In The Know: Oklahoma lawmakers speak out on President Donald Trump’s immigration ban

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 lawmakers speak out on President Donald Trump’s immigration ban: Senator James Lankford led the discussion among Oklahoma Lawmakers Monday regarding President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration. Lankford says though he agrees we have a responsibility to secure the homeland and reminds people this is just a 90-day pause. Lankford also noted that the order is not ban on Muslims or a change in immigration policy. “However, this executive action has some unintended consequences that were not well thought out. I encourage the President’s staff to evaluate American policy with an eye on both security and compassion for the refugees fleeing the terrors of war and persecution,” said Lankford [KJRH]. Rep. Steve Russell said he plans to ask for exemptions, and is also seeking to form a ‘Warriors Caucus’ of congressional representatives who have served in the military [NewsOK].

University of Oklahoma students hold rally on immigration ban: Monday, students at the University of Oklahoma held a rally days after President Trump announced an executive order regarding immigration. The rally comes one day after the university released a statement regarding the immigration ban. University of Oklahoma President David Boren spoke at the rally saying, “We’re here to send a message today. We cherish the Constitution now and forever and we will defend it to the last breath.” [KJRH]

Imam Imad Enchassi: Muslims in the Bible Belt: Imad Enchassi, an imam who founded the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, grew up in Palestinian refugee camps in war-torn Lebanon and ended up in the heart of the Bible Belt. He talks about treatment of Muslims in a Christian-dominant society, his boyhood memories of a nun and the good will that arose out of the evil of the Oklahoma City bombing [Oklahoma Watch].

Activists threaten to block Oklahoma pipeline construction: Native American and environmental activists have vowed to block a planned crude oil pipeline, hinting at a standoff in Oklahoma reminiscent to the monthslong Dakota Access Pipeline protest. Once built, the $900 million Diamond Pipeline will carry sweet crude oil from a national transport hub in Cushing eastward toward Tennessee. Opponents said the project was crafted without input by tribes and might disturb unidentified graves of ancestors who were marched to Oklahoma along the Trail of Tears [NewsOK].

State Police Organization Respond To Trump’s Immigration Policy: Oklahoma police are making a statement of their own in response to President Donald Trump’s new immigration policy. The Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police say they won’t be adding any additional efforts to identifying undocumented residents. The president of the Oklahoma Association of Chiefs, Phil Cotten says police won’t be hitting the streets asking people to prove that they are citizens. Instead, Cotton says they’ll rely more on responding to community complaints [News9].

Oklahoma mental health agency asks lawmakers for $35 million to maintain programs: Monday, the state mental health agency made its budget request to the Senate health appropriations committee, which met in Norman at Thunderbird Clubhouse, a community of Oklahomans in recovery from mental illness. Commissioner Terri White said at the budget hearing that her agency needs $35 million to restore the funding cuts made during last session’s budget crisis and to maintain the agency’s current level of services. “We need more, but if you want to at least just maintain the services in Oklahoma, that’s how much you would need,” White said [NewsOK].

Oklahoma lawmaker wants to resurrect Earned Income Tax Credit refund: As Oklahoma lawmakers faced a $1.3 billion budget shortfall last legislative session, they made specific choices on what programs and services were cut. The Earned Income Tax Credit was a credit that could be claimed by low-income workers to avoid paying a ‘disproportionate percentage’ of their income taxes, says Rep. George E. Young, Sr. In 2016, lawmakers voted to make the Earned Income Tax Credit non-refundable for about 355,000 low-income Oklahomans, saying it would increase tax collections by $29 million in 2017 [KFOR].

Lack of Money Stalls Collection of Arrestees’ DNA: Three months ago, a controversial law took effect in Oklahoma that requires people arrested on felony charges to give a DNA sample to law enforcement agencies. But so far, no DNA has been collected under the law. And it may be at least a year and a half before collections begin. The reason boils down to money. Because of a lack of state funding, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation says it cannot afford to hire analysts and purchase collection kits and other equipment to gather and process arrestees’ DNA [Oklahoma Watch].

Insurance Department seeks Affordable Care Act ideas: The state Insurance Department is taking an active role in laying a foundation for the replacement of the Affordable Care Act. The Insurance Department under Commissioner John Doak is hosting a series of town hall meetings across the state to discuss health care reform. The first, held Jan. 27 at the Enid public library, attracted only a few people, but department officials expect they’ll soon have plenty of information to pass along to the federal delegation and President Donald Trump’s administration [Journal Record].

HB 1013 offers solution to rural health care crisis: One year ago I wrote an op-ed about the health care crisis in rural Oklahoma. At that time, as the administrator of Cordell Memorial Hospital, I’d been trying to recruit a second physician for 18 months. A year later, that situation hasn’t changed. Despite a competitive salary and generous benefits, the position remains unfilled. The residents of Cordell are not alone in seeing their access to health care dwindle to the point of crisis. It’s happening in rural communities across Oklahoma and around our nation [Landon Hise, CEO of Cordell Memorial Hospital / Miami News-Record]. Rejecting federal funds has devastated Oklahoma’s rural hospitals [OK Policy].

Metro Store Owner Fearful Of Raid Over Cannabis Oil: It’s been nearly two years since Gov. Mary Fallin legalized cannabis oil in Oklahoma. But there is still confusion on what can be sold here and local stores owners are worried about getting shut down. “When they shut down a small business, it’s not fair treatment, it’s police dogs and riot gear,” said Chelsey Davis, who owns Ziggy’s at NW 39th and Penn [News9].

Commissioners to seek proposals for juvenile detention facility operator: Muskogee County commissioners plan to solicit proposals from entities that might be interested in operating the juvenile detention facility. The Muskogee County Regional Juvenile Detention Center was closed after a 16-year-old inmate was found dead Dec. 15 inside a cell of the year-old facility. State officials are investigating Billy Duain Woods’ death, which according to a preliminary report was ruled a suicide. District 1 Commissioner Ken Doke said shuttering the facility has taken a toll on the county’s already tight budget [Woodward News].

Fallin considers 3 for her first high court nod: Two district judges who focus on the daily administration of justice and Oklahoma’s solicitor general, who has been the chief litigator on a variety of state constitutional issues, are vying to be Gov. Mary Fallin’s first appointment to the state Supreme Court. The state’s Republican governor will interview the candidates on Feb. 7 before deciding which will fill the seat on the nine-member court vacated last year by retired Justice Steven W. Taylor, of McAlester. The candidates are Bryan County District Judge Mark Campbell, LeFlore County District Judge Jonathan Sullivan and Solicitor General Patrick Wyrick, a native of Atoka [Associated Press].

Quote of the Day

“I have been able to return to work, pay taxes, vote and provide myself with enough leftover to visit my family once or twice a year. I have the freedom to afford to drive my car, go places, socialize and live life. As you can see, I’m not dead.”

-Terry St. Germain, an Oklahoma resident who credits mental health care provided by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for helping her treat her depression. The agency requested a $35 million increase in funding this year to maintain its current level of services (Source)

Number of the Day


The percentage of all pregnancies in Oklahoma that were unplanned, above the US average of 45% (2010)

Source: Guttmacher Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

What Will the Trump Administration Mean for People With Disabilities? As a disabled person, I am terrified of the incoming Trump administration. When I say that, people tend to assume that it’s because our president-elect famously mocked a disabled journalist at a rally (and, implausibly, continues to deny what we all saw happen). But that moment isn’t what keeps me up at night. What renders me sleepless is the fear of his proposed policies: repealing the Affordable Care Act; shuttering the Department of Education; appointing a Cabinet with no regard for civil rights, safety nets, or inclusion, to be overseen by a vice president who gutted Medicaid in his state and a speaker of the House who wants to gut Medicare [Slate].

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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.

2 thoughts on “In The Know: Oklahoma lawmakers speak out on President Donald Trump’s immigration ban

  1. Methinks that Langford is speaking like a conservative with his eye on the Whitehouse in 2020. More moderate than typical.

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