In The Know: Lawsuit challenges county’s bail system, state’s economic outlook reviewed, 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.

New from OK Policy

OK Policy names new Communications Director: The Oklahoma Policy Institute has named Dave Hamby as its communications director to oversee the organization’s communication and media relations programs. He started at OK Policy in October 2019 and serves as a member of the organization’s leadership team. [OK Policy]

In The News

‘No lawyer present’: Federal lawsuit challenges Canadian County bail system: In a federal class-action lawsuit filed this week, local and national attorneys allege Canadian County’s pretrial detention system violates the Sixth and Eighth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution owing to how arrested individuals are assigned bail via judicial video conferencing without attorneys present. [NonDoc] The lawsuit alleges that the county’s bail system routinely keeps poor people in jail before a trial, not because they are a flight risk or a danger to society but only because they can’t afford to pay bail. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma’s economy could slow, expert says: The national economy is showing signs of slowing, and Oklahoma’s economy could follow. Robert Dauffenbach, director of the Center for Economic and Management Research at the University of Oklahoma, says this is due in part to the state’s reliance on oil and natural gas production. [Public Radio Tulsa] Oilfield reductions appear to weigh on Oklahoma City tax revenues. [The Oklahoman]

Legislative leaders wary of ‘sluggish’ economy: At the State Chamber of Oklahoma’s annual public affairs forum Wednesday, legislative leaders answered questions about the economy, a proposed redistricting ballot initiative and gaming compact negotiations between Gov. Kevin Stitt and tribal nations. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma legislative leaders offer differing opinions on gaming compacts dispute: Leaders of Oklahoma’s House and Senate shared varying stances on Gov. Kevin Stitt’s dispute with the state’s Native American tribes over gaming revenue at a legislative forum Wednesday. [The Oklahoman] Those leaders have been reluctant to express opinions but were asked about the situation during a legislative panel sponsored by the State Chamber of Oklahoma. [Tulsa World] Leaders in the Oklahoma Legislature weighed in on some important issues facing the state and laid out priorities for the coming year during a forum staged Wednesday by the State Chamber of Oklahoma. [The Journal Record ????]

Tag agency standoff with Gov. Stitt over lobbying is settled — for now: An attempt to force privately owned tag agencies to stop their lobbying activities has been dropped, state officials said this week. The issue is significant because the proposed ban on tag agency lobbying would extend executive orders signed earlier this year by Gov. Kevin Stitt to state government contractors — specifically, in this case, tag agents. [Tulsa World]

Officials point to homelessness, other student issues: According to the state of Oklahoma, public schools have declined in performance in the past year, as overall scores for classrooms dropped in 2018-2019. Area administrators don’t agree with that assessment. [CNHI]

How two Black girls from Oklahoma fought their high school’s head wrap ban: Seniors Is’Abella Miller and Delanie Seals have been fighting their school’s “culturally and ethnically insensitive” head wrap ban since they were sophomores. A few months ahead of graduation, they’ve finally won. [Vice]

Tulsa’s Jones Elementary School was closed once before and then reopened. Now its neighbors fear what will happen to their area if it’s shut down again: Jones Elementary is one of four elementary schools that would close as part of Tulsa Public School’s recommendation to eliminate $20 million from its 2020-21 budget. Students from Jones, Grimes and Wright elementary schools would be sent to surrounding schools next year if the school board approves the proposal in January. [Tulsa World]

Pivot wants to change your understanding of trauma: Pivot works with young people lacking stability in their lives. They are sometimes homeless or couch homeless, alone or disengaged. Many live with damaging labels and shame. In this Q&A, Pivot CEO Jennifer Goodrich discusses her 20 years with Pivot and what people need to understand about childhood trauma. [NonDoc] United Way hosts seminar on effects of childhood trauma. [CNHI]

MAPS 4 turnout low, but approval overwhelming: Not quite 32,000 Oklahoma City residents voted “Yes” for MAPS 4, but it was more than enough by the end of Tuesday night to approve what could become a $1 billion tax. It was a landslide victory as fewer than 13,000 opposed the eight-year, temporary 1-cent sales tax designed to fund 16 civic projects across the city. [The Oklahoman] MAPS popularity reflected in Tuesday’s vote: [The Journal Record ????]

Officials unclear of future cost to run Oklahoma County jail: Oklahoma County Treasurer Butch Freeman recently sat behind his large wooden desk, hands folded on top of each other, and shook his head while letting out a long sigh. “It is going to be more expensive. There is no way around it,” Freeman said. “I don’t know what to expect. I just don’t know.” [The Oklahoman]

In southwest OKC, police and community celebrate youth center renovation: Thanks to more than $54,000 in cash donations and goods and services, the Police Athletic League’s headquarters at 3816 S Robinson recently completed a sparkling renovation that includes new flooring, furniture, computer stations, and a game area. [The Oklahoman]

Use old Adult Detention Center to get homeless people off the streets, Tulsa city councilor suggests: A city councilor says it’s time to consider using the vacant Adult Detention Center to temporarily house homeless Tulsans while they get back on their feet. [Tulsa World]

Cops, employee pay again priorities as Tulsa mayor and city council start budget planning: As they started work on the fiscal year 2021 budget, Tulsa’s mayor and city council agreed they need to continue putting money toward hiring cops and raising employee compensation. [Public Radio Tulsa]

‘Best person in the country’ sought to lead Tulsa Police Department: Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan announced last week that he is retiring effective Feb. 1. “I want someone who is going to continue the progress we’ve been making in making Tulsa a safer city, first and foremost,” said Mayor G.T. Bynum. That means finding someone who is willing and able to engage the community and understands and supports the city’s efforts to enhance its community policing practices, he said. [Tulsa World]

Agreement sets stage for Public Service Co. of Oklahoma to add wind energy to its portfolio if regulators agree: Regulators and other interested parties have agreed to Public Service Co. of Oklahoma’s proposal to buy ownership into three under-construction wind farms in north-central Oklahoma, the utility announced Tuesday. [The Oklahoman]

Horn, Prater differ over death row inmate’s clemency petition: U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn said Wednesday that Gov. Kevin Stitt should consider clemency for death row inmate Julius D. Jones, but Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said Horn had formed an opinion “without even taking time to research the true facts.” [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“We have a large number of students classified as ‘homeless.’ It is very hard to focus on academic achievement when you do not know where you will be sleeping from night to night.”

-Leon Ashlock, Tahlequah Public Schools Superintendent  [CNHI]

Number of the Day


Percent of Oklahoma children 0-3 years old who live in poverty, compared to 23.7 percent nationally.

[Source: FRAC]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

DAs increasingly treat overdoses as homicides. As the opioid crisis has grown, some prosecutors have turned to charging people with homicide if they provided or distributed a drug that resulted in a fatal overdose. The practice is now at issue in some 2019 elections. [The Appeal]

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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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