In The Know: Oklahoma House passes resolution calling for convention of the states

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

Oklahoma House passes resolution calling for convention of the states: Legislation adding Oklahoma to the states calling for a “convention of the states” to amend the U.S. Constitution passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Monday afternoon following lengthy discussion and debate. Senate Joint Resolution 4, originally introduced by state Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, would in fact add Oklahoma to two lists — states requesting a convention for a debt-limit amendment and those who want to limit federal terms of office [Tulsa World]. While there is widespread agreement that Congress must better manage its finances, pursuing this goal through a constitutional convention is very dangerous [OK Policy].

Governor’s Budget 2.0: Cuts are not inevitable: Last week, Governor Mary Fallin took the unusual step of delivering a second budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. Her new proposal, dubbed Executive Budget 2.0, adjusts for the changed circumstances since her first budget was announced in early February. Soon after her original budget was released, revised estimates increased the budget shortfall from $900 million to $1.3 billion [OK Policy]. OK Policy Executive Director David Blatt discussed the Governor’s recommendations on Public Radio Tulsa last week.

Oklahoma GOP leaders balk at governor’s $500M bond plan: Gov. Mary Fallin’s plan to shield Oklahoma public schools and other state services from budget cuts in part by issuing up to $500 million in bonds for road construction received a frosty reception in the House and Senate. With just six weeks remaining in the legislative session, Fallin unveiled a revised budget plan for lawmakers to consider that would fill nearly all of a $1.3 billion hole in next year’s budget through a combination of bonding, tax code adjustments and changes to the budgeting process [Associated Press].

In Kansas, Lawmakers Lose Patience With Governor’s Tax Cuts: After he became Kansas governor in 2011, Sam Brownback slashed personal income taxes on the promise that the deep cuts would trigger a furious wave of hiring and expansion by businesses. But the “shot of adrenaline” hasn’t worked as envisioned, and the state budget has been in crisis ever since. Now many of the same Republicans who helped pass Brownback’s plan are in open revolt, refusing to help the governor cut spending so he can avoid rolling back any of his signature tax measures [Associated Press].

Oklahoma, Potawatomis battle over sales tax payments: The Citizen Potawatomi Nation is claiming a major victory against the Oklahoma Tax Commission after an arbitrator ruled that the state agency shouldn’t be able to impose its tax laws on the tribal nation. The dispute between the two entities arose in May 2014, when the state Tax Commission suddenly challenged more than $27 million in sales tax exemptions claimed by the Potawatomis in recent years [NewsOK].

Lawmakers Send Governor Bill to Bolster State Retirement Systems: A bill initially presented as a way to give retired teachers cost-of-living pension adjustments goes to the governor. The House passed the Pension Improvement Act after some back-and-forth over the fact it deals with all Oklahoma state retirement systems. Rep. Todd Thomsen said cost-of-living adjustments may not be the only thing a proposed new revolving fund pays for [Public Radio Tulsa].

Many Oklahomans, once in foster care, age out and are now homeless: Foster children who have “aged out” of the foster care system are one of the underserved populations in Oklahoma when it comes to housing, according to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. The lack of affordable housing in much of Oklahoma especially affects this population group and others who would have difficulties with affordable and appropriate housing even without a shortage. Statewide, 30 percent of Oklahoma 19-year old foster children who aged out experienced homelessness at least once in the previous two years and 22 percent of the homeless in Oklahoma City spent some of their childhood in foster care [Norman Transcript]. Too many foster youth enter the adult world without a safety net [OK Policy].

Nonprofits stepping up to keep art programs in Oklahoma schools: As school districts across the state are fighting a $1.3 billion budget shortfall, many art programs are on the line. Recently, 4,000 students packed the Civic Center to see Peter Pan. It marks the end of a two-month program by the Oklahoma City Ballet to encourage children to get interested in the arts. The ArtsReach program teaches the history, techniques and terminology of ballet to children all around the state [KFOR].

Judicial Reform? Keep selection over election: When did we, as a state, become complacent with almost last? When did we become OK with Oklahoma being “OK?” Now I am concerned that if House Bill 3162 passes, I will start hearing “at least we aren’t as corrupt as Louisiana.” The passage of this bill, and measures like it, will undo years of damage control that we sought to correct from the 1960’s scandals that first brought to light what happens when Oklahoma’s highest court can be bought [Julie Knutson / Tulsa World].

City ought to remove criminal history box from applications: As social workers who are confronted each day with the consequences of employment discrimination, we urge Mayor Dewey Bartlett to follow Gov. Mary Fallin and remove the criminal history question from city employment applications. Nineteen other states and more than 100 cities and counties have passed this fair hiring policy typically called “Ban the Box,” which has shown to reduce recidivism, cut spending costs, and decrease crime rates in their communities [Molly Bryant / Tulsa World]. Employment discrimination is one reason that every sentence is a life sentence [OK Policy].

Oklahoma alcohol bill would allow for dry counties, require store clerks to be 18 for beer sales: A proposed rewrite of Oklahoma alcohol statutes would allow Oklahoma counties to remain dry if they choose, as well as requiring all cashiers to be at least 18 years old and licensed to sell beer. The bill also would allow for breweries in the state to operate brew pubs selling full-strength beer. Senate Bill 383, authored by Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City, is a complete overhaul of Oklahoma alcohol laws, ranging from licensing to hours of operation [NewsOK].

Oklahoma, Nebraska AGs target Pueblo County pot approval: The attorneys general of Oklahoma and Nebraska, in their legal fight to overturn Colorado’s legalization of recreational use of marijuana, are aiming at Pueblo County. Pueblo County officials are targeted by the neighboring states because the county licensed a pot-grow operation at Rye. The attorneys general of the two states want to join an existing court case that challenges the county’s approval of the grow site. The case also challenges the state’s legalization of recreational use of marijuana [Pueblo Chieftain].

Fallin signs bill to clarify Oklahoma agency’s power: Wastewater disposal wells that have been linked to an uptick in earthquakes in Oklahoma could be ordered shut down without notice or hearing under a bill signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin. The bill was one of 16 measures signed Monday by Fallin. The bill grants the Oklahoma Corporation Commission the authority many believed it already had — the right to take “whatever action is necessary” to promptly respond to an emergency [Associated Press].

Quote of the Day

“We have an obligation to do better by children who are in child welfare custody. What we see here is this is not a good thing: that foster care becomes a pipeline for homelessness.”

-Connie Schlittler, the Director of the Office of Planning, Research and Statistics for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, on a study showing that 30 percent of children who age out of foster care experience homelessness (Source)

Number of the Day


Total number of retail prescription drugs filled at pharmacies in Oklahoma in 2015

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

“Throwing money at the problem” may actually work in education: When it comes to tackling the United States’ large and growing achievement gap between high- and low-income children, today’s education policy entrepreneurs have increasingly adopted an accountability-and-evaluation mindset. Well-known policies including No Child Left Behind, Common Core standards, Race to the Top, and charter schools all stem from the conventional wisdom that we can’t just “throw money at the problem” [Washington Center for Equitable Growth].

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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: Oklahoma House passes resolution calling for convention of the states

  1. OKDHS would do better if it would try harder to keep children with their families or place them with relatives. Our child welfare would be better for the children if it focused on more “front loaded” services preventing removal in the first place. It is estimated that any where from 25% – 70% of all children removed from their parents shouldn’t have been removed to begin with. You better bet that these kids who enter an erroneous system that easily mistakes poverty for neglect, most likely not fitting the definition of abuse, are unduly traumatized by the every part of the system.

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