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. 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.
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Today you should know that a Senate panel passed a measure (HB 2642) to divert some of the scheduled funding increase for roads and bridges to common education. A lobbyist for Oklahoma highway contractors expressed outrage about the bill, saying it would destroy the state’s progress on road conditions. Bob Waldrop shared a story about rescuing a man in a motorized wheelchair on Oklahoma City’s Northwest Expressway, which has no sidewalks or other pedestrian amenities for 16 miles.
David Blatt’s Journal Record column discussed how tax cuts are moving forward even though Oklahomans are not calling for them. The OK Policy Blog discussed a new “MyRA” initiative that creates a simple way for workers to build retirement accounts. The accounts have no fees or risks to principal, and low income earners who save in MyRAs will be eligible for a savers’ tax credit of 10 percent to 50 percent of their contributions.
The state Department of Education said about 96 percent of all Oklahoma school districts have been deemed technologically ready for spring testing, up from 70 percent nearly a month ago. The private contractor that provides Oklahoma’s testing is experiencing a glitch that causes administrators at schools to be regularly logged out of the system. Several House members are complaining their bills to outlaw embryonic research and to allow school employees to deliver “Merry Christmas” greetings to one another aren’t getting a hearing in the Senate.
Though an Oklahoma County judge ruled last week that two inmates facing execution have a constitutional right to know key details about lethal injection drugs, the state so far has revealed sparse information about its new protocol. Oklahoma has until the end of the month to appeal the ruling. The Oklahoma State Medical Examiner said that the death of Luis Rodriguez, who experienced heart problems after being restrained by Moore police, was a homicide. Cleveland County Commissioner Rusty Sullivan announced he will not run for re-election, after a grand jury concluded his involvement in a road project violated state law.
Rep. Doug Cox (R-Grove) is speaking out against measures to restrict abortion and contraception access that he says are prejudiced against women. The Associated Press reported that even as Hobby Lobby is leading the legal challenge against birth control coverage under the new health care law, the company’s retirement plan includes investments in companies making contraceptive and abortion drugs. A coalition of same-sex couples and their supporters are launching a statewide campaign intended to teach Oklahomans about marriage equality. Lawyers defending Oklahoma’s same-sex marriage ban filed a brief arguing that marriage exists for its procreative potential, not just as recognition of a loving relationship between two people.
The Number of the Day is the percentage of Hispanic immigrants who own their own businesses, a higher entrepreneurship rate than the US as a whole. In today’s Policy Note, an expansive survey of America’s public schools reveals large racial disparities in suspension rates and access to advanced courses and college counselors.
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