In The Know: District Attorney charges reserve deputy with second-degree manslaughter

by and | April 14th, 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.

 A reserve deputy who fatally shot a man during an undercover gun sting was charged with second-degree manslaughter Monday afternoon. The deputy, a 73-year-old insurance agent, had bought at least five automobiles and surveillance equipment for the undercover unit to which he was assigned and was the chairman of Tulsa Sheriff Stanley Glanz’s reelection campaign. The Associated Press reported that the use of volunteer reserve police officers and sheriff’s deputies is common across the country amid tight budgets.

The board that oversees juvenile corrections in Oklahoma is reevaluating its policy to allow pepper spray to be used on incarcerated youth. The Oklahoma House of Representatives has placed a legal advertisement signaling that they may transfer the unfinished American Indian Cultural Center property back to the city of Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City could hire legal help at $325 per hour to defend a plan to demolish downtown’s historic Union Bus Station from a lawsuit by city councilman Ed Shadid.

Oklahoma Watch shared comments from a recent interview by state Rep. David Dank, who passed away on Friday. An email from Secretary of State Chris Benge asked every member of the State Legislature to designate up to seven successors in case of an emergency. Faced with a massive budget hole after deep income tax cuts, Kansas Republicans are looking at increasing several other taxes. The OK Policy Blog discusses new research showing how predatory lenders tend to set up shop near the working poor — and cluster around neighborhoods of military families. Payday loan stores reap millions in profits from a product designed to force borrowers into repeat loans at extremely high interest rates.

Oklahoma schools are scrambling to get ready for testing season, which takes every computer most schools can find to handle the demand. McClatchy reported that some teachers in Oklahoma continue to use practices that are part of Common Core standards because they are useful in the classroom. On the OK Policy Blog, Steve Lewis discussed why Governor Fallin put her former opponent Jari Askins in charge of improving the child welfare system. Oklahoma has become the second state to ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure that critics describe as dismembering a fetus.

The Legislature approved a bill that prohibits health insurers from holding proton radiation cancer therapy to a higher standard of clinical effectiveness than other radiation treatments. An experimental coating applied to a 78-year-old LeFlore County bridge may have contributed to premature structural damage that forced the bridge’s closure. A burst of moisture over the weekend and Monday is the first step in alleviating effects of drought throughout the state, weather experts said. Almost 100 years after took the lives of 40 mental patients at Norman’s Griffin Memorial Hospital, a memorial services was held for the victims.

The Number of the Day is 2.07 – the average number of personal exemptions claimed on Oklahoma tax returns in 2013, 10th highest in the U.S. In today’s Policy Note, economist Noah Smith explain why mass imprisonment imposes a huge burden on the U.S. economy.

continue reading In The Know: District Attorney charges reserve deputy with second-degree manslaughter

New research: Oklahoma’s predatory lenders target vulnerable populations, military installations

by | April 13th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Financial Security | Comments (0)

Payday ImageCredit is necessary for financial stability in today’s economy. Consumers need access to credit in order to lease a car or establish a residency. A lack of credit creates barriers to securing a job, home, or car. Further, routine expenses vary month to month, and on occasion, even a prudent budgeter might need credit if their paycheck does not meet their current obligations.

For low-income people, the lack of access to traditional financial institutions can mean having to turn to nontraditional lenders to meet their financial needs. When faced with losing electricity, eviction, or being late on bill payments, some are tempted by easily accessible payday loans and cash advances. Industry representatives claim that payday loans help provide a necessary access to credit that low-income borrowers generally lack. A growing body of research, however, tells a different story.

continue reading New research: Oklahoma’s predatory lenders target vulnerable populations, military installations

In The Know: Video shows Tulsa sheriff deputy killing man as officer uses gun not Taser ‘by mistake’

by and | April 13th, 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.

Video has been released of the moment a reserve sheriff officer in Tulsa shot and killed Eric Harris by mistake. The reserve officer, Bob Bates, a 73-year-old insurance executive, told police he had thought he was firing his Taser stun gun. Tulsa Police Sgt. Jim Clark said his investigation determined that Bates committed no crime, even referring to him as a “victim.” The Tulsa World reported that the 130-person reserve deputy squad is full of “a lot of wealthy people” and donors, some of whom are participating routinely in operations like the undercover investigation. An attorney who is representing Harris’ family is questioning several claims in the sheriff’s report.

A judge ruled Friday that the state’s lengthy delay in providing records on a controversial execution could be a violation of the Open Records Act and ordered state officials to provide reasons for extensive redactions to documents it has already provided. Sheriff John Whetsel has drawn up a “framework” aimed at winning voter approval for a half-cent sales tax to finance a new Oklahoma County jail. Deficiencies at the jail have resulted in lawsuits, inmate deaths and a federal civil rights investigation, and the current effort is at least the fourth run at resolving problems with the jail since 2003. A children’s shelter being shut down due to a federal class-action settlement over Oklahoma’s child welfare system is being looked at as the location for a new juvenile justice facility.

The Tulsa World editorial board endorsed a bill that would give judges more discretion to ignore mandatory minimum sentences. Oklahoma has on the books at least 122 mandatory minimum sentences that have contributed to the state’s high incarceration rates. Police are investigating vandalism at the Islamic Society of Edmond, which alleged pieces of pork were left in the parking lot and on door handles of the mosque.  Oklahoma Watch reported that March of last year was the deadliest month for prescription drug overdoses in Oklahoma since authorities began tracking such deaths in 2001. For Oklahomans ages 25 to 64, unintentional poisoning by prescription drug overdose is the leading cause of injury death.

A record-breaking flu season that killed 107 people in Oklahoma may be winding down. State Rep. David Dank, 76, died Friday in his Oklahoma City home. Rep. Dank was a passionate advocate for tax credit reform, and in January he spoke on a panel about the issue at OK Policy’s State Budget Summit. Former state Sen. Randy Brogdon defeated incumbent Dave Weston to become Oklahoma Republican Party chairman. A rural economic development program promoted by Oklahoma State University has seen limited success because of limited cooperation between rural communities.

The Tulsa World examined difficulties Oklahomans have faced trying to get compensation from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation for pothole damage to their cars. The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. fell below 1,000 this week, down from 1,831 active rigs one year ago. The Number of the Day is $2.55 – the average cost for meals per inmate per day in Oklahoma correctional institutions. In today’s Policy Note, Stateline examines efforts to do away with a quirky “double deduction” tax break that benefits mostly higher-income taxpayers in Oklahoma and six other states. OK Policy has recommended doing away with the “double deduction” as a way to close the state’s $611 million budget hole.

continue reading In The Know: Video shows Tulsa sheriff deputy killing man as officer uses gun not Taser ‘by mistake’

The Weekly Wonk April 12, 2015

by | April 12th, 2015 | Posted in Blog | Comments (0)

the_weekly_wonkThe Weekly Wonk is a summary of Oklahoma Policy Institute’s events, publications, blog posts, and coverage. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The KnowClick here to subscribe to In The Know.

We are now accepting applications for our 2015 Summer Policy Institute (SPI)! Oklahoma college students of all levels are encouraged to apply. SPI offers attendees a unique opportunity to become better informed about vital Oklahoma policy issues, network with fellow students and leaders, and prepare for their future studies and work in policy-related fields.

This week on the OK Policy Blog, we explained that unless legislators take action to boost revenues, low-income pregnant women, children, seniors, and disabled Oklahomans who get health care through Medicaid could face huge cuts in next year’s budget. Lawmakers are looking at cuts to Medicaid even as they allow a $150 million tax cut to go forward that mostly benefits the wealthiest Oklahomans. Tulsa Public Schools teacher John Waldron detailed the responses he and other educators received from legislators when they went to the Capitol to make the case for better funding public schools.

We shared a video that illustrates the barriers ex-felons face when trying to rebuild their lives. We previously discussed some of Oklahoma’s barriers to life after prison here. In his weekly Capitol Update, Steve Lewis discussed why Governor Fallin put her former political rival Jari Askins in charge of improving the state’s child welfare system. Court-ordered monitors have previously found the state was falling short in efforts to fix the state’s foster care system. On April 15th at 6:30pm, Oklahoma Assets Network will present “Who Pays More? A Town Hall Forum on Predatory Lending in Oklahoma” at the OU Faculty House. All are welcome to attend.

In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt wrote that ambitious proposals for election reform have been whittled down in the Legislature. In the Tulsa World, Wayne Greene called Blatt’s suggestions for closing the budget gap “interesting and sound.” You can learn more about options for closing the budget gap here. Oklahoma Observer editor Arnold Hamilton cited OK Policy data while discussing  lawmkers’ apparently determination to enact an income tax cut in the middle of a budget emergency. The income tax cut was never intended to take place in these conditions.

Weekly What’s That:

Corporate Income Tax

Oklahoma’s corporate income tax is set at a flat rate of 6 percent of taxable income. The tax is based on a three-part formula that looks at the portions of a company’s sales, property and payroll that is based in Oklahoma. Read more.

Look up more key terms to understand Oklahoma politics and government here.

continue reading The Weekly Wonk April 12, 2015

Why Governor Fallin put her former opponent in charge of improving the child welfare system (Steve Lewis Capitol Updates)

Governor Mary Fallin and Jari Askins

Governor Mary Fallin and Jari Askins

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol. You can sign up on his website to receive the Capitol Updates newsletter by email.

It was a good move on the part of Governor Fallin to put her former opponent, former Democratic Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins, in charge of improving the Oklahoma child welfare system and implementing the Pinnacle Plan at the Department of Human Services.  Askins was a supporter of children’s services when she was a member of the House of Representatives, and during her statewide races she proposed a “children’s cabinet” to focus the state’s resources on the needs of children.

continue reading Why Governor Fallin put her former opponent in charge of improving the child welfare system (Steve Lewis Capitol Updates)

In The Know: Senate passes nitrogen gas execution measure

by | April 10th, 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.

A bill that would allow the use of nitrogen gas in executions has cleared the Senate and is headed to the Governor’s desk. State attorneys have filed a brief with the US Supreme Court arguing that its execution process is “the most humane form of execution available to the state” in response to filings on behalf from a number of Oklahoma death row inmates arguing that Oklahoma’s execution method is cruel and unusual. Studies show that the death penalty imposes significant costs to states and has no deterrent effect on crime. A House committee approved a measure that would direct the Legislature to dedicate every other year exclusively to writing a state budget. A representative from the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, which supports local farmers and producers, wrote that a “right to farm” amendment to the state constitution would open the door to poor agricultural management practices by industrial agriculture conglomerates.

On the OK Policy Blog, a teacher from Tulsa Public Schools shared the story of what he encountered while speaking to legislators at the Capitol. The Tulsa World’s Wayne Greene discussed which state agencies will come out the better and which the worse as the legislature contends with a $611 million budget shortfall. We have options for a balanced approach to close the budget gap. Arnold Hamilton wrote in his Journal Record column that state government actions will benefit the rich and leave low-income Oklahomans worse off than they were before. A recent state court of appeals decision ruling that adults tried for crimes committed in their youth must be tried and sentenced as adults could violate the 8th Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

Oklahoma college students met with the state Regents  for Higher Education to ask them to keep tuition increases down. Emails obtained by EnergyWire show that Continental Resources founder and CEO Harold Hamm met with OU President David Boren in 2011 after a university employee wrote a report linking some earthquakes to fracking. Data shows that wait times for VA appointments in Oklahoma are well below the national average, although clinics in Tulsa and Vinita exceeded the national average. Ginnie Graham wrote in the Tulsa World that access to long-acting reversible contraception is the key to preventing teen pregnancy. In a new blog post, Rob Miller argued that a lack of quality control in writing, printing and distributing tests could endanger educators.

A dozen former inmates of a Tulsa halfway house have filed a lawsuit alleging that the facility forced inmates to participate in “gladiator-style” fighting, ran a drug ring, and manipulated urinalysis testing. Lawton is seeking permission from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board to hire a cloud-seeding company to increase rainfall in the area. StateImpact spoke to a Caddo County rancher who has transitioned to wind farming. The Number of the Day is 73rd – Oklahoma City’s rank among the nation’s 100 largest metros for resident well-being, according to a Gallup survey. Tulsa was ranked 56th. In today’s Policy Note, new analysis from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation finds that states expanding their Medicaid programs have seen significant budget savings and revenue gains without reducing services.

continue reading In The Know: Senate passes nitrogen gas execution measure

Mr. Chips goes to Oklahoma City (Guest post: John Waldron)

by | April 9th, 2015 | Posted in Education | Comments (5)

John Waldron

John Waldron is a history teacher at Booker T. Washington High School. His earlier contribution to the OK Policy Blog is “The public education crunch goes from bad to worse.”

On March 30 I took a group of teachers and students to Oklahoma City for the Brighter Future Education Rally sponsored by the Oklahoma PTA.  It wasn’t my first rodeo. As a public school teacher, I have attended at least four rallies over the last fifteen years, including last year’s record-breaking gathering of 30,000 outside the capitol building. But this was my first attempt to go inside and talk directly to the people who write the legislation and budget for our public schools. It was an eye-opening experience.

continue reading Mr. Chips goes to Oklahoma City (Guest post: John Waldron)

In The Know: Senate approves tougher texting while driving ban

by and | April 9th, 2015 | Posted in 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 Senate passed a bill to ban texting while driving and approved an amendment to make it a primary offense, which means drivers could be pulled over for texting. The Legislature approved a ban on a common second-trimester abortion procedure that critics describe as dismembering a fetus. The Tulsa school board approved a three-year contract worth up to $855,000 in base salary and bonuses for incoming Superintendent Deborah Gist. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister announced two new hires Wednesday to complete her leadership team at the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

Attorney Adam Banner discussed how severely overcrowded and understaffed Oklahoma prisons are facing additional budget cuts this year. House Speaker Jeff Hickman has commented that Oklahoma prisons are “one lawsuit away” from a federal takeover. On the OK Policy Blog, we shared a short film that dramatically illustrates the barriers for ex-felons trying to rebuild their lives and do the right thing. Oklahoma puts up numerous barriers to finding affordable housing, education, and jobs for people coming out of prison.

David Blatt’s Journal Record column discussed how ambitious proposals for election reform have been whittled down in the Legislature. A measure that seeks to amend the Oklahoma Constitution to shield agriculture from regulation is headed to the Senate floor. Student athletes and their parents would be notified about the risks of sudden cardiac arrest under a bill passed by the House. State Rep. Bobby Cleveland announced he has withdrawn his request for an attorney general’s opinion on whether the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma must follow the state Open Meeting Act and Open Records Act, because he doesn’t want to interfere with ongoing investigations by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and state auditor.

The Tulsa city council will consider an ordinance change to add gay and transgender Tulsans to those protected under the city’s fair housing policy. A group may sue Duncan Public Schools over claims that a third-grade teacher distributed Bibles during her class. Wilma Mankiller, the Cherokee Nation’s first woman to serve as its chief, has been nominated alongside Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks as suggestions to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.

The Number of the Day is 82% – the percentage of Oklahomans who drive to work alone. In today’s Policy Note, the Washington Post discusses the double-standard of making the poor prove they’re worthy of government benefits, while we don’t make similar demands of middle-class and wealthy Americans who receive farm subsidies, student loans, and mortgage tax breaks.

continue reading In The Know: Senate approves tougher texting while driving ban

Watch This: ‘Locked Out’

by | April 8th, 2015 | Posted in Criminal Justice, Watch This | Comments (1)

In 5 minutes, ‘Locked Out’ by Human Pictures Film dramatically illustrates the barriers for ex-felons trying to rebuild their lives and do the right thing. Excluding Americans with a felony record from affordable housing, student loans, and jobs leaves many with little way to survive outside of prison. We previously discussed some of Oklahoma’s barriers to life after prison here.

In The Know: House votes to extend Quality Jobs subsidies to egg producers

by and | April 8th, 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 House has narrowly passed legislation that would to make chicken egg producers eligible for state subsidies under the Quality Jobs Act. State payments to private businesses through the Quality Jobs Act has grown rapidly in recent years, even as most other state programs saw budget cuts. Higher education Chancellor Glen Johnson said Oklahoma is falling behind other states in funding for its degree completion efforts

Unless legislators take action to boost revenues, low-income pregnant women, children, seniors, and disabled Oklahomans who get health care through Medicaid could face huge cuts in next year’s budget. Lawmakers are looking at cuts to Medicaid even as they allow a $150 million tax cut to go forward that mostly benefits the wealthiest Oklahomans. Former Oklahoma Secretary of Finance Scott Meacham wrote that Oklahoma has been stuck in crisis budgeting for years because of problems created by state policies.

Rep. Glen Mulready wrote an op-ed arguing that Oklahoma should convert Medicaid to a privatized managed care plan to save costs. Trish Emig, chairwoman of the State Council on Aging, wrote that Rep. Mulready’s plan could force elderly and disabled Oklahomans into nursing homes because managed care will limit their choices to receive needed care. An OK Policy report found that privatized managed care could be more costly and less efficient than Oklahoma’s current Medicaid program.

 The Tulsa World editorial board argued in favor of a powdered alcohol ban being considered by the Legislature. Two insurance industry-backed measures that would disrupt the Unclaimed Property Fund appear dead for this legislative session. Governor Fallin signed into law measures that would make attempting to reach or gain control of a law officer’s weapon assault and battery and would make it a state offense to shine a laser pointer at an aircraft.

House Environmental Law chairman Rep. Kevin Calvey (R-Tulsa) claimed that state revenue will fall by “Dust Bowl proportions” unless the Legislature prohibits cities from regulating oil and gas drilling. The committee also advanced a bill intended to help Attorney General Scott Pruitt sue the federal government to block higher air quality standards. An Oklahoma tribe and its allies are fighting a legal, advertising and social-media war in Connecticut, claiming a right as a sovereign government to make unlicensed short-term loans at astronomical interest rates in defiance of state usury laws. These type of predatory, high-interest loans are still legal and widespread in Oklahoma.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced that low-interest federal disaster loans are available to Oklahoma businesses and residents affected by last month’s severe storms. KGOU examined the challenges for the new vice president for diversity at the University of Oklahoman’s, where there are still very few minority faculty members. The anti-poverty organization CAP Tulsa was named one of the top nonprofit employers in the country in a recent report by the NonProfit Times. 

During the debate over whether the state should let teachers deduct union dues from their paychecks, a fake lobbyist pretending to represent the Oklahoma Education Association approached at least one lawmaker and argued against abortion restrictions. The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs had previously attempted to link OEA to abortion policy while advocating for ending teachers’ payroll deductions.

The Number of the Day is 75.9% – the percentage of Oklahomans ages 25 to 54 who had a job in 2014, down from 77.0% in 2007. In today’s Policy Note, USA Today shared the struggles of an uninsured cancer victim in a state that is refusing federal funds to expand Medicaid.

continue reading In The Know: House votes to extend Quality Jobs subsidies to egg producers

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. ...
  10. 256