In The Know: DACA forum sparks discussion about uncertain future

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

DACA forum sparks discussion about uncertain future: Briseyda Amador was 2 years old when her parents moved from Mexico to Oklahoma City in 2000. The Dove Science Academy senior has set goals that include being the first in her family to graduate from high school and college. Those plans, however, are on hold for Amador, 18, one of nearly 7,500 undocumented immigrants in Oklahoma who could lose deportation protections found under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, unless Congress acts by March 5 [NewsOK]. Congress must pass the Dream Act to protect young Oklahomans and our economy [OK Policy].

As special elections continue, voter participation lower than expected: Special elections always spur low voter turnout, but some Oklahoma political analysts said recent election turnout has been even lower than expected. At best, the special elections are drawing half the voters that general elections did in the same districts. Some onlookers blamed 2016’s grueling presidential campaign, the sheer number of special elections and voter fatigue. Others offered simpler explanations: strange dates and quiet campaigns [Journal Record]. Who are these non-voters, why aren’t they voting, and what can we do about it? [OK Policy]

Democrats, special elections and base closures: Clearing the desk on a Wednesday morning: With Jacob Rosecrants’ surprisingly easy victory in Norman on Tuesday, Oklahoma Democrats have now picked up a total of five legislative seats in special elections since the middle of 2015. That’s not exactly a tidal wave, and so far they’ve only had to defend one of those — which they did successfully — but it does suggest a more energized core. Special elections usually have lower turnout and are easier for a committed base to sway [Randy Krehbiel / Tulsa World].

Tulsan to testify to Congress how anyone might need food stamps: When a bad economy mixed with personal tragedy, a Tulsa resident and Navy veteran needed some lifelines. Bryan Parker couldn’t get by alone. Part of that was receiving food assistance through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), once known as food stamps. Many people have strong opinions about this government program, often pointing to perceived abuses. Parker isn’t a guy to talk about his situation much, but he wants the critics to see the needs [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World]. 1 in 6 Oklahomans, including 1 in 4 children, don’t always know if they’ll have enough food for their next meal [OK Policy].

OKC police chief: ‘We’re just putting fewer people in jail’: Fewer people are expected to head to jail in the coming months as local law enforcement and the courts continue to look for ways to reduce overcrowding. Oklahoma City will use 29,200 “prisoner days” at the Oklahoma County jail during fiscal 2018, which is down nearly 30 percent from 41,200 just two years ago, according to projections released by the Oklahoma City Police Department. The estimated reduction in prisoner days meant the city saved more than $626,000 when officials hammered out a $1.4 million county jail contract during budget proceedings in June [NewsOK].

Prosperity Policy: No libertarians in a flood zone: There are no atheists in a foxhole, the old adage goes. As first Hurricane Harvey and now Hurricane Irma have unleashed catastrophic damage on the southern United States, the lesson of recent weeks is that there are no libertarians in a flood zone either. These disasters remind us of the indispensable role of government in modern society – a role we too often ignore or denigrate. As the hurricanes approached, the National Weather Service, an agency of the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, issued forecasts and warnings about the storms’ paths and likely dangers [David Blatt / Journal Record].

Gambling expansion proposal gets no traction in the Senate: A plan to expand gambling during a special session appears to be dead on arrival in the Oklahoma Senate. Lawmakers are poised to return in special session on Sept. 25 after a successful court challenge to a $1.50 tax on cigarettes created a $215 million budget hole for fiscal year 2018. A similar gambling expansion plan last session met significant opposition in the Senate. On Tuesday, House Appropriations and Budget Committee Chairman Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, outlined his plan for reducing the budget hole and creating recurring revenue [Tulsa World].

Campaign begins for state question bolstering victims’ rights: Victims’ rights advocates formally kicked off their campaign for passage of State Question 794, otherwise known as Marsy’s Law, on Wednesday with news conferences in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. SQ 794, which is expected to be on the statewide ballot in November 2018, is a proposed state constitutional amendment that proponents say puts victims’ rights on par with those of the accused. It would replace an existing victims’ rights passage in Article II, Section 34, with stronger and more detailed language [Tulsa World].

Senate leader to apply for Farm Bureau top job but will finish his term: Senate Pro Tem Mike Schulz on Tuesday said he will apply to become executive director of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau but plans to finish his final term. “Members of the Oklahoma Senate serve in a part-time capacity,” said Schulz, R-Altus. “It’s common for senators to make plans for life after the Senate near the end of their terms. …Thad Doye is serving as Oklahoma Farm Bureau interim executive director after the departure of Monica Wilke [Tulsa World].

Todd Lamb’s Nonprofit Walks Fine Line Because of Candidacy: A nonprofit foundation created by Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb has raised more than $850,000 since it launched to much fanfare in late 2015 and will soon roll out its first major initiatives. Newly released IRS filings show the E Foundation for Oklahoma, a tax-exempt public charity that is allowed to shield the names of its donors, more than doubled its first-year fundraising total of $237,000 by taking in $622,500 in 2016 [Oklahoma Watch].

Oklahoma tribal members appointed to federal Indian Affairs posts: Eight months into President Donald Trump’s term, the Bureau of Indian Affairs lacks a permanent leader, but two Oklahoma tribal members have been appointed to lower leadership posts. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced Wednesday that John Tahsuda III, a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, joined the bureau earlier this month as principal deputy assistant secretary, the bureau’s second-in-charge [NewsOK].

Upcoming Event: The Atlantic and Reveal hosting OKC discussion of ‘The Experience of Women and Children Behind Bars’: The Atlantic magazine, in collaboration with Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting, is hosting a discussion with state and national criminal justice leaders about female incarceration in Oklahoma. You can register for the event here. [OK Policy]

Oklahoma’s suicide epidemic continues to worsen: In 2007, I authored House Resolution 1025, recognizing Suicide Prevention Week in Oklahoma. At the time, Oklahoma ranked 14th in the nation for suicides based on our population, or 12 percent higher than the national average. The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse (ODMHSA) reported 13 suicides were attempted every two days in Oklahoma, with 445 Oklahomans taking their own lives annually. Unfortunately, the figures just ten years later show things have gotten much worse [Joe Dorman / Duncan Banner].

Brewer taps Oklahoma wind-generated electricity: Anheuser-Busch announced Wednesday it agreed to purchase 152.5 megawatts of wind-generated electricity from an Enel Green Power North America farm under construction near Enid. The latest major corporate announcement of Oklahoma-produced wind energy has more positive benefits than just marketing, said renewable energy economist Travis Roach. It could also help drive more profit to its Belgian parent company, AB InBev. The power purchase agreement increases Anheuser-Busch’s renewable energy use from 2 percent to about 50 percent, as part of the company’s goal to buy all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025 [Journal Record].

City Council vote on dollar-store moratorium delayed again, this time over fears of tie vote: An expected decision on a proposed dollar-store moratorium was postponed Wednesday after a city councilor fell ill and the remaining councilors feared a tie vote on the long-standing issue. As late as Wednesday afternoon, councilors had planned to vote on a reworked proposal that would dramatically constrict the moratorium’s boundary from citywide to an area that is closely tailored inside District 1, referencing boundaries in neighborhood plans instead of City Council lines [Tulsa World].

How Man-made Earthquakes Could Cripple the U.S. Economy: When Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas, U.S. oil refining plummeted to record lows. Now, two weeks later, six key refineries remain shut down and an additional 11 are either struggling to come back on line or operating at a significantly reduced rate. That slowdown, coupled with predictions of decreased demand in the wake of Irma and the devastating earthquake that struck Mexico last week, has shifted oil pressures in other places, too. And none may be quite as vulnerable as the tank farms in Cushing, Oklahoma [Politico].

Quote of the Day

“We’re not here to take anything from anyone, we’re here to be part of the community. We’re not here to hurt anyone; we’re here to take care of each other.”

– Oklahoma high school student Briseyda Amador, speaking at an Oklahoma City community forum to address  proposed federal action to end deportation protections for undocumented individuals brought to the US as children. Amador is one of about 7,500 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients living in Oklahoma (Source)

Number of the Day


Average unemployment rate for veterans in Oklahoma, 2011-2015. The rate for nonveterans was 6.3%.

Source: US Census Bureau

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Is Anybody Home at HUD? In mid-May, Steve Preston, who served as the secretary of housing and urban development in the final two years of the George W. Bush administration, organized a dinner at the Metropolitan Club in Washington, D.C., for the new chief of that department, Ben Carson, and five other former secretaries whose joint tenure stretched all the way back to Gerald Ford. It was an event with no recent precedent within the department, and it had the distinct feel of an intervention. HUD has long been something of an overlooked stepchild within the federal government. Founded in 1965 in a burst of Great Society resolve to confront the “urban crisis,” it has seen its manpower slide by more than half since the Reagan Revolution. (The HUD headquarters is now so eerily underpopulated that it can’t even support a cafeteria; it sits vacant on the first floor.) But HUD still serves a function that millions of low-income Americans depend on — it funds 3,300 public-housing authorities with 1.2 million units and also the Section 8 rental-voucher program, which serves more than 2 million families; it has subsidized tens of millions of mortgages via the Federal Housing Administration; and, through various block grants, it funds an array of community uplift initiatives. It is the Ur-government agency, quietly seeking to address social problems in struggling areas that the private sector can’t or won’t solve, a mission that has become especially pressing amid a growing housing affordability crisis in many major cities [ProPublica].

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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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