In The Know: What Trump’s election could mean for Oklahoma

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

What Trump’s Election Could Mean for Oklahoma: The full impact of Donald Trump’s presidency in Oklahoma won’t become clear for some time, but its implications already loom large in the areas of health, energy, taxes and infrastructure spending. Policy analysts and political observers interviewed by Oklahoma Watch since Tuesday’s election said Trump’s plans, if enacted by Congress, could produce a tectonic shift felt from one end of the state to the other. Here is an initial assessment of how Oklahoma might fare under Donald Trump’s presidency in several key policy arenas [Oklahoma Watch].

Trump victory may mean federal judge nominees for Oklahoma City are replaced: Two nominees for federal judgeships in Oklahoma City may be replaced next year after President-elect Donald Trump takes office, Oklahoma’s senators acknowledged this week. The nominees, Suzanne Mitchell and Scott Palk, were approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee in May, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., would not allow Senate confirmation votes. McConnell blocked votes on most judicial nominations this year — and refused to hold hearings for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland — in hopes a Republican would win the presidency and replace President Barack Obama’s nominees with new ones [NewsOK].

Diverse group gathers in downtown Tulsa to promote rights, well-being of oppressed people: A crowd of more than 100 people gathered Saturday afternoon in downtown Tulsa to promote the rights of underrepresented groups in the wake of the U.S. presidential election. About a dozen speakers from different backgrounds shared their stories and thoughts on how to move forward in protecting members of the LGBT community as well as members of religious and ethnic minorities [Tulsa World].

Undocumented immigrants on edge about legal pathways: Fears are setting in with neighbors in our city. The last year brought forth ugly language cutting to the core of who people are, including those who are gay, Hispanic, Muslim or women. Just because the election is over doesn’t set the clock back to zero. Some words cannot be forgotten. So, they must be dealt with directly. There may be some over-worrying going on, but maybe not. Time will tell. Of all the groups expressing fear, undocumented immigrants, particularly the children and youths, are most likely at immediate risk for changes [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World].

Hispanic voter growth evident at local level in Oklahoma: Despite its growth, Hispanic residents are a small fraction of eligible Oklahoma voters — 4.9 percent, according to Pew Research Center — and were projected to make up just 2.7 percent of state voters last week, according to pre-election projections from SoonerPoll. But while Hispanic voters are not yet a force on a statewide level, the impact of this voting bloc can be seen in pockets across Oklahoma City and is quite possibly responsible for some of the local political shifts evident on election night [NewsOK].

Voters provide momentum to more criminal justice changes: Oklahoma voters last week approved two state questions aimed at curbing the state’s rapidly growing prison population, a decision likely to provide momentum for further changes to the state’s criminal justice system. State Question 780, which reclassifies drug possession and property crimes under $1,000 to misdemeanors, passed with more than 58 percent of the vote. A companion measure that would reinvest any savings into substance abuse and mental health treatment, State Question 781, was approved with more than 56 percent of the vote [Associated Press].

Epidemic Ignored – A Broken System: Veda Carter thought she could protect her son as long as a jail cell was available. For more than 10 years, she tried to find Corey Carter quality, consistent treatment. Corey had schizophrenia and, sometimes, he struggled with paranoia. The Corey whom Veda knew and loved would start to change. That’s when Veda knew she and Corey needed to make the 100-mile drive from Valliant, a small town in southeast Oklahoma, to McAlester. There, Veda would beg the staff at Carl Albert Community Mental Health Center to give her son an inpatient crisis bed. Repeatedly, she was told that, because Corey wasn’t a danger to himself or others, he didn’t meet the criteria to be admitted against his will for treatment [NewsOK].

Lawmakers again confronted by low teacher pay: Pressure is building on lawmakers to give school teachers raises for the first time in nearly a decade, after voters rejected a ballot question to fund those raises by hiking the sales tax. Advocates of teacher raises remain hopeful the Legislature finally will act. But critics — including many teachers — remain skeptical that sharply divided and cash strapped lawmakers can agree on a funding plan anytime soon [Enid News & Eagle].

In Cushing, cleanup continues even as new earthquake damage appears: Yellow “caution” tape, one end tied to a lamppost and the other wrapped around the leg of a metal ladder on the sidewalk, still stretched across the front of the building. But the shop’s plate-glass window held a big, handwritten sign to declare “Yes, we are open!” City officials had also taped an 8-by-11 “certificate of occupancy” to the front door, letting visitors know that a qualified engineer had thoroughly examined the structure and found it safe, never mind the gaps of missing brick on the exterior [Tulsa World].

OU student temporarily suspended on accusations of racism: A University of Oklahoma student has been temporarily suspended on accusations he was involved in a racist group chat sent to black University of Pennsylvania students. The messages, which were posted in a GroupeMe chat room, appear to have originated in Oklahoma and featured racial slurs and graphic images, including an invite to a “Daily lynching” event, according to a statement from Penn and screenshots of the messages [Tulsa World].

Answering the Call: Food Security among Military Service Members and Veterans: One in six Oklahomans struggles with hunger, 25 percent of Oklahoma children are at risk of going to bed hungry at night, and 16 percent of our population live at or below the federal poverty line. These staggering figures highlight the critical problem of hunger in Oklahoma. Unfortunately, our military service members and veterans are not immune [OK Policy].

Childhood obesity hits Oklahoma hard: In a state that ranks No. 46 nationally for overall health, a significant percentage of kids living in Oklahoma are classified as obese. The subject can be daunting for any parent who wants to keep their children happy and free of unnecessary anxiety about their appearance, but according to Angela Jones, director of health and wellness initiatives at YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City, it can also come down to parents’ lack of awareness about their own health [Oklahoma Gazette].

Quote of the Day

“We celebrated the closings of these large hospitals — we were proud of it, and it was the right thing to do. But what we’ve done is basically replaced it with a system that’s worse. Now it’s incarceration, and there are not mental health professionals treating people and caring for them. It’s correctional officers, being asked to do something they’re not properly trained to do.”

-Mental Health Association Oklahoma CEO Mike Brose, speaking about Oklahoma’s failure to fund community mental health care (Source).

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma adults with any mental illness.

Source: Mental Health America

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Growth in Irregular Work Increased Poverty During and After Great Recession: Jobs that offer hours that vary from week to week present significant challenges for low-wage workers. In a new study we find that the number of workers with inconsistent work hours increased significantly throughout the Great Recession and recovery. These workers had lower incomes and higher poverty rates than those with steady hours. However, the increase in inconsistent hours was smaller among union members and in states with higher-than-average unionization. This suggests unionization could improve the chances a worker will have the steady income needed to plan for even short-term basic needs [Center for Poverty Research].

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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.

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