Feb. 26: Bill Would Require Marriage Program A House committee has approved a bill that would require certain couples who have children and are seeking a divorce to go through an Oklahoma Marriage Initiative program before the divorce is granted. House Bill 2249 by Rep.
ByOklahoma Watch and Clifton Adcock and Tulsa World and Ziva Branstetter
A majority of small general hospitals in Oklahoma are losing money, and health care officials warn that some hospitals could close, be sold or cut services.
Federal financial reports for nearly every hospital in the state, obtained by Oklahoma Watch and analyzed and reported with the Tulsa World, show that in each year from 2009 to 2012, between half and three-fourths of general hospitals with fewer than 100 beds lost money. Most are in small cities or rural areas. More than half posted losses in multiple years.
Larger hospitals fared better. In each year during the four-year period, between 7 percent and 19 percent of general hospitals with 100 beds or more lost money.
From 2010 to 2012, of the 66 officers who had their certifications revoked or suspended, were given a letter of reprimand, or surrendered their certification, according to records from the Council on Law Enforcement and Education, or CLEET, 18 were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, sex crimes.
More than a quarter of Oklahoma peace officers who were disciplined by the state's certification agency or surrendered their certifications over three years were convicted of or pleaded guilty to sex crimes, according to records analyzed by Oklahoma Watch.
Shawn Theo Thomsen, a former Kingfisher County deputy, received a five-year suspended sentence in July 2010 after pleading to a felony charge of lewd acts with a child under 16. Thomsen has since moved to Texas, where he is a registered sex offender. According to state records, though, Thomsen still has an active Oklahoma peace officers certification.
In July 2010, a former Kingfisher County Sheriff’s Office deputy pleaded no contest to a charge of committing lewd acts with a child when he was an officer two years earlier.
Shawn Theo Thomsen, then 43, was given a five-year suspended sentence, court records show. Now living in Texas, he’s required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Despite the crime, Thomsen is still certified as a peace officer by the Council on Law Enforcement and Education, or CLEET. State law requires that the state agency take away certification for an officer who pleads guilty or no contest to a felony charge, thus removing him or her from law enforcement.
Hugh Meade hopes he can find a health plan that costs less than his home mortgage. Katie Bolin is looking for an insurer who won’t turn her down for pre-existing conditions. Ricardo Lopez Jr. wants coverage so he can stop going to free clinics.
Meade, Bolin and Lopez are among several hundred thousand uninsured Oklahomans whose lives could change when the next phase of the Affordable Care Act takes effect.
Oklahoma veterans and active-duty military personnel are killing themselves at twice the rate of civilians, despite increased efforts to address the problem.
The 2011 suicide rate for soldiers was about 44 per 100,000 population, according to an Oklahoma Watch analysis of Oklahoma State Department of Health data. This rate includes active-duty military as well as veterans from the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Gulf War, Vietnam, Korea and World War II. The civilian rate for people over the age of 18 was about 22 per 100,000.
Nearly 4,400 homeless Oklahomans were identified during the 2013 statewide count of homeless people, reflecting a slight decrease over two years ago, according to numbers released this week by state officials.
The statewide Point-in-time Homeless Count, which is conducted in January and mandated by the federal government every two years, seeks to identify each state’s homeless population. Some cities, including Oklahoma City and Tulsa, also do homeless counts in other years, but the statewide count is biennial.
In just six weeks, nearly one in 10 Oklahomans will be able to buy subsidized health policies from private insurance companies through a new online marketplace set up by the federal government.
Many more who don’t qualify for the subsidies will still be able to shop on the marketplace and obtain coverage, even if they’ve been turned down in the past for pre-existing conditions.
But it won’t be simple. Several companies will offer policies, with different levels of coverage. Tax credits will be available for people falling within certain income ranges. Many people will need one-on-one assistance to navigate the registration process.
Oklahoma’s arrest rate for marijuana possession is slightly above the national rate, and arrest rates vary considerably among counties, according to an Oklahoma Watch analysis of 10 years’ worth of FBI data.
Click on a button to see a county’s rate of arrests for marijuana possession. Each button is placed on a county seat. The red buttons denote the counties with the highest rates.