In The Know: Judge Dismisses Challenge to State’s Voter ID 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

Judge Dismisses Challenge to State’s Voter ID Law: A more than four-year legal challenge to overturn Oklahoma’s voter identification law was rejected again in state district court, with the judge upholding the constitutionality of the measure. Oklahoma County District Court Judge Aletia Haynes Timmons dismissed the case Monday after hearing arguments from lawyers representing the Oklahoma State Election Board and Tulsa resident Delilah Christine Gentges. Gentges’ attorney said he plans to appeal the decision as far as the Oklahoma Supreme Court [Oklahoma Watch]. Oklahoma saw record low turnout in the 2014 midterm elections; read our ideas for repairing our broken democracy.

DUI offenders could get licenses back: Hundreds of DUI offenders could be getting their driver’s licenses back after an Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals ruling. This is all because their attorneys said their constitutional right to a speedy trial is being violated. When someone is arrested for DUI, there is a criminal component handled through the courts. But, if they want a hearing to try and get their license back, that happens at an administrative hearing at the Department of Public Safety. But, that system is apparently so backlogged that some attorneys said their clients are having to wait up to two years [KFOR]. The Department of Public Safety plans to appeal the ruling [KOCO].

Oklahoma gets ‘F’ grade for family leave policies: Oklahoma recently received a grade of F for failing to enact a single policy to support new and expecting parents beyond the now 23-year-old federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). California, New York and the District of Columbia were awarded the only As, while 11 states received Bs. Among Oklahoma’s neighboring states, Colorado and Arkansas received Cs; Texas, a D; and Missouri, an F. The analysis reinforces the need for Congress to advance paid leave and other family friendly policies, said Debra L. Ness president of the nonprofit National Partnership for Women & Families, which conducted the study and drafted and led the fight for FMLA [NewsOK].

Mock Outrage and Real Impact: Facts matter. So do details. So does context – well, to most of us at least. By now, many of you have probably seen the blog post by Steve Anderson at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs expressing mock outrage at school districts and the funds we’re allegedly hoarding. If you haven’t, it’s worth your time to read. Here’s his opening: “Oklahomans who have been told repeatedly that Oklahoma’s schools are underfunded may be very surprised to learn that the schools in fact have ‘savings accounts’ that are full of cash sitting idle.” Idle is a pretty strong word [okeducationtruths]. Oklahoma has cut state general funding to schools deeper than any other state since 2008 [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities].

Pawhuska schools closed Wednesday as city remains under boil order: Pawhuska Public Schools sites will be closed Wednesday as the city remains under a boil order. The district cited the maintenance required to sanitize buildings in canceling classes to ensure safety of its students. According to a news release, the district has an approved water safety preparation plan from the Osage County Health Department and Oklahoma State Department of Health to operate under the boil order [Tulsa World].

Trump names Mary Fallin, other Oklahomans to agriculture panel: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has named several Oklahomans to his newly created Agriculture Advisory Committee, including Gov. Mary Fallin. Trump announced the creation of the 64-member committee in a press release on Tuesday as a way to “strengthen our nation’s agriculture industry as well as provide support to our rural communities.” It includes current and former elected officials, farmers and officials with agriculture trade groups [Associated Press].

Pruitt should stop thwarting justice reforms: The Oklahoma Supreme Court has again slapped the wrists of Attorney General Scott Pruitt, raising the ire of idealogues who decry the justices’ efforts to prevent circumvention of the state constitution. Pruitt can’t seem to stay out of the spotlight for spending millions of taxpayer dollars on indefensible lawsuits. Last week, the court may have saved Oklahomans some money when it said the titles he reworked for two state questions on the November ballot are “misleading and partial” [Editorial Board / Tahlequah Daily Press].

Good reports from the energy sector, but poor forecast: There is finally some good news from the energy sector, but experts don’t have a good forecast for the future. For the first time since October 2014, the Oklahoma Energy Index has shown positive gains. The index increase is based off of data collected in May and shows a three point increase from April’s readings. A statement from the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association said the improvement can be contributed to three areas; solid gains in both crude oil and natural gas prices, steady rig activity in Oklahoma and decreased employment contractions in the energy field [Norman Transcript].

Why Some Cities Are Lining Up to Fight Against Ballot Question on Right-to-Farm: City leaders in Edmond adopted a resolution urging citizens to reject State Question 777. Their counterparts in Choctaw appear likely to do the same, and the Norman City Council has booked a presentation from an organization fighting against the question, which would amend the state constitution to include the “right-to-farm” and prevent lawmakers from passing legislation impeding farming, ranching and agriculture [StateImpact Oklahoma].

OKC Council approves water settlement: Calling the moment historic and defining, Oklahoma City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of an agreement that will nearly double the city’s water supply. The council approved a settlement announced last week in a five-year legal battle over management of southeastern Oklahoma water resources. Once implemented, the agreement will grant Oklahoma City access, in an average year, to 110,000 acre feet of water from Sardis Lake reservoir, said Jim Couch, the city manager [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“We estimated in this case that there are more than one million people in Oklahoma without identification. And the thing is when you make it harder to vote, people just stop voting.”

– James Thomas, an attorney who is representing a client in challenging Oklahoma’s Voter ID law. The case was dismissed this week, but Thomas plans to appeal (Source). Oklahoma saw record low turnout in the 2014 midterm elections; read our ideas for repairing our broken democracy.

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma’s population that uses SNAP to afford food, 14th highest out of all 50 states (April 2016)

Source: Food Research and Action Center

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Wraparound services still worth it even after accounting for all costs: There is a new consensus about the importance of addressing the out-of-school factors that interfere with students’ success in school. Though achievement gaps for some groups have narrowed, the gap between high- and low-income students has grown by about 40 percent in a generation, and now a majority of all children in America’s public schools are eligible for free and reduced lunch. Interest in tackling barriers to low-income students’ success reverberates through the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and is palpable in communities across the country. Educators are seeking ways to effectively integrate education with social services, youth development, health and mental health resources so that all children are ready to learn [Brookings].

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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: Judge Dismisses Challenge to State’s Voter ID Law

  1. I personally think you Need some type of Identification in order to vote. Especially for the most powerful position in the world. President of the United States Of America, only legal immigrants and Americans should choose. In fact that makes me wonder, how these people are working?

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