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PM NewsBrief: Nov. 15, 2022

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This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022.

HPV vaccines

Fewer than two thirds of Oklahoma teens have gotten vaccinated against Human Papilloma Virus. Rates are even lower for those in rural areas.

HPV is a sexually transmitted infection and can cause cervical cancer later in life. It’s common. The CDC estimates about 13 million Americans contract an HPV infection annually

But rates have decreased since a vaccine was released in 2006. It’s a two-dose series, and public health officials recommend children get the vaccine around 11 or 12.

In Oklahoma, about 60 percent of children aged 13-18 have received the vaccine. That’s according to research published this month by a partnership of OSU Rural Health, Northeastern State University in Tahlequah and with Purdue University.

Rates were lower in rural areas than in urban, and they were also lower among Hispanic and multicultural teens.

Respondents were asked why they opted out, and researchers say the most common answers were safety concerns and lack of doctor recommendations.

Medical association to continue political push through lobby for abortion exceptions

The Oklahoma State Medical Association says it will push during the next legislative session for exceptions to Oklahoma’s strict abortion laws.

Pat Hall, long-time lobbyist for the trade group representing physicians, says OSMA plans to approach friendly state legislators about including exceptions around rape, incest, and the life of the mother.

“We’re going to ask the leadership of the House and the Senate. We’re going to ask them to go back in, have a bill that carves out exemptions. I think they’ve heard from the public. They’ve certainly heard from the national narrative. It’s time for them to come back in, review that cruel bill they passed, reevaluate it, come back in and fix their mistakes. It happens all the time. They get in a hurry, they pass a bill, they come back the next year and tweak it,” said Hall.

Hall said aside from the cruelty, there’s concern in the medical field that Oklahoma’s restrictions will push obstetricians out of the state.

“If you continue to lose OBs at the rate we’re going to be losing them, where will Oklahoma be? How are you going to recruit business to this state if there are no doctors to deliver babies?”

The efforts for 2023 will follow what Hall calls an unprecedented midterm push by OSMA to get “Reagan Republicans” elected. The group spent $3 million supporting designated "pro-science" candidates, and Hall said it was successful in helping to get 51 out of 55 preferred candidates into office.

Hall said a big win was was the reelection of state Rep. Rhonda Baker, chair of the House common education committee. A loss was the defeat of Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister by incumbent Gov. Kevin Stitt for Oklahoma’s governorship.

“It was not a big risk for OSMA to support Superintendent Hofmeister. People inside the Capitol already had an understanding that we — medical doctors, along with our Native American tribes and educators — were three groups that the Stitt administration had pointed out, that we were almost persona non grata.”

Despite any setbacks, Hall said OSMA will continue to be involved politically in a number of matters, including advocating for "patient-centered" changes to Stitt’s Medicaid managed care plan that features heavy involvement from insurance companies. OSMA also plans to keep challenging politicians who defy education.

“The entire house of medicine is going to be on offense, not defense. We’re going to go after these anti-science people,” said Hall.

Oklahoma receives millions from multi-state settlement with Google

Oklahoma is one of 39 states receiving part of a more than $390 million multistate settlement with Google.

Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor announced the state will receive over $6 million from a settlement with Google over its location tracking practices after a multistate investigation revealed the tech company had been violating consumer protection laws since at least 2014.

It was found Google misled users about the extent to which they could limit the company’s location tracking, resulting in users’ movements being recorded even after they told the company not to track them.

The settlement also requires Google to take steps towards transparency with consumers about their location tracking practices and the types of location data they collect.

Gov. Stitt Chief of Staff appointee

A former private Christian university administrator will serve as Chief of Staff to Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt.

Brandon Tatum served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at Oklahoma Christian University. He’s also served on Stitt’s education committee and on the Statewide Virtual Charter Board as Stitt’s appointee.

One major idea Tatum has championed at OC is partnering with workplaces. For example, the university recently started a program where teachers’ assistants and paraprofessionals can earn their degrees and certifications online while still working at schools.

And while Tatum’s role as chief of staff encompasses more than just education, analysts say he’ll likely play a big role in helping Stitt convince state legislators to get on board with publicly funded private school vouchers.

OKC Parks input survey

Oklahoma City is seeking public input for several park improvement projects.

The city is inviting residents to share ideas on improvements to nearly 100 community and neighborhood parks as a part of MAPS 4.

The feedback gathered from residents will help consultants as they develop a master plan and assess park conditions and potential expansion needs.

To participate in the survey visit MAPS4parks.com.

You can hear the full conversation on the latest Capitol Insider and on the Capitol Insider podcast.

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