In The Know: State Senate passes online voter registration bill

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.

The Oklahoma Senate has approved three bills designed to increase voter turnout. The bills (SB 313SB 315, and SB 312) would allow Oklahomans with a valid drivers license to register to vote online and join a permanent absentee voter list, and consolidate local elections to one cycle in the fall or spring. We previously suggested a number of reforms to boost voter turnout in Oklahoma. The Senate also passed a bill (SB 298) that would alter the procedure for insurance companies to connect people to unclaimed life insurance benefits, over State Treasurer Ken Miller’s objections. Miller has previously said he would sue were the law to pass. The Senate has passed a bill (SB 383) reforming Oklahoma’s liquor laws, but the bill’s author doesn’t expect it to advance and says she’ll try again in 2016.

NewsOK identified a bill (SB 696) that would make it easier for food entrepreneurs to sell their goods. A resolution (HJR 1012) that would alter the state Constitution to include a guarantee of a “right to farm” has cleared the House and is expected to pass easily through the Senate. It would then appear on the  ballot in 2016. KGOU identified a number of bills that were not heard in their chamber of origin by Thursday’s deadline. The Tulsa World wrote that shelving a bill that would have created a school voucher system is a victory for schools. Michael Carnuccio wrote in his Journal Record column in support of HB 2168, which would implement licensing reform for ex-offenders whose crime does not substantially relate to the occupation for which they are seeking the license.

A town hall forum on predatory lending hosted by Oklahoma Assets Network will be held on April 15th in Oklahoma City. The state seasonal flu death total has reached 98, with more than 2000 hospitalized. The state Board of Education has approved a process and timeline for developing new academic standards following the repeal of Common Core math and English benchmarks last year. StateImpact explains why Oklahoma’s newest lake might be built by Fort Smith, Arkansas. In Pawnee County, a district attorney and judge are embroiled in a months-long dispute over the process of creating a county drug court. The Number of the Day is the percentage of all nonfarm employees in Oklahoma who worked in the government sector in 2013. In today’s Policy Note, The Atlantic examines the many causes of America’s decline in crime, and finds that mass incarceration isn’t one of them.

In The News

Oklahoma Senate sends online voter registration bill to state House

The Oklahoma Senate has approved and sent to the House of Representatives three bills intended to increase voter turnout. In 2014, less than 30 percent of eligible voters participated in the statewide general election.

Read more from NewsOK.

See also: Repairing Oklahoma’s Broken Democracy from the OK Policy Blog.

Insurance industry-backed bills advance despite Oklahoma treasurer’s opposition

The Oklahoma Senate passed an insurance industry-backed bill on Thursday that Treasurer Ken Miller said would hinder his ability to link people to unclaimed life insurance benefits. Senate Bill 298 was approved by the Oklahoma Senate, 32-12, and was sent to the House of Representatives.

Read more from NewsOK.

Modernizing Oklahoma’s liquor laws likely won’t happen this session, lawmaker says

An effort to allow liquor stores to sell cold, strong beer likely won’t materialize this legislative session. The Senate late Wednesday passed Senate Bill 383 by Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City. The vote was 33-10. The original measure called for allowing liquor stores to sell cold, strong beer.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Drop the pickle! Food entrepreneurs have a bill to watch in the state legislature

A bill making its way through the state legislature is aimed at arming home-cooks with better tools to build their cottage industry with an eye toward public safety. State Senator Wayne Shaw, R-Grove, has seen his Senate Bill 696, also known as the Safe Food Home Manufacturing Act, clear a major hurdle when it passed its first senate vote earlier this week.

Read more from NewsOK.

‘Right-to-Farm’ Inches Closer to Ballot After Breezing Through Oklahoma House

A bill that would allow voters to decide if the state Constitution should be changed to guarantee “the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology and livestock production and ranching practices” passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives without debate Thursday. It now heads to the Senate, where it’s also expected to meet widespread support.

Read more from StateImpact.

Lawmakers Have Unfinished Business As Deadline Passes

Oklahoma lawmakers had some unfinished business as they passed their first major deadline of the 2015 Legislature. Thursday was the deadline for bills to be considered in their chamber of origin. The state House wrapped up its business Wednesday night without hearing about 20 bills that were eligible to be considered.

Read more from KGOU.

Shelving of voucher plan is a victory for schools

We see Wednesday’s news that backers are shelving an attempt to create a state school voucher system as a victory for grass-roots support of public schools. State Sen. Clark Jolley announced that he would not pursue his Senate Bill 609 because he needed more time to “address questions about the benefits of the school choice plan.”

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Get smart to fight crime

I can’t help but recall the words of my professor, Fang Zhu, responding to disgruntled students about why he didn’t cancel our 2 p.m. seminar when most of the campus was shut down on Sept. 11, 2001. “Anyone can respond by picking up a gun, only a few can combat evil with their mind,” he said. “You belong here.”

Read more from the Journal Record.

Who Pays More? A Town Hall Forum on Predatory Lending in Oklahoma

Oklahoma Assets Network (OAN) is pleased to invite you to save the date for a town hall forum on predatory lending. This event is free and open to the public. The forum will feature remarks from Dr. Haydar Kurban, the author of new research on payday lending patterns in the state, ‘The Demographics of Payday Lending in Oklahoma.‘

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Oklahoma seasonal flu death total nears 100

Four flu deaths this week in Oklahoma have now pushed the total to 98 for this flu season, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The number of deaths for the season set a record last month. The state has been keeping track of flu deaths since 2009.

Hear more from the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma Board of Education approves plan for developing new academic standards

New academic standards for Oklahoma public school students have moved closer to becoming a reality. The state Board of Education on Thursday unanimously approved the process and timeline for developing new benchmarks following the repeal of Common Core math and English standards.

Read more from NewsOK.

Why Oklahoma’s Newest Lake Might be Built by Fort Smith, Arkansas

In Oklahoma, the natural beauty of Lee Creek — one of the state’s scenic rivers — is protected by state law. In Arkansas, Lee Creek is an important water source for fast-growing Fort Smith. Now, Fort Smith has a plan to turn Lee Creek into Oklahoma’s next lake, and reignite a dispute that was settled more than 20 years ago.

Read more from StateImpact.

Area district attorney, judge at-odds over order creating a Pawnee County drug court

An area district attorney and judge have been involved in a months-long legal spat stemming from the establishment of a drug court in Pawnee County. Rex Duncan, district attorney for Osage and Pawnee counties, has led the fight against Associate District Judge Patrick Pickerill, claiming the judge used “sham legal process” to backdate two administrative orders that appointed a secretary bailiff and created the drug court on Oct. 30.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Quote of the Day

“This is a significant problem that Americans tend to underestimate, the risk that’s associated with these medications.”

– Dr. Donald Teater, medical adviser to the National Safety Council, on a new report that shows the vast majority of Americans are unaware of the risk of addiction associated with opiate painkillers and don’t know that sharing pills with friends and family is against the law. In 2012, Oklahoma had the fifth-highest unintentional poisoning mortality rate in the US (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of all nonfarm employees in Oklahoma who worked in the government sector in 2013.

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The Many Causes of America’s Decline in Crime

The dramatic rise of incarceration and the precipitous fall in crime have shaped the landscape of American criminal justice over the last two decades. Both have been unprecedented. Many believe that the explosion in incarceration created the crime drop. In fact, the enormous growth in imprisonment only had a limited impact. And, for the past thirteen years, it has passed the point of diminishing returns, making no effective difference. We now know that we can reduce our prison populations and simultaneously reduce crime.

Read more from The Atlantic.

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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.

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