In The Know: Oklahoma’s governor angers the NRA and gay rights groups — on the same day

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’s Governor Angers the NRA and Gay Rights Groups — on the Same Day: Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) united gun and LGBTQ advocates on Friday, in a sense. LGBTQ rights groups say a bill she signed Friday legalizes discrimination against families hoping to adopt by allowing faith-based agencies to deny placing children with people they believe violate their religious views, such as same-sex couples [Washington Post].

Juvenile Sentencing Bill, Pushed by Lawmaker’s Daughter, Is Nixed: The daughter of a state House leader who pushed a bill to protect the right to sentence juveniles to life without parole is a district attorney who seeks such a sentence in a Custer County case. But District Attorney Angela Marsee, daughter of House Speaker Pro Tempore Harold Wright, R-Weatherford, said she sees no conflict of interest in her working with her father to help draft the amended bill, which passed the Legislature but was vetoed by Gov. Mary Fallin Friday [Oklahoma Watch]. Juvenile life sentence bill would have been a return to outdated thinking [OK Policy].

Gov. Mary Fallin Signs Bill Allowing Display of Ten Commandments on Public Property: Gov. Mary Fallin on Friday signed a bill that would allow for the display of the Ten Commandments along with historical documents on public property. House Bill 2177 came after a 2015 Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling that said a privately funded Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol grounds was religious and had to be removed [NewsOK]. Tulsa World Editorial: Legislature trying again for public displays of the ten commandments [Tulsa World].

Tulsa Lawmaker Praises New Law That Bars Shackling of Women Inmates During Childbirth: It is a strong woman indeed who makes a prison break while giving birth to a child. And yet, that seems to have been a concern of corrections officials in Oklahoma and elsewhere over the years, state Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa, and others contend. Routinely, they say, inmates have been chained to their beds during labor and delivery — something the Oklahoma Department of Corrections contends is not true [Tulsa World].

New Law Trims Fines for Speeding 1 to 10 Mph Over Limit: Speeding along Oklahoma highways is about to get a lot less expensive in most cases. A new law will cut the cost of a basic speeding ticket by more than half — from $224.50 to $100. The law goes into effect in early August and will expire Nov. 1, 2020 [NewsOK].

Bill Watch: This Year in #Okleg: Last week, the Oklahoma legislature adjourned one of the more extraordinary legislative sessions in recent memory – one that followed one special session, ran partially concurrently with another, included nine days of protests at the Capitol, saw the Legislature raise revenues for the first time in nearly 30 years, witnessed a first step in criminal justice reform after years of efforts, and resulted in the largest funding bill in state history (although not if adjusted for inflation). But in all of the confusion and breaking news, it was easy to miss other developments. In the posts below, brief summaries by issue area lay out the major victories and defeats of this spring’s legislative session [OK Policy].

Looking Back on the 2018 Session (And Special Sessions) of the State Legislature: The 2018 Session of the Oklahoma State Legislature recently adjourned, and what a session it was. For the first time since State Question 640 passed in 1992, the Legislature was able to raise revenues by green-lighting an increase in the Gross Production Tax rate as well as increases in fuel and cigarette taxes (with all of these increases passing the 75% threshold, as required by the State Constitution) [Public Radio Tulsa].

A Glance at Accountability Commission Members: The nine members of the Agency Performance and Accountability Commission come from various backgrounds and professions. They have experience in oil and gas, banking, medicine and investment entrepreneurship. One even ran for governor and declared he wanted to shrink state government. Most appear to have conservative political leanings [Oklahoma Watch]. Previously: Hand-Picked Group to Begin Wielding Powers over State Agencies [Oklahoma Watch].

Podcast: The history of how Oklahoma cares about kids: Over the past 40 years, Oklahoma has been sued twice to force improvements in how the state treats children in public custody. One of the main reasons NonDoc and FKG Consulting developed the How We Got Here podcast was to create a platform for deep discussions about the history of various Oklahoma policy arenas. To that end, the How We Got Here team welcomed longtime Capitol insider, children’s advocate and health lobbyist Anne Roberts onto the show for this episode that examines how Oklahoma cares about kids [NonDoc].

Superintendent Seeks Clarification on Teacher Raises, Taxes: Uncertainty over how an effort to overturn tax increases could affect pay raises for Oklahoma teachers prompted the state superintendent of schools to seek legal guidance from the attorney general. Superintendent Joy Hofmeister formally requested an opinion from Attorney General Mike Hunter on 11 questions about the pay raises and the mechanism used to pay for them [AP].

‘Oklahoma Teachers’ Car Show’ Show off Their Jalopies in Polite Thumb-Biting at Oklahoma’s Governor: An Oklahoma teacher described her sports coupe as a good deal after she bought it wrecked for $1,600. Despite all the work Christy Morgan and her family put into that coupe, a Scion tC, it still cannot support a hood. Unless it’s raining, Morgan, a McAlester middle school teacher, drives it and its exposed engine to school everyday [Tulsa World].

David Boren: Working to Improve, Strengthen Public Education: While we celebrate the many great achievements in our public schools, we are ever mindful of the crisis that continues to face public education in Oklahoma. While our teachers have received much-deserved raises, we still suffer from an unprecedented shortage of certified teachers, shortened school weeks, larger class sizes, and outdated text books and learning resources. I am hopeful about the level of civic engagement recently at our Capitol and the number of people running for office who are seeking long-term funding solutions for our public schools [David Boren/NewsOK].

What We Know About Oklahoma’s 2018 Legislative Elections: The filing period for the 2018 elections concluded on April 13th, one day after the Oklahoma Education Association announced the end to the two-week teacher walkout that brought tens of thousands of educators and their supporters to the Capitol on a daily basis. Many teachers vowed to turn their energy to the upcoming election campaigns, committing themselves to work to support pro-education candidates on the primary and general election ballots [OK Policy].

The Numbers Add up to a Momentous Primary Election: Oklahoma’s suddenly volatile political landscape is daily turning even more rumbly. A primary election such as the state has not seen in many years is June 26, and its outcome will do much to determine the state’s direction in the decade ahead. Primaries are a good indication of where the parties are headed, and have often rendered the November general elections anti-climatic, and even unnecessary [Tulsa World].

Where the Oklahoma Gubernatorial Candidates Stand on Taxes: The majority of candidates vying to become the state’s next governor say they would consider raising taxes if absolutely necessary. But three of the apparent Republican frontrunners who are currently polling toward the top of a crowded primary field — Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, Kevin Stitt and Gary Richardson — say that they would not consider raising taxes [Muskogee Phoenix].

Ethics Commission Votes to Pursue Legal Action: Unhappy with its appropriation, the Oklahoma Ethics Commission on Friday voted to pursue a lawsuit. The litigation concerns violations of the Oklahoma Constitution and the state ethics rules, said Vice Chairwoman Karen Long, who made the motion. The commission authorized Chairman John Hawkins to make decisions on behalf of the commission to pursue a lawsuit [Tulsa World].

Plans Advance for Next Generation Campus for Juvenile Offenders in Tecumseh: The Oklahoma Board of Juvenile Affairs has approved $2.65 million in new contracts as it moves forward with plans to build a consolidated next-generation campus for juvenile offenders at the site of its current campus in Tecumseh [NewsOK].

Oklahoma City Councilman John Pettis Charged with Embezzlement, Stealing Money from Charities He Started: City councilman John Pettis was charged with embezzlement and tax charges late Friday in what prosecutors allege Pettis stole tens of thousands of dollars from charitable organizations under his control, and used the funds for personal use [KFOR].

Quote of the Day

“While we celebrate the many great achievements in our public schools, we are ever mindful of the crisis that continues to face public education in Oklahoma. While our teachers have received much-deserved raises, we still suffer from an unprecedented shortage of certified teachers, shortened school weeks, larger class sizes, and outdated text books and learning resources. I am hopeful about the level of civic engagement recently at our Capitol and the number of people running for office who are seeking long-term funding solutions for our public schools.”

-David Boren, writing in an editorial for The Oklahoman [Source].

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s ranking in the 2018 Scorecard on State Health System Performance.

Source: The Commonwealth Fund

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

A Republican Plan Could Worsen Rural America’s Food Crisis: The defenses of the proposed changes and the attacks against them both center on a set of racialized urban stereotypes, with conservatives invoking the ghosts of “welfare queens,” and liberals charging the new rule will merely produce more hungry, deserving people. But few of those arguments consider the plight of the rural areas where the Farm Bill most dominates public life. Residents of those areas are already facing rising nutrition pressures. With new restrictions on SNAP, they could see true hunger return [The Atlantic].

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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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