- 1 Updates
- 2 Actions Taken by the State Government
- 3 Elected Officials
- 4 Key Upcoming Elections
- 5 Obamacare / ACA
- 6 Policing
- 7 Immigration
- 8 Voting Rights
- 9 Mass Incarceration
- 10 Tax Cuts for the Wealthy
- 11 Housing/Infrastructure
- 12 Women's Rights/Reproductive Justice
- 13 LGBTQ+ Issues
- 14 Educational Justice
- 15 Consumer Protections/Workers' Rights
- 16 Climate / Environment
- 17 Disability Rights
- 18 Organizations
- 19 Local News Sources
- 20 Relevant City and County Information
Actions Taken by the State Government
Legislation that Supports Equity and Justice
Important bills proposed by Oklahoma lawmakers this legislative session that should be supported:
Harmful bills proposed by Oklahoma lawmakers this legislative session that should be opposed:
- SB 694 would prohibit the passing of local ordinances stricter than state law in the area of employment and public accommodation, effectively scraping nondiscrimination measures passed by cities and counties to protect LGBTQ+ individuals in these areas.
- HB 1441 would require written consent from the man involved before a woman could obtain an abortion.
- HB 1123 would increase penalties for trespassing on certain pieces of “critical infrastructure,” like pipelines and railways.
- SB 197 would allow businesses to deny service to customers if their marriage, lifestyle or behavior contradicts an individual's religious beliefs.
See also the main policy pages for federal legislative tracking.
- Governor Mary Fallin, Republican (Elected 2010)
- Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb, Republican (Elected 2010)
- Speaker of the House Charles McCall, Republican
Key Upcoming Elections
Click here to find the number to call to find out if you're registered to vote. Register to vote here. The deadline is 25 days before Election Day. Bring proof of identification the first time you vote. A non-photo ID is requested every time you vote.
- The Oklahoma House of Representatives District 28 is currently vacant. An election for the seat will be held on May 9, 2017.
- The Oklahoma House of Representatives District 75 is currently vacant. An election for the seat will be held on May 9, 2017.
- Current Republican Governor Mary Fallin will reach term limit in 2018; the governor's race is open.
Oklahoma School board elections were held on February 14. Runoff elections if needed are April 4.
- Oklahoma City held its primary election for the city council on February 14, 2017. The two top vote winners, Richard Morrissette and Todd Stone, will advance to the general election on April 4.
- If there is a full repeal of the ACA, 157,000 people in Oklahoma (or 4.0% of the population) are estimated to lose coverage, whereas 313,000 people (or 8.0% of the population) will lose coverage with a partial repeal. (Retrieved 1/29/2017 from ACA Repeal Impact, state-by-state.) This is because with a full repeal, premiums will not increase the way they would under a partial repeal, since insurance companies will be able to discriminate on the basis of preexisting conditions and won't be required to provide essential health benefits.
- The reason that so few people stand to lose coverage in Oklahoma is because the state government, for political reasons, did not take the free money offered to it by the federal government to help expand Medicaid to more of its low-income citizens. This decision also disproportionately disadvantaged Black citizens.
- The number of uninsured people in Oklahoma is predicted to be 543,000 by 2021 under the ACA. Without the ACA, that number is expected to rise to 790,000, a 45.6% increase.
- Oklahoma, like most states, lost the ability to place lifetime limits on coverage, because that practice is banned by the ACA; those limits are likely to be reinstated under a full repeal.
- Prior to the ACA's ban on gender-rating, women in Oklahoma could pay up to 48% more for the same coverage, compared to men; an ACA repeal could bring back that coverage gap.
- Given that a repeal of the ACA would also change payment structures and subsidies, 23,000 jobs could be lost in Oklahoma. When federal funding is cut, it creates a ripple effect that affects local and state revenue, thus creating losses in economic activity and employment.
- According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, at least 30% of all non-elderly adults in Oklahoma have the types of pre-existing conditions that will make them able to be denied coverage under a repeal.
- Under the ACA Repeal-and-Delay strategy, young adults in Oklahoma could pay $1,018 more in 2018.
120 people were killed by the police in Oklahoma from 2013 to 2016, which is the third most per capita in the country. Black people were killed at a rate 3.9 times higher than the rate for all people in Oklahoma. Oklahoma City has the third highest rate of police killings among major cities in the US.
- In 2013, Oklahoma had 218,432 immigrants, making up 5.7% of the population.
- There are estimated to be 95,000 undocumented immigrants in Oklahoma, making up 2.4% of the population.
Rights of Non-Citizens
- Oklahoma does not allow undocumented immigrants to get drivers' licenses.
- Oklahoma allows undocumented immigrants to attend public college at the same in-state tuition rate as legal residents and citizens.
- In 2012, President Barack Obama signed an executive order (DACA) that defers deportation for children who were brought to the country as children. The action allows them to work lawfully but does not create a pathway to citizenship or give them legal status in the United States. In Oklahoma, 11,166 individuals have benefited from this executive action.
- 6.3% of K-12 students in Oklahoma had undocumented parents in 2014.
- Undocumented immigrants in Oklahoma made up 3.4% of the labor workforce in 2014.
- If all undocumented workers were removed from Oklahoma, the state would lose $580.3 million in economic activity.
- Undocumented immigrants paid $76.5 million in state and local taxes in Oklahoma in 2012.
- Oklahoma’s state legislature introduced a bill similar to Arizona’s SB 1070 in 2011 (which requires police to check detained/arrested people's immigration status if it is suspected that they might not be in the US legally), but it failed to pass.
- Oklahoma does not have any cities or counties with sanctuary policies.
- Oklahoma resettled 389 refugees in 2014.
- Oklahoma permits early voting and no-excuse absentee voting but does not have a system for online voter registration. Oklahoma voters are requested to provide identification at the polls in order to vote. Without an ID, voters can only vote on a provisional ballot.
- In 2015, voting-rights groups and Republican-led Oklahoma reached an agreement in which the state committed to asking any person who interacts with welfare agencies whether they want to register to vote and then helping them through the process. That includes assistance with helping them register online. The state also agreed to establish a new website with information about the National Voter Registration Act.
- Oklahoma is one of a number of states with bills introduced and bipartisan support for expansive voting reforms.
- In 2014, 39,931 people were incarcerated in Oklahoma, plus a probation population of 27,208, and parole population of 2,554.
- Of the prison population, 2,554 people were serving life sentences, and 2,515 were serving life sentences without parole.
- 519 juveniles were in custody in Oklahoma in 2013.
- In Oklahoma, a black person was 4.5 times more likely to be incarcerated than a white person in 2014.
- 7,367 people were incarcerated in private prisons.
- Corrections expenditures in 2014 were $580 million.
Tax Cuts for the Wealthy
- Oklahoma residents who face a tax increase under Trump’s plan:
- Households: 11,000
- Adults and children: 352,000
- Children: 208,000
- In 2015, an average of 271,065 households and 598,257 individuals received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps) in a given month in Oklahoma. In 2011, approximately 16% of the population of Oklahoma was receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps). The average monthly benefit per Oklahoma household was $257 per household and $118 per person in 2016.
- In 2016, an average of 16,036 households, including 7,180 families and 13,734 children, received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which is direct financial assistance, in a given month. The average monthly benefit for a single parent with three children residing in Oklahoma was $292 in 2014. Average benefits in Oklahoma have fallen in value by 37.6% since 1996.
- In 2016, an average of 20,701 women received funds from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in a given month.
- In December 2015, there were 6,015 Social Security recipients in the "aged" category who received $286.94 per person on average, for a total of $1,726,000.
- 95,400 low-income households in Oklahoma spent more than half of their income on housing.
- In 2014, Oklahoma had 47 units of affordable and available housing for every 100 households categorized as “extremely low income” (at or below 30% of area median income.)
- In Oklahoma, there were 4,107 homeless people in 2016, which is 0.75% of the total national homeless population.
- Of the homeless population, there were 360 families, 358 veterans, 371 unaccompanied young adults (18-24), and 696 people experiencing chronic homelessness.
- Oklahoma received $285 million in federal rental assistance funding in 2014.
- In Oklahoma, more than 56,000 families relied on federal rental assistance in 2014.
- Nearly all Oklahoma households using federal rental assistance included children, elderly people or disabled people.
- Oklahoma’s infrastructure received a score of C- from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2013.
- This study gave the state “good” scores for rail, and identified roads, transit, bridges, and dams as being in “poor” condition.
- In 2013, the Department of Transportation found that 25.4% of Oklahoma’s bridges were structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and 70% of Oklahoma’s roads were in poor or mediocre condition.
- Driving on these roads leads to an additional $425 per motorist per year in increased vehicle repairs and operating costs.
- According to Governor Mary Fallin (R), bridges are a major infrastructure priority for Oklahoma.
Women's Rights/Reproductive Justice
- Oklahoma has six Planned Parenthood centers.
- In 2015, four centers were in rural, medically underserved, or health provider shortage areas.
- On average, there is one Planned Parenthood for 127,834 women of reproductive age.
Policy Solutions / Issues
- There were five abortion providers in Oklahoma in 2015.
- In 2014, 10.3 out of every 1,000 women of reproductive age in Oklahoma had an abortion. The national abortion rate is 14.6.
Policy Solutions / Issues
- There is a 72-hour waiting period required after mandatory counseling.
- Parental consent and notice is required for minors.
- Ultrasound requirements exist.
- Abortion is prohibited after 20 weeks except in cases of life or health endangerment.
- Mandated counseling includes misleading information.
- Medical abortion is limited.
- Private insurance coverage is limited.
- State Medicaid does not fund most abortions.
- TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws exist.
Women and Wages
- In Oklahoma, 16.1% of women live in poverty. 42.1% of single mothers live in poverty, as do 10.1% of women age 65 and older.
- For every dollar made by men, women are paid $0.73, which is seven cents below the national average of $0.80.
- African American women are paid $0.63 for every dollar paid to white men, while Latina women make $0.51 for every dollar made by white men.
- In 2012, 53 domestic abuse murders were reported by various law enforcement agencies to the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation.
- Oklahoma is ranked 3rd in the nation for women killed by men in single-victim, single-offender homicides.
- Law enforcement responded to 2,354 incidents of domestic abuse-related assaults in 2012.
- In 2012, the Oklahoma Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board (DVFRB) identified 109 people in Oklahoma who lost their lives as a result of domestic violence.
Religious freedom law
Religious freedom laws protect people's right to practice their religion and limit laws imposing on that right, and were intended to protect religious minorities. A State Religious Freedom Act was enacted in Oklahoma in 2000 for that purpose, but it has been recently used to claim that the rights of individuals or business owners are violated if they are not allowed to deny service to LGBTQ+ people. An amendment to widen its reach was introduced in 2016..
Oklahoma lacks nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, adoption, foster care, insurance, credit, and jury selection.
Oklahoma also lacks certain laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in parenting, including surrogacy, foster care, parental presumption for same-sex couples, and consent to inseminate. Ohio does allow second-parent adoption and de facto parent recognition.
Hate crime laws
Oklahoma does not include LGBTQ+ people in its hate crime laws as a protected group and doesn't have required reporting of hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people.
Oklahoma does not have certain laws protecting LGBTQ+ youth, including protection from conversion therapy, laws to address LGBTQ+ youth homelessness, LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education laws, and LGBTQ+ inclusive juvenile justice policies. Oklahoma does provide transgender inclusion in sports. Oklahoma does have laws that restrict inclusion of LGBTQ+ topics in schools.
Health and safety laws
- Oklahoma does not have certain laws protecting the health and safety of its LGBTQ+ citizens, including nondiscrimination protections in the ACA exchanges, a ban on insurance exclusions for trans health care, trans-inclusive health benefits for state employees, gender marker changes on identification documents, health data collection, and gender-neutral single-occupancy restrooms.
- Oklahoma does have laws that discriminate against LGBTQ+ people in ensuring their health and safety, such as sodomy laws and laws that criminalize HIV/AIDS.
- HIV criminalization laws are those that make it illegal for an HIV-positive person to “knowingly expose” another person to HIV—in some states, this means that it is illegal not to disclose HIV-positive status to a sex partner, but many laws criminalize behaviors that are unlikely to lead to transmission. Because the laws focus on disclosure, not actual transmission, they serve no real purpose. All states have other, non-HIV-specific laws that can be used to prosecute transmission of HIV, so these laws just needlessly single out and stigmatize HIV-positive people and reinforce the image of them as “dangerous.” It also allows the saliva or blood of an HIV-positive person to be classified in court as a “deadly weapon.” HIV criminalization laws also disproportionately target people of color, mainly Black people, and gay men.
- Oklahoma is ranked 48th in per-pupil spending as of 2013, with an average expenditure of $7,672 per student.
- As of 2013, Oklahoma ranked 48th in teacher pay, with teachers earning an average of $44,128 per year.
- 91% of students in Oklahoma attend public schools. As is the case in other states, students who attend private schools come from wealthier families, with private school families earning an average 76% higher income.
- As of 2014, public charter school enrollment accounted for 2.0% of total public school enrollment.
- 85% of White students, 78% of Hispanic students, 76% of Black students, and 88% of Asian/Pacific Islander students graduate from high school in four years. These rates are close to or above the national average.
Consumer Protections/Workers' Rights
- Oklahoma has a state minimum wage of $2.00 for workers employed by a business with less than 10 employees and annual gross sales under $100,000. All other companies are required to pay the same as the federal minimum wage of $7.25.
- Oklahoma has no state law for paid sick leave.
- Oklahoma has no state law for paid family leave.
- Oklahoma has Right-to-Work laws, which means that the state can prohibit unions that collectively bargain on behalf of both members and nonmembers from requiring union fees for the services they provide to all workers they represent. Such laws are designed to reduce unions' income and power.
- Oklahoma is a state with an at-will exemption. "At-will" means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason, without breaking the law. Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason with no adverse legal consequences.
- Oklahoma also has a public policy exemption, meaning that an employer may not fire an employee if it would violate the state's public policy doctrine or a state or federal statute, including refusing to perform an act that state law prohibits (e.g., refusing an employer's request to commit perjury at a trial), reporting a violation of the law (e.g., reporting an employer's fraudulent accounting practices or use of child labor), engaging in acts that are in the public interest (e.g., joining the National Guard or performing jury duty) and exercising a statutory right (e.g., filing a claim under the state workers' compensation law).
- Oklahoma does allow for implied contract exemptions.. An implied contract can be created in several different ways: oral assurances by a supervisor; or handbooks, policies or practices as written assurances by the employer. This means that if there is no written contract between the employer and employee, that employee may have an exception of fixed term or even indefinite employment based on an employer's statements. As a general rule, courts disregard language promising long-term, lifetime or permanent employment as aspirational and consider the relationship to be at-will.
- Oklahoma does support the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing. Courts have interpreted this in different ways, from requiring just cause for termination to prohibiting terminations made in bad faith or motivated by malice.
Climate / Environment
- About 80% of Oklahoma’s electricity generation is from fossil fuels, and about 28% is from renewable sources. Oklahoma is third in the nation in energy generation from wind, and fifth in crude oil production.
- Oklahoma has 7 sites on the National Priorities List.
- Approximately 3.6% of Oklahoma’s land is federally owned.
- In 2014, the Black population had the highest air pollution exposure indices—of 69—compared to an overall index of 62 and a White index of 60.
- In 2012, Native American adults in Oklahoma were most likely to have asthma—13.5%, compared to 9.7% overall.
- The environmental agency in Oklahoma is the Department of Environmental Quality.
- Oklahoma does not have a climate action plan.
- In 2010, Oklahoma established a renewable energy goal of 15% by 2015.
- Oklahoma has the 7th-highest percentage of disabled people in America: 15.6% of Oklahoma’s residents are disabled, compared with the national average of 12.6%. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table R1810]
- Oklahomans with disabilities have the 32nd-highest employment rate in the country, at 34.8%, compared to the national average of 34.9%. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table R1811] People without disabilities in Oklahoma have a 76.1% employment rate. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B18120]
- Approximately 19.4% of eligible voters in Oklahoma have one or more disabilities, compared to a national average of 15.71%.
- Of adults with disabilities in Oklahoma, 27.9% live in poverty, as opposed to 13.1% of non-disabled adults. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B23024] The poverty rate for disabled children under 5 is 35.4%, as opposed to 24.9% for non-disabled children. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B18130]
- In Oklahoma, 5.8% of adults between 18 and 64 receive SSI (Supplemental Security Income), compared to the national average of 5.4%. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B19056]