In The Know: Poll shows growing dissatisfaction with state lawmakers

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

Poll shows growing dissatisfaction with state lawmakers: In’s statewide survey, Obama’s 36 percent favorable rating was 2 points better than the Legislature’s and only 3 points behind Fallin. President Bill Shapard said Fallin’s favorability rating has dropped from 55 percent early in the year, with the biggest shift among Republicans who have become disenchanted with her. Obama is still very unpopular — nearly half those surveyed said they had “very unfavorable” opinions of him. But 35 percent held very unfavorable opinions of Fallin and 25 percent said the same of the Legislature [Tulsa World].

Business tied to state rep who donated to sheriff’s campaign submits low bid for medical services at Tulsa Jail: A company with ties to a state representative has submitted the lowest-cost proposal for medical services at the Tulsa Jail, it was learned Monday. Officials stressed that cost is only one element considered in evaluating the three proposals opened Monday morning, and the contract — worth roughly $450,000 to $550,000 per month — won’t be awarded until at least September. State Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, is a partner in Turn Key Health, one of three companies that submited proposals [Tulsa World].

Join our team as a fall intern: OK Policy is now accepting student applicants for paid part-time internships during the fall of 2016. Interns will be expected to work between 10 and 20 hours per week, depending on their schedules and availability. The position will be based in our Tulsa office. Interns have the opportunity to work as full members of the OK Policy team and participate in most activities of the organization [OK Policy].

Don’t politicize the Oklahoma judiciary just because you can’t win in court: Unable to get the results they want in court, some people are looking to politicize the Oklahoma judiciary. We wish them no luck. For the past several years, people with an agenda that includes restricting abortion, bringing more religion into public life and reconstructing the state’s workers compensation system have been disappointed when their proposals were killed in the state’s appellate courts [Editorial Board / Tulsa World].

Oklahoma education sales tax discussed ahead of election: Supporters and opponents of a proposed sales tax increase, with the majority of funds going toward teacher salaries, are looking ahead to the general election. The Oklahoman reports that State Question 779 seeks to raise the state sales tax rate by one cent per dollar. Nearly 70 percent of revenue from the tax increase would go to public schools, and most of that money would be used for teacher pay raises. The proposal requires school districts to increase each teacher’s salary by at least $5,000 based on their current salary level [Associated Press]. Read our statement on the proposal here.

Coming to Tulsa: ‘Watch-Out’ Forum on Penny Sales Tax: Oklahoma Watch will hold a public forum on Tuesday, Sept. 13, about the state question proposing a 1-cent sales tax hike to pay for teacher salary increases, higher education funding and other education efforts. Featured guests will be Amber England, executive director of Stand for Children Oklahoma, an education advocacy group, and Dave Bond, chief executive officer of OCPA Impact, a nonpartisan advocacy organization and “action partner” to the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs [Oklahoma Watch].

State Auditor Says Fair Property Taxing Would Help Education: There’s a major debate on whether to give the state’s extra $140 million in budget cuts to teachers. But State Auditor Gary Jones says there would already be more money for education if more counties were taxing property owners fairly. “What we are saying is taxes should be fair from county to county,” said Jones. Jones maintains that hundreds of millions of dollar in property taxes aren’t being collected because properties are being evaluated with decades-old data, coming from decades-old computer software. He says the real loser is school funding [News9].

Third-party and independent U.S. presidential hopefuls sue for access to Oklahoma ballot: Two U.S. presidential hopefuls are suing the state of Oklahoma, arguing that its ballot-access laws unconstitutionally discriminate against third-party and independent candidates for president. The lawsuit was filed last week in federal court on behalf of Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein of Massachusetts and independent presidential candidate Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente of Florida [Associated Press]. In the 2012 general election, Oklahoma was the only state in the nation where voters had just two choices for President [OK Policy].

City of Choctaw considers passing resolution against State Question 777: This November Oklahoma residents will be voting on State Question 777, which will give farmers more power over what they can do with their land. However, some cities across the state fear this legislation could strip away some of their rights to protect their citizens. The city of Choctaw will consider passing a resolution against State Question 777 at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting [KOCO].

States’ efforts to curb fracking-related earthquakes appear to be paying off: Stopping an earthquake before it starts? It sounds like a feat possible for only a superhero. But policymakers in Kansas and Oklahoma are showing that insofar as humans are causing earthquakes, they can stop them, too. After restricting oil and natural gas operations in certain hot spots, Oklahoma is feeling an average of about two earthquakes a day, down from about six last summer, and Kansas is feeling about a quarter of the tremors it once did [Washington Post].

Quote of the Day

“If there’s a better way to do it, why haven’t they done it yet? It seems like it’s always put on the back burner and we will get to it when we get to it. We’ve got to step up and do something.”

-Broken Arrow resident Debbie Vance, who plans to vote for SQ 779, the penny sales tax for education, and who expressed skepticism toward Gov. Mary Fallin’s push to pass a teacher pay raise during a special legislative session (Source)

Number of the Day


Percent of Oklahomans who said the appearance of their teeth impacts their ability to interview for a job.

Source: American Dental Association

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The War on Drugs Has Made Policing More Violent: Before a police shooting makes headlines, before the shooting ever happens, there is the moment of contact between the police officer and the eventual victim. Sometimes the officer is responding to a dangerous situation, like a report of a man with a gun. Other times, the contact is initiated by the officer because of excessive speeding or reckless driving that poses a risk to other drivers. And sometimes the reason for the contact is an officer’s legally baseless hunch and a minor violation of a traffic law—like a burned out taillight—that escalates into an unnecessary tragedy [Democracy Journal].

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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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