In The Know: Lawmakers urged to use caution in drafting drone laws

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

Lawmakers urged to use caution in drafting drone laws: Lawmakers on Wednesday were urged to use caution in drafting bills to govern the use of drones. The Senate Public Safety Committee held an interim study on the issue at the request of Sen. Frank Simpson, R-Springer. Simpson said he expects to have legislation introduced next session. …Drones are used in a number of areas, such as law enforcement, firefighting, insurance, emergency management, weather research, agriculture and mapping [Tulsa World].

Zika study reveals health, financial surprises: Even though the 26 Zika virus cases in Oklahoma have all been travel-related, “The concern is for our population during that nine month period after a traveler returns, within a demographic such as ours,” state Rep. Richard Morrissette says. That’s because the Zika virus can live within us and be transmitted for approximately nine months, but researchers are quick to say that it could be longer. Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, sponsored an interim legislative study about Zika last week at the State Capitol [The Daily Admoreite].

Rev. Al Sharpton rallies with hundreds for Terence Crutcher in downtown Tulsa: Before marching almost a mile through downtown Tulsa with about 400 people Tuesday afternoon, the Rev. Al Sharpton and other civic leaders urged the crowd to remain peaceful as they seek justice for the police shooting that killed unarmed Terence Crutcher. Sharpton, religious leaders, members of the Crutcher family and several attorneys spoke at a “National Prayer Call for Justice March” before leading the crowd from the Greenwood Cultural Center, 322 N. Greenwood Ave., to City Hall, 175 E. Second St [Tulsa World]. The Rev. Al Sharpton’s march for Terence Crutcher coincided with two separate Tulsa rallies backing law enforcement, including solidarity for the Tulsa police officer who fatally shot him [Tulsa World].

Prosperity Policy: Of rights and privileges: The recent tragic killing of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed African-American who was shot by a police officer after his car broke down in north Tulsa, has reminded me again of a small but vivid lesson I learned about how differently whites and blacks experience encounters with police. One afternoon last year, as I was driving back to Tulsa from the state Capitol with a colleague who is African-American, I got pulled over by a state trooper [David Blatt / Journal Record].

City Council tables plan to ask Tulsa voters to vote down ‘Right to Farm’ SQ 777: Tulsa city councilors held back Wednesday on a proposed resolution that originally would have urged voters to oppose State Question 777, the so-called “Right to Farm” ballot issue. The councilors had planned a resolution urging Tulsa voters to vote the measure down on Nov. 8, citing in the meeting agenda item “all the potential adverse effects of State Question 777 on the health, safety, and welfare of Tulsa residents.” On Wednesday, though, the proposed resolution changed to a measure urging voters to “become informed of the potential adverse effects which would result from passage” of the question [Tulsa World]. Learn more about SQ 777, as well as the other State Questions on the ballot this November, here

Just Say Yes: Oklahoma voters have a history of affirming most state questions: Oklahoma voters will decide seven state questions in November on subjects ranging from agriculture to the death penalty to the use of public funds for religious purposes. Of the seven questions, three were placed on the ballot through the initiative petition process, while four were referred to the ballot by the Legislature. What does history suggest about the likely outcome of this year’s ballot measures? OK Policy looked at the results of all state questions in Oklahoma since 1989 using data collected by Ballotpedia. The results are rather surprising [OK Policy].

Five Virtual Charter Schools, Five Different Ways to Track Attendance: Two virtual charter schools, including the state’s largest, reported 100 percent attendance last year — an accomplishment rarely, if ever, achieved in a brick-and-mortar school. With no seats to fill and no roll to call, “attendance” in virtual education takes on a different meaning. The perfect scores reported by Epic Charter Schools and ABLE Charter School highlight what some say are uneven standards applied to virtual and traditional schools in calculating attendance [Oklahoma Watch].

Community banks adding branches but shrinking in number: The bank branching environment has realigned significantly since the recession, with large banks cutting more while gaining asset share. During the past decade, community banks, which dominate the Oklahoma market, increased nationally by about 3,300 branches, according to a recent study by S&P Global Market Intelligence. At the same time, however, many of those banks and their branches were consolidated at the other end of the scale, leading to a seeming paradox: In mid-2006, banks with less than $1 billion in assets held 33,000 branches; now, only 24,000 branches belong to community banks [Journal Record].

Hugo water lawsuit runs on: A private water contractor’s defense in a negligence case is clever, but shouldn’t hold water in court, said Jason Aamodt, an attorney with Tulsa-based Indian and Environmental Law Group. Attorneys responded to a judge’s questions in a fraud lawsuit that Hugo and its municipal authority filed against U.K.-based Severn Trent Environmental Services. The water contractor claimed Hugo couldn’t claim negligence on a contract dispute, and its employees can’t be held personally liable, according to court documents [Journal Record].

Sheriff Vic Regalado says Tulsa County jail deaths ‘not an epidemic’: Deaths at the Tulsa County jail are no more common than at other similar facilities, Sheriff Vic Regalado said Wednesday. “Statistically, we’re doing very well,” Regalado told the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority, which oversees jail operations. “Of course, any death (is something) we want to prevent. But it’s not an epidemic.” The jail has been under particular scrutiny in the past year for a series of deaths and other incidents that occurred mostly under Regalado’s predecessor, Stanley Glanz [Tulsa World].

Officer at private Oklahoma prison wounded in shooting: Police in Lawton are investigating an early-morning shooting in which an officer at a private correctional facility was wounded. Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Joe M. Allbaugh says a female employee at the Lawton Correctional Facility was shot several times outside of her home about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday as she was preparing to leave for work. Pablo Paez, a spokesman for the prison facility’s owner, The GEO Group of Boca Raton, Florida, says the employee is listed stable condition [KJRH].

Norman state rep named to Oklahoma Veterans Pilot Program: State Representative and registered nurse, Claudia Griffith, D-Norman, has been named to the Oklahoma Veterans Pilot Program, a bipartisan initiative to develop health care access for the state’s veterans. The Oklahoma Veterans Pilot Program, a public-private partnership between the Oklahoma Department of Veteran’s Affairs, LifeSpring Home Care, and the University of Central Oklahoma, will develop task forces of state lawmakers, health care and education professionals and business leaders to examine the existing system and recommend improvements [The Norman Transcript].

Jobless rates rise in 73 counties: Unemployment rates increased in 73 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties in August from a year earlier. Jobless rates were lower in two counties – Ellis and Major – and unchanged in two counties – Coal and Mayes. Ellis County had a jobless rate in August of 3.7 percent, down from 3.8 percent for August 2015, according to a monthly report from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. Major County had a jobless rate for the month of 5.1 percent, down from 5.3 percent a year earlier [Journal Record].

Oklahoma health departments to start offering flu vaccine Oct. 3: The flu vaccine will be available at Oklahoma county health departments starting Oct. 3, the state announced Wednesday. “We are learning more and more about the benefits of influenza vaccination every year,” said OSDH Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline in a news release. “One example is the benefit for pregnant women and newborn babies. Flu vaccination not only protects pregnant women, but also protects their babies for up to 6 months. Since influenza is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women and newborns this protection is important. Flu vaccination is safe during pregnancy, after delivery, and for breastfeeding women.” [FOX25] Go get your flu shot [OK Policy].

LGBT proclamation passes despite controversy at city hall: A tearful Norman Mayor Lynne Miller proclaimed October 2016 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month in Norman during Tuesday’s city council meeting. It was a landmark moment on the heels of a hostile history that, for a time, looked like it would repeat itself. Anger simmered on social media this week, threatening to reawaken a six-year-old conflict between LGBT supporters and those who believe recognizing LGBT History Month is wrong [The Norman Transcript].

Quote of the Day

“This is an emerging technology that raises concerns about property rights, privacy and more, but there is also the potential for economic development and other positives. It’s important for us to take a comprehensive look at the issues, current regulations and policy, and determine what may need to be done at the state level to better address the potential for problems without stifling the ability to take advantage of those positives.”

– Sen. Frank Simpson (R-Springer), on an interim study on drones held Wednesday (Source)


Number of the Day


Estimated number of low-income, uninsured Oklahoma adults with a serious mental illness in 2013

Source: Government Accountability Office

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The human toll of America’s public defender crisis: “What if I’d had more time?” Across the US, it is the question public defenders often find themselves asking the most. Would a young, pregnant African American woman in Lexington, Kentucky, who faces minor fraud charges laid down in April still be in jail if her lawyer had the time to appeal against an impossible $40,000 bail bond? Could the 50-year-old illiterate white man in Cole County, Missouri, charged in August with vehicular assault and facing over a decade in prison, ever be assigned an attorney with the resources to defend him? How many of the 30 defendants present for a single “mass plea” hearing in Louisiana’s 16th judicial district in June would have pleaded not guilty if they’d had more than 20 seconds of legal counsel? [The Guardian]

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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