HB 4063 provides only politically practical way to increase sheriff’s department salaries given local revenue limitations in Oklahoma (Capitol Update)

House Bill 4063 would establish a grant program to provide state funding for county sheriff’s offices to bring salaries of the sheriffs, deputies, and jailers around the state. Due to local revenue restrictions, state funding might be only politically available solution to fund some local law enforcement agencies.  [More...]

Proposed changes to the judicial nominating process are unnecessary and increase politicization (Capitol Update)

The Judicial Nominating Commission assures qualified candidates for appellate judicial offices who are vetted on their merits, their judgment, and their perceived ability to interpret the law and constitution, not their association with a politician or one of his friends or donors. Competence counts. [More...]

Oklahoma Constitution allows for people to legislate themselves through initiative petition (Capitol Update)

Initiative Petition 446 is a classic case of why the members of the state constitutional convention included the initiative petition in our state constitution. The state legislature, like Congress, will not act on some issues in the face of powerful interests or fear of divided public opinion, as with some hot-button issues. In those instances, the people have a right to legislate themselves through the initiative process.  [More...]

Rolling back SQ 780 would be expensive and not address underlying problems (Capitol Update)

There is no doubt that retail businesses are vulnerable to theft. A perfect solution has yet to be found anywhere in any state. But one must wonder if the solution Oklahomans passed in SQ 780 has been given a fair chance to work. [More...]

Senate’s efforts on budget transparency continue, but final budget will still rely on end-of-session negotiations (Capitol Update)

It is a noble effort to try to make the appropriations process more transparent and open to all senators. However, the state budget is almost always going to depend on other revenue and spending policy decisions made earlier in the session. [More...]

Ignoring Oklahoma’s unmet needs today will move us further backwards tomorrow (Capitol Update)

Legislators decided to take a break for this year and cut taxes while they can. Not paying taxes on groceries will feel good. But some of the state’s urgent unmet needs will go unmet for another year while this year’s aspirational requests will become a future unmet need. [More...]

Proposed bill would provide overdue reform of the criminal legal process (Capitol Update)

House Bill 3777, which deals with discovery in criminal trials, is an important and long overdue reform in the criminal legal process. [More...]

Governing is finding a way to say ‘yes’ to solving problems (Capitol Update)

Legislators during appropriations hearings — or in private conversations in the hallways or in their offices — hear from state agencies anxious for funding to do their jobs and to provide services to Oklahomans. The governor’s budget would lead one to believe that Oklahoma has arrived, that we are near the top on measurements of quality of life. In fact, the opposite is true — from mental health to education to health care.  [More...]

Special session went according to script, but tax cuts still major topic during next few months (Capitol Update)

The special session last week went pretty much according to script. The House, following Speaker Charles McCall’s lead, passed the governor’s .25-percent income tax cut along strict party lines. The Senate made good on President Pro Tempore Greg Treat’s announced intention to adjourn the session with no action. Both chambers adjourned to the call of the chair so they could take up a tax bill later in either the regular session that started Monday or in the special session. [More...]

An early look at recommendations from the governor’s MODERN criminal justice task force (Capitol Update)

Gov. Stitt’s MODERN criminal justice task issued its report on February 2, and the recommendations presumably serve as a guide for criminal justice reforms the governor in the upcoming legislative session and beyond.  [More...]