In The Know: State Rep. proposes barring marriage licenses for same-sex couples

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.

Today you should know that State Rep. Todd Russ proposes barring court clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman says Oklahoma teachers are underpaid.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt is accused of harassment and misconduct in a suit filed by the Humane Society, alleging a campaign of harassment of the organization at the behest of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau. Authorities are quietly scrutinizing wells in earthquake-prone parts of the state.

Sen. Jim Inhofe supports an amendment declaring that climate change is real and not a hoax, but maintains that, “the hoax is that there are some people who are so arrogant to think they are so powerful they can change climate.” The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs began presenting its case against a Sequoyah County doctor who it says was overprescribing controlled substances at his clinics. 

The OK Policy Blog writes about the three biggest barriers that block Oklahomans with a felony record from putting their lives back together. The Number of the Day is the percentage of children receiving the full series of childhood vaccinations in Oklahoma. In today’s Policy Note, Howard University’s Center on Race and Wealth reports on how predatory lenders drain income and wealth from economically vulnerable communities.

In The News

Oklahoma lawmaker proposes an end to marriage licenses, cites gay-marriage ruling

Marriage licenses would become a thing of the past in Oklahoma under a bill filed by state Rep. Todd Russ. The Cordell Republican says he wants to protect court clerks from having to issue licenses to same-sex couples. He doesn’t want these workers put in the position of having to condone or facilitate same-sex marriage.

Read more from Tulsa World

Oklahoma Senate president says teacher salary differential is alarming

Texas pays teachers so much more than Oklahoma that it is alarming, Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman said Tuesday. “We’ve got to do a better job with the pay differential between Oklahoma and Texas and some of the surrounding states,” he told The Oklahoman’s editorial board. “We’ve got to do a better job of putting a good package together that we can attract and get the good teachers in the classroom.”

Read more from NewsOK

Attorney General Scott Pruitt sued by former AG Drew Edmondson on behalf of Humane Society

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is accused of harassment and misconduct in a suit filed Wednesday by his predecessor, Drew Edmondson, on behalf of the Humane Society of the United States.
The Humane Society petition, filed in Oklahoma County District Court, seeks injunctive relief and a declaratory judgment against what it says is Pruitt’s “nearly year-long campaign of legal harassment and public vilification of this organization for political gain.”

Read more from NewsOK

As Authorities Use Permit Process to Scrutinize Wells in Earthquake Country, Oil Industry Remains Silent

As earthquakes continue to rattle Oklahoma and scientists study links to oil and gas production, many Oklahomans want to know what, if anything, is being done to address the shaking. An investigation by StateImpact shows that while authorities are quietly scrutinizing wells in quake-prone parts of the state, most of the companies that operate the wells are staying silent.

Read more from StateImpactOK

Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe votes to say climate change not a hoax but says man can’t change climate

Sen. Jim Inhofe, the most vocal opponent in Congress of proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, supported an amendment Wednesday declaring climate change is real and not a hoax. The Tulsa Republican, who wrote a book in 2012 called “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future,” voted minutes later against a separate amendment linking climate change to human activity.

Read more from NewsOK

State Says Doc’s Pain Pill Prescriptions Were ‘Red Flags’

The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs on Wednesday began presenting its case against a Sequoyah County doctor who it says prescribed 4.6 million doses of narcotics during 18 months in 2013 and 2014. The administrative hearing against Dr. Ronald V. Myers Sr. was expected to continue all week and perhaps longer. The bureau is seeking to revoke Myers’ license to prescribe controlled dangerous substances in Oklahoma.

Read more from Oklahoma Watch

Every sentence is a life sentence: 3 barriers to life after prison

Criminal justice reform is in the air for the upcoming legislative session. For more than a decade, experts and advocates have warned of a mounting incarceration crisis that has created huge costs for taxpayers while, perversely, possibly increasing crime. For years these warnings were ignored, but the situation may have finally gotten so dire that lawmakers will pay attention.

Read more from Oklahoma Policy Institute

Quote of the Day

“We’re systematically looking at all these wells, especially the ones in the areas where we’re having seismicity, and we’re seeing if they were completed in strict compliance with their permit.”

Tim Baker, director of Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s oil and gas division

Number of the Day

63.9 percent

Percentage of children receiving the full series of childhood vaccinations in Oklahoma in 2013, third lowest in the nation

Source: Trust for America’s Health

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The Economic Impact of Payday Lending in Economically Vulnerable Communities

Payday industry revenues are based on the interest and fees they receive mostly from low- to moderate-income residents who reside in economically vulnerable neighborhoods. The economic benefits from the payday loan industry are distributed throughout the state but the economic burdens fall disproportionally on lower income neighborhoods. The industry drains income and wealth from the economically vulnerable communities to generate some positive economic impacts throughout the state. Regardless of whether the state level net economic impacts are positive or negative, payday loans exacerbate distress in the economically vulnerable communities in which they are located, and most likely shift the cost of increased poverty and financial distress.

Read more from Howard University’s Center on Race and Wealth

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