In The Know: Oklahoma Speaker ousts budget chair day after public disagreement

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 Speaker ousts budget chair day after public disagreement: Oklahoma Speaker Charles McCall has replaced Appropriations and Budget Committee Chair Leslie Osborn a day after she and others publicly disagreed with him. McCall emailed some members of the House notifying them that Osborn, R-Mustang, would be replaced by Wellston Republican Kevin Wallace, who served as vice chair last session. On Monday, Osborn and two House appropriations subcommittee chairs disputed claims that the Department of Human Services was to blame for program and service cuts that were announced last week [NewsOK]. 

US Senator joins Oklahoma ethics complaint against Scott Pruitt: A United States Senator has joined an ethics complaint against former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, has joined a complaint filed March 21 to the Oklahoma Bar Association against Pruitt. The complaint states that Pruitt violated Oklahoma’s rules of professional conduct while stating he did not use a personal email address to conduct business while Attorney General of Oklahoma. A FOX 25 investigation revealed that Pruitt in fact did use a personal email address to conduct state business [Fox 25].

Lankford still believes Senate will act on health care: U.S. Sen. James Lankford said Tuesday morning that Republicans can and must pass health care reform legislation this session. Speaking on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends,” Lankford said: “I’m still optimistic that we can because we must. This is kind of a ‘no fail’ moment (when) we have to resolve all of these issues.” Lankford said Republican leadership should “get all the people that disagree in one room and let’s hammer this out in one moment.” [Tulsa World]

DHS adoption cuts: ‘This is about families in all 77 counties’: As Jennifer Brantley sat with Rep. Mickey Dollens Sunday night in a southwest OKC Starbucks, she explained why she adopted four brothers six years ago. She started to cry. “I said, ‘I want to be one of those who makes a difference,’” Brantley recalled. “If I said it’s been all great, I’d be lying. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.” Minutes later, Brantley teared up again while explaining what the impending reduction of Oklahoma’s adoption-assistance payments would mean for her four sons, one of whom has special needs [NonDoc].

Legislators blame DHS for the Legislature’s budget: It certainly takes gall for Speaker of the House Charles McCall and his minions to slam the Oklahoma Department of Human Services for implementing the inadequate budget that McCall and his friends created. Last week, DHS announced a series of painful cuts to safety net programs for elderly and disabled Oklahomans. The cuts were made necessary by the state Legislature’s failure to fund DHS adequately, and lawmakers were warned during the budget-writing process the consequences of shorting DHS funding [Editorial Board / Tulsa World].

Latino Legislators Remain Few But Represent Range of Districts: In just under one year, the number of Hispanics in Oklahoma’s statehouse has jumped 200 percent. But that’s only because the election of one man to the House in November and another to the Senate last week brought the number of Hispanic, or Latino, lawmakers up from one to three. With Hispanics representing more than 10 percent of the state’s population, that group remains significantly underrepresented at the State Capitol [Oklahoma Watch].

Special session likely, House rep believes: As predicted by many lawmakers at the Oklahoma statehouse, legal challenges are being filed against some revenue measures that were passed under constitutionally “iffy” circumstances. When state lawmakers wound down the 2017 session at the end of May, they scrambled to close a budget hole of more than $800 million. At the time, some observers accused House Republicans of passing revenue measures beyond the deadline and with simple majorities [CNHI].

Working to get smarter on crime: Several years ago, I asked the Legislature to work with me on issues holding Oklahoma back from achieving its fullest potential. One of these issues is the number of people in our prison system. Reforming Oklahoma’s criminal justice system has long been a priority of mine. This spring, I held a news conference to highlight the impact that incarceration has on children of parents behind bars [Gov. Mary Fallin / NewsOK]. Increasing funding to mental health and substance abuse treatment can help reduce crime; increasing incarceration can’t [OK Policy].

Fallin Headlines DC Conference On Female Incarceration: At a criminal justice conference in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, Gov. Mary Fallin was the headline speaker due to her reform efforts in Oklahoma when it comes to women in prison. The conference was the US Justice Action Network’s Women Unshackled event and included speakers from across the political spectrum like Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) [News 9].

Former Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz’s probation ends a year after misdemeanor convictions: Former Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz’s probation has concluded a year after he pleaded guilty and no contest to two criminal misdemeanors stemming from a grand jury’s indictment. In a plea agreement, Glanz was given a one-year suspended sentence. The deal handed Glanz one year of unsupervised probation and assessed him $7,500 in restitution to one of the prosecuting entities. Terms of Glanz’s unsupervised probation precluded him from using or possessing intoxicants, violating any laws and associating with anyone who has a criminal record [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma prosecutor appeals ruling to return seized items: An Oklahoma prosecutor is appealing a judge’s order to return items confiscated during 2015 raids at a now-closed pipe shop in Norman. District Attorney Greg Mashburn asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday to order Special Judge Steve Stice to decide whether the items, including glass pipes and rolling papers, are drug paraphernalia whose return is prohibited. Stice ordered the items returned earlier this month [Associated Press].

Oklahoma City council allocates money for overtime pay for police officers in tax proposal: Voters will go to the polls in September, deciding whether to raise their own taxes to improve streets and public safety. In separate votes, citizens will decide whether to extend a temporary, one-cent MAPS tax and dedicate it to infrastructure over the next two years. The tax extension would generate $240 million over 27 months [KFOR].

Tribes banking on financial literacy for citizens: Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief James Floyd tries frequently to share his tribe’s historic success. Before the tribe was removed from its southeast territory, it had built expansive towns in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. That success can continue as tribal citizens learn to save their own money, he said. “If (individuals) don’t have the strength and discipline to save, how will we expect the tribe to succeed?” he said during a panel discussion held Tuesday at the Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition conference. The conference took place at the Oklahoma History Center [Journal Record].

Quote of the Day

“The Legislature is responsible for the cuts. It knew that the funding levels it was considering were inadequate, but passed them anyway. The fact that lawmakers didn’t take the time to write a line-item budget (and, thus, acknowledge responsibility) is no excuse.” 

– Tulsa World Editorial Board, pushing back against claims by House leadership that DHS unnecessarily cut programs for foster families, seniors, and people with disabilities (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of Oklahomans who are food-insecure, 2015

Source: Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Securing Oklahoma’s Economic Future: The declining level of investment in our kid’s education and healthcare is having economic consequences for Oklahoma and threatening the economic future of our state. We no longer have a competitive, well trained and healthy workforce and are not attracting enough well paying jobs that can reverse the declining standard of living faced by the families in our state. Here are the statistics employers see when they consider locating in Oklahoma. … The declining level of investment in our kids assures that Oklahoma will be even less competitive in the future and that more of our families will be trapped in a cycle of poverty [Young People of the Next Generation].

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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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