. Previously, M. Scott Carter of the Journal Record had revealed that the old building had been constructed with code violations, without which it likely would have withstood the tornado. Confusion and glitches with a new enrollment process meant that hundreds of Tulsa Public School students were unable to start school on Wednesday. After struggling with years of lagging student achievement, three Tulsa elementary schools are opening with nearly all-new faculties.

The OK Policy Blog re-examined the novel Kind of Kin, which explores the fallout of immigration politics on a small Oklahoma town. We had recommended the book last summer, but revisited in light of recent immigration issues. The author, Oklahoman Rilla Askew, recently published an essay in This Land Press about growing up near McAlester. Some local officials say that the city of Lawton saw economic benefits from increased activity at Fort Sill when some 1,500 refugee children from Central America were housed there this summer. We’ve debunked some myths about the children at Fort Sill before.

A state senator  who helped write a law a law that took effect in 2013 giving the state Department of Mental Health greater oversight into Narconon Arrowhead expressed dismay over reports that the agency buried the results of an investigation into the facility.  Three Narconon patients have died at the facility since 2011. Al Jazeera America examined an Oklahoma juvenile sex offender program with very high success rates, which the program credits to its emphasis on not treating children like criminals. A Tulsa World editorial questioned why the state has so far refused to release its records of a botched execution in April. In their final debate, Tulsa county district attorney candidates discussed office operations and procedural issues. The state Ethics Commission is considering amending its rules to allow the agency to collect fees for training events and materials.

According to a new study, the state of Oklahoma’s gay marriage ban could be costing the state over $20 million in a three-year period. The state Banking Commission says that it is not planning to add any new legislation. The National Park Service has awarded two Native American tribes in Oklahoma nearly $100,000 in grants to assist in the return of human remains and cultural artifacts. The Number of the Day is the total number of motor vehicles registered in Oklahoma in 2011. In today’s Policy Note, FiveThirtyEight discusses why there aren’t good statistics on the number of Americans killed by the police every year.

In The News

Corrected Report: Fallin, State Applied for Obamacare Grant

Gov. Mary Fallin has applied to participate in an Affordable Care Act program designed to help states develop innovative models for delivering care and reducing costs for participants in Medicaid, Medicare and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. In a story posted on July 31, Oklahoma Watch reported inaccurately that the state had chosen not to participate in the State Innovation Models grant program. The inaccuracy was caused by a series of miscommunications between Oklahoma Watch and the governor’s office. Oklahoma Watch regrets the error. Fallin’s grant application is significant because it suggests she is willing to pursue federal funding opportunities provided by the Affordable Care Act despite her opposition to two of its key components: Medicaid expansion and creation of a state-run health exchange.

Read more from Oklahoma Watch.

Hit and miss

Last week, Gov. Mary Fallin finally released 31 emails previously withheld on grounds of executive privilege. The 2-year-old Open Records request had sought emails related to her decision to turn back federal funds for building a state health insurance exchange and expanding Medicaid for low-income Oklahomans. Yet the emails reveal little discussion or debate in her administration about these major health policy decisions. They do, however, provide a worrisome look at what the governor’s office did perceive as issues worthy of its time.

Read more from the Journal Record.

Oklahoma’s teen birth rate remains high, decreasing at a lower rate than most states

Oklahoma has one of the highest teen birth rates in the nation — and that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. Only New Mexico had a higher teen birth rate than Oklahoma in 2012, a report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows. And although Oklahoma’s teen birth rate has decreased over the past 20 years, it has decreased more slowly than rates for every state in the nation except North Dakota and South Dakota. Public officials say Oklahoma could do a better job of educating youth about prevention and family planning.

Read more from the NewsOK.

See also: The mystery of the falling teen birth rate from Vox.

Oklahoma City Public Schools Consider Social Worker Problem

Oklahoma City Schools wants to expand a partnership connecting students, parents, and DHS. We’re talking about putting a social worker in school buildings. For the past five years, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary has had an in-school social worker. The principal says it will take a lot of pressure off the school and the parents. The school is considered “high risk” with more than 80-percent of the students receiving free or reduced lunches. “If a child comes to school hungry, it’s more difficult for them to learn and to grasp information,” said MLK Elem. Principal, Cherron Ukpaka.

Read more from News9.

OKC Schools Superintendent Challenges Business Leaders To Step Up

Oklahoma City’s Public Schools Superintendent asked business leaders to step up and support students. He laid out exactly how businesses can get involved to make a difference. The big message to business leaders was that education is the bedrock of any great city and for Oklahoma City to continue improving, the community has to step up and help reform the public schools here. And that starts with business leaders getting involved inside the schools. “Schools can’t do it alone and we know this,” said OKCPS superintendent, Rob Neu.

Read more from News9.

Rebuilt elementary school in Moore reopens after 2013 deadly tornado

Coulter Clark peeked in his new lunchbox. There, slipped in with a sandwich and snacks, was a note from his mom. “My Big 1st Grader!” Jami Pratte had written in black marker on a white paper napkin. “I Love You! Have a great day!” And she signed it with a smiley face. That was just one of the many ways a new era began Tuesday morning in Moore for children at the rebuilt Plaza Towers Elementary School. The new $12 million building opened on the site where a tornado destroyed the old school May 20, 2013, killing seven third-graders.

Read more from NewsOK.

See also: Deathtrap: Moore tornado debris reveals construction flaws, code violations from the Journal Record.

Parents face long lines during last-minute enrollment at TPS

Hundreds of students were unable to attend the first day of class at Tulsa Public Schools on Wednesday because they weren’t enrolled yet. This year, TPS changed its enrollment process. Instead of parents being able to enroll their kids at their individual school, the district required parents to visit the new enrollment center in midtown. Even though the enrollment center opened in July, hundreds of parents waited until the final few days of summer to enroll their kids, creating long lines at the center. “It’s ridiculous. It’s too long,” said one parent.

Read more from KJRH.

McClure, two other Tulsa elementary schools begin year with all-new faculties

Every first day of school represents a fresh start, but for McClure Elementary School, Wednesday marked an extraordinary kind of new beginning. After years of lagging student achievement and then a particularly tumultuous couple of years at McClure, Tulsa Public Schools officials decided drastic change was needed and announced in March that the school would be one of three in the city to do a faculty “restart” before 2014-15. That meant that then-first-year McClure Principal Katy Jimenez would have an opportunity to build a team of teachers from scratch — and the result was that only 10 of the 40 teachers who worked there last year remain.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

[Summer Rerun] Read This: “Kind of Kin”

It’s rare to find a novel set in Oklahoma; it’s rarer still to find a novel set in Oklahoma that actually feels like Oklahoma, with all of its quirks, dangers, and beauty. Author Rilla Askew is Oklahoman herself and it shows; Kind of Kin is funny, poignant, and very smart. The novel deftly describes the fallout of immigration politics in a small (but fierce) Oklahoma town. Competing factions of families, faith communities, local politicians, and the migrants themselves struggle to adjust as forces outside their control shape their worlds.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

See also: Near McAlester from This Land Press.

Officials say facility that processed immigrant children helped boost Lawton’s economy

Some officials say a southern Oklahoma city saw economic benefits from a facility that processed children who entered the country unaccompanied. More than 1,800 unaccompanied immigrant children came through Fort Sill in southwestern Oklahoma before the facility closed earlier this month, according to federal officials. It had opened in June. A 2008 law requires that unaccompanied child immigrants from countries that don’t border the U.S. be handed over to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours, or three days, of being apprehended.

Read more from the Republic.

See also: Debunking myths about migrant children at Ft. Sill from the OK Policy Blog.

State Senator Speaks Out After Latest Narconon Lawsuit

A state Senator is speaking out after two former investigators with the State Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse say the agency hid the results of the high profile investigation into Narconon Arrowhead. The agency launched the investigation in July 2012 after three people died at the Scientology based drug treatment facility. More than a year later, the agency claimed it was still investigating. But two lawsuits filed by Kim Poff, the former Inspector general for the agency, and Michael DeLong, the other investigator in the case, say the report was finalized in the fall of 2012.

Read more from News9.

An Oklahoma program treats juvenile sex offenders as kids, not criminals

Sex offender. The phrase conjures pariahs living under bridges. Adults “grooming” children for devastating abuse. Violent men who take what is not freely given. Broken people. And yet, here comes Tyler, bounding down the hall with his dusty blonde Justin Bieber haircut and chunky sneakers. He turned 16 today. He and his family have just come from Chuck E. Cheese. Tyler’s mom smiles as she tells the other parents in her support and education group at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center, “Teenagers can regress back to Chuck E. Cheese if they want.”

Read more from Al Jazeera America.

State sitting on Lockett records

For no given reason, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections is sitting on its version of events from the botched execution of murderer Clayton Lockett. Lockett writhed and moaned during the April 29 execution at Oklahoma State Penitentiary. After the process clearly had gone wrong, Corrections Director Robert Patton ordered the execution stopped, and blinds were drawn to block the view of media witnesses. Some 43 minutes after the procedure started, Lockett died of a heart attack.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

District attorney candidates discuss specifics of office operations at final debate

At what may be their last public debate before Tuesday’s runoff election, Tulsa County district attorney candidates Fred Jordan and Steve Kunzweiler delved into the specifics of how the office works and what changes may or may not be necessary. The League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Tulsa hosted the forum at the Tulsa County Bar Association on Wednesday. Questions, some posed by a local law professor and others submitted by audience members, sought the candidates’ opinions on the necessity of annual reviews for assistant district attorneys and a 1-to-1 ratio of support staff to prosecutors as well as the merits of deferred prosecution, in which no charges are formally filed.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Ethics Commission To Consider Fees For Training

The Ethics Commission will consider an amendment to its rules that would permit the agency to collect fees for training events and from lobbyists and campaign committees. Under the proposed Ethics Rules amendment, the executive director would be authorized to establish and collect registration fees to participants for training and education seminars, classes and similar programs and for related materials.

Read more from KGOU.

Study: Same Sex Marriage Ban Costing Oklahoma Millions

While the ban on same-sex marriage in Oklahoma has been ruled unconstitutional, marriage ceremonies still cannot be performed. One study by a think-tank on LGBT issues has found that could be costing the state over $20 Million. The Williams Institute out of UCLA has conducted studies across the nation on the economic impact of same-sex marriages. Now it’s conducted one for Oklahoma, and it has the owner of this bridal shop asking, what if? “Money’s not everything, but you need it to survive,” said Jane Kelly, Owner of JJ Kelly Bridal. Kelly has turned the page on the state’s ban of same-sex marriage, and it’s paid off.

Read more from news9.

Banking Board Not Planning Any New Legislation And Up For Accreditation

Banking Commissioner Mike Thompson said during the Wednesday meeting that the board is not expecting any substantial or correlating bills that will impact upon the entity. “We don’t see, unless the OBA (Oklahoma Bankers Association) has something, that we may have a very complex bill, if any this session,” said Thompson.

Read more from KGOU.

Park Service Awards Grants To Two Oklahoma Tribes

Two Native American tribes in Oklahoma have received grants to assist in the return of human remains and cultural objects. The National Park Service awarded the Delaware Nation more than $87,000 and the Pawnee Nation more than $12,000. Projects that can be funded under the grants include consultations to identify individuals and cultural items, training, digitizing records and preparation and transport of items back to the tribes.

Read more from KGOU.

Quote of the Day

“I wouldn’t label this an Obamacare grant. I think that classification is confusing to people and, in a sense, inaccurate.”

– Alex Weintz, Governor Fallin’s Communications Director, referring to a $3 million grant that the state applied for under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) (Source:

Number of the Day


Total number of motor vehicles registered in Oklahoma in 2011

Source: U.S. Office of Highway Policy Information.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Nobody Knows How Many Americans The Police Kill Each Year

Earlier this month, a police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri. The shooting and the response have reignited concerns about racial profiling, police brutality and police militarization. The incident has also drawn attention to a remarkable lack of knowledge about a seemingly basic fact: how often people are killed by the police. Some reporting has put forward one of the only figures available: the approximately 400 “justifiable police homicides” each year since 2008, according to the FBI’s annual Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR). That data point has appeared with heavy caveats in a string of media reports, including in USA Today, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Washington Post. The statistic might seem solid at first glance.

Read more from FiveThirtyEight.

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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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