In The Know: Tribes provide counties, towns with money for roads, internet access

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

Learn how to influence your legislators! Together Oklahoma will hold Legislative 101 trainings in Tulsa this Saturday, January 28th, and in Oklahoma City this Sunday, January 29th. Click through to RSVP in your city.

The 2017 State Budget Summit is today! Follow along and contribute on Twitter with the hashtag #okbudget17

Tribes provide counties, towns with money for roads, internet access: State and local budgets shrunk as Oklahoma’s unrelenting weather continued to destroy roads, and thousands of residents face isolation thanks to limited to no internet access. Tribes in the state have stepped in to spend millions of dollars to keep Oklahomans connected to career opportunities, medical access and one another. The Cherokee Nation has taken on millions of dollars in road projects throughout the northeastern part of the state [Journal Record].

Calls grow to create ethics panel at Okahoma Capitol: Looking into misconduct charges against lawmakers in most states falls to a specially appointed panel. Not so in Oklahoma, which is one of 10 states without a permanent ethics committee in its legislature or rules for how to investigate members, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. As two lawmakers face complaints of on-the-job sexual harassment, and others bicker over how to investigate them, calls are growing for an independent, bipartisan panel to handle the often distasteful work of sorting out allegations and disciplining one’s colleagues [Norman Transcript].

Rebooted Keystone XL could add Oklahoma jobs: An executive order aimed at restarting two stalled pipeline projects could bring construction jobs to Oklahoma. It’s unclear how an edict to buy American-made products for those infrastructure initiatives will play out. University of Central Oklahoma energy economics professor Travis Roach said basic economic principles indicate that firms will pursue the most efficient outcome when the government doesn’t interfere with market forces [Journal Record].

Plains and Eastern Clean Line transmission project in Oklahoma on Trump infrastructure list: The 720-mile long Plains and Eastern Clean Line transmission project from the Oklahoma Panhandle to Tennessee is among a list of 50 priority infrastructure projects compiled by the Trump administration and the only one with a foothold in Oklahoma. The high-voltage, direct-current transmission line will ship 4,000 megawatts of renewable energy to Arkansas, Tennessee and the southeastern United States. Clean Line representatives are negotiating rights of way along the route, with construction expected to start late this year or early 2018 [NewsOK].

‘There’s a lot of uncertainty,’ Oklahomans fear effects of Trump’s executive orders on immigration: President Donald Trump’s newly inked policies on immigration are causing uncertainty and unease in the state’s Latino immigrant community. “There’s a lot of repercussions not just within the immediate family but across the city and the nation,” said Jose Cruz, a legal citizen who immigrated from Mexico before he was 1-year-old. “There’s been uncertainty from day one [of the Trump administration]. It makes it difficult for the community. A lot of them are working, have kids, have families.” [KFOR]

Correctional officer shortage reaches 30 percent: The Oklahoma prison system has no problem filling its cells, but it is having trouble filling open positions. Terri Watkins, Oklahoma Department of Corrections communication director, said the state prison system has a 30 percent fewer correctional officers than it needs. “We haven’t invested in our employees and training, and that needs to change,” DOC Director Joe M. Allbaugh said. Even though the request for the two new facilities accounts for more than half of the total appropriation requested for Fiscal Year 18, it isn’t the top priority on the budget request [Norman Transcript].

The myth of creating an abortion-free society: In an effort to create an “abortion-free society,” Oklahoma legislators passed and now may amend a provision targeting women who have unintended pregnancies through a widespread campaign to discourage abortions. The purpose of this campaign is to reduce the number of Oklahoma women seeking abortion services. The recent amendment focuses the anti-abortion efforts to clinics and social media channels. However, Oklahoma legislators will not reach their stated goal of reducing abortions because they have incorrectly labeled the “problem.” [Meredith Wyatt / Tulsa World]

New issue brief assesses benefits of increasing access to long-acting reversible contraceptives: The decision of when and whether to have children is one of the most consequential choices a family can make. When better able to plan pregnancies and births, women attain more education, earn higher incomes, and have stronger marriages. Unfortunately, Oklahoma’s unplanned and teen pregnancy rate is among the highest in the country – and that presents a number of challenging outcomes, including high costs, for individuals, families, and communities. ​A new issue brief from Oklahoma Policy Institute assesses a promising pilot project that is showing success in preventing teen pregnancy [OK Policy].

Prosperity Policy: Labor pains: Donald Trump’s election in November was due in no small measure to the economic insecurities felt by millions of working people, in Oklahoma and across the nation. These are men and women who have seen their wages stagnate, benefits erode, and working conditions deteriorate as economic inequality widens. As a candidate, Trump promised to fight hard for these workers who believe the American economy no longer works for them, and many responded by giving him their vote [David Blatt / Journal Record].

Students in small schools thrive despite talks of consolidation: Superintendent Brandon Voss stands at the entrance of Robin Hill Public Schools each morning and greets students by name as he shares hugs and fist-bumps. Parents roll down their windows and wave to the administrator as they chat about a recent ball game or a successful deer hunt. The northern Cleveland County community around Robin Hill is a small and proud one, and its relationships are important. When Voss arrived at the one-story school three years ago, he was determined to deliver a quality education to its close to 300 students [Oklahoma Gazette].

Oklahoma educators giving back to profession: The way Mackinley Cross see it, her profession could use a little good news. Cross, a special education teacher, and three colleagues provide needed professional development at no cost to teachers, schools, or districts rocked by budget cuts. “We’re not here to do anything other than bring positivity to the teaching profession,” she said Wednesday [NewsOK].

Bravery needed to save education, future generations: As we approach the Governor’s 2017 State of the State Address, there are indications that many of our state leaders are ready to grapple with some of our most pressing needs. Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger got it right when he recently said, “We have to have a serious conversation about revenue in this state. I think it is important for everyone to realize you are not cutting your way out of this situation.” State Treasurer Ken Miller has been emphasizing this point for quite some time, “If you have to use half a billion dollars every single year in your budget to spend more than your recurring revenues will allow, that shows a revenue problem.” [Steve Turner / Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Lawmakers Become Teachers For A Day: Oklahoma City Public Schools administrators invited legislators and community leaders to “teach for a day.” The district hoped lawmakers would have a better understanding of a teacher’s responsibilities after spending a day in their shoes. Oklahoma Senator David Holt spent part of his day reading with first graders at Quail Creek Elementary School. Other lawmakers and community leaders went to other schools in the district [KOSU].

Oklahoma City officials to provide free gun locks to improve home safety: Oklahoma City is the first stop of a federally funded national push to give away free gun locks. The locks, which are made of a cable that is threaded through a firearm to prevent it from being loaded, are available by request from police departments. Advocates from Project ChildSafe Communities joined with local leaders Wednesday to launch the advocacy campaign, which is funded by a $2.4 million grant from the Department of Justice [NewsOK].

For disabled jobseekers in Oklahoma, a waiting list: Budget cuts have forced more than five dozen disabled jobseekers onto a waiting list for state services, which includes training and the purchase of equipment that helps them go to work. The decision to limit services does not affect the more than 12,000 clients who already receive help from the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Services Department. New applicants with three or more severe limitations can bypass the list entirely. The agency began putting new applicants on the waiting list Jan. 9. Since then, 66 people with fewer severe limitations have been affected [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“There’s a lot of repercussions not just within the immediate family but across the city and the nation. There’s been uncertainty from day one [of the Trump administration]. It makes it difficult for the community. A lot of them are working, have kids, have families.”

– Jose Cruz, a US citizen living in Oklahoma City who immigrated from Mexico as a child, on the effects of President Trump’s recent executive orders on immigration (Source)

Number of the Day


Oklahomans with lifetime limits on their health benefits prior to the Affordable Care Act, which eliminated such limits (2008-2010)

Source: US Department of Health and Human Services

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

What Is Driving The ‘Unbanking Of America’? If you stroll through certain neighborhoods in big cities, you’ll notice check-cashing centers, pawn shops and, in some states, payday lending stores. …Lisa Servon says increasing numbers of working Americans are using those services and turning their backs on traditional banking because banks don’t meet their needs and whack them with fees and charges they aren’t expecting. In 2011, she notes, Americans paid $38 billion just in overdraft fees [Fresh Air].

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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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