In The Know: Early voting starts today

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

Early voting starts today: Early in-person voting for Tuesday’s primary elections and State Question 788 begins Thursday and continues through Saturday. Early in-person voting will be 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday at all county election board offices. Tulsa County voters may also cast early ballots at Hardesty Library, 8316 E. 93rd St., near the intersection of Memorial Drive and the Creek Turnpike [Tulsa World]. Oklahoma 2018 State Questions and Elections [OKPolicy].

Video Breakdown: State Question 788: This video breaks down State Question 788—the medical marijuana question—to show what it means if you vote ‘yes’ and what it means if you vote ‘no’. We hope the video will inform viewers about the ballot question and we hope that you will share it with your friends and family as they ponder their vote on June 26 [KOSU]. How does SQ 788 compare to other states’ medical marijuana laws? [OKPolicy] Fact Sheet: State Question 788 – Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative [OKPolicy]. 

Marijuana advocate sues Rogers County Sheriff after being forcefully removed from public forum: A man filed a lawsuit against the Rogers County sheriff after the sheriff forcibly removed him from a public forum about medical marijuana. Charles “Chip” Paul filed the suit Wednesday against Sheriff Scott Walton in Rogers County District Court. Paul, co-founder and chairman of Oklahomans for Health, is seeking a judgment in excess of $10,000. Paul, in the suit, alleges Walton assaulted him. The suit further alleges that Walton used his official capacity as sheriff to suppress Paul’s speech, retaliate against him and seize him [Tulsa World].

DA candidates discuss criminal justice reform at Tulsa Regional Chamber forum: Each of District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler’s three challengers told business leaders and criminal justice reform advocates that he or she is the best person to bring what they say are badly-needed changes to Tulsa County’s legal system. But Kunzweiler, in disagreeing with their views, maintains that he has continually sought ways to improve during his tenure both as an assistant district attorney and the top prosecutor [Tulsa World]. ‘Prosecutorial discretion’ by district attorneys makes Oklahoma’s justice system a roll of the dice [OKPolicy].

Court Revenue Source Running Dry: A revenue source that has been helping Oklahoma pay for its court system is running out of money and some officials said the cost burden should shift to the Legislature. Lawmakers have been authorizing the court system to use surplus money left in the Oklahoma Court Information System, or OCIS, fund. That fund was designed to pay a Virginia-based tech company, AMCAD, to revamp the state’s online court records system. It held about $27 million. However, when the contractor failed to meet benchmarks, the state severed its contract. That money has instead been going to pay for court services, said the system’s administrative director, Jari Askins [Journal Record].

Juneteenth to Be Taught in Oklahoma Schools: A celebration that marks the end of slavery will now be taught in Oklahoma schools. The Juneteenth holiday celebration started when General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas and began spreading the news that slavery had ended. Now, this part of history will be part of Social Studies curriculum for Oklahoma students. This year also marks the first time students were taught about the 1921 Tulsa Massacre and Black Wall Street [KFOR].

Troops to Teachers Program Looking to Ease Teacher Shortage in Oklahoma: The Oklahoma Department of Education is hoping veterans can help fight our teacher shortage crisis. The program is called Troops to Teachers, it’s been around for decades, and Oklahoma is one of only a handful of states awarded more than a million dollars in grant money for the program. With this new funding, state leaders are hoping to see a huge increase in veterans in the classroom over the next five years [News On 6]. OKC district loses another principal [NewsOK].

University of Oklahoma President David Boren says OU debt is large, but comparable to similar public universities: University of Oklahoma President David Boren issued a statement Wednesday about OU’s financial status. The statement followed remarks his successor made Tuesday during a meeting of the OU Board of Regents. Jim Gallogly, who becomes OU president July 1, said he spent months sorting out the financials of the university “and frankly I’m not pleased with what I have found.” The amount of debt is similar in scope to Oklahoma State University and similarly rated public universities, particularly those that do not receive capital appropriations from their state government, Boren said [NewsOK].

Insider, Outsider Ruffle Feathers at GOP Auditor Debate: Things got heated Wednesday night during a state auditor and inspector Republican primary debate at Trolley Stop Record Shop in Oklahoma City. “Let me finish, please,” candidate Charlie Prater said early in the debate to opponent Cindy Byrd. “You do not interrupt. It’s rude.” “It is rude to interrupt your elders,” Byrd replied quietly before Prater said, “please let me finish” and continued discussing the relationship of the Oklahoma Legislature with the state auditor and inspector’s office [NonDoc].

Oklahoma Becomes First State to Get EPA Approval to Manage Coal Ash: Oklahoma is the first state in the nation to receive the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s approval to manage its own coal ash disposal program. State and federal officials and utility companies said Oklahoma’s plan would improve oversight, but environmental groups like Earthjustice and the Sierra Club said the move protects industry and endangers public health [StateImpact Oklahoma]. Residents of Bokoshe Oklahoma have long battled against a coal ash dump that many believe is responsible for high rates of cancer and asthma [This Land Press].

Prosperity Policy: This Is Not Us: We are better than this. Throughout America’s history, we have been a nation committed to offering refuge and relief to those escaping violence and hardship in foreign lands. In our own laws and in international treaties, we have committed ourselves to offer protection for individuals and families fleeing persecution. But the Trump administration, in its zeal to deter and punish unauthorized immigration, is adopting new policies that run counter to American laws and traditions. These policies exhibit outright heartlessness and cruelty [Journal Record].

Oklahoma Senator Opposes Trump’s Border Policy of Separating Families: Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe is joining Senator James Lankford in opposing the Trump administration’s policy of separating families at the border. The senator says he is co-sponsoring Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s bill to end the zero-tolerance policy [News9]. Sen. Lankford: Families staying together should be “default” [News9].

‘It Could Have Been Me’: Tulsa Dreamer, Immigration Expert Criticize Family Separations as Trump Backs off Policy: As a 4-year-old, Rosa Hernandez unlawfully entered the U.S. with her mother and brother in a “traumatic” and “terrifying” experience. The now 22-year-old Tulsan can’t imagine how awful she would have felt if they had been detained and the federal government had taken her away from her mother. Hernandez called the practice of forcibly separating parents and children “disgusting,” “inhumane” and “heart-breaking” [Tulsa World]. 

Quote of the Day

“If my family would have chosen to seek asylum instead of doing it the way we did, now we would be in detention. We would be in one of those centers. It makes it terrifying to quote-unquote ‘do it the legal way’ and go to the border and ask for asylum.”

-Dream Act Oklahoma-Tulsa President Rosa Hernandez, who was brought to the U.S. as a 4-year-old, speaking about President Trump’s policy of separating and detaining families who apply for asylum to escape persecution in their home countries [Tulsa World].

Number of the Day


Average debt of class of 2016 students with loans for an Oklahoma college or university.

[Institute for College Access and Success]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Our 2 Kinds of Criminal Justice, and How to Reconcile Them: Leadership consultants often exhort their clients to “get off the dance floor and get on the balcony.” From the perspective of the balcony, it is possible to offer a fundamental critique of the justice system as an instrument for maintaining an unfair social order. The negative impacts of the justice system on black Americans stand out in particularly stark relief. Yet the view can look very different from the dance floor. While egregious examples of brutality, incompetence and corruption do exist, the truth is that much of the daily practice of the justice system consists of well-intentioned front-line staffers attempting to do their best with challenging situations and complicated people [Governing].

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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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