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

In The Know: Cherokee Chief Bill John Baker wins reelection

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

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

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

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

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

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In The Know: Supreme Court upholds subsidies for 87,000 Oklahomans

by | June 26th, 2015 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today In The News

US Supreme Court upholds health insurance subsidies: In a 6-3 ruling, the United States Supreme Court ruled to uphold the subsidies more than 87,000 Oklahomans and 6.4 million nationwide used to purchase health insurance on Healthcare.gov [Tulsa World]. This decision cements the reality that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and is here to stay [OK Policy]. SCOTUSblog has a thorough breakdown of the case in plain English [SCOTUSblog]. This Q&A explains what the case means for Oklahoma [Oklahoma Watch]. Oklahomans who get the subsidies are happy they can keep their coverage [NewsOK]. Policy Director Gene Perry shared the history and implications of the case with the BBC [audioBoom]. 

Oklahoma Board of Education approves flat budget: The state Board of Education has approved a flat $2.5 billion dollar budget for FY 2016 [Tulsa World]. Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has said that due to rising costs, flat funding essentially translates to a funding cut, and will mean school closings and teacher layoffs [Oklahoma Watch].

Regents approve tuition, fee hikes: The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education have unanimously approved tuition and mandatory fee increases  between 3.2 and 5 percent at colleges and universities across the state [News9]. The state’s higher education budget was cut $24 million, or 2.4 percent, during this spring’s legislative session [The Ada News]. School leadership says that state disinvestment and subsequent tuition hikes makes it particularly hard for low-income and first-generation students to complete their degrees [NewsOK]. Our FY 2016 Budget Highlights issue brief breaks down the state budget in greater detail [OK Policy].

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In The Know: Supreme Court to rule on botched execution, other cases

by | June 25th, 2015 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today In The News

Supreme Court to rule on lethal injection drugs: The US Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on the use of drugs used in a botched execution in Oklahoma in 2014 within the next few days. Three Oklahoma death row inmates brought the case (Glossip v. Gross) when the state announced it intended to continue using the drugs despite concerns that the drugs were not having the intended effect [Oklahoma Watch]. Should the Court rule that the drugs cannot be used in executions, the state may switch to using nitrogen gas instead [The New Yorker]. The Supreme Court has until June 29 to issue seven remaining rulings, which include cases concerning gay marriage and the Affordable Care Act [SCOTUSblog].

Tulsa Sheriff files motion to dismiss grand jury petition: Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz has filed a motion to dismiss a grand jury petition calling for an investigation into the county Sheriff’s Office, citing technical arguments based on how the signature form was circulated. The petitions organizers contend that the petition is valid [Tulsa World].

State GOP political director resigns over domestic violence charges: The former political director of the state Republican Party, T.C. Ryan, has resigned after news broke that he had previously plead guilty to a domestic violence charge [NewsOK]. Top party leadership, including Gov. Fallin, had said that Ryan’s history of domestic violence should have disqualified him from a staff position [Tulsa World].

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In The Know: Federal funds provide summer cooling help

by | June 24th, 2015 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Federal funds provide summer cooling help: The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has about $18 million in federal funding to help low-income Oklahomans pay energy costs to cool their homes. DHS will begin taking applications Tuesday July 7 and will continue until all federal funds are depleted [Fox 23]. State funding for the program has been eliminated this year [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma wants federal help for more counties: Gov. Fallin added 26 more counties to the list of those seeking FEMA individual assistance as the result of tornadoes and flooding that began May 5. FEMA has already approved Individual Assistance for 24 counties, which makes federal funds available for housing repairs or temporary housing, low-interest loans, disaster unemployment assistance and grants for serious needs and disaster expenses [Tulsa World].

Inhofe seeks to boost federal highway spending: Oklahoma would get nearly $4.2 billion in federal money for roads and bridges over the next six years under bipartisan legislation unveiled by Sen. Jim Inhofe. The bill as written would cost $90 billion more than the highway trust fund is expected to collect from gas taxes. Inhofe said it was up to other congressional committees to figure out how to make up the shortfall [NewsOK].

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In The Know: Online voter registration is on the way

by | June 23rd, 2015 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

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Today In The News

Online voter registration on the way: The Oklahoma Election Board is researching how to implement online voter registration in Oklahoma under a law that goes into effect November 1. The law was part of several reforms passed to encourage voter turnout in Oklahoma, after less than 30 percent of eligible citizens voted in the last governor’s election [NewsOK]. Previously: This report by OK Policy examined the decline of voter participation in Oklahoma and recommended reforms to fix it.

Another lawsuit challenges legislators’ budget tactics: Attorney Jerry Fent filed a lawsuit arguing that the state’s transfers from the Unclaimed Property Fund to balance the state budget are illegal. Lawmakers have used money from the Unclaimed Property Fund in numerous years, including $50 million for next year’s budget [NewsOK].

Where are they now? Bills we followed this session: On the OK Policy Blog, we looked at what happened with bills we followed this session related to tax breaks, elections reform, and attempts to call for a U.S. constitutional convention [OK Policy]. An earlier post looked at bills related to education and criminal justice [OK Policy].

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In The Know: State agencies increasingly turning to overtime to fill their budget gaps

by | June 22nd, 2015 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

The number of state employees who worked 500 or more hours of overtime in a year doubled between 2010 and 2014, as state agencies are increasingly asking employees to work long hours to cover budget gaps [Tulsa World]. Every year, thousands of Oklahomans with mental-health or addiction problems call or show up at state-funded treatment centers and get little or no care, because Oklahoma’s mental health system limits most subsidized treatment to the seriously ill [Oklahoma Watch]. You can see a breakdown of how the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services prioritizes patients here. While analyzing where to make cuts within the state’s Medicaid agency budget, Oklahoma health leaders discovered millions of dollars being spent on expensive, medically unnecessary urine drug screenings [NewsOK].

The Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority on Wednesday approved next year’s jail budget despite objections from three mayors who sit on the authority, who said a lack of oversight and misspending of funds attached to the jail should delay budget approval [Tulsa World]. State Sen. Brian Crain is urging changes to Oklahoma’s police arbitration rules after another incident with an Owasso police officer who the city had unsuccessfully tried to fire four years ago due to excessive force complaints [Tulsa World]. Oklahoma State University Regents voted to raise tuition 4.5 to 4.8 percent for students at OSU’s five campuses. University of Oklahoma officials are proposing tuition increases between 4 and 5 percent [NewsOK]. Steve Lewis discussed more about why Oklahoma’s attempt to ban teacher payroll deductions may be unenforceable [OK Policy Blog].

After already struggling through severe drought followed by damaging floods, Oklahoma wheat farmers are facing another hurdle with a closed Port of Catoosa that usually carries their product to markets outside of Oklahoma [State Impact Oklahoma]. State Rep. Seneca Scott has proposed an interim study to focus an “e-construction” record-keeping alternative for the state Transportation Department, as well as “road diets” that would redefine existing highway lane space for uses such as bike lanes, pedestrian refuge islands, bus lanes and/or parking [CapitolBeatOK]. Turmoil continues within the Oklahoma Republican Party over a controversial hire by new party Chairman Randy Brogdon of a staffer who pled guilty to domestic violence charges [Tulsa World].

The Number of the Day is -1.4 percent – the drop in Oklahoma’s total employment outside the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas since December. In today’s Policy Note, Nick Hanauer and David Rolf discuss how to protect the American middle class as the economy shifts to recasting full-time employees into contractors, vendors, and temporary workers [Democracy Journal].

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In The Know: Health Care Authority backs away from provider cuts

by | June 19th, 2015 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which administers Medicaid in Oklahoma announced on Thursday that more carryover funds than expected meant the agency would not have to institute provider rate cuts to physician assistants and nurse practitioners, although concerns remain that continuing state budget problems mean the cuts are still on the table next year [Oklahoma Watch]. Our FY 2016 Budget Highlights display all state agency appropriations since 2009 [OK Policy]. Naloxone, a fast-acting drug that can reverse the effects of an opiate overdose, is now available without a prescription from 34 pharmacies in Oklahoma [NewsOK]. Prescription drug overdoses, including opiate overdoses, kill more Oklahomans than car accidents [OK Policy Blog]. Tulsa’s foreclosure rate dropped from April to May, although it was significantly higher than in May of last year [Tulsa World].

A guest post on the OK Policy Blog argued that states frequently adopt other states’ policies without evidence that those policies work, frequently resulting in the replication of failed public policies throughout the states [OK Policy Blog]. An op-ed in the Tulsa World explained why a juvenile competency bill Gov. Fallin recently signed into law is a positive step forward for juvenile justice in Oklahoma [Tulsa World]. Arnold Hamilton wrote that the death penalty in Oklahoma is on life support [Journal Record].

Recent rains in the state broke the drought, but also flooded fields came too late to help the wheat harvest much [StateImpact]. Flooding has also shut down shipping on the Arkansas River [Journal Record]. African-American churches in Tulsa are planning a prayer vigil for victims of the Charleston shooting [KJRH]. The Number of the Day is 85% – Oklahoma’s public high school cohort graduation rate for the 2012-13 school year. In today’s Policy Note, NPR discusses summer nutrition programs that provide food for kids when schools are on summer break [NPR].

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In The Know: Oklahoma cities may dispose of wastewater in injection wells

by | June 18th, 2015 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Oklahoma cities have been cleared to dispose of municipal wastewater in oil and gas injection wells [KWGS]. A new report from the US Geological Survey debunks myths around fracking and makes the case that wastewater injection triggered a rise in earthquakes in Oklahoma [The Frontier]. StateImpact has compiled a list of studies on the state’s earthquake boom [StateImpact]. In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt explains why the debate about whether the state budget grew or shrank slightly ignores that we’re still not close to fully supporting core public services [Journal Record]. OK Policy’s FY 2016 Budget Highlights reviews the budget in depth, including appropriations for every state agency going back to 2009 [OK Policy].

Oklahoma ranks third in the US for the rate of preventable injury deaths, such as drug overdoses, homicides, suicides, and car accidents [NewsOK]. The full report is available here. Recent analysis of US Census data shows that Oklahoma has one of the lowest rates of children living in two-parent households [NewsOK]. The full New York Times is available here. We the People Oklahoma has filed a motion to keep signatures on a petition to impanel a grand jury investigation into the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office private, citing threats to organizers and signers [Tulsa World]. Should the jury be impaneled, jurors will be able to expand the probe beyond the 20 areas of inquiry listed in the petition [Tulsa World].

Recent heavy rains are a mixed blessing for the state’s ranchers [KGOU]. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved disaster assistance for an additional 18 counties [NewsOn6]. Oklahoma City residents used the hashtag #WhatIfOKC to discuss changes they’d like to see in the city [NewsOK]. The Number of the Day is $34,884 – average salary for classified employees of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, 21 percent below the average salary for similar jobs in other states and the private sector. In today’s Policy Note, the Pew Charitable Trusts explain the growing problem of elder abuse is so inconsistently tracked and recorded [Pew Charitable Trusts].

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In The Know: DHS making deep cuts to meet reduced budget while bolstering increased child-welfare demands

by | June 17th, 2015 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

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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In The Know: Nurse practitioners, physician assistants face 5 percent rate cut from state Medicaid agency

by | June 16th, 2015 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

The state’s Medicaid agency released its list of proposed budget cuts for the fiscal year beginning next month, including lowering reimbursement rates for physician assistants and nurse practitioners by 5 percent. You can see the full list of proposed cuts here. Facing the loss of some tax incentives at the end of 2016, Oklahoma’s wind industry might accelerate wind developments to beat the deadline. Oklahoma House members submitted 122 requests for interim studies before last Friday’s deadline. You can see the full list of interim study requests here.

On the OK Policy Blog, we discussed how lawmakers continued some practices in this year’s budget that are being challenged as unconstitutional in a case before the state Supreme Court. Rep. David Perryman, D-Chickasha, expressed concern that an Oklahoma Supreme Court decision last month could severely hamper counties’ efforts to recover delinquent property taxes.

During a campaign stop, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called for the federal government to fund pre-kindergarten for low- and moderate-income families and cited Oklahoma as a successful example. Elected leaders in Midwest City and Del City are blocking the City of Norman’s plan to augment the Lake Thunderbird reservoir levels with treated wastewater. StateImpact Oklahoma shared stories of how numerous earthquakes caused by the oil and gas industry are affecting individual Oklahomans.

The Number of the Day is 89.1% – the cost of living in Oklahoma as a percentage of the national average. In today’s Policy Note, the Washington Post examines how a Tennessee program that provides mentors to kids aging out of foster care is helping them become successful adults.

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