In 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 Latest Front As Military and Wind Developers Fight For Open Sky: Developers recently announced plans to build the country’s largest wind farm in Oklahoma’s Panhandle. The industry is growing and turbine projects are expanding across the state. But wind energy developers are facing a new headwind: military air bases. The C-17 is the pack mule of the United States military. It’s designed to lift and transport troops, tanks and even helicopters. It’s an enormous aircraft that casts an ominous, looming shadow as it taxis to takeoff [StateImpact Oklahoma].
Congress must pass the Dream Act to protect young Oklahomans and our economy: President Trump recently announced his plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by the start of next March. DACA, created by executive order by President Obama in 2012, protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children from deportation. Many of these young immigrants, commonly known as “dreamers”, came to this country at such a young age that they don’t remember living anywhere else. In Oklahoma, 6,865 initial DACA applications have been approved as of March 2017, about 75 percent of the eligible population [OK Policy]. U.S. Rep. Steve Russell said Thursday he opposes efforts to end protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program [NewsOK].
Inhofe and Lankford split over Harvey relief and debt ceiling bill: A compromise between President Donald Trump and leading Democrats to provide $15.25 billion in hurricane disaster aid, fund the government for three months and raise the nation’s debt limit divided Oklahoma’s Republican U.S. senators Thursday. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, voted in favor of the legislation and Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, voted against it [NewsOK].
Oklahoma treasurer reports ‘slow and steady’ economic recovery: Total state revenue beat last year’s haul for the seventh month in a row, Oklahoma Treasurer Ken Miller said Thursday. August 2017 collections topped the previous single-month mark by 5.7 percent, or $47.4 million, showing a boost in summer spending and income. Miller also reported that for the first time since August 2015, collections during the past 12 months beat totals from the previous year [NewsOK].
Need for legislative teamwork stressed at Tulsa Chamber’s OneVoice Summit: Gov. Mary Fallin’s chief of staff said Thursday that “a lot of big things” could be accomplished in the upcoming special legislative session if more people are willing to “play away from the ball.” By that, Chris Benge meant some players in the legislative process will have to be willing to take fewer shots, score fewer points and not worry so much about who gets the credit or blame [Tulsa World].
When lawmakers would rather pass blame than solve problems, nothing good results: A special session of the Legislature is 17 days away, but the lawmakers are already in game-day condition when it comes to blaming each other for the effort’s anticipated failure. Gov. Mary Fallin announced Wednesday that she will call lawmakers back to the Capitol on Sept. 25 to deal with the budget hole created by an unconstitutional $1.50-a-pack cigarette tax, legislators passed in the final days of the regular session [Editorial Writers / Tulsa World].
Oklahoma representative says bill had unexpected impact on trucking industry: An Oklahoma lawmaker says he is working to fix an issue for the trucking industry that was created during the last legislative session. Last session, lawmakers decided to remove an exemption related to a 1.25 percent tax on motor vehicles. Now, Oklahomans purchasing a vehicle will have to pay a 1.25 percent tax on top of the 3.25 percent excise tax [KFOR].
Oklahoma justice reformers should trim felony listings: As part of his work on a criminal justice reform interim study, Rep. Scott Biggs has sent interested parties a list of what he believes to be every felony on the books in Oklahoma. The list helps make clear why justice reform is needed. In his survey, he asks respondents to choose whether they think the crimes listed are violent, nonviolent or may represent a danger to the public [Editorial Board / The Oklahoman].
Cherokees begin processing freedmen descendants for tribal citizenship: The Cherokee Nation has begun processing tribal citizenship applications for descendants of Cherokee freedmen following the resolution of a decades-long legal struggle. …The tribe began processing citizenship applications following a federal court ruling last week determining that descendants of Cherokee freedmen have a right to tribal citizenship. Freedmen, many of whom marched on the Trail of Tears, were black slaves owned by members of the Cherokee Nation until after the Civil War [Tulsa World].
State Superintendent says Oklahoma schools stand ready to receive students displaced by Hurricane Harvey: The State Superintendent announced Thursday that Oklahoma schools stand ready to receive students displaced by Hurricane Harvey. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) will make every effort to reduce bureaucratic barriers that might prevent a student’s immediate placement in an Oklahoma school [KFOR].
Norman alternative school creates safe place focused not only on academic needs but emotional and social needs: Death, alcoholism and family involved with gangs in a neighboring city made going to school difficult for a 16-year-old Norman girl. That was even before she had a baby. Three years later, she has a high school diploma, a national award for poetry and plans for college [NewsOK].
Quapaw Nation shows off new $5 million bison, cattle processing plant: A multimillion-dollar meat processing plant in northeast Oklahoma was celebrated Thursday as the first meat processing plant in the United States owned and operated by an American Indian tribe with the goal of generating a line of the finest top-notch beef. The 25,000-square-foot Quapaw Processing Plant is the nation’s first USDA-inspected processing plant owned and operated by the Quapaw Tribe [Tulsa World].
Mayor G.T. Bynum ready to do ‘whatever it takes’ to lure Amazon to Tulsa: Mayor G.T. Bynum is prepared to throw everything Tulsa has into an effort to get e-commerce giant Amazon to build a massive second headquarters here, he announced Thursday. “We have some of the best business minds in the country here in Tulsa — some with direct ties to Amazon, some with great success in other fields — and I am calling on their advice in developing our proposal,” Bynum said. “This isn’t lip service. We are dead serious about bringing one of the great companies in human history to Tulsa.” [Tulsa World]
Oklahoma oil companies recover as Hurricane Irma approaches: Operations are restarting for Oklahoma oil and natural gas companies doing business along the Texas Gulf Coast, even as another monster storm approaches Florida. Hurricane Harvey and its record-breaking downpour knocked offline refineries, pipelines, storage facilities and drilling operations throughout south and east Texas [NewsOK].
Corbin Brewster to replace departed Rob Nigh as Chief Tulsa County Public Defender: Corbin Brewster, a private attorney at Tulsa law firm Brewster & DeAngelis, has been selected to replace Rob Nigh as chief Tulsa County public defender, The Frontier has learned. Several sources confirmed Brewster’s appointment for The Frontier, but requested anonymity because it had not yet been made public. Public defenders are appointed by the court to represent people charged with crimes who cannot afford an attorney [The Frontier].
Travis Brauer report: Boozy Snapchats, ‘wipe a phone before police’: After filing a sexual battery charge against Sen. Bryce Marlatt (R-Woodward) on Wednesday, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater is also considering whether to file charges against Travis Brauer, a former aide to Gov. Mary Fallin. Brauer has been under investigation for allegedly taking an upskirt photo or video at the Oklahoma State Capitol during a legislative meeting [NonDoc].
Quote of the Day
“The plaque on the Statue of Liberty does not say bring me your lawyers, doctors, and scientists. Rather, it says bring me your tired and hungry. We have had several people who have come with nothing to the United States and they have improved our country.”
– U.S. Rep. Steve Russell (R-Oklahoma City), in an interview with Spanish-language station Telemundo (Source)
Number of the Day
Percentage of Oklahoma households that have a savings account, 2015
Source: Prosperity Now
SNAP – It Ain’t Just For Cities: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly the Food Stamp Program) is the nation’s largest domestic food and nutrition assistance program for low-income Americans. Program participants include women, children, the elderly, and military veterans and their families. SNAP offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families and provides economic benefits to communities. People have long associated SNAP recipients with urban communities, especially when it comes to farm bill negotiations and the historical partnership between farm policy and nutrition programs. However, data reveal that residents of rural communities depend on SNAP as much as, and potentially more than, their urban counterparts [Farm Bureau].
You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.