In The Know: State groups condemn U.S. immigration ban

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

‘Cruel and dangerous’: State groups condemn U.S. immigration ban: Social justice and civil rights organizations are speaking out against President Donald Trump’s executive order to temporarily ban immigrants from coming to the United States. The order issued Friday calls for a four-month ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. The Frontier sought comment from Oklahoma’s congressional delegation over the weekend. On Sunday, U.S. Sen. James Lankford’s office issued a statement that neither supported nor opposed the policy but criticized its impact [The Frontier].

OU urges students affected by immigration order not to travel outside United States: OU President David Boren issued a statement urging students affected by President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration to remain in the country, or to return to the U.S. as quickly as possible. Trump’s executive order banned travel to the U.S. from seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Currently, 113 international students from those countries are enrolled at OU, according to OU Press Secretary Matt Epting [OU Daily].

Sykes’ bill would broaden residency definition for college students: As funding for higher education continues to dwindle, one state senator has proposed a bill that could take more money from the system. The state’s two public research institutions get a substantial majority of their tuition receipts from out-of-state tuition, and Senate Bill 400 would cut the number of students required to pay the elevated rate. State Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, sponsored the bill, which would change the residency requirements for Oklahoma’s publicly funded schools. Students would qualify for in-state tuition if they have a grandparent who lives in the state. Although it would bring in less tuition money, a former Oklahoma State University president said the measure could pay for itself [Journal Record].

‘Figuring out ways to pay for things’: Bill filing deadline cues budget discussions before session: Legislators have one week before they return to the Capitol for the First Session of the 56th Legislature, but many legislators began working before Feb. 6. With an estimated budget shortfall of $868 million for this legislative session, Rep. John Pfeiffer, R-Orlando, said the “shock” of last year’s $1.3 billion budget shortfall made it appear everyone was scrambling “to stay alive.” This year, he said the House is trying to work forward and be progressive in efforts to make the budget process better in the future. Attempting to prevent a budget shortfall from becoming “the new norm,” several legislators filed budget bills while others also filed bills with the intent of improving teacher pay in an effort to make Oklahoma more appealing [Enid News & Eagle].

Bill would disallow divorces based on incompatibility: Travis Dunlap, R-Bartlesville, introduced House Bill 1277, which would limit the circumstances under which Oklahomans can get a divorce and could make the divorce costs much steeper for one side. Parents with children younger than 18 would no longer be allowed to file for divorce citing incompatibility. Instead, one would have to prove one of the causes already on the books, such as adultery, abandonment or impotence. If the parent’s attorney successfully proves that cause, the other parent would have to cover both sides’ attorney fees. The bill sets an automatic property split for that situation: The winner keeps 75 percent of property value [Journal Record].

Bill would put fee on wastewater disposal: State Rep. David Perryman wants wastewater disposal well operators to pay up. The Chickasha Democrat said it’s time to begin a dialogue on how to address the effects of seismic activity. That’s why he proposed a 5-cent-per-barrel fee on disposal of the super-salty solution. Oil and gas industry trade group representatives said they don’t support the bill as is. But they’re ready to talk, said Chad Warmington, president of the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association. House Bill 1330 would require disposal well operators to pay the fee monthly to the Oklahoma Tax Commission for each barrel, or 42 gallons, pumped thousands of feet underground. Oklahoma oil and gas producers could deduct the fee from gross production taxes paid to the state [Journal Record].

DAPL Protesters Hold Rally In Downtown Tulsa: Protesters continue to camp in North Dakota, near the site of the contentious pipeline project that President Trump is pushing to finish. In downtown Tulsa, a rally against the pipeline was held Saturday afternoon. Between 150 and 200 people were at the rally for about two hours at John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park protesting. Organizers said the rally is in direct response to this week’s Memorandum signed by President Trump that expedites the Dakota Access project, nicknamed DAPL [NewsOn6].

Oklahoma’s high court plugs along with eight members: While much has been made about the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy and the effect it has on federal cases, Oklahoma’s highest court can avoid those setbacks while waiting for its newest member to be appointed. The Oklahoma Supreme Court was left with just eight of its nine seats filled when Justice Steven Taylor retired Dec. 31. After the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia last year, several cases at the U.S. Supreme Court were sent back to lower courts or rested on earlier decisions because the remaining justices couldn’t reach a majority opinion. Oklahoma Chief Justice Douglas Combs said he doesn’t have that problem here. State law allows for the temporary use of a judge to fill vacancies, like when a justice retires or withdraws from a case to avoid conflicts of interest [NewsOK].

Marijuana extract sales remain questionable under Katie’s Law: In an office park off Interstate 35, staff in white lab coats at Oklahoma City-based Can-Tek Labs LLC make everything from tinctures, lip balm and massage oil with cannabidiol — an extract from hemp. Chief executive officer Ryan Early believes his nonintoxicating cannabidiol products have the potential to help millions of people treat everything from epilepsy to anxiety and joint pain without prescription drugs. While Oklahoma law allows cannabidiol, or CBD, to be used in medical trials to treat people with epilepsy and a few other illnesses, it still cannot legally be sold in Oklahoma, according to the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control’s current interpretation of the law [The Oklahoman].

State lawmakers argue risks, benefits of vaccines in upcoming legislative session: Who can best assess risk versus reward is the crux of the issue for legislators on both sides of Oklahoma’s childhood vaccine debate. For Sen. Ervin Yen, R-Oklahoma City, the benefit of vaccinating children is much greater than the risk of not. That benefit is compounded when the conversation moves from a single child to Oklahoma’s entire youth population, he said. Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, thinks it’s up to parents to decide the potential risks and benefits and, ultimately, whether their child is vaccinated [Tulsa World].

The Tulsa World legislative agenda for 2017: The 56th Oklahoma Legislature convenes Feb. 6. The members will hear Gov. Mary Fallin’s State of the State speech and then turn their attention to more than 2,000 pending bills filed by legislators in recent weeks. The Tulsa World is joining in that process with our own legislative agenda for 2017. As it was last year, our first and most important priority is adequate public school funding, including an urgently needed state-funded teacher pay raise to stop the migration of teachers to surrounding states [Editorial Board / Tulsa World].

School Choice Summit features firebrand speaker, draws protests: Oklahoma Lt. Governor Todd Lamb seemed to express the essence of the school choice movement Thursday night in a closing speech at the first School Choice Summit held at Oklahoma City Community College. “Parents know better than government,” Lamb said about who should decide where children go to school. The conference was organized by Choice Matters, a local organization that promotes loosening state control and regulation and allowing more private and charter schools to operate in Oklahoma [Oklahoma City Free Press]. Mid-Del Schools Superintendent Rick Cobb and other critics of school vouchers were denied entry to the conference [okeducationtruths].

Momentum building behind school choice movement: To give his children the chance to attend Norman schools, Robert Ruiz and his wife crammed their family of six into a 900-square-foot duplex. The move was tough, but Ruiz said the decision was simple. He wanted to ensure his four children enrolled in what he considered the best schools for his family. Ruiz, director of ChoiceMatters, an Oklahoma City- and Tulsa-based group that advocates for school choice, is among a growing chorus of people in the state who are lobbying to give parents as many options as possible [Norman Transcript].

Public buildings have played role in state history: Since the pre-statehood days of Oklahoma Territory, public buildings have fostered a sense of community, binding people together and playing significant roles in the history of Oklahoma. These remarkable public efforts go back as far as April 1898 with the construction of the Chickasaw National Capitol. They continued with the 1900 opening of the Guthrie Library and Free Reading Room, the 1917 completion of the Oklahoma State Capitol and the 1929 development of what later became the Oklahoma Judicial Center in Oklahoma City [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“This executive action has some unintended consequences that were not well thought out. I encourage the president’s staff to evaluate American policy with an eye on both security and compassion for the refugees fleeing the terrors of war and persecution.”

-U.S. Senator James Lankford, in a statement on the Trump administration’s order to temporarily ban immigrants from coming to the United States (Source).

Number of the Day


Number on international students studying at the University of Oklahoma who come from one of the countries included in the Trump Administration’s ban on immigrants coming to the U.S.

Source: University of Oklahoma via the OU Daily

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Past Due: Examining the Costs and Consequences of Charging for Justice in New Orleans: In New Orleans, as in many cities around the country, nearly every phase of the criminal justice system imposes a financial cost on the users of that system, even before they are convicted of a crime. These costs take a steep toll on the people they impact, often including jail time, and on the city and taxpayers who bear the cost of that incarceration [Vera Institute of Justice]. 

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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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