In The Know: OK Supreme Court hearings to be streamed online, Ruling on revenue-raising bills to have big impact

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.

Correction: In Friday’s edition, we mistakenly linked to an outdated article reporting that while Margaret Hudson’s Tulsa site would close, the Broken Arrow site would remain open. The link has been updated to accurately report that the Margaret Hudson program is shutting down completely. We regret the error. 

Today In The News

Oklahoma Supreme Court Hearings To Be Streamed Online: With hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, three Oklahoma Supreme Court hearings will be televised for the first time. The lawsuits are over the budget lawmakers passed during the last legislative session. The turnout is expected to be so large, the hearing will be live streamed online and to an overflow room at the the state capitol. The suits claim the state’s budget is unconstitutional. [NewsOn6]

Police chiefs are often forced to put officers fired for misconduct back on the streets: Since 2006, the nation’s largest police departments have fired at least 1,881 officers for misconduct that betrayed the public’s trust, from cheating on overtime to unjustified shootings. But The Washington Post has found that departments have been forced to reinstate more than 450 officers after appeals required by union contracts. Most of the officers regained their jobs when police chiefs were overruled by arbitrators, typically lawyers hired to review the process. [Washington Post]

Oklahoma City Public Schools leaders take initial steps toward educational equity: At the first gathering of the Oklahoma City Public Schools Student Experience and Equity Committee, school board member Ruth Veales opened the meeting asking, “What does equity mean to you?” The committee members’ varied remarks, ideas and observations on equity didn’t surprise Veales, one of the two most senior members of the Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) Board of Education and secretary of the National School Boards Association’s Council of Urban Boards of Education. Despite a growing national dialogue on equity in education, there remains a common misconception that equality and equity are interchangeable in education. [Oklahoma Gazette]

Should young felons be locked up for life? Though courts say no, each state has its own rules: Five years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court banned mandatory life without parole for juveniles in murder cases. Last year it made clear that applies equally to more than 2,000 who already were serving the sentence. Prison gates, though, don’t just swing open. The Associated Press surveyed all 50 states and found that uncertainty and opposition stirred by the court’s rulings have resulted in an uneven patchwork, with the odds of release or continued imprisonment varying widely. [The Press-Enterprise]

State Supreme Court ruling on revenue-raising bills to have big impact: In a crowded courtroom on Tuesday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on a series of legal challenges to measures the Legislature passed last session to fund state government. The outcome, one way or another, could be monumental. According to several of the plaintiffs, if some of measures are allowed to stand, a 1992 state question that put restrictions on tax increases will be gutted. [Tulsa World]

Separation by choice puts school segregation on steroids: The Oklahoman analyzed the applications for Oklahoma’s 29 charter schools and found that some scrupulously respected the spirit of the state’s charter law. These charters ask for “nothing more than a student’s name and contact information,” according to the article. However, Felder reports, “some applications require a recommendation from a teacher, ask for details on a student’s discipline history or if they have received special education services.” [NonDoc]

More than 30 injured after tornado hits in Tulsa: More than 30 people were injured and dozens of buildings damaged when a tornado hit Tulsa early on Sunday, causing power outages to about 17,000 customers after powerful winds snapped utility poles and downed trees in the Oklahoma city, officials said. Oklahoma emergency officials told local media there were no deaths from the tornado classified by the U.S. National Weather Service as an EF-2 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, meaning it had winds of about 125 miles per hour (200 kph). [Reuters]

Assessing the impact of state budget cuts: Budgets for government agencies in Oklahoma have been up and down in recent years as the state has experienced extreme revenue shortfalls. Though the cuts have not affected each agency uniformly, they have had a major impact on state services. The shortfalls have caused agencies to see an average cut in funding of 25 to 30 percent in the last 10 years, said Scott Martin, former member of the House of Representatives and former chair of the budget and appropriations subcommittee on education. [Norman Transcript]

Assembly brings more than 700 educators to McAlester: Ron Clark believes teachers are heroes with the ability to make a lasting impact. The New York Times bestselling author and founder of the Ron Clark Academy spoke to 700 local educators at the 2017-18 McAlester Public Schools Back to School Kick-Off Celebration on Friday at the Southeast Expo Center, motivating them to succeed through the state’s budget crisis and other challenges. [McAlester News-Capital]

The state’s quiet plan to help out ‘Obamacare’: The anti-“Obamacare” Oklahoma Legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill this year (and the anti-“Obamacare” governor signed it) that will create a nonprofit group to assess what will probably feel like a tax of up to $60 a year on every person in the state who has health insurance in order to help stabilize the “Obamacare” insurance marketplace. You remember the marketplace, the one that the state refuses to operate … because it’s part of “Obamacare.” [Wayne Green/Tulsa World]

I am the face of cuts to Medicaid: Decisions by Oklahoma legislators are shameful, hurtful, an embarrassment to the state, and certainly do not represent me or my Oklahoma values. I am living proof that cuts to Medicaid are devastating. I live it. Please let me tell you of my experience. I have Friedreich’s ataxia. Not many people have even heard of it. FA is a debilitating, life-shortening, degenerative neuro-muscular disorder that affects about one in 50,000 people in the United States. Currently, there is no cure or treatment. [Christin Haun/Tulsa World]

A former Oklahoma death row inmate accepts settlement in $32 million lawsuit: Former death row inmate Yancy L. Douglas has accepted a settlement in his $32 million lawsuit against a former prosecutor and the state of Oklahoma.How much he will be paid from taxpayer dollars under the settlement was not immediately disclosed. [NewsOK]

Family & Children’s Services adding thrift store to counter cuts: It’s been a tough year financially for Oklahoma nonprofits, particularly those who have contracts with state agencies. Family & Children’s Services was notified it would lose a $775,000 grant from the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services due to multiple state revenue failures. The financial uncertainty in the state had officials and staff at the nonprofit working on ways to expand its income base. They decided on a thrift store. [Ginnie Graham/Tulsa World]

Wagoner County bridges collapses as vehicle attempts to cross: A bridge in the Porter area collapsed as a vehicle attempted to cross it Sunday afternoon, according to a statement from Wagoner County officials. The driver escaped uninjured, though her vehicle was lodged between the two sections of the bridge, Wagoner County Sheriff’s deputy Nick Mahoney said. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“The message is huge. Officers know all they have to do is grieve it, arbitrate it and get their jobs back.”

– Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty, who said he loses about 80 percent of arbitration cases, speaking about being forced to rehire officers that have been fired for misconduct after arbitration (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of adults in Oklahoma who are overweight or obese, 2015

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How To Reform Criminal Justice, When Prosecutors Hold The Power: Even if our Legislature were to pass criminal justice reforms, prosecutors would still hold most of the power in daily proceedings. Prosecutors can steer police actions. They can influence sentences from the very beginning of a criminal process. They can drag out a defendant’s time in the system by withholding evidence or being coy about its availability. None of this is intrinsically wrong. Some of it can run up against ethical boundaries. All of it happens in district courts every single day, which means that no one — no advocate, legislator, nor judge — is in a better position to advance progressive criminal justice reform than a prosecutor [WBUR].

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Courtney Cullison worked for OK Policy from 2017 to 2020 as a policy analyst focused on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma. A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve.

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