In The Know: Oklahoma political waters get murky in 2018 after Trump win

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

Political waters get murky in 2018 after Trump win: The political waters for the 2018 cycle have become murkier with several of Oklahoma’s rising Republican stars jockeying for spots in Donald Trump’s administration. The biggest prize will be Oklahoma’s governorship, since current Republican Gov. Mary Fallin is term-limited. But with speculation swirling that Fallin might take a post in the Trump administration, Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb would assume the post and the power of incumbency in 2018. The former state senator and ex-U.S. Secret Service agent has long been discussed as a likely candidate for governor in 2018 and already has more than $1 million in his campaign war chest [Associated Press].

How Would Todd Lamb Govern? If Gov. Mary Fallin joins President-elect Donald Trump’s administration, Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb will step in to finish the two years left in her term. The question is, would that mean status quo in policies since both are Republicans, or would Lamb’s half-term, combined with a big crop of new legislators, bring significant changes? Lamb, an Enid native and former Secret Service agent, would become governor at a challenging time for the state, with another sizable budget shortfall expected for fiscal 2018 and state agency heads describing their funding needs in crisis terms [Oklahoma Watch].

When Police Confront the Mentally Ill: Patricia Tompkins wanted help for her son, Eric Tompkins. Eric, 41, of Ardmore, was suffering from severe depression, according to statements made online by Patricia and other members of Eric’s family. On the morning of Aug. 8, 2015, she suspected he had attempted to kill himself by drinking roach poison. When she called the local mental health crisis center, Patricia was told that for Eric to be admitted, the police would have to be involved first, she wrote in a posting. She was instructed to call 911 [Oklahoma Watch].

It’s time for lawmakers to pass a plan: Supporters of State Question 779 didn’t need to wait for every vote to be counted on election night to know standing up for teachers and schools was the right fight. And while State Question 779 might have come up short at the ballot box, it began an important conversation about education funding and where we go from here. We can’t stop fighting to increase teacher pay and ensure budget cuts to our public schools are reversed. Now that voters have spoken, the ball is back in the Legislature’s court. We must demand that lawmakers work together, without delay, to pass a plan to fix education funding in Oklahoma [Amber England / Enid News]. Read our statement on the failure of SQ 779.

Tulsa at forefront of childhood trauma research after OSU lands major grant: Nearly 20 years ago, a groundbreaking study was published linking poor physical and mental health to the number of traumatic experiences a child endures. The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, referred to as ACES, focuses on aspects of family dysfunction, abuse and neglect. It launched an industry of research showing the higher the score, the more likely the child will struggle academically, economically and with health problems including obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and skeletal fractures. But research stalled [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World].

Legal Aid Oklahoma, Cherokee Nation partner to address tribal health care: A help wanted sign is posted over the Cherokee Nation’s headquarters seeking four attorneys with a passion to help others. Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma announced recently that it received a three-year grant from the federal AmeriCorps program as part of the Obama administration’s investment in tribally sponsored AmeriCorps programming. Through this project, LASO AmeriCorps members will deliver civil legal assistance to improve health with the Cherokee Nation [Tulsa World].

Retail liquor group preparing lawsuit challenging State Question 792: An organization representing several retail liquor store owners is continuing to work on its lawsuit against the state. Attorney Ann Gervais Richard is representing the Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma. She said she plans to file the lawsuit within the next few weeks. She is still finalizing some details. “We wanted to make sure we thoroughly vetted the issue and everything we wanted in our pleadings,” she said. “There are some differences to (State Question) 792 in its post-election format.” SQ 792 was approved by 65 percent of voters [Journal Record]. See OK Policy’s fact sheet on SQ 792 here.

Governor Mary Fallin announces trip to the Middle East to visit troops: Governor Mary Fallin announced Monday that she is traveling to the Middle East to visit with American troops. In a news release, Gov. Fallin said she is looking forward to spending time with the troops. “I am always impressed and inspired by our men and women in uniform. The risks they take and the sacrifices they make are unfathomable to most of us. Yet they remain committed to the mission command, and motivated to fight for our nation’s freedom.” [KFOR]

Rep. Jim Bridenstine meets with Trump transition team: First District Congressman Jim Bridenstine met with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team on Monday, the Defense Daily Network reported. Bridenstine, a Tulsa Republican, has been mentioned as a potential NASA director or Air Force secretary in the new administration. Bridenstine has been active in promoting private space industries. He is also a military aviator currently serving in the Oklahoma Air National Guard [Tulsa World].

Three earthquakes reported overnight in Oklahoma: The U.S. Geological Survey reported three earthquakes overnight in central Oklahoma. The USGS recorded a 3.6-magnitude earthquake at about 3 a.m. about 3 miles north of Cushing. The USGS recorded two earthquakes—2.7- and 2.8-magnitude earthquakes—Sunday night and Monday morning near Pawnee. These two earthquakes followed a 3.9-magnitude earthquake that USGS recorded at about 9:15 p.m. near Pawnee [Tulsa World].

Quote of the Day

“Now, we’re sending the police out as a front-line mental health team with no training and no resources, and no support backup, and we expect them to do the job. A lot of officers resent the hell out of that. A lot of officers still say this is not a situation we should be handling. And I tell those officers, ‘Bull.’ Our job, square one, is safety and security in the community.”

– Steve Lyons, a retired Houston police officer and a board member for National Alliance of Mental Illness Tulsa, on the role of police as first responders to mental health crises (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of probation and parole officers in Oklahoma in 2016, down from 345 in 2008

Source: Oklahoma Watch

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

As a sheriff, I know that jail is not always the answer: When a Charleston, S.C., patrol officer stopped a young mother outside Walmart after store officials reported that she was shoplifting groceries, her first thought was of her children. Who would watch them if she were arrested? She could not afford the food she had taken for her family — let alone a babysitter, an attorney or bail. As the sheriff for Charleston County, I know that if the encounter had taken place a few years ago, she would likely have gone to jail, sending her and her children’s lives into an economic and emotional tailspin. In the past, law-enforcement officers had no alternatives to taking someone to jail for nonviolent offenses such as shoplifting. Fortunately, that was not true in her case [Washington Post].

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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.

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