In The Know: Ruling paves way for freedmen’s citizenship in Cherokee Nation

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

Ruling paves way for freedmen’s citizenship in Cherokee Nation: The descendants of Cherokee freedmen have a right to tribal citizenship, a federal court ruled Wednesday. The ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is an important victory in the freedmen’s longstanding legal battle to secure rights to Cherokee citizenship. In its 78-page decision, the court ruled that the Treaty of 1866, which entitled freedmen to “all the rights of native Cherokees,” takes priority over the tribe’s constitution [Tulsa World].

State needs to invest in its future through education, State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister says: State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and an outside expert issued another call for increased statewide education funding Wednesday and made the business case for why public education matters. Hofmeister said public education benefits two groups: the students and everyone else. “It all matters,” she said. Her remarks came at the tail end of the Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce’s State of Education luncheon [Tulsa World]. However you count it, Oklahoma’s per pupil education funding is way down [OK Policy].

If lawmakers wait until regular session to fix the budget, it will already be too late: Now that the Oklahoma Supreme Court has thrown out a key part of the budget passed by lawmakers earlier this year, it’s clear the lawmakers must return to the Capitol for a special legislative session to fix the problem. Oklahoma faces a major crisis if lawmakers don’t replace the cigarette fee revenues thrown out by the court that provided more than $200 million to cover basic health care and protections for vulnerable children, seniors, and people with severe disabilities [OK Policy].

Harvey’s Impact on Oklahoma’s Economy: Already, people around the country are feeling the effects of Hurricane Harvey with increased prices for gasoline, but that’s just the beginning, and experts warn the impact on Oklahoma could have already begun. With 30 percent or more of the nation’s refining capacity offline, oil producers have no choice but to cut back on production, according to Tom Seng, Applied Assistant Professor of Energy Business and Assistant Director of the School of Energy at the University of Tulsa [KRMG]. More Oklahomans are headed to Texas to offer assistance in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, according to the Oklahoma Office of Emergency Management [NewsOK]. 

We must work together to keep Oklahoma’s higher education affordable and accessible: In 2015, as a regent for the Oklahoma A&M Board, I received a letter from our governor highlighting her vision for Oklahoma’s future. Over two years have passed since opening that letter, but I feel its contents are more important than ever. The primary concern shared was that by the year 2020, 77 percent of jobs in the state will require education beyond high school, yet only 54 percent of Oklahoma’s working age adults meet that criteria [Lou Watkins / Tulsa World]. Higher education funding cuts continue to drive up tuition and threaten college access [OK Policy].

Oklahoma court: DUI suspects deprived right to speedy trial: Oklahoma’s appellate court has sided with three more drivers who had their licenses revoked after a DUI arrest, saying that the state waited too long before giving them a chance to defend the revocations in court. In a combined ruling Wednesday, the Court of Civil Appeals said the three drivers were deprived of a speedy trial; each of the revocation hearings began more than a year after the arrests. Presiding Judge Jack Goree wrote that in one case, the defendant’s “driving status was in limbo for a substantial period, impairing her ability to find employment.” [NewsOK]

Manpower problems prompt Tulsa police to bring non-uniformed officers back into patrol jobs: Non-uniformed officers, some of whom have not been in field positions for more than a decade, started a biweekly cycle Sunday back into the field to help alleviate the strain on patrol officers. As Tulsa World reported last month, overtime for Tulsa police officers has spiked this summer, and fewer officers are available to pick up those shifts. Supervisors had been mandating that some officers stay later at the end of their shifts as needed, according to Deputy Chief Jonathan Brooks [Tulsa World].

Criminal background questions may be deterring parents from volunteering at Tulsa schools: I was on the pre-K playground about three years ago when I discovered how boxes on a volunteer form kept some parents from becoming active in schools. Frustrated by a lack of PTA involvement, I struck up a conversation with a dad while waiting for kids after school. He was clearly an all-in kind of guy — walking his child to school, being there at dismissal and talking about his son in youth sports [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World].

For Families Who Have Kids With Special Needs, Interactions With Law Enforcement Can Be Stressful: Like many girls their age, Cory and Tracy Sutton’s 15-year-old daughters love watching movies. But unlike other families, going to the movies and other family outings present a special challenge for the Suttons. Twins Brooke and Alex Sutton have Phelan-McDermid Syndrome, a rare genetic condition that results in complications with development and communication. This means that sometimes, like other children with special needs, the girls can act out in public [KGOU].

Cities form justice squad: The City Council has taken the next step toward acting on justice reform policies by creating an advisory group with some of Oklahoma City’s neighbors. Council members approved an interlocal agreement Tuesday with the city of Edmond, Midwest City and Oklahoma County to form the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory Council. The joint effort includes a professional services agreement as well, apportioning among the partners any costs incurred [Journal Record].

Prosperity Policy: A constructive change in direction: For the past seven years, Oklahoma did everything in its powers to obstruct and oppose the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The state filed multiple lawsuits challenging the law. It refused to run a health insurance exchange or conduct a rate review program. Most harmfully, it let more than 100,000 low-income adults go without health coverage rather than expand Medicaid or Insure Oklahoma. So it’s surprising, and encouraging, that as efforts to repeal Obamacare have collapsed in Washington, the state is finally taking constructive steps to make the Affordable Care Act work better for Oklahomans [David Blatt / Journal Record]. Oklahoma has an ambitious plan to bring health insurance premiums down. Here’s how [OK Policy].

Tulsa City Council meeting on dollar-store moratorium continues late into Wednesday night: A marathon City Council meeting Wednesday night again heard pleas from residents to adopt a six-month moratorium on construction of new dollar stores in north Tulsa. The discussion of the moratorium, proposed by Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper, was continued from a meeting three weeks ago, when it was tabled for legal considerations after about two dozen speakers spoke about it. About two dozen additional residents lined up Wednesday night to speak — again with a clear majority in support of the moratorium [Tulsa World].

Video: Forum on State Elections Features Lively Debate: An Oklahoma Watch-Out forum on the 2018 elections featured a lively debate that covered everything from whether Republican or Democratic policies are best for the state to the prospects for voter turnout next year. Panelists included Anna Langthorn, chair of the state Democratic Party; Pam Pollard, chair of the state Republican Party, and Bill Shapard, founder of Shapard offered a preview of recent statewide survey results [Oklahoma Watch].

Pruitt adversary is no amateur: The organization dogging Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt over his travel claims may not be well-known to the general public, but around Washington it has a reputation for being an implacable foe. The Environmental Integrity Project is not, as Pruitt has said, an ad hoc group of disgruntled Obama administration EPA employees with an ax to grind. Only three EIP employees worked for the Obama EPA — two as interns and one as a contractor [Randy Krehbiel / Tulsa World].

Lucas receives backlash from residents at town hall: Anger and disappointment toward the federal government “not getting anything done” were expressed by residents attending Congressman Frank Lucas’ town hall meeting in Enid on Wednesday. “It’s been six months … nothing’s happened! You guys haven’t gotten anything done. If you were a real business, a bunch of people would be fired for not getting things done,” said one of the men in attendance [Enid News].

Few boos as Lankford talks Trump, health care and more in Edmond: U.S. Sen. James Lankford was met with hearty applause and only mild disagreements Tuesday night during a town hall meeting at Oklahoma Christian University, striking a bipartisan tone and receiving little rancor in response. The town hall meeting in an OC recital hall was as close to a home game as Lankford, a former Christian camp leader who lives in Oklahoma City, could have hoped for [NewsOK].

Oklahoma’s Curbside Chronicle street paper receives global recognition: This week, Oklahoma’s only street paper, The Curbside Chronicle, received global recognition for its work at the International Network of Street Papers (INSP) Conference in Manchester, England. The Curbside Chronicle, a magazine sold by people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, won in two categories – Best Cultural Feature and Best Vendor Contribution. The Curbside Chronicle is a program of The Homeless Alliance, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, whose mission is to rally the community to end homelessness [The City Sentinel].

Quote of the Day

“We cannot continue to decrease funding for higher education and expect to meet the needs of tomorrow’s Oklahoma. With the damage being done to our colleges and universities, Oklahoma is on a course that will further divide us into the haves and have-nots.”

– Oklahoma A&M Regents member Lou Watkins (Source). Oklahoma has cut per pupil higher education funding by more than one-third since the Great Recession (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of professionally active dentists in Oklahoma as of April 2017

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

“We Just Feel Like We Don’t Belong Here Anymore”: Over the weekend, Charlottesville, Virginia, exploded in violence over the impending removal of a Confederate monument. White nationalists, Ku Klux Klan members, and neo-Nazis clashed with counter-protesters, and the fighting reached a horrifying crescendo when a white nationalist drove his car into the crowd, injuring 19 people and killing one. It’s no small wonder that tensions have escalated to a dangerous point. …As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump saw opportunity in a disillusioned white working class and a tension that had been simmering below the surface for decades, and he took full advantage. …Since Trump’s election, there has been ample coverage of white people—the rise of white nationalism, the white working class that makes up Trump’s core constituency, the 53 percent of white women who voted him into office. Much less has been written about the people of color who live and work amid the rising tide of white nationalism in rural red states [Mother Jones].

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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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