In The Know: Anti-fracking ban bill advances

by | April 24th, 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.

The state House passed a bill to prevent officials in towns, cities and municipalities from banning oil and gas drilling. It now returns to the Senate. House minority leader Scott Inman (D – Del City) spoke against the bill, describing it as a loss of local control. The Executive Director of the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma called for greater political will to fix the state’s mental health crisis. On the OK Policy Blog, we explained what critics of our poll showing that most Oklahomans don’t want a tax cut got wrong. Most Oklahomans say the state has cut the state income tax too much or just the right amount, and that Oklahoma is not spending enough on education funding.

Attorneys for the family of the man killed by a Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office reserve deputy are demanding the results of a prior internal investigation into the deputy. The judge assigned to the case is considering recusing himself due to prior ties to the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office. A national report confirmed that Oklahoma has seen the US’s largest increase in earthquakes triggered by human activity. The state Board of Education delayed a vote to approve a contract with the state Attorney General’s office for legal service. The legal conflict over festivalgoers bringing firearms to the Norman Music Festival will likely extend to the city’s other outdoor events.

Tulsa has seen a three-year decline in its chronically homeless population, but the number of situationally homeless has increased 50 percent since 2008. Oklahoma Watch reported that many of the state’s nursing homes require residents or their families to submit to binding arbitration as a condition to being admitted, despite the fact that such agreements violate state law. Cherokee Principal Chief Bill John Baker says that the fifty bison brought to Oklahoma by a program that takes extra bison from national parks and places them with tribes throughout the US are doing well, and have nine calves.

The Number of the Day is 8.6 miles – the typical commute for Oklahoma City metro residents. The typical commute for residents of the Tulsa metro is 8.0 miles. In today’s Policy Note, CityLab examines a new index that measures well-being in the US’s 435 congressional districts, plus Washington DC, based on measurements of life expectancy, access to knowledge, and standard of living.

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In The Know: Training expert says Oklahoma police laws need changes

by | April 23rd, 2015 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (1)

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.

 Oklahoma’s top law-enforcement trainer is pushing for changes to laws that allow volunteer reservists to serve a law enforcement officers with little training. A volunteer Oklahoma deputy charged in the shooting death of an unarmed man pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter and won approval for a controversial vacation to the Bahamas. Although execution by gas is being introduced in Oklahoma as a more humane method of capital punishment, Politico showed that this method has been tried before in the United States but was rejected after many botched executions.

The Tulsa County Jail has broken ground on an addition that includes specially designed pods for people suffering from mental illness. The new Oklahoma Director for Right on Crime wrote an op-ed encouraging the Legislature to reform the state’s extremely harsh sentencing laws. A large number of strict mandatory minimum prison sentences have played a role in Oklahoma’s sky high incarceration rate. The Oklahoman examined records of civil rights complaints against Oklahoma schools over the past few years.

On the OK Policy Blog, we discussed how Oklahoma may go back to automatic retention of all third graders who don’t pass a high-stakes reading test. The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has purchased 1,000 cribs for families to help prevent sleep-related infant deaths. StateImpact Oklahoma shared an update on bills they are watching this year related to energy, water, and the environment. David Blatt’s Journal Record column discussed how Oklahoma excludes large numbers of poor families from finding a good quality of life. 

The Legislature sent to the governor bills that allow clergy and judges to refuse to officiate marriages on religious grounds. An association of Oklahoma corrections employees has filed a lawsuit against the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services over plans to stop allowing its members to pay dues by payroll deduction. The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that county assessors who fail to raise the assessed value of a home during the tax year improvements are made cannot raise it in future years. Gov. Fallin has scheduled special elections for two state House seats in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

The Number of the Day is 63% – the percentage of Oklahoma residents who said they had a great deal or a fair amount of trust in state government when it comes to handling state problems. In today’s Policy Note, the Economic Policy Institute examines what policies have been shown to work and what policies don’t work when it comes to raising wages.

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In The Know: District audit details racial discrepancy in OKC schools suspensions

by | April 22nd, 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.

An internal audit by Oklahoma City Public Schools shows a huge racial disparity in the rates of students being suspended from school. Twelve OKC elementary schools suspended more than 40 percent of their black students in 2011-2012. The Oklahoma Department of Education asked a testing vendor to deactivate a program that gave students immediate proficiency level scores, over concern about its demoralizing effect on students. The Oklahoma City Council called on the Legislature to head off further budget cuts at the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics.

OK Policy is now accepting applications for paid part-time or full-time summer interns. KJRH looked at the debate over whether Oklahoma should cancel or delay a planned tax cut when we’re looking at a $600 million budget shortfall. An online form to contact your legislators about the tax cut is available here. Oklahoma was second in the nation for job losses last month, behind only Texas. The Legislature has sent to Governor Fallin two proposals that would develop a system for evaluating tax breaks to determine their effectiveness.

The Oklahoma Geological Survey reported that it believes the majority of the earthquakes in central and north central Oklahoma have been triggered by wastewater disposal wells used in oil and gas exploration. Governor Fallin announced the launch of earthquakes.ok.gov, a website for sharing research, regulations, updates and news items related to Oklahoma’s recent earthquakes. Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater, called for a moratorium on wastewater disposal wells in 16 counties experiencing the earthquake swarm.

More than two dozen people spoke before an overflow crowd in Stillwater on Monday as the city council considered whether to restrict oil and natural gas drilling in and near the city limits. The Legislature is considering bills that would take away cities’ rights to regulate drilling. The Wall Street Journal reported that a string of oil-field worker deaths, including one in Oklahoma, may be caused by asphyxiation or heart failure from inhaling hydrocarbon chemicals. A bill being considered in the Legislature has split Oklahoma’s small oil and gas producers from the larger operators in the state, with some alleging it would give large operators the right to steal oil.

The Oklahoma House defeated a resolution that would have added Oklahoma to the list of states petitioning Congress for a convention to alter the U.S. Constitution. Critics of the constitutional convention effort have warned that it could make radical changes to the Constitution and the outcome can neither be known nor controlled. The Oklahoma Senate approved legislation that would limit access by the public and media to audio and video recordings from law enforcement body cams or dash cams. Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill giving terminally ill patients access to certain medications that have not received full FDA approval.

Tulsa World columnist Ginnie Graham debunked eight myths about the food stamp program. Bobby Lorton, the former publisher of Tulsa World, announced plans for the May launch of a new media company in Tulsa. Attorney Chad Moody with “TheDrugLawyer.com” projected a giant marijuana leaf onto the state Capitol building Monday night to protest the state’s stand on the legalization of marijuana.

The Number of the Day is 49.6% – the percentage of the population of Cherokee County who identified as white and non-Hispanic in 2013, down from 55.2 percent in 2000. Cherokee County was one of two Oklahoma counties that became majority non-white since 2000. In today’s Policy Note, Stateline shares a Q&A on how the Great Recession has affected children.

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In The Know: Tulsa County Sheriff speaks about fatal shooting, training records

by | April 21st, 2015 | Posted in Blog, 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.

Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz spoke at a press conference about missing training and firearm certification records for the reserve deputy who fatally shot Eric Harris. Blue Bell Creameries issued a recall after foodborne illness was tracked to a production line in Broken Arrow.

The Oklahoma City School District released a report that detailed widespread failings in how discipline is administered in middle and high schools, including much higher suspension rates for students of color. The Sierra Club explained why the legislature shouldn’t take away Oklahomans’ right to regulate drilling. The State Senate passed a bill that would make it illegal to use a GPS device to stalk another person.

The Number of the Day is the average stock dividend income claimed on Oklahoma tax returns in 2013. In today’s Policy Note, Center for American Progress examined a proposed rule to make prepaid cards safer, more affordable, and more transparent. 

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In The Know: Gov. Fallin signs bill adding nitrogen gas as state execution method

by and | April 20th, 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.

Gov. Mary Fallin on Friday signed a measure adding nitrogen gas to the list of execution methods. The Legislature passed a measure to allow nonviolent felons on probation to obtain a commercial driver’s license. Restrictions on driver’s licenses is just one of many barriers that Oklahoma puts up for Oklahomans with a felony record. On the OK Policy Blog, Steve Lewis discussed how the action is shifting to conference committees in the final third of the Legislative session.

University of Oklahoma economist Robert Dauffenbach said Oklahoma’s two largest metropolitan areas are well positioned to wade through the oil and gas industry slowdown, and Oklahoma is much less dependent on the industry than in the 1980s. Three bills remain alive in the Legislature that could take away local control over oil and gas drilling from cities and counties. Undocumented immigrants living in Oklahoma pay about $76 million in state and local taxes, according to a report issued this week by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. You can read the full report here.

The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office gave no advance warning to the busy neighborhood store where it set up a sting operation that resulted in the shooting death of Eric Harris, nor the elementary school to the south where kids were playing outside. Protesters took to Tulsa streets again Friday evening, this time asking the Tulsa County Sheriff to fire two deputies. The Tulsa Voice shared an interview with an attorney who is suing the Tulsa County Sheriff on behalf of Eric Harris’s family. Training records do not show that Tulsa County Reserve Deputy Robert Bates qualified on a revolver he carried during the fatal shooting, and his gun was not on the list of firearms deputies can carry on duty. Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel said he can’t envision his department without volunteer deputies operating as law enforcement officers.

Tulsa County’s immunization rate for 2014 is below the state and national averages and falls well short of the state’s goal for 2020. Gov. Mary Fallin has nominated Robert J. “Bob” Ross, president and CEO of the Inasmuch Foundation and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, to a seat on the Oklahoma State Board of Education. After months of fighting for racial equality on campus, OU students with the group OU Unheard will receive receive the Angie Debo Civil Liberties Award from the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma.

The Number of the Day is 23 percent – the percentage of the state population potentially exposed to water exceeding a contaminant limit in 2013-2014. In today’s Policy Note, the Washington Post shows that states refusing to accept federal funds for Medicaid expansion are leaving hundreds of thousands of mentally ill adults untreated.

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In The Know: State gross production revenues decline

by | April 17th, 2015 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (1)

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.

Although state general revenues grew last month, gross production tax collections were below last year’s March collections by 65.9 percent, or $25.9 million. In the Tulsa World, Policy Director Gene Perry of OK Policy and Jonathan Small of OCPA shared their differing perspectives on whether this year’s budget shortfall will allow the state to continue funding core functions of government like education and roads. Oklahoma has options for closing the budget gap.

Speaking to a Senate appropriations committee on Tuesday, ODHMSAS commissioner Terri White explained that the state has never adequately funded the mental health system and said that flat funding, rather than an increase for her agency, will result in thousands of Oklahomans losing services. The Oklahoman shared how Mike Brose and the organization he directs, Mental Health Association Oklahoma, work decrease stigma around mental illness. A new post on the OK Policy Blog discussed how Congress’s recent approval of a higher federal match to fund children’s health care signals that fears the government would fail to hold up its obligation to fund health coverage to low-income Oklahomans are unfounded. Although some politicians blamed the federal government when Oklahoma’s federal match decreased last year, the real problem was closer to home.

The Oklahoma Chapter of the NAACP and has asked state Attorney General Scott Pruitt and the US Department of Justice to investigate the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, Rep. Mike Shelton has called for the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation to step in, and the Oklahoma Chapter of the ACLU has called for Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz’s resignation over the shooting of an unarmed man by a reserve deputy. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the  Sheriff’s Office has said that some training requirements for the deputy might have been waived. Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett sought to clarify that the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office operates independently of the City of Tulsa and the Tulsa Police Department.

A bill that would allow charter schools to expand statewide passed through the Senate Thursday, and now awaits Gov. Fallin’s signature. Amendments added to a controversial “right to farm” bill would allow individual counties to vote whether to adopt the measure rather than putting it before a statewide vote to amend the Oklahoma Constitute. Legislation that would cut Oklahoma’s property tax exemption for new wind power developments passed through the House and now proceeds to the Senate, which already approved an earlier version of the bill. Oklahoma now ranks fourth nationwide for wind energy produced.

The Tulsa City Council voted unanimously Thursday night to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of classes protected under the city’s fair housing policy. The ordinance amendment now goes to the mayor for his signature. A Cleveland County judge has set a hearing for today on a gun advocacy group’s lawsuit challenging a firearms ban at the upcoming Norman Music Festival. The Number of the Day is 472 – the number of federal public corruption convictions in Oklahoma from 1976 through 2010. In today’s Policy Note, The Atlantic notes that more than half of all prisoners in the US are mentally ill, and very few are receiving treatment for this illness in prison or jail.

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In The Know: Tulsa County Sheriff supervisors told to falsify reserve deputy’s training records

by and | April 16th, 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.

The Tulsa World reported that supervisors at the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office were ordered to falsify a reserve deputy’s training records, giving him credit for field training he never took and firearms certifications he should not have received. A deputy who made a callous comment to a man who had just been shot claims he did not hear the gunshot and didn’t know the man had been wounded. Ginnie Graham wrote that the incident has added to Oklahoma’s recent pattern of inspiring hashtags of shame on social media.

The Tulsa World editorial board wrote that a generous compensation package for new Superintendent Deborah Gist could create a perception problem with the district’s poorly paid teachers. Outgoing Tulsa Superintendent Keith Ballard wrote a NewsOK op-ed praising the district’s collaboration with Teach for America. With testing already underway, public schools are having troubling finding enough volunteer test monitors. Jenks Principal Rob Miller wrote that Oklahoma’s system of high-stakes testing resembles a coach being evaluated on a single game that he’s not allowed to attend at a school where every child is required to play football.

The Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics is struggling to keep its doors open amid a funding crisis, as legislators discuss making even more cuts. Oklahoma Health Commissioner Terry Cline said there could be dire consequences if the Legislature doesn’t fund a new public health lab during the current session. A new poll shows that 60 percent of Oklahoma voters support delaying or canceling a planned income tax cut during the budget shortfall, and 74 percent of voters believe the state is not spending enough on education. Oklahomans can contact legislators about cancelling the tax cut using this online form.

David Blatt’s Journal Record column called on legislators to honor the memory of Rep. David Dank by taking real action to end wasteful tax breaks. The Oklahoma House has approved legislation that eliminates a tax credit for the state’s wind energy industry. Several issues related to wind power development have been lively topics of debate in this year’s Legislature. 

Oklahoma’s drug overdose death count set a new record in 2014, despite efforts to curtail overprescribing and raise public awareness of the crisis. Terminally ill patients in Oklahoma would have access to experimental medications that are not yet available in pharmacies under a bill that is heading to the governor’s desk.  The Senate voted to legalize cannabis oil for kids who have uncontrollable seizures. NewsOn6 reported on a couple struggling to get care for their autistic son, because Oklahoma is one of just 10 states that doesn’t require insurance companies to cover autism.

A bill to end restrictions on beer sales in Oklahoma has been sent to a conference committee, where it is expected to stay until next session. A bill that sets up a regulatory framework in Oklahoma for ridesharing programs such as Uber and Lyft passed the state Senate on Wednesday, but not before a provision protecting gay and transgender passengers from discrimination was removed. Tulsa’s updated zoning code could increase the amount of affordable housing in the city. A Seattle zoo has sent two elephants on their long journey to a new home in Oklahoma City after a federal appeals court declined to block the transfer.

The Number of the Day is 25.6% – the percentage of Oklahomans claiming itemized deductions on federal taxes in 2012. In today’s Policy Note, the Huffington Post reported that a federal law change finally allows Native American tribal courts to investigate and prosecute non-Native men who abuse Native women on reservations.

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In The Know: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt defends Bible distribution in schools

by and | April 15th, 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.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has sent a letter to public school superintendents across the state vowing to defend the distribution of Bibles on campus. Less than two weeks after a third-grade teacher in Duncan distributed Gideon Bibles to her students, a Satanist church in Oklahoma City has asked permission to distribute Satanist literature at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School. A statewide Second Amendment advocacy group said they plan to file a lawsuit seeking to prohibit enforcement of a “no guns policy” at the Norman Music Festival.

A lawyer representing the family of Eric Harris, who was killed when a volunteer deputy with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s office pulled a gun instead of a Taser, is asking to have an outside agency investigate the death. More than 100 protestors marched to the Tulsa County sheriff’s doorstep, demanding action against deputies who did not provide medical aid immediately after the shooting. A public forum tomorrow hosted by the nonprofit news organization Oklahoma Watch will discuss challenges in low-income neighborhoods in south Oklahoma City.

A Tulsa World op-ed by Suzanna de Baca examines the wage gap between men and women in Oklahoma and nationally. Oklahoma has been ranked 48th out of all 50 states for the well-being of women and last in the nation for women’s health. School districts throughout the state would be allowed to create charter schools under a bill approved by the Oklahoma House on Tuesday. The Tulsa World editorial board wrote that Oklahoma’s repeated income tax cuts have made it impossible to fund adequately the education and infrastructure that are needed for economic growth.

The Oklahoman editorial board wrote a tribute to Rep. David Dank, who passed away on Friday. Governor Fallin ordered flags on state property to be flown at half-staff in honor of Rep. Dank. A recent study by the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and Feeding America shows that one in six, or an estimated 656,000, Oklahomans, turn to food pantries and meal service programs to feed themselves and their families. OK Policy has published a comprehensive overview of Oklahoma’s food security safety net.

Tulsa-resident Michelle Evans, who was crowned Mrs. America 2015, has traveled across Oklahoma and the U.S. to raise awareness about prescription drug abuse. As of yesterday, about one-third of Oklahomans still hadn’t filed a tax return. Citizens for Tax Justice shared five things you should know this tax day. The Number of the Day is 15.3 – the number of black students per thousand who were referred to police and courts by schools in 2011-2012, far higher than the national average for black students (9.8) and about 3 times Oklahoma’s rate for white students (4.2) and Hispanic students (6.3).

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In The Know: District Attorney charges reserve deputy with second-degree manslaughter

by and | April 14th, 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.

 A reserve deputy who fatally shot a man during an undercover gun sting was charged with second-degree manslaughter Monday afternoon. The deputy, a 73-year-old insurance agent, had bought at least five automobiles and surveillance equipment for the undercover unit to which he was assigned and was the chairman of Tulsa Sheriff Stanley Glanz’s reelection campaign. The Associated Press reported that the use of volunteer reserve police officers and sheriff’s deputies is common across the country amid tight budgets.

The board that oversees juvenile corrections in Oklahoma is reevaluating its policy to allow pepper spray to be used on incarcerated youth. The Oklahoma House of Representatives has placed a legal advertisement signaling that they may transfer the unfinished American Indian Cultural Center property back to the city of Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City could hire legal help at $325 per hour to defend a plan to demolish downtown’s historic Union Bus Station from a lawsuit by city councilman Ed Shadid.

Oklahoma Watch shared comments from a recent interview by state Rep. David Dank, who passed away on Friday. An email from Secretary of State Chris Benge asked every member of the State Legislature to designate up to seven successors in case of an emergency. Faced with a massive budget hole after deep income tax cuts, Kansas Republicans are looking at increasing several other taxes. The OK Policy Blog discusses new research showing how predatory lenders tend to set up shop near the working poor — and cluster around neighborhoods of military families. Payday loan stores reap millions in profits from a product designed to force borrowers into repeat loans at extremely high interest rates.

Oklahoma schools are scrambling to get ready for testing season, which takes every computer most schools can find to handle the demand. McClatchy reported that some teachers in Oklahoma continue to use practices that are part of Common Core standards because they are useful in the classroom. On the OK Policy Blog, Steve Lewis discussed why Governor Fallin put her former opponent Jari Askins in charge of improving the child welfare system. Oklahoma has become the second state to ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure that critics describe as dismembering a fetus.

The Legislature approved a bill that prohibits health insurers from holding proton radiation cancer therapy to a higher standard of clinical effectiveness than other radiation treatments. An experimental coating applied to a 78-year-old LeFlore County bridge may have contributed to premature structural damage that forced the bridge’s closure. A burst of moisture over the weekend and Monday is the first step in alleviating effects of drought throughout the state, weather experts said. Almost 100 years after took the lives of 40 mental patients at Norman’s Griffin Memorial Hospital, a memorial services was held for the victims.

The Number of the Day is 2.07 – the average number of personal exemptions claimed on Oklahoma tax returns in 2013, 10th highest in the U.S. In today’s Policy Note, economist Noah Smith explain why mass imprisonment imposes a huge burden on the U.S. economy.

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In The Know: Video shows Tulsa sheriff deputy killing man as officer uses gun not Taser ‘by mistake’

by and | April 13th, 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.

Video has been released of the moment a reserve sheriff officer in Tulsa shot and killed Eric Harris by mistake. The reserve officer, Bob Bates, a 73-year-old insurance executive, told police he had thought he was firing his Taser stun gun. Tulsa Police Sgt. Jim Clark said his investigation determined that Bates committed no crime, even referring to him as a “victim.” The Tulsa World reported that the 130-person reserve deputy squad is full of “a lot of wealthy people” and donors, some of whom are participating routinely in operations like the undercover investigation. An attorney who is representing Harris’ family is questioning several claims in the sheriff’s report.

A judge ruled Friday that the state’s lengthy delay in providing records on a controversial execution could be a violation of the Open Records Act and ordered state officials to provide reasons for extensive redactions to documents it has already provided. Sheriff John Whetsel has drawn up a “framework” aimed at winning voter approval for a half-cent sales tax to finance a new Oklahoma County jail. Deficiencies at the jail have resulted in lawsuits, inmate deaths and a federal civil rights investigation, and the current effort is at least the fourth run at resolving problems with the jail since 2003. A children’s shelter being shut down due to a federal class-action settlement over Oklahoma’s child welfare system is being looked at as the location for a new juvenile justice facility.

The Tulsa World editorial board endorsed a bill that would give judges more discretion to ignore mandatory minimum sentences. Oklahoma has on the books at least 122 mandatory minimum sentences that have contributed to the state’s high incarceration rates. Police are investigating vandalism at the Islamic Society of Edmond, which alleged pieces of pork were left in the parking lot and on door handles of the mosque.  Oklahoma Watch reported that March of last year was the deadliest month for prescription drug overdoses in Oklahoma since authorities began tracking such deaths in 2001. For Oklahomans ages 25 to 64, unintentional poisoning by prescription drug overdose is the leading cause of injury death.

A record-breaking flu season that killed 107 people in Oklahoma may be winding down. State Rep. David Dank, 76, died Friday in his Oklahoma City home. Rep. Dank was a passionate advocate for tax credit reform, and in January he spoke on a panel about the issue at OK Policy’s State Budget Summit. Former state Sen. Randy Brogdon defeated incumbent Dave Weston to become Oklahoma Republican Party chairman. A rural economic development program promoted by Oklahoma State University has seen limited success because of limited cooperation between rural communities.

The Tulsa World examined difficulties Oklahomans have faced trying to get compensation from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation for pothole damage to their cars. The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. fell below 1,000 this week, down from 1,831 active rigs one year ago. The Number of the Day is $2.55 – the average cost for meals per inmate per day in Oklahoma correctional institutions. In today’s Policy Note, Stateline examines efforts to do away with a quirky “double deduction” tax break that benefits mostly higher-income taxpayers in Oklahoma and six other states. OK Policy has recommended doing away with the “double deduction” as a way to close the state’s $611 million budget hole.

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