HPPR Health, Education & Welfare

Health

‐state policy‐impact of federal policy‐rural health care delivery‐access & availability

Education

‐state policy‐programs and opportunities‐access & availability

Welfare

‐state policies‐income levels‐wellness‐quality of life

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The percentage of Oklahomans who smoke is lower than ever before, according to new numbers from the Centers for Disease Control.

As KFOR reports, in 2015 a little over 22 percent of Oklahoma residents smoked tobacco. As of last year, the rate had fallen to 19.6 percent.

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Oklahoma’s woes are now so dire that the state is making news in the United Kingdom. Last week, the British newspaper The Guardian published an article about Oklahoma, asking the question “Can anyone fix this failing state?”

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Kansas leaders are trying to get ahead of the opioid crisis in the Sunflower State before it grows as bad as it has in other parts of the country.

As The Hays Daily News reports, last week the Kansas Health Institute held a symposium on the issue. One overarching theme dominated the event: The opioid crisis is coming soon to Kansas.

Biosecurity Research Institute provides upper-level training for students working with transboundary animal diseases Tuesday, March 7, 2017 Program fellows Fellows in the transboundary animal diseases training program don scrubs and protective outerwear in a teaching laboratory at the Biosecurity Research Institute at Kansas State University.

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Like most of the country, Oklahoma is seeing a drop in youth tackle football participation. ESPN has reported that in the six years from 2009 to 2015, national participation dropped from around 4 million players down to about 3.2 million.

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Traffic fatalities linked to marijuana are up sharply in Colorado, but it’s unclear if legalization of the drug is to blame.

As The Denver Post reports, the number of drivers involved in fatal crashes in Colorado who tested positive for marijuana has more than doubled since 2013, according to federal and state data.

Kars4Kids / Courtesy photo

It might come as a surprise, but Kansas drivers are rude – almost as rude as New York drivers.  

As The Wichita Eagle reports, normally known as a friendly state, Kansas ranked as the 12th rudest state in the country, according to a survey from Kars4Kids, which says “Kansas drivers will let you merge in ahead of them, but make sure to speed up as soon as they do because they don’t like slow drivers.”

Kansas received the worst scores in the nation for aggressive responses to slow driving with a D+.

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Crews from the Texas Panhandle have been doing their part to help with disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

The Panhandle Red Cross has been on standby since Friday, and the humanitarian organization is seeking donations to help victims of the storm.

Meanwhile, the Salvation Army is also taking donations.

And Catholic Charities USA has set up a website devoted to Harvey relief.

smarterlunchrooms.org

A critique of a U.S. Department of Agriculture program aimed at getting students to eat significantly more fruits and vegetables suggests the benefits of the program have been exaggerated.

As The Denver Post reports, the critique, published on the academic platform PeerJ, alleges that researchers have exaggerated the benefits of the USDA’s Smarter Lunchrooms Movement, which has been adopted by over 30,000 U.S. schools since 2010.

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Over the past few years, many abortion clinics on the High Plains have shut down. In fact, the High Plains now has zero abortion clinics, which means women on the High Plains must sometimes travel hundreds of miles to access abortion services.

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Oklahoma has now set a record for the number of emergency-certified teachers its hired this year. The state has been experiencing a statewide shortage of teachers, largely due to low teacher salaries and the problem of educators moving to other states for better pay and benefits.

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It’s no secret that having a baby can be expensive. But the cost of having a child can vary a good deal depending on where you live.

The personal finance website Wallethub has compiled a list of the best and worst states to have a baby. To reach their conclusions, the site compiled several key metrics, including hospital delivery charges, average infant-care costs, and pediatricians per capita.

Colorado Department of Agriculture

The Colorado Department of Agriculture is offering a crisis hotline for farmers facing emotional crisis because of financial strains.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, Colorado's wheat and corn farmers, like those across the High Plains, are struggling as global competition forces prices down below their production costs.

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Tensions over the condition of public education in Oklahoma continue to grow more strained.

As The Oklahoman reports, the Oklahoma City Public School System is considering suing the state Legislature. Leaders of the largest school district in the state say the Legislature has consistently failed in its constitutional and moral responsibilities to the children of Oklahoma.

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Amarillo’s animal welfare office may soon change the period they’ll hold stray animals from three days to two days, reports the Amarillo Globe-News.

The new ordinance would mean that more animals may be euthanized. That’s because rescuers would have one less day to claim stray animals before they’re put down.

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In the state of Texas, while the Governor is the most prominent statewide officeholder, the Lt. Governor is generally said to be the most powerful. But recently, House Speaker Joe Straus has proven himself to be the most dominant politician in the Lone Star State.

As WFAA reports, Straus, a moderate Republican, was the most authoritative force throughout the recent special legislative session.

Millions Consumed Potentially Unsafe Water In The Past 10 Years

Aug 17, 2017
Elizabeth Sims/News21

From The Texas Tribune:

WOLFFORTH, Texas – As many as 63 million people – nearly a fifth of the country – from rural central California to the boroughs of New York City, were exposed to potentially unsafe water more than once during the past decade, according to a News21 investigation of 680,000 water quality and monitoring violations from the Environmental Protection Agency. 

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The Colorado Department of Agriculture is reporting the state’s first confirmed case of equine West Nile Virus this year.

As The Prowers Journal reports, a horse in Larimer County was diagnosed with the virus earlier this month.

The Kansas Department for Children and Families is dealing with computer problems that brought down the system used to process welfare benefits applications.

Theresa Freed, spokeswoman for DCF, says people seeking benefits can still submit paper applications and required documentation. The applications will be entered after the system comes back online.

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Rural school enrollment is on the decline in Oklahoma—and funding to rural communities is going down with it.

As The Tulsa World reports, small towns like the ones in Western Oklahoma receive a set amount of state funding per pupil. That means, when fewer students enroll, the schools and communities suffer.

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Many Texas Panhandle students will return to school this week.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, most school districts in the Panhandle have chosen to return from summer earlier this year, preceding by a week and a half the state-mandated start date of Aug. 28. Canyon ISD and four of the five Amarillo school districts will begin on Wednesday.

Rabies Cases On The Rise In Colorado

Aug 10, 2017
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Rabies cases are on the rise in Colorado this year.

As The Prowers Journal reports, the Colorado Department of Agriculture Animal Health Division sent out a release last week indicating the number of reported rabies cases in Colorado was on the rise in 2017.

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In the last three years, 3,000 Oklahomans have lost their lives due to the opioid crisis.

Now, as the Enid News And Eagle reports, state Attorney General Mike Hunter is doing his best to rein in the scourge of opioids.

But he’s got an uphill battle.

In 2014, almost 10 million prescriptions for opioids were filled statewide - the equivalent of giving everyone in the state 50 pills.

Two area hospitals earned spots on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals” list.

The University of Kansas Hospital was deemed to be the best hospital in Kansas and in metro Kansas City, while Saint Luke’s was ranked the second best hospital in Missouri, behind Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.

Stormont Vail Hospital in Topeka was deemed the second best hospital in Kansas, the only other hospital in the state to earn top honors.   

Fourteen schools in seven school districts across Kansas will work this year on revamping the way they serve children, with the goal of becoming statewide models for overhauling primary and secondary education.

The education department is branding the effort to re-envision schools as Kansas’ version of “a moon shot,” referring to the U.S. race to put a man on the moon in the 1960s.

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Safety experts are saying the decision by U.S. officials to abandon plans to require sleep apnea screening for truck drivers and train engineers puts millions of lives at risk.

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Motorists trying to drive through Amarillo have recently noticed a proliferation of the color orange - orange cones, orange traffic barrels, orange-vested road crews.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, the City of Amarillo has been the beneficiary of a wealth of department of transportation funds lately, and the windfall has resulted in infrastructure projects all over the city.

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Some Texas Panhandle school districts are standing up to what they see as unfair treatment of public school students by the Texas Legislature.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, a bill is making its way through the Texas House of Representatives that would authorize $60 million in grants for special needs students to attend private schools. The bill, known as SB 2, was already approved by the Senate during this special legislative session.

TexVet.org

Beginning next month, anyone over 18 applying for a driver’s license in the state of Texas will have to take a course to understand the dangers of driving while distracted.

As The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports, the class is called the “Impact Texas Young Drivers” course, and it highlights the dangers of texting while driving. A similar two-hour video course was introduced for drivers under the age of 18, two years ago.

Rural Areas Hit Hardest By Opioid Epidemic

Aug 2, 2017
FUTUREPROOF / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

The opioid epidemic has hit rural areas like Morton County, Kansas harder than other areas, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, the staff of the tiny Morton County Hospital in southwest Kansas has gotten good at identifying repeat customers: people who regularly show up looking for opioid pain medicines.

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