In The Know: Fallin endorses Stitt; making criminal justice reform retroactive; OK’s untapped potential voters…
In 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
Fallin endorses Stitt for governor: Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, now just months from the end of her final term, is endorsing Republican candidate Kevin Stitt for governor, the term-limited incumbent confirmed Monday during a visit to the Enid News & Eagle. Up until now, Fallin has not publicly stated her choice to fill the governorship after she steps down. [Enid News & Eagle] Find more information from OK Policy on Oklahoma’s upcoming elections and state questions here.
Making recent justice reforms retroactive is smart policy – and a moral necessity: Voters passed State Questions 780 and 781 last year in response to Oklahoma’s incarceration crisis. These measures reclassified simple drug possession and several low-level property crimes as misdemeanors instead of felonies and directed the savings toward treatment and rehabilitation services. The changes have already significantly cut felony filings across the state, though people charged with those crimes under previous law continue to enter prisons at a similar rate. [OK Policy]
Prosperity Policy: Oklahoma’s untapped potential voters: Recently, The Right Strategy Group polling company shared a survey from late September. The finding that grabbed the headline was Republican Kevin Stitt leading Democrat Drew Edmondson by four points in the race for governor. But what caught my attention was the demographic breakdown of the poll’s respondents. [David Blatt / OK Policy]
Registration nears for Oklahoma voters to cast ballots: Friday is the deadline for Oklahomans to register to vote or update their registration ahead of the November general election. Voters can pick up a voter registration form at any of the state’s 77 county election boards or download it from the State Election Board website. It must be delivered in person or postmarked by Friday in order to qualify for election in the Nov. 6 general election. [AP News]
Help wanted: Lawmakers with law degrees: The Oklahoma Legislature already had few lawyers, and a third of them won’t be back for the next session. As the state continues its path toward criminal justice reform and prepares for its first legislative session after medical marijuana legalization, there will be very few top lawmakers with experience in the courts. [Journal Record]
Seeking civil discussion, students organize gubernatorial debate: Tom Robins, Adam Pugh and Jason Dunnington were all fed up with the current divisive political discourse. They wanted to make changes, Robins said. So they turned to high school students.“We don’t want the next generation to think this is normal,” Robins said.Initially the three began with the idea that Pugh, a Republican state senator, and Dunnington, a Democratic representative, would go into high schools and do town halls to show the importance of bipartisan debate. The idea evolved into a gubernatorial debate organized by high school seniors. [Journal Record 🔒]
Stitt outlines need for appointment powers: Republican gubernatorial candidate Kevin Stitt encountered a friendly audience Tuesday during a town hall meeting sponsored by the Young Republicans at Muskogee High School. Stitt made it clear that he opposes all new taxes and tax hikes, saying there is sufficient revenue right now to raise teaching salaries to a level that beats the regional average. As part of his response to at least four questions, Stitt said the governor must be free to appoint the top person in every state agency. [Enid News & Eagle]
Medicaid expansion may drive key rural votes in Oklahoma Governor’s race: On a hot Monday afternoon, Zora Sampson stands behind rows of chairs set up in the lobby of the hospital in Pauls Valley. Sampson supports the Democratic candidate for Governor Drew Edmondson — and turned up to hear his plan to help rural hospitals. Administrators at Pauls Valley Regional Medical Center say they can barely make payroll. Sampson is scared that if it closes, elderly people would have to drive at least half an hour for care. She credits the hospital with saving her mother’s life. [KGOU] OK Policy previously examined how Oklahoma’s refusal to expand Medicaid is devastating rural hospitals.
SQ 793: Should OK allow optometrists in retail spaces? If passed, State Question 793 would amend Section 3, Article 20 of the Oklahoma Constitution to allow optometrists and opticians to administer eye examinations and write prescriptions for glasses inside retail establishments. Passage of SQ 793 would invalidate current restrictions against optometrists locating in retail facilities, and it would prohibit new statutes to that effect. But it would allow the Legislature to impose other restrictions, such as health and safety standards or the prohibition of surgical procedures in retail establishments. [NonDoc] See more background information and arguments for and against SQ 793 on OK Policy’s fact sheet here.
Marsy’s Law advocates make their case in Stillwater: The organization promoting passage of State Question 794, known as Marsy’s Law, participated in a forum sponsored by the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee on Tuesday before hosting a reception where people could discuss the state question. Marsy’s Law, known in California as the Victim’s Bill of Rights, was enacted by that state’s voters in a 2008 election. [Stillwater News Press] See more background information and arguments for and against SQ 794 on OK Policy’s fact sheet here.
Oklahoma educators say SQ 800 would cost schools millions: Voters will head to the polls in four weeks to decide six statewide measures. One of them has to do with two hot topics in Oklahoma: oil and gas production taxes and education. State Question 800 would create another reserve fund using money from the Gross Production Tax. Supporters say it’ll make Oklahoma less reliant on oil and gas, but opponents say it’s only going to hurt students. [News On 6] See more background information and arguments for and against SQ 800 on OK Policy’s fact sheet here.
Video: Legislative candidates offer views on issues in Lawton forum: The forum, held at Cameron University, was presented by Oklahoma Watch in collaboration with nonprofit organization Together Oklahoma. Participating candidates were John Michael Montgomery, Republican, and Jacobi Crowley, Democrat, running in Senate District 32; Larry Bush, Democrat, and Daniel Pae, Republican, running in House District 62; Trey Caldwell, Republican, running against Joan Gabelmann, Democrat, in HD 63; and Ashley McCarter, Democrat, and Randy Pilon, independent, running in HD 64 against Republican Rande Worthen. [Oklahoma Watch] You can find more upcoming events by Together Oklahoma here.
Hofmeister announces $4 million grant for the office of American Indian Ed: State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister today announced that the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) has been awarded a nearly $4 million federal Native Youth Community Project (NYCP) grant aimed at improving college and career readiness for 1,400 American Indian high school students. [McAlester News-Capital]
New program to cut down on re-incarceration: Too many people don’t or can’t comply with probation and wind up back behind bars. For defendants who need help getting back on track, a new program is launched in Tulsa County. D.A. Steve Kunzweiler’s office is partnering with several local non-profits. The idea is to aid those on probation to meet court ordered conditions, potentially avoiding jail or prison time and reducing inmate numbers. [Public Radio Tulsa]
As OU’s leadership changed, Jabar Shumate caught in cultural crosshairs: Facing accusations of financial impropriety, OU Vice President for University Community Jabar Shumate resigned July 23 and quickly became a public symbol of change during the first month of new President Jim Gallogly’s reform-minded tenure.But an examination of Shumate’s three-year university employment could also help illuminate two narratives that have largely divided OU alumni into competing political camps: those who support Gallogly’s fiscal prudence and those who call predecessor David Boren a transformative president, especially as it relates to efforts at improving diversity and inclusion. [NonDoc]
Medical Marijuana Working Group agrees on testing and labeling recommendations for Health Board: Oklahoma’s Medical Marijuana Working Group finalized Wednesday its recommendations for the State Board of Health about testing and labeling rules. The requirements would take effect May 15, 2019. Labels will not be required to have doctors’ or patients’ names on them, and they were going to read “For use by qualified patients only.” [Public Radio Tulsa] Dozens of municipalities across the state have put in place local ordinances that would regulate medical marijuana in the months since State Question 788 passed with 57 percent support. [Tulsa World]
Medical marijuana: Providing bank services ‘is riskier than ever’ without federal law change: State banking officials told lawmakers that they’ve struggled with adapting to Oklahoma’s medical marijuana industry because federal law still considers cannabis a Schedule I drug. “I keep trying to think of ways to get around this. I’ll be damned if I can,” Roger Beverage, who leads the Oklahoma Bankers Association, said to the legislative working group on medical marijuana. [Tulsa World]
Gary Peluso-Verdend: Our moral order is thin, and we’re debating the wrong issues: The moral order in Oklahoma is too thin to meet the challenges Oklahomans face. Paying attention to weaving and building a richer, stronger moral core could transform the politics and lives of Oklahomans. When social scientists, ethicists and philosophers of law use the term “moral order,” they refer to the web of laws, norms, dispositions and duties that expresses what a society considers good and right behaviors among its members and institutions. [Gary Peluso-Verdend / Tulsa World]
Allegations of violent past follow ‘peaceful gun owner’ at heart of rally outside Gathering Place: Wearing an orange shirt declaring “#GunFreeZones are #CrimeSpreeZones,” a red Donald Trump hat, and a green handgun tucked into a holster on his hip, Tim Harper slowly walked backwards out of the Gathering Place during the park’s Sept. 8 grand opening. His eviction angered many gun rights supporters. Some allies on social media compared him to Civil Rights pioneer Rosa Parks. [The Frontier]
Cherokee Nation to appeal Federal Court decision seen as threat to tribal sovereignty: Speaking at an event in Oklahoma City on Oct 8, Stephanie Hudson held a piece of paper that read “#DefendICWA.” ICWA is the Indian Child Welfare Act, and Hudson, who runs Oklahoma Indian Legal Services, warned about a recent court decision in Texas calling the law “race-based” and therefore unconstitutional. The 1978 law aims to keep Native American foster children within tribal communities. [KGOU]
Quote of the Day
“The untapped potential of younger voters is so large that if they start showing up in larger numbers, election outcomes in Oklahoma could change faster than anyone expects. At the least, our elected officials would have to take the concerns of younger adults much more seriously.”
-OK Policy Executive Director David Blatt, discussing the low turnout among Oklahomans age 18-34 and what could happen if they voted in larger numbers [Journal Record]
Number of the Day
Projected increase in Amusement, Gambling, and Recreation Industries jobs in Oklahoma from 2016 to 2026.
Buyer Beware: New cheaper insurance policies may have big coverage gaps: But if you’re considering one of these plans there’s a few things to keep in mind. Short-term policies are regulated by the states, so they don’t have to comply with the consumer protections laid out in the Affordable Care Act. This means insurers can refuse to offer these policies to people with pre-existing health problems, or charge people more who are likely to need medications and health care. [NPR]
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