Skip to Content

In The Know: OSCN.net has funding to make it through the year

by | July 6th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn 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.

Source: Governing

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

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].

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

The Weekly Wonk: New laws in effect, insider takes, and more

by | July 5th, 2015 | Posted in Blog | Comments (0)

the_weekly_wonkThe Weekly Wonk is a summary of Oklahoma Policy Institute’s events, publications, blog posts, and coverage. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The KnowClick here to subscribe to In The Know.

This Week from OK Policy:

A tax law that made tax breaks for oil and gas drilling permanent went into effect on July 1. We explain what it means for the state budget. A Senate Democrat and a House Republican share their insider takes on the 2015 legislative session. In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis shares how budget cuts forced the state Medicaid agency to ferret out and eliminate wasteful spending – as well as coverage for important procedures. On the heels of a landmark case on the Affordable Care Act, Executive Director David Blatt explains what comes next. We are pleased to announce that Shiloh Kantz has been promoted to Director of Operations and Development.

OK Policy in the News:

KWGS spoke with Blatt in their coverage of the oil and gas tax break going into effect. Blatt was also featured in an Oklahoma Watch piece on turnover in the state’s health insurance market. Policy Director Gene Perry was quoted in a Journal Record article on a proposed overtime rule expected to take effect in 2016.

Weekly What’s That:

Open Meetings Act

Oklahoma’s Open Meetings Act (25 O.S. s. 304) requires all public bodies to file advance notice of regularly scheduled and special meetings with the Secretary of State, as well as advance notice of changes in date, time, or location of regularly scheduled meetings. Under the Act, agendas for regular and special meetings must be posted in a publicly-accessible location for at least 24 hours prior to its meeting… Read more.

Look up more key terms to understand Oklahoma politics and government here.

Continue Reading »

Funding shortfalls motivate finding waste… but also ending important services (Capitol Updates)

by | July 2nd, 2015 | Posted in Budget, Capitol Updates, Healthcare | Comments (0)

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol. You can sign up on his website to receive the Capitol Updates newsletter by email.

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 during proposed rule changes to deal with its FY-2016 budget. OHCA got an increase over this year but not enough to cover the cost of current services for all of next year.  So some programs were on the chopping block.

Continue Reading »

In The Know: Dozens of new Oklahoma laws go into effect

by | July 2nd, 2015 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. 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

Dozens of new Oklahoma laws go into effect: Dozens of new laws went into effect Wednesday in Oklahoma, including one that sets up regulations for ridesharing programs such as Uber and Lyft and another that requires courts to report certain information for background checks on gun buyers [NewsOK].

Large oil industry tax cut becomes permanent: State tax breaks for oil and gas companies are now permanent. A law eliminating sunset clauses and setting a 2 percent tax rate for three years for most new wells went into effect for the start of the new fiscal year. David Blatt with Oklahoma Policy Institute said there’s a problem with that [Public Radio Tulsa].

Unemployment up across the state: Unemployment rose in 75 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties in May. The figures released Wednesday show Latimer County in southeastern Oklahoma with the highest jobless rate at 8.4 percent — up from 7.8 percent in April. Haskell and McIntosh counties are next at 8.2 percent unemployment each [KRMG].

Legislators plan state question to repeal Oklahoma Constitution’s ban on using public property to support religion: The Oklahoma Supreme Court cited that section in a 7-2 ruling released Tuesday that said a Ten Commandments monument should be removed from the grounds of the state Capitol [NewsOK].

Continue Reading »

Two insider takes on the 2015 legislative session

by | July 1st, 2015 | Posted in Budget, Capitol Matters | Comments (1)

Editor’s note: We came across these two thoughtful takes on the 2015 session, with a particular emphasis on the budget, from Senate Republican Mike Mazzei and House Democrat Ben Loring. Their assessments offer some stark contrasts but also some surprising agreement.  The articles are posted here with the authors’ permission.

Sen. Mike Mazzei: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Mike Mazzeimazzei_bio has represented Senate District 25 since 2004. This summary was originally posted for his followers on his Facebook page.

Halleluiah! The 2015 Legislative Session ended one week early and after some time of reflection, I can now provide some highlights for my annual “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” report.

The Good – In spite of a $611 million deficit, we managed to avoid reducing K-12 education funding from the previous year. We also initiated some tax reform by eliminating the five-year property tax exemption for new wind power facilities for an annual savings of $45 million. For hopefully more tax reform in the future, we established a new evaluation system to analyze every tax incentive in the tax code over a four- year cycle. Tulsa won a big victory with approval of a financing package for the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture, which according to my analysis, would provide significant net economic benefits to both Tulsa and the state. And finally, we joined almost every other state in the nation to ban texting while driving.

Continue Reading »

In The Know: State budget cuts hit Medicaid patients

by | July 1st, 2015 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. 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

State budget cuts hit Medicaid patients: The ripple effect of this year’s legislative budget cuts has reached Oklahoma’s Medicaid recipients. Starting July 1, only children can receive coverage through Medicaid for sleep studies and the machines that treat apnea. Family Medical Supply CEO Jerry Barnhart said without CPAP equipment, people with apnea can develop hypertension, heart attack, stroke or heart disease [Journal Record].

With Supreme Court decision, Fallin should reconsider Medicaid rejection: As of 2012, Oklahoma ranked sixth among states with the highest percentage of its population being uninsured — approximately 21 percent of the population was uninsured. The only step taken by Oklahoma to address this tragic condition is Insure Oklahoma which is, in fact, dependent on federal money [Tulsa World].

Budget cuts could shut down more state parks: Since 2011, one of the ways the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation has dealt with budget cuts has been to close state parks or transfer them to new managers. With the agency taking a cut of more than $16 million dollars going into the new fiscal year, the big question is whether more parks will have to go [OETA/StateImpact Oklahoma].

Permanent tax reduction for oil and gas industry goes into effect: For decades the standard tax on oil and gas production in Oklahoma has been 7 percent. Beginning today, virtually all new wells will be taxed at just 2 percent for the first 36 months of production [OK Policy Blog].

Economists forecast more energy layoffs: The RegionTrack economic research company has projected revenue for state oil and gas producers could drop 33.4 percent this year, spurring up to 11,000 industry job cuts. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicates Oklahoma has already suffered 8,400 job cuts within its energy-dominated mining and logging sector from December through May [Journal Record].

Oklahoma Supreme Court rules homeowners can sue oil companies over quakes: Homeowners who have sustained injuries or property damage from rampant earthquakes they say are caused by oil and gas operations can sue for damages in state trial courts, rejecting efforts by the industry to block such lawsuits from being decided by juries and judges [New York Times].

Harold Hamm sues for $75,000 in damages over Facebook post: Continental Resources Chairman and CEO Harold Hamm filed a defamation lawsuit against oilman Mickey Thompson over a Facebook post that accused him of trying to “squelch” science examining links between Oklahoma’s energy industry and earthquakes [NewsOK].

Oklahoma death row inmate maintains innocence as execution looms: With the countdown back on to his execution after a U.S. Supreme Court decision, Richard Glossip remains adamant in his innocence. Glossip was convicted of hiring Justin Sneed to kill their boss in 1997. He was convicted based on the testimony of Sneed, who received a plea deal in exchange for his testimony. There was no physical evidence linking Glossip to the crime [News9].

Oklahoma Supreme Court orders Ten Commandments monument must be removed from state Capitol: In a 7-2 opinion the Supreme Court found the placement of the monument on the grounds of the state Capitol violate Article 2, Section 5, of the Oklahoma Constitution which prohibits the use of public money or property to directly or indirectly benefit a “church denomination or system of religion” [NewsOK]. Eleven state GOP lawmakers are calling for the impeachment of all seven Supreme Court justices who ruled against the monument [OK House Press Release]. A Satanist group said they may switch their efforts on erecting their statue of Satan to Arkansas, where lawmakers recently passed a bill to allow a Ten Commandments statue on their Capitol grounds [NewsOK].

A first look at drafts of Oklahoma’s new education standards: Oklahoma is writing new academic standards in math and English that in some ways go beyond the current standards and the now-repealed Common Core benchmarks, according to a review of initial drafts by Oklahoma Watch. A committee of Education Department experts, university educators and school teachers drew on Massachusetts’ past English standards; Minnesota’s and Texas’ current math standards; and Virginia’s current math and English standards to develop standards for Oklahoma [Oklahoma Watch].

Oklahomans react to President Obama’s overtime proposal: President Barack Obama’s proposal to raise the overtime pay cap for the nation’s workforce received praise from the Oklahoma Policy Institute and labor unions and a much less enthusiastic response from the state labor commissioner and business groups. Gene Perry, policy director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, said it was necessary to address a discrepancy between high productivity and low wages, which he said has been going on for decades [Journal Record].

New rules could help Oklahoma tribes: Four tribes in Oklahoma that previously sent letters of intent to petition for federal recognition — The United Band of the Western Cherokee Nation in Moore, the Cheyenne Nation in Longdale, the United Chickmungwa Band in Wister, and the Muscogee Creek Indian Freedmen Band in Moore — could now benefit from the new regulations created by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Under the new regulations, if the tribe is denied federal status, it can ask for a court hearing with an administrative law judge [Journal Record].

Quote of the Day

“There are plenty of businesses out there who do right by their employees and pay a living wage. This will actually create a more level playing field for those companies because they’ll no longer be at a disadvantage to competitors who get labor at poverty wages.”

-Oklahoma Policy Institute’s Policy Director Gene Perry, speaking about President Obama’s proposal to expand the number of employees eligible to earn overtime pay for working more than 40 hours per week. The proposed Department of Labor rule would increase the income threshold for overtime eligibility from $23,660 to $50,440 (Source).

Number of the Day

47.7%

Increase in the number of women-owned businesses in Oklahoma, from 67,481 in 1997 to 99,700 in 2015.

Source: Womenable

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

New evidence should drive policies on neighborhoods and economic opportunity: Raj Chetty has been shaking up the conversation about economic opportunity in America. He’s using creative statistical methods to analyze millions of individual tax returns to track patterns of upward mobility from birth to adulthood. Chetty’s latest studies find that place really matters: where kids grow up has a big impact on what they earn as adults [Urban Institute].

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Understanding Oklahoma’s new tax rates on oil and gas production

by | June 30th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Taxes | Comments (0)

With the start of the new fiscal year tomorrow (July 1), many new laws are set to take effect. Perhaps the most consequential new law is one passed last session, HB 2562, which extended and made permanent tax breaks for the state’s oil and gas producers.

Under current law, the standard tax on gross production is 7 percent. However, over the years the Legislature has enacted a series of exemptions that lower the tax rate for various forms of production, including enhanced recovery projects, inactive wells, new discovery wells, and 3-dimensional seismic shoots. The most significant of these exemptions is for horizontally-drilled wells, which are taxed at just 1 percent for the first 48 months of production. As the lion’s share of new oil and gas drilling in Oklahoma has shifted from vertical to horizontal production over the past decade, the cost of the horizontal tax break has ballooned to $282 million in FY 2014 from just $2 million in FY 2004. The cost in FY 2015 was projected at $379 million by the Tax Commission in December.

Continue Reading »

In The Know: Supreme Court upholds Oklahoma lethal injection drug

by | June 30th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. 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

Supreme Court upholds Oklahoma lethal injection drug: The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday effectively sanctioned a sedative used by Oklahoma for lethal injections, rejecting arguments that it could lead to an unconstitutional level of pain [NewsOK]. State officials say they are prepared to move forward with three previously scheduled executions [NewsOK].

Supreme Court delays mercury emissions rule: The Supreme Court said EPA officials failed to properly consider economic costs of new pollution controls on coal-burning power plants [Washington Post]. Oklahoma’s two major utilities will continue moving forward with plans to comply with the rule [Tulsa World].

How a 1942 Supreme Court decision blocking Oklahoma’s attempt to sterilize a chicken thief laid the foundation for marriage equality: In 1935, Oklahoma passed a law allowing “habitual criminals”—defined as those who had been convicted three times of “felonies involving moral turpitude”—to be sterilized. Skinner, a one-footed drifter who had been convicted twice for armed robbery and once for poultry theft, challenged the three-strikes-and-you’re-sterile law and took his case all the way to the Supreme Court [Slate].

Continue Reading »

Our new Director of Operations and Development

by | June 29th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)

Shiloh KantzOklahoma Policy Institute is very pleased to announce that Shiloh Kantz has been promoted to the position of Director of Operations and Development effective June 1, 2015.

In the newly-created position, Kantz’s responsibilities include financial management, fundraising and development, event coordination, strategic initiatives, and human resources. She is also coordinating the Summer Policy Institute, an annual program that brings 60 students from across the state to Tulsa in August for a four-day training in state policy issues.

Continue Reading »

In The Know: Cherokee Chief Bill John Baker wins reelection

by | June 29th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. 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

Cherokee Chief Bill John Baker wins reelection: Cherokee Principal Chief Bill John Baker appeared to have won a second term according to unofficial results posted at 6:30 a.m. by the tribal election commission. With a little over 700 ballots left to be counted, Baker had 53 percent of the vote against three challengers, including former Chief Chad Smith [Tulsa World].

What the same-sex marriage ruling means for Oklahoma: Gay marriage already has been legal in all of Oklahoma’s 77 counties, but the latest ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court expands the rights of married gay couples, especially when traveling to neighboring states [Associated Press]. The ruling will simplify a lot of financial and personnel policy decisions for businesses, but it may be a while before previous legal conflicts are untangled [Journal Record]. A study says same-sex marriage will boost Oklahoma income tax revenue [OK Policy Blog].

Oklahoma’s black clergy talk security in wake of Charleston shootings: Several clergy leaders said there’s a fine balance between the usual hospitality offered by their churches and operating with a sense of caution that has been heightened by the Charleston killings [NewsOK].

Continue Reading »

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. ...
  10. 266