In The Know: Supreme Court rules Pruitt’s rewrite on criminal justice reform ballot titles misleading, partial

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

Pruitt’s rewrite on criminal justice reform ballot titles misleading, partial, court rules: The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday ruled that Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s rewritten ballot titles for two state questions are “misleading and partial.” In its ruling, the state’s high court rewrote the ballot titles, which give a description of the criminal justice reform measures appearing on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot. Supporters of State Questions 780 and 781 challenged Pruitt’s revisions before the Supreme Court [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma Supreme Court lets stand “Right to Farm” initiative: The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Monday that voters can consider the so-called “Right to Farm” ballot initiative during the general election this fall, but some members of the state’s highest court said state lawmakers should require that challenges to ballot measures be filed earlier. A coalition known as Save the Illinois River, Inc., filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the proposal in March, more than eight months after Gov. Mary Fallin issued an order placing the matter on the Nov. 8 ballot. In a unanimous ruling, the nine-member court let stand a decision by Oklahoma County District Judge Patricia Parrish in May to dismiss the lawsuit [Associated Press].

Harsh Rhetoric, Funding Gap Shape Right-to-Farm Campaign: StateImpact’s Logan Layden visited with OETA’s Lis Exon for the August 5 edition of Oklahoma News Report, after moderating a panel discussion on State Question 777 for the Oklahoma Policy Institute earlier in the week. The discussion centered on the scare tactics being used by both sides of the right-to-farm issue: whether national animal rights groups are trying to force all Oklahomans to become vegans, or if Big Ag wants a license to pollute at will [KOSU]. You can watch the video of OK Policy’s SQ 777 forum here.

Oklahoma medical marijuana petition growing: The push to legalize medical marijuana in Oklahoma is growing as Thursday’s petition deadline nears. Meanwhile, law enforcement and supporters of the plan are debating whether the pros outweigh the cons. Studies show, marijuana could help cancer patients who are going through chemotherapy, epilepsy, Alzheimers, and PTSD. A state wide organization,’Oklahomans for Health’ has collected more than 50-thousand signatures so far, but they need 66,000 by August 11 to put the proposal on the November ballot, where voters would decide if it becomes legal for medicinal use [KSWO].

Districts address teacher vacancies amid cuts, low salaries: A group of fifth-graders recited in unison the first paragraph of a book for which their teacher had to solicit donations so everyone would have a copy. Their Oklahoma City school didn’t have the money to buy it. These students, teacher Monta Johnson said, remind her of her own Oklahoma upbringing, and that’s why Johnson intends to stay in the education system at a time some of her colleagues across the state are leaving due to low pay and budget cuts [Journal Record].

As Oklahoma cracks down on prescription drugs, heroin deaths increase: More Oklahomans are abusing — and overdosing on — heroin as the state cracks down on prescription drug abuse, a result, leaders say, of a lack of long-term investment in treatment for residents who struggle with addiction. In Oklahoma, drug overdose deaths increased eightfold from 1999 to 2012, surpassing car crash deaths in 2009. … Meanwhile, treatment advocates say the state still hasn’t invested in its treatment system, especially for low-income residents [NewsOK].

McAlester child support office closing: Oklahoma budget cuts will shutter the state child support office in McAlester. The decision to terminate a contract for the child support office in Pittsburg County — and a similar one in Bryan County in Durant — will cost 13 employees their jobs. Some of the employees impacted work in both the McAlester and Durant offices so it was not immediately clear Monday exactly how many Pittsburg County residents will be out of work [McAlester News-Capital].

How new federal rules can keep Oklahomans out of debt traps: GET CASH NOW! A neon green sign boasts a quick fix for your financial woes as you count out the few dollars you have to pay bills and buy groceries for your children. Although you are employed, this has been a particularly hard month. The payday loan, so named because you usually have to pay the loan back by your next payday, could be the solution to your problems — or it could be a debt trap [OK Policy].

Oklahoma isn’t alone with challenging budgeting issues: In recent years, critics have noted Oklahoma’s state government budget has increasingly relied on one-time funds as an ever-smaller share of money is run through the formal state appropriation process. A recent article in Governing magazine shows Oklahoma isn’t alone in that dubious category. Earmarking of funds has reduced the amount of money going through the state appropriation process. In 2007, Oklahoma lawmakers controlled 55 percent of revenue through the budget process. It’s hovered closer to 44 percent more recently [Editorial Board / NewsOK].

Special interest money fueled Oklahoma lawmakers’ campaigns: Oklahoma’s five U.S. House members collected more than $345,000 from special interest groups in the last three weeks of June, tapping energy companies, defense contractors, the health care industry and many others to fund their Republican primary campaigns. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Westville, took $137,000 from political action committees in the three-week period; that was nearly two-thirds of the total amount of money he raised in the days leading to the June 28 primaries [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“We have had very dismal success because once people hear what the salaries are in Oklahoma, they are really reluctant to move here.”

-Oklahoma City Public Schools chief human resources officer Janis Perrault, speaking about why the district discontinued a program that sought to recruit teachers from other states (Source).

Number of the Day


Number of full-time sworn law enforcement employees with “full arrest power” in Oklahoma, 2015.

Source: Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

What do we invest in the country’s youngest? Little to nothing: “He was very angry. He was scratching his face, kicking, and screaming,” preschool teacher Carrie Giddings said of one of her students during his first days in her class at Kruse Elementary School in northern Colorado. The boy’s father had been in and out of jail, Giddings said. She thinks the 3-year-old had witnessed abuse at home before he enrolled in preschool at Kruse. His family was poor. For a while, they had lived with relatives, unable to afford their own place. “Everything that could happen to a kid, he’d had it all,” Giddings said, asking that the child’s name not be used. “He was a year and a half behind.” [The Hechinger Report]

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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.

One thought on “In The Know: Supreme Court rules Pruitt’s rewrite on criminal justice reform ballot titles misleading, partial

  1. The AG’s purposely deceptive summaries of the criminal justice initiatives are nice previews of the arguments to be made by him, the state DAs, vengeful victims’ advocates, and other opponents prior to the election, so he has done Speaker Steele and the supporters a favor by being so blatant so early. The actions are also not surprising given his office criticized the Justice Reinvestment effort as jeopardizing the “success” OK had had with its sentencing policies. “Success” when the state has a higher crime rate than similar states that instituted reform, you ask?? Yes, if by “success” you mean protecting the power, prestige, profits, and personal egos of the individuals and organizations profiting from overincarceration for the last several decades. But certainly not if you think “success” should be pursuing the most cost-effective means for the most public safety and the most crime and victimization prevention possible. You’ll only find that in Speaker Steele’s descriptions of “success.”

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