In The Know: Supporters of medical marijuana state question criticize AG Scott Pruitt’s rewrite of ballot title

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

Supporters of medical marijuana state question criticize AG Scott Pruitt’s rewrite of ballot title: Supporters of an effort to legalize medical marijuana in Oklahoma said Thursday they will challenge the ballot title rewording by Attorney General Scott Pruitt. The ballot title explains the measure to voters. Pruitt on Thursday submitted the ballot title for State Question 788, a measure that if approved by voters would legalize medical marijuana in Oklahoma [Tulsa World]. More information about 2016’s State Questions here.

State questions, the will of the people and raw political power: Better pack a lunch. That’s my advice to those headed to the polls Nov. 8. General election voters won’t just be deciding the presidential race or congressional and legislative contests. They also will be passing judgment on at least seven – count ‘em, seven – state questions, each with potentially profound implications for our state. Welcome to representative democracy, Sooner style [Arnold Hamilton / Journal Record].

The Oklahoma Oil Billionaire Shaping Donald Trump’s Bid to Win on Energy Issues: Donald Trump is wooing energy-state voters by promising a presidency that will champion coal, promote drilling and free frackers from federal regulations limiting oil and gas development. If the Republican candidate’s energy platform sounds like it was written specifically for fossil fuel companies, that’s because an Oklahoma oil billionaire helped craft it [StateImpact Oklahoma].

Former Director Unveils Disputed Plan for Williams Board: The Williams Companies, which recently lost a court battle to preserve a takeover from another pipeline operator, is facing a new fight. This time, it is from a former director who owns a big stake in the company and has an unconvetional plan to overhaul the entire board. Keith Meister, the managng partner of Corvex Management, which holds a 4 percent stake in Williams, issued an open letter to the rest of the shareholders on Wednesday and submitted names of 10 nominees for directors at Williams [The New York Times].

Boren, Hofmeister to speak at Oklahoma education conference: State schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and University of Oklahoma President David Boren will speak Friday during an education conference presented by the Oklahoma State School Boards Association and the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration. Nearly 2,000 school board members and administrators from across Oklahoma are expected to attend the three-day conference at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City [NewsOK].

One Vote Separates Hilldale Schools From $400K Bond: One vote is all that’s standing between one school district and $400,000 for new buses. Now, officials at Hilldale Public Schools in Muskogee County are prepared to do what they can to make sure every vote is counted. If voters passed the $400,000 bond issue on Tuesday, new buses in Hilldale would help replace the aging fleet; but because they fell short by one vote, the school district may be asking for a recount [NewsOn6].

Oklahoma board approves 349 more emergency teaching certificates: The state Board of Education on Thursday approved 349 more emergency teaching certificates, further proof Oklahoma’s teacher shortage shows no signs of letting up. State schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and other education officials warned that public education will continue to suffer without a long-term solution that addresses pay raises for teachers. …Since May, the board has approved 730 emergency certificates, which are issued to school districts that lack qualified candidates to fill teaching vacancies [NewsOK].

Racial Disparities Persist in Gifted Student Programs: Black and Hispanic students are much less likely to be identified as “gifted” than their white and Asian counterparts — a disparity found in Oklahoma that mirrors national statistics on gifted and talented education. In Oklahoma, black students make up 9 percent of all students but 4.5 percent of students in gifted and talented programs. Similarly, Hispanic students comprise 16 percent of all students but 10 percent of students classified as gifted and talented [Oklahoma Watch].

Registration now open for Fall Policy Boot Camps in Tulsa and Edmond: Do you want to learn more about the state budget, criminal justice reform, poverty, and other critical policy issues affecting our state? If so, you’re in luck: registration is now open for OK Policy’s second Fall Policy Boot Camp (FallPol). This year, we will host two FallPols — one at OSU-Tulsa on Friday, October 14th and one at Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond on Saturday, October 15th [OK Policy].

Bonds approved for disputed turnpike expansions, other road projects: The Council of Bond Oversight on Thursday approved a bond package for turnpike expansions despite a plea from an attorney who has lodged a legal challenge before the state’s highest court. The council approved the sale of $480 million in bonds pending the resolution of litigation filed by Oklahoma City attorney Jerry Fent, who attended the meeting. Earlier this week, the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority tabled a proposal to phase in a 17 percent toll increase to pay for the expansion [Tulsa World].

TSET to look for new executive director: The board of directors of the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust will consider a committee recommendation Friday that it initiate a search for a new executive director using a salary range that tops out at about $143,000. The current executive director, Tracey Strader, plans to retire March 1, but her last day in office will be Jan. 6, since she has accrued leave time, officials said [NewsOK].

Council adjusts estimates of support costs alongside Vision Tulsa tax package: The estimated cost to support Vision Tulsa’s additional public-safety officers and firefighters has been reduced, but a gap of more than $1 million per year remains, city officials announced Thursday. City Manager Jim Twombly presented city councilors with revised estimates of costs associated with adding about 160 police officers and 65 firefighters provided for in Vision Tulsa, which voters approved in April. The new estimates lower the costs from $2 million to between $1.1 million and $1.7 million [Tulsa World].

Tensions flare over African-American Affairs Commission: She entered city hall today with hopes of attending an inter-cultural advisory committee meeting. “They told me it was a private meeting,” said community activist Vanessa Hall-Harper. And for her, that was the latest slap in the face in her quest to get an African-American Affairs Commission created, which has been an ordeal in itself. “This has been going on for well over a year,” “she said [KTUL].

Beef checkoff proposal struggling to find support: Promoters of a new beef checkoff program have not been able to tap into agricultural voter interest in State Question 777, Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association Executive Vice President Michael Kelsey said. The program would add a $1-per-head contribution for a state marketing program in addition to the $1-per-head ranchers pay toward national marketing. The two issues should be complementary [Journal Record].

Quote of the Day

“Consider: There would be no need for State Question 779 – the proposed 1-percent sales tax hike for education – if the Legislature had done its job, making the tough decisions on taxes and tax breaks. Consider: There would be no need for State Questions 780 and 781 if the Legislature had acted on what nearly every member swears is a priority: criminal justice reform. Consider: There would be no need for State Question 776 if the Legislature had tackled the state’s problems with the death penalty, either abolishing it or settling on new, constitutionally acceptable procedures for carrying it out.”

– Arnold Hamilton, editor of the Oklahoma Observer, in his Journal Record column (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of those who died from opioid overdoses in Oklahoma who were white, non-Hispanic in 2014. White, non-Hispanic Oklahomans are 66.5% of the state’s population.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Higher Minimum Wages Lead to Healthier Newborns, According to Two New Studies: The potential benefits of raising the federal minimum wage continues to be a matter of controversy among economists. Proponents of a minimum wage hike believe it would reduce poverty and decrease income inequality. Skeptics argue that it would lead to fewer jobs and higher prices. Now, further complicating this already complicated debate, there’s new research on some of the long overlooked non-market benefits of higher wages [Slate].

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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.

One thought on “In The Know: Supporters of medical marijuana state question criticize AG Scott Pruitt’s rewrite of ballot title

  1. How is the proposed African American Affairs Commission to differ from the Human Rights Department/Commission that already exists?

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