In The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services is eliminating the equivalent of 200 positions, cutting reimbursement for developmental disabilities and aging Medicaid waiver program providers, and eliminating state funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, among other cuts to make up for a $45.2 million funding shortfall. At the same time as other parts of DHS are being slashed, they will add 300 positions in the child welfare system to meet a federal court-ordered mandate to meet the needs of abused and neglected children [Tulsa World].
State Auditor Gary Jones said he might circulate a petition for the 2016 general election to eliminate the Oklahoma House or Senate and have a unicameral Legislature [Journal Record]. The Libertarian and Green parties announced plans to launch a joint signature drive to get their parties and candidates on the ballot in Oklahoma [Tahlequah Daily Press]. On the OK Policy Blog, we looked at what happened with the key education and criminal justice bills we followed this session [OK Policy Blog].
The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality has approved allowing municipal water treatment waste to be injected into oil and gas disposal wells [Journal Record]. A report from the Kansas City Federal Reserve examines how the decline in the energy industry is spilling into other parts of the state’s economy [OK Energy Today]. You can read the full report here.
Under a state law passed in 2014, utilities can request a higher tariff for customers with personal solar panels or wind turbines, if they prove the renewable power producers are a financial drag on the system. However, utilities said that they are still unsure of how these customers create infrastructure costs or provide benefits [Journal Record]. When signing the bill, Governor Fallin stressed that it does not mandate the Corporation Commission to allow a tariff or other increases for personal solar and wind power producers [OK Policy Blog].
Governor Fallin has requested the Federal Emergency Management Agency grant public assistance for 14 additional counties hit hard by tornadoes and flooding that began May 5 [Public Radio Tulsa]. Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said he isn’t immediately sold on a plan passed by the Legislature to complete the American Indian Cultural Center. The plan calls for $9 million in funding from OKC and requires agreement by the Oklahoma City Council [KOCO].
The Number of the Day is -22.76% – how much the average salary for Oklahoma state employees is below comparable jobs in other states and the private sector. In today’s Policy Note, a report by the International Centre for Prison Studies finds that the U.S. spends billions to keep about 480,000 unconvicted people behind bars while they await a trial [Washington Post].
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