In The Know: Oklahoma questions provide suspense

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.

Happy Election Day! Before you vote, make sure you’re informed: read our State Questions Guide for information on the seven questions on the ballot, check out the 2016 Oklahoma Voter Guide from the League of Women Voters and several other groups, and use the Oklahoma State Election Board’s Online Voter Tool to confirm your voter registration, find your polling place, and view sample ballots.

Today In The News

Oklahoma questions provide suspense: With Republicans strong favorites to keep control of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation and state Legislature, much of the suspense in Tuesday’s general election surrounds seven state questions on the ballot. Voters will decide a range of issues, including raising the state sales tax to fund teacher pay raises, overhauling liquor laws, easing drug penalties, enshrining the death penalty in the state constitution, making it harder to regulate farming and ranching, and deleting a section of the constitution that prohibits the use of public money to support religion [Associated Press].

Large-scale change unlikely in Oklahoma with legislative races: With 126 state legislative seats up for election, 2016 came as a potential change year in Oklahoma. But with 39 candidates running unopposed and only a handful of seats appearing competitive, the political makeup of the Republican-controlled Legislature is likely to remain mostly intact past Election Day. Voter frustration appeared to run high following a legislative session of budget cuts and inaction on some key issues, providing a possible opening for Democrats [NewsOK].

Nearly a third of state campaign spending goes out-of-state: Campaign spending on state elections has totaled $19.5 million thus far in 2016, with about 30 cents of every dollar going to out-of-state firms, according to a Tulsa World analysis of expenditure data. Companies in California and Iowa were among the top recipients of spending on campaigns this year. While yard signs and postage fees make up the costs of nearly every political campaign, the top two recipients of campaign spending went to companies associated with two state questions on the Tuesday ballot [Tulsa World].

Who’s not voting, and why: With Election Day tomorrow, many of us are busily getting prepared to exercise one of our basic civic rights by attending candidate forums, poring over election guides, studying the seven state ballot measures, and reviewing sample ballots. But many Oklahomans — close to half — will likely not vote on November 8th. Who are these non-voters, why aren’t they voting, and what can we do about it? [OK Policy]

State Questions discussed at Sand Springs forum: The Sand Springs Chamber of Commerce hosted a forum about the state questions on the ballot Nov. 8 Monday. Oklahoma Policy Institute Policy Director Gene Perry and Dave Bond of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs spoke about the issues and took questions from the audience [Sand Springs Leader].

It’s Election Day in Oklahoma: Vote: If turnout during Oklahoma’s three-day early voting is any indication, then polling places across the state will be crowded Tuesday. Amen to that. Election Day is special. Every four years, Americans get to participate in free and open elections to determine who will serve as president of the greatest country on earth. If that means having to stand in line for a while, well, that’s a tradeoff worth making [Editorial Board / NewsOK].

City of Oklahoma City responds in panhandling lawsuit: Defending an ordinance that chased panhandlers off traffic medians at busy intersections, attorneys for Oklahoma City say panhandling is conduct that lacks free speech protections. And even if the First Amendment protects panhandling, they say, the practice can be regulated. Government just needs to show it has a significant interest in regulation and that regulations leave ample opportunities for panhandlers to seek handouts elsewhere, they say [NewsOK]. The panhandling ordinance is part of a disturbing trend of criminalizing poverty [OK Policy].

State Rep. Lee Denney: Cushing’s historic downtown ‘decimated,’ future uncertain: State Rep. Lee Denney fears that significant damage from Sunday’s temblor could be the death knell for much of Cushing’s historic but already economically depressed downtown. A 16-block area downtown has been cordoned off as engineers begin assessing the structural soundness of dozens of brick buildings, which date to the turn of the century when the railroad arrived and oil was discovered in Cushing. Gov. Mary Fallin was out of town campaigning for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, but she was expected back in the state later Monday [Tulsa World].

State Lawmaker Renews Call For Injection Well Moratorium: Payne County Legislator Rep. Cory Williams (D) called for a moratorium Monday on all saltwater disposal wells in the area identified by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) as a “seismic risk zone”. Rep. Williams once to halt operation at wastewater injection wells in Payne, Pawnee, Kay, Noble, Grant, Logan and Oklahoma counties. The lawmaker’s comments come after a 5.0 earthquake caused significant damage in the town of Cushing [News9].

Oklahoma’s trio of magnitude-5.0 quakes this year is ‘unprecedented,’ boosts chances for another large one: Oklahoma’s collection of three magnitude-5.0 or greater earthquakes in this year alone is “unbelievable” and “unprecedented,” a U.S. Geological Survey scientist said. Daniel McNamara, a research geophysicist at the National Earthquake Information Center, said Monday that Oklahomans need to begin thinking like Californians. There’s a “very high probability” for this level of shaking to continue for several years, he said, even if all wastewater injection were to stop immediately [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma Republicans helping candidates in other states: With Oklahoma expected to remain solidly Republican after Election Day, some of the state’s top politicians spent the final day before Tuesday’s election helping candidates in other states win over voters. Republican Gov. Mary Fallin was scheduled to campaign Monday in Virginia for GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, hitting campaign events in Norfolk, Newport News and Virginia Beach. Fallin visited Colorado last week to stump for Trump in Colorado Springs with former GOP presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson [Associated Press].

Quote of the Day

“Three magnitude 5s in one year is unprecedented in California, let alone Oklahoma — and Alaska for that matter. It’s just an incredible number of moderate magnitude-5-sized earthquakes. Especially given that the next previous one (in Oklahoma) was in 2011 and before that the 1950s.”

-Daniel McNamara, a research geophysicist at the National Earthquake Information Center (Source)

Number of the Day


State legislative races in Oklahoma in 2016, 39 of which have only one candidate

Source: The Oklahoman

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

27 charts that will change how you think about the American economy: The US economy is changing — and not always in the ways people expect. Fewer people are working in the manufacturing sector, yet we’re producing more manufactured goods than ever. In many ways, the US economy is less dynamic than is commonly believed — the number of startups is dropping, people are changing jobs less often, and worker productivity is growing at its slowest pace in decades. Meanwhile, American cities are enjoying a renaissance, with job growth and home prices soaring in the biggest cities [Vox].

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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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