In The Know: U.S. Supreme Court could consider Oklahoma cases in new term

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

U.S. Supreme Court could consider Oklahoma cases in new term: As the U.S. Supreme Court begins its new term on Monday, cases from Oklahoma could again be among the most closely watched. In the next few weeks, the justices are expected to decide whether to hear Oklahoma’s challenge to Colorado’s marijuana laws, an Indian gaming dispute and religious liberty cases involving Oklahoma entities challenging the contraception mandate. And there are more death penalty appeals from Oklahoma heading the court’s way [NewsOK].

All executions on hold in Oklahoma following drug “mix-up”: In what has been described as a “mix-up,” officials at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary obtained a box of potassium acetate, a drug whose applications range from de-icing runways to mummification, rather than potassium chloride, the final drug in Oklahoma’s three-part lethal cocktail. A closer look at the execution protocol, which was revised after the disastrous execution of Clayton Lockett in 2014, shows that Oklahoma remains ill-equipped to follow its own guidelines and avoid botched executions [The Intercept].

Our statement on the proposed ballot initiative to fund education with 1 cent sales tax increase: Oklahoma’s education system is in crisis as a direct result of more than a decade of irresponsible tax cuts and tax breaks, including the choice to allow yet another cut to the top income tax rate this year despite massive budget shortfalls. This initiative can help Oklahoma’s dire education funding crisis, but the crisis of our unfair and inadequate tax system still waits for a response [OK Policy].

Oklahoma Chamber wants the state’s “legal climate” to cater to corporate attorneys: Oklahoma State Chamber CEO Fred Morgan has written an opinion piece about a new survey showing Oklahoma has jumped from 42nd to 33rd in its “legal climate.” According to Morgan this is no doubt due to “lawsuit reforms” championed by the Chamber at the State Capitol. The people grading Oklahoma’s courts were 1,203 corporate lawyers and litigators and their corporate bosses in $100 million companies [OK Policy].

ACLU says proposed OKC panhandling ordinance is unconstitutional: In a letter to the city attorney, the ACLU says the proposal to prohibit panhandling and other activities in street medians would punish poverty and violate free speech rights. The organization offered to work with the city on a solution that would protect constitutional rights [NewsOK]. OK Policy argued that the proposed ordinance is part of a disturbing trend of criminalizing poverty [OK Policy].

Oklahoma City school board members questions cost of student bus passes: School board members said Thursday they will seek free city bus service for economically disadvantaged students in the Oklahoma City district, calling a plan to charge $10 a month “prohibitive.” Last month, the Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority (COPTA) approved a plan to charge middle school and high school students $10 a month for a Metro Transit bus pass that normally sells for $25 [NewsOK].

Tulsa County contemplates dropping juvenile justice center proposal: A proposal to build Tulsa County’s new $45 million juvenile justice center near 36th Street North and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard is all but dead, officials connected to the project say. A community meeting on the center is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Rudisill Regional Library, 1520 N. Hartford Ave., but County Commissioner Karen Keith and others associated with the project say they will probably move on because of community resistance [Tulsa World].

21 years old, alone and in prison: This week, I met Debbie, a 55-year-old grandmother who lives in Yukon. We were talking about her grandson, whom I will call J.S.* Debbie has prayed and prayed for a solution for her grandson. The past seven years have been hell — for him and her both. At 14, J.S. started to change. He went from having symptoms of ADHD to something worse. He went from a boy who liked to hike, fish and go to church with his grandparents to a teenager who was erratic and self harming. Today, J.S. sits alone in a prison cell. He continues to hurt himself, or at least try [Jaclyn Cosgrove].

Oklahoma’s military base money is blocked as partisan defense battles continue: The spending bill needed 60 votes, but received only 50, as Democrats continued to prevent any spending bills from advancing. The White House issued a veto threat of the bill Thursday morning, hours before it was blocked, saying it “fails to fully fund critical priorities, including veterans medical care and military construction” [NewsOK].

Real ID poses potential real problems for those with Oklahoma driver’s licenses: As it now stands, commercial airlines will no longer accept Oklahoma driver’s licenses as proper identification beginning sometime in 2016. It could also become difficult to enter federal facilities, including military bases. How much of an inconvenience this is will depend on who you are. Passports, military identification cards and some tribal identification cards are among the documents considered compliant ID [Tulsa World].

Quote of the Day

“Our kids are locked into their neighborhoods. They can’t get out of there to go to a charter school, they can’t get out of there to go to a job, they can’t get out. I can’t imagine any family saying to their two or three high school children, ‘yes I can find a way to get each of you $10 a month to ride the bus.'”

-Oklahoma City school board member Phil Horning, speaking against a plan by the Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority to charge middle school and high school students $10 a month for a bus pass (Source)

Number of the Day


Living wage needed to support 1 adult working full-time with 1 child in Oklahoma.

Source: M.I.T. Living Wage Calculator

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How this single mom survives on $7.50 an hour: $7.50 an hour. That’s how much Safiyyah Cotton makes working at a McDonald’s in Philadelphia. While her work schedule changes often and she wishes she could work full-time, Safiyyah typically works 20 hours a week and brings home about $240 every two weeks. As a single mom, it’s barely enough to support her and her one year-old son, Safi. Safi’s father is incarcerated, and Safiyyah’s paycheck is their only source of income. So how does she get by? [CNN]

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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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