In The Know: Oklahoma Law Enforcement Gets Devices to Seize Funds Loaded to Prepaid Cards

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

New Front in Civil Forfeiture: Authorities Get Devices to Seize Funds Loaded to Prepaid Cards: The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety has purchased several devices capable of seizing funds loaded on to prepaid debit cards to aid troopers in roadside seizures of suspected drug-trafficking proceeds. The portable card scanners are designed to be carried in law enforcement vehicles, allow troopers to freeze and seize money loaded onto a prepaid debit card, and to return money to an account whose funds were seized or frozen [Oklahoma Watch]. A group of unlikely allies is pushing to reform civil asset forfeiture in Oklahoma [OK Policy].

Medicaid reimbursement won’t be cut, but clinics still worry: The Oklahoma Health Care Authority won’t cut reimbursement rates to health care providers treating Medicaid patients despite warning for months it could slash rates by 25 percent. But community clinics are still struggling because of a series of cuts since 2010, said Brent Wilborn, public policy director at a state trade association. The OHCA, expecting to receive a lower appropriation because of the state’s $1.3 billion budget hole, said in February it might make dramatic cuts to provider rates [Journal Record]. Medicaid was on the chopping block in 2014 and again in 2015, and faced unprecedented disaster in 2016.

FY 2017 Budget Highlights: OK Policy’s annual Budget Highlights issue brief is one of the most informative and accessible ways to track Oklahoma’s public spending. Today we’ve released the FY 2017 Budget Highlights, which includes a bullet point summary of the state budget, charts illustrating different aspects of the budget, and a table showing appropriations for every state agency going back to 2009. You can find more information and analysis about the state budget at our Budget & Taxes Issue Page [OK Policy].

Oklahoma Supreme Court strikes down Walmart-backed alcohol petition: The Oklahoma Supreme Court has struck down a Walmart-backed group’s initiative petition on wine and strong beer in grocery stores. Oklahomans for Consumer Freedom’s initiative petition is almost identical in wording to Senate Joint Resolution 68, a measure passed by the Legislature in May for a statewide vote in November on the same issue [NewsOK].

Oklahoma raises divorce-related fees to fund district courts: Oklahoma will make it more expensive to get divorced under a new law that has received final approval from the governor. Republican Gov. Mary Fallin signed the bill into law Monday. It will assess an administrative fee totaling 15 percent of fees the court clerk collects for other agencies. The new law will also raise the filing fee for divorce, alimony, custody, separate-maintenance and child-support actions by $40 [Associated Press]. It was one of two last-minute bills to hike fees in a year when lawmakers hoped to make progress on the issue [OK Policy].

Criminal reform remains major issue for Oklahoma lawmakers: With a looming $1.3 billion hole in the state budget, an overcrowded prison system and the urging of the state’s conservative governor, Oklahoma’s Republican-led Legislature this year successfully pushed some significant changes to its criminal justice system. The passage of four measures to slow the explosive prison growth was no small feat in an election year in a state where tough-on-crime policies have been a staple of both political parties for decades and with one of the highest incarceration rates in the country [Associated Press].

Sheriffs worry about getting stuck with bill for state inmates: As state and local agencies tighten their budgets, it leaves little room for county jails to make mistakes. State law was changed last November to give sheriffs three days to notify the Oklahoma Department of Corrections when a county prisoner is sentenced to state prison. Once the notification is received, the department compensates the jail $27 per day per inmate. However, if the notification is sent after the three-day period, the responsibility for paying for the inmate falls on the sheriff until the DOC receives the necessary paperwork [Journal Record].

Gov. Mary Fallin signs into law new concussion bill: Gov. Mary Fallin signed Senate Bill 1164 into law Monday, putting into effect Nov. 1 laws regarding treatment and management of concussions in youth athletes. The bill successfully passed through four votes during the recent legislative session. With the guidance of A.J. Griffin, R-Guthrie, in the state Senate and Dan Kirby, R-Tulsa, in the House of Representatives, the bill updates the state’s laws regarding treatment and management of concussions in young athletes to reflect the vast advancements in knowledge and understanding of concussions [NewsOK].

Oklahoma City School Board votes to expand drug, alcohol testing: Oklahoma City Public Schools will expand its drug and alcohol testing policy to allow for testing of all employees after a work-related injury or if there is reasonable suspicion. The school board unanimously approved the policy revision — a first for the state’s largest district — during Monday night’s regular meeting. Under the current policy, the district only tests job applicants after a job offer has been extended but before they report to work [NewsOK].

Partnerships, volunteers boost city services, Oklahoma City officials told: Partnerships are increasingly important as local government mainstays in the upcoming fiscal year as Oklahoma City manages the downturn in the oil and gas economy. Leaders of the city’s parks and development services departments highlighted partnerships in their budget presentations for the city council on Tuesday [NewsOK].

Health officials: Mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus found in Oklahoma: Oklahomans are very familiar with the summertime pests but health officials are warning residents across the state to take extra precautions. The Tulsa County Health Department announced on Tuesday that samples of mosquitoes from several traps throughout the area have tested positive for West Nile virus. So far, no Oklahomans have been diagnosed with the virus this year in Tulsa County [KFOR].

Oklahoma regulators rule quake insurance market ‘noncompetitive’: Oklahoma regulators faced with a surge in small earthquakes linked to oil and gas production ruled on Tuesday that the state’s market for earthquake insurance was not competitive, saying prices charged to consumers were “excessive” after recent rate hikes. As a result of the ruling, insurance companies will be required to submit proposed changes to earthquake coverage premiums and deductibles to the Oklahoma Insurance Commission [Reuters].

To Avoid School-Funding Shutdown, Kansas Governor Calls Special Session: There appears to be some movement in the showdown over K-12 funding in Kansas. After the state’s supreme court last month once again ruled that the state’s funding formula is inequitable and threatened to shut off funding to the schools as of next month, Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, announced on Twitter Tuesday morning that he will call a special session to attempt to satisfy the court [Education Week].

Quote of the Day

“I think this is likely to expand pretty radically the scope of civil asset forfeiture procedures. This is a capability that law enforcement has never had before and one that is very likely to land DPS in litigation.”

-Brady Henderson, legal director of ACLU Oklahoma, on new devices acquired by the Department of Public Safety that will allow law enforcement to seize funds loaded on prepaid debit cards (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of lawyers working in Oklahoma as of May 2015

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

When All Kids Eat for Free: Much has been made recently of Detroit’s resurgence and growth. In January, President Obama made a swing through the Motor City, touting “something special happening in Detroit.” Yet the comeback has not been evenly felt across the city. The Michigan League for Public Policy’s 2016 Kids Count Data Profile revealed a major fault line earlier this year. From 2006 to 2014, child poverty in Detroit increased by 29 percent, to about 94,000 children or well more than half (57 percent) of the city’s population under the age of 18 [The Atlantic].

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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.

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