In The Know: Attorney General says state not ready for executions

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.

Despite earlier reassurances from the Department of Corrections that the state was prepared to move forward with executions scheduled for November, state Attorney General Scott Pruitt has filed a 60-day stay on all upcoming executions. The family of Clayton Lockett, who was killed during a botched, 43-minute execution in April, is planning to sue Gov. Fallin and the state’s execution team, claiming that the procedure constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

The state Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments today in a lawsuit filed by Oklahoma City attorney Jerry Fent, which claims that an income tax cut passed and signed into last spring is unconstitutional. We’ve written about the lawsuit before. Steven K. Mullins, a top attorney in Gov. Fallin’s administration is applying for an open seat on the state Court of Criminal Appeals. A Judicial Nomination Commission will narrow the field of 11 applicants down to three, one of whom is then chosen by Gov. Fallin to fill the open seat. Last week, during an intermission of an interim study on the state’s Common Core repeal, some educators and parents requested assistance fighting changes to the AP U.S. History curriculum. Opponents claim that the new curriculum overemphasizes the role of racism and oppression in American history.

Google has designated Tulsa an eCity of the year, citing the state’s strong online business community. The award is given to one city in each state, with Edmond having received it last  year. The cost for the city of Tulsa to house municipal inmates in the Tulsa Jail may increase in November from $45 per inmate per day to $52.02, plus a new $118 booking fee. Oklahoma City Public Schools plans to recruit 150 community members to help the district devise a district improvement plan focusing on student learning and achievement.

Owasso residents will have the chance to vote on a half-cent sales tax increase in January. City officials say that the tax will help cover things the general revenue fund can’t. The water level in Skiatook Lake is over 15 feet below normal, the lowest level noted since the lake’s impoundment in 1984, due to drought and the lake’s small drainage area. The Number of the Day is the percentage of Oklahoma’s public elementary school teachers who are women. In today’s Policy Note, the Washington Post explains why connecting employees to social services can reduce employee turnover, particularly in entry-level, low-income jobs.

In The News

Oklahoma asks for 60-day stay of executions

Despite confirmation last week from state Corrections Department officials that they were prepared to move forward with two November executions, the state has filed a motion for a 60-day stay on all scheduled executions. After the lethal injection of Clayton Derrell Lockett went awry in April, the state revised its execution protocol and renovated its death chamber. Both changes were unveiled in early October, and the department confirmed Thursday it was planning to have the new protocol, and new training for staff that comes with it, in place for two November executions.

Read more from NewsOK.

Family of inmate in botched Oklahoma execution plans to sue governor, executioners

The family of a convicted murderer killed by the state in a controversial execution plans to sue Gov. Mary Fallin and members of the execution team, claiming the procedure violated the inmate’s civil rights, attorneys for the family said. Attorneys representing the family of Clayton Derrell Lockett have prepared a complaint against Fallin, the three executioners involved in his execution, and the manufacturers of the drugs used to kill him, among others, claiming they violated Lockett’s Eighth Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment.

Read more from NewsOK.

Oklahoma Supreme Court to Hear Tax Cut Challenge

A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of legislation that cut Oklahoma’s top income tax rate is being taken up by the state’s highest court. The Oklahoma Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit that asks the court to invalidate the legislation and prevent it from going into effect.

Read more from Public Radio Tulsa.

See also: Definition of two small words could have large consequences from the OK Policy Blog.

Governor’s Attorney Seeks Appeals Court Seat

The top attorney in Governor Mary Fallin’s administration is applying to fill an open spot on the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. Steven K. Mullins, Fallin’s general counsel is one of 11 applicants to fill the open District 2 spot on the court vacated by Charles A. Johnson, who retired in July. The applicants, first reported by the Norman Transcript, will be required to go before the Judicial Nominating Commission, which will narrow down the field to three applicants. Fallin would then choose one of the three applicants to fill the post.

Read more from KGOU.

Lawmakers Asked To Fight AP U.S. History Test Changes By Common Core Opponents

Educators and activists requested support from lawmakers last week in the fight against upcoming changes the Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. History curriculum and exam. These critics argue the backers of the Common Core curriculum are now trying to change the AP U.S. History test. The group voiced their concerns before the House Common Education Committee during an intermission of the group’s interim study on the aftermath of the state’s Common Core repeal.

Read more from KGOU .

Google designates Tulsa as state’s best in web business

Google honored Tulsa on Monday, naming it Oklahoma’s eCity of the year. The award is given to one city in each state, with Edmond receiving the award last year. The Internet search giant gave the award to Tulsa for having a strong online business community. According to a press release, a research firm looked at thousands of businesses and their websites across Oklahoma to see which city generated the most online traffic and business.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

City likely to be paying higher jail costs beginning Nov. 1

The city of Tulsa is likely to be paying a lot more money to house its municipal inmates in the Tulsa Jail beginning Nov. 1. Tulsa County commissioners are scheduled to vote next week on increasing the daily per-inmate rate to $52.02. The resolution would also set a booking fee of $118 for each inmate. “This is implementing the costs we have previously approved,” County Commission Chairman Ron Peters said Monday.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma City Public Schools to recruit 150 community members to draft improvement plan

The leader of an education management firm hired by Oklahoma City Public Schools to help improve student outcomes has compared the district to a car with misaligned tires. “It can run, sometimes for months, sometimes for years,” Mutiu Fagbayi told school board members Oct. 6. “It’s the same thing with a misaligned organization. Just because something is running doesn’t mean it’s in perfect alignment.” District officials are proposing a systemwide strategic alignment that will focus on student learning and achievement.

Read more from the NewsOK.

Owasso residents urged to vote on possible sales tax increase

Residents will have the chance to vote “yes” or “no” in terms of a sales tax increase. The city manager asking people to vote “yes” for a sales tax hike. It would be a half-cent increase so fifty cents more for every hundred dollars you spend there. The city says the money is needed to help cover things the general fund can’t.

Read more from KJRH.

Low Skiatook Lake level draws attention of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Nowadays, Skiatook Lake resembles a limbo stick. It just keeps getting lower. Early Friday, the lake dipped to its shallowest level (698.37 feet) since its impoundment in 1984, said Sara Goodeyon, deputy chief of public affairs of the Tulsa District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the lake. Despite recent soaking rains, it is more than 15.5 feet below normal.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Quote of the Day

“The problem with accountability in public education in America is we measure what’s easy then make it important. We have to reverse this and measure what’s important, not what’s easy.”

– Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Rob Neu, discussing OKCPS’s decision to build a 150-person committee and draft a school improvement plan for the district (Source:

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma’s public elementary school teachers who are women.

Source: National Education Association.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

A business-nonprofit partnership remedy for high turnover

One of the challenges that advocates are discussing here at an anti-poverty conference in Aspen — yes, I realize the irony — is getting buy-in from the private sector. How do you convince companies that social spending and government “handouts” are good for the bottom line? Randy Osmun has a pitch: reduced employee turnover. Osmun is the executive director of The Source, an innovative nonprofit in Grand Rapids, Mich. Companies pay The Source to bring caseworkers — some partly funded by the state — on site. Caseworkers connect employees with whatever social services or philanthropic support they need, which means anything from donated baby goods to food stamps to an affordable loan so they don’t patronize a payday lender.

Read more from the Washington Post.

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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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