In The Know: Election Results Show Women Lost Ground in Serving in Office

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

Election Results Show Women Lost Ground in Serving in Office: Women, already underrepresented in the state Legislature, will hold fewer seats in 2017 despite a surge in the number of female candidates. Those results, coupled with Hillary Clinton’s failed bid for the White House, have disheartened many women in Oklahoma. Now, at least in the Legislature, women from both parties intend to form a women’s caucus. When the Legislature reconvenes in 2017, there will be 19 women among the state’s 149 elected representatives — or just under 13 percent. Election results show a net loss of three seats; in 2016, 22 women held seats in the Legislature [Oklahoma Watch]. Here’s where women are winning political office in Oklahoma [OK Policy].

‘Innocent misadventure’: Botched 43-minute Oklahoma execution not cruel and inhumane, appeals court rules: The botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma disturbed witnesses and stirred the nation: A convicted murderer, deemed unconscious, began twitching and convulsing on the gurney, only able to raise his head. After 43 minutes of apparent anguish, the man died of a heart attack. Lockett’s bungled execution led Oklahoma to reconsider its lethal-injection protocols, and spurred Lockett’s brother to file suit — alleging torture and human medical experimentation, among other claims. In a decision filed Tuesday, a federal appeals court upheld the 2015 decision to dismiss the lawsuit, ruling that the lethal-injection process did not qualify as cruel and inhumane [Washington Post].

Oklahoma Board of Corrections to request $1.65 billion: The Oklahoma Board of Corrections has voted to request nearly $1.65 billion for the Department of Corrections next fiscal year — an increase of $1.16 billion over its request for the current year. The department received just less than $485 million for the current year as the Legislature struggled to fill a $1.3 billion budget hole. Department of Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh said in a news release Thursday that the “aggressive request” is needed to repair critical problems and invest in the department’s long-term future [Associated Press].

Hofmeister among state school chiefs from across U.S. meeting with Trump rep: State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and other state education leaders from across the U.S. are at an annual policy forum where they expect to have their first audience with a representative of President-elect Donald Trump. The three-day, annual gathering of the Council of Chief State School Officers in Baltimore, Maryland, this year includes a Saturday morning session on the transition to a new presidential administration [Tulsa World].

In Oklahoma, avoiding credit card debt can hike your insurance premiums: Mr. Bays told the crowd that he was not a man in a suit, paid to be in the room to push an agenda. He said he was at the podium as a last resort. He described seeing his auto insurance rate increase every year even though his driving record remained clean. For a long time he didn’t know why, until he discovered that insurance companies were hiking his rates due to his credit score — which was low because he had no credit cards and no debt. At this interim study, the Oklahoma Legislature took the first step in addressing this issue [OK Policy].

Oklahoma making foster parent progress: This month marks a special anniversary. It’s been a year since I launched an initiative called Oklahoma Fosters, which renewed our efforts to find foster families for the hundreds of children in state custody and coming into state custody. Its goal, simply put, is to recruit foster families. There are nearly 9,800 children in state custody, and we desperately need the help of ALL Oklahomans [Governor Mary Fallin / Woodward News].

Disaster planning includes statewide emergency exercise: As one of the most disaster-prone states in the nation, Oklahoma maintains a strong emergency response network. And to ensure state and local emergency management agencies are ready for the next time a major tornado, earthquake, wildfire, flood or ice storm strikes, they have to practice. That’s just what they were doing Thursday inside the state’s Emergency Operations Center, a Cold War-era facility designed to withstand the shock of a nuclear blast [NewsOK].

Oklahoma Land Office Makes Record Amount Of Money: An increase at a time of decline – state funding for education is in need of billions of dollars, which is exactly the amount that sits in a state managed account. If only we could touch it. News On 6 explores the state Land Office and the billions of dollars that are untouchable. Each year, farmers and ranchers across Oklahoma meet up for a bidding war [NewsOn6].

A Conversation With Oklahoma’s Long-Time Water Boss: J.D. Strong has been an influential leader in Oklahoma water issues for many years, and served as Executive Director of the state water regulator since 2010. Earlier this year he left the Water Resources Board to head the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. StateImpact talked to Strong in his new office to talk about the water challenges that remain and the issues facing wildlife conservation that are now his problem [StateImpact Oklahoma].

Quote of the Day

“It will give us a stronger voice. If we don’t have the percentages, at least we can bind together as a women’s caucus and really push some of those issues.”

-Rep. Leslie Osborn (R-Mustang), on a bipartisan women’s caucus that she and other female lawmakers plan to form to work on issues like domestic violence, equal pay, substance abuse, and women’s incarceration. Women will hold 19 seats in the Oklahoma Legislature in 2017, down from 22 this year (Source)

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s national rank in district student-to-administrator ratio.

Source: Oklahoma Education Coalition

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The Racial Disparity of the Student-Loan Crisis: Black college graduates are more likely than their white peers to leave school with student debt and to default on those loans. Those are both well-known, widely covered issues. Now a Brookings Institution report from a pair of researchers at Columbia University points out a troubling new finding: The gap in debt between black graduates and white graduates more than triples just several years after college, a crucial time for saving and laying the groundwork for retirement. According to Judith Scott-Clayton, an associate professor of economics and education at the Teachers College at Columbia University, and Jing Li, a research associate in the Department of Education Policy and Social Analysis at the college, black graduates have almost $53,000 in student loans four years after graduation, close to double the amount white graduates hold [The Atlantic].

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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.

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