In The Know: President Obama visiting Oklahoma this week

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

President Obama visiting Oklahoma this week: President Barack Obama will speak Wednesday afternoon at Durant High School during a two-day visit to Oklahoma, the White House announced Monday. The event is closed to the public but will be live-streamed at Obama will travel to Oklahoma City on Wednesday night, and on Thursday he will visit the El Reno Federal Correctional Facility [Tulsa World]. In El Reno, he will meet with law enforcement officials and inmates and discuss the need to reform mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent crimes [NewsOK].

Results of Governor Fallin’s sentencing policy change: A governor’s order recommending changes in sentencing policy could result in the immediate release of 190 serious offenders from Oklahoma prisons. They have served 85 percent of their sentence and have accumulated good behavior credits [NewsOK]. The Oklahoman editorial board argued the sentencing change is a good step for Oklahoma [NewsOK]. The change had been recommended in two major Oklahoma criminal justice reform studies but never made it through the Legislature [OK Policy]. Tulsa World columnist Julie Delcour wrote that if Oklahoma does not find a rational way to reduce the prison population, we might be forced to release inmates en masse [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma sets execution dates for three inmates who lost at Supreme Court: Oklahoma’s highest criminal court on Wednesday set execution dates for three death row inmates who challenged the use of a drug that will be used in their lethal injections. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals set execution dates of Sept. 16 for 52-year-old Richard Eugene Glossip, Oct. 7 for 50-year-old Benjamin Robert Cole, and Oct. 28 for 54-year-old John Marion Grant [Associated Press]. Supporters of one of those scheduled to be executed said the case against him lacks physical evidence and is based on questionable testimony [NewsOK].

Overtime update is overdue: Recently, the Obama Administration proposed a new rule aimed at restoring overtime pay for millions of Americans by raising the income threshold under which all salaried workers are eligible for overtime. The new rule would extend overtime protections to some 4.7 million workers nationally, especially benefiting women and those with a college degree [OK Policy Blog].

Legislators exempted themselves from pain of budget cuts: The $7.1 billion spending plan that started July 1 contained little to cheer about, as the vast majority of state agencies will have to swallow steep cuts. But the state Senate was held harmless and the state House of Representatives was given a $1 million increase in annual funding. Budget writer Senator Clark Jolley said he just didn’t feel they could afford to cut anymore, even though many agencies have been cut much worse than the House and Senate [News9].

Ten Commandments amendment could propel school vouchers: The future of vouchers and education savings accounts in the state has been murky since an Oklahoma County District Court judge ruled that the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship violates the state Constitution by diverting public money to private religious institutions.Such a decision, however, might be rendered moot if the state overturns the section of the state constitution, known as a Blaine Amendment, that prohibits public money or property from being used for religious purposes [Oklahoma Watch].

Chesapeake ordered to pay hundreds of millions in two lawsuits: A Beaver county judge in northwestern Oklahoma signed off on a $119 million class-action royalty settlement against Chesapeake. It was a lawsuit filed by 168,000 royalty owners on 11,800 natural gas wells in the state who claimed they were underpaid $313 million [OK Energy Today]. In another lawsuit, a federal judge ordered Chesapeake to pay $379.7 million to bond investors, after the company waited too long to tell them of its plan to redeem their $1.3 billion of bonds six years early [Reuters].

Oklahoma ranks low for fruit and vegetable consumption: The state ranks second lowest in the nation in consumption of the recommended daily amount of vegetables and third lowest in consumption of fruits according to figures released Monday by the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, based on a 2013 survey of adults aged 18 and older. John Friedl, physicial and activity nutrition manager at the Oklahoma State Department of Health, said a lot of Oklahoma’s problem with nutritional diet “ stems from the availability, affordability and accessibility of fruits and vegetables” [Oklahoma Watch].

Many Oklahoma women face long trip for maternity care: Across Oklahoma, thousands of women must drive more than an hour for access to a hospital with a maternity center, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. In Oklahoma and across the U.S., there has essentially been no increase in the number of obstetrician-gynecologists trained since 1980 [NewsOK]. 

Quote of the Day

“Lawmakers don’t like spending one penny more than they must on corrections even when revenues are healthy, much less when they’re in the tank. Yet, they’ve failed repeatedly to follow other states’ examples of how to safely reduce a prison population — the ultimate cost-cutter. If the state gets backed farther into a corner at budget time next year, the hasty early-release of a lot of prisoners could become the go-to solution. The danger is that it would be done California-style, very unsystematically.”

-Tulsa World columnist Julie Delcour (Source)

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s per capita GDP in 2014, 39th out of all 50 states and Washington D.C.

Source: Pew Charitable Trusts

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Number of seniors threatened by hunger has doubled since 2001: Nearly one in six senior citizens face the threat of hunger in the United States. Charity and food stamps reach some of these vulnerable Americans, but limited resources and isolation mean many are struggling without receiving help [PBS Newshour].

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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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