In The Know: CTB/McGraw-Hill backs out of consideration for winter testing contract

by and | September 30th, 2014 | 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. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

CTB/McGraw-Hill, the testing vendor at the center of controversy after two years of statewide testing disruptions, is withdrawing itself from consideration for a new contract for Oklahoma’s winter testing. The state Department of Education had earlier requested CTB/McGraw-Hill be awarded a no-bid contract to administer the testing, but the State Board of Education tabled that recommendation. The Tulsa World examined by many of Oklahoma’s teachers of the year have ended up leaving the classroom. On the OK Policy Blog, we discussed the conservative case for raising the minimum wage.

Gov. Mary Fallin and Democratic challenger Joe Dorman will meet Thursday at Oklahoma State University for their only debate before the Nov. 4 general election. The debate will air live on OETA and stream online at www.oeta.tv. OETA is encouraging viewers to discuss the debate on social media using the hashtag #okvotes14. While most state schools face a rising non-English-speaking Hispanic population, Enid Schools are working with a growing number of students from the Marshal Islands. Enid has the fourth largest concentration of Marshallese nationals in the United States. Tulsa County commissioners voted Monday to set the daily cost to house inmates at the Tulsa Jail.

An Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper arrested earlier this month on accusations that he raped and sexually assaulted three women during traffic stops has resigned from the patrol. A former Wewoka police officer was jailed Monday on charges of statutory rape of a 15-year-old girl multiple times while on duty. The widow of a man who died after a struggle with law enforcement in the Warren Theatre parking lot is suing the City of Moore for $10 million. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is taking over a stalking case from the Rogers County District Attorney’s Office because he is concerned about the victim’s safety. The Oklahoman examined some of what’s faced by the one in three Oklahoma women who experience domestic violence.

KGOU shared audio from a panel on the legacy of Governor Henry Bellmon at OK Policy’s Summer Policy Institute. The Oklahoman shared arguments made in a lawsuit over the state’s latest income tax reduction measure. We previously examined what’s behind the lawsuit on the OK Policy Blog. Severe drought is causing numerous water lines to leak and break in Chickasha. Many of Chickasha’s water lines were laid as long as 80 years ago. Boeing plans to move most of its defense and support-related services from Washington state to cities that include Oklahoma City and St. Louis.  The company says about 900 jobs could move to Oklahoma City in three years. Union workers with Spirit AeroSystems voted an overwhelming “no” on a new contract that was presented as a “best and final offer” from company management. Spirit is trying to sell its Tulsa operations which employ 2,300 people, and workers are afraid a sale will mean massive layoffs and loss of benefits. Oklahoma Corporation Commission staff and commissioners revisited their ongoing effort to update decades-old laws and regulations for rapidly changing drilling processes.

The Number of the Day is the median hourly wage for statisticians in Oklahoma. In today’s Policy Note, The Atlantic discusses how police have a much bigger domestic abuse problem than the NFL.

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In The Know: Harold Hamm rewriting his company’s history to stave off divorce payout

by and | September 29th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (1)

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

A Reuters investigation found that Continental Resources has been rewriting its history on the company website – diminishing the company’s accomplishments and changing the dates of key achievements – in ways that could help CEO Harold Hamm reduce a record divorce settlement owed to his wife. The Oklahoma Parent Teacher Association is joining the chorus of calls for state Superintendent Janet Barresi to resign from office immediately. The Oklahoman editorial board discussed OK Policy’s recent blog post on the state’s faltering democracy. You can see our original post here. Republicans and Democrats have been showcasing candidates and registering voters at the Tulsa State Fair.

In the latest OK PolicyCast, we discuss the growing crisis in Oklahoma’s prisons and signs that state leaders might actually do something about it. The Tulsa World reported that nearly 1,500 inmates have been freed from prison since March under an early-release system restoring “earned credits” lost due to misconduct. Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said the suspect in a gruesome beheading at a Moore food processing plant should have been in prison longer for prior convictions of drug possession and assaulting a highway patrol trooper. The Tulsa World reported on how prescription medications, often coming from a legitimate prescription, have become the biggest cause of drug overdoses in the state. The Arkansas Times wrote that an Oklahoma lawmaker’s suggestion to create a public online list of everyone with meth convictions, similar to the sex offender registry, could create a permanent underclass in the state.

This year’s health insurance enrollment period begins Nov. 15 for Oklahomans wanting to get health insurance from the federal marketplace and for anyone wanting to make a change to the plan they got during open enrollment last year. You can find more resources and information about the health insurance marketplace here. On the OK Policy Blog, Steve Lewis discusses the beginnings of this year’s state budget process. Three Canadian County school districts are scrambling to resolve budget turmoil following the discovery that business personal property taxes paid by several oilfield companies had been allocated to the wrong school districts. KGOU reported on how an Oklahoma City nonprofit is working to provide educational opportunities for undocumented students. Regents Chancellor Glen Johnson authored an op-ed discussing Oklahoma’s successes in increasing the number of college degrees and certificates awarded.

In the midst of a budget crisis following major tax cuts, Kansas is auctioning off numerous sex toys confiscated from an adult entertainment purveyor for nonpayment of taxes. The U.S. Supreme Court is meeting today to discuss whether they’ll review challenges to same-sex marriage bans in Oklahoma and four other states. An environmental researcher speaking at a Water Symposium at the University of Oklahoma said that as demand for water grows and scientists warn of drier years ahead, Oklahoma could learn much from how developing countries address water security issues. A Tulsa trash board plan to burn curbside green waste would take a previous plan to invest in an active composting facility for Tulsa off the table. The Number of the Day is how much suicide deaths in Oklahoma outnumber homicides. In today’s Policy Note, Wonkblog explains why the U.S. is actually doing better at fighting poverty than the poverty rate shows.

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In The Know: State Board of Education delays rehiring testing vendor

by | September 26th, 2014 | 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. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

The State Board of Education chose Thursday to delay the decision to rehire testing company CTB/McGraw-Hill. The company had previously been fired following two consecutive years of statewide disruptions during testing. Despite calls for her resignation from a Board member and a state legislator following accusations of cronyism, state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi says she is not stepping down.

The Tulsa World’s Editorial Board is calling for Barresi’s resignation, arguing that she has lost the confidence of the state Board of Education and the people of Oklahoma. The state Board of Education also unveiled and approved membership of a standards creation steering committee on Thursday, over Barresi’s attempts to amend the motion. The committee will oversee the standards creation process approved this year following the repeal of Common Core. The Tulsa World spoke to three retired educators on the eve of their inductions to the Oklahoma African-American Educators Hall of Fame about their memories of desegregation in Tulsa. We’ve written before about how Tulsa schools are still largely segregated by race and income.

Oklahoma’s remodeled execution chamber, complete with reformed protocols, will be completed in time for executions in November, according to state Department of Corrections director Robert Patton. A federal judge had previously expressed concern regarding the state’s ability to meet the November deadline. A statewide campaign against “smurfing,” wherein a third party purchases pseudoephedrine for a meth cook who may be barred from purchasing the drug, kicked off Thursday. State officials hope the campaign will stem the production of methamphetamine in Oklahoma. In his Journal Record column, Arnold Hamilton argued that legislators’ recent efforts to push for a religious monument at the state Capitol is a cynical power play. The Oklahoma Gazette described tensions over energy production in Oklahoma, from earthquakes to taxation.

State officials have announced that Oklahoma exceeded its year-two Complete College America goals, achieving more than double the target number of degrees and certificates. The initiative aims to increased the number of degrees and certificates earned in the state by 1,700 per year through 2023. KGOU described how a growing trend of renting properties in downtown Oklahoma City could force people looking for affordable housing to outlying neighborhoods.

StateImpact explained confusion and controversy over the ‘Waters of the United States’ designation, the federal government’s attempt to define which bodies of water qualify for protection under the Clean Water Act. Some state officials claim it represents a federal takeover of Oklahoma’s waterways and an additional headache for the state’s farmers and ranchers. Due to worsening drought, Oklahoma farmers have begun to plant winter wheat earlier than normal this year, hoping to use what little moisture remains in the soil.

The Number of the Day is the number of unintentional injury deaths in Oklahoma in 2012, 1 out of every 16 deaths in the state that year. The leading causes of unintentional injury death include poisonings, motor vehicle crashes, and falls. In today’s Policy Note, The Atlantic makes the economic case for paternity leave.

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In The Know: State Education Department officials want to rehire fired testing vendor

by and | September 25th, 2014 | 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. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education is asking the state Board of Education to approve a no-bid contract with the same vendor the department fired after two years of statewide testing disruptions. Oklahoma Watch discussed why the state may have little choice but to rehire CTB/McGraw-Hill to handle winter testing. Outgoing State Superintendent Janet Barresi has created a new assistant state superintendent position and hired the husband of a top Education Department official to fill it, raising questions about cronyism.  The state Department of Education will hold town hall meetings across the state to discuss the academic standards Oklahoma is reverting to after the repeal of Common Core and how the loss of the No Child Left Behind waiver will influence local schools.

Ozy Magazine reported on how tax cut politics are evolving across the country in the wake of Kansas’ huge budget shortfalls and faltering economy. David Blatt’s Journal Record column discusses why Oklahoma’s economy has not recovered as well as some state politicians are claiming. Former Oklahoma Health Care Authority Director Mike Fogarty wrote an op-ed in the Oklahoman refuting arguments made by the paper against expanding Medicaid. The OK Policy Blog discussed how Oklahoma’s community health centers are threatened by falling state funding for uncompensated care.

The Oklahoman editorial board wrote that the state needs to move into the 21st century in how we think about mental illness. A new study shows nearly three out of four young Oklahomans are ineligible for military service for reasons related to obesity, lack of education or having a criminal record. You can read the full report here

A Center for Public Integrity analysis shows that nearly two of every three dollars spent on TV advertising in the state school superintendent race were spent attacking candidates. Biologists say a prehistoric fish native to the Arkansas River is on the brink of being wiped out in Oklahoma. The Choctaw Nation has broken ground on a new $10 million tribal complex in McAlester.

The Number of the Day is how much Oklahoma put in a fund to reimburse uncompensated care at community health centers this year. In today’s Policy Note, the New York Times examines how economic insecurity has contributed to falling marriage rates in America. On the OK Policy Blog we previously discussed why the decline in marriage is a symptom of poverty, not the cause.

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In The Know: Okmulgee County jail director blames overcrowding for recent riot

by and | September 24th, 2014 | 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. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

The Okmulgee County jail director said extreme overcrowding was the cause of a recent violent outbreak that caused $10,000 in damage and sent one inmate to the hospital. The ACLU of Oklahoma said they’ve seen a scary increase in the number and severity of complaints they are receiving from inmates at the Lexington Assessment and Reception Center. The director of Oklahoma Corrections Professionals wrote that a federal takeover of Oklahoma prisons may be the last hope for corrections officers. The Oklahoma wrote an op-ed defending the media’s role in witnessing executions, which the state attorney general’s office argued does not “play a particularly positive role in the functioning of the process.”

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the death of a man who was being held at the Tahlequah City Jail. A state medical examiner’s autopsy report found that a man who fatally stabbed an Oklahoma City police dog was shot four times in the back while running away from the officer who shot him, which contradicts police accounts of the shooting. Although fewer numbers of methamphetamine labs are being discovered across the state, the number of meth-related overdose deaths continues to rise.

Key members of the Oklahoma House met recently with top backers of the half-finished American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City to discuss the way forward for the long-stalled state project. Hillcrest Medical Center will begin offering perinatal palliative care for infants expected to live only hours or days after birth. This will be the first hospital in Oklahoma offering the service, though in February legislators voted to require abortion providers to tell women whose children will not survive long after birth that the service is available. Osage Nation Chief Geoffrey M. Standing Bear announced the tribe will boycott FedEx due to its relationship with the Washington Redskins NFL team.

Enid News reported on Together Oklahoma’s forum in Enid, the first stop of a tour helping Oklahomans understand and get involved in public policy. You can read more about the Together Tuesday tour here. Oklahoma is one of seven states joining the push to add a civics exam requirement to graduate high school. Oklahoma Policy Institute announced our latest class of research fellows and interns. Supporters of an initiative petition to place storm shelters in every Oklahoma public school say they are launching a final push to get enough signatures to put the measure on a statewide ballot with just four weeks left to gather them.

An essay in This Land Press discusses Oklahoma’s dramatic political shifts over the state’s history. As summer ends, drought conditions are still prevailing in much of the state with little relief in sight. Tulsa World editor Adam Daigle discussed his struggles taking a five-day challenge to survive on a food stamp budget. OK Policy previously explained the policy basics of Oklahoma’s food security safety net. The Number of the Day is the poverty rate for Native Americans in Oklahoma in 2013, 6.1 percentage points higher than the state as a whole. In today’s Policy Note, CityLab examines why Americans moving between states has reached a historic low.

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In The Know: Dorman, Fallin launch TV ads in governor’s race

by and | September 23rd, 2014 | 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. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

With about six weeks left before the general election, state Rep. Joe Dorman and Gov. Mary Fallin have launched new TV ads for their campaigns. KGOU shared audio from a panel at OK Policy’s Summer Policy Institute, which discussed the state’s fiscal policy challenges and how massive education cuts may cost the state jobs. The state will ask the Oklahoma Supreme Court to validate the legality of a $120 million Capitol repair bond measure after an attorney challenged its constitutionality.

In an interview with Huffington Post Live, state Rep. John Bennett (R-Sallisaw) said he stands behind his comments that be believes Islam is a cancer, and he argued that Islam is not a religion. Meanwhile, the director of an Oklahoma Muslim group said he received a threat calling for his death and the death of all Muslims in America. Heavily armored military vehicles purchased this summer by Tulsa police and the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office are each expected to be operational within the next 30 to 60 days. The Oklahoman previously reported on how Oklahoma law enforcement agencies are stocking up on military-grade equipment through a Defense Department program that offers the equipment at a small fraction of its original price.

Prosecutors filed charges Monday against a Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office deputy who is accused of committing sexual misconduct while on duty. The OK Policy Blog discussed how a push by lawmakers to expand the taking of DNA samples from anyone who has been arrested could end up sending innocent Oklahomans to prison. A Pittsburg County district judge will hear arguments today from attorneys seeking to force the state to release a report that allegedly recommended closure of the Narconon drug rehabilitation facility after three patients died. The lawsuit claims that the state concealed the report because they did not want to get involved with litigation involving the Church of Scientology, which runs Narconon.

On the A View From The Edge blog, Jenks principal Rob Miller showed what it might look like if we discussed doctors the same way we discussed teachers in Oklahoma. This Land Press examined how Tulsa and other U.S. cities have struggled with the legacy of race riots and massacres of African-Americans. Oklahoma City Public Schools officials are considering pre-employment and post-employment drug testing for teachers, administrators and support staff. Oklahoma’s Alcoholic Beverage and Laws Enforcement Commission said they may become “more aggressive” over funds diverted from the agency by the federal government if the money is not reimbursed. A potential water emergency faces the City of Cleveland in Pawnee County, after a drought has caused a lake that is the town’s only water source to drop 11 feet below normal.

The Number of the Day is the percentage of Oklahoma nursing homes with “severe deficiencies,” defined as violations of state or federal law that resulted in resident injury, abuse, neglect or death. In today’s Policy Note, the Economic Policy Institute discusses what we can do about the stagnating wages for most Americans.

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In The Know: Despite good grades, suburban districts unhappy with A-F report card

by and | September 22nd, 2014 | 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. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Despite scoring high marks on the most recent A-F grades for schools, officials with the Edmond, Moore and Norman districts say the grades don’t paint a complete picture of their schools because they are based on state-mandated standardized test scores and little else. The okeducationtruths blog pointed out that the grades are once again strongly correlated with poverty levels in schools. The latest episode of the OK PolicyCast discusses new Census data that shows what’s happening with poverty in Oklahoma. Oklahoma’s unemployment rate increased slightly in August

Attendees at the 20th annual Zarrow Mental Health Symposium discussed how law enforcement officers and society as a whole can learn how to effectively respond to mentally illness. You can follow tweets from the conference using the hashtag #AllThingsPrevention. An Oklahoma County district judge ruled that a Ten Commandments monument at the state Capitol can stay. The Tulsa World discussed three separate cases this summer of Oklahoma law enforcement officers being arrested for serial sexual assaults while on duty. The OK Policy Blog discussed how a new domestic violence lethality assessment being used by law enforcement could save lives.

Oklahoma district attorneys are speaking in frustration over what they say is a severe underfunding of their offices in the face of “staggering” caseloads. A group of residents living south of two Cleveland County prisons must continue their search for drinkable water after the Oklahoma Corrections Department said it lacked the authority to partner with them to build a new well system. NewsOK is running a series on small towns in Oklahoma. NewsOK also examined the troubles of prominent Oklahoma Republican political consulting firm A.H. Strategies, which is facing a criminal investigation and has lost its three most high-profile races this year.

Tulsa World editor Julie Delcour wrote that Oklahoma’s refusal to adopt new federal ID requirements is about to become real, when Oklahomans can’t board a plane using their driver’s license. The Environmental Protection Agency and state officials are commemorate the completion of major cleanup efforts in nine communities near the Tar Creek Superfund site. While more than 300,000 people congregated in New York City for the world’s biggest march about climate change, about 150 Tulsans marched in support. Continental Resources has unveiled a new oil formation in south-central Oklahoma that its CEO says will elevate the state as an oil producer.

The Number of the Day is the poverty rate for women in Oklahoma, which is 1.5 percentage points higher than the state as a whole. In today’s Policy Note, the Washington Post shares what some of the millions of Americans who have enrolled in Medicaid under that Affordable Care Act think of the program.

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In The Know: New Census data reports 1 in 6 Oklahomans in poverty in 2013

by | September 19th, 2014 | 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. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Yesterday, new data released by the Census Bureau revealed that 1 in 6 Oklahomans lived in poverty in 2013. The Tulsa World used the new data to examine poverty in Broken Arrow, Tulsa and Muskogee. Journal Record columnist Arnold Hamilton argued that the movement pushing to raise the minimum (and sub-minimum) wage is gathering steam. A federal judge has expressed concerns that the state Corrections Department will be unable to revise its executions protocol before a scheduled November execution.

The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office is searching for more women who may have been attacked by a deputy who was recently arrested on on-duty sexual battery allegations. Fort Sill has been officially released from its mission to provide temporary housing for unaccompanied children. We’ve previously debunked myths about the children who were housed there this summer, and discussed what may happen to them next.

Following five patient overdose deaths, a Shawnee doctor has surrendered his medical license. The Rogers County Sheriff’s Office is holding a “mobile take-back event” tomorrow where task force officers in marked vehicles will drive to the homes of residents who have arranged a pick-up to collect unused prescription medications. We’ve written about Oklahoma’s prescription drug problem before. The Cherokee Nation has opened a career services center in Tulsa to help the long-term unemployed locate work.

Oklahoma oil and gas regulators are struggling with oversight of the state’s growing and contentious wind industry. Environment activists are planning a demonstration in Oklahoma City on Sunday to call for greater action to combat climate change. Owasso officials say that a Macy’s distribution center under construction could employ 5,000 people, twice as many as had been expected. Public Radio Tulsa attended a presentation Executive Director David Blatt gave on the state’s health issues and concluded that Oklahoma isn’t doing so well.

The Number of the Day is the percentage of Oklahomans in poverty in 2013. In today’s Policy Note, the Washington Post discusses the growing movement to end lending discrimination against women who are pregnant or on maternity leave.

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In The Know: New A-F school grades released; ‘F’ grades skyrocket following testing changes

by | September 18th, 2014 | 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. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

The number of schools deemed failing by the Oklahoma State Department of Education soared from 163 to 200 after the state Board of Education voted to certify the 2014 A-F school grade cards. The Peckham School District in northern Oklahoma has gone from an A district to an F in two years, which the superintendents attributes to the district enrolling many special needs transfers. A heavily-Hispanic Oklahoma City Elementary School has begun a new dual-language program, teaching simultaneously in English and Spanish. The OK Policy Blog previously discussed why Oklahoma needs bilingual education in schools to close gaps for English Language Learners.

The full Oklahoma Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on October 14 in attorney Jerry Fent’s constitutional challenge to cutting income tax rates. The OK Policy Blog previously discussed how Fent’s legal challenge could dramatically change the politics of tax cuts in Oklahoma. KJRH reported that Oklahoma is paying 75 percent of ad revenue from blue highway signs to a private contractor, a far higher percentage than other states contracting with the company. The economy in Oklahoma’s two largest metropolitan areas outpaced national growth in 2013. David Blatt’s Journal Record column shared the story of a conservative businessman who has become a champion of increasing the minimum wage.

The Tahlequah Daily Press wrote that comments by state Rep. John Bennett (R-Sallisaw) are advancing unfounded hatred and suspicion against Muslims. State prison officials are seeking to dismiss a federal lawsuit that argues journalists should have an unobstructed view of Oklahoma’s executions. Oklahoma Watch reported that the witness brought in by state Rep. Mike Christian to make a case for executing prisoners using nitrogen gas is not a doctor, but he was involved with Rep. Christian’s 2010 campaign for state House. Tulsa County Assessor Ken Yazel suggested in a public meeting Monday that the county might consider hanging people in the city square as a means of reducing crime.

The Number of the Day is the percentage of Oklahoma pregnant women who receive first trimester prenatal care. In today’s Policy Note, the Center for American Progress shows that the share of national income going to corporate after-tax profits has reached an all-time high.

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In The Know: Percentage of Oklahomans without health insurance falls for 3rd year

by and | September 17th, 2014 | 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. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

New data from the U.S. Census shows the number and percentage of Oklahomans without health insurance has declined for the third year in a row. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained how to understand the new health insurance coverage estimates. The second annual open enrollment period begins Nov. 15 for the Affordable Care Act’s online health insurance marketplace. Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak participated in a Q&A about the marketplace. A respiratory illness that has been causing some children in the region to go to intensive care has been confirmed in Oklahoma.

On the OK Policy Blog, we examined signs of weakening political participation and representation in Oklahoma. State election officials are encouraging Oklahomans to vote by mail to avoid lines at polling places in November. The Together Oklahoma coalition is launching a statewide “Together Tuesdays” tour with public discussion forums on how to get more engaged in Oklahoma’s political process. The first Together Tuesday forum will be September 23 in Enid. Tahlequah High School math teacher Jason Scott Proctor has been named Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.

Attorney Jerry Fent has filed a formal objection to a law to repair the state Capitol, likely triggering an Oklahoma Supreme Court review of the measure. Fent claims that since the law is specific to only one building, it is a “special law” that must be published in a newspaper for four consecutive weeks before the measure is considered. Officials from a group representing Oklahoma Muslims said they will “seek protection” following state Rep. John Bennett’s comments at a town meeting that the Islamic faith “is a cancer in our nation that needs to be cut out.” A mystery substance found in an Okmulgee County river has prompted an investigation by multiple agencies. NewsOK examined efforts being made by oil and gas drillers in Oklahoma to reduce their water usage

Specific allegations of sexual assault by an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper were detailed for the first time in documents released by the Creek County District Attorney’s Office. A Tulsa County Sheriff’s deputy is in custody for sexual assault after he admitted to exposing himself and inappropriately touching a woman during a 911 call investigation, as well as engaging in sexual-type activity with about six women during traffic stops. The Oklahoma Supreme Court has cleared the way for an Owasso police officer who was fired in 2011 for excessive use-of-force to return to work. A private autopsy on a man who died following a confrontation with police in front of the Moore Warren Theatre found that he died from asphyxia, contradicting findings by the state medical examiner that he died of a heart condition.

The Number of the Day is the number of the Oklahoma children whose parents lacked secure employment in 2012, 30 percent of all kids in the state. In today’s Policy Note, the New York Times reports on how a new approach to teaching history being promoted by Bill Gates is entering hundreds of high schools across the country.

continue reading In The Know: Percentage of Oklahomans without health insurance falls for 3rd year

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