The Weekly Wonk: 2017 poverty profile; making justice reform retroactive; spring interships; and more…

What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.

This Week from OK Policy

This week, we published the 2017 Oklahoma Poverty Profile showing that Oklahoma’s poverty rate has been higher than the national average for more than a decade. We also released another episode of the OKPolicyCast where we spoke about retroactivity and commutations with our criminal justice policy analyst Damion Shade and Colleen McCarty, a law student and intern with Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform’s commutation campaign. Applications for our paid, part-time spring internships launched this week, and students have until Friday, November 16th at 5:00 pm to submit their applications. 

Following a week of tragedy across the nation, Strategy and Communications Director Gene Perry urged Oklahomans to stand against fear and make an informed vote. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update discussed three interim studies before the House Committee on Children, Youth and Families regarding changes in foster care, the rising cost of child care, and family reunification. Executive Director David Blatt’s weekly Journal Record column thanked public-spirited Oklahomans for their willingness to make a difference by running for office.

OK Policy in the News

The Sandusky Register and the Springfield News-Sun in Ohio cited OK Policy’s analysis of SQ 780 as Ohio voters decide whether to pass a similar criminal justice reform. NewsOK quoted Policy Director Carly Putnam about Congressional Republicans’ attempts to repeal protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

The Intercept spoke with Executive Director David Blatt about the potential of surprise victories for Democrats in Tuesdays elections. Mother Jones cited OK Policy’s research on Oklahoma’s gross production taxes in a story on confrontations between teachers and the oil and gas industry.

Bloomberg News spoke with David Blatt about SQ 800 to deposit a portion of Oklahoma’s oil and gas revenues in a permanent endowment fund. NonDoc cited OK Policy’s analysis in a story on SQ 800. The OU Daily shared OK Policy’s information on SQ 798 and SQ 794. Rep. Marcus McEntire used OK Policy’s research in a presentation on Oklahoma state questions covered by the Duncan Banner.

Insurance Commissioner candidate Kimberly Fobbs cited OK Policy’s research on Medicaid expansion in a Q&A with the Tahlequah Daily Press. KGOU spoke to Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison about what’s preventing Oklahomans from getting car insurance and why a new program to impose automatic fines with traffic cameras is unlikely to help.

Upcoming Opportunities

Election day is this Tuesday, November 6th from 7 am to 7 pm: There are just a few days left before thousands of Oklahomans cast their ballots. To help voters in their election research, OK Policy has published fact sheets on each State Questions and gathered useful links and deadlines. We also published graphics with supporting and opposing arguments on each state questions on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. Visit our #OKvotes page to find election information, important dates, voter tools, and much more. 

Weekly What’s That

Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission, What’s That?

The Judicial Nominating Commission is a body of the Judicial Department tasked with selecting appellate judicial nominees for gubernatorial appointment. The Judicial Nominating Commission was created in 1967 following the bribery scandals of the Oklahoma Supreme Court during the 1960s. The purpose of the commission was to create a nonpartisan body to select judicial nominees based on merit, rather than leaving appellate judicial selection up to a general election. Click here to read more.

Look up more key terms to understand Oklahoma politics and government here.

Quote of the Week

“We performed a more rigorous analysis and controlled for things like local market conditions such as unemployment rate, median income and also hospital characteristics to see if the increased probability of closure in states that did not expand Medicaid remain — and it did.”

-University of Colorado professor Richard Lindrooth, whose study found that the probability of rural hospitals closing increased by more than 81 percent in states that refuse to expand Medicaid [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Editorial of the Week

Jeff Jaynes: Stop the charge — Support immigrant families in need of services

Families will suffer. People who could help our country grow will be barred from citizenship because they need to feed their families. Illegal immigration may actually increase. And the burdens of food, shelter and health care will not go away but will be shifted from federal programs, which our tax dollars have already paid for, to states and cities, local churches and nonprofits like Restore Hope. [Tulsa World]

Numbers of the Day

  • 33.8% – The percentage of Oklahoma’s population living in rural areas, 16th highest in the U.S.
  • 70% – Percentage of incarcerated women in Oklahoma suffering from mental illness (2016).
  • 20 students – The class size limit for grades 1 through 5 put in place by Oklahoma’s 1990 education reform bill. Lawmakers began exempting schools from meeting this class size limit due to underfunding over the past two decades, and today all school districts in Oklahoma have been exempted.
  • -337 – Net job loss among all Oklahoma firms in 2016, with 172,047 jobs created and 172,384 jobs destroyed.
  • $40,528 – Median household income for Native Americans in Oklahoma in 2017, compared to $50,051 median income for all Oklahoma households.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Can your employer legally discriminate against you? [AZCentral]
  • Women in prison punished more harshly than men around the country. [Chicago Reporter]
  • The ballot revolt to bring Medicaid expansion to Trump country. [Politico]
  • Understanding health insurance. [Kaiser Family Foundation]
  • Blue-collar men are riding America’s economic wave. Women? Not so much. [Washington Post]


Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

Leave a Reply

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