In The Know: Proposed changes to Open Records Act pass committee

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.

A bill that would allow a public body to deny Open Records Requests if its officials believe the request would cause “excessive disruption of (its) essential function” has passed out of committee in the House. Senate panels passed measures that would ban texting while driving and smoking in vehicles if a minor is present. Writing in the OK Policy Blog, the Executive Director of Oklahoma Corrections Professionals urged lawmakers to pass common sense sentencing reforms.

The Tulsa World examined the impact of Wal-Mart’s wage increase in Oklahoma. The Cherokee Nation as adopted a new maternity leave policy that will provide female employees with eight weeks of fully paid leave. Oklahoma has received more than $10 million in federal grands for a program that provides home visitations to pregnant women and parents with young children.

This year’s flu season statewide death count has reached 84, a new record. StateImpact explained that increased municipal interest on drilling regulations has state lawmakers considering limits on “local control.”  The Number of the Day is the number of health plans selected in Oklahoma on from Nov. 15, 2014, through Feb. 15, 2015. In today’s Policy Note, the New York Times shares how unusually bipartisan coalitions have formed to advocate for criminal justice reform.

In The News

Proposed changes to Oklahoma Open Records Act would allow denials if ‘excessive disruption’ claimed

An Oklahoma House of Representatives committee passed on Thursday sweeping changes to the state’s Open Records Act that would allow a public body to deny any records request its officials think “would clearly cause excessive disruption of (its) essential function.”

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Texting while driving ban clears Oklahoma Senate panel

Oklahoma would become the 45th state to ban texting while driving under a bill that has unanimously cleared a Senate committee. The Senate Public Safety Committee voted 9-0 Thursday for the bill that would impose a fine of up to $100 for any driver caught using a mobile phone to compose, send or read a text message while driving.

Read more from KAKE.

Measure banning smoking in vehicles when kids are present gets Senate panel’s OK

A Senate panel on Thursday passed a measure that would make it illegal to smoke in a vehicle when a minor is present. The measure passed despite a concern that government was intervening into the decision-making process of parents.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Pass common sense sentencing reforms now

During her 2015 inaugural address, Governor Mary Fallin told the crowd assembled on the Capitol steps that one of the three areas Oklahoma “must improve or risk stifling our forward momentum” was “over-incarceration.” She went on to say that “year after year another issue that holds back our state, breaks apart our families and leads to poverty is crime and incarceration.”

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Wal-Mart to increase associates’ wages in state and across the country

Wal-Mart associates in Oklahoma and around the country will soon see a bigger paycheck. On Thursday, the mega retailer announced that in April it will raise the starting pay rate in all of its markets to $9 an hour, which will result in raises for 500,000 associates, or nearly 40 percent of its 1.3 million U.S. employees.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Cherokee Nation offers moms 8 weeks of fully paid maternity leave

The Cherokee Nation has adopted a new maternity leave policy that will provide female employees eight weeks off, fully paid. Previously, employees were forced to exhaust their accrued sick and annual leave.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma receives $10.6 million in US grants for program

More than $10.6 million in federal grants has been awarded to support home visiting services to women during pregnancy and to parents with young children in Oklahoma. The grants were announced Thursday by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell.

See more from KJRH.

Oklahoma flu deaths climb to 84 for season

Two more Oklahomans have died from the flu, bringing the state’s total to 84 deaths, the state Health Department reported Thursday. This is the highest number of flu deaths Oklahoma has seen since the health department started collecting data in 2009 on the number of residents who are hospitalized or who died from the flu.

Read more from NewsOK.

As Cities Consider Tougher Drilling Rules, Oklahoma Lawmakers Eye Limits on ‘Local Control’

When New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a statewide ban on fracking in 2014, Oklahoma Rep. Casey Murdock took notice. After voters in the city of Denton, Texas — just 40 miles south of the Oklahoma state line — approved a fracking ban in the Nov. 4 election, the Republican representative from Felt took action.

Read more from StateImpact.

Quote of the Day

“More Oklahomans are locked up in Oklahoma’s prisons than ever in our history, and that number just continues to increase year after year. It’s time for lawmakers to take action.”

– Sean Wallace, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Corrections Professionals, advocating for sentencing reform bills (Source:

Number of the Day


Number of health plan selections in Oklahoma on from Nov. 15, 2014, through Feb. 15, 2015

Source: US Dept. of Health and Human Services.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Unlikely Cause Unites the Left and the Right: Justice Reform

Usually bitter adversaries, Koch Industries and the Center for American Progress have found at least one thing they can agree on: The nation’s criminal justice system is broken. Koch Industries, the conglomerate owned by the conservative Koch brothers, and the center, a Washington-based liberal issues group, are coming together to back a new organization called the Coalition for Public Safety. The coalition plans a multimillion-dollar campaign on behalf of emerging proposals to reduce prison populations, overhaul sentencing, reduce recidivism and take on similar initiatives.

Read more from the New York Times.

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.