In The Know: Dorman, Fallin meet in only debate

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.

Last night, Gov. Mary Fallin and Rep. Joe Dorman met in their only debate before November’s election. Transcript and video of the debate are available from C-SPAN. NewsOK reports that the gap between the parties of registered voters in Oklahoma is narrowing, with slightly more registered Democrats than Republicans in the state. OK Policy announced an upcoming event on the 2014 elections and the future of health reform.

A lawsuit filed Thursday challenges a state law requiring doctors providing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. It’s the second suit challenging the state’s abortion restrictions filed this week. The US Supreme Court has says it will hear the case of a Tulsa Muslim teenager who was denied a job at an Abercrombie & Fitch because they said her hijab violated the chain’s employee dress code. State Rep. John Bennet (R-Sallisaw) doubled down on recent anti-Muslim comments on Thursday, suggesting that American Muslims lied when they condemned violence done by extremists.

NewsOK spoke with an attorney specializing in health law about the more restrictive reclassification of commonly-prescribed (and frequently abused) painkillers such as Lortab and Vicodin. We’ve written about painkiller addiction in Oklahoma before. The attorney for Oklahoma death row inmates argued that the drug cocktails allowed under revamped execution procedures have failed in other states, and shouldn’t be under consideration in Oklahoma. A rally at the state capitol on Thursday called for statewide criminal justice reform. You can see our suggestions for criminal justice reform here.

Pawnee Elementary’s new domed storm shelter has been declared ready for use. Walnut Creek State Park closed indefinitely last weekend due to shifting state budget priorities, and StateImpact spoke to the tourists and area businesspeople impacted. The Number of the Day is the percentage of income that renters in Oklahoma devoted to housing in 2013, up from 24.3 percent in 2000. In today’s Policy Note, Oxfam America explained why most businesspeople support raising the minimum wage.

In The News

Dorman, Fallin face off in only debate

Gov. Mary Fallin and Rep. Joe Dorman traded barbs over education, corrections and spending at their one and only debate Thursday. Dorman criticized Fallin over cuts to state agencies, especially common education. He said she failed to fully implement the highly touted Justice Reinvestment Initiative, which was designed to curb prison crowding while increasing public safety. Fallin said she delivered on the promises she made when she ran for governor four years ago, taking credit for a reduced unemployment rate, an improved economy and half a billion dollars in growth to the state’s “rainy-day fund.”

Read more from the Tulsa World.

See also: Debate video and and transcript from C-SPAN.

Democratic votes barely outnumber Republicans in Oklahoma

More than 2 million Oklahomans are registered to vote, with the Democrats barely outnumbering Republicans in the state, state Election Board secretary Paul Ziriax said. He released figures Thursday showing that as of the end of September, there were 882,778 Democrats, 877,678 Republicans and 253,889 Independents, along with 8 registered in Americans Elect. The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 4 general election is Oct. 10.

Read more from NewsOK.

The 2014 Elections and the Future of Health Reform

On Monday November 10th, Dr. Lawrence R. Jacobs, one of America’s foremost experts on health care policy, will give a lunchtime talk titled, “The 2014 Elections and the Future of Health Reform.” The talk, co-hosted by Oklahoma Policy Institute and the Oklahoma Scholars Strategy Network, will be will be held at the Jim Thorpe Association and Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, 4040 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City, beginning at 11:45 am.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Lawsuit challenges Oklahoma’s second new abortion restriction

A lawsuit filed Thursday challenges a second abortion law passed by the Legislature last session. The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights filed suit in Oklahoma County District Court challenging Senate Bill 1848, by Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond. The law, which takes effect Nov. 1, requires clinics to have a doctor on site when an abortion is performed. The doctor must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Tulsa Muslim’s hijab case to be heard by Supreme Court

Oklahoma’s embattled Muslim community got some good news Thursday. The U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear the case of a Muslim teenager who was denied a job six years ago at a Tulsa Abercrombie & Fitch store because her religiously mandated head covering did not comply with the store’s dress code. Samantha Elauf, then 17, applied for a job at the Woodland Hills Mall store in June 2008.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma lawmaker John Bennett doubles down on anti-Muslim vitriol at tea party event

If it wasn’t clear already, it should be now. State Rep. John Bennett, R-Sallisaw, is not going to back down on his criticism of Muslims and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Speaking to about 25 members of the Muskogee Patriot Group at the town’s public library on Thursday, Bennett doubled down on statements he’s made that have garnered national attention in the last few weeks, covering a variety of topics but saving some especially vicious vitriol for CAIR.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Hydrocodone reclassification will impact consumer refills, provider security

The Drug Enforcement Agency has rescheduled hydrocodone combination products from Schedule III to the more restrictive Schedule II. Hydrocodone Products affect commonly prescribed painkillers such as Vicodin, Lortab and Norco. The change takes effect Oct. 6. Why did the DEA reclassify pain relievers such as Vicodin, Lortab and Norco?

Read more from NewsOK.

Inmates’ Attorney Questions Updated Protocols

The attorney for Oklahoma death row inmates suing the state says recently released protocols don’t do enough to prevent another problematic execution. Oklahoma’s revised execution protocols lay out four state-approved chemical combinations. Dale Baich said a cocktail of midazolam and hydromorphone won’t work. “It’s an experiment that failed in Ohio, and it’s an experiment that failed in Arizona,” Baich said. “I don’t understand why the state would even pick that as one of the choices.”

Read more from Public Radio Tulsa.

Speakers at Oklahoma State Capitol rally call for criminal justice reform

Religious leaders, former inmates, and lawmakers all stood before the capitol’s front steps as they spoke Thursday on the necessity of criminal justice reform in Oklahoma. The speakers addressed dozens of people who gathered on the capitol’s south plaza throughout the afternoon to attend a rally promoting sentencing reform and strengthening the rehabilitative services provided to state inmates.

Read more from NewsOK.

See also: Action Items for Oklahoma: Criminal Justice Reform.

Pawnee Schools’ New Domed Storm Shelter Ready For Use

A new storm shelter built in Pawnee is ready to keep students safe from severe weather year-round. An old basement is where Pawnee Elementary students were coming during severe weather. The school was built in the 1920s and the superintendent says after the Moore tornado, he realized it could have been a death trap. Dark storm clouds now look less scary these days for Pawnee students, but it was just a drill that had students filing in to the district’s new storm shelter on Thursday.

Read more from NewsOn6.

Uncertainty Looms Over Walnut Creek’s Somber Final Weekend As A State Park

Walnut Creek State Park closed indefinitely last weekend, the latest in a series of park closures that started in 2011, and a victim of budget priorities and changing attitudes at the department of tourism. StateImpact traveled to the banks of Keystone Lake to visit with some of Walnut Creek’s last campers as a state park, and the people whose livelihoods are now in danger. After four decades of coming to Walnut Creek State Park, Robert Foster and his wife pack out their camp for what could be the final time and reminisce about all the fun their family had here.

Read more from StateImpact.

Quote of the Day

“It’s an experiment that failed in Ohio, and it’s an experiment that failed in Arizona. I don’t understand why the state would even pick that as one of the choices.”

– Attorney Dale Baich, objecting to one of the state’s proposed drug cocktails (midazolam and hydromorphone) to be used in Oklahoma executions beginning in November. (Source:

Number of the Day


Percentage of income that renters in Oklahoma devoted to housing in 2013, up from 24.3 percent in 2000.

Source: Pew Charitable Trusts.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Some say $10.10 would hurt business, but most business people disagree

It has long been the argument from some voices in business—or at least their Washington lobbyists and the Members of Congress who listen to them—that raising the minimum wage would hurt business—and workers—by eliminating jobs. However, the stark reality is that most business owners in America don’t agree with this idea. In fact, poll after poll shows that most business people think it’s well past time for an increase in the minimum wage. Indeed, 61 percent of small business owners support a gradual increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, according to a recent poll by Business for a Fair Minimum Wage. And a Harris survey released last week found that 62 percent of employers, including 58 percent of senior business leaders, think that the minimum wage should be raised from where it’s been stuck at $7.25 per hour for more than seven years.

Read more from Oxfam America.

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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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