In 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.
Under two bills that passed House committee this week, judges would be allowed to reduce mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders, and some inmates who successfully pass a drug treatment program would get chance to go before a judge and receive a suspended sentence. A Senate committee will consider a measure that would allow district courts to review arbitrator decisions in termination cases involving officers accused of excessive use of force or aggravated sexual assault. The McAlester City Council has voted unanimously to approve new body cameras for the city’s police force. Rep. Claudia Griffith has withdrawn her bill to protect the privacy of victims who were caught on cameras used by law enforcement, because it had been drastically changed by an amendment from another legislator to give public officials wide latitude to deny open records requests.
In a lawsuit that pitted Attorney General Scott Pruitt against former Attorney General Drew Edmondson, a judge ruled the Humane Society of the United States must turn over one contested document and portions of two others to Pruitt’s office but can keep the contents of more than 21 other documents secret. On the OK Policy Blog, we shared seven tips for getting your legislators’ attention. KOSU shared the audio from an “On Tap” event where OK Policy’s David Blatt and the Oklahoma Council of Public Affair’s Jonathan Small discussed the state’s $611M budget shortfall. A Senate panel passed a measure that would allow liquor stores to sell refrigerated, high-point beer.
The Regional Food Bank has doubled the amount of food they donate annually the last six years, but officials say it’s still not enough to help all of the Oklahomans battling hunger. Oklahoma City schools have managed to provide winter coats to all students, after having to cancel classes several times last year due to frigid temperatures and kids walking to school not having coats. A committee at Capitol Hill High School charged with selecting a replacement for the Redskins mascot, which is offensive to many Native Americans, has come up with four alternatives. The Tulsa World reported that while Sen. Jim Inhofe threw a snowball on the Senate floor in his attempts to deny the science of climate change, a small town in Oklahoma is playing a big role in that science.
OG&E is asking Oklahoma regulators to allow it to increase customer charges by $1.1 billion for federal environmental compliance and to replace an aging natural gas plant. A law that would have prohibited municipalities from restricting oil and gas drilling has been changed in committee to say that cities must reimburse mineral rights owners for any regulations that could reduce revenue from oil and gas on their land. Oklahoma City’s economic consultant, Russell Evans, told the city council that the latest indications show consumers remain confident in the future despite falling oil prices. Energy companies will cut between 400 and 500 workers per month on average this year, according to the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 Economic Forecast. With wind energy production in full swing in Oklahoma, legislative leaders are looking to impose some new restrictions on the booming industry.
The Number of the Day is the total number of llamas in Oklahoma in 2012. In today’s Policy Note, the New York Times shares how low-income Americans are piling on extra jobs and hours in attempts to escape the coverage gap created by states that are refusing federal funds to expand Medicaid.
continue reading In The Know: Two sentencing reform bills pass out of House committee