In The Know: DUI Attorneys Sue Over Oklahoma’s New Drunken Driving Law

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

DUI Attorneys Sue Over Oklahoma’s New Drunken Driving Law: A lawsuit filed Monday by four attorneys challenges the constitutionality of Oklahoma’s new drunken driving law. The lawsuit filed Monday against Gov. Mary Fallin, the Senate president pro tem, the House speaker, the state’s public safety commissioner and two prosecutors asks the state Supreme Court to assume jurisdiction of the case, bypassing lower courts. The bill signed into law by Fallin on June 8 abolishes the appeals process for people trying to keep their licenses after being arrested for DUI and takes effect Nov. 1 [Associated Press].

Lack of federal funds may delay Medicaid payments to OK hospitals: Hospitals in Oklahoma are preparing for the possibility that they will not receive Medicaid payment next June due to a lack of federal funds. The Oklahoma Healthcare Authority estimates it is $35-million short for the upcoming fiscal year, and, despite a slight increase in state budget appropriations, the decrease in federal funds means the agency man have to delay June 2018 payments until the next month [KSWO].

Students to bear brunt of higher education cuts: As Oklahoma continues cutting higher education funding, education leaders and policy analysts note that each iteration chips away at the state’s economy and its ability to compete with other states. The Legislature gave the higher education system about 4.5 percent less money in fiscal 2018, a $36 million drop. That triggered tuition hikes across the state. The state’s two large research universities raised tuition by 5 percent for in-state students. Regional universities made cuts in program spending and raised prices on room and board, and many of them are recommending tuition hikes [Journal Record].

Prosperity Policy: Why ‘smart on crime’ works: Going into the legislative session, one of the biggest hopes was that lawmakers would take real action toward smarter criminal justice. By the end, their failure to do so was one of the biggest disappointments. A well-vetted set of reforms was denied a vote in the last days of session, after one legislator refused to hear the bills in committee and House leadership refused to move them to a fairer venue [Gene Perry / Journal Record].

State Chamber of Oklahoma reviews legislative session at annual meeting: Oklahoma’s budget shortfall and frantic search for revenue overshadowed the business community’s agenda during the 2017 legislative session, State Chamber CEO Fred Morgan said. The State Chamber of Oklahoma, an advocacy and lobbying organization that represents businesses at the Capitol, held its annual meeting Wednesday. After the gathering, Morgan described the session as a mixed bag [NewsOK].

Looking at the big picture: Arts investments provide economic boost, report says: A few years ago, the Oklahoma Arts Council started funding the planning process for Alva’s cultural arts district. From 2012 to 2015, the council distributed $25,000 to Freedom West Community Development Corp., the entity that applied for the money. The three-block-long and three-block-wide district, which centers around the Woods County courthouse, is anchored by Northwestern Oklahoma State University [Journal Record].

Oklahoma elections not targeted by Russian hackers, state says: Election systems in 21 states were likely targeted by the Russian government last year, a Department of Homeland Security official said Wednesday, but Oklahoma was not among them. “We did not have any attempts to access our system,” said Bryan Dean, spokesman for the Oklahoma State Election Board. “No one has notified us of anything to that effect.” [NewsOK]

Rep. Strohm withdraws from SD37 race: Representative Chuck Strohm has withdrawn his candidacy for State Senate District 37. The seat is being vacated by Senator Dan Newberry who is resigning. Strohm has represented Jenks, Bixby and areas of South Tulsa in House District 69 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives since 2014. “I have been humbled by the outpouring of support as people have asked me to step forward and represent District 37 in the Oklahoma Senate [Muskogee Politico].

Oklahoma City Council seeks proposals for former jail: City officials are seeking a new use for the old city jail property. City Council members agreed Tuesday to solicit proposals for the redevelopment of 200 N. Shartel Ave., which is one block west of the Civic Center and across the street from the police headquarters. The city is now constructing a new municipal courts facility adjacent to the old jail site [Journal Record]. 

Gov. Fallin announces Capitol centennial events: Gov. Mary Fallin has announced several events over the next few weeks related to the centennial of the Oklahoma Capitol building. The governor will host a public ceremony commemorating the centennial. This ceremony will highlight a time capsule, which is planned to be opened 100 years from now and preserved within the newly renovated lower level of the Capitol in the interim. Artifacts donated to the time capsule will be displayed in the Capitol’s fourth-floor rotunda starting at 1 p.m. Monday. The ceremony will be 2 p.m. [Enid News]

Quote of the Day

“When I was a provost at UCO in 2002, about 60 percent of our budget came from state appropriations. This year, it’s at 22 percent. The burden, the responsibility, has been shifted to the student. If they’re young, the student’s family.”

– Don Betz, president of the University of Central Oklahoma (Source)

Number of the Day


Projected increase in number of Oklahomans age 85+, 2015 to 2030

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Wisconsin Family Stays Together With Help From Medicaid: When Ben was a toddler he was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. He barely communicated with his parents and needed constant monitoring to stay safe. The Gapinskis needed help. They found a therapist to work with Ben for 24 hours a week, which cost more $50,000 a year. Dan’s workplace insurance paid for some of the costs, but not all. So they turned to Medicaid [NPR].

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Ryan Gentzler worked at OK Policy from January 2016 until November 2022. He last served as the organization's Reserach Director and oversaw Open Justice Oklahoma. He began at OK Policy as an analyst focusing on criminal justice issues, including sentencing, incarceration, court fines and fees, and pretrial detention. Open Justice Oklahoma grew out of Ryan’s groundbreaking analysis of court records, which was used to inform critical policy debates. A native Nebraskan, he holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Oklahoma and a BA in Institutions and Policy from William Jewell College. He served as an OK Policy Research Fellow in 2014-2015.

One thought on “In The Know: DUI Attorneys Sue Over Oklahoma’s New Drunken Driving Law

  1. No one respects or appreciates the sisyphean work the folks at the OK Policy Institute do than I do. However, the column by Gene Perry on “smart on crime” inadvertently provides an all too typical example of why the words accompanying reform efforts fail to educate or motivate. Just because “smart on crime” is a mantra of the policy school types and the consultant offices they’ve filled, that doesn’t mean it resonates outside those ivy-covered walls and foundation-furnished conferences. In fact, it likely turns more people off than getting people to make crim justice reform their cause.

    Why? First, the opposite of “smart on crime,” as its users themselves usually include in their rhetoric, is “tough on crime.” So to the average, non-policy school citizen, the choice given is Woody Allen/Bill Nye v. John Wayne/Clint Eastwood. If times aren’t particularly frightening, maybe some marginal observers could be convinced to nod toward “smart.” In frightening times or a punitive culture, the choice for all but the most policy-schoolish is obvious.

    Second, the piece, while well done, makes its best point only tangentially, which to be fair is almost always the way. Prison and overincarceration are bad public policy not just because they are most wasteful of public resources but because they leave the most victims in their wake. Gene gets at this by talking about “crime control” but the word is VICTIM if you want to get anyone to back you. The worst of the players in the process, the mirror-loving DAs and testosteroned law enforcers, love to throw “public safety” and “victim” around as they live out their comic book worlds where they are self-appointed archangels actually destroying more than they save, just like “Hancock.” As well-written and intelligent as Gene’s column was, however, he never used the word “victim” at all in the cost-benefit of why reform is not just necessary but good. It should have been front and center.

    Prison turns a quantifiable percentage of offenders into worse offenders, which means more victims when the offender is almost inevitably released, perhaps even offsetting any deterrent effect of those released who stop committing crimes. Prison does drain dollars from criminal justice efforts that reduce recidivism (fewer victims) and other social programs that strengthen and renew community and institutions (fewer victims) and keep people from crime opportunities (fewer victims). None of this is opinion, just long demonstrated research findings. And in my experience it doesn’t take a long conversation with Oklahomans to get them giving you their own examples as long as they’re not first told they are “stupid on crime,” which is the third problem with using “smart on crime” to refer to reform and change. “What you’ve been doing hasn’t been smart” = “You’re stupid.” It doesn’t matter if it’s true; it doesn’t win you support or votes.

    Want to take “public safety,” “crime control” (what a joke in OK, given its crime rates compared to reforming states), and “victims” away from the demagogues in prosecutors’ and law enforcement offices? Want to avoid insulting people by calling them stupid on a specific issue? Want to get away from Bill Gates/Chuck Norris comparisons? Want to shift the debate to where it belongs, emphasizing the real beneficiaries of criminal justice reforms, people with whom being “tough” isn’t nearly as popular as being “smart”?

    Start and end all future columns by talking about policy changes to be “smart for victims.”

    And keep up the not just good but brave work.


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