In The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.
Today you should know that what was supposed to be the first of two executions in Oklahoma last night was halted when the prisoner Clayton D. Lockett began to writhe and gasp after he had already been declared unconscious. He later died of a heart attack 43 minutes after he had been first injected. Governor Mary Fallin issued a stay of execution for Charles Warner, the second scheduled to be executed last night, and has ordered a ‘full review’ of the state’s execution procedures. Oklahoma had attempted the execution with a secret, untested mix of chemicals because pharmaceutical companies increasingly refuse to supply lethal injection drugs.
Governor Fallin vetoed 15 House bills and said she would continue issuing vetoes until the House address several issues. The Governor complained that legislators had not made progress on allowing schools to hold a vote on going over their bonding capacity to fund storm shelters, setting the state budget for the coming year, funding Capitol repairs, and changing the pension system for state workers. A report by independent monitors found Oklahoma is making lackluster progress on court-ordered improvement of its foster-care system. The state Senate approved a bill to require schools to have students say the Pledge of Allegiance once a week.
The Number of the Day is how much new revenue Oklahoma could bring in if the state adopted combined reporting, a reform that prevents corporations from shifting profits to out-of-state tax shelters. In today’s Policy Note, the New York Times discussed how schools can build affordable storm shelters using concrete domes.
In The News
Oklahoma Postpones Execution After First Is Botched
What was supposed to be the first of two executions here Tuesday night was halted when the prisoner, Clayton D. Lockett, began to writhe and gasp after he had already been declared unconscious and called out “oh man,” according to witnesses. The administering doctor intervened and discovered that “the line had blown,” said the director of corrections, Robert Patton, meaning that drugs were no longer flowing into Mr. Lockett’s vein. At 7:06 p.m., Mr. Patton said, Mr. Lockett died in the execution chamber, of a heart attack.
Oklahoma Execution: Governor Mary Fallin orders full review after death of Clayton Lockett
Governor Mary Fallin issued a stay of execution for Charles Warner and has ordered a ‘full review’ of the state’s execution procedures after the failed execution and death of inmate Clayton Lockett. Lockett and Warner were scheduled to die by lethal injection Tuesday evening. Lockett was to be first, followed two hours later by Warner. Thirteen minutes into the procedure, Lockett began convulsing and mumbling before sitting up and saying “Something’s wrong.”
Why Oklahoma tried to execute a man with a secret, untested mix of chemicals
An execution in Oklahoma went disastrously wrong on Tuesday night, when a state corrections department doctor injected death row inmate Clayton Lockett with a secret and untested chemical cocktail that was supposed to kill him quickly and painlessly. Oklahoma was using the experimental formula because pharmaceutical companies increasingly refuse to supply “safe” lethal injection chemicals. That’s left capital punishment states to choose between executing inmates under dangerous conditions or not executing them at all. Many states have chosen to go ahead, and some have adopted secrecy laws that shield the chemical compounds used for the executions.
Gov. vetoes 15 House bills, says vetoes to continue until “major issues” addressed
In what critics describe as an attempt at political manipulation, Gov. Mary Fallin took a swing at legislators Tuesday, announcing she would be rejecting their bills that were awaiting her signature until they tackle the state’s “major issues.” By noon Tuesday, Fallin rejected 15 of 16 House bills awaiting her signature that she claimed didn’t have “substantial” benefits, are “redundant” or are “just bad policy.” Fallin said the House needs to pass legislation dealing with storm shelters at schools, set the budget for this coming year, look at funding Capitol improvements, fix the pension system and improve the health of Oklahomans.
Oklahoma is making lackluster progress toward its promise to improve its foster-care system, according to a report released Wednesday morning by an independent monitoring panel. The Pinnacle Plan is the negotiated settlement between the agency and the nonprofit Children’s Rights, which filed a federal class-action lawsuit in 2008 alleging abuses of children in foster care.
Oklahoma state Senate passes bill requiring weekly Pledge of Allegiance in Oklahoma schools
A bill approved by the state Senate on Tuesday and sent to the governor would require schools to have students say the Pledge of Allegiance once a week. The measure, approved 41-0, was authored by Sen. Larry Boggs, R-Wilburton. Boggs said he introduced the bill at the request of constituents. “At first I was surprised because almost all of our schools down there say the Pledge of Allegiance almost every day, but they had some concern about schools that weren’t doing it,” he said.
Oklahoma is losing millions to corporate tax shelters. Here’s what we can do about it.
By most measures of the economy, Oklahoma shouldn’t have a budget shortfall this year. At a time when the economy is improving nationwide and most states are debating what to do with budget surpluses, Oklahoma lawmakers are looking at creating a budget with $188 million less than last year. Part of the reason for the shortfall is skyrocketing tax refunds going to corporations. Through January 2014 of this fiscal year, Oklahoma paid out $75.0 million in corporate income tax refunds.
Quality Jobs Act changes could pay for Tinker expansion with state income tax dollars
The state Legislature is working on modifications to the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Act to allow the state to reimburse land acquisition costs around Tinker Air Force Base. The Air Force is seeking to acquire land to perform maintenance work on the new KC-46A airplane. The KC-46A is the Air Force’s next generation aerial refueling tanker. Roy Williams, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, confirmed that an agreement has been reached to locate the new maintenance facility at Tinker and said officials are working out financing details to acquire land for the facility. The city, county and Tinker are expected to partner in the acquisition financing, but a key component is obtaining reimbursement for new jobs through the Quality Jobs Act to help pay about $26 million of the land acquisition costs.
U.S. Supreme Court ruling on emissions could affect Oklahoma coal plants
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling on emissions from power plants reaching other states could affect several electric generating plants in Oklahoma for part of the year. In a 6-2 ruling, the Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. Oklahoma is covered by a supplemental part of the rule on nitrogen oxides that can cause ozone in the summer months. The rule covers upwind emissions from power plants and their downwind effects on other states. Twenty-eight states, mostly in the eastern and central parts of the country, are affected in some way by the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. The Supreme Court decision reversed an earlier ruling from an appellate court in the District of Columbia. The ruling sends the case back to the lower court for further action. The Environmental Protection Agency said it was reviewing the opinion and no immediate action from states or affected plants is expected.
Farmers Urged To Think Twice Before Plowing Fields
The president of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts is urging farmers to think twice before plowing their fields this spring. Kim Farber says ongoing drought in Oklahoma and Southern Plains creates the risk of dust storms and wind erosion that could be worsened by plowing. Farber said wheat crops that farmers are considering abandoning could be declared a total loss by crop insurance adjusters, and that farmers looking to start their spring crops should consider alternative cultivation methods such as no-till or minimum-till farming, which he says can save money by reducing fuel costs and helping the soil hold more water.
The center announced today that it will be the first United States affiliate to the GRAMMY Museum, which is based in Los Angeles. The GRAMMY Museum’s executive director, Bob Santelli, says they are partnering with selective cultural institutions. “This relationships would, indeed, be a two-way street. It would mean: the sharing of resources, technology, expertise, sharing of exhibits, sharing of scholarship; putting on and co-producing concerts, academic conferences, programs, etc.” Santelli also emphasizes that partnerships will also include universities and interns.
Oklahoma ranks second in the nation for the highest teen birth rates among 15- to 19-year-olds. In fact, 5,300 children were born to teenage mothers in Oklahoma in 2012. The state’s rates increased even though nationally teen birth rates declined 6 percent between 2011 and 2012. FOX23’s Tiffany Alaniz talked with a teen mom and found out how a new organization is working to change the numbers.
Tulsa’s Booker T. Washington High School documentary premiers at Circle Cinema
The first century of history-making at Tulsa’s Booker T. Washington High School was celebrated in a new documentary film that premiered Tuesday at the Circle Cinema. The parents and local filmmaker who conceived of and made “Freedom’s School” say it is not meant for entertainment but as a call to action to ensure that the storied high school continues to thrive. “We have enlarged class sizes and lowered admission standards, and yet, every student who comes there has to be taught,” said Julia Karlak, the film’s producer.
“There is clearly a leadership problem here… Although the people in charge have changed and the buck now stops with the governor, children are not any better off.”
-Marcia Lowry, executive director of Children’s Rights, on a report showing Oklahoma is making lackluster progress on court-ordered improvements to its foster-care system (Source: http://bit.ly/1rO39Qj)
Number of the Day
$50 – $100 million
How much new revenue Oklahoma could bring in if the state adopted combined reporting, a reform that prevents corporations from shifting profits to out-of-state tax shelters.
It had been very quiet in America’s tornado zone of late. But the deadly tornado outbreak Sunday night illustrated, once again, why it’s time for communities at risk to consider some new approaches to building — and learning — safely in harm’s way. One is to think outside the box — and inside the dome. This is particularly true when a steel-reinforced concrete dome meets Federal Emergency Management Agency standards for a tornado shelter. A growing number of school districts in tornado or hurricane hot spots, many with grants from FEMA, have chosen this option.