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In The Know Archives

In The Know: Oklahoma House votes to ban abortion of abnormal fetuses

by | March 22nd, 2017 | Posted in 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.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including the Legislative Primer and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

Oklahoma House votes to ban abortion of abnormal fetuses: The Oklahoma House of Representatives voted Tuesday to ban abortions of fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome or “viable genetic disorder” or the possibility of one. The measure, House Bill 1549, by Rep. George Faught, R-Muskogee, would bring penalties against persons performing such abortions, but not the woman involved. It passed 67-16. It is expected to be challenged by abortion rights groups [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma Senate approves expanding OSBI role in police shooting inquiries: Faced with growing controversy over officer-involved shootings in Oklahoma and elsewhere, the Oklahoma Legislature passed a bill Tuesday that would give the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation increased authority to investigate such incidents. Under Senate Bill 247, the OSBI would be given the responsibility of investigating all law enforcement- or peace officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths, excluding jails or prisons, for all jurisdictions with a population less than 150,000 [NewsOK].

Opponents Of New OK Bill Say It Could Impact Healthcare Coverage: A new bill that just passed the house and senate insurance committees has some Oklahomans worried about their health care coverage. Families flooded the State Capitol this time last year to advocate for Autism insurance reform in Oklahoma. They won their fight, but now they say they’ve been handed another. Senate Bill 478 is a bill that would allow insurance companies from out of state to sell policies to people in Oklahoma, including businesses [NewsOn6].

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In The Know: Senate reconsiders, passes maternity leave bill

by | March 21st, 2017 | Posted in 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.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including the Legislative Primer and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

Senate reconsiders, passes maternity leave bill: Legislators were almost evenly split when they voted on a maternity leave extension bill last week, which failed then, and the measure has outsiders split as well. On Monday, the senators reconsidered the bill and passed it with a 31-8 vote after striking the title, giving the Senate an opportunity to vote on it again once it has gone through the House. State Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, pitched Senate Bill 549, which would increase unpaid maternity leave from 12 weeks to 20 weeks. Federal law requires any organization with more than 50 employees to give women 12 weeks [Journal Record].

Oklahoma Legislature takes up criminal justice reform measures: A bill that would allow some nonviolent state inmates to be eligible for parole after serving one-fourth of their sentences sailed through the state House of Representatives Monday and is now headed for the Senate. House Bill 2286 passed the House 81-3 without debate. If the Senate approves the bill, it still must come back to the House for final consideration because the title was removed. The bill, authored by state Rep. Terry O’Donnell, R-Catoosa, is part of a package of approximately a dozen criminal justice reform measures the Oklahoma Legislature is expected to take up this week [NewsOK]. The Justice Reform Task Force recommendations could be the solution Oklahoma desperately needs [OK Policy].

Northeast OKC braces for another round of school closures: Educators and residents in northeast Oklahoma City are bracing for another round of school closures, a process that has plagued the predominantly black neighborhoods for generations and left abandoned schools scattered throughout the community. Superintendent Aurora Lora told The Oklahoman this month the district is considering the closing of several schools in an effort to address state budget cuts. An announcement could come as soon as Monday, multiple sources with the district said [NewsOK]. 

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In The Know: Federal health law aside, state looks to roll back coverage

by | March 20th, 2017 | 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.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including the Legislative Primer and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

Federal Health Law Aside, State Looks to Roll Back Coverage: Almost all eyes are on Washington as President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans try to reverse, and then replace, the Affordable Care Act. Amid the national uncertainty, state policymakers also are exploring moves that could affect health care for hundreds of thousands of people across Oklahoma, by loosening what types of coverage insurers are required to provide. [Oklahoma Watch]

Budget scenario means closed offices, fewer services says OPEA: Implementation of another budget cut in Fiscal Year 2018 would force state agencies like the Department of Human Services, Department of Mental Health and the State Department of Health to close local offices across Oklahoma and would cripple core services, according to the Oklahoma Public Employees Association (OPEA). “The only way for some agencies to make significant reductions is to close offices and turn out the lights,” said OPEA Executive Director Sterling Zearley. [Edmond Sun]

Oklahoma should increase its cigarette tax, for kids and health: Oklahoma lawmakers have an exceptional opportunity to improve the state’s health and economy by supporting House Bill 1841, which would increase the state cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack. This critical action will prevent kids from smoking, prompt smokers to quit and reduce medical expenses associated with smoking, saving the state hundreds of millions of dollars. [Matthew Myers/ NewsOK]  Though the cigarette tax is regressive, increasing it could be a net benefit to low- and moderate-income Oklahomans [OK Policy].

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In The Know: As State Budgets Falter, Oklahoma Turns to Other States to Fight Its Most Dangerous Wildfires

by | March 17th, 2017 | Posted in 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.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including the Legislative Primer and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

As State Budgets Falter, Oklahoma Turns to Other States to Fight Its Most Dangerous Wildfires: Crews have worked for more than a week to contain a massive wildfire that has torched more than a thousand square miles and killed one person and thousands of head of livestock in northwestern parts of Oklahoma. State budget cuts mean Oklahoma increasingly depends on other states to fight its largest and most dangerous wildfires [StateImpact Oklahoma].

Oklahoma Senate rejects unpaid family leave extension: The Oklahoma Senate has rejected a measure that would give some parents more time to spend with their newborn or adopted children. Senate Bill 549 would have pushed state employees’ pregnancy and adoption leave allowance past the federal 12-week minimum. State Sen. David Holt, the bill’s author, said he wants to give a mother and father at least 20 weeks of time to spend with their child [NewsOK].

Local Agencies Face Cuts Under Proposed Federal Budget: President Donald Trump is outlining a wide range of federal budget cuts in order to make way for more defense spending. In the 60 pages of his “America First” plan, Trump shows where he would cut in order to make $54 billion dollars available to the defense department. Some of the hardest hit would be farmers, workers in the energy sector, low-income families and seniors [NewsOn6].

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In The Know: After voting to repeal the tax cut trigger, Senate rejects another bill delaying it

by | March 16th, 2017 | Posted in 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.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including the Legislative Primer and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

After voting to repeal the tax cut trigger, Senate rejects another bill delaying it: House Speaker Charles McCall said Tuesday he is unsure how much support there is in the House for a bill passed by the Senate that would eliminate a state income tax cut trigger. …Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Senate on Tuesday rejected an alternative piece of legislation that would have kept a tax cut trigger in place, but modified it so that a tax cut likely would not be triggered for years [NewsOK]. Ten states, including Oklahoma, have enacted tax cuts in recent years that are deferred to a future date based on state revenues reaching a certain level or rate of growth [OK Policy].

For the first time, lawmakers were found guilty of supplanting lottery funds for schools: Along with all of their other budget challenges, lawmakers this session will need to allocate an additional $10.1 million for the Education Lottery Trust Fund as the result of a determination made last month that lottery funds had been used to supplant rather than enhance education funding this year. Back in 2004, Oklahoma voters established the state lottery via two state questions [OK Policy].

Arrogant lawmakers think Oklahoma voters are stupid: Oklahoma voters are stupid and can’t be trusted to know what they’re doing, the state House of Representatives concluded Thursday. With only one vote to spare, the chamber passed House Bill 1482, which seeks to undo part of the progress made in November’s State Question 780. As amended, HB 1482 would make mere possession of illegal drugs within 1,000 feet of a school a felony [Editorial Board / Tulsa World].

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In The Know: Health Care Bill Could Cost Oklahoma Millions

by | March 15th, 2017 | Posted in 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.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including the Legislative Primer and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

Health Care Bill Could Cost Oklahoma Millions: A Republican plan to overhaul the nation’s health care system shows health care could become unaffordable for many poor Oklahomans and the state could be forced to subsidize health care costs for Native Americans, according to an early analysis of the plan prepared for Gov. Mary Fallin. A document obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press shows state health officials also project the proposed new law would result in the state immediately losing $9.3 million in public health funding for programs such as immunizations and chronic disease funding [Associated Press]. The three-page analysis is available at Oklahoma Watch.

Bill to allow guns in Oklahoma courthouses passes House: A bill that would allow elected county officials in Oklahoma to carry guns into courthouses has passed the state House. The bill by Republican Rep. Bobby Cleveland goes to the Senate after passing the House on an 85-11 vote Monday. It would allow elected officials with a valid handgun license to carry a firearm into the courthouses of the county in which the person was elected when he or she is performing official duties. It would not allow guns in courtrooms [Associated Press].

After voting to repeal the tax cut trigger, Senate rejects another bill delaying it: House Speaker Charles McCall said Tuesday he is unsure how much support there is in the House for a bill passed by the Senate that would eliminate a state income tax cut trigger. Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Senate on Tuesday rejected an alternative piece of legislation that would have kept a tax cut trigger in place, but modified it so that a tax cut likely would not be triggered for years. The measure defeated Tuesday, Senate Bill 130, would have triggered a tax cut only if estimated state revenue grows to $7.5 billion. It’s at $6 billion now [NewsOK].

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In The Know: Oklahoma House advances payday loan bill

by | March 14th, 2017 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (1)

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.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including the Legislative Primer and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

Oklahoma House advances payday loan bill: A bill that could allow annualized interest of up to 204 percent on some small loans made it through the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Monday despite the opposition of some religious groups and advocacy organizations and a less-than-glowing recommendation from its author. “I don’t like this type of loan any more than you do,” Rep. Chris Kannady, R-Oklahoma City, told the other members as he summed up House Bill 1913. But, Kannady said, the bill is an improvement on current law and better than sending desperate borrowers to unregulated loan sharks [Tulsa World]. The “small loan” created by the bill would mean big debts for Oklahoma families [OK Policy].

Senate passes measure to halt potential second income tax cut: The Oklahoma Senate on Monday passed a measure to eliminate a trigger that could have further reduced the state’s top income tax rate. Senate Bill 170 by Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, passed by a vote of 39-6 with no questions and no debate. The measure moves to the House for consideration. “Right now, we certainly have more outstanding obligations than we have money,” Thompson said [Tulsa World]. The bill would allow the Legislature to avoid another ill-timed tax cut [OK Policy].

Push to Raise Criminal, Civil Court Fees Persists: The push to raise court fees and fines to help pay for the state’s cash-strapped judicial system is not letting up – and that includes not only criminal cases but civil ones. The Oklahoma House passed a bill Tuesday that would charge a $25 fee for lawyers and parties who represent themselves in civil court. Other bills would increase criminal fees. House Bill 2306, which passed 51-42, creates the fees when someone issues a subpoena or files a motion in civil cases to “enter” – a routine move in which the plaintiff formally notifies the court they are ready to move to the trial stage [Oklahoma Watch]. Excessive fees lock Oklahomans into the criminal justice system without boosting state revenue [OK Policy].

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In The Know: Teacher pay raise bill gives ‘false hope,’ Oklahoma Senate leader says

by | March 13th, 2017 | Posted in 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.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including the Legislative Primer and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

Teacher pay raise bill gives ‘false hope,’ Oklahoma Senate leader says: Legislative leaders appear to be far apart in their beliefs about whether a teacher pay raise will be funded this year. The Oklahoma House on Tuesday passed a pay raise bill, House Bill 1114, by Rep. Michael Rogers, R-Broken Arrow, with a total price tag of $316 million. It would phase in a teacher pay raise starting with $1,000 for fiscal year 2018, which begins July 1. A $1,000 raise would cost about $52 million, but the measure does not have a funding source. Additional raises would be $2,000 and then $3,000. [Tulsa World]

Budget Crisis Leaving Lawmakers At Odds: This week, state lawmakers passed a bill to give teachers raises without a plan to pay for it, and little was done to bridge the state’s nearly $900-million budget gap. “There has been no significant revenue streams brought before the Oklahoma House of Representatives in an attempt to fill a nearly $900-million budget hole,” said Representative Scott Inman (D) House Minority Leader. Senate Republicans say their GOP counterparts in the House are falsely raising teachers’ hopes. House Democrats suggested raising the gross production tax on oil and natural gas production. Oil execs say that’s not the answer, but they did lobby lawmakers to allow them to expand drilling. [News9] Lawmakers have asked for ‘crippling’ budget cut scenarios, state employees say [Fox25].

Cigarette tax debate burns on: Debate continues over Gov. Mary Fallin’s proposal to hike taxes on cigarettes, but both sides agree that doing so would lead some shoppers to jump state lines. A House bill that would implement the plan has passed out of committee and is waiting for a floor vote. Conservative organizations and industry representatives lament the measure for a handful of reasons, including the assertion that raising prices will shove some shoppers to neighboring states, all of which would have lower tax rates on cigarettes if the measure goes through. Economists and policy analysts who support the measure said there is no doubt some people will cross the borders for cheaper smokes. That’s not the question, they said. Scale is. [Journal Record] Considering the dire need for revenues to fix Oklahoma’s budget mess and the proven health benefits of taxes that discourage smoking, a cost-benefit analysis of HB 1841 shows low- and moderate-income families coming out ahead. [OK Policy]

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In The Know: Will more money come to education through the lottery? House approves measure that could generate $20M

by | March 9th, 2017 | Posted in 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.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including the Legislative Primer and Online Budget Guide.

Advocacy Alert

This morning, the Oklahoma House of Representatives is expected to take up HB 1913, a bill being promoted by the payday loan industry that would authorize a new loan product that could change 17 percent monthly interest. OK Policy is concerned that these loans would cause greater hardship on the most financially vulnerable Oklahomans. Please see our advocacy alert to learn more about the bill and how to contact your legislator.

Today In The News

Will more money come to education through the lottery? House approves measure that could generate $20M: After years of lobbying by the state lottery commission and education officials, the House agreed to change the way lottery revenue is allocated. The Oklahoma House of Representatives approved a measure that could generate about $20 million a year for education, although not necessarily teacher raises [Tulsa World]. Why didn’t the lottery solve Oklahoma’s education funding problems? [OK Policy]

North Tulsa, Panhandle lawmakers debate meaning of ‘Blue Lives Matter’ bill: State Rep. Casey Murdock, a Republican from the far western edge of the Panhandle at Felt, said it didn’t occur to him that a bill called “The Blue Lives Matter in Oklahoma Act” [HB 1306] might be interpreted as having racial overtones. Rep. Regina Goodwin, from Tulsa’s near north side, informed Murdock otherwise [Tulsa World].

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In The Know: House staff asks for 14.5 percent budget cut scenarios

by | March 8th, 2017 | Posted in 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.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including the Legislative Primer and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

Oklahoma House staff asks for 14.5 percent budget cut scenarios: Several state agencies have been asked to report how they would approach a 14.5 percent budget cut next year. In an email obtained by The Oklahoman, the state House’s deputy fiscal director asked agencies to send their reports to the House Appropriations and Budget subcommittee. Nicole McPhetridge wrote that revenue projections announced in February triggered the request. While speaking on a political news podcast this week, House Appropriation Chair Leslie Osborn invoked a 14.5 percent scenario where education funding remained the same while other agencies took cuts. [NewsOK] Oklahoma Treasurer Ken Miller says he’s cautiously optimistic after overall collections to the state treasury last month were slightly higher than those from the same month last year. [NewsOK]

Oklahoma House passes phased-in teacher pay raise measure: The Oklahoma House has overwhelmingly passed legislation that calls for a $6,000 raise for public school teachers over three years, although lawmakers have not figured out how to pay for it. The House voted 92-7 for the bill on Tuesday and sent it to the Senate. The bill by Republican Rep. Michael Rogers of Broken Arrow calls for a $1,000 raise next year, $2,000 the following year and $3,000 in the third year. [NewsOK] The main challenge for lawmakers is still figuring out how to pay for it. They can’t do that without some kind of tax increase. [OK Policy]

Federal Budget Knife Could Slash Into K-12 Programs: President Donald Trump’s push to drastically reduce domestic spending as a way to boost defense spending could have a significant impact on programs at the U.S. Department of Education, where the biggest streams of funding go toward low-income students and those with special needs. Early last week, Trump announced a proposal to increase defense-related spending by $54 billion in fiscal 2018, which begins in October, and to cut nondefense discretionary spending by a corresponding figure. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., the chairman of the House subcommittee that appropriates money for the Education Department, last week referenced the possibility of $18 billion to $20 billion in cuts to the portion of the budget that funds the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. [Education Week]

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