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Should law enforcement be able to take citizens’ property without filing charges? (Capitol Updates)

by | September 4th, 2015 | Posted in Capitol Updates, Criminal Justice | Comments (0)

Photo by Thomas R Machnitzki

Photo by Thomas R Machnitzki

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol. You can sign up on his website to receive the Capitol Updates newsletter by email.

An interesting tug-of-war has developed between Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, author of SB 838 changing Oklahoma’s asset forfeiture law and Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Loveless introduced SB 838 with two weeks remaining in last year’s legislative session, saying at the time that he wanted to have an in-depth study of the current law and hear from Oklahomans who believe they have been the victims of unfair treatment through the forfeiture process. Sen. Loveless made a timely request for an interim study which was later assigned to Sykes’ Judiciary Committee for hearing.

Loveless arranged for some distinguished witnesses for the study hearing, including John Malcolm, Director of the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and a Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation as well as a former deputy assistant U.S. Attorney General under President George W. Bush; Brad Cates , former director of the US Department of Justice asset forfeiture office under President Ronald Reagan; Adam Bates from the CATO Institute; Stephen Henderson, Professor of Law, University of Oklahoma School of Law; Brady Henderson, Legal Director, American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma; and Jacquelyn Ford, Attorney at Law. Opposition for SB 838 has come mainly from District Attorneys, Sheriffs and other law enforcement agencies who both enforce and benefit in their official capacities from asset forfeiture.

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In The Know: Oklahoma state tax revenues continue slide

by | September 4th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Oklahoma state tax revenues continue slide: For the fourth consecutive month, tax receipts were down along with the price of oil. Gross receipts in August dropped 3.5 percent below the same month last year as collections from oil and natural gas were lower. Oil and natural gas collections are likely to get worse before they get better. That’s because the collections in the current report are from oil-field activity in June when oil prices were higher than they are now [NewsOK].

Pruitt keeps fighting decision to remove Ten Commandments monument: Despite the Oklahoma Supreme Court already ruling on the issue, Attorney General Scott Pruitt filed a legal brief asking the Court to consider whether their interpretation of the Oklahoma Constitution “creates hostility toward religion that violates the U.S. Constitution.” Brady Henderson, legal affairs director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, which filed the case against the monument, called Pruitt’s brief desperate, frivolous and outlandish. He said he was considering asking the court for sanctions and damages to be levied against the attorney general [NewsOK].

Oklahoma City considers not finishing American Indian Cultural Center: A firm out of St. Louis will look at what could happen if Oklahoma City decides not to finish the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum. We’re coming up on 10 years since construction began. It stopped in 2012. Mayor Mick Cornett says the legislation was passed with a lot of strings attached and the city was never consulted as negotiations took place [News9].

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Upcoming Event: Policy & Practice lecture series discusses the future of children in DHS care

by | September 3rd, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Children and Families, Upcoming Events | Comments (0)

On September 22, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) will host Mr. Brandon Crawford, MA and Dr. Zohre Salehezadeh, Ph.D. for their lecture “Children in DHS Care: What the Future Holds for Them” as part of the Policy & Practice lecture series.

Every year, hundreds of children are removed from home and placed into DHS care. Many of them are reunified or adopted after a few months, but some of the children stay in DHS care for many years, and, upon turning 18, leave the system and are lunged into the “real world” with little or no experience. Using data from various agencies across the state, researchers from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Office of Planning, Research and Statistics, Road to Independence project will share findings regarding the outcomes of these children who came into Oklahoma’s child welfare system, in addition to risk factors for negative outcomes such as homelessness and criminal justice involvement, using various statistical analyses.

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In The Know: ConocoPhillips says it’s cutting 10 percent of jobs

by | September 3rd, 2015 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

ConocoPhillips says it’s cutting 10 percent of jobs: The Houston-based energy company says it is cutting about 1,810 jobs following a plunge that took oil prices to their lowest levels in years. ConocoPhillips has already cut 1,000 jobs this year. Bartlesville, where the company has about 1,700 employees, will be affected by the sizable workforce reductions, but specifics were not available [Tulsa World].

Rural schools find help from tribes: In the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s 11 counties, there are 46 school districts. While the students are attending school, the tribe is concerned what they will do once they’ve graduated. The tribe’s employment and training manager Courtney Josie said some parents in the area do not have a high school diploma and are not encouraging their children to pursue education later, and her department often has to work with the whole family when it comes to career planning. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation is one of many tribes helping to fill in the gaps in education in the rural areas [Journal Record].

Life expectancy gap between ZIP codes in Tulsa County narrows: “Narrowing the Gap,” a partnership between the health department, the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa and the George Kaiser Family Foundation, shows that from 2000 to 2002, people in the north Tulsa ZIP code of 74126 lived to an average age of 67. Those in the south Tulsa ZIP code of 74137 lived to be almost 81. Since that time, the gap has narrowed from 13.8 to 10.7 years [Tulsa World].

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In The Know: Forfeiture foes debate from opposite ends of the turnpike

by | September 2nd, 2015 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today In The News

Forfeiture foes debate from opposite ends of the turnpike: At the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, witnesses assembled by Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, testified to a forfeiture process rife with real and potential problems that encourage the seizure of private assets by law enforcement. At the Tulsa Police Academy in north Tulsa, a roomful of law officers and prosecutors voiced outrage at that notion and said forfeiture is one of the most important weapons in the war against drugs [Tulsa World].

New data again shows what Oklahoma is giving up by refusing to expand coverage: Another day, another reminder that Oklahoma’s politically-motivated refusal to expand health coverage for low-income residents is having a real impact in limiting access to health care for tens of thousands of Oklahomans. According to Gallup, Oklahoma now has the third-highest uninsured rate in the US [OK Policy].

Oklahoma school districts look for ways to make lunches healthy, enjoyable: Beginning in the summer of 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture began phasing in stricter nutrition standards for school meals. It was the first update to the school nutrition standards in 15 years. The law is set to expire Sept. 30, and reauthorization has been held up in Congress by opponents, some of whom say the cost of healthier foods burdens schools [NewsOK].

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New data again shows what Oklahoma is giving up by refusing to expand coverage

by | September 1st, 2015 | Posted in Blog | Comments (0)

gallup uninsured 1Another day, another reminder that Oklahoma’s politically-motivated refusal to expand health coverage for low-income residents is having a real impact in limiting access to health care for tens of thousands of Oklahomans.

It’s been two years since the Affordable Care Act’s largest provisions expanding health coverage to the uninsured took effect. In August, Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index released a study comparing the number of uninsured in 2013 with the number of uninsured in the first half of 2015 across all 50 states. The poll found that states that have embraced two primary state-level components of the Affordable Care Act – expanding access to coverage for low-income residents and establishing state-run health insurance marketplaces – have generally seen more progress in reducing the percent of residents without health insurance than states that have not.

According to Gallup’s polling, Oklahoma now has the third-highest uninsured rate in the US (17.7 percent), surpassed only by Wyoming (18.2 percent) and Texas (20.8 percent). Since 2013, Oklahoma has seen the sixth-lowest percent change in the uninsured. The state’s uninsured rate has only dropped by 3.7 percentage points in the last year and a half. With the exception of Texas, Oklahoma’s uninsured rate far outpaces that of any neighboring state.

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In The Know: State education board votes to allow data release

by | September 1st, 2015 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today In The News

State education board votes to allow data release: It just got easier to find out basic details about Oklahoma school districts, such as graduation rates, after the state repealed a controversial rule used to redact data for many districts. The state Board of Education voted 6-0, with Cathryn Franks absent, to repeal a rule that was used to redact the graduation rates for 58 percent of the states school districts [Oklahoma Watch].

Asset forfeiture: Do police seize innocent people’s money?: On a March evening in 2013, William Cicco drove away from his Broken Arrow home with a paper bag on the front passenger seat containing $15,555 in cash. He and his wife had been arguing. Cicco left with what he said was money from their savings and a second-mortgage loan. He never imagined the cash would make him a suspect in drug trafficking [Oklahoma Watch].

Prison and medicine: Costing Oklahoma: Last year, the state of Oklahoma spent over $84-million on medication for inmates in the Oklahoma Department of Correction.  As in society, prison populations are aging.  Here in Oklahoma, 17% of the prison population is over the age of 50 and increasing annually [KWGS].

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In The Know: State law enforcement seized at least $6.1M over five years

by | August 31st, 2015 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today In The News

ACLU review finds Oklahoma law enforcers seized $6.1 million in properties along I-40: Law enforcement officers in a dozen Oklahoma counties along Interstate 40 seized $6.1 million in civil forfeiture actions over a 5-year period, with nearly two-thirds of the money taken in cases where no criminal charges were filed. That’s according to an American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma review of court records for 12 of the 13 counties along the I-40 corridor [NewsOK]. Sen. Kyle Loveless (R-Oklahoma City) says he’s withdrawing his request for an interim study on civil asset forfeiture laws in Oklahoma and instead plans a panel discussion on the issue [Tulsa World].

Mental health crisis teams provide a hospital without walls: For more than a decade in Tulsa, intensive, wrap-around support teams have been helping people in the city who face the most significant mental health diseases.  This is the last step before long-term institutionalization or even incarceration. The OU IMPACT team finds them, whether in their own homes, under a bridge, in a homeless shelter or crashing on a friend’s sofa [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma County jail not set up for mental health patients, experts say: Jail leaders say that the county needs a new jail, in large part, because of how mental health services must be delivered in the current jail. The Oklahoma County jail was not built with people with mental illnesses in mind. Not only was the jail built without a mental health unit but also without a medical floor or offices for physicians [NewsOK].

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The Weekly Wonk: School meals, oil and gas dependence, TSET, and more…

by | August 30th, 2015 | Posted in Weekly Wonk | Comments (0)

the_weekly_wonkWhat’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 released an issue brief by Policy Analyst Carly Putnam outlining the Community Eligibility Provision, a tool that can help make high-poverty schools in Oklahoma hunger-fee by serving free breakfast and lunch to all students. Summer Intern Chan Aaron investigated if the state had reduced its dependence on oil and gas.

In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis noted that using the Tobacco Settlement Trust Fund to give teachers a raise would quickly deplete the fund and leave the initiatives TSET funds without support. On September 17-18, Mental Health Association Oklahoma will host the 21st Zarrow Mental Health Symposium.

Introducing FallPol

You’re invited to join us for our first-ever OK Policy Fall Policy Institute (FallPol) on Saturday, October 3rd, at Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond! Designed for emerging professionals, advocates, educators, volunteers and more, this one-day training will delivery a solid overview of significant policy issues in Oklahoma. Click here to learn more.

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It wouldn’t take long for education to use up tobacco trust (Capitol Updates)

by | August 28th, 2015 | Posted in Capitol Updates | Comments (0)

tsetSteve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol. You can sign up on his website to receive the Capitol Updates newsletter by email.

The first couple of legislative rounds have been fired across the bow toward Oklahoma’s budget woes that show every sign of continuing into next year’s session. Sen. Bryce Marlatt, R-Woodward, has proposed a constitutional amendment to allow funds from the Tobacco Settlement Trust Fund to be used for an across-the-board teacher pay raise. Although he didn’t specify in his press release, he apparently intends the money to come from the corpus of the trust which is now over $1 billion.

Senator Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, has proposed giving the legislature authority to use earnings from the fund for doctor training, recruitment and retention. According to the tobacco settlement negotiated by state attorneys general in 1998 the tobacco companies are required to pay money to each state so long as tobacco is sold in the state. After considerable debate Oklahoma, in a vote submitted to the people by the legislature in 2000, created a constitutional trust fund in which to deposit 75% of the tobacco settlement money. Earnings last year were about $52 million.

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