In The Know: Fallin provides wide range of special session topics

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 provides wide range of special session topics: When Gov. Mary Fallin announced a special legislative session last week, she authorized a broad scope of topics, which came as a surprise to several analysts and academics. On Friday, Fallin filed the executive order required to call the special session. When calling a special session, governors have to attach a list of potential topics. The list limits topics for legislators. Fallin authorized the Legislature to raise revenue or implement cuts to fill the $215 budget shortfall that appeared last month when the state Supreme Court struck down a cigarette fee. She also specified that they could work on teacher pay raise bills, make adjustments to a tax policy involving automobiles and work on long-term planning strategies for future budgets [Journal Record]. The lack of deadline opens possibilities for special session [Journal Record].

State’s New Education Plan Calls for Big Strides: Reducing schools’ use of emergency certified teachers by 95 percent and boosting high school graduation to 90 percent are some of the goals set by the state Education Department in its plan for education under the Every Student Succeeds Act. The state also proposes attacking hunger in schools and is considering forcing failing schools that are on a four-day school week to change their calendar [Oklahoma Watch].

Fallin offers legislators a chance to solve critical problems in the special session: Gov. Mary Fallin has called a special session of the Oklahoma Legislature to deal with a state budget hole of more than $200 million and other critical issues. The governor’s move for the Sept. 25 special session should have surprised no one. A Supreme Court decision striking a state cigarette tax had made it inevitable, and Fallin had telegraphed her intentions in advance. But the language Fallin used in calling the special session is notable. She outlined five recommendations for the Legislature to consider, an agenda that goes well beyond plugging the funding hole created by the unconstitutional cigarette tax [Editorial Board / Tulsa World].

Lawmakers have good revenue options for special session if they have the will to use them: Governor Fallin has officially called the Oklahoma Legislature into a special session beginning September 25 in order to fix the state budget, which has a more than $200 million hole due to the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s rejection of a cigarette fee. However, the specific way that lawmakers address the budget hole is still up for grabs, and various state leaders have laid out very different visions of what they hope to come out of it. Even before the court threw out the cigarette fee, Oklahoma’s state budget massively underfunded core services [OK Policy].

Increased funding needed to combat state’s opioid epidemic, says ODMHSAS commissioner: Oklahoma ranks third in the nation for rates of mental illness and addiction, yet it ranks 46th in access to treatment. This disparity, between the prevalence of mental illness and addiction and access to treatment, set the tone for Terry White’s afternoon presentation during the August 29th meeting of the Oklahoma Opioid Commission. “Twenty-two percent of our population struggle with mental health issues each year, and about 12 percent struggle with addiction.” [Red Dirt Report]

Another Oklahoma County jail inmate dies: Another Oklahoma County jail inmate is dead. About 1 a.m. Sunday, Trenton Cole, 62, was taken to a local hospital for medical reasons. He died about 4 a.m. Monday, sheriff’s spokesman Mark Opgrande said. Cole was booked into the jail Sept. 6 and was awaiting a transfer to the state corrections department after being convicted of possession of drugs in the presence of a child and possession of drug paraphernalia, Opgrande said [NewsOK].

Does the State of Oklahoma have jurisdiction in Indian Country? On August 8, The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded a death penalty conviction of a Muscogee (Creek) citizen, based on a decision that Patrick Dwayne Murphy should have been tried in federal court not state court since his offense occurred in Indian Country. The landmark decision also brought into question the legal definition of Indian Country when the panel unanimously decided that the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s reservation had not been disestablished and that the Nation’s 1866 Treaty boundaries define the tribe’s Indian Country [Red Dirt Report].

If Sinclair Broadcast Group’s planned purchase of Tribune Media goes through, it will own half the commercial television stations in OKC: Three and a half years ago, in a much different time, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a public notice for a new regulation, one that was designed to maintain an even playing field for ownership of local television stations. The rule was in response to “an increasing number of proposed broadcast television transactions involving both agreements to share facilities, employees and/or services.” [Oklahoma Gazette]

Economics of beer modernization: Across the state, Oklahoma businesses and consumers are readying their communities for alcohol modernization in 2018. Special elections are being held to change outdated county laws; new breweries are opening; and new beer brands are making their way to Oklahoma. “Alcohol modernization will bring increased business, tourism and sales taxes to Oklahoma cities and counties,” said Lisette Barnes, president of the Oklahoma Beer Alliance [Skiatook Journal].

Windfall: Local refineries likely to benefit from hurricanes: Oklahoma refineries may not be able to fill the gap after two major hurricanes knocked out supplies along the Gulf Coast. Although the refineries might not have enough room to increase gasoline production, it’s likely they will have increased profit margins, even if just in the short term, said energy economist James Williams.Commodities analyst Dan Johnson said the good news is that the nation’s energy production and refinery infrastructure is more geographically diverse than it was compared to a decade ago [Journal Record].

Records: 2 knew about porn on Oklahoma lawmaker’s computer: At least two people knew about child pornography on former Republican state Sen. Ralph Shortey’s computer at the Oklahoma Capitol, but failed to disclose that information to authorities until years later after police reportedly found Shortey in a motel room with a 17-year-old boy, according to newly released court records. The application for a search warrant unsealed last week in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City shows a worker on Shortey’s campaign three years ago “inadvertently observed child pornography contained in a folder on Shortey’s computer in the Capitol building.” [Associated Press]

Quote of the Day

“Fallin has offered lawmakers a chance to fix two critical problems that have faced the state for years — inadequate permanent revenue to fund the state’s core services and critically inadequate funding of public schools. We urge Oklahoma lawmakers to take this opportunity to recognize the mistakes of the past and start the state down a better path. Nothing less than the state’s future is at risk.”

– The Tulsa World Editorial Board, urging lawmakers to address structural issues during the upcoming special legislative session (Source)

Number of the Day


Percent of veterans in Oklahoma with a disability, 2011-2015. The rate for nonveterans was 17.6%

Source: US Census 2011-2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How Redlining’s Racist Effects Lasted for Decades: The appraiser who went to Brooklyn in the 1930s to assess Bedford-Stuyvesant for the government summarized the neighborhood’s prospects on a single page. Many brownstones in “obsolescence and poor upkeep.” Clerks, laborers and merchants lived there, about 30 percent of them foreign-born, Jews and Irish mostly. Also, this: “Colored infiltration a definitely adverse influence on neighborhood desirability.” The government-sponsored Home Owners’ Loan Corporation drew a line around Bedford-Stuyvesant on a map, colored the area red and gave it a “D,” the worst grade possible, denoting a hazardous place to underwrite mortgages [New York Times].

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.