In The Know: 186 new laws go into effect tomorrow

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. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that 186 new laws will go into effect Nov. 1, including measures to allow guns inside vehicles on CareerTech campuses, relieve prison overcrowding, take away collective bargaining rights, and restrict abortion. Governor Fallin has approved only about half of paroles recommended by the parole board. The number of the Oklahoma schools not meeting federal and state performance requirements more than doubled this year.

Testimony begins today in the bribery case against state Rep. Randy Terrill and former state Sen. Debbe Leftwich. $37 million in federal housing funding has been restored to the Cherokee Nation as long as the tribe provides full citizenship rights to the Cherokee freedmen descendants. As Oklahoma City looks at adding sexual orientation to the classes protected from employment discrimination, that protection has already been added in Tulsa and Oklahoma County without spurring any litigation or additional benefits for employees.

NewsOK argues that increasing the state’s debt through bond issues to fund infrastructure improvements is badly needed and makes good fiscal sense. The Muskogee Phoenix joins those calling for sales taxes to be charged during online purchases. A representative of support personnel in the Oklahoma City School District says less than half are earning a living wage.

Today’s Number of the Day is Oklahoma’s rank nationally in per capita personal income growth. In today’s Policy Note, the Center for American Progress explains how Congress is helping create unemployment.

In The News

Oklahoma has 186 new laws going into effect tomorrow

Students, teachers and visitors with a valid concealed-carry permit later this week will be able to bring handguns to a CareerTech campus — as long as they keep them in their locked vehicles. None of the campuses are planning to install metal detectors to make sure the weapons remain out of the school, but some are considering hiring extra security officers. Other significant measures include ones that change how lawsuits are handled, relieve prison overcrowding and take away collective bargaining rights from nonuniformed municipal employees in most of Oklahoma’s largest cities. Two anti-abortion measures also take effect Tuesday, which put Oklahoma among the most restrictive on abortion. A third bill was supposed to have taken effect, but it has been placed on hold by a district court judge.

Read more from NewsOK.

Gov. Fallin approves only about half of paroles recommended by board

Gov. Mary Fallin appointed three of the five Pardon and Parole Board members, but on average, she agrees with their parole decisions about half of the time, records show. After the August and September hearings, she approved 40 percent to 42 percent of the board’s recommended paroles. For the three months prior, she approved about 55 percent of the cases. Alex Weintz, Fallin’s communications director, declined to elaborate on the specific criteria the governor considers when evaluating paroles, pardons and commutations for prisoners recommended by the board. Last week, Fallin denied commutation to Larry Yarbrough, a Kingfisher County drug dealer serving a life-without-parole sentence. The board had voted 3-2 in August to commute Yarbrough’s sentence.

Read more from The Tulsa World.

Number of Oklahoma schools that need improvement doubles

The Oklahoma State Department of Education on Thursday sanctioned 227 schools for not meeting federal and state performance requirements, more than doubling last year’s School Improvement List. Also, 61 districts were deemed “in need of improvement,” a 577 percent increase over last year’s total of nine. While Tulsa has been on that list for years, several suburban school districts are new this year, including Broken Arrow, Jenks, Sapulpa, Skiatook and Union. State leaders said the spikes were due in large part to significant increases in 2009 in the benchmarks that mark the difference between passing or failing.

Read more from The Associated Press.

Testimony under way in Leftwich and Terrill’s political bribery case

Former Gov. Brad Henry and more than a dozen former and current legislators are among the witnesses who could testify this week in a political bribery case. Testimony to get under way in political bribery case An Oklahoma County judge plans to begin the preliminary hearing for state Rep. Randy Terrill and former state Sen. Debbe Leftwich Monday morning. Special Judge Stephen Alcorn has set aside four days this week for the hearing. The judge must decide if the evidence is sufficient for a later trial. The preliminary hearing finally gets under way at a time when District Attorney David Prater himself has come under investigation.

Read more from NewsOK.

$37 million in Cherokee HUD funds to be released

A federal agency is releasing more than $37 million in Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma housing funding that was frozen recently during the long-running legal drama over freedmen citizenship, U.S. Rep. Dan Boren said Friday. Boren said the funding will allow the tribe to continue providing quality, affordable housing for its members as well as reinvest in Oklahoma jobs and materials. Assistant HUD Secretary Sandra Henriquez cited statements by the tribe that it intends to comply with a Sept. 21 court order requiring it to ensure that all Cherokee freedmen citizens have access to the same rights and benefits as any other Cherokee citizen, regardless of whether those benefits are funded by federal or tribal funds. “HUD reserves the right to reassess its decision to release the Tribe’s funds in the future if the Tribe is deemed to be in violation of the terms of any Federal court order,” Henriquez stated.

Read more from The Tulsa World.

Sexual orientation protections makes few waves in local Oklahoma governments

The Oklahoma City Council soon will consider whether to add sexual orientation to the classes protected from employment discrimination in city government workplaces, which Tulsa and Oklahoma County already have done. And despite controversy when similar measures passed in those places, officials say that not only has the sky not fallen quite yet, but it’s hard to find any consequence at all. “It certainly hasn’t harmed anything in county government,” said Oklahoma County Assessor Leonard Sullivan, who once opposed adding explicit discrimination protection for sexual orientation in the county. Tulsa added sexual orientation to its policy in a 6-3 vote last year. Oklahoma County added it in late 2004. The changes also didn’t spur any litigation or additional benefits for gay or bisexual employees.

Read more from NewsOK.

NewsOK: For state, increasing the debt burden isn’t a bad thing

IN the not-too-distant past, members of the two political parties at the Legislature found enough common ground to approve bond issues for such things as transportation projects and higher ed improvements. More of that collaboration is needed now. But many members in the Republican-controlled House have made it clear they want nothing to do with increasing the state’s bonded indebtedness. So potential bond issues are dead on arrival — even if they’re badly needed and make good fiscal sense. Opponents are approaching the issue from a consumer’s viewpoint — less debt is good. For governments and businesses, however, debt is helpful in getting the money needed to reinvest or make upgrades, and at an affordable price.

Read more from NewsOK.

Muskogee Phoenix: Charge taxes for online purchases

Picture a world where two clothing stores located right next to each other offer the exact same items. One allows you to try the items on to see if they fit. The other doesn’t have any clothing in stock and only allows you to order the clothes, but costs less than the other store. That world already exists online. The difference is in the above scenario, you would pay taxes at both stores. Internet retailers are required to collect sales tax only when they sell to customers living in a state where they have a physical presence, such as a store or office. When consumers order from out-of-state retailers, they are required under state law to pay the tax. But it’s difficult to enforce and rarely happens. A former state official says online retailers “suck the economic viability out of the state.”

Read more from The Muskogee Phoenix.

Support personnel an important part of OKC school district

In “District trying new ways to improve performance” (Our Views, Oct. 11), Oklahoma City schools Superintendent Karl Springer is quoted as saying, “The students and the parents need to understand that education really is the path out of poverty.” Members of the Oklahoma City Federation of Classified Employees agree with Springer. They understand the economic hardships facing our community because they confront these challenges every day within their own families and with the children they serve. Only 32 percent of Oklahoma City classified employees earn a living wage — provided they have no children at home. A living wage is the minimum needed for working people to live in the Oklahoma City area. That number drops to just 4.2 percent of Oklahoma City classified employees earning a living wage in households with a single adult and one child.

Read more from NewsOK.

Quote of the Day

I think this resolution goes a long way toward healing the wounds of the past. It’s sending a message to the people of our city, of our state, of our region and of our country that Oklahoma City is going to protect all of its citizens.
Oklahoma City Councilperson Ed Shadid, who has proposed a measure to add sexual orientation to the classes protected from employment discrimination in city government workplaces.

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s rank nationally in per capita personal income growth; per capita personal income grew 2.2 percent between the 2nd qtr of 2010 and 2011, compared to 1.6 percent nationally.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How Congress is helping create unemployment

Most of the nearly 14 million people across our country who are currently unemployed can blame their situation on the inability of Congress and the White House to sufficiently cushion the economy from the financial crisis that began in 2007. But a growing number of unemployed Americans today are the victims of actions taken by the current Congress aimed deliberately at eliminating jobs. Even worse, many of these jobs are ones that will have to be performed at some point in the next several years and taxpayers will eventually pay the bill. Delaying the work not only sucks jobs out of the weak economy but also in many instances costs the government more money and over time, and serves to increase rather than decrease the public debt.

Read more from the Center for American Progress.

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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