In The Know: Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford is co-sponsoring legislation to protect DACA beneficiaries

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 Sen. James Lankford is co-sponsoring legislation to protect DACA beneficiaries: U.S. Sen. James Lankford will co-sponsor legislation to protect from deportation young people brought to America by undocumented immigrants. Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, told CNN on Thursday that he has worked for weeks with U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., on a legislative alternative to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an executive order by former President Barack Obama that was rescinded by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Sept. 5. “These individuals are literally in limbo, people without a country. We have to be able to resolve this,” Lankford said [NewsOK]. Congress must pass the Dream Act to protect young Oklahomans and our economy [OK Policy].

Mike Jackson: ‘Fix our structural problems in Oklahoma’: In August, the State Chamber of Oklahoma promoted Mike Jackson to executive vice president of vice president of government and political affairs. Jackson represented his hometown of Enid in the House of Representatives from 2005 to 2014. In the Q&A below, Jackson discusses the chamber’s OK2030 campaign, the desires of state business interests and a reason why the chamber supports accepting federal funding for some sort of expansion of health coverage for lower-income Oklahomans [NonDoc].

Area schools prepare for possible outcomes from special session: As a special legislative session meant to balance Oklahoma’s 2018 state budget looms, area school districts are hoping for the best and expecting the worst. After years of cuts, public education funding for 2018 emerged unscathed after months of debate in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. But that could easily change now that a state tax on cigarettes has been declared unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court and the state faces another possible budget shortfall [The Daily Ardmoreite]. Lawmakers must use special session to fix the budget, not pass the buck [OK Policy].

New Census data shows Oklahoma fell further behind the U.S. on poverty and uninsured rate in 2016: New Census data shows the percentage of families living in poverty in Oklahoma increased in 2016, even as the national poverty rate declined to its lowest point since 2008. In 2016, almost one out of six Oklahomans (16.3 percent) were making less than the poverty line ($24,230 a year for a family of four) before taxes. About 9,500 more Oklahomans had incomes below the poverty line in 2016 than in 2015 [OK Policy]. 

Emotional testimony given by Tulsan about receiving help for food: Wearing his chef’s uniform, Tulsa resident Bryan Parker choked back his emotions before a Congressional committee in testimony Thursday calling government food assistance “a lifesaver.” The 51-year-old had shaky hands at times, his voice quivered on occasion and once he had to stop to take a deep breath as he told how he became to need benefits from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps [Tulsa World].

School Pantries Help Oklahoma Families In Need: The Food for Kids program not only provides backpacks for kids dealing with hunger, but also food pantries for needy families. At Cimarron Middle School in Edmond, the coordinator there knows firsthand the struggle of being hungry. “When I was younger, my father had lost his job for a while,” said Gena Money, School Pantry Co-Coordinator. During this time, Gena Money remembers how difficult it was for her parents to keep food on the table [News9].

Adult Protective Services proposes giving workers more time to start abuse, neglect investigations: The state agency tasked with investigating cases of abuse, neglect or exploitation of vulnerable adults is proposing rules that would allow longer times for investigations to be initiated, calling the current deadlines for investigations to be opened “impossible.” …If approved, the rule would allow Adult Protective Services workers to initiate an investigation into an allegation of maltreatment of a vulnerable adult within five working days of receiving the report [The Frontier].

15 Native American communities in Oklahoma awarded over $11 million for projects: 15 Native American communities in Oklahoma have been awarded over $11 million for projects from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The $11,739,332 is awarded through the Indian Community Development Block Grant Program. The competitive program supports community development and affordable housing activities [FOX25].

Legal services program merits funding: “Justice for all” is a pillar of life in America. We pledged “with liberty and justice for all” in grade school and have carried that principle through our lives as an Oklahoma value, an Oklahoma standard. While it is carved on our buildings and in our hearts, this fundamental principle of every person’s equal value in the eyes of the court is now in jeopardy due to a proposal before Congress to defund the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) [Brad Henry and Hilarie Bass / NewsOK].

Central principal knocks on doors to meet parents, keep kids on track: Keeping a child on track for high school graduation can start with a business card stuck between the door frame and the screen door. Central High School Principal Jason Gilley put his card there when his persistent knocking went unanswered Thursday afternoon. The reason for his visits to the doorsteps that dot the neighborhoods of Central’s district was to let parents, grandparents and guardians know that he cares enough to come to their homes [Tulsa World].

City of Tulsa drained EMSAcare fee reserves to cover other costs: EMSA’s request for an ambulance service rate hike to address significant legal fees would have been unnecessary if a special fund hadn’t been drained to cover other needs at City Hall. Since 2008, Tulsa has spent $6.6 million generated from the EMSAcare utility fee for general-fund uses, according to city officials and information provided by EMSA. The requested rate hike, which was rejected by the City Council on Wednesday, in large part was intended to cover about half the expected $2.4 million in legal fees EMSA faces in a federal kickback lawsuit [Tulsa World].

Legislators commend ‘courage’ of Mounds police chief after ACLU objects to religious Facebook posts: Two Oklahoma legislators sent a letter to the Mounds police chief Thursday calling him a “true blessing” to the agency one day after the American Civil Liberties Union alleged he violated the First Amendment by Christian ‘proselytizing’ on Facebook. The letter, signed by Sen. James Leewright, R-Bristow, and Rep. Mark Lawson, R-Sapulpa, thanks Chief Antonio Porter for being a “positive voice” in the community [Tulsa World].

U.S. House approves two Mullin amendments blocking Obama-era environmental rules: The U.S. House on Wednesday approved two amendments introduced by U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin that would roll back environmental procedures put in place by former President Barack Obama. The House voted 218-195 in favor of an amendment that prohibits funds from being used to enforce the Environmental Protection Agency’s methane rule. All but 11 Republicans voted in favor and all but three Democrats opposed it [NewsOK].

Oklahoma Governor Calls Special Election for Senate Seat: Gov. Mary Fallin has scheduled a special election to fill the state Senate District 27 seat vacated by the resignation of former Sen. Bryce Marlatt. Fallin on Thursday scheduled a special primary election for Dec. 12 and a special general election for Feb. 13. If a special primary election is unnecessary, the special general election will be Dec. 12. The filing period for candidates for the seat is Oct. 2-4 [AP].

Quote of the Day

“Most don’t consider hunger to be an obstacle. It’s hard to unless you’ve been there. If it weren’t for SNAP, I’d probably be homeless. That’s not easy to say, I’m a proud man. Unless you’ve been there, you wouldn’t understand. All you can do is focus on when you might eat again or how you are going to come up with $40 to stay in a cheap motel one more night. This is why SNAP is important to me and people who need it.”

– Tulsan Bryan Parker, testifying before a Congressional committee on the importance of SNAP (food stamps). Parker, a veteran, is now part of the Lobek Taylor Culinary Trade Program offered at the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma (Source)

Number of the Day


Rental households in Oklahoma spending 30% or more of their monthly income on rent and utilities, 2015

Source: Prosperity Now

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

A bold new plan promises to fix middle-class wage stagnation: In the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, incomes for the poor and middle class grew faster than those of the rich. Then, in the 1970s and 1980s, something changed. In recent decades, the typical American has seen their income grow by 1 percent per year, often less, barely keeping up with inflation. Meanwhile the richest of the rich have seen annual income grow by 3, 4, 5, even 6 percent. Income growth for the middle class fell substantially below economic growth for the nation as a whole. This problem — deep income inequality and stagnating or slow-growing wages for the majority of Americans — is pretty well recognized at this point. But few politicians or analysts have proposed ideas large enough in scale to tackle the problem [Vox].

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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