In The Know: Oklahoma new voter registration doubles from four years ago

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

Oklahoma New Voter Registration Doubles from Four Years Ago: Oklahoma’s voter registration rolls have ballooned ahead of next month’s primary election. In all, the state Election Board reports nearly 45,200 new voters have registered since mid-January. That more than double the number of new registrations during the same period four years ago, said Bryan Dean, a spokesman with the Election Board. Voters have until Friday to register to vote in the June 26 primary [Enid News & Eagle]. What we know about Oklahoma’s 2018 legislative elections [OKPolicy].

Oklahoma Attorney General Urges State Supreme Court to Reject Second Challenge to Repeal Petition: In the second of two legal challenges, the Oklahoma attorney general’s office sided again on Tuesday with the group trying to repeal tax hikes recently approved to fund teacher pay raises. Despite some problems, the wording of the petition being circulated for a statewide vote is clear enough for people to understand what tax hikes would be repealed, the attorney general’s office told the Oklahoma Supreme Court in written arguments [NewsOK]. What we know – and don’t know – about the revenue bill veto challenge [OKPolicy].

Missing Information Proved Key in Oklahoma Health Department Debacle: Attorney General Mike Hunter acknowledged the difficulty of understanding how officials failed to understand financial realities. Incompetence played a role, as did a culture of fear at the Health Department, he said during a news conference announcing the grand jury’s findings [NewsOK].

OK PolicyCast Episode 30: Devon Douglass on Taking on Tulsa’s Toughest Challenges: We spoke with DeVon Douglass, the Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Tulsa, about the work her team is doing to take on Tulsa’s toughest challenges, from teen homelessness to deep inequities in housing, transportation, and education. Their recent Tulsa Equality Indicators report assesses many of the barriers to a good life and better opportunities for Tulsans — but DeVon’s not only working to describe the problems. She tells us how the Tulsa city and community is gearing up to take on inequality in a comprehensive way [OKPolicy].

The President of the Wind Coalition Has Been Subpoenaed to Testify and Bring Records to Oklahoma’s Multicounty Grand Jury: Oklahoma’s multicounty grand jury is seeking testimony from the president of The Wind Coalition about the placement of a tracker on a state legislator’s pickup. Jeff Clark, 48, has been subpoenaed to appear in June and bring records on research done on Rep. Mark McBride. The grand jury also is seeking testimony, for a second time, from the political consultant who hired private investigators to track McBride last year [NewsOK].

Thursday Is Cutoff Date for Oklahoma Law Enforcement Agencies to Respond to Untested Rape Kit Audit: In April 2017, Governor Mary Fallin signed an executive order creating the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Task Force to determine the number of untested rape kits statewide. Fallin originally set a Dec. 30, 2017 deadline for law enforcement agencies to respond, but she later set a new deadline of Feb. 15 after many agencies failed to comply. As of last week, nearly 125 law enforcement agencies in the state still had not responded to the audit directive, according to information provided by the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office [NewsOK].

Governor Has yet to Sign Two Charter Change Amendments Approved by Tulsans Last Year: City employees gearing up to take a more active role in the upcoming municipal elections may want to think twice before doing so. Six months after Tulsa voters overwhelming approved a city charter amendment expanding classified city employees’ rights to participate in elections for municipal office, the measure has yet to take effect because Gov. Mary Fallin has not signed off on it [Tulsa World].

Tulsa Sobering Center Now Open: Tulsa police can now drop off people they arrest for public intoxication at the Tulsa Sobering Center instead of taking them to jail. According to the City of Tulsa, more than half of people booked into the city jail are there for public intoxication. At the sobering center, they’ll have a place to rest, get a meal, and be referred to addiction treatment. Clients will not face charges or have a recorded arrest [Public Radio Tulsa].

18 Apply for OKC Ward 7 Council Seat: The search for an interim Ward 7 city council member will be conducted largely out of public view. Under the city charter, the council must appoint a temporary replacement for Councilman John Pettis, who has resigned effective Thursday. A week ago, the city made available a five-page application for individuals seeking the appointment [NewsOK].

Life After John Sparks: Senate District 16 up for Grabs in Norman Area: With Sen. John Sparks (D-Norman) terming out of the Oklahoma Legislature, Senate District 16 stands as an open district with three Democrats and three Republicans vying for Sparks’ seat. NonDoc has deemed SD 16 a #HotRace because it features two contested primaries in a Democratic-leaning but potentially competitive district. Democrats would like to hold Sparks’ seat and continue their recent momentum. Republicans are seeking to turn a blue district red and expand their sizable majority [NonDoc].

Oklahoma Department of Corrections Opens New Kennel for Program Teaching Inmates Dog Training: The Oklahoma Department of Corrections opened a new, almost 3,000 square foot dog kennel Tuesday at its medium-security women’s prison. It’s for the Guardian Angels Program, which teaches women at the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center to train dogs for adoption or work as service animals. Participants learn job skills ahead of release [Public Radio Tulsa].

Oklahoma School Safety Remains Focus After Recent Shootings: School building design standards and identifying troubled students were topics discussed by state Board of Education leaders at a recent meeting in the wake of another school shooting that resulted in multiple casualties. During a school safety presentation at its May 24 meeting, board members held an open discussion about ways to better protect schools from gun violence [NewsOK].

AAA Oklahoma to Renew Child Seatbelt Law Push in 2019: The state’s leading motorist group says lawmakers missed a chance to make Oklahoma’s kids safer in cars. House Bill 3026 would have required kids under 14 to wear a seatbelt, closing a hole in state law where once kids grow out of booster seats or turn 8, they can sit in the back seat without buckling up. AAA Oklahoma’s Mark Madeja said the bill stalled after passing the House [Public Radio Tulsa].

Lankford: “I Don’t Consider the President a Role Model for My Kids”: Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake recently describeddaily activities and revelations from the Trump White House as “moral vandalism,” and Oklahoma Senator James Lankford seems to agree. “I don’t consider the president a role model for my kids. I don’t want my kids to speak the way that he speaks or to make some of the choices,” Lankford said on MSNBC’s “Kasie DC” [Public Radio Tulsa].

Quote of the Day

“We’re saving hundreds of thousands of dollars by doing this. We’re making better use of officer time. But most importantly, we’re going to save the lives of people in Tulsa, there’s no doubt in my mind, by having this facility in place.”

-Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, at the opening of a new Sobering Center where police can bring people they arrest for public intoxication instead of taking them to jail. Clients will not face charges or have a recorded arrest. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma’s FY 2019 state appropriations that went to common education, higher education, or Career Tech.

[Oklahoma Policy Institute].

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

More Than 7 Million People May Have Lost Driver’s Licenses Because of Traffic Debt: Driver’s license suspensions were criticized by anti-poverty advocates after a 2015 federal investigation, focused on Ferguson, Mo., revealed that law enforcement used fines to raise revenue for state and local governments. Suspensions can keep unsafe drivers off the road but also can prevent people who haven’t committed serious crimes from working, getting their children to school and getting out of debt, according to advocates for the poor [Washington Post].

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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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