In The Know: Oklahoma House seats lawmaker accused of sexual harassment

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 seats lawmaker accused of sexual harassment: The Oklahoma House voted along partisan lines Tuesday to seat a Republican lawmaker who rescinded a letter of resignation he submitted after being named in a sexual harassment complaint. The GOP-controlled chamber voted to seat Rep. Dan Kirby of Tulsa following a debate between Democrats and Republicans in which Kirby denied the allegations and said he acted too quickly when he submitted a letter of resignation to House Speaker-designate Charles McCall, R-Atoka [Associated Press].

Expulsion is option in inquiry into lawmaker’s actions: A committee investigating a woman’s sexual harassment and wrongful dismissal allegations against a state representative will have a broad range of disciplinary options at its disposal under the Oklahoma Constitution, including expulsion of the lawmaker. House Speaker Charles McCall said beginning this week, the House Rules Committee would look into the case involving Rep. Dan Kirby, R-Tulsa, who announced his resignation on Dec. 23 after the allegations became public and then rescinded that resignation on Dec. 28 [NewsOK].

OK House Schedules Agency, Budget Hearings in House Chamber: The Oklahoma House of Representatives will begin holding public hearings to review the five largest appropriated state agencies’ budgets next week at the state Capitol. Those five agencies received $5.36 billion – or 77 percent – of the $6.91 billion FY – 2017 appropriated budget. House Speaker Charles-elect A. McCall said the hearings will give citizens and lawmakers – particularly the 32 new members of the House – valuable insight into how agencies develop programs and spend taxpayer dollars and will help lawmakers develop funding priorities earlier than usual [The Okie].

Oklahoma slips to 47th in nation on annual educational quality ranking: Oklahoma received a D+ grade and slipped one place to 47th overall among the 50 states and District of Columbia in Education’s Week’s annual rankings of education quality indicators. The 2017 edition of the trade publication’s “Quality Counts” report focused on outcomes in student achievement, state spending and educational opportunity, rather than on education policies and processes. Oklahoma earned an overall score of 68.3 out of a possible 100 points, while the nation as a whole posted a grade of C with 74.2 points [Tulsa World].

Psst! Do you want to find $1 billion for Oklahoma schools? A lack of financing and monetary resources is simply not a good excuse for avoiding the pursuit of good projects and programs. There is always money for good deals. One way to find such money would be for Oklahoma to monetize unproductive assets. Have you ever seen the balance sheet for the state of Oklahoma? Ask a legislator or a governor or an economist, and their answer will be a hesitant no. State leaders and the media spend a lot of time on our income statement. But no one ever talks about the balance sheet [Former Gov. David Walters / NonDoc].

Oklahoma receives REAL ID extension through June 2017: Governor Mary Fallin along with legislative leaders Tuesday announced Oklahoma has received an extension through June 6, 2017 to meet the requirements in the REAL ID Act. But, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned failure for the state to act during the 2017 legislative session on legislation committing Oklahoma to all the REAL ID requirements could result in the denial of future extension requests. Without the extension, federal agencies later this month would have been prohibited from accepting Oklahoma driver’s licenses and identification cards, meaning those without identification that complies with the REAL ID Act won’t be able to enter a federal building, military base or courthouse [KFOR].

After living in a tent in the woods, Oklahoma man gets apartment of his own: Most of the things in John Young’s new home are reminders of where he’s been. On his apartment balcony, a walking stick that Young made to remember his friend James leans in the corner. James froze to death in the tent next to Young’s. Nearby, a sign with cracked white paint reads, “Home Sweet Home.” It used to be a joke at his campsite. Now, Young wants to hang the sign proudly inside [NewsOK].

Oklahoma’s unemployment rate remains above national rate: Oklahoma’s unemployment rate decreased slightly from 5.2 percent to 5.1 percent in November 2016, according to a report released by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. The state’s rate continues to be above the national average, which was 4.6 percent in November. The state’s unemployment rate has steadily increased in the past year, according to the report. In the report it states Stephens County’s unemployment rate has dropped to a percentage of 8.6 for November 2016 [Duncan Banner].

Dahm bills would further loosen gun laws: Senate Whip Nathan Dahm filed three bills Tuesday that would significantly relax state gun laws and criminalize those imposing federal restrictions. Senate Bill 67 would make it a felony to enforce federal gun laws against owners of guns exclusively manufactured in Oklahoma. U.S. government employees and contractors caught enforcing federal laws upon “made in Oklahoma” guns would face up to five years in prison; state employees could go away for up to two years. Senate Bill 66 would allow handgun licensees to enter the state Capitol with firearms, including those with permits to carry concealed weapons [Journal Record].

Quote of the Day

“It’s like magic every day when I wake up and see everything. Now that I have a place to operate from, I need to get to work and get to doing some things for myself. I used to get up and go to work every day. I had kids and a (wife). I didn’t expect to have a chance. After everything slipped away, and I realized it had slipped away, I didn’t know how I was going to get back to this point.”

-John Young, who recently moved into an apartment building run by Mental Health Association Oklahoma after four years of being homeless (Source)

Number of the Day


Percent of Oklahoma adults who reported not participating in any physical activity in the last month in 2012.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

San Antonio became a national leader in mental health care by working together as a community: It’s 11 p.m. on a Thursday, and this sprawling, twinkling city of 1.5 million people feels bigger than ever. The 911 call transcript has just come across a laptop mounted on the dash of the police SUV: suicide-in-progress, northwest side. A woman in her late 20s tried to hang herself in her bedroom. Her boyfriend walked in just in time, pulled her down, and hog-tied her while he called for help. James Williams and Jon Sabo, partners in the San Antonio Police Department’s mental health unit, are way across town, having diffused an earlier crisis [Boston Globe].

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.