In The Know: Criminal justice reform group files initiative petition, general fund revenue beats estimates, and more

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

Criminal justice reform group files petition to limit sentence enhancements: The advocacy group Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform filed a proposed initiative petition Tuedsay afternoon to prohibit the consideration of prior non-violent felony convictions as justification to enhance sentences for additional felony convictions. [NonDoc] The initiative also would allow people currently serving time for nonviolent crimes who were sentenced with a sentence enhancement to petition a court to have their sentence shortened. [The Oklahoman] Steps are being taken to address Oklahoma’s outdated criminal code, and an OK Policy analysis showed key elements that should be taken into account during that process

Personal income tax collections drive solid general revenue fund report: General fund revenue beat estimates by 5 percent in October, mostly because of a much-higher-than-expected contribution from personal income tax. Deposits to the general fund, the state’s primary operating account, totaled $553.1 million, or $26.1 million above projections and $33 million above the same month a year ago. The strong overall total was achieved despite an 8 percent shortfall in sales tax, which along with individual income tax is one Oklahoma’s two major revenue sources.[Tulsa World]

Lawmaker wants to help reduce the state’s prison population, has plan to free 12,000 inmates: A rural Oklahoma legislator said he has a plan to dramatically reduce the state’s prison population, and he said it won’t cost taxpayers another dime. The plan would be to release some 12,000 non-violent inmates, and to use the money saved from housing them to rehabilitate them. [News9]

Oklahoma’s mass prison release is a drop in the bucket: According to an Oklahoma lawmaker, Oklahoma’s recent mass release meant the state prison system’s incarceration rate fell from 667.8 prisoners per 100,000 residents to 656.4 — slipping behind Louisiana, which locks up 682.6 people per 100,000 residents. Whoo-hoo, Oklahoma: You’re now number two. [Mother Jones] OK Policy analysis has shown that HB 1269 made progress towards SQ 780 retroactivity, but there are still unresolved issues. 

Cherokee council votes to cut funding to public schools that prohibit students from observing cultural practices: The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council unanimously approved legislation Monday night to allow the possibility of withholding car tag revenue from school districts that deny indigenous students the right to observe cultural practices on campus. [Tulsa World]

DPS asks for $220 million for next budget: The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety wants a $220 million budget for the next fiscal year. Commissioner John Scully made the request Tuesday to a State House/Senate Budget Committee. The increase would be about $7 million more than the current budget for the department. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma has few online privacy laws, group says: Oklahoma ranks low when it comes to online privacy protections, according to a nationwide analysis of laws by Comparitech. State law only includes four of the 20 benchmarks set by Comparitech, which is a consumer-focused company that provides information and tools to help people compare tech services. [The Oklahoman]

Dozens apply to lead Oklahoma legislative transparency office: More than two dozen people applied to lead a new state budget office that will give Oklahoma legislators greater oversight of state agency spending. State lawmakers on the committee overseeing creation of the new office will be able to see all of the applications, but applicant details will not be publicly released. [The Oklahoman]

Tulsa City election: All propositions pass in $639 million Improve Our Tulsa renewal package: The Tulsans who turned out to vote Tuesday gave overwhelming support to the $639 million Improve Our Tulsa renewal package, with two of the three propositions approved by more than 80 percent. The third had nearly 80 percent approval. [Tulsa World]

Norman voters approved the sales tax to move forward with public transit: Norman will now have the necessary money to fully cover its public transit system after voters approved a one-eighth cent sales tax Tuesday. [Norman Transcript] Voters overwhelmingly approved a one-eighth cent sales tax increase that will fund Cleveland County public safety measures including continued maintenance and operation of the F. Dewayne Beggs Detention Center. [Norman Transcript]

Supermajority requirement dooms Catoosa Public Schools bond issue; Pawhuska city sales tax proposals pass: Voters in the Catoosa Public Schools district rejected a $2.25 million bond issue to buy land for future school sites, a new early childhood center and a new elementary school. The proposition failed with 472 votes, or about 51.5%, in favor and 445 votes, or 48.5%, against it, according to unofficial election results. School bonds need 60% of the vote to pass. Also Tuesday, voters in the city of Pawhuska decided to extend two sales taxes. [Tulsa World]

MAPS 4 includes $87 million for public transit: More people will have more reasons to ride the bus if voters approve MAPS 4. Public transit makes up 9 percent of the estimated $978 million that would be raised by extending the 1-cent MAPS sales tax for eight years. [The Oklahoman]

Lawsuit: Grady Co. jail violated several laws, state jail standards in man’s death: The family of a man who died after he was found unresponsive in the Grady County Law Enforcement Center in 2017 has filed a civil lawsuit against the trust that oversees the jail, its trustees and several jailers. The suit, filed Tuesday in Grady County District Court, alleges officials and staff violated several state laws and jail standards, and were deliberately indifferent to the man’s needs while he was in crisis. The lawsuit also alleges jailers used excessive force against the man. [The Frontier]

Tulsa County, estate settle lawsuit for $10 million, ending years of litigation over Elliott Williams’ death in the Tulsa County jail: Tulsa County officials have agreed to drop a challenge to a multimillion-dollar federal civil rights jury verdict linked to the 2011 death of a jail detainee. The agreement will end nearly eight years of litigation that included a jury’s determination in 2017 that Tulsa County and former Sheriff Stanley Glanz were liable for Williams’ death in the county jail. [Tulsa World]

Town Hall focuses on redistricting: People Not Politicians, an Oklahoma coalition, hosted a town hall meeting to discuss a petition they are spearheading to get on the 2020 Oklahoma ballot. The petition is centered around creating an independent commission that would be responsible for redrawing both state and congressional voting districts after the U.S. Census population count, which occurs every decade. [Norman Transcript]

Oklahomans rally at Supreme Court as DACA arguments begin: The fate of nearly 13,000 undocumented Oklahomans and 700,000 undocumented immigrants nationwide now rests with the six men and three women justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. [Gaylord News]

Quote of the Day

“Instead of incarcerating the individual, we want to get down to the root cause and provide the proper treatment, which will also increase the safety in our communities and reduce the prison population.”

-Theodis Manning Sr., a Midwest City pastor who teaches inside the Department of Corrections [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Total number of American Indian and Alaskan Native children in Oklahoma in 2018 — 10 percent of total Oklahoma child population

[Source: KIDS COUNT]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

First Kids 1st Data Resource Book: Helping Native youth thrive through research and data: Efforts to help Native youth thrive can be informed by research and data. Research can reveal protective factors that may help Native youth thrive that tribal nations can incorporate in their systems of support for Native youth. Research also can show risk factors and barriers that interventions must address to be successful in helping Native youth thrive. [National Congress of American Indians]

Note: November is Native American Heritage Month

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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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