In The Know: Gov. Mary Fallin to speak on final night of GOP convention

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

Gov. Mary Fallin to speak on final night of GOP convention: Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and Oklahoma City energy executive Harold Hamm are on the list of speakers for the Republican National Convention released Thursday morning. Fallin spokesman Michael McNutt said the governor is tentatively scheduled to speak on July 21, the last night of the convention. It was not known immediately when Hamm will speak. Fallin’s appearance apparently will be part of the build up to the Donald Trump’s first appearance as the GOP nominee [Tulsa World].

One inmate dead after knife fight at Oklahoma prison: One inmate was stabbed to death and three others hospitalized after a fight in a day room filled with temporary bunk beds at the Mack Alford Correctional Center. The fight began about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday in a day room where bunks were set up to deal with overcrowding, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections said. Gregory Smith, 29, suffered stab wounds and was pronounced dead at Mary Hurley Hospital in Coalgate. He had been serving a life sentence for murder [NewsOK]. The effects of budget cuts on Oklahoma prisons are hidden but dangerous [OK Policy].

State Says 3-Year-Old Probe into Virtual School Continues: Nearly three years ago, Gov. Mary Fallin requested an investigation into allegations of fraud against the state’s largest virtual charter school. State agents launched the probe of Epic Charter Schools and, about a year later, turned their findings over to the Attorney General’s Office. Since then, no charges have been filed against Epic or its employees, and no announcement has been made about the case. But after recent inquiries about its status by Oklahoma Watch, an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman revealed agents are now “re-interviewing” people in connection with the investigation [Oklahoma Watch].

Norman Specialty Hospital To Close: Norman Specialty Hospital is a 50-BED long-term, acute care hospital where most patients stay for, on average, about a month. This week employees say they were told the place is closing down Friday. They don’t know whether they’ll be paid. They don’t know what will become of their patients. And nobody from the hospital will answer questions about it. Employees say the announcement came out of nowhere. “I mean, none of us really knew it was going to happen,” said Asheton Arebalo, a Certified Nursing Assistant at Norman Specialty Hospital [News9].

The decade Oklahoma’s ag jobs vanished: Since 1990, the number of agricultural jobs in Oklahoma has declined by 77 percent, according to figures from the U.S. Census. This period of employment decline in the farming and ranching industry—once a pillar of the state’s job market—coincides with the expansion of corporate-industrial agriculture that began with the legalization of corporate agriculture in 1969 and accelerated with the arrival of concentrated swine and poultry production in the early 1990s. Oklahoma is currently engaged in a heated debate over agriculture policy, as voters consider State Question 777, a controversial amendment to the state’s constitution that would provide members of the agriculture industry with a private right of action to challenge laws that restrict their technology and production practices [OK Policy].

Oklahoma Farm Bureau backing Right to Farm: Oklahoma Farm Bureau supports State Question 777, commonly called the Right to Farm Bill, and the organization is doing all it can to encourage voters to do the same when they mark their ballots Nov. 8. Oklahoma Farm Bureau director of field operations for public policy Mark Yates gave members of Stillwater’s Frontier Rotary Club an overview Thursday, outlining why the organization supports adopting an amendment to the state constitution that would limit the state’s ability to regulate farms and ranches [Stillwater News Press].

We will all pay the price for Oklahoma’s ‘decency deficit’: I‘ve got good news and bad news. Perhaps the best news is that children’s health outcomes are improving, so now Oklahoma is ranked 34th nationally. Further, Oklahoma children’s well-being is improving — from 37th to 35th in the nation. We now only need to pass four states to become average in our children’s economic welfare. Last, the child-poverty rate dropped by a point to 22 percent, which is average for the nation. The bad news is that the modestly improving metrics listed above must be considered along with other sad statistics [John Thompson / NonDoc]. Oklahoma continues to lead the nation for the largest cuts to general school funding since the start of the recession [OK Policy].

SQ 788: Dorman predicts ‘big year’ for medical marijuana: What do Donald Trump and 2014 Oklahoma gubernatorial candidate Joe Dorman have in common? They’re both in favor of medical marijuana. Trump’s support of medicinal cannabis has drawn far fewer headlines than so many of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s other “policy” expositions. Perhaps it’s because his opponent, Hillary Clinton, also supports medical marijuana [NonDoc].

What the Legislature really needs: It’s not unusual for legislative-exes to extend their taxpayer-financed careers once leaving office. Consider: ex-Rep. Dan Sullivan is Grand River Dam Authority CEO, ex-Rep. Tad Jones is Will Rogers Memorial Museum director, and ex-Sen. Sean Burrage is Southeastern Oklahoma State University president. It’s also not uncommon for former lawmakers to remain prominent figures at the Capitol, serving as lobbyists – think ex-Rep. Terry Ingmire, ex-Sen. Jim Dunlap, and one-time House Speaker Steve Lewis. This week, though, came news that at least three outgoing state senators are taking a different route in their post-legislative careers: They’re setting up a think tank [Arnold Hamilton / Journal Record].

Former Tulsa oral surgeon accused of exposing patients to HIV, hepatitis won’t serve prison time: A former Tulsa oral surgeon who surrendered his dental license in August 2014 amid claims his practice may have exposed thousands of patients to HIV and hepatitis has been sentenced to two years of probation with six months of that under house arrest. Judge Greg Frizzell issued the sentence on Thursday afternoon for Wayne Scott Harrington, who pleaded guilty April 13, two days after federal prosecutors filed information charging him with two counts of money laundering [NewsOK].

Multicounty grand jury finds no wrongdoing in contributions to Sheriff Vic Regalado’s special election campaign: The state’s multicounty grand jury finished its service Thursday with the state attorney general announcing jurors found no wrongdoing related to contributions to Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado’s special election campaign. In its final report issued Thursday afternoon, the jurors wrote a note indicating a group of donors to Regalado’s campaign denied violating rules of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma multicounty grand jury announces indictment against former legislator, current regent in embezzlement case: Oklahoma’s multicounty grand jury on Thursday announced an indictment against regent Terry J. Matlock regarding accusations he used embezzled funds from a Hugo-based electric cooperative for his personal use. Matlock, a former state legislator who currently is a regent with the Regional University System of Oklahoma, is accused of committing the offenses while he was CEO of the Choctaw Electric Cooperative [NewsOK].

Settlement Over Texoma Park Privatization Worries Locals, Costs State: Lake Texoma State Park was once one of Oklahoma’s most popular parks. Then much of it was sold to a private development firm that has yet to fulfill its promise to build multi-million dollar resort. The matter was recently settled in court, but many local residents don’t like the result. Even on a Tuesday, campers dot the shore at Lake Texoma State Park and vacationers fire up their bass boats and jet-skis. The park is bustling, really [StateImpact Oklahoma].

Quote of the Day

“I don’t think they’re going to do anything with it, personally. It’s been eight years, and they haven’t even started. So I don’t have much faith that they’re going to.”

– Sheldon Stauffer, of Kingston, Oklahoma, on the lack of development that followed the sale of 750 acres of Texoma State Park land to a private company that was expected to build restaurants, golf courses, and similar tourist attractions on the land [Source]

Number of the Day


Total number of English Language Learner students in Oklahoma in the 2013-2014 school year.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

A radical idea to compensate black homeowners harmed by racial bias: Homes in black middle-class neighborhoods, like the one where Natalie Y. Moore grew up on the South Side of Chicago, typically don’t gain value over time the same way homes in mostly white middle-class neighborhoods do. The people who live there are penalized for biases built into the housing market. White home buyers seldom consider neighborhoods with even a modest black population, and so housing demand is much lower in those communities. That drives down prices and muzzles appreciation. It means that homeownership simply isn’t as good of a deal in neighborhoods that are even slightly black [Washington Post].

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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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