The Weekly Wonk: Court criticism, three-legged stools, and more

the_weekly_wonkThe Weekly Wonk is a summary of Oklahoma Policy Institute’s events, publications, blog posts, and coverage. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The KnowClick here to subscribe to In The Know.

This Week from OK Policy:

OK Policy summer intern Chan Aaron explores changing demographics in Texas County, Oklahoma, and discusses what they mean for the state’s future. OK Policy Research Fellow Ryan Gentzler explained why recent efforts to revamp the state’s tax incentives miss a key reform. In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis describes why criticism of the state’s courts system is nothing new. The results of our spring audience survey are in. In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt praises a proposed rule extending the salary threshold for overtime pay.

OK Policy in the News:

Blatt spoke with Oklahoma Watch about turnover in Oklahoma’s health insurance market.

Weekly What’s That:

Individual mandate

An individual mandate is a requirement that all persons procure a particular good or service. In health care, it refers to the requirement within the Affordable Care Act that all Americans (with some exceptions) be covered by health insurance. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week:

“We can’t have a barbershop or a beauty salon in a residential area, but now we’re supposed to allow oil wells.”

– McAlester Mayor Steve Harrison, who said the city doesn’t plan to change the ban on drilling in city limits it has had since 1974, despite a new state law disallowing such bans (Source)

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Editorial of the Week:

Editorial Board, The Tulsa World

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler and District Judge Doug Drummond, himself a former prosecutor, have come up with what some are calling a “brilliant idea” to lessen public costs without jeopardizing public safety.

The first rules-violations docket, begun June 1 and handled by Drummond, exclusively deals with technical probation violations. The docket gives Drummond the option to divert some nonviolent offenders to one of eight programs. The aim is to get defendants who are still salvageable to clean up their act.

Numbers of the Day:

  • 1.6 percentage points – Increase in the share of Oklahoma’s population who are racial or ethnic minorities, from 31.3% in 2010 to 33.0% in 2014.
  • 37.2% – Cost of full‐time infant care as a percentage of median income for single mothers in Oklahoma in 2014.
  • 7.9% – Percent of Oklahomans age 25 years and older who have completed an advanced degree, 2012.
  • 56% – Percent of Oklahomans who report eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables four or more days per week.
  • 10,200 – Number of discouraged workers in Oklahoma in Q1 2015, defined as working age individuals who have given up looking or had no success in finding a job before running out of unemployment benefits. The number of discouraged workers is up 50 percent from 6,800 in Q1 2014.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

What we’re Reading:

  • There’s a crucial distinction between competitive markets and free markets: when there are significant departures from pure competition in markets, markets are “free” to perform badly, and disaster results [The Fiscal Times].
  • Digital learning technology is impressive, but students who receive individualized instruction hugely outperform those who are tutored by a computer [Quartz].
  • Many of the metro areas faring best at attracting advanced industry jobs tend to benefit from higher educational attainment and the presence of a top university science program [Governing].
  • Scientific findings show that having health insurance improves the odds of surviving cancer, diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis or stroke [CNN].
  • States and local governments rely on data to manage projects, avoid fraud, measure outcomes, deliver services, and fund all of the above. But too often, the data is outdated, no longer collected – or just wrong [Governing].


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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