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Should Oklahoma adopt all voting-by-mail elections? (Guest Post: Cassidy Hamilton)

by | May 18th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Elections | Comments (0)

Cassidy Hamilton is one of the 2014-2015 OK Policy Research Fellows. Cassidy graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Economics and is currently pursuing a Masters of Public Administration at the University of Oklahoma. She has also contributed a blog post on infant mortalityvote-by-mail.

Last year, Oklahoma was ranked 49th in the nation in voter engagement in a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Less than half of eligible Oklahomans voted in the 2012 presidential election and only three-fourths of eligible Oklahomans are even registered, putting Oklahoma 46th nationally in voter registration.

To address our state’s poor voter participation, State Senator David Holt introduced a package of ten bills that if enacted, would fundamentally restructure Oklahoma’s election process. These bills ranged from SB 313, which would establish and allow online voter registration, to SB 310, which would transition Oklahoma to conduct its elections entirely by mail by 2020.

continue reading Should Oklahoma adopt all voting-by-mail elections? (Guest Post: Cassidy Hamilton)

The Data Is In: Oklahomans are actively using Affordable Care Act

by | May 14th, 2015 | Posted in Healthcare | Comments (0)

Steven Goldman, PhD is a Navigator at Oklahoma Primary Care Association. He can be reached at sgoldman@okpca.org.

Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) recently reached its fifth year, the law’s main incentives for expanding health coverage are still young. The health care law’s second Open Enrollment Period just concluded in February 2015. Now the the enrollment data from the US Department of Health and Human Services is in, and it makes two important points: that Oklahomans are interested and engaged in purchasing health insurance on Healthcare.gov, and that those purchases are having a strong impact on the state economy.

continue reading The Data Is In: Oklahomans are actively using Affordable Care Act

Higher minimum wages improve economic well-being (Guest Post: Michael Krassa and Benjamin Radcliff)

by | May 6th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Economy | Comments (0)

Michael A. Krassa is Professor Emeritus of Social Dimensions of Environmental Policy and Political Science at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Benjamin Radcliff, is a Professor of Political Science at University of Notre Dame and the author of The Political Economy of Human Happiness. This post originally ran as a brief for the Scholars Strategy Network.

Debates about the wisdom of hiking minimum wage levels are stuck in a rut. Opponents say higher minimum wages kill jobs, while supporters maintain that higher minimums reduce poverty and spur consumer spending, benefiting everyone. Many if not most economists believe both arguments to be true: higher minimum wages do indeed cost some jobs, but they also raise the standard of living for large portions of the population.

So how can we can decide whether or not higher minimum wages are, on balance, a good idea or not? Simply put, do average individuals living in nations that have higher minimum wages have higher levels of financial well-being? We decided to put this question to the test.

continue reading Higher minimum wages improve economic well-being (Guest Post: Michael Krassa and Benjamin Radcliff)

Don’t take away Oklahomans’ right to regulate drilling (Guest post: Johnson Bridgwater)

by | April 20th, 2015 | Posted in Economy | Comments (2)

Johnson Bridgwater is the Executive Director of Oklahoma Sierra Club.

It’s undeniable that the fracking boom has had a huge impact on many Oklahoma communities. It’s helped bring jobs and income to some, but the rapid increase in this new method of drilling has a flip side—communities have serious concerns about earthquakes and threats to vital water supplies for cities and towns, not to mention the noise, air pollution, and damage to infrastructure from highly industrial drilling operations.

continue reading Don’t take away Oklahomans’ right to regulate drilling (Guest post: Johnson Bridgwater)

Mr. Chips goes to Oklahoma City (Guest post: John Waldron)

by | April 9th, 2015 | Posted in Education | Comments (5)

John Waldron

John Waldron is a history teacher at Booker T. Washington High School. His earlier contribution to the OK Policy Blog is “The public education crunch goes from bad to worse.”

On March 30 I took a group of teachers and students to Oklahoma City for the Brighter Future Education Rally sponsored by the Oklahoma PTA.  It wasn’t my first rodeo. As a public school teacher, I have attended at least four rallies over the last fifteen years, including last year’s record-breaking gathering of 30,000 outside the capitol building. But this was my first attempt to go inside and talk directly to the people who write the legislation and budget for our public schools. It was an eye-opening experience.

continue reading Mr. Chips goes to Oklahoma City (Guest post: John Waldron)

Don’t ban bilingual education (Guest post: Shannon Guss and Ryan Gentzler)

by | March 31st, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Education | Comments (0)
Photo by Texas A&M University

Photo by Texas A&M University

Shannon Guss is the Educare Project Director at the Early Childhood Education Institute (ECEI) at the University of Oklahoma  – Tulsa. Ryan Gentzler is a Research Associate at ECEI and an OK Policy Research Fellow.

With two bills from 2011 and again this year with SB 522, Oklahoma legislators have proposed to ban bilingual education in Oklahoma. These bills would have dramatically expanded the impact of State Question 751, which established English as the official language of the state. Although the bills failed both this year and in 2011, we should be troubled by these repeated attempts to ban a proven, effective method for educating students.

For all students, and especially those in early childhood (birth to eight years of age), a large and growing body of evidence shows that learning two languages offers a wide array of enduring benefits. Dr. Linda Espinosa, the keynote speaker at the Early Childhood Leadership Institute at OU-Tulsa in 2008 and 2009, completed a synthesis of research on the subject that highlights cognitive, academic, and social benefits of learning two languages from an early age. Below, we summarize some of the most important takeaways from her 2013 report.

continue reading Don’t ban bilingual education (Guest post: Shannon Guss and Ryan Gentzler)

The misleading myth of voter fraud in American elections (Guest Post: Lorraine Minnite)

by | March 27th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Elections | Comments (0)

Lorraine Minnite is Associate Professor of Public Policy and Director, Undergraduate Urban Studies Program at Rutgers University – Camden. She is a member of the Scholars Strategy Network Working Group on Expanding and Protecting the Right to Vote. This is an edited version of a 2014 brief for the Scholars Strategy Network and is reposted with permission. Sources for all data and claims asserted in this post are available on request.

I VotedAre fraudulent voters undermining U.S. elections? The simple answer is no. Rather, the threat comes from the myth of voter fraud used to justify rules that restrict full and equal voting rights.

A concerted partisan campaign to erect more restrictive voting rules is apace in many states. Thousands of changes to state election codes have been proposed since the contested presidential election of 2000. Far fewer have been signed into law, but those put in place – such as rules that people have a certain kind of photo identification card available from specific government offices – are making it more difficult for many citizens to cast ballots, including longtime voters as well as new ones.

continue reading The misleading myth of voter fraud in American elections (Guest Post: Lorraine Minnite)

Avoid ‘naked tax cuts with none of the pay fors’ (Guest post: Oklahoma Economic Report)

by | February 23rd, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Taxes | Comments (1)
State Treasurer Ken Miller

State Treasurer Ken Miller

This article originally appeared in State Treasurer Ken Miller’s monthly newsletter, the Oklahoma Economic Report.

At the dawn of a new legislative session, current government expenses once again exceed expected revenues and agencies are lining up with $2 billion in additional requests. Policymakers and the public are questioning whether Oklahoma taxes too little or too much, if the state has the right mix of taxes, and what the state should or should not be incentivizing through tax policy.

For years, the discussion about Oklahoma’s tax structure has focused on eliminating the income tax. Mostly ignored is how to replace the more than one-third of state revenue it generates. Nine states don’t tax personal income. Only one state, Alaska, eliminated the personal income tax, but it did so by depending almost entirely on oil and gas industry taxes. Two no-income tax states – Florida and Washington – have higher tax burdens than some income-tax-assessing states, including Oklahoma, according to the Tax Foundation. Tax burden is defined as the collective weight of all taxes levied on an individual.

continue reading Avoid ‘naked tax cuts with none of the pay fors’ (Guest post: Oklahoma Economic Report)

Pass common sense sentencing reforms now (Guest post: Sean Wallace)

by | February 19th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Criminal Justice | Comments (5)
Sean Wallace

Sean Wallace

Sean Wallace is the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Corrections Professionals, an association representing employees of the Department of Corrections.

During her 2015 inaugural address, Governor Mary Fallin told the crowd assembled on the Capitol steps that one of the three areas Oklahoma “must improve or risk stifling our forward momentum” was “over-incarceration.” She went on to say that “year after year another issue that holds back our state, breaks apart our families and leads to poverty is crime and incarceration.”  

The Governor deserves credit for saying that Oklahoma locks up too many of its citizens because too few elected officials are willing to say that.  To do so is to risk being called “liberal” or “soft on crime.”

continue reading Pass common sense sentencing reforms now (Guest post: Sean Wallace)

The many benefits of online voter registration (Guest post: Rachael V. Cobb)

by | February 16th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Elections | Comments (1)

Rachael V. Cobb is Associate Professor of Government and Chair of the Government Department, Suffolk University. She is a member of the Scholars Strategy Network Working Group on Expanding and Protecting the Right to Vote. This is an edited version of a brief for the Scholars Strategy Network and is reposted with permission.

RegisterIn order to vote, every American must register first – except in North Dakota, which has no voter registration. Making registration secure, efficient, and easily accessible for voters should be a goal for every state. Online voter registration accomplishes all of these objectives. Providing an online tool that eligible citizens can use to register to vote reduces administrative costs, minimizes data entry errors, and increases the accuracy of state voter lists. More accurate lists, in turn, reduce delays and lines at the polls on Election Day or during early voting.

continue reading The many benefits of online voter registration (Guest post: Rachael V. Cobb)

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