In The Know: Fallin ‘bans the box’ for all state agency job applications

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

Fallin ‘Bans The Box’ For All State Agency Job Applications: Gov. Mary Fallin issued an executive order Wednesday changing the application process for state agency positions. The governor is now requiring all agencies to remove questions regarding felony convictions. Fallin’s executive order comes after her criminal justice task force suggested “banning the box” that covers criminal history on job applications. The order does not prohibit questions about felony convictions during the interview process or background checks [KGOU]. Job restrictions for ex-felons are counterproductive [OK Policy].

Oklahoma Hospital Association launches campaign to expand Insure Oklahoma: The Oklahoma Hospital Association launched an initiative Wednesday to encourage the state to broaden health care coverage under Insure Oklahoma. The initiative, makeOKbetter, is an online movement aimed at getting the state to accept federal dollars to expand Insure Oklahoma, which helps provide health insurance to employees of small businesses and individuals without access to employer-sponsored insurance [Tulsa World]. Expanding coverage is a good deal for Oklahoma [OK Policy].

Bill booting 111,000 Oklahomans from Medicaid advances in House: A bill to cut 111,000 Oklahomans from Medicaid advanced from the House of Representatives’ full Appropriations and Budget Committee late Tuesday despite agreement all around that the measure would violate federal law. Also advancing was a bill requiring public high schools to incorporate an anti-abortion message teaching the “humanity of the unborn” [NewsOK]. In considering these cuts, Oklahoma is thinking the unthinkable [OK Policy].

Panel backs plan to ease mandatory sentencing for drug possession: An Oklahoma House panel has passed legislation lowering mandatory prison sentences for drug possession and making it easier for drug offenders to get into state-sponsored drug court programs. Each measure was approved Wednesday by the House Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee, which sent them to the full House for consideration. One lowers prison sentences for first-time drug offenders from two to 10 years to up to five years with no minimum sentence [Associated Press].

Tulsa Public Schools considers four-day school week, eliminating buses to meet next year’s budget cuts: Tulsa Public Schools is considering shortening the school week to four days and eliminating transportation for everyone except special education students as possible scenarios to deal with anticipated budget cuts next year. Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Gist sent employees an email Wednesday evening laying out these and other options as possible cuts to the district’s budget next year. In her email, obtained by the Tulsa World late Wednesday night, Gist says the cuts for next school year likely will be between $7 million and $20 million [Tulsa World].

Private charity is no replacement for the public safety net: Having just come through the season of Christmas I have witnessed how, more than any other time of the year, churches gather together to give charity to the poor, to hand out gift boxes and backpacks, serve meals and buy presents for families that can’t afford them during this holiday. The generosity machine is in fifth gear as communities of Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. As a pastor, I have figured out two things. First, this is unsustainable.  Such an outpouring does not last far beyond the holiday season, despite appeals to compassion, faithful practice, or even guilt.  And, second, all of this generosity is a drop in the bucket of what is actually needed [Chris Moore / OK Policy].

Tulsa Regional Chamber continues push for higher teacher pay at Capitol: Tulsa Regional Chamber leaders said Wednesday that they empathize with lawmakers and the governor as state officials wrestle with a $1.3 billion budget hole. Nevertheless, about 150 chamber members came to the Capitol to reiterate their concerns to lawmakers, particularly when it comes to funding education and teacher pay. Jeff Dunn, chairman of the Tulsa Regional Chamber, said there has been lots of discussion about whether tax cuts slated to go into effect in the future should be reconsidered [Tulsa World].

Prosperity Policy: Should Oklahoma tax more services?: One way that Gov. Mary Fallin proposes to generate additional revenues to close the state’s budget shortfall and avoid devastating service cuts is through the sales tax. One component of sales tax modernization involves applying the sales tax to more services. Currently, Oklahoma taxes just 32 of 168 potentially taxable services, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators. Among services taxed in many other states but not in Oklahoma are residential utilities, repair labor, car washes, service contracts and cable television [David Blatt / Journal Record].

Senate panel passes measure to add four years to statewide office holders’ term limits: A Senate panel on Wednesday passed a measure that would let voters decide if most statewide elected officers should be able to serve longer terms. The Senate Rules Committee passed Senate Joint Resolution 45, by Sen. Mike Schulz, R-Altus, by a vote of 10-2. The measure heads to the Senate floor. The measure would let voters decide to add four years of eligibility to the current eight years for the offices of lieutenant governor, state auditor and inspector, attorney general, state treasurer, labor commissioner, insurance commissioner and superintendent of public instruction [Tulsa World].

New suggestion for Oklahoma Capitol refurb: Another $125 million: Another $125 million would be available for the state Capitol repair and refurbishment project under a bill that passed a House committee on Wednesday. The additional bonding authority would be in addition to $120 million in bond financing the Legislature has already authorized for the work. The project is the biggest repair effort in the nearly 100-year history of the building [NewsOK].

Cherokee Nation secures millions in federal funds for massive expansion of Tahlequah hospital: The Cherokee Nation has signed an agreement for federal funding to construct a multimillion-dollar tribal health-care center, slated to be the largest such facility ever built, the nation announced Wednesday. Tribal leaders signed a deal with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Indian Health Service to receive at least $80 million per year for at least 20 years, according to a Wednesday news release from the Cherokee Nation. Funding will last at least 20 years [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma’s Congressional Delegation Joins Lawsuit Against EPA’s Clean Power Plan: Everyone of Oklahoma’s members in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate are among the 205 members of Congress who have filed legal briefs in federal court in support of a lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency over its controversial Clean Power Plan. The brief filed Tuesday with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington included the names of U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe and James Lankford as well as Oklahoma U.S. Representatives Tom Cole, Jim Bridenstine, Frank Lucas, Markwayne Mullin and Steve Russell [OK Energy Today].

Quote of the Day

“I fear more doctors may leave the state, more Oklahoma hospitals may close and many working Oklahomans will lose vital access to medical care. Accepting federal funds will help prevent more rural communities from suffering the type of loss experienced recently in Sayre and will help rural hospitals transition into the future.”

-Jimmy Leopard, CEO of Wagoner Community Hospital, on his support for an initiative launched yesterday, makeOKbetter, to expand Insure Oklahoma (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of children in Oklahoma aged 19 to 35 months who received seven recommended vaccines in 2015.

Source: United Health Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Too poor to retire and too young to die: At the wise age of 79, Dolores Westfall knows food shopping on an empty stomach is a fool’s errand. On her way to the grocery store last May, she pulled into the Town & Country Family Restaurant to take the edge off her appetite. After much consideration, she ordered the prime rib special and an iced tea — expensive at $21.36, but the leftovers, wrapped carefully to go, would provide two more lunches [LA Times].

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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.

2 thoughts on “In The Know: Fallin ‘bans the box’ for all state agency job applications

  1. Regarding OK’s efforts at sentencing and corrections reform, here’s an excellent article from The Crime Report describing how and why reforms have worked and not, why the band-aid approaches of hit or miss reforms haven’t had big impacts, and why the state initiative effort led by Speaker Steele seems to be the best way to get real change done in states because it bypasses all the practitioners who have benefited in power, prestige, and profession from overincarceration and would be hurt by meaningful reforms that changed any of that. It also makes a point that anyone pointing to the small recent declines in many states’ incarceration rates may simply be due to the release of inmates whose long sentences from the 1980s-1990s boom in incarceration finally ran out, not due to the “reforms” to which they have been attributed. Similarly, no one has done a clear study of how much of Texas’ heraleded example of successful reform was really the result of similar events and of a decline in the crime rate there that preceded the state’s “reforms” by over a decade. The veneer of reformers and their rhetoric extolling minimalist policy changes has always been very shallow. This Crime Report article shows where it’s gotten us and why OK has to take the bull by the horns far more and better than anything proposed so far.

  2. As for Mary Fallin’s prosperity policy, I am wondering just what my wonderful state income tax cut is going to cost me. My tax cut is saving me a whole $72.00 of withholding from my retirement checks for the whole year. How much more will the final additions to all the services and programs she wants to tax will it cost me? Spending $100 to save $5 doesn’t make sense to me.

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