Oklahoma Watch
Tuesday, May 25, 2021
First Watch

Oklahoma’s Ongoing Struggle With a Basic Government Function

One Oklahoma driver reports a two-hour, 15-minute wait on hold, only to be informed that the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety is only processing online license renewals submitted March 18 — more than 60 days ago.

Others, who are more desperate or have plenty of time on their hands, report making road trips to Fort Gibson and Anadarko.

All to have a basic function of government fulfilled.

Why has Oklahoma’s driver’s license system been in disarray so long? Oklahoma Watch investigative reporter Paul Monies, who until recently was himself a captive of the system, spent some time looking into that question. There’s plenty of blame/explanations/excuses to go around — starting with Oklahoma’s built-for-the-1930s tag agent system.

Yet, it’s rural tag agents who have provided an oasis for desperate urban and suburban motorists. Those who can’t wait a month or more for an appointment are heading to Binger or Yale to get legal.

State officials declare that help is on the way in the form of “megacenters.” In the meantime, the cost of delays continue to compound for Oklahomans. If you are having problems getting a new driver’s license, a renewal or a Real ID in Oklahoma, 0r if you are having trouble scheduling a driver’s test, let us know using this form.

Mike Sherman, Executive Editor

In Focus

Oklahoma’s Driver’s License System In Disarray, Still

“Clearly capacity is one part of the issue,” explains the governor’s chief operating officer. “But the other part is, ‘Is the process itself broken?’” [Read more …]

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The Legislature Fast-Tracks Multi-Billion Budget Bill, Again

An $8.8 billion budget bill sailed through the Legislature in one week. Some think Oklahomans “deserve better.” Trevor Brown explains why they shouldn’t expect it. [Read more…]

State Corrections Board Votes to Extend Private Prison Contract

One year after opponents of private prisons took hope from a state’s decision to vacate a private prison in Cushing, Oklahoma doubled down on a contract with Tennessee-based CoreCivic to operate facilities in Sayre and Holdenville. Keaton Ross has the details. [Read more…]

Around the web

  • The state House of Representatives responded to a multicounty grand jury’s extraordinary call on the Legislature for greater oversight of Epic Charter Schools by providing for just that, voting 81-17 on Monday for “new safeguards and greater transparency requirements for charter schools managed by outside vendors.” [Tulsa World]
  • If Gov. Kevin Stitt signs a bill as expected, Oklahoma’s charter schools will not gain access to local tax revenues previously reserved for public school facilities. On Monday, the state Board of Education rescinded a decision to allow charter schools to share in those funds. Instead, all brick-and-mortar public schools with local revenue below the state average can tap into a new $38.5 million facilities fund from medical marijuana taxes. [The Oklahoman]
  • Have you considered whether survivors and descendants from victims of the Tulsa Race Massacre deserve reparations? Spend some time with this interactive look at Greenwood, “a fully realized antidote to the racial oppression of the time,” and what white mobs destroyed in the atrocity of May 31, 1921. [New York Times]

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