In The Know: Community health centers cut staff and services due to state budget shortfall

by and | July 31st, 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.

Community health centers in Oklahoma have been forced to cut staff and services because they have not received any money from the state’s uncompensated care fund since December, and the state is proposing that they wait another six months before receiving any more money. The OK Policy Blog previously discussed the role of these clinics and how they have been put in limbo by the state. A program to attract physicians to rural Oklahoma is struggling due to federal sequestration budget cuts. StateImpact Oklahoma shared arguments presented to the state Supreme Court in a lawsuit challenging the bill that makes permanent a generous tax break for oil and gas drilling.

David Blatt’s Journal Record column discussed how the primary defeat of state Superintendent Janet Barresi came out of a huge grassroots organizing effort. Gov. Fallin’s campaign issued a press release stating that she is working on her education agenda with state superintendent candidate Joy Hofmeister. Joe Dorman, the Democratic challenger for governor, released an education plan that would eliminate high stakes third-grade reading and end-of-instruction tests and assess all high school students with the ACT. KJRH examined some of the pros and cons of holding students back in school in light of third grade reading test results.

Since it began operations in February, the Workers Compensation Commission has spent $30,000 furnishing its commissioners’ offices and signed a $4,500 contract with a consultant for a “communications strategy” at the same time it employed a full-time public information officer. The assistant attorney general blamed for giving incorrect Open Meeting Act advice to the Workers’ Compensation Commission no longer works for the attorney general, and a report by two attorneys who served on Fallin’s Commission on Workers’ Compensation Reform calls for the firing of the commission’s Executive Director. 

The Fifth U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans has blocked a Mississippi law that requires doctors who perform abortions to obtain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, after it was found the measure would force the closure of the state’s only abortion clinic. A similar Oklahoma law was approved by the Legislature this year but has not yet gone into effect. The OK Policy Blog discussed a new report showing that the error rate for SNAP nutrition assistance benefits is at a record low. A mobile grocery store is seeking to help Tulsa residents get reasonably priced, healthy foods in “food desert” areas of the city without a building-based grocery store.

Unemployment rates increased last month in 72 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties. A large portion of northeast Oklahoma City was declared “blighted” by the Oklahoma City Council. Supporters of a medical marijuana petition in Oklahoma said they have registered 24,000 new voters while distributing the petition.

An agreement to loan three facilities at Fort Sill, Texas and California to the Department of Health and Human Services for housing unaccompanied migrant children from Central America has been extended to Jan. 31. Jenks Public Schools officials said they are successfully incorporating 575 students from an influx of Burmese refugees in Tulsa. Just 212 unaccompanied child migrants from Central America have been placed with sponsor families in Oklahoma, less than 1 percent of the 30,340 child migrants who have been placed nationwide. A new Kaiser Family Foundation survey reveals many legal immigrants in California have been afraid to enroll in Affordable Care Act health coverage because they worry it would expose an undocumented relative to investigation and deportation.

continue reading In The Know: Community health centers cut staff and services due to state budget shortfall

In The Know: Oklahoma City experiments with community school to address poverty

by and | July 30th, 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.

The Oklahoma Gazette reported on Oklahoma City Public School’s first experiment to combat poverty using the community schools model at Edgemere Elementary. The OK Policy Blog previously discussed the promise of community schools to reach the most at-risk children in the state. Five former employees have filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission, claiming the firings violated the state Workers’ Compensation Act and Open Meeting Act and also were a case of age discrimination. 

An audit of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections found that the agency is violating a law that requires centralized food purchases, has an outdated computer system that does not adequately track the status of inmates and needs improved financial oversight. You can see the audit’s recommendations here. StateImpact Oklahoma shared five things to know about the lawsuit challenging the state’s recent changes to taxes on oil and gas drilling. The Oklahoman Editorial Board discussed OK Policy’s research finding the impact of term limits in the Oklahoma Legislature has been less straightforward than most people thought.

Callers to an Oklahoma Department of Human Services’ hotline for abuse and neglect have been facing wait times as long as 30 minutes. In an Oklahoman op-ed, Scott Meacham criticized repeated state budget cuts to the OCAST program, which provides seed capital to science and technology start-ups. Scott Carter discussed how the Oklahoma Governor’s race is looking to be much closer than most people thought. The only supermarket for miles in North Tulsa closed its doors for good Monday, and many residents are struggling to get groceries without access to a car. 

The Department of Environmental Quality has cited the city of Mustang for arsenic levels above drinking water standards. Work on a $5.8 million bridge project has stopped after federal officials told an Oklahoma county that its construction method could harm a threatened fish species. An airline ticket out of Tulsa dropped by $12 a seat during the first quarter, but the city still has one of the nation’s least affordable airports. Gas prices continue to drop in Oklahoma as demand nationwide dropped below 9 million barrels per day. Oklahoma native Krista Tippett, creator and host of the public radio show “On Being,” was honored with a National Humanities Medal in a ceremony at the White House.

The Number of the Day is the amount of debt held by the average Oklahoma household in 2013. In today’s Policy Note, a new poll shows nearly three quarters of Americans said they favor offering migrant children shelter and support and not rushing to deport them while determining whether they are eligible to stay in the country.

continue reading In The Know: Oklahoma City experiments with community school to address poverty

In The Know: Federal agreement will fund new Tulsa VA clinic

by and | July 29th, 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.

Today you should know that a new 140,000-square-foot Veterans Administration outpatient clinic for Tulsa is part of a $17 billion spending agreement reached by Congress. Gov. Mary Fallin sent a letter to the White House complaining about a program at Fort Sill that is caring for unaccompanied migrant children from Central America. OK Policy previously debunked several myths that have been spread about these children. On the OK Policy Blog, we share explain the ABCs of Oklahoma’s Promise scholarships and why they are important for low- and middle-income Oklahomans. This year Oklahoma lawmakers attempted to divert funds from Oklahoma’s Promise to fill a budget hole, but they backed off after a public outcry and an Attorney General opinion that the transfer was illegal.

Beginning this semester, all Oklahoma State University students will have to complete an online course aimed at sexual-assault awareness and prevention. The Tulsa World discussed how the state is having trouble getting the process for developing new educational standards started. Oklahoma City Public School is preparing for an influx of more than 3,500 pre-K students — its largest pre-K enrollment ever. Tulsa Public Schools still needs to fill 120 open jobs before the school year begins in August.

The City of Claremore must pay $41,000 to cover attorney costs of plaintiffs who successfully sued to city to make Claremore police dashcam videos treated as open records. Oklahoma Watch discussed the role of low-interest federal loans in helping Oklahomans rebuild after a natural disaster. Voters have until Friday Aug. 1 to register to vote in the Aug. 26 Runoff Primary Election. Voter registration forms and ballot information can be downloaded here.

The Oklahoma City Council has developed new regulations for “transportation network companies” such as Uber and Lyft that use smartphone apps to connect drivers in their personal vehicles to individuals looking for rides. The regulations require drivers to pay for an annual permit and vehicle inspection, similar to rules covering taxis. The latest installment in Tulsa World Photographer Mike Simons’ series shares stories he came across walking all 16 miles of Peoria Ave. Rising heat poses extra dangers for Oklahoma’s homeless population, who have limited access to water and air-conditioned places to rest.

Free rain barrels are being offered to Jackson County residents at the Southwest Technology Center in Altus. The National Park Service has awarded historic preservation grants to four American Indian tribes in Oklahoma. The Number of the Day is the percentage of Oklahomans with “minimal fruit consumption.” In today’s Policy Note, CityLab examines a growing program that fast-tracks immigration visas for investors willing to put at least $500,000 into an at-risk area and create at least 10 full-time jobs.

continue reading In The Know: Federal agreement will fund new Tulsa VA clinic

In The Know: Arguments heat up in lawsuit over oil and gas tax rate

by and | July 28th, 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.

Today you should know that a state Supreme Court referee will hear arguments this week on a lawsuit challenging changes to Oklahoma’s gross production taxes. Oklahoma State Treasurer Ken Miller said a trigger that could impose more income tax cuts in 2016 and 2018 doesn’t make economic sense. The state Attorney General’s Office says it gave “incorrect” advice related to the Open Meeting Act to members of the state Workers Compensation Commission, raising questions about whether the agency’s recent layoffs of 16 employees and other actions in past meetings are valid.

The Tulsa World examined how the violence fueling a surge in child refugees from Central America has been fueled by the U.S. drug trade. Two Lawton churches are partnering to provide weekly Catholic Masses for the migrant children being housed at Fort Sill. OK Policy previously debunked several of the myths that have emerged around those children. In the first episode of a new weekly OK Policy podcast, we discuss the children at Fort Sill, examine one of the largest business subsidies in Oklahoma, and more.

A recent graduate from Tulsa County drug court, which provides supervised substance abuse treatment as an alternative to incarceration, said the program saved his life. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections is expanding regional training academies to have fewer untrained officers working in state prisons. A spokesman for Gov. Fallin says the governor wants investigators looking into Oklahoma’s recent botched execution to consider problems that have occurred in other states such as Ohio and Arizona.

Food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters across Oklahoma are scrambling to meet demand for food from kids who can’t get the free and discounted meals offered when schools are in session. UCO Business Dean Mickey Hepner wrote in the Edmond Sun that Oklahoma’s cuts to the health care safety net could have been avoided by legislators. The OK Policy Blog previously shared how Oklahoma is hiking fees on the poorest and sickest citizens. An additional $210,000 from city council and a $20,000 donation will prevent planned fare hikes and service cuts to Tulsa Transit this year. The Tulsa World examined statistics on suicides in the Tulsa area, which have been nearly twice as common as homicides.

Five counties in Oklahoma are among the nation’s fastest-growing, according to a newly released compilation by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Oklahoma Supreme Court says Republican state Rep. Fred Jordan is eligible to run for Tulsa County’s district attorney, even though a raise for prosecutors was approved during his term in the Legislature. A group of Oklahomans are suing restaurants across the state, claiming it is illegal for them to not include liquor tax in the menu price for mixed drinks. After a record-breaking 63 people died of the flu in the 2013-14 flu season, Oklahoma health officials says they expect the same flu strains this season.

The Number of the Day is how many bushels of soybeans were produced by Oklahoma farmers in 2013. In today’s Policy Note, Vox reports that from the start of the health reform debate to when the law was passed, Congress never considered or debated over excluding federally-facilitated health exchanges from offering tax credits to purchase insurance, as lawsuits trying to block the tax credits are now claiming.

continue reading In The Know: Arguments heat up in lawsuit over oil and gas tax rate

In The Know: Records show same drugs used in botched OK, AZ executions

by | July 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 or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

Records show that the same drugs were used in the botched lethal injections in Arizona on Wednesday and in Oklahoma nearly three months ago. The Tulsa World reports that the probe into Oklahoma’s botched execution is still pending and that a variety of records, including the autopsy report for the deceased prisoner, still have not been released. A research group has found that Texas and Oklahoma, two states whose leadership most vociferously oppose EPA regulation on carbon pollution, would be the biggest economic winners from that regulation due to increased demand for natural gas. The study’s authors note that the increased natural gas production would drive job creation and corporate revenue in producing states. StateImpact discussed conflict and conversation around increasing wind energy production in Oklahoma’s Osage County.

The federal government says that more than 200 unaccompanied children from Central America who had been housed at Fort Sill have been placed with sponsors in Oklahoma, primarily parents, relatives and family friends. The government also says that all the children have been vaccinated and medically cleared. OK Policy previously debunked some of the myths being spread about the children at Fort Sill. A team of child abuse medical experts, who have served as expert witnesses in countless Oklahoma court cases, will be disbanded due to lack of funding.

On Monday, August 4th, OK Policy will honor Governor Henry Bellmon with the 2014 Good Sense/Good Cents Award, followed by a panel discussion of the Bellmon legacy. The event is free and open to the public. A provision of the Affordable Care Act called the  Medical Loss Ratio Rule, which requires health insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on patient care and quality improvement, has generated $6.7 million in refunds to Oklahomans from health insurance companies this summer. The Tulsa World reported on a Tulsa Community College program that allows prisoners to work towards degrees while in prison. Since 2007, more than 345 certificates and degrees have been awarded to inmates. Some anti-abortion laws passed by the legislature this spring may end of up in court.

The chairman of the state Workers Compensation Commission has rescinded bids for a project discussed during a secret meeting and pledged greater transparency moving forward. The Commission has come under scrutiny recently due to alleged violations of the Open Records Act. A study conducted by Southwestern Oklahoma State University reported on the financial impact of the Oklahoma Army National Guard, finding that for every 100 jobs created by the Guard, 127 are created statewide.

Norman residents are upset after city staff admitted to withholding information regarding a zoning change in southeast Norman that could bring a Wal-Mart Supercenter to the area. The Oklahoman argued in favor of better maintenance of the state’s dams due to public safety concerns. Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman has named the final three members to a nine-person committee that will oversee the renovation of the state Capitol. Other committee members were selected by Gov. Fallin and House Speaker Jeff Hickman.

The Number of the Day is the percentage of wage and salary workers in Oklahoma that were members of a union in 2013. In today’s Policy Note, the New Republic reports on the sexual and gender-based violence forcing children to flee Central America.

continue reading In The Know: Records show same drugs used in botched OK, AZ executions

In The Know: Education board stalls process to create new standards

by and | July 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 or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

The Oklahoma Board of Education voted to table a plan to develop new educational standards replace the Common Core standards. Some board members raised concerns that the process proposed by Superintendent Barresi was too complicated. Nearly half of the 1,128 Tulsa Public Schools third-graders who scored unsatisfactory on the state reading test in the spring have either qualified for exemptions or are being considered for probationary promotion to fourth grade. The Tulsa World praised Governor Fallin softening her position on making passing the third grade dependent on a high-stakes reading test.

Oklahoma schools are receiving a state aid increase of about $38 per student this year. Total state aid is still $172 million below what it was in 2008. Oklahoma’s Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger wrote an op-ed in the Tulsa World on how off-the-top funding mandates have contributed to this year’s budget shortfall. OK Policy previously examined how these mandates caused the shortfall — along with growing tax refunds and oil and gas industry rebates. A new OK Policy report examines what’s behind the growing cost of the Quality Jobs program, one of the largest business subsidies in Oklahoma.

David Blatt’s Journal Record column discusses how term limits have affected legislative experience levels since they went into effect in 1992. We previously discussed on the OK Policy Blog how the data shows a more complicated story than the popular understanding of term limits.

The Oklahoma County district attorney’s office has initiated an investigation into possible Open Meeting Act violations by the new Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission. One commissioner said the group has had up to five “informational meetings” attended by a quorum of commissioners but not posted as public meetings. The Tulsa World expressed disappointment that sweeping workers compensation reforms were being implemented with “an unpleasant odor of secrecy.” An independent expenditure group that paid for television advertisements opposing State Superintendent Janet Barresi in last month’s primary has not filed any required spending reports with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. U.S. Rep. James Lankford and state Rep. T.W. Shannon spent more than $4 million combined in the Republican race to replace U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, while two dark money groups added about $1.5 million.

AmeriCorps volunteers are working with Tulsa’s Southern Hills United Methodist Church on a program to improve literacy for at-risk kids. An event Aug. 16-17 at the Oklahoma City State Fair Park will provide free dental, vision and limited medical care to Oklahomans. Based on previous events, it is expected hundreds of Oklahomans will wait hours in line for care, with many turned away. University of Tulsa researchers have won a grant from the EPA to study methods to improve indoor air quality and reduce asthma triggers in tribal schools.

The Number of the Day is average teacher base salary for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree and ten years of teaching experience in Oklahoma. In today’s Policy Note, E.J. Dionne explains why a recent ruling by a D.C. Circuit federal court to disallow ACA health insurance subsidies is a serious distortion of the law for ideological purposes.

continue reading In The Know: Education board stalls process to create new standards

In The Know: Fallin rejects lawmaker’s call for ‘Catastrophic Health Emergency’ over migrant children

by and | July 23rd, 2014 | 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. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

Today you should know that Governor Fallin rejected a call by Rep. Mike Ritze to declare a Catastrophic Health Emergency related to the immigrant children being held at Fort Sill. The OK Policy Blog debunked several myths that have emerged about these children. Tax credits that help 55,000 Oklahomans purchase insurance on the federal marketplace were thrown into question when separate federal appeals courts came down on opposite sides of the issue. OK Policy released a statement on the rulings. Oklahoma Watch shared a Q&A on how the rulings will affect Oklahomans.

Rep. Mike Shelton requested an Attorney General’s opinion on the constitutionality of legislation that diverted $5 million from a fund earmarked for trauma care assistance. Backers of school tornado shelters and legalized marijuana are quickly running out of time to place these issues before voters in November. About 600 of the 800 Tulsa third graders who failed a state reading test should soon learn how they did on a make-up test. The Tulsa World praised the efforts of the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma to address huge problems of hunger in Oklahoma.

The Enid News & Eagle reported on OK Policy awarding our annual Good Sense/Good Cents award to former Governor Henry Bellmon. Creek County Rural Water District No. 2, which serves about 4,700 customers in south Tulsa, Jenks, Mounds, Glenpool and Sapulpa, has violated drinking water standards going back to 2012. Tulsa came in at number four on a list of cities with high rates of fatal DUI accidents.

The Number of the Day is the number of laboratory-confirmed cases of rabies in Oklahoma during 2013. In today’s Policy Note, the New Yorker examines how in some cases the “alternatives to incarceration” industry is profiting by sending Americans who can’t afford traffic fines into deeper debt.

continue reading In The Know: Fallin rejects lawmaker’s call for ‘Catastrophic Health Emergency’ over migrant children

In The Know: Fallin starts petition to close facility housing child immigrants

by and | July 22nd, 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 or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

Gov. Mary Fallin’s re-election campaign launched an online petition calling for the closure of the facility housing child immigrants at Fort Sill. The petition criticized President Obama for meeting the “transportation, education and health care of illegal immigrants, even as Washington ignores the very real needs of American citizens.” The American Mental Health Counselors Association estimates that 122,000 Oklahoma with mental health issues are being denied care because Governor Fallin has refused federal funding to expand Medicaid for Oklahomans. The Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs Executive Director said the agency is operating a dangerously low staffing levels due to state budget cuts.

Nearly 1 in 4 Oklahoma children live in poverty and the number of children living in high-poverty areas has more than doubled since 2000, according to a national study released Tuesday. Oklahoma City Public Schools is among 60 of the nation’s largest districts throwing their support behind a presidential initiative meant to ensure more students of color are succeeding academically. Two elementary schools in the Oklahoma City district are facing critical teacher shortages as the start of school draws near. Teachers say they repeal of Common Core Standards won’t greatly affect their teaching methods, but some expressed concern that tests will be less rigorous. The OK Policy Blog examined a new initiative that is seeking  to coordinate the thousands of people working to improve education in Tulsa.

NewsOK examined challenges faced by grandparents who are the primary caretakers of their grandchildren. Oklahoma Watch examined why Moore has not received federal storm damage prevention aid, even as other cities in Oklahoma at less risk for storms are receiving aid. Residents in north Tulsa are unsure where they will get affordable groceries after the impending closure of the area’s only grocery store.

The Number of the Day is the number of women in the Oklahoma legislature out of 149 legislators. In today’s Policy Note, Vox discusses the evidence that expanding Medicaid coverage has improved lifelong health by improving care for pregnant mothers.

continue reading In The Know: Fallin starts petition to close facility housing child immigrants

In The Know: Oklahoma’s ban on gay marriage ruled unconstitutional

by and | July 21st, 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 or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS.. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

A federal appeals court struck down Oklahoma’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional, though the ban remains pending an expected appeal of the decision. You can read the full decision here. Governor Fallin released a statement condemning the decision. A new poll by Rasmussen finds the Oklahoma governor’s race between Mary Fallin and Joe Dorman is within the margin of error. Dorman said Oklahoma should accept federal dollars to expand Medicaid program to cover low-income Oklahomans. The Tulsa World shared the colorful history of runoff elections in Oklahoma.

Speaking at the annual Oklahoma PTA conference, Gov. Fallin seemed to back off her position for relying on one high-stakes reading test to determine whether a third-grader should move on to fourth grade. Hundreds of Oklahoma City students are participating in a summer reading academy to try to pass the reading test before a new school year begins. The tiny Panola School District may close its doors after 102 years due to a budget shortfall. A Tulsa World op-ed discusses how Tulsa Community College is getting national recognition for a program that provides free tuition and fees for all Tulsa County students who graduate high school with at least a 2.0 grade point average.  The University of Oklahoma College of Education is offering a new program to forgive student debt for graduates who stay in Oklahoma and enter high-need teaching areas.

The Tulsa World reported that the state Workers Compensation Commission repeatedly discussed budget decisions in meetings that the public was not allowed to attend, a possible violation of the Open Meetings Act. Upcoming community meetings in Tulsa and Oklahoma will make a case for extending foster care to age 21. The Oklahoman editorial board argued that Oklahoma still has a long way to go on corrections reform. The Tulsa County Jail and Sheriff Stanley Glanz are facing multiple lawsuits alleging extreme neglect, abuse, and needless death of inmates.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol has seen a significant increase in the number of applicants, which department officials attribute to a pay increase and reduced education requirements approved this legislative session. The Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs is cutting funding for Community Intervention Centers by about $610,000, which law enforcement officials said will take police officers off the streets to take care of juveniles in custody.

A consumer survey found Oklahomans have a better view of the economy than neighboring states Arkansas and Missouri, but all three states trail the national average. The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined to 4.5% in June and is down a whole percentage point from this time last year. The 2014 Farm Bill is contributing $26.4 million in federal funds to assess and rehabilitate dams in Oklahoma. A study examining oil and gas wastewater wells in Oklahoma found that certain wells may be able to trigger earthquakes as far away as 21 miles. About 300 residents of Boise City in the Oklahoma Panhandle came to a town meeting to discuss a dozen members of a fundamentalist Mormon group settling in the town.

The Number of the Day is the number of beginning farmers in Oklahoma in 2012, down about 26 percent from 2002. In today’s Policy Note, Al Jazeera America looks at the growing criminalization of homelessness in American cities.

continue reading In The Know: Oklahoma’s ban on gay marriage ruled unconstitutional

In The Know: State Attorney General dismisses death-row inmates’ concerns

by | July 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 or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

Download today’s In The Know podcast here or play it in your browser:

The Oklahoma Attorney General’s office said Thursday that death-row inmates’ concerns about the risk of cruel and unusual pain and suffering during executions by lethal injection are unfounded. A group of 21 death-row inmates had filed the lawsuit following the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in late April. An editorial in The Oklahoman argues that although the state Supreme Court has upheld a bill repealing Common Core in Oklahoma, the bill itself is nonetheless flawed because it grants state lawmakers the authority to write new educational standards. State schools Superintendent Janet Barresi has expressed concern that the two-year time frame given to develop new educational standards might not be enough.

A guest post on the OK Policy blog warns against the influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Oklahoma, a secretive organization that connects corporate lobbyists with state lawmakers. The state Workers’ Compensation Commission approved its budget on Thursday, which includes the termination of 16 employees. The teen birth rate in Tulsa dropped by 20 percent between 2012 and 2013, outstripping the state’s overall drop of 9 percent. Advocates credit the evidence-based, comprehensive sex education available in Tulsa County. KGOU explained why a coalition of 18 Oklahoma counties planning to build a pipeline to pump water from southeastern Oklahoma fell apart. The Oklahoma Water Resources Board has announced forthcoming in-depth water studies in three of Oklahoma’s most water-challenged regions to address potential supply issues.

A Senate panel has approved funding for all seven AWACS planes at Tinker Air Force Base. The Department of Defense had previously planned to retire the planes to save money. A task force dedicated to figuring out funding for dams on the Arkansas River has suggested creating a trust fund for the dams supported by sales or property taxes. Officials say that badly-needed repairs on the state Capitol building could begin by the end of the year. A new federal earthquake map places parts of Oklahoma in the top-two hazard zones. State agriculture officials say the ongoing drought, a late spring freeze and late spring rains have produced the worst wheat crop in nearly half a century.

The Number of the Day is the percentage decline in Oklahoma’s teen birth rate between 2012 and 2013. In today’s Policy Note, Bloomberg View examines the concept of participatory budgeting, in which citizens have a hand in allocating resources.

continue reading In The Know: State Attorney General dismisses death-row inmates’ concerns