In The Know: Oklahoma voter registration lead officially goes to GOP for first time in state history

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Republicans have surpassed Democrats in voter registration for the first time in Oklahoma history, the result of a decades-long trend in state politics. Speakers at a vigil in response to events in Ferguson, Missouri said the same underlying racial tensions and distrust of law enforcement are present in Tulsa. Guthrie educators said the community’s repeated refusal to approve bond measures has led to severe deterioration of facilities at Guthrie schools.

On the OK Policy Blog, we discussed how another funding grab by the Legislature to close this year’s budget shortfall was found unconstitutional. Several Oklahoma elected officials, businesspeople, and church leaders held a public scripture reading at the state Capitol to celebrate the National Bible Association’s International Day of the Bible. Mustang Public Schools has cancelled plans to offer a Bible course developed by the head of the Hobby Lobby retail chain, amid controversy about bias in the curriculum and reports that the course was presented to Mustang school board members in a way that sought to skirt open meetings requirements.

The Oklahoman editorial board discussed the state’s continuing failures to protect children from abuse and neglect. Oklahoma’s earthquake swarm has followed expanded oil and gas production north to the Oklahoma-Kansas border. The Number of the Day is how many commercial banks are in Oklahoma, which has fallen steadily since 1985. In today’s Policy Note, a woman writes in The Huffington Post that legal challenges by Oklahoma and others seeking to eliminate subsidies for purchasing insurance on are a threat to her parents’ lives.

In The News

Oklahoma voter registration lead officially goes to GOP for first time in state history

Republicans have surpassed Democrats in voter registration for the first time in Oklahoma history, the result of a decades-long trend in state politics. Preliminary figures released Tuesday by the Oklahoma Election Board show Republicans with an 806-voter edge over Democrats in those registered. Of the more than 2 million registered voters, Republicans and Democrats had more than 43 percent each, with about 13 percent registered as independents. Official voter registration numbers will be released Monday. Oklahoma traditionally has been a Democratic state, but has a long history of voting for Republicans in federal elections.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Tulsa vigil: ‘Undercurrent of racism’ present here and in Ferguson

While local officials say the type of violent outbursts seen in Ferguson, Missouri, are unlikely here, speakers during a somber vigil Tuesday night said the same underlying issues are present in Tulsa. Mia Wright, among those who spoke at the vigil, read a poem she wrote in August after the police-shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown sparked unrest in Ferguson. As a teacher at Tulsa’s Street School, Wright said she often hears firsthand about the distrust between some Tulsa residents — especially young black men — and law enforcement.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Guthrie educators blame failed bond measures for deteriorating facilities

Teachers and school administrators here have grown tired of doing without. They are tired of leaky roofs, backed-up sinks, broken heaters and outdated computers. Mostly, they say they’re tired of asking the community for help. For years, the 3,500-student district has tried to get a series of bond issues passed to fix the crumbling infrastructure and enhance learning, but has yet to be successful. Earlier this month, Guthrie residents rejected a $2.4 million bond issue for construction and repair projects — including heat and air units — and classroom technology.

Read more from NewsOK.

Legislature’s wandering budget hand gets slapped again

For the second time, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has struck down a provision of this year’s state budget, ruling that the legislature acted unconstitutionally when it pulled $5 million out of the State Health Department’s Trauma Care Assistance Fund to fund other government services. In June, the A.G. ruled that the legislature had acted improperly when it diverted $7.9 million intended for the Oklahoma Higher Access Learning Program (OHLAP), also known as Oklahoma’s Promise, for other purposes. Back in June, we called attention to several other funding grabs by the Legislature to balance their budget.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Oklahoma leaders hold public Scripture reading at Capitol

The Beatitudes, the “Love Chapter” from 1 Corinthians and other familiar passages of Scripture could be heard throughout the hallways of the state Capitol on Monday as several Oklahoma leaders helped celebrate the National Bible Association’s International Day of the Bible and commemorate Oklahoma City’s designation as National Bible City for 2014. The Bible verses were read aloud — and one passage was sung by a Jewish cantor — during an hourlong gathering of about 50 people on the fourth-floor rotunda of the Capitol.

Read more from NewsOK.

Oklahoma school district cancels Hobby Lobby-back religious course after activist pressure

An Oklahoma school district scuttled plans to offer an elective religion course developed by the head of the Hobby Lobby retail chain. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) said on its website on Tuesday that the Mustang Public Schools district canceled the course, “The Book: The Bible’s History, Narrative and Impact.” “The topic of a Bible course in the Mustang School District is no longer a discussion item nor is there a plan to provide such a course in the foreseeable future,” superintendent Sean McDaniel was quoted as saying.

Read more from Raw Story.

Numerous recent examples of how social ills plague Oklahoma

We’ve said any number of times that until more Oklahomans are able climb out of poverty, or stop misusing drugs and alcohol at such a high rate, or stop having children at such a young age, the social ills that have plagued this state for generations will only continue. The effects of those ills were on ghastly display last week. In Muskogee, police are trying to determine whether neglect contributed to the death of a 12-year-old boy found in a home Thursday. He weighed just 37 pounds and was about 3 ½ feet tall.

Read more from NewsOK.

Quakes follow northern Oklahoma’s oilfield growth

More earthquakes are reported this week in northern Oklahoma where oil and gas drillers have expanded production out of the Mississippi play close to the state line with Kansas. While the State investigates the connectivity to high-pressure disposal and saltwater wells, it appears the state’s latest spurt of quakes is now in north central Oklahoma. A 4.0 magnitude quake was reported Tuesday morning near Medford where people are getting accustomed to the shakes and rattles. A Monday afternoon quake measuring 4.2 magnitude struck near Cherokee. The Oklahoma Geological Survey says it was centered 3 miles deep and 7 miles northeast of the Alfalfa County town.

Read more from OK Energy Today.

Quote of the Day

“In order for true healing to take place in Ferguson, Missouri, and communities around the country, law enforcement agencies, churches and civil rights organizations must come together to restore faith in our justice system.”

-Lindsay Jordan, a spokeswoman for the Tulsa YWCA, which helped organize a vigil to protest police killings of young black men in Ferguson and around the country (Source:

Number of the Day


Number of commercial banks in Oklahoma. This number has fallen steadily since 1985, when the state had 538 commercial banks.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

A Daughter’s Plea to the Supreme Court: Let My Parents Keep Their Health Insurance

As a deeply concerned daughter, I write this plea about the upcoming Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell, which will determine whether my parents are able to keep their badly-needed health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. This case will decide whether tax credit subsidies will remain available on federal health insurance exchanges or if these subsidies will only be available on state-run exchanges. This means that if you live in one of the 34 states that did not set up its own state exchange and you signed up through a federal exchange, you may lose the federal subsidy you received to afford your health care.

Read more from the Huffington Post.

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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