In The Know: Gov. Fallin ‘refreshes’ several Oklahoma leadership positions in governor’s 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.

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Today In The News

Gov. Fallin ‘refreshes’ several Oklahoma leadership positions in governor’s office: With two years left in office, Gov. Mary Fallin announced some major changes to leadership positions in her office. Fallin says that she has been trying to keep Oklahoma’s government operating “as efficiently and effective as possible.” On Monday, she announced that Oklahoma Secretary of State Chris Benge will become Fallin’s chief of staff. Also, First Assistant Attorney General Mike Hunter will become secretary of state, a position he once held under former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating [KFOR].

Two Men, Wrongfully Accused, Testify About Witness Misidentification: Together they spent nearly 30 years in jail after being wrongfully convicted. Monday, those two men testified at an interim study on witness misidentification in hopes of preventing the same thing from happening to others. According to testimony, witness misidentification is the top contributor to wrongful convictions in Oklahoma. Thomas Webb spent 14 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit after a witness picked him out in a photo lineup [News9].

Gov. Mary Fallin signs emergency rules for DUI procedures: The Oklahoma Board of Tests for Alcohol and Drug Influence approved emergency rules for DUI breath testing after a judge found the current rules in place were invalid. Gov. Mary Fallin signed the rules on Monday. The Civil Court of Appeals recently ruled that the evidence in one DUI case was invalid because the Oklahoma Board of Tests did not follow an administrative rule-making process when selecting items for the Intoxilyzer 8000 [KOCO].

Oklahoma has an efficient way to make sure everyone has health care… if we choose to fund it: We’ve written before about why Oklahoma’s federally-qualified community health centers (FQHCs) are a foundation of our health care safety net. FQHCs have to meet very specific criteria: they have to reach an underserved area or population, provide comprehensive services, have an ongoing quality assurance program, and offer a sliding fee scale, among others. Now, a new study in the American Journal of Public Health proves just how important they are. Comparing data from FQHC and non-FQHC patients over 13 states, researchers found that FQHC patients had lower health care use and spending than their non-FQHC counterparts [OK Policy].

Tulsa County joins dispute with Oklahoma Tax Commission: Tulsa County has joined a legal action challenging a 2015 executive order by Gov. Mary Fallin that a former attorney general says effectively took $40 million from a workers compensation fund to help plug holes in the state budget. The Fallin administration disputes this characterization but acknowledges that her executive order effectively ended the long-standing practice of refunding to insurers, including self-insured government entities such as Tulsa County, excess reserves from what is known as the workers compensation multiple injury trust fund [Tulsa World]. 

Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation System Under New Scrutiny: Three years after passage of sweeping legislation that revamped Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation system, courts are scrapping significant parts of the law in decisions that say the regulations violate the state constitution and do not provide adequate protection to workers. The regulations were touted by the Republican-controlled Oklahoma Legislature as a way to reduce the cost of workers’ compensation insurance for employers and improve health outcomes for injured workers by moving the workers’ compensation system from an adversarial court-based system to an administrative one [Associated Press].

Is A Sales Tax The Solution to Oklahoma’s Education Funding Problems? Oklahoma teachers haven’t received a statewide pay raise in eight years. But this November, voters will have a chance to boost teacher pay if they approve State Question 779, which would fund the raises through a one-cent sales tax. Education advocates say this could prevent teachers from fleeing the state, or the profession, for better paying jobs. But opponents argue the proposal would create an entirely different set of problems [KOSU]. See OK Policy’s fact sheet on SQ 779 here.

Oklahoma anti-death penalty group opposes nitrogen gas: An anti-death penalty group is voicing its opposition to a state question on the ballot in November and the suggestion by Oklahoma’s attorney general that the state consider using nitrogen gas to execute death row inmates. The Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty held a press conference at the state Capitol on Monday to recognize the 14th annual World Day Against the Death Penalty. Attorneys, legislators and members of the clergy were among those who spoke [Associated Press]. See OK Policy’s fact sheet on Oklahoma’s death penalty state question here.

Midyear spending cuts due as sales tax collections slip again in Oklahoma City: The city council will be seeing plans within a few weeks for $10 million in midyear budget reductions as weak year-over-year sales tax results defy revenue projections. Sales tax collections for the October reporting period, reported on Friday, slid 3.1 percent from the same time last year, said Doug Dowler, Oklahoma City’s budget director. Looking for a rebound from 2015, when sales tax also was off from the previous year, budget planners had projected 2 percent growth for October [NewsOK].

EPA Recommends Disposal Moratorium in Oklahoma’s Most Earthquake-Prone Areas: Officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency say Oklahoma oil and gas regulators should “consider a moratorium” of waste-fluid disposal in its most seismically active areas. The suggestion was made in the federal agency’s annual review of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s oversight of disposal wells, which Energy Wire’s Mike Soraghan obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request [Public Radio Tulsa].

Quote of the Day

“Our procedures and laws should be protecting the innocent, making sure the guilty is the one that is punished not the innocent and this is one step forward toward that.”

-Thomas Webb, who spent 14 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, at an interim study on Monday. The Oklahoma Innocence Project is asking for law enforcement to to implement best practices to prevent witness misidentification (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of children in Oklahoma ages 0-5, 2016

Source: Center for the Study of Child Care Employment

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Increase in Youth Suicide Prompts States to Act: When J.D. Goates was 17 and newly graduated from high school, he decided that he had had enough. His thoughts of suicide, which had begun when he was eight, had become stronger. He was ashamed of being bisexual, especially because his Mormon church told him that homosexuality was abhorrent. His classmates and even his teachers in northern Utah heaped scorn on people like him. When he came out to people he thought were his friends, he was crushed by the hostility of some of them. With both his parents away on business trips, he tried to take his life [Pew Trusts].

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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: Gov. Fallin ‘refreshes’ several Oklahoma leadership positions in governor’s office

  1. Gov Mary Fallins mismanagement of funds and policies cause our state to be worst in country on human services, education, mental health,poverty,child abuse, incarceration rates, women in prison,domestic violence and much more while she and state officials continue with huge salaries and benefits. Cut your salaries and reprioritize your policies and values for the good of All Oklahomans and stop the bigotry. Concerned college educated citizen for Hillary Clinton.

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