In The Know: Uncertainty Surrounds Right-to-Farm Even In States That Adopted It Years Ago

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.

This post previously misstated the percentage of likely voters polled who supported SQ777. It has been corrected. 

Today In The News

Uncertainty Surrounds Right-to-Farm Even In States That Adopted It Years Ago: Oklahoma could become the third state to add a “right-to-farm” amendment to its constitution if voters approve State Question 777 this November. Voters in North Dakota and Missouri already adopted such a measure, but, the effects remain unclear there, even years after passage. North Dakota was the right-to-farm guinea pig. It was the first state to elevate farming and ranching to a constitutional right. And the 2012 vote there wasn’t even close: The measure passed by a 2-to-1 margin [StateImpact Oklahoma]. A poll found that 49 percent of likely voters support 777 while 36 percent are opposed. And 15 percent of Oklahoma voters remain undecided [NewsOn6]. OK Policy’s fact sheet on SQ777 is available here.

New Study Evaluates The Impact State Question 779 Could Have On Cities: The state question that proposes raising Oklahoma’s sales tax one percent to pay for $5,000 raises for teachers could cause issues for city governments that also rely on sales taxes to pay for streets, fire stations, and other municipal projects. Two University of Oklahoma economists – Cynthia Rogers and Gregory Burge – looked to past sales tax increases to see how municipalities were affected [KGOU]. OK Policy’s fact sheet on SQ779 is available here. Our statement on SQ779 can be found here.

State Question 779 is a needed first step for Oklahoma: Last year at the state Capitol, it was hard to find an elected official who was against raising teacher pay. Equally hard was finding someone who had a plan to accomplish this task. Oscar Levant had a description for inaction when he joked, “Once I make up my mind, I’m full of indecision.” Indecision by our state leaders has led us to State Question 779 [Ed Allen / NewsOK].

NYC learning from Oklahoma’s pre-K example: It is far nicer to be able to brag about successes in our state than to explain why other areas rank near the bottom. I luckily found myself in this position recently. The mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, was in Oklahoma for a conference with other mayors of major metropolitan areas. I was fortunate that one of my college friends works for him, so that led to me spending two hours over some of the best barbecue in our state and discussing what Oklahoma has done right with pre-K and early childhood education [Joe Dorman / Tulsa World].

Child care providers unhappy with policies: Lawmakers got an earful Wednesday from child care providers who lambasted new state standards that they claim make it more difficult for them to keep the lights on. “The processes are broken,” said CJ Littleton, who owns a child care facility in Noble. “They’re inefficient. They’re redundant.” Earlier this year, the state unveiled 172 pages of new regulations for child care providers that change certification requirements and increase professional development requirements, including mandating CPR training [Norman Transcript]. Child care is getting less accessible for Oklahoma’s working parents [OK Policy].

Does Oklahoma rely too much on foster care to prevent child abuse and neglect? Nearly 11,000 Oklahoma children have been removed from their families and placed in foster care. This fact has many implications for child development. Removing children from their families, no matter how necessary, can be traumatic. But when abuse and neglect can be prevented while still allowing children to stay with their families, children tend to have better health and better life outcomes [OK Policy].

Governor Mary Fallin says sublease agreement for new medical examiner’s office is vital step in winning back accreditation: After nearly a decade of relocation efforts, the Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will have a new home. The board of directors for the chief medical examiner’s office, on Monday, approved a sublease agreement to move into the first and second floors of the 921 Building, 921 N.E. 23rd St. in Oklahoma City. The OCME lost accreditation with the National Association of Medical Examiners in 2009 after being cited for deficiencies in its facilities [KFOR].

Kansas’ financial nightmare inhibits dream of service improvements: Kansans exhausted by years of state government budget emergencies driven by income tax cuts and economic weakness in key industries are eager for stability that places them in a more aspirational frame of mind, forum participants said Thursday. Economists, educators, lobbyists and retiring legislators gathered at the University of Kansas to share thoughts about implications of state fiscal policy undercut by revenue shortfalls and to offer insights into how they imagined Kansas’ future [The Topeka Capital-Journal]. The Kansas tax cut experiment has a close cousin in Oklahoma [OK Policy].

Food Pharmacy at Tisdale clinic helps patients deal with blood pressure, blood sugar: Diabetes has run in Anthony Tibbs’ family for six generations. Earlier this year he decided to take steps to work on his health and sought treatment at the University of Oklahoma’s Wayman Tisdale Specialty Health Clinic. There he was enrolled in a pilot program where doctors prescribe medically selected foods as part of their treatment in order to improve outcomes [Tulsa World]. Similarly, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma has developed a strategic initiative to improve health outcomes for low-income, high-risk individuals through the Fresh Rx program [OK Policy].

Crowd gathers to pray for energy industry: More than 400 people gathered Thursday to pray for the oil patch — Oklahoma’s beleaguered energy industry, which is experiencing a downturn critically affecting the state’s economy. The sixth annual Oklahoma City Oilfield Prayer Breakfast at the Tower Hotel featured keynote speaker Harold Mathena, a retired oil and gas executive. The event was hosted by Oilfield Christian Fellowship in partnership with Oil Patch Chaplains, a ministry affiliate of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma [NewsOK].

Federal judge dismisses nuisance case against Oklahoma wind farm: A federal judge on Thursday dismissed an anticipatory nuisance case brought by a group of landowners worried about the noise and health effects of the Kingfisher wind farm. U.S. District Judge Timothy D. DeGiusti said the seven landowners and the Oklahoma Wind Action Association failed to show evidence of harm in their claim for anticipatory nuisance and a permanent injunction against the development [NewsOK].

Interim Director Named at Water Resources Board: After 22 years with the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, Julie Cunningham was named this week as interim executive director, succeeding J.D. Strong who left to become the new Director of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Cunningham had been the Water Board’s Chief of Planning and Management since 2008 [OK Energy Today].

Lawsuit accuses City Councilor Blake Ewing of fraud: Downtown business owner and City Councilor Blake Ewing, following recent legal issues involving nonpayment of taxes, was sued Thursday on allegations of fraud. The civil lawsuit, filed in Tulsa County District Court, alleges that Ewing spent The Max Retropub funds to the benefit of other businesses and for personal gain. “Ewing caused expenditures by The Max for his own personal benefit,” the lawsuit alleges [Tulsa World].

Quote of the Day

“It’s not simply a matter of sort of alleging there’s a compelling state interest, it’s a matter of going to court and proving that there’s a compelling state interest.”

– OCU Law Professor Art LeFrancois on potential complications posed by SQ777, a constitutional amendment that would give Oklahoma residents the right to engage in farming and ban any new law regulating or prohibiting an agricultural practice unless it can be shown to have a “compelling state interest.” (Source). OK Policy’s fact sheet on SQ777 is available here.

Number of the Day


Percent of Oklahoma labor force without a college degree.

Source: Economic Policy Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Why black workers who do everything right still get left behind: We’ve known for a while that black Americans aren’t making economic progress. A recent report from the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank, shows that the black-white wage gap is now the widest it has been since 1979. What’s more interesting, though, is how inequality has been increasing, and for whom. It used to be that low-skilled black workers suffered the greatest disadvantage relative to their white counterparts. But there has been a strange reversal in the past 40 years. EPI finds that the black-white wage gap has become wider — and is widening faster — among those with more education [Washington Post].

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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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