In The Know: Court rejects Ethics Commission; new round of quake lawsuits; hurdles for young parents…

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.

In The News

Oklahoma Supreme Court rejects Ethics Commission request for more money: The Oklahoma Ethics Commission on Monday lost a legal effort to get more money to carry out its oversight functions. In a two-paragraph order, the Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected the watchdog agency’s complaint against legislators and the governor. The 5-4 decision was the latest development in a bitter political rift that has been ongoing for months. [NewsOK]

Oil companies face new round of quake lawsuits: Several Oklahoma oil companies are facing a new slate of lawsuits alleging their activities led to a series of earthquakes that damaged people’s homes.Tulsa attorney Don Lepp recently filed 22 cases representing 168 plaintiffs spanning three counties. The claims are similar to those that Sharon and James Binkley made in a 2017 case in Osage County after the state’s strongest recorded earthquake rumbled through northeastern Oklahoma.That quake on Sept. 3, 2016 near Pawnee damaged the plaintiffs’ homes, according to the petitions. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma missing opportunities to give young adult parents and their kids a boost: The first years of adulthood are a crucial time in anyone’s life. Many Oklahomans ages 18 to 24 are taking their first steps toward independence, whether they’re in college or just entering the workforce. Unfortunately, Oklahoma’s 62,000 young adult parents face hurdles to support their children and fulfill their own potential, according to Opening Doors for Young Parents, the latest KIDS COUNT® policy report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The fifty-state report reveals that, at 18 percent, Oklahoma is well above the national average (10 percent) of residents age 18 to 24 who are also parents. [OK Policy]

State Question 800: Vision Fund up for vote: Oklahoma’s budget woes in recent years have caused the legislature to take a serious look into ways to stabilize the state’s funding. Now that teacher raises have entered into the equation, is it essential to have adequate funds to cover the additional expense. [Shawnee News-Star] Find background information, arguments in support and against, and ballot language on our SQ 800 fact sheet. [OK Policy]

Takeaways from Oklahoma’s gubernatorial debate: With just over six weeks until Election Day, Republican Kevin Stitt and Drew Edmondson shared the stage Monday for the first gubernatorial debate with the two major-party candidates. The nearly hour-long debate, hosted by The Oklahoman at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, offered few fireworks as the two largely stuck to policy issues and stayed away from personal attacks. [Oklahoma Watch] Oklahoma’s major-party gubernatorial candidates delivered their first debate since the primary elections, and they delved into the details behind their platforms. [Journal Record ????]

Oklahoma Democrats see potential in Lawton, but could lose stronghold senate seat: After losing control of state government in 2010, Oklahoma’s Democratic party is trying to rebuild. And Lawton is one place outside Oklahoma City and Tulsa where the party believes it can make gains in 2018. But Oklahoma Democrats’ biggest challenge here may be holding onto Lawton’s Senate District 32— a seat they’ve held since the 1930s. [KGOU]

With $1.5 million federal grant, Tulsa police will process some untested kits. Old sexual assault cases could be reopened: The Tulsa Police Department has been awarded a $1.5 million federal grant that will help the agency process and inventory untested sexual assault examination kits. The initiative could lead to the reopening of years-old sexual assault cases. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance awarded the department the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative grant, which will fund a three-year project, the Tulsa Police Department announced Tuesday. [The Frontier]

Fight to stop a wind farm expansion blown before two state commissions: The headwinds one wind developer is facing as it attempts to build a project in western Oklahoma are only getting stiffer. To date, NextEra Energy’s proposed Minco IV and Minco V wind farms have prompted the town of Hinton to pass an ordinance that declares commercial wind turbines a nuisance and resulted in the filing of two federal lawsuits — one dismissed, the other poised for dismissal. [NewsOK ????]

Oklahoma earns ‘C,’ ranks 14th in state finance watchdog’s annual report: Oklahoma improved on an annual report card for state finances. Truth In Accounting grades are based on taxpayers’ share of the state’s debt. Last year, Oklahomans’ was $5,100. “We give people a ‘D’ if your per taxpayer burden is more than $5,000, and now you guys have jumped up to $2,900, which is in our ‘C’ category,” said Truth In Accounting founder and CEO Sheila Weinberg. Oklahoma’s unfunded debt declined around $2 billion from last year. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Dorman: Grandparents play a role in raising children: While it is a well-documented fact that many children are lacking positive adult role models, the state is inadvertently exacerbating that situation, especially when it comes to grandparents.In the U.S. Supreme Court case of Troxel v. Granville, the court discussed parents’ fundamental rights to raise and rear their own children. It should be noted though, the Troxel case refused to strike down a Washington state law granting substantial grandparent visitation. Due to this, the Troxel case left states with varying degrees of grandparent visitation throughout the nation. [Joe Dorman / OK Policy]

One father’s laudable effort to destroy a harmful stigma: Gary Mendell’s story isn’t unique, and he’s doing what he can to make that point to parents across the country. We need more folks like Mendell — people who are comfortable talking about mental illness and substance abuse. Mendell founded a nonprofit called Shatterproof, after losing his son Brian to suicide at 25 in 2011. Brian Mendell had struggled with addiction for nearly 10 years. Shatterproof, as is explained on its website (, is dedicated “to ending the devastation addiction causes families.” [Editorial Board / NewsOK]

OKC City Council approves proposal reducing marijuana possession penalty: The Oklahoma City council has approved a proposal reducing the penalty for marijuana possession. The change in ordinance was proposed by Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty. It lowers the maximum fine for simple possession of marijuana to a $400 maximum. Under the current ordinance, offenders are arrested and can face a $1,200 fine and six months in jail. [KFOR]

City of Tulsa appears poised to enact ‘moratorium’ on applications related to medical marijuana production: Tulsa’s City Council appears poised to enact a moratorium on applications related to medical marijuana production during Wednesday’s meeting, according to an agenda posted online. The agenda states the proposed moratorium would be in effect pending amendments to zoning codes that regulate the use and location of medical marijuana facilities. [The Frontier]

Lawsuit filed to stop city’s medical marijuana regulations: An attorney has filed a lawsuit seeking to stop a Tulsa suburb from adopting new regulations on medical marijuana, like permit fees for dispensaries and restrictions on growing the plant. The petition filed Tuesday in Tulsa County also alleges that city officials in Broken Arrow violated the state’s Open Meeting Act by meeting in groups ahead of a council meeting to develop the new rules. [AP News]

Veterans officials weighing options on Talihina center: The decades-old fight over the Talihina Veterans Center could soon come to a close. Veterans Affairs officials are expected to choose a location for a new center that would replace the one in Talihina. They spent most of Tuesday reviewing their options. Those officials have been raising concerns about the southeastern Oklahoma medical facility for years, long before high-profile deaths brought the center into the spotlight. [Journal Record] Representatives from Holdenville, Hugo, McAlester, Muskogee, Poteau and Sallisaw spent 10 minutes each telling the Veterans Commission why their cities would be the best locale for the new center. [NewsOK ????]

Quote of the Day

“What Chief Citty and the city council have done today is said, it’s time to really think about our marijuana policy and move into the future that the country is moving toward. This is the path of least resistance at this point. The people of Oklahoma and their adoption of State Question 780 and their most recent adoption of State Question 788 have said over and over again, listen…we want reform.”

-Allie Shinn, Deputy Director of the ACLU, speaking about the Oklahoma City Council’s vote to reduce the penalty for marijuana possession to a maximum $400 fine and to stop booking people into jail for marijuana possession [KFOR]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahomans with a bachelor’s degree or higher whose degree is in science and engineering or a related field.

[U.S. Census 2017 American Community Survey]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

A benefit of free lunch for all: fewer students get repeatedly suspended, new study suggests: The study estimates that in elementary school, the chances of being suspended multiple times fell by about a third of a percentage point in elementary school and half a percentage point in middle school. Those aren’t big changes, but only a small share of students receive multiple suspensions in the first place. Gordon and Ruffini say community eligibility may have had broader effects because it helped students nutritionally and also because it improved “the social climate of the school by reducing the stigma associated with free meals.” [Chalk Beat]

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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