The Weekly Wonk: New OK Policy leader; interim studies; how to improve child well-being; & 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 announced that Ahniwake Rose, an Oklahoma native who is currently serving as Deputy Director of the National Congress of American Indians in Washington, D.C., has been chosen to lead the organization as its next Executive Director. She will replace longtime director David Blatt, who earlier this year announced his intention to step down this fall.

In his weekly Journal Record column, Blatt wrote about Oklahoma’s ranking in the bottom ten for child well-being in the 2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update gave us the highlights on the wide range of interim studies requested by House lawmakers. 

In this week’s edition of Meet OK Policy, we’re featuring our Mental Health Policy Analyst & Mental Health Policy Fellowship Coordinator Lauren Turner.

OK Policy in the News

Indian Country News, Cherokee Phoenix, and the Journal Record wrote about OK Policy’s executive director announcement.

Open Justice Oklahoma Director Ryan Gentzler spoke to The Appeal about private companies running pretrial services in Oklahoma.

The Norman Transcript and CHNI wrote about Oklahoma’s ranking in the 2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book.

Weekly What’s That

Initiative Petition, what’s that?

Oklahoma citizens have the right to initiate statewide legislation via ballot measures, or State Questions, in the form of either statutory or constitutional amendments. Click here to read more about inititative petitions.

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

Quote of the Week

“I’m actually looking at making more money as a machinist than I did at anything before prison. I’ve got a resume, and I’ve got skills in hand. I messed up one year in my life, but that’s not going to define me.”

-Jake Parnell, a student of CareerTech’s machinist program at McLeod Correctional Facility in Atoka [The Oklahoman]

Editorial of the Week

It ain’t rainin’, but Big Oil is pourin’ water down your back

The members of the Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance are proud to have led the way for a flat 7% gross production tax for all wells to pay our teachers properly. The Legislature compromised at 5% GPT for new wells. This was a huge win for the state and a compromise we supported. The improvement of teacher recruitment and tax revenue are now the result, as promised. But the narrative of the big oil company association continues to be that they are overtaxed even after the 5% GPT compromise [Dewey F. Bartlett Jr. / Tulsa World].

Numbers of the Day

  • 24% – Percentage of all Oklahoma prison admissions in 2017 that were due to a violation of the terms of probation or parole.
  • $537,682,903 – Total expenses for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections in FY 2019.
  • 16.7% – Percentage of Oklahoma 6th to 12th graders who said they have seriously considered attempting suicide in the past 12 months.
  • 6.4% – Increase in home prices in Oklahoma in the first quarter of 2019 compared to a year ago.
  • 28% – Percentage of children in Oklahoma whose parents lack secure employment (2017).

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Babies are more likely to die in states that didn’t expand Medicaid. [Governing]
  • The other reasons kids aren’t getting vaccinations: Poverty and health care access. [NPR]
  • The city that’s giving people money. [CityLab]
  • 1 in 4 workers in U.S. don’t get any paid vacation time or holidays. [CBS News]
  • An unlikely weapon in battling poverty: Diapers. [Inquirer


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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