In The Know: It matters who we ask to pay more

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

It matters who we ask to pay more: As lawmakers continue to work to develop a plan to address the state’s budget crisis, the top priority has rightly been generating enough new revenue to avoid even more cuts to critical services and to fund longstanding needs like a teacher pay raise. At the same time, with tax increases on the table, we can’t lose sight of who is being asked to pay more. A good revenue plan must also ensure that everyone is contributing their fair share [OK Policy].

Special session’s high stakes sparks ‘big words’ among lawmakers on social media: The mounting pressure on Republican legislators, especially those in the House, is an indicator of just how much is at stake during the Legislature’s current special session. Former Gov. Frank Keating, former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, the State Chamber of Commerce, the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, the state’s largest oil and gas associations — who say they’re being “punished by the state” — and local affiliates of national conservative organizations have all been brought to bear [Randy Krehbiel / Tulsa World]. A coalition of state and local residents was in Lawton Tuesday to stir community interest in the state budget crisis [Lawton Constitution]. Bills filed in special session put many options in play [OK Policy].

Government-branded swag bill questioned: A representative’s so-called anti-swag bill has resurfaced following its committee death during the regular session, but critics aren’t moved by its latest updates. State Rep. George Faught, R-Muskogee, introduced a measure at the end of the regular session to prohibit agencies from buying pens, notepads, squeezable stress balls and other products with printed logos for promotional materials [Journal Record].

Think lawmakers shouldn’t be able to jump into lobbying? Oklahoma Ethics Commission to take comments on rule change: The Oklahoma Ethics Commission is considering a rule change that would prohibit lawmakers and state employees from lobbying for two years after they leave the post. The agency will take public comment on the proposed rule at a 10 a.m. Thursday meeting in Room 412 at the state Capitol. A vote is not expected to be taken Thursday [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma’s September revenue gets expected boost: A recent change in the tax rate on oil and gas production helped lift September collections well past the same month last year. Oklahoma brought in $1 billion last month, which is $72.4 million or 7.7 percent higher than September 2016. During their last regular session, lawmakers raised the tax rate on older wells. Doing so boosted revenue by nearly $7 million. As lawmakers negotiate during special session, one of the items on the table is another gross production tax increase [NewsOK].

Unlike the Legislature, state prison boss takes responsibility: State Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh is taking his department’s latest crisis efforts to control its population personally. Through its actions and inactions, the Oklahoma Legislature has put Allbaugh and the state prison system in a desperate situation: Too many inmates and too little money to deal with them. The state doesn’t have the space or guards to deal properly with the nearly 27,000 prisoners behind bars, and the state’s retributive sentencing laws keeps cramming more inmates through the front door [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]. The debate surrounding criminal justice reform in Oklahoma generally focuses on one question: How do we reduce our very high incarceration rates without jeopardizing public safety? [OK Policy]

Sen. Dossett talks education reform at Owasso Chamber amid special session: The state of education in Oklahoma remains a leading talking point in areas like Owasso. The Owasso Chamber of Commerce held its October Luncheon Wednesday, with State Senator J.J. Dossett speaking as the keynote. Dossett, a former Owasso High School teacher, discussed the state of education in Oklahoma today amid the Legislature’s current special session [Owasso Reporter]. However you count it, Oklahoma’s per pupil education funding is way down [OK Policy].

Disability rights and justice advocates want reform in police training and practices: Before there was Magdiel Sanchez, a deaf Hispanic man shot and killed by Oklahoma City police last month, there was Pearl Pearson, a deaf motorist accused of fighting Oklahoma Highway Patrol during a traffic stop. Decades before, there was George Kiddy, a deaf man who sat two days in Oklahoma City jail on a public drunkenness charge and was denied an interpreter. Well known to the state’s deaf and hard-of-hearing community, these stories of deaf citizens’ interactions with police highlight the lack of training and awareness around communicating with the deaf [Oklahoma Gazette].

Saving sacred land: Tribal leader testifies before Congress: Cherokee Nation Chief Bill John Baker testified before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee Wednesday about legislation that would affect Oklahoma’s Five Civilized Tribes. H.R. 2606 would amend the Stigler Act. The 1947 legislation requires that within the Five Civilized Tribes, land that’s passed down through families can remain in Indian status only if the owner has 50 percent or more Indian blood. H.R. 2606 would remove the 50-percent requirement [Journal Record].

Oklahoma tribes awarded $18 million to tackle policing and criminal justice: Fifteen Oklahoma tribes will split $18 million in federal grants to tackle issues ranging from substance abuse to violence against women to community policing. The Cherokee Nation will receive about $3 million, including $898,100 to address violence against women, $749,993 for improving alcohol and substance abuse services within its justice system and $565,241 for public safety [NewsOK].

OKC woman enters new phase of ReMerge program for recovering addicts: A burger joint and a trip to the store might make up a standard afternoon itinerary for some, but for others, those stops are milestones in a new life. “Today’s my 90 days sober,” said Brandi Davis, a woman recovering from heroin addiction. It was on Tuesday when Davis stood next to a small bed not yet fitted with linens, and large trash bags full of clothes and other belongings at her feet [NewsOK]. When Ashley Billings’ sons came to visit her in Tulsa for the first time, they were a little amazed — and maybe a bit perplexed — by what they found. …She is one of the women currently part of Resonance Tulsa’s Reentry Program, which helps women who have been released from prison with all aspects of creating a new, and they hope better, life for themselves [Tulsa World].

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty, Two Generations at a Time: On Wednesday afternoons, Toneshia Forshee picks up her son, a four-year-old who suffers from optic nerve hypoplasia and wears thick Coke-bottle glasses, from the early childhood education center he attends in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She brings him home to her immaculate two-bedroom apartment in a well-maintained complex down the street from a Sonic burger joint [Pacific Standard].

George Kaiser Family Foundation continues initiative to break cycle of poverty in Tulsa: The woman who led the early childhood initiatives for the New York City Department of Education now works in Tulsa. Sophia Pappas’ work in New York gained the appreciation of local billionaire and philanthropist George Kaiser. So he, and the George Kaiser Family Foundation, hired her. And now Pappas has the task of implementing the foundation’s Birth through Eight Strategy — a new decade-long plan Kaiser thinks will be a major part of the foundation’s legacy [Tulsa World].

The Supreme Court is talking about gerrymandering this week. These are Oklahoma’s 3 connections to the case: Oklahoma has at least three connections to the alleged gerrymandering case heard this week by the U.S. Supreme Court. Oklahoma, through, Attorney General Mike Hunter, is among a group of states that have submitted an amicus brief arguing against court intervention in the case. Former Gov. Frank Keating, on the other hand, is among former Republican office holders who’ve filed an amicus brief supporting the gerrymandering claim [Tulsa World].

Sun, wind and cannabis: Connie Johnson, a 2018 Oklahoma Governor candidate, is encouraging Oklahoma to think differently to overcome the state’s setbacks in regards to the budget crisis, healthcare, education and the economy. Johnson, a Democrat, spoke at the Meet the Oklahoma Governor Candidate forum at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma on Sept. 28 [Norman Transcript]. Next year, Oklahomans will vote on State Question 788, a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana [OK Policy].

Oklahoma AG Hunter Urges Congress to Let Medicaid Cover Residential Addiction Treatment: Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter has joined other state attorneys general in asking Congress to allow Medicaid funding for residential addiction treatment. The Road to Recovery Act eliminates the Institutions for Mental Diseases exclusion from Medicaid. The exclusion was part of the original Medicaid legislation and is used to keep federal funding from supporting inhumane asylums [KWGS].

Quote of the Day

“I think term limits have changed the way we have to look at things. You have someone who serves 12 years in the Legislature, and they know they have to leave. There are always possibilities the wrong person might start looking at opportunities for a soft place to land when they are term limited.”

– Former state Representative Phil Ostrander, who served two terms before becoming a lobbyist, speaking in support of a proposed rule change that would prohibit lawmakers and state employees from lobbying for two years after they leave the post (Source)

Number of the Day


Increase in the number of women sent to prison from Oklahoma County between 2009 and 2016

Source: Reveal

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Bail roulette: how the same minor crime can cost $250 or $10,000: Encompassing Yosemite national park, Mariposa County is among California’s most beautiful regions. But if you’re arrested for panhandling or public intoxication, Mariposa can be the state’s ugliest county. People arrested for minor misdemeanors in Mariposa County are on the hook for $10,000 bail, which is supposed to insure someone shows up to court, whether the charges have merit or not. Those who can’t afford the nonrefundable bail bond fee – usually 10% of bail, or $1,000 in Mariposa cases – sit in jail until their case makes it in front of a judge. Compare that to the neighboring Mono County, where recommended bail is $250 for minor offenses, or the rural Sierra, Placer and Nevada counties, where some minor offenders are released without bail [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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