In The Know: Tulsa-based Williams Companies sold in $37.7 billion deal

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

Tulsa-based Williams Companies sold in $37.7 billion deal: With more than 1,000 employees in Tulsa, the fate of Williams Cos. has been the source of much speculation since Dallas-based Energy Transfer Equity began pursuing it this summer. On Monday morning, ETE announced that it would buy Williams in a $37.7 billion deal. Williams spokesman Tom Droege stressed that the deal initially will have no impact on employees. After it closes, ETE has promised to keep “a meaningful presence” in Tulsa, he said [Tulsa World]. It could take months to sort out what economic impact that Williams’ merger with Energy Transfer Equity will have on Tulsa [Journal Record].

Oklahoma Court Rejects Death Row Inmate’s Plea for Hearing: The execution of an Oklahoma inmate can proceed on Wednesday, a deeply divided state appellate court ruled Monday, rejecting his lawyers’ request for a new hearing to present evidence that they say shows he is innocent. The evidence cited by lawyers for the man, Richard E. Glossip, “merely builds upon evidence previously presented to the court,” Judge David B. Lewis wrote for the three-judge majority of the Court of Criminal Appeals that denied a hearing. “Any further request for a stay of execution is also denied” [New York Times].

Signature gathering for medical marijuana petition starts Thursday: Green the Vote, which filed the documents seeking to put the issue on the November 2016 ballot, will have until 5 p.m. Dec. 29 to file the signatures, according to Benge’s office. The organization needs 123,724 signatures to get it on the ballot in the form of State Question 778 [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma Supreme Court rules sales tax can fund Canadian County juvenile center: Use of the funds came into question after an Oct. 31 attorney general’s opinion that said voters only authorized the construction of the building but not ongoing programs and services, except maintenance and janitors. The county commission in November stopped using the sales tax for the center and some community members worried the center would be forced to close or staff would lose their jobs [NewsOK].

Strange bedfellows want asset forfeiture reform: Politics makes strange bedfellows,” said 19th Century journalist Charles Dudley Warner. While that phrase is something we hear to explain the occasional setting aside of differences to achieve a policy goal, I’m not sure a phrase exists for the phenomenon currently surrounding civil asset forfeiture reform. The ACLU, the Oklahoma Policy Institute, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, and the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association have all rallied behind the SB 838 legislative reform effort introduced by me, a conservative Republican state senator from south Oklahoma City [Kyle Loveless/NonDoc].

Diversity, inclusion efforts underway at University of Oklahoma: The movement to gain respect and inclusion for everyone on the University of Oklahoma campus is happening on a number of fronts nearly seven months after a racist song brought national attention to the campus. Among them are the hiring of more black faculty members and increased funding for minority student organizations, said Naome Kadira, president of the Black Student Association [NewsOK].

LGBT support groups advocate for more education, diversity at University of Oklahoma: Representatives from Queer Inclusion on Campus (QuIC) and Freedom Oklahoma were on the OU campus Monday to respond to homophobic and sexist remarks made at OU on Friday. The four individuals set up on the east side of the Oklahoma Memorial Student Union, near where the incident occurred. The comments were made during a rap battle sponsored by the Union Programming Board at Meacham Auditorium [Norman Transcript].

Oklahoma City school district, foundation launch initiative to track needs in the district: Partners In Action is a collaboration between Oklahoma City Public Schools and The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools. It seeks to better meet the needs of schools in a district where 90 percent of students grow up in poverty. Participating businesses and organizations will be able to post resources they can offer schools while viewing requests that range from molding clay to interactive whiteboards [NewsOK].

July quakes cause damage to Crescent High School: The 4.5 earthquake that hit Crescent at 1:12 p.m. on July 27 caused more than a scare: The district evacuated part of the building after finding infrastructure damage to the practice gymnasium walls, Hart said. The brick walls on both ends of the gym, about 15 inches thick, were not designed to be weight bearing, Hart said, and the shaking caused large cracks to run the length of both walls [Enid News & Eagle].

Quote of the Day

“The teacher said three or four of the girls freaked out and ran down the hall, thinking the walls were going to come down. It was pretty major, for Okies.”

-Crescent Public Schools Superintendent Mickey Hart, speaking about a July earthquake that forced the district to evacuate a building after finding infrastructure damage to the practice gymnasium walls (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of occupied housing units in Oklahoma built in 1939 or earlier.

Source: U.S. Census American Community Survey

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Applying for Financial Aid Is About to Get Easier: Choosing a college and applying for aid is complicated — so much so that many smart, low-income students don’t make it past the initial hurdles. But last week, the federal government streamlined and simplified the Fafsa (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid), which is the gatekeeper for all federal aid for college, including Pell grants and Stafford loans. The new approach also opens the door to eventually eliminating the Fafsa altogether [New York Times].

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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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