In The Know: Gov. Fallin signs bill reducing mandatory minimums for some drug offenders

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Governor Fallin has signed a bill reducing minimum sentences for some drug offenders convicted of trafficking. The bill reduces the minimum sentence for drug trafficking after two felony convictions from life without parole to 20 years in prison. The reform was one of many advocated for by Oklahoma Corrections Professionals, which represents employees in the Department of Corrections. The Tulsa World praised the measure and other criminal justice reforms passed this year. The Governor also signed bills tripling the state’s abortion waiting period, and banning tobacco at schools and school-sponsored events. Awaiting her signature is a bill that would allow dedicated personnel in schools to carry a gun, and a bill that would prevent businesses from banning guns at events held at parks, recreational area, and fairgrounds. Critics worry that the bill would cause national shows, athletic competitions, concerts, and other revenue-generating events that typically require gun bans to cancel contracts in the state.

State treasurer Ken Miller warned that the days of tax cuts without corresponding spending cuts are over. Oklahoma has a number of options for solving the budget gap. Miller and Executive Director David Blatt spoke to News9 about some of those options. A letter with signed by dozens of businesses, non-profits, churches and other organizations calling on state leadership to halt the scheduled income tax cut is available here. Organizations wishing to add their signature can do so here. Lack of funding is putting 911 call centers across the state in jeopardy. A guest post on the OK Policy blog showed that higher minimum wages improve economic well-being.

A Tulsa advocacy group has filed a petition requesting a grand jury investigation into the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office. If approved, the group will have 45 days to gather 5,000 signatures from registered Tulsa County voters. Tulsa County has been ordered by a judge to pay nearly $300,000 in attorney fees incurred in its unsuccessful attempt to defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. In the Journal Record, Blatt argued in favor of the proposed OKPOP museum in Tulsa’s Brady Arts District. StateImpact asked Oklahoma farmers about a proposed right-to-farm measure and found that farmers with larger operations were more likely to favor the measure.

The Number of the Day is 468 – the number of reported violent crime offenses per 100,000 of the Oklahoma population 2010 – 2012. The US median was 199. In today’s Policy Note, The Marshall Project reports on the toll that chronic understaffing takes on one corrections professional and her family.

In The News

Oklahoma governor signs bill to reduce mandatory minimum sentence for drug offenders

Many three-strikes drug offenders will no longer face mandatory sentences of life without parole under legislation signed Wednesday by Gov. Mary Fallin. The new law reduces the minimum sentence for drug trafficking after two felony drug convictions to 20 years in prison, as long as the two prior convictions were not both for drug trafficking.

Read more from NewsOK.

See also: Pass common sense sentencing reforms now from the OK Policy Blog.

Justice reforms will make a difference

Lawmakers, supported by Gov. Mary Fallin, have passed justice reforms this session that will bring some long overdue rationality to how Oklahoma handles lawbreakers. This is a positive step in a year when lawmakers have $611 million less to appropriate than last year.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Fallin signs bill tripling Oklahoma’s abortion waiting period

Starting Nov. 1, Oklahoma women wanting an abortion will have to wait three days. Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill Wednesday making Oklahoma the fourth state to have a 72-hour wait time. That’s triple the wait time presently required.

Read more from NewsOK.

Gov. Mary Fallin signs bill banning tobacco at schools and school events

Gov. Mary Fallin on Wednesday signed a measure that prohibits tobacco use at schools and school-sponsored events. “This is a common-sense measure that will reduce tobacco’s influence on our children,” Fallin said.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Bill allowing schools to arm designated employees goes to governor

A bill allowing school districts to arm designated school personnel is on its way to the governor after passing the Oklahoma House of Representatives 82-12 on Wednesday. House Bill 2014 by Rep. Jeff Coody, R-Grandfield, requires those designated “special reserve school resource officers” be licensed armed security guards or reserve peace officers

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma proposed bill would prevent businesses from banning guns at certain events

Businesses would lose the ability to ban guns at events held at parks, recreational areas and fairgrounds under a bill that has passed the Oklahoma Legislature and is pending before Gov. Mary Fallin. The measure would imperil national shows, athletic competitions and concerts that pump hundreds millions of dollars into the economy, said Roy Williams, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.

Read more from NewsOK.

Days of big tax cuts without spending cuts likely over, says state treasurer Ken Miller

Tax cuts without corresponding offsets in spending or revenue likely are a thing of the past, state Treasurer Ken Miller said Wednesday. Speaking to more than 230 people at the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association’s Wildcatter Wednesday luncheon at the Tulsa Country Club, Miller said this year’s $611 million drop in general revenue is largely self-inflicted because of an untenable tax and spending policy.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

See also: Options for a balanced approach to solve Oklahoma’s budget gap from OK Policy.

OK Treasurer Opposed To Use Of Unclaimed Property Fund To Fix Budget Woes

A handful of state leaders are deep into budget negotiations, working on keeping state government running with less money. There’s a budget gap estimated at $611 million, but they’ll make some of that up with money that doesn’t come from taxes, but from unclaimed property held by the state.

See more from News9.

See also: Sign-On Letter: Halt the Tax Cut from Together OK.

Lack Of Funding Puts Oklahoma 911 Call Centers In Jeopardy

A lack of funding is putting 911 call centers across the state in jeopardy. Many have already cut staff, some have shut down and consolidated and others aren’t sure what’s next.

Read more from NewsOn6.

Higher minimum wages improve economic well-being

Debates about the wisdom of hiking minimum wage levels are stuck in a rut. Opponents say higher minimum wages kill jobs, while supporters maintain that higher minimums reduce poverty and spur consumer spending, benefiting everyone.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Petition filed for grand jury investigation in effort to remove Sheriff Stanley Glanz from office

The leader of an advocacy group filed a petition Wednesday requesting a grand jury investigation into the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office in an effort to remove Sheriff Stanley Glanz from office. In the event the petition is approved by a district judge, We the People Oklahoma will have 45 days to gather 5,000 signatures of registered Tulsa County voters.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Judge awards nearly $300,000 in attorney fees in same-sex marriage case

Tulsa County will be on the hook for nearly $300,000 in attorney fees that were incurred during its unsuccessful defense of the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. U.S. District Judge Terence Kern awarded attorneys for a lesbian couple $298,742.77 in fees and costs related to the county’s appeal of a lower court ruling.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma sounds

Last month, at a concert I attended at Cain’s Ballroom, the lead singer of The War on Drugs, a critically acclaimed alt-rock band from Philadelphia, said it was their first time playing in Tulsa. “Honestly, I knew nothing about Tulsa,” he said. “But when I told my musician friends we’d be playing Cain’s, they told me it’s the best place in America to play.”

Read more from the Journal Record.

What Oklahoma Farmers Think About The Right-to-Farm Issue In Oklahoma

The right-to-farm bill got through the legislative process last week. That means voters will have a chance to decide next year whether to give farmers and ranchers broad protections against future state laws that might interfere with their operations.

Read more from StateImpact.

Quote of the Day

“It’s encouraging. We are going to make some real headway and these are significant steps.”

– Rep. Cory Williams (D-Stillwater), on Governor Fallin’s signature of HB 1574, which reduces mandatory minimums for some drug offenders. (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of reported violent crime offenses per 100,000 of the Oklahoma population 2010 – 2012. The US median was 199.

Source: 2015 County Health Rankings.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

16-Hour Shifts, 300 Inmates to Watch, and 1 Lonely Son

Claudia Cass squeezes her mother’s hand as they pull into a parking spot at the Derry District Court in New Hampshire one late September morning. Cass has just finished her overnight shift as a correctional officer at New Hampshire’s State Prison for Men in Concord, where she spends upwards of 100 hours a week guarding medium- and maximum-security inmates. She has traded her blue polyester uniform for a dress, prepared to follow through on the “toughest decision” she has ever made: transferring legal custody of her 11-year-old son, Matthew, to her mother.

Read more from The Marshall Project.

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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