The Weekly Wonk: 7th annual Summer Policy Institute kicks off #okspi

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

Today, the OK Policy team is kicking off the 7th annual Summer Policy Institute, a four-day program that will bring together more than 60 of Oklahoma’s brightest undergraduate and graduate students for an immersion in state policy issues. We will live-tweet the event starting at noon today from @okpolicy, and you can join the conversation using #okspi.

Due to the program, In The Know and The Weekly Wonk will be on break next week. Please consider a donation to support one of the many exceptional students who will attend the Summer Policy Institute. To stay true to our mission, we allow all accepted students to attend regardless of their ability to pay. Click here to support the Summer Policy Institute (you can select Apply My Donation to Summer Policy Institute). 

In his weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt urged Oklahoma policymakers to give greater scrutiny to senior tax preferences with the aim of targeting them to low-income seniors. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update gave us a preview of the Oversight Committee for the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT) prior to its first meeting on Tuesday. 

In this week’s edition of Meet OK Policy, we are featuring Mental Health Policy Fellow Maggie den Harder. You can meet more members of our staff here.

The signature collection effort for SQ 802, the initiative petition to expand Medicaid coverage for low-income adults, kicked off this week. Our SQ 802 Information and Resources page explains the proposal and shares links with reports, op-eds and other useful information.

OK Policy in the News

Budget and Tax Senior Policy Analyst Paul Shinn spoke to Public Radio Tulsa about the impact of Oklahoma’s sales-free weekend.

Upcoming Opportunities

Enforcing Poverty: Oklahoma’s Reliance on Fines & Fees Fuels the State’s Incarceration Crisis: The Lawyers’ Committee is hosting a panel discussion in Muskogee about Oklahoma’s practice of funding its public justice system almost entirely by heavy fines and fees on the state’s poorest residents. This event will take place on Monday, August 4th, 4:00 pm at 300 W. Martin Luther King Street, Muskogee, Oklahoma. For more details, contact The Lawyer’s Committee at

We’re hiring a field organizer in northeast Oklahoma: Organizers will work to expand our membership base, support our volunteer leaders, and equip and train individuals for effective advocacy. Organizers will develop local outreach strategies and convey our policy proposals throughout their region in an engaging and empowering way. The deadline to apply is Friday, August 16th at 5:00 pm.

Weekly What’s That

Tribal Gaming Compacts, what’s that?

In 2004, Oklahoma voters approved SQ 712, which set up a model compact between the state and Native American tribes to regulate tribal gaming operations. Under the compact, tribes were authorized to operate specified games in return for making exclusivity payments to the state. The compacts were signed for a 15-year period. Compacts expire January 1, 2020 and will automatically renew for successive additional fifteen-year terms, provided that, within 180 days of the compact’s expiration  either the tribe or the state may request to renegotiate specified portions of the compact’s terms. Click here to read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“A hospital closure is a frightening thing for a small town. It places lives in jeopardy and has a domino effect on the community. Health care professionals leave, pharmacies can’t stay open, nursing homes have to close and residents are forced to rely on ambulances to take them to the next closest facility in their most vulnerable hours.”

– Patti Davis, president of the Oklahoma Hospital Association, on how losing a hospital can devastate rural communities, leaving them with diminished prospects for economic development [Gatehouse News]

Editorial of the Week

The Oklahoman Editorial Board: A new escape route for domestic violence victims

We have written a handful of times since its opening in 2017 about the good work done by Palomar, an Oklahoma City facility that helps victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, elder abuse and human trafficking. A new initiative underway merits further attention. [The Oklahoman]

Numbers of the Day

  • 27 months – Median prison stay for commercial drug crimes in Oklahoma in FY 2018. This is 60 percent longer than the national average.
  • 27.3% – Percentage of murders that were intimate-partner murders (one spouse killing the other) in 2017
  • #1 – Oklahoma’s national ranking for the percentage of public high schools (98.8%) offering concurrent enrollment in college coursework compared to 75.2% nationally.
  • 40% – Percent decrease in Oklahoma’s teen birth rate from 2010 to 2017.
  • 24% – Number of Oklahomans on Soonercare who were hospitalized for mental illness that received follow-up care within 7 days of leaving the hospital.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Behind the minimum wage fight, a sweeping failure to enforce the law [POLITICO]
  • 18 and On Your Own: A new way to ease the transition from foster care [Governing]
  • Key Florida Republicans now say yes to clean needles for drug users [NPR]
  • Black workers are being left behind by full employment [Brookings]
  • ‘Urgent needs from head to toe’: This clinic had two days to fix a lifetime of needs [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.

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