The Weekly Wonk: Civil asset forfeiture reform, anti-panhandling ordinance, and more…

the_weekly_wonkWhat’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.

This Week from OK Policy

On the OK Policy Blog, Policy Director Gene Perry explained why a group of unlikely allies want to reform civil asset forfeiture in Oklahoma. Outreach and Operations Associate Tyler Parette contextualized a proposed anti-panhandling ordinance in Oklahoma City within a greater trend of criminalizing poverty. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update argued that the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce wants the state’s legal climate to cater to corporate attorneys.

OK Policy in the News

The Tulsa World discussed a poll sponsored by OK Policy and OCPA showing that Oklahomans support civil asset forfeiture reform. The poll can be reviewed here. NonDoc reviewed the unlikely allies working on the issue. Oklahoma Watch quoted Blatt in an article on the impact of a proposed one-cent sales tax increase to fund education. OK Policy’s full statement on the issue is available here

The City Sentinel previewed Saturday’s Fall Policy Boot Camp. The Norman Transcript highlighted a presentation Outreach Specialist Kara Joy McKee gave to the Cleveland County Democrats on Friday. 

Weekly What’s That

Pocket veto

If a bill passes the Oklahoma Legislature during the final 5 days of session, the Governor has 15 days to sign or veto it. If the Governor does not sign or veto the bill within 15 days, it does not become law. Read more

Look up more key terms to understand Oklahoma politics and government here.

Quote of the Week

“When you step back and look at the big picture, it’s a horrendous picture, and it has got to change. It’s all hands on deck, I mean from the governor to our Legislature. These people and these families are in utter despair. It’s terrible economic practice, and we have got to have the leadership from our elected officials who need to say in effect — no more.”

-Mike Brose, executive director of Mental Health Association Oklahoma, speaking about how Oklahoma is near the bottom in the nation for mental health funding, despite having the second-highest rate of adults with serious mental illness in the nation (Source)

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Editorial of the Week

Arnold Hamilton, The Journal Record

For the fourth consecutive month – and fifth time in six months – state revenue collections in August were less than the year before. Oklahoma’s unemployment rate is but a half percentage point below the national rate – after eight years of being significantly lower.

Chesapeake Energy this week announced 740 layoffs – 15 percent of its workforce – including 562 in Oklahoma City. A Dallas company’s purchase of the Williams Cos. casts doubt on the fate of 1,000 Tulsa workers.

State government’s fiscal experts know what’s coming – a collective migraine not experienced since the last great oil bust in the early 1980s.

And they are subtly – and in some cases, not so subtly – signaling to Oklahomans to prepare for the worst, a budget shortfall that could exceed $1 billion.

Numbers of the Day

  • $56.22 – Oklahoma’s per capita spending on mental health treatment, lower than all but five states.
  • 7.8% – Percentage of occupied housing units in Oklahoma built in 1939 or earlier.
  • $43,068 – Average student debt at the for-profit DeVry University, the highest of all public and private universities in Oklahoma. Almost two-thirds of DeVry University’s students in Oklahoma are low-income.
  • 6% – Increase in imprisonment in Oklahoma from 2009-2014, the sixth largest increase in the nation. Imprisonment increased despite a 17 percent drop in crime rates.
  • 26,300 – Estimated number of Oklahoma veterans in households receiving SNAP (food stamp) benefits, on average, 2011-2013.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • We shouldn’t want a better underclass. We should want no underclass [Vox]. 
  • A streamlined and simplified Fafsa means that applying for college financial aid is about to get a lot easier [New York Times].
  • How the end of Black Wall Street impacts voting rights in Oklahoma today [Demos].
  • Lots of candidates say they want to simplify the tax code. Eliminating tax brackets isn’t the way to do it [NPR].
  • Most Americans don’t realize how easy it is for police to take their cash [Washington Post]. 



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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