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In The Know Archives

In The Know: Officer Betty Shelby charged with first-degree manslaughter in fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher

by | September 23rd, 2016 | 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

Officer Betty Shelby charged with first-degree manslaughter in fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher: The Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office filed a first-degree manslaughter charge on Thursday against Officer Betty Shelby in the fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher last week. District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said during a brief press conference that a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Shelby, 42, who is expected to turn herself in to authorities. Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said Monday that Crutcher, a 40-year-old father of four, was unarmed when Shelby shot him once in the upper right lung area next to his stopped SUV near 36th Street North and Lewis Avenue at 7:44 p.m. Sept. 16 [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma Lawmaker Wants Investigative Team For Police Shootings: Oklahoma House Minority Leader Scott Inman talked to News 9 reporter Justin Dougherty about Terence Crutcher’s death in Tulsa and other officer-involved shootings. Inman said an investigative team led by the attorney general may now be necessary. Inman said the state has discussed a team like this in the past, but those talks have been tabled for a while. Inman went on to say it may be necessary to have those talks once again [NewsOn6].

Heavy Fundraising on State Question 777 Suggests Right-to-Farm is High-Stakes Political Issue: Oklahoma voters will decide in November whether to change the state constitution with new language protecting the agriculture industry. Informally known as the right-to-farm amendment, State Question 777 raises a lot of legal, environmental and economic questions. A StateImpact analysis of state campaign finance data shows the issue has attracted more direct donations than any other ballot question, suggesting right-to-farm is high-stakes Oklahoma politics [StateImpact Oklahoma]. Learn more about 2016 State Questions here.

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In The Know: President Obama calls Tulsa mayor to discuss city’s response to fatal police shooting

by | September 22nd, 2016 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (1)

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

President Obama calls Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett to discuss city’s response to fatal police shooting: President Barack Obama complimented the city of Tulsa and city leaders, especially Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan, for their handling of the aftermath of Terence Crutcher’s death, Mayor Dewey Bartlett said Wednesday. “He called, and I had a nice conversation with him,” Bartlett said. “He was very complimentary of Tulsa, of me — which I was proud to hear — and he was very complimentary of our police chief. I was very proud to hear that.” Bartlett said Obama thanked him for transparency efforts following Crutcher’s fatal shooting by a Tulsa police officer [Tulsa World].

We the People meets with Tulsa Police chief to talk community policing, policies in department: We the People Oklahoma’s Marq Lewis met with the Tulsa’s chief of police Wednesday afternoon to discuss practices and policies within the department. Lewis said he and Police Chief Chuck Jordan discussed community policing and policies, including psychological evaluations and blood tests for officers involved in shootings. Lewis praised the department for having a dialogue with the community, but he also said release of the video of last week’s fatal police shooting of Terence Crutcher could have been better because there is concern with the audio [Tulsa World].

KIPP charter schools mourn parent shot and killed by police in Oklahoma: The shooting Friday evening of an unarmed motorist by police in Oklahoma is more than a news story for the KIPP schools. Terence Crutcher, the 40-year-old motorist killed by Tulsa police after his car broke down, is a KIPP parent. He leaves four children. KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) is a national network of high achieving charter schools. KIPP CEO Richard Barth addressed Crutcher’s death in a letter to staff and parents [Atlanta Journal-Constitution].

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In The Know: For thousands of Oklahomans, civil justice is out of reach

by | September 21st, 2016 | 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

For Thousands of Oklahomans, Civil Justice Is Out of Reach: Attorney Janet Roloff pauses as she tries to estimate what it would cost David and Minnie Harris if she had billed them for the hours she’s worked representing them in their mobile-home foreclosure case. “For three years of litigation against major corporations?” she asks, seated behind a cluttered desk in the McAlester field office for Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma. “You know, I’d have to say least a hundred thousand dollars.” That is well beyond the reach of the Harrises, a Fort Towson couple whose only income is Social Security disability payments. Still, Roloff is unsure her pro bono work will pay off [Oklahoma Watch].

Suicide care crisis follows years of underfunding: Francie Moss hit roadblocks as she tried to help her adult daughter get treatment for suicidal thoughts. She said she was frustrated in part because of the stigma associated with brain illnesses, and those diseases are treated differently than other illnesses. But it’s complicated and expensive to treat patients with mental health and substance abuse issues, said Mary Holloway Richard, health care attorney at Phillips Murrah. And Oklahoma’s agency that provides services for people who can’t pay for private services has been underfunded for decades. Hospital medical treatment for suicidal behavior is woefully inadequate, in some cases, Moss said. She said many hospitals will keep a suicidal patient for only three to five days [Journal Record].

Innocence Project exonerees recall 22 years behind bars: For most of us, an incredible number of life events took place between 1994 and 2016. Marriages, babies, vacations, job changes. For De’Marchoe Carpenter and Malcolm Scott, those 22 years included days that mostly looked the same — exercising, watching TV, writing letters, praying — all while incarcerated for a crime neither man committed. Carpenter and Scott have been back out in the free world since May 9, a date that will forever be etched in their minds. That was the day Tulsa County District Judge Sharon Holmes announced the two men — accused and convicted of killing 19-year-old single mom Karen Summers — were to be freed after 22 years in prison [NonDoc].

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In The Know: As Hispanic school enrollment grows, segregation increases in Oklahoma City

by | September 20th, 2016 | 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

As Hispanic school enrollment grows, segregation increases in Oklahoma City: Hispanic students in Oklahoma City Public Schools are segregated at the same rate black students were before a court- ordered desegregation plan that bused black students to white schools. In 1970, a year before busing began, 71 percent of black students in the district attended a school with black enrollment of 70 percent or higher. Last year, 71 percent of Hispanic students in Oklahoma City Public Schools attended a school with Hispanic enrollment of 70 percent or higher, according to The Oklahoman’s analysis of data provided by the district [NewsOK].

Teacher union president’s observances about OKC school district merit attention: Aurora Lora, named superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools in July, has said many times that she plans to stick around awhile. It’s safe to say Ed Allen, head of the local teachers union, hopes that’s the case. This isn’t solely because Allen likes what he has seen from Lora during her two-plus years in Oklahoma City (she was assistant superintendent before getting the top job). Instead, it’s because he believes the district badly needs a long-term leader to effect the sort of change that is needed [Editorial Board / NewsOK].

Mapped: The Oklahoma school districts with the most and least per pupil state aid: It’s well known that state aid funding in Oklahoma has struggled in recent years — since 2008 we’ve cut per student state aid by 24.2 percent after inflation, the largest drop in the U.S. Cuts to state aid affect all school districts in the state, but not all districts are affected equally. Because state aid to local districts is based on a formula that takes into account the needs of students and the local resources of districts to fund themselves, the amount per student that’s funded by the state varies widely between districts. In the 2015-2016 school year, aid went from a low of $16 to a high of $7,740 per student [OK Policy].

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In The Know: Nearly one-third of Oklahoma school districts now on a four-day school week

by | September 19th, 2016 | 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

Nearly one-third of Oklahoma school districts now on a four-day school week: About a month into the school year, the jury is still out regarding a move to a four-day week at two area districts that made the change this year. Although leaders at Wagoner and Catoosa school districts say the transition to the new schedule has been smooth, they agree that it is too early to tell what total savings will be and whether academics will be affected [Tulsa World]. Four-day school weeks could leave thousands of Oklahoma kids hungry [OK Policy].

Opponent says education tax proposal aims to return Oklahoma to its ‘Dark Ages’: An opponent of State Question 779 threw another chip on the table Friday. Jonathan Small of the Oklahoma Council on Public Affairs told a local Republican gathering the 1 percent education sales-tax proposal is a political ploy calculated to give the state’s GOP leadership a “black eye” and send the state “back to the Dark Ages of Oklahoma.” State Senator Brian Crain (R-Tulsa) disagreed with Small, saying the tax proposal is the only practical solution to a “crisis” in school funding [Tulsa World]. See OK Policy’s guide to SQ 779 and Oklahoma’s other 2016 state questions here.

Office of Juvenile Affairs hopes to reverse decline in budget: The Board of Juvenile Affairs approved a request Friday to ask the Oklahoma Legislature to increase the agency’s budget in hopes of reversing a gradual funding reduction over the last several years. The Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs budget for the current fiscal year is $92 million, significantly lower than the $112 million the agency received in the 2010 fiscal year. Executive Director Steve Buck told the board that for the department to provide youthful offenders in the state with adequate education and treatment to avoid a life of crime in adulthood, an increase in its budget will need to happen [NewsOK].

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In The Know: New Census data shows Oklahoma improves on poverty and uninsured rates but still lags behind nation

by | September 16th, 2016 | 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

New Census data shows Oklahoma improves on poverty and uninsured rates but still lags behind nation: New Census data shows Oklahoma made some progress in reducing the percentage of families living in poverty in 2015. In 2014, nearly one out of six Oklahomans (16.6 percent) were making less than the poverty line ($24,000 a year for a family of four) before taxes. In 2015, about 13,000 fewer Oklahomans were living below the poverty line, dropping our state’s poverty rate to 16.1 percent. The official poverty rate for the United States as a whole fell even more, from 15.5 percent in 2014 to 14.7 percent in 2015. These improvements widened the gap between the percentage of Oklahomans and the percentage of all Americans living in poverty [OK Policy].

Oil downturn continues to slow Oklahoma’s economy: Low oil prices and the oil industry slowdown continue to create financial challenges in Oklahoma and nine other oil-dependent states, according to a report released Wednesday by Moody’s Investors Service. The report looked at direct revenue effects including production taxes and revenues, indirect revenue effects such as industry spending cutbacks and layoffs, and the ability of the state to adapt to the ongoing challenges. Moody’s rates Oklahoma’s credit as Aa2, which is the company’s third-highest rating. Moody’s gives the state a negative outlook, largely because of the likely effects of oil prices on the state economy [NewsOK].

Oklahoma City Council opposes “right-to-farm”: The Oklahoma City Council declared people should vote against State Question 777, the “right-to-farm” measure on the Nov. 8 ballot. The council voted 6-2 Tuesday for a resolution that asserts passage of SQ 777 could threaten the city’s ability to promote residents’ health, safety and welfare. Ward 8 Councilman Mark Stonecipher said he was concerned the proposed constitutional amendment would adversely affect access to clean, safe drinking water [NewsOK]. Learn more about SQ 777 and the six other questions on Oklahoma ballots this year with OK Policy’s State Question Guide.

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In The Know: Oklahoma’s rate of uninsured continues to decline

by | September 15th, 2016 | 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

Study: Oklahoma’s rate of uninsured continues to decline: A new federal study shows the number of Oklahomans without health insurance has fallen by 6 percent since 2010, but the state still has one of the highest percentages of uninsured residents in the country. The study released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau shows 13.9 percent of Oklahomans went uninsured in 2015, down from 18.9 percent in 2010. The decline means an additional 192,000 Oklahomans received health insurance coverage over the five-year period [Associated Press].

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister urges caution for schools’ use of newly released state dollars: School districts across Oklahoma will learn this week what their share of $40 million returned from the state’s excessive budget cuts will be. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister is urging caution amid still-tenuous economic conditions. The money, which could be available to schools across the state by mid-October, is from the fiscal year that ended June 30 [Tulsa World].

Prosperity Policy: A win for schools and students: Recently I wrote about the decision by some 150 Oklahoma school districts to move to four-day school weeks as a consequence of the state’s misguided tax cuts and the resulting budget shortfalls. One fewer day at school is especially troubling for the hundreds of thousands of children whose only reliable and nutritious meals each day may be provided through the schools’ free and reduced lunch and breakfast program. There is, however, also good news about school nutrition [David Blatt / Journal Record]. The Community Eligibility Provision can help make Oklahoma schools hunger-free [OK Policy].

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In The Know: Companies Can’t Set Own Rules For Injured Workers, Okla. Court Says

by | September 14th, 2016 | 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

Companies Can’t Set Own Rules For Injured Workers, Okla. Court Says: A national campaign to rewrite state laws and allow businesses to decide how to care for their injured workers suffered a significant setback Tuesday when the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that Oklahoma’s version of the law is unconstitutional. The 2013 legislation gave Oklahoma employers the ability to “opt out” of the state workers’ compensation system and write their own plans, setting the terms for what injuries were covered, which doctors workers could see, how workers were compensated and how disputes were handled [ProPublica].

Director Joe Allbaugh wants 5 percent across-the-board raises for DOC staff: Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh said Tuesday he wants to make securing a 5 percent raise for all DOC staff a top priority during the next legislative session. He said he will seek the raise for all employees across the board, calling it “unacceptable” that nearly 40 percent of DOC employees haven’t received a raise in 10 years. Starting wages for correctional officers are typically about $2,200 per month before taxes [Tulsa World]. Since 2000, the inmate population in Oklahoma public prisons has grown by over 26 percent, while the correctional officer workforce has declined by 25 percent [OK Policy].

Oklahoma Still Mulling Execution Protocols, Ensuring Delays: Oklahoma, a state with one of the busiest death chambers in the country over the last three decades, will have at least a two-year delay in lethal injections after the governing board of its prison system declined to consider new execution procedures on Tuesday. At its regular meeting in Taft, the Board of Corrections did not take up new execution protocols that Attorney General Scott Pruitt wants in place before executions can resume [Associated Press]. Read our fact sheet on SQ 776, which would affirm the death penalty in the Oklahoma constitution.

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In The Know: Oklahoma, EPA Shutter 32 Wells in New Earthquake-Prone Area

by | September 13th, 2016 | 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

Oklahoma, EPA Shutter 32 Wells in New Earthquake-Prone Area: State and federal regulators say 32 disposal wells in northeastern Oklahoma must shut down because they are too near a newly discovered fault line that produced the state’s strongest earthquake on record. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission said Monday that 27 wells under its jurisdiction would cease operations, along with five wells in Osage County, which is covered by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules [Associated Press].

Your guide to this year’s Oklahoma state questions: Today we published a series of fact sheets on each of the state questions on Oklahoma ballots this year. In addition to state and national races, voters will decide seven state questions on topics including the death penalty, regulation of agriculture, a sales tax for education, criminal justice reform, the use of public resources for religious purposes, and alcohol law reform. Each fact sheet includes a brief summary of the state question, background information, what supporters and opponents are saying, and the language that will be on Oklahoma ballots [OK Policy]. The fact sheets are available here.

Gov. Fallin To Pitch Ideas To New Legislators If Teacher Raise Vote Fails: If a ballot initiative to raise the sales tax to fund teacher raises fails, the governor said she’ll pitch her same ideas to new legislators. On Nov. 8, voters will be asked to vote on State Question 779, which would increase the sales tax by 1 percent to raise an estimated $615 million for education. Of that, $378 million would be used to fund teacher raises; $125 million would be used for higher education; $50 million for grants; another $50 million for early childhood programs and $20 million for vocation and technology education [News9].

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In The Know: More women head to state prisons

by | September 12th, 2016 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (2)

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

More Women Head to State Prisons: Despite years of concern over Oklahoma’s high rate of female incarceration, the number of women sent to prison jumped again in the latest fiscal year. In fiscal 2016, which ended June 30, the number of women sent to Oklahoma prisons rose by 9.5 percent, from 1,593 to 1,744, data from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows. The total men imprisoned that year fell by about 1 percent, to 8,282. Statewide, the number of new prisoners increased by less than 1 percent [Oklahoma Watch].

Robert Henry: Vote to reform Oklahoma’s criminal justice system: The overarching goal of public policy should be to protect citizens, strengthen communities and yield a wise return on investment. To this end, one of the most important issues facing Oklahoma is the need to reform our criminal justice system. Politically motivated policies and ineffective sentencing guidelines cause a great deal of harm to the safety and health of communities across our state. Yet families, communities and future generations can benefit greatly from policies based on sound logic, evidence and research [Robert Henry / NewsOK].

In reducing staff to cut budget, DHS paid millions to departing employees: The Department of Human Services spent $14 million on employees who resigned or accepted voluntary buyouts from the state agency in fiscal 2016, a 70 percent increase over the prior year. The increase in so-called “terminal leave” payments comes as the agency continues to deal with decreasing staff in some areas while simultaneously increasing staff in another department. A spokeswoman said the increase in terminal pay was to be expected. DHS has reduced staff by more than 1,200 employees over the past two years, agency spokeswoman Sheree Powell said in an email [Tulsa World].

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