Friday, October 30, 2020

Gore Trustee Pleads Not Guilty to DUI

Ryan Callison

A Town of Gore trustee pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs and failure to obey traffic control device.

On Oct. 13, Ryan Callison, 46, of Gore, was arrested after being stopped by a Gore police officer. The incident occurred at 8:51 p.m. after Callison had just attended a Gore monthly meeting that ended at 8:24 p.m.

According to the report filed by the officer, he observed Callison, driving a black Ford pickup, fail to stop at a stop sign. Callison allegedly then pulled in front of an oncoming vehicle that had to break abruptly to keep from hitting the black Ford. As the officer began to follow Callison he observed the black Ford "weaving in its lane and crossed the center line three times and the fog line one time." The officer then activated his emergency lights and conducted a traffic stop.

According to the officer, when he made contact with Callison he requested his drivers license, insurance and registration. Callison allegedly had a hard time getting his drivers license from his wallet and then dropped a piece of paper from the truck while attempting to hand over his registration and insurance.

The officer advised Callison to step out of the truck to get the dropped paper. Callison was allegedly unsteady on his feet and had to use the truck for balance. 

Callison was then given a battery of sobriety tests. Based on the results, the officer determined  Callison was under the influence.

Callison was released on  a $3,000 bond and will appear before Special Judge Matt Orendorff on Dec. 4 at 9 a.m. 

Driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs is punishable by a fine of $1,000 and imprisonment for 10 days to 1 year. Failure to obey traffic control device is punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 days or a fine of $5-$500.

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Thursday, October 29, 2020

Father, Son and Three More Sequoyah County Residents Arrested in Drug Raid

David Marr                          Vincent Marr

Five Sequoyah County residents were arrested during the early morning hours of Wednesday, October 28 during a joint drug raid conducted by the Sequoyah County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Homeland Security.

Sequoyah County Sheriff Larry Lane stated on Wednesday that the two organizations “teamed up to simultaneously serve two narcotic search warrants and two narcotic related arrest warrants in eastern Sequoyah County.”

Officers executed search and arrest warrants at the residence of David Marr, 54, north of Muldrow, in the Long community as well as at the home of his son, Vincent Marr, 32, on South Cottonwood Road, east of Muldrow. Officers recovered “items and substances consistent with the distribution and use of methamphetamines” as well as firearms at both residences, Lane said.

As a result of the raids, five people were arrested and booked into the Sequoyah County Jail. Lane stated that the warrants are the culmination of a three-month investigation into methamphetamine distribution in Sequoyah County tagged as “Operation Like Father, Like Son.”

Lane stated that the investigation revealed that the “ring-leaders were a father and son duo and the two are believed to be responsible for a very large amount of methamphetamine that has been distributed in Sequoyah County for quite some time.”

During the course of the investigation narcotics agents made numerous purchases of methamphetamines from both David and Vincent Marr. Information received during the investigation was also corroborated by downloading information from numerous electronic devices seized in the raid. 

Methamphetamine confiscated during the raid.

Arrests and charges resulting from the raids include:

David Marr, 54, Muldrow: Felony arrest warrant for Distribution of CDS-methamphetamine and Unlawful use of communication device, plus new charges of Trafficking Methamphetamine, possession of firearm in commission of felony, felon in possession of firearm, drug paraphernalia. No bond was set.

Vincent Marr, 32, Muldrow: Felony arrest warrant for distribution of CDS-methamphetamine and unlawful use of communications device. No Bond was set.

Angela Hendricks

Angela Hendricks, 44, Muldrow: Possession of CDS-methamphetamine with intent to distribute, and drug paraphernalia. Hendricks’ bond was set at $25,000.

Ronald Waycaster

Ronald Waycaster, 56, Muldrow: Possession of CDS-methamphetamine, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Waycaster’s bond was set at $6,000.

Drew Harvey

Drew Harvey, 35 of Muldrow: Possession of CDS-methamphetamine. Harvey’s bond was set at $15,000. 

“Investigator Chris Grizzle once again put together a great case against the meth dealers. This case was actually already made before they even did the raids today. The amount of meth that was found today was just a bonus to the case,” Lane stated.

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CN Donates $100,000 to CASC, Technology Programs

 L to R: Regent Dwight Spencer, Regent Ron Lawson, Regent Jahni Bachman, Regent Carroll Huggins, Buddy Spencer, President Jay Falkner, Regent Belva Barber, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr., Deputy Chief Bryan Warner, Sallisaw Campus Director Jaime Henson, Regent Lavon Williams.

Recently, through instrumental efforts on the part of Deputy Chief Bryan Warner, the Cherokee Nation donated $100,000 to the Sallisaw campus of Carl Albert State College. The donation will further technology efforts on the campus, and serve as a foundation for a future digital media program. Additional technology equipment will be added to the Sallisaw campus to enhance the virtual learning environment and capabilities already in place, and also on the horizon. 

“We are excited about the opportunities this donation will provide to all Carl Albert students, not just those on the Sallisaw campus,” said Sallisaw campus director, Jaime Henson. “The Sallisaw campus will serve as the virtual learning hub for our students, but each Carl Albert student will benefit from this, regardless of the campus they’re attending. This includes our concurrent students as well. It is a huge win for our entire institution.” 

Additionally, Carl Albert State College plans to implement a digital media and marketing program, which will launch in the Fall of 2022. Part of the funds from the Cherokee Nation donation will support this initiative. “Our goal at Carl Albert is to remain ahead of the demands of our local economy,” said President Jay Falkner. “We are fully aware of the need for digital technology and media in nearly every industry. Our goal is to support the demands of local employers through training up and educating media and marketing professionals, and equipping them to be experts in their field of study.” 

At their last scheduled meeting, held on the Sallisaw campus, the CASC Board of Regents thanked Cherokee Nation Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr., and also celebrated the efforts of Deputy Chief Warner in securing the generous donation. Chief Hoskin lauded the talents and efforts of Deputy Chief Warner, and attributed many of his fine qualities to his time serving at Carl Albert State College. “This institution helped shape him and it’s good for the Cherokee Nation because it makes him a better deputy chief,” said Hoskin.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Vian Car Show, Burnout, Cruise Night Nov. 7

The Vian police and fire departments, along with B&B Auto and Vian Wheel and Tire, will host Vian’s 3rd  Annual Burnin’ Down Main Street on Saturday, Nov. 7, in the downtown area of Anna Bell Farmer Park on Main Street.

Registration for the car show, which is $15 per vehicle, will start at noon. Awards will be given out for Best Truck, Best Modern and Best Classic vehicle. The burnout will start at 4 p.m. and the cruise will begin at dusk.

Cash payouts will be given for Best in Show, Council’s Choice, People’s Choice, and the top four burnouts. First place will receive $1,100; second, $300; third, $200; and fourth, $100.

Citing COVID-19 concerns, event organizers say the event is subject to change.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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CN Receives 6,000 New Rapid COVID-10 Tests

The Cherokee Nation received 6,000 rapid test kits from the Indian Health Service to enhance how the tribe tests for COVID-19 within its school system and among its most vulnerable citizens.

With the new testing system, positive and negative test results can be obtained in as little as 15 minutes.

“With positive COVID-19 cases still on the rise here in the Cherokee Nation, this rapid testing capability will make a big difference in our efforts to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” said Cherokee Nation Chief of Staff Todd Enlow. “The tests can quickly and easily identify if someone has the virus, which will help prevent outbreaks, especially among our elderly and disabled citizens as well as in our school system.”

The Indian Health Service received 300,000 Abbott BinaxNOW diagnostic tests from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to support COVID-19 testing in rural and tribal communities.

The Cherokee Nation plans to strategically distribute the tests throughout the tribe’s 14 county reservations, including within the tribe’s health centers and for Sequoyah Schools testing.

The rapid tests were implemented in Sequoyah Schools as part of the tribe’s plan to safely allow students to participate in limited, in-person classroom instruction.

“With this testing capability added to our existing practices such as mandatory masks and social distancing, we can test students, teachers and staff weekly and get results before they are even allowed into the building. This allows us to safely bring students back to school for at least one day of in-person learning each week,” Enlow said.

The cutting-edge tests use nasal swabs to test for the presence of COVID-19. The test is simple to use, inexpensive and can be easily administered by medical personnel or trained operators in certain non-clinical environments. 

The easy-to-use system does not require any laboratory machinery and is compact enough that the tests are run on a card that is about the size of a credit card.

“The Abbott BinaxNOW is a major advance for COVID-19 testing. By distributing this technology to tribal communities, we are protecting our most vulnerable and at-risk populations,” said Cherokee Nation Health Services Executive Medical Director Dr. Roger Montgomery.

The Cherokee Nation has implemented a number of protocols for protecting employees and visitors to tribal facilities. These include the expansion of testing capabilities within the workplace, such as surface testing; and introducing a number of safety measures including screening upon entry at any of the Cherokee Nation’s 150 government office locations, installing partitions at client interaction areas, requiring the use of masks and enhancing the existing cleaning and disinfecting protocols. The tribe has also made efforts to provide accessible COVID-19 testing to its citizens and communities by offering drive-through testing at all Cherokee Nation Health Services clinics.

As of Oct. 27, Cherokee Nation Health Services has had 3,162 patients test positive for COVID-19.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Muldrow Man Sought After Attacking Neighbor

A felony arrest warrant was issued Oct. 22 for a Muldrow man charged with first-degree burglary and assault and battery.

Michael Lee Sargent, 27, faces up to 20 years in prison on the felony burglary charge and a $1,000 fine on the misdemeanor assault count. No bond was set.

According to a police report, on Oct. 14, a Muldrow police officer was sitting at the entrance to the park when a man came up to him and told him there had been an altercation at the Bulldog Apartments. When the officer arrived at the scene he noticed a bloody Sargent, who took off to his apartment and locked the door as soon as he spotted the officer.

In a statement, the reporting victim stated, “I was watching TV and the girl that was over at Michael’s apartment messaged me and asked me to save her because Michael was being weird...Five minutes later she shows up crying, saying he smashed her phone and would not let her have her things (clothes, etc.)”

The victim stated, “I told Michael ‘Can you get her clothes for her?’ He said ‘No, she’s staying at my apartment.’ I said, ‘Michael, you don’t want the Muldrow PD down there.’

He then walked back to his apartment, but as he was shutting his door, Sargent kicked it in and began attacking the man with his fists. The man said he was able to fight Sargent off and that’s when he walked down the street to flag down police.

After calling for backup, officers made entry into Sargent’s apartment. They discovered Sargent lying on the bed with blood on him but they did not find any type of weaponi inside the residence.  EMS then transported Sargent to Baptist Health in Fort Smith, Ark.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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Monday, October 26, 2020

Man Steals Car, Wrecks it in Colorado

A felony arrest warrant was issued Oct. 22 for a man accused of stealing a car from a Sequoyah County woman.

Brandon Jones, 28, was charged with larceny of an automobile, a felony carrying a punishment of up to five years in the Department of Corrections or by a fine in an amount that is equal to three times the value of the property that was stolen or by fine, imprisonment and restitution.

The original report was regarding an incident that occurred in the Dollar General parking lot in Muldrow, where a police officer was dispatched in reference to a stolen vehicle.

When the officer arrived at the store, he was met by a male, who said he had left the keys in the vehicle while he ran into the store and when he came back out the car had been stolen. The vehicle’s owner was located and she came to the Muldrow Police Department to fill out a statement and the car was entered as a stolen vehicle. The owner stated that only the male driving it at the time it was stolen had permission to drive her car.

On Oct. 9, another Muldrow officer was informed that dispatch was contacted by the Vail (Colo.) Police Department about the vehicle. They contacted the car’s owner to verify that the the vehicle was still stolen. 

Muldrow police then contacted the Vail police, who said the vehicle had been involved in a collision and the air bags had been deployed. Jones was the one driving the vehicle, police learned. Jones had paperwork in the vehicle showing that he had recently been released from the Sebastian County Jail in Fort Smith, Ark. He also said he stole the vehicle from a Piggly Wiggly and Dollar General parking lot in Muldrow city limits.

Jones is currently being held at Eagle County Jail in Colorado.


Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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Sequoyah County Seeing Surge in COVID-19 Cases

Sequoyah County Emergency Management Director Steve Rutherford told the Board of County Commissioners that COVID-19 infection rates are on the rise throughout the county.

Speaking at the commissioners’ weekly meeting Monday, Rutherford said that as of Saturday there were 200 active cases in the county, with Sallisaw the hot spot with more than 80 active cases. The county’s death toll sits at 13, Rutherford said.

The commissioners approved several items, including the 2019 REAP contract closeout countywide certification in District 2, a detention services agreement between the Cherokee Nation and the Sequoyah County Sheriff’s Office. They also gave the green light to District 3’s purchase of a Caterpillar Model 306 CR hydraulic excavator through a statewide contract.

In other business, the commissioners:

*Approved the transfer of appropriation from the Sequoyah County Election Board’s maintenance and operations account to the board’s part time account.

*Approved the transfer of appropriations from Sequoyah County District #3’s maintenance and operations account to its capital outlay account.

 Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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Give Thanks, Give Blood Nov. 2 and 6

November is the month of thankfulness, and the Oklahoma Blood Institute is thanking generous donors who volunteer their time to give the gift of lifesaving blood with a limited edition “Give Blood, Give Life” face mask.

Individuals age 16 and up are urged to give blood at one of these locations:

*Vian Community Blood Drive, Monday, Nov. 2, from 1-6 p.m. on the Bloodmobile parked at Marvin’s IGA.

*Walmart in Sallisaw on Friday, Nov. 6, from 12:30-5:30 p.m.

Appointments are preferred. Walk-ins will be managed as schedules allow.

Donors will also receive a coupon for a free Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit from Whataburger.

The Oklahoma Blood Institute is the local, nonprofit blood supplier, supporting the inventory for patients in more than 160 hospitals, medical facilities and air ambulances statewide.  

All donations will be tested for COVID-19 antibodies to identify potential convalescent plasma donors.

“We are truly grateful to our donors who have stepped up during these extremely difficult months for the blood supply,” said John Armitage, M.D., president and CEO of the Oklahoma Blood Institute. “The need for blood is constant. Children with cancer cannot wait for lifesaving treatment, trauma patients cannot wait for transfusions and other patients with life-threatening conditions rely on blood products. We want to help our selfless donors stay safe and healthy, and this limited-edition face mask is our way of saying, ‘thank you’ this Thanksgiving season.”

Blood drives will be managed according to CDC safety recommendations. The Oklahoma Blood Institute is committed to maintaining the safest standards for blood collection, testing and transfusion.

Blood donation typically takes only about an hour, and one donation saves up to three lives. Appointments can be made by calling or texting Greg at (479) 652-2362 or visiting More information on the Oklahoma Blood Institute can be found at

To donate, 16-year-olds must weigh at least 125 pounds and provide signed parental permission; 17-year-olds must weigh at least 125 pounds; folks 18 and over must weigh at least 110 pounds. Photo ID required. Donors ages 16 or 17 need parental consent to be screened for COVID-19 antibodies and are not eligible to donate convalescent plasma. This test has not been FDA cleared or approved. It has been authorized by the FDA under an emergency use authorization for use by authorized laboratories. The test has been authorized only for the detection of the IgG antibody against SARS-CoV-2, not for any other viruses or pathogens. Blood drives will be managed according to CDC safety recommendations. Test results will be made available post-donation.

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CN Offering Free Flu Shots to Vian Students

The Cherokee Nation is making free flu shots available to all Vian Public School students. Shots will be given from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Oct. 28, at the Vian Elementary School cafeteria (the round building).

Students must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. If the student is at school, the parent may go to the front office at the child’s school, check the child out from class and accompany the child to the cafeteria. The student may return to class afterward.

Parents must present their child's insurance card (if applicable) and complete registration forms. The screening form must be filled out no sooner than Oct. 27.

For more details, visit the Vian Public School’s website, If you have other questions, contact the office of your child’s school at (918) 773-5311.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Moore Charged with Arson After Apartment Building Fire

A Sallisaw man faces charges after he allegedly set fire to an apartment building in the city, court records show.

James Gary Moore, 35, was charged Oct. 20 with one felony count of first-degree arson and 10 counts of endangering human life during arson, also felonies. Moore faces a $25,000 fine and/or 35 years in prison on the arson charge, and each endangerment charge is punishable by imprisonment from 3 to 10 years, by a fine of up to $10,000 or both.

At 3:22 a.m. on Oct. 11, a Sallisaw Police Department detective was dispatched to a structure fire at 203 N. Hickory in Sallisaw. A police lieutenant already on the scene told the detective the fire was suspicious in nature and that he and another officer had earlier responded to two calls regarding a domestic disturbance between Moore and his girlfriend.

When the detective arrived at the scene, the Sallisaw Fire Department was already there battling the blaze. The tenants in the five surrounding apartments were evacuated.

One of the evacuated tenants told police that 20 minutes before he called 911 he heard loud banging, and things breaking. Shortly afterward, smoke became visible from the downstairs apartment. Other tenants corroborated the witness’s story.

There were at least seven people inside the structure when the fire was started and 11 firefighters were actively working the scene.

At about 5:30 that morning, Moore was spotted near Mr. Jiff’s at Maple and Cherokee. A police officer located Moore in the parking lot and arrested him for public intoxication.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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CN ACT Prep Course Moves to Virtual Platform

Registration is now open for Cherokee Nation Foundation’s fall ACT Prep Course. The 12-week course will be presented virtually to Native American students in their junior or senior year of high school, with preference given to Cherokee Nation citizens. 

The free course is held on Monday evenings from 4–6 p.m. beginning Nov. 9, and the deadline to register is Oct. 30. 

“It is impossible to quantify the true impact of COVID-19 on education as a whole, but through the challenges we’ve been able to identify new opportunities to expand our programs and support more students both locally and at large,” said Janice Randall, executive director of Cherokee Nation Foundation. “We miss seeing all of our students face to face, but hope they utilize these virtual courses to continue building their confidence and test-taking capabilities.” 

The virtual ACT Prep Course features MasteryPrep curriculum, which provides individualized content strategies for all four subjects and administers practice tests to help students identify their strengths and weaknesses. 

The national ACT exam in December will serve as the halfway mark for students interested in testing their progress, and the course will conclude with students taking the national exam in February. 

Students interested in the course can apply online at

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Choate Pleads Not Guilty to Burglary After Being Found in Marble City Residence

Joshua Kale Choate

A Marble City man pleaded not guilty Oct. 15 to first-degree burglary, a felony, and three misdemeanors, court records show.

Joshua Kale Choate, 29, faces up to 20 years in prison on the burglary charge. His misdemeanor counts include malicious injury to property (under $1,000), breaking and entering with unlawful intent and public intoxication.

According to a police report, on Oct. 10 at 1:20 a.m., a Sequoyah County Sheriff’s deputy was dispatched to a Marble City residence in reference to a breaking-and-entering incident.

Upon arriving at the scene, the deputy met with the homeowners, a husband and wife, who said they were asleep in bed when they heard a loud crashing noise. When he went to the living room, the husband said he saw Choate lying on the floor and all their furniture turned over. He said he tried to talk to Choate as he was getting up and Choate started to walk toward him.

The homeowner said Choate had started reaching in his pockets for what he assumed was a knife. When he reminded Choate who he was and told him they had grown up together, Choate began to calm down and was finally persuaded to leave.

As the deputy continued speaking with the homeowner, he could hear yelling coming from nearby. He left the residence to find the sound’s source but had no luck and returned to the home. When the deputy got there he heard the yelling again and went to a residence at the end of the street to the north. 

Upon arriving there, he made contact with a middle-age man and woman standing out in their yard. The man said his boy had just walked through the yard and his mother was yelling at him. The deputy asked if his boy was Choate and the man said yes. The man also told the deputy he could probably find Choate in the woods behind his house, where he was taken into custody without incident.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Catholic Charities Still Accepting Donations After Fire

Catholic Charities of Sallisaw is asking those wishing to donate to bring their items during business hours only. An early morning fire on Friday destroyed the large donation dumpster outside the 409 N. Adams office.

The agency is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., said Pam Wemhaner, and she said donations are still being accepted. For more information, call Catholic Charities at (918) 775-6111.

An anonymous 911 call around 4:30 a.m. tipped off the Sallisaw Fire Department to the blaze, which was confined to the dumpster. There was nothing salvageable when the fire was extinguished.

Sallisaw Fire Chief Anthony Armstrong said Tuesday that Wemhaner told him the dumpster had been full the night before the fire, but he noted that the location’s lack of security cameras and few if any leads currently have the investigation at a standstill.

Anyone with information regarding the fire is asked to contact the Sallisaw Police or Fire Department.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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Monday, October 19, 2020

Old Sallisaw School Property Will Become Car Museum

A Sallisaw business developer has big plans to turn the Old Sallisaw Middle School (Tommie Spear Middle School) into a regional museum featuring collector cars and other vintage vehicles.

Last week the Sallisaw Board of City Commissioners approved the exchange of property (the school) with developer Larry Crowe. As part of the deal, Crowe paid an additional $50,000 for the property. In the property exchange, the city will take possession of a piece of property Crowe owns at 109 E. Choctaw.

Crowe says the construction will occur in two phases and will take about two years to complete. In the first phase, the interior and exterior of the building will be upgraded, while the original entry will remain. There is a possibility that some cars could go on display at that time.

Crowe’s plans for the museum include displays of collector cars and memorabilia, along with vintage trucks, tractors, motorcycles, boats and more.

Some of the items will be for sale on a consignment basis, while others will strictly be on display, Crowe said. Plans are also in the works for billboards advertising the museum to be erected on eastbound and westbound Interstate 40.

Crowe said he hopes the museum will draw more attention to the Old Sallisaw High School, and he noted that the property exchange would save the middle school property for future generations.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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Two Oklahoma State Questions on Nov. 3 Ballot

In addition to state and national races, voters will decide two state questions on November 3.

*State Question 805 would amend the Oklahoma Constitution to end the use of sentence enhancements for people convicted of nonviolent crimes. 

*State Question 814 would amend the Oklahoma constitution to change the way Oklahoma’s tobacco settlement money is distributed.

According to the Oklahoma Policy Institute people who are currently sentenced to prison can have their sentences extended if they have prior felony convictions. Under State Question 805, people convicted of nonviolent felonies could still receive the maximum sentence for that crime, but would not receive additional time — called a “sentence enhancement” — due to past convictions. In addition, this measure would allow people to petition a court to have their sentences shortened if they are currently in prison for nonviolent convictions and had received a sentence enhancement. A fiscal analysis of SQ 805 by the Oklahoma Council for Public Affairs estimates that the ballot measure would reduce the prison population by about 8.5 percent and save the state up to $186 million over the next 10 years

Supporters of  SQ 805 say,
*Sentence enhancements have no proven public safety benefit, but cost the state millions in unnecessary incarceration. 
*People sentenced to prison can still be given the maximum sentence under current law, and those maximums can still be changed by the Legislature. SQ 805 would simply disallow a longer sentence than the maximum because of a prior nonviolent conviction. 
*A fiscal analysis of SQ 805 by the Oklahoma Council for Public Affairs estimates that the ballot measure would reduce the prison population by about 8.5 percent and save the state up to $186 million over the next 10 years.

Opponents of SQ 805 say,
*It would prevent future changes to the list of offenses classified as violent for the purposes of sentence enhancements. Some offenses — simple and domestic assault and battery — should be included, but cannot be added later if SQ 805 passes. 
*Amending the Constitution goes around the legislative process and prevents lawmakers from making adjustments to the law. 
*Sentencing enhancements are important to maintain because they allow prosecutors to step up punishments for repeat offenders, and this takes away their ability to increase punishments beyond the statutory maximum.

State Question 814 would amend the Oklahoma Constitution to change the way Oklahoma’s tobacco settlement money is distributed. Every year, Oklahoma receives a payout from the 1998 tobacco lawsuit settlement. Seventy-five percent of the funds are placed in the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET), and the other 25 percent is split between the Legislature and the Attorney General. SQ 814 would switch the percentages, with 75 percent going to the Legislature and 25 percent going into the endowment fund. It would also mandate that the funds directed to the Legislature be used to help fund the state’s Medicaid program. Funds going to the Attorney General would continue to come out of the Legislative portion.

Supporters of SQ814 say,
*The endowment fund currently has over $1 billion dollars, so TSET should be able to continue funding research, prevention, and health initiatives in Oklahoma even if this change is implemented. *This change could generate close to $50 million annually, which could help fund Medicaid expansion without raising revenues. 
*Using the settlement payments to help fund health care in Oklahoma could help keep the state from having to cut existing patient services or reduce the amount paid to health care providers. 

Opponents of SQ814 say,
*TSET is funding important health initiatives, and over time, this ability will diminish, as a smaller deposit to the trust fund will mean lower interest earnings in the future. Voter approval of Medicaid expansion shouldn’t mean another public health measure loses funding, especially when strong health infrastructure is more important than ever. 
*The  language does not specify that the funds must be used for Medicaid expansion, leading to concerns that the funds could be used to replace existing Medicaid funding and leave the state without a way to fund expansion. 
*There are other ways to fund expansion without a tax increase, including reductions in tax incentives, an increase on hospital fees, and retaining a fee on insurance plans.

The fate of these two state questions will be determined when Oklahoma voters go to the polls on Nov. 3.

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