In The Know: Superintendent-Elect Hofmeister Announces Transition Team

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.

Superintendent-Elect Joy Hofmeister announced on Thursday that she had selected a group of Oklahomans to advise her as she transitions into her new role as Superintendent of Public Instruction. The state Regents for Higher Education, which oversees Oklahoma’s 25 colleges and universities, is asking for nearly $100 million in additional funding for the next fiscal year, bringing their total requested appropriation to more than $1 billion. Oklahoma’s preterm birth rate has dropped, but still remains well above targets, prompting the March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card to award the state a ‘C’ grade.

 The Tulsa World argued that recent drops in oil prices are bad for Oklahoma because so much of the state’s economy relies on the industry. In his Journal Record column, Oklahoma Observer editor Arnold Hamilton suggested three takeaways from the recent elections. The Tulsa World’s Editorial Board praised new transparency laws that went into effect on Saturday. The state received $1 million in federal Affordable Care Act funds to help establish or expand behavioral health services for almost 3,000 people. State health officials say that at least 14 people have been diagnosed with the flu in Oklahoma since late September. We’ve written about why everyone should get a flu shot before.

A spate of domestic violence-related homicides in Tulsa this summer has prompted plans for a summit on the issue in early 2015. A blog post on the New York Times’ editorial blog praised the state Supreme Court for blocking two laws would have closed all but one of the state’s abortion providers. The state Supreme Court has elected John Reif to serve as the Court’s new chief justice, replacing Chief Justice Tom Colbert, who will rotate out of the position. 

The Chickasaw Nation is partnering with a tech start-up that’s developing an app to help women on WIC determine which grocery items are WIC-eligible and where they can be purchased. The Number of the Day is the number of obstetricians and gynecologists working in Oklahoma in 2013. In today’s Policy Note, Vox examines the plight of workers trapped in forced labor in the US.

In The News

Oklahoma Superintendent-Elect Hofmeister Announces Transition Team

Superintendent-Elect Joy Hofmeister announced on Thursday that she has appointed a team of Oklahomans to advise her as she transitions into the state superintendent’s office. “I am very honored that such a quality group of people would be willing to volunteer their time to help me as I transition to my new role as Superintendent of Public Instruction,” Hofmeister said in a news release.

Read more from NewsOn6.

State Regents For Higher Education Ask Legislature for $1 Billion For Next Year

The board that oversees Oklahoma’s 25 colleges and universities is asking the Legislature for more than $1 billion for the upcoming fiscal year— an increase of nearly $100 million from the current year’s budget. The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education approved the $1.08 billion budget Thursday during its regular meeting in Oklahoma City.

Read more from KGOU.

Oklahoma’s preterm birth rate improves, yet thousands still are born too soon

Oklahoma’s preterm birth rate dropped again, earning it a better grade on the March of Dimes 2014 Premature Birth report card. Oklahoma’s preterm birth rate was 12.8 percent in 2013, down from 13.0 in 2012, earning it a “C” on the report card. The preterm birth rate is calculated based off the percentage of all babies delivered with less than 37 completed weeks of gestation, or time spent in the womb.

Read more from NewsOK.

View the report card here.

Oil price drop bad for Oklahoma

The price of gasoline is falling and likely to fall further. With the holidays nearing, that ought to make a lot of people happy. But the price of gasoline is dropping because the price of oil is dropping, and that definitely is not good news for Oklahoma. Despite growing American petroleum independence, Saudi Arabia still has enough energy muscle to cause the recent drop in oil prices.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma: Red, apathetic and little blue

Here are three takeaways from this week’s elections: Rural Oklahoma is now reliably Republican red. It’s true that all incumbent Democratic legislators won re-election, many in districts outside the metro areas, particularly in eastern Oklahoma. More revealing is this: The GOP captured all but one of the open seats previously held by Democrats.

Read more from the Journal Record.

Toward a more open Oklahoma

Two important additions to state transparency law went on the books Saturday. New laws open public access to most state troopers’ dash cam videos and allow citizens to enforce their rights to attend public meetings through the court and then to collect their legal fees.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma gets $1 million for behavioral health

Oklahoma is getting $1 million in federal funds to help health centers in the state establish or expand behavioral health services for 2,696 people. Health Resources and Services Administration Administrator Mary Wakefield announced the Affordable Care Act funding on Thursday. Nationally, $51.3 million in funding is being distributed to support 210 health centers serving about 440,000 people.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Health officials: Flu cases on the rise in Oklahoma

Health officials say the flu virus is just starting to take hold of Oklahomans this fall. The Oklahoma State Department of Health says 14 patients have been diagnosed with the flu since Sept. 28, 2014. Adair and Oklahoma counties both reported five flu cases each this year. According to the health department’s data, it seems the 2014 flu season is following a similar path as the past two flu seasons.

Read more from KFOR.

See also: Go get your flu shot. Yes, you. Now. from the OK Policy Blog.

Spate of domestic violence-related homicides in Tulsa prompts plan for summit

A rash of domestic violence-related homicides since summer has prompted officials to announce a summit on the issue in hopes of removing Oklahoma from the list of top states for family violence. More than a dozen officials gathered at Tulsa police headquarters Thursday for a news conference to condemn domestic violence and show their support for the summit, which will be held in early 2015.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

An Oklahoma Court’s Good Move on Abortion Rights

This week’s focus on the abortion-related ballot measures in Colorado and North Dakota (where “personhood” initiatives were emphatically defeated), and Tennessee (where a majority of voters weakened protection of reproductive rights) has obscured a notable Election Day development in a fourth state: Oklahoma. On Tuesday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court issued a pair of orders blocking enforcement of two egregious new laws designed to make it more difficult than it already is for women to obtain safe and legal abortions in that state.

Read more from the New York Times.

John Reif Elected To Serve As OK Supreme Court New Chief Justice

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has elected John Reif of Tulsa to serve as the high court’s new chief justice, effective Jan. 1. The court announced the results of its elections on Tuesday. The nine-member court also elected Justice Douglas Combs of Shawnee as vice chief justice. Reif will replace Chief Justice Tom Colbert, who will rotate out of the chief justice position.

Read more from KGOU.

Now There’s an App to Help Poor Moms Access Nutrition Programs

A long line has formed at a grocery checkout and people are impatient and fidgeting. The cashier has just rung up a large purchase. He’s slid a woman’s payment card twice through the credit card reader and twice her card has been declined. He runs it a third time and explains to the mother with two squirming children the transaction was rejected. As other customers grow irritated, the checker begins to rescan the items one by one by one.

Read more from Governing.

Quote of the Day

“In Oklahoma we have a lot of [unemployment or low income, substance abuse and access to weapons]. Those are the top three risk factors for a person to be killed by their partner, and we don’t do great in any of those three areas.”

– Tracey Lyall, executive director of Domestic Violence Intervention Services, discussing domestic violence in Oklahoma. The city of Tulsa is convening a domestic violence summit in 2015 to address domestic violence in the community (Source:

Number of the Day


Number of obstetricians and gynecologists working in Oklahoma in 2013

Source: OESC 2013 Wage Report.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Forced labor in America: Thousands of workers are being held against their will

There are thousands of immigrants working in forced labor in the United States — lured into the country by false promises and then trapped or threatened by their employers so that they’re unable to leave. Here’s how it happens: a person in Mexico or the Philippines, for example, finds out about an opportunity in the United States through a friend or relative. An employer is offering a nursing job that comes with a green card — so long as the immigrant pays many thousands of dollars in fees and puts her family in debt.

Read more from Vox.

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.