In The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.
Today In The News
OK courts information website has funding to make it through the year: OSCN.net has enough money to stay in operation — for now. The free website provides details about civil, criminal, probate, small claims and divorce cases at 18 courthouses, as well as appeals at the Capitol. Proposed budget cuts in May had put its availability in doubt [NewsOK].
Tulsa schools budget loses millions: Tulsa Public Schools’ new budget is the story of a blessing and a curse. With deep federal funding cuts and flat-lined state aid levels, the school district’s financing plan for 2015-16 is to prop itself up on the $5 million in savings it only has because it couldn’t find enough teachers and support workers to hire last year [Tulsa World].
Funding shortfalls motivate finding waste… but also ending important services: Agencies are continuing to craft their FY-2016 budgets based on the legislative appropriations. Both those who believe there is waste in government and those who believe there’s a lack of adequate funding can point to examples. A case in point came up this week in the Oklahoma Healthcare Authority Board meeting [OK Policy Blog].
Oklahoma ranks low for status of women: Over the past 10 years, Oklahoma had the largest increase in the number of women reporting poor mental health days, according to a national study. Oklahoma scored a D+ in the Institute for Women’s Policy Research’s report, “The Status of Women in the States,” an analysis of data on women’s progress in 50 states, the District of Columbia and the United States [NewsOK].
Two insurers out, one big new insurer in on Oklahoma’s ACA marketplace: Two private health insurance companies participating in the Affordable Care Act market in Oklahoma are expected to leave the program next year, while another big insurer wants in. The shuffle, which would occur on Jan. 1, illustrates the rapid evolution of the “Obamacare” health insurance marketplace as it approaches its third year of operation [Oklahoma Watch].
Tulsa Sheriff asks Supreme Court to block grand jury probe: In a last-second rush of district court filings before a three-day holiday weekend, the Tulsa County sheriff mounted a second legal challenge to a petition calling for a grand jury inquiry into his office. A state Supreme Court referee will hear arguments at 1:30 p.m. July 14 at the Oklahoma Judicial Center in Oklahoma City. The grand jury is scheduled to be convened at 9 a.m. July 20 [Tulsa World].
McAlester plans to keep its drilling ban: Gov. Mary Fallin signed controversial legislation in May outlawing municipal bans on fracking and other oil and gas activities. Officials in some communities are re-examining their local drilling ordinances to comply with the law, which goes into effect later this summer. One city in southeastern Oklahoma, however, isn’t budging [StateImpact Oklahoma]. Meanwhile, Oklahoma City approved an oil company’s request to drill in a residential neighborhood despite protests from residents [Journal Record].
Gov. Fallin makes deal to send water from Lexington prison to rural residents: Gov. Mary Fallin has brokered a first-of-its-kind deal to bring clean water from a Lexington prison to about 90 area homes with contaminated water wells [NewsOK]. House Democrats criticized what they called a “back door water deal.” A similar proposal had been voted down 49-28 in the House [OK Energy Today].
New rules coming for Oklahoma child-care providers: Gov. Fallin has signed new child-care licensing requirements that will affect licensed centers, day camps, drop-in centers, after-school care programs, part-day programs and programs for sick children. Effective January 1, facilities will have new rules on sleep environments for infants, video screen time allowed for youngsters and professional development mandates for providers [Tulsa World].
OKC questioning role of police in public schools: Oklahoma City Public Schools is not only revising its student code of conduct, but also the role police officers play on elementary school campuses. A district official told school board members this week that officers often are used to scare or punish children rather than mentor them [NewsOK].
Undocumented OU graduate gets green card application processed after 16 years: Akash Patel, 23, waited with his family to become a U.S. citizen for more than 20 years. In the meantime, he graduated from the University of Oklahoma and set up a scholarship for undocumented students [NewsOK].
Quote of the Day
“We can’t have a barbershop or a beauty salon in a residential area, but now we’re supposed to allow oil wells.”
-McAlester Mayor Steve Harrison, who said the city doesn’t plan to change the ban on drilling in city limits it has had since 1974, despite a new state law disallowing such bans (Source)
Number of the Day
1.6 percentage points
Increase in the share of Oklahoma’s population who are racial or ethnic minorities, from 31.3% in 2010 to 33.0% in 2014.
The problem with completely free markets: When a market works well, when it approaches the competitive ideal found in economics textbooks, there is no need for the government to intervene. But we shouldn’t confuse free markets with competitive markets. When there are significant departures from pure competition, what economists call market failures, markets are “free” to perform very badly, and sometimes a market will collapse entirely [The Fiscal Times].
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