Oklahoma coverage


Oklahoma City

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) has named Brittany Lee as the director of Child Care Services. Lee’s background includes nearly 20 years of professional experience in the early childhood sector. She joins the agency form her most recent role at Sunbeam Family Services where she serves as the Early Childhood Services Operations supervisor, according to a release from OKDHS.

Lee immediately will begin a 200-day review, to include a 30-day public comment period, of all childcare regulations in the state through the lens of quality, safety and outcomes, informed by modern best practices in the industry with a goal to release smart, streamlined recommendations in order to improve the services delivered to children across the state, according to OKDHS.

“I am excited to take on a role of director of Child Care Services for OKDHS,” Lee said. “I look forward to the opportunity to lead the division toward the mission of improving quality and access to childcare services ultimately benefitting Oklahoma children and families. My experience includes teaching in the classroom, directing a childcare center, facilitating professional development and mentoring others in the early childhood field. However, the work I am most passionate about and committed to is enriching the lives of children, their families and the childcare professionals who work with them.”

Lee has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma in Education and a master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma in Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum. She has been awarded the Oklahoma Early Reading First Committed to Education Excellence Award, the Center for Early Childhood Professional Development Leadership Award and the LCG Gold Star Exceptional Directors Award, according to the release.

Oklahoma City

State Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, filed a series of election integrity bills Wednesday to further strengthen and secure the state’s election systems and encourage the Unites States Congress to do the same, according to a release from the Oklahoma State Senate.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 1 would work to help strengthen election integrity across the country and bring the focus back to the constitutional provisions regarding elections. The resolution calls on the legislatures of each state who did not report results on Election Day to use their power to audit and recount their election results. It also calls on the state legislatures to follow the constitutional provision allowing them to select electors. Finally, the resolution calls on Congress to sue their constitutional powers to pass national voter ID laws and require paper ballots, according to the release.

Senate Bill 33 would refocus the Electoral College in Oklahoma by requiring the legislature to select future electors unless Congress passes election integrity bills, including national voter ID laws. Senate Bill 30 would prohibit any members of the Electoral College in the state from casting a ballot before any candidate for president of vice president if either candidate does not meet the qualifications of a natural born citizen as required by the constitution, according to the release.

Senate Bill 32, authored by Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant, and co-authored by Dahm, would prohibit the implementation of any national popular vote system to be used for the Electoral College to cast their votes for the State of Oklahoma. Senate Bill 34 would require the secretary of the Oklahoma State Election Board to complete an audit of fandom election results to verify the paper ballots cast in the audited election to match the electronic results tabulated and tallied by the electronic machines. This would apply to most elections, according to the release.

Oklahoma City

House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, and State Rep. Scott Fetgatter, R-Okmulgee, announced last week they will have a hearing about Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program December 14, the Oklahoma State House of Representatives said in a release.

The lawmakers plan to invite speakers from the industry and Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority to present before relevant legislative committee members. The hearing will be open to the public. Fetgatter and Echols have authored several pieces of legislation to strengthen regulation around the medical marijuana industry in a manner consistent with the will of the people, according to the release.

“Industry, patients and regulators are bringing many good ideas for updates and adjustments to statute after 2 years of operating with Oklahoman’s first regulatory framework for medical marijuana. This hearing will give them and the public a chance to hear those ideas, and us as policy makers, a chance to start vetting them,” Fetgatter said.

Oklahoma voters petitioned to place the legalization of medical marijuana on a statewide ballot and State Question 788 was approved in June 2018. Medical Marijuana has since grown into a multimillion dollar industry, with more than 300,000 licensed patients More than 10,000 licensed businesses are either growing, testing or selling the substance in Oklahoma. The state question led to the establishment of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority to regulate the industry, according to the release.


Iron Gate Tulsa is partnering with The Culinary Medicine Program of the OU-TU School of Community Medicine, a branch campus of the OU College of Medicine in Tulsa, in affiliation with OU Health, to bring “food as medicine” for individuals affected by homelessness. As Tulsa’s largest standalone soup kitchen, Iron Gate provided 233,122 prepared meals and 45,630 bags of groceries in 2019, according to a release from OU Health.

Lack of housing can make it exceptionally difficult for people to manage chronic diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, which require healthy food for their control. Thanks to a grant from the Morningcrest Healthcare Foundation, the Iron Gate food service staff will work with OU Culinary Medicine Executive Chef Valarie Carter, MPH, and Marianna Wetherill OU Culinary Medicine registered dietitian and associated professor, to redesign their soup kitchen menu, according to the release.

The project will begin with a health needs assessments of Iron Gate guests, followed by piloting of new foods to ensure the final menu residing fully meets guests’ needs. Lacey Caywood, OU-Tulsa Master of Public Health candidate, will co-lead the health needs assessment and development of technical assistance manual for use by other soup kitchens across the U.S. based on their project’s work, according to the release.