The Weekly Wonk: Fact sheets available for SQ 805 & 814 | School meals are lifeline for Oklahoma families | Proposed state race and equality commission

What’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

Weekly What’s That

Ballot Title

Every State Question, or ballot measure, in Oklahoma must include a ballot title that will appear on every voter’s ballot.  Oklahoma law (Title 34, Section 9) specifies that the ballot title must fairly and accurately describe the measure in 200 words or less. In addition, it must be free of jargon, be written at an eighth grade reading level, and clearly represent the effect of a “yes” vote and a “no” vote. The ballot language must always be formulated so that a “yes” vote is a vote in favor of the proposition in question, and a “no” vote is a vote to reject it.

Initiative petitions and legislatively-initiated ballot measures must contain a draft ballot title.  When signed copies of a petition are filed, or when a legislative referendum has been submitted to the Secretary of State, the state Attorney General reviews the proposed ballot title and may rewrite the title if he determines that it does not meet legal requirements.  Any person may challenge the Attorney General’s proposed ballot language to the Supreme Court, which may rewrite the language.

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

Quote of the Week

“Every taxpayer, every parent has a responsibility to be involved with their public school district. It’s time that taxpayers in Oklahoma started using their voice and demanding answers.”

-State Auditor Cindy Byrd speaking about results of her office’s investigative audit into Epic Charter Schools. [NonDoc]

Editorial of the Week

Forgive us if we take legislative efforts to “improve” state transparency laws with a grain of salt

Oklahoma legislators are talking about changes to the state’s two most important transparency laws.

While some of the changes being discussed are reasonable, we are deeply concerned anytime lawmakers climb into the Open Meeting Act or the Open Records Act. It’s a concern based on experience. The vast majority of legislative history on those two laws have been efforts to make them weaker and provide illegitimate hiding places for bureaucrats and special interests.

So, when the idea of “improving” either of the laws is on the agenda, the first order of business should be to improve them in actuality.

[Read full Tulsa World editorial]

Numbers of the Day

  • 12% – Percentage of Oklahoma children, or about 105,000 children, who live in high-poverty areas in the state.
  • 12,137 – Number of evictions filed in Oklahoma courts since March 15, 2020, the day Oklahoma declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (As of Sept. 29, 2020) 
  • 73.7% – Percentage of uninsured adults ages 18-64 who say they aren’t covered because insurance is not affordable – by far the most common reason for not having coverage. The percentage of uninsured adults who were uninsured because coverage was not affordable increased with age, from 66.8% among those aged 18–29 to 80.9% among those aged 50–64.
  • 1 in 7 – Share of adults who reported that their household sometimes or often did not have enough to eat.
  • 116,000 – New registered voters in Oklahoma since January 15, 2020. This represents a net increase of more than 34,000 registered voters in the past month. 

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading


David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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