In The Know: Tulsa’s high eviction rate; lawmaker on poultry farm task force employed by industry; gubernatorial candidate debate….

In 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

No easy answers to Tulsa’s high eviction rate: Two weeks after moving into her first apartment, Jennifer Johnson’s daughter was hit by a drunk driver and the injuries put her out of work for a while. When the rent came due, she couldn’t afford it. “Without having resources like Mom and Dad to call,” Johnson says, “she would have been under eviction.” Local landlords file more than 1,200 evictions a month, giving Tulsa the 11th highest eviction rate in the country, according to data from Eviction Lab, a nationwide research project based at Princeton University. [Tulsa World]

Lawmaker examining growth of Oklahoma chicken farms is also employed by Arkansas poultry company: state representative whose district has seen explosive growth in the number of poultry farms over the past year and was recently appointed to a newly-formed council to examine the growth also works for one of the companies that has been one of the driving forces behind the increase in poultry operations in eastern Oklahoma. [The Frontier] At a public meeting, U.S. Congressman Markwayne Mullin says poultry issue is ‘personal to me.’ [Tulsa World]

Stitt, Edmondson to square off in debate: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Drew Edmondson and Republican rival Kevin Stitt have begun their general election campaigns portraying themselves as the agents of change Oklahoma needs. The debate on Monday will be the first time they have appeared in the same room since Stitt secured the nomination by defeating Cornett in the Aug. 28 runoff. The debate will be held Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. No more public tickets are available. will carry a live stream of the event. [NewsOK]

Lawmaker says trust fund could help state in bad times: For 12 years, state Sen. John Sparks has wanted to create a savings account that would better help the state’s boom-and-bust economy and budget weather downturns. But year after year the measure faced obstacles. One year, then-Gov. Brad Henry vetoed it as part of a larger fight with legislative leadership, the Norman Democrat said. In other years, lawmakers wanted to use excess revenues to cut income taxes, he said. [CHNI] Find background information, arguments in support and against, and ballot language on our SQ 800 fact sheet. [OK Policy]

Oklahoma eye care professionals push for ‘no’ vote on state question 793: Optometrists are holding a conference in Tulsa Friday just a couple months before voters will decide on a state question that directly impacts them. The Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians is in the middle of their Fall Conference and this organization, that’s been around since before statehood, is strongly against State Question 793. [News On 6] Find background information, arguments in support and against, and ballot language on our SQ 793 fact sheet. [OK Policy]

Voters asked to enshrine victims’ rights in Constitution, but some say it’s legally shaky ground: Some criminal defense lawyers say a state question on the Nov. 6 ballot could undermine the rights of the accused. But supporters of State Question 794 say it puts victims on a more equal footing. Dubbed Marsy’s Law, the measure would enshrine victims’ rights into the Oklahoma Constitution. Lawmakers put the measure on the ballot. [Tulsa World] Find background information, arguments in support and against, and ballot language on our SQ 794 fact sheet. [OK Policy]

Independents account for 15 percent of state’s electorate: After decades of virtual nonexistence, Oklahoma’s registered independents have been seeing a spike. Oklahoma officials began tracking voter registration in the 1960s and independents didn’t begin accounting for more than 3 percent of the electorate until the 1990s. That jumped to 8 percent by 2000 and has since nearly doubled. [Journal Record]

Democrat challenges Republican to a shootout to show support for Second Amendment: A Democrat seeking an eastern Oklahoma House seat has challenged his Republican opponent to a shooting match to see who is better qualified to support Second Amendment rights. Tom Stites, a Democrat from Sallisaw running for House District 2, called out Republican Jim Olsen, saying he doesn’t believe the Roland native “is a real gun guy.” [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma trying to overcome top rank for emotional, physical childhood trauma: Oklahoma children are more likely to experience toxic, adverse conditions at home than children in other states, but there is hope for a better future, Senate lawmakers were told Thursday. State health officials said recent studies show Oklahoma ranks as the worst in the nation when it comes to the number of adverse childhood experiences. [NewsOK]

Life is short in some Oklahoma communities: Eight miles west of the Arkansas state line, where U.S. Highway 59 meets State Highway 51, is a small eastern Oklahoma town that looks much like other small eastern Oklahoma towns — there’s a county courthouse in the center, a war memorial, drab downtown shops, Ozark foothills in the distance.This town is losing a generation of people to early deaths. [NewsOK]

Oklahoma officials scrambling to raise money to repair the state health lab: Oklahoma officials are scrambling to raise money to repair the state’s Public Health Laboratory. If it’s not given an upgrade soon the state could be forced to close the lab. This is the lab where the state does most of our newborn testing, our drug-resistant disease testing as well as our emergency response testing for diseases like Anthrax or Ebola. [NewsOn6]

OU president remains critical of finance: OU President James Gallogly remains steadfast that the university’s finances are out of order and says he is still uncovering inefficiencies and waste.His predecessor, David Boren, hasn’t said much of anything since leaving office.Where the state’s flagship university is financially is a complicated matter. [Tulsa World]

State jobless rate improves for third straight month: Oklahoma’s unemployment rate improved to 3.7 percent in August, while the national rate remained at 3.9 percent. Oklahoma’s rate is a slight improvement on the 3.8 percent jobless rate in July, and is the third straight month the state has lowered its rate. A year ago, Oklahoma’s jobless rate was 4.2 percent. [NewsOK]

ABLE staff working overtime to process new licenses: In its last meeting before the alcohol laws change, the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission staff said Friday that employees had been logging extra hours processing licenses. “We’re keeping up pretty well,” said Steven Barker, deputy director and general counsel. “But folks applying today will have a bit of a lag.” [Journal Record ????] For customers, the transition to strong beer and wine sales at grocery and convenience stores throughout the state on Oct. 1 should be seamless. [Tulsa World]

Elizabeth Warren asks Oklahoma teachers ‘to fight’: Standing at a podium in the high school cafeteria where she said she spent “more than a couple hours of detention,” U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren told a politically motivated crowd of Oklahoma teachers today that “we are fighting to change a system of shoestring budgets and insulting teacher salaries.” “We’re going to fight, and we’re going to win,” Warren said to a chorus of jubilant hoots and hollers during an American Federation of Teachers rally at Northwest Classen High School. [NonDoc]

Education remains concern in OKC job creation: Companies in the city are generally pleased with the business climate, but education concerns remain on the horizon, Jeff Seymour said. Seymour is the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber’s executive vice president. At Tuesday’s city of Oklahoma City Economic Development Trust meeting, he presented the findings from the annual existing business climate survey. [Journal Record ????]

Ginnie Graham: Oklahoma has heard all the education excuses to justify cuts and low priority: In recent weeks, the dismal funding of public education has become national news. It’s a national problem. That is not to excuse Oklahoma’s continuing education obstacles. If anything, it’s an embarrassment to be highlighted as the worst of a national crisis. [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World]

Our Best Investment is in our children: Our Best Investment is in our children. Not many could dispute that statement, and a new campaign sponsored by The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools will highlight all the reasons why. Over the coming months, Oklahoma City residents will have the opportunity to hear from civic leaders, district leaders, educators and students with messages to help change the narrative about the state’s largest school district. [Mary Mélon / NewsOK]

Quote of the Day

“The system is set up for efficiency, to process as many cases as quickly as possible. It’s not a fair fight in court, so landlords just keep winning, and that’s how we end up in this situation.”

-Eric Hallett, an attorney for Legal Aid Services, discussing some of the reasons why Tulsa has the 11th highest eviction rate in the country [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Projected change in Oklahoma’s under 65 population by 2030.


See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

Policy Note

40 percent of Americans struggle to pay for at least one basic need like food or rent: The most common hardship Americans said they faced was food insecurity, with 23.3% of respondents saying they did not have reliable access to a sufficient amount of affordable and nutritious food. Other basic needs Americans had trouble meeting included paying medical bills (18% of respondents), getting medical care (17.8%), missing utility bill payments (13%) and missing rent or mortgage payments (10.2%). [Market Watch]


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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