In The Know: Fallin says innocence claims won’t delay execution

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.

Today In The News

Governor Fallin says innocence claims won’t delay scheduled execution: Fallin said in a statement that she is convinced Richard Eugene Glossip is guilty in the beating death of motel owner Barry Van Treese and that the state is prepared to move forward with his Sept. 16 execution [Washington Post]. Actress Susan Sarandon has joined death penalty opponent Sister Helen Prejean in an effort to halt the execution, and both debated Gov. Fallin’s spokemans Alex Weintz on Twitter [KFOR].

Is the state refusing to provide oversight on insurer rate hikes to score political points against Obamacare? Affordable Care Act health insurance rates are expected to rise in Oklahoma in 2016, and the state Insurance Department insists it cannot do anything about rates except review and approve the paperwork. In the past, however, the department held a somewhat different view, according to a former high-ranking state insurance official [Oklahoma Watch].

State backs off questions about tribes’ electronic games: After hearing no response from the federal government, Oklahoma’s Gaming Compliance Unit has backed off its questions about whether tribes are using improperly authorized casino machines. In June, GCU’s deputy director wrote to a federal official with concerns that some electronic games used in casinos were never officially authorized under the compact that allowed gaming in Oklahoma [Journal Record].

Oklahoma Capitol renovations predicted to cost well more than budgeted: Initial work to refurbish the state Capitol shows just how complicated the huge project will be and why the $120 million that’s been provided won’t be nearly enough. Providing more bonds for the project could be a tough sale for some legislators, said Rep. Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville [NewsOK].

State Democratic Party sues Oklahoma Ethics Commission: Party officials filed a lawsuit in federal court against new rules that prohibit any fundraising or distribution of election materials on state-owned property, arguing they are an unconstitutional restraint on free speech. Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairman Mark Hammons said the rules already have forced the party to abandon a fundraiser scheduled at Oklahoma City Community College [KTUL].

Districts battle shortage of teacher as school year begins: As students return to their classrooms this year, some may find fewer teachers waiting to greet them. Low pay, more mandatory tests, funding cuts and what some educators feel are more demands from policymakers are among the reasons cited by departing teachers, and by administrators trying to replace them [Associated Press]. 

It’s taking a village to get the young ones to vote: Where did all the voters go? It’s the ongoing struggle/question/debate about how to get Americans motivated to cast a ballot. Now, it’s a challenge just getting those eligible to even register. The youngest generation is absent. For Oklahomans age 18 to 24, registration has dropped 40 percent in the past 10 years, according to a Tulsa World analysis. In some places, 98 percent of people in that age group are staying away [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World].

Judge allows Norman Music Festival gun ban: Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman denied the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association’s effort to make a temporary injunction — forbidding Norman Music Festival’s gun ban — into a permanent order. If they want to fight the ban, Balkman said the legislature was the place to do it [Norman Transcript].

Oklahoma City tech company rolls out $15 minimum wage, employee benefits: In conjunction with its 30-year anniversary, a la mode — a software provider for appraisers, Realtors and mortgage lenders that powers more than 50 percent of real estate transactions nationwide — Aug. 1 bumped the starting pay for its phone-based workers to $15 an hour, or $31,200 annually. It also granted its salaried workers four-day workweeks and unlimited paid vacation [NewsOK].

Gas prices in Oklahoma, U.S. continue to fall: Oklahoma’s average gas price dropped ten cents over the past week to $2.38 thanks to lower oil prices. According to AAA, gasoline prices tumbled 26 cents per gallon since Oklahoma hit its 2015 high of $2.65 on July 22. “It’s likely we’ll see pump prices fall even further as Labor Day approaches,” said AAA Oklahoma spokesman Chuck Mai [OK Energy Today].

 Quote of the Day

“Rather than continuing to wring our hands over the weak statistics for voter engagement, we have decided to do something to make a change and hope that other community members will feel this issue is as important as we do. We hope to empower the community with the knowledge that their vote matters.”

-Mary Jane Lindaman, a facilitator of the Tulsa League of Women Voters Voting Is Power Coalition, which is planning voter registration drives and brainstorming ideas to boost voter turnout (Source).

Number of the Day

12.4 years

Average length of time individuals have spent on death row in Oklahoma before being executed since the death penalty was reinstated in 1990.

Source: Oklahoma Department of Corrections

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Can capitalism keep people out of prisons? Three years ago, Goldman Sachs, New York City, and then-mayor Michael Bloomberg’s foundation inked a $9.6 million deal to reduce the recidivism rate of youth offenders at Rikers Island Prison using cognitive behavioral therapy. The transaction, known as a Social Impact Bond (SIB), was structured with no upfront cost to the city and let investors (Goldman) and philanthropists (Bloomberg) assume the upfront risk for the social programs provided to current and former inmates, while the government only had to pay back the investors for the programs that actually worked [Quartz].

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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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