OK PolicyCast Episode 16: Who’s keeping working-class Americans out of office?

by | December 12th, 2014 | Posted in Podcast | Comments (0)
Nick Carnes

Nick Carnes

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunesStitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

Each week the OK PolicyCast brings you the most important news about Oklahoma and what it means. In this episode, we share some clips from the keynote speaker at OK Policy’s annual Summer Policy Institute. Nick Carnes, a professor at Duke University and graduate of the University of Tulsa, spoke about his research on what’s keeping working class Americans out of public office. Dr. Carnes is the author of, “White-Collar Government: The Hidden Role of Class in Economic Policy Making”. The slides from Dr. Carnes’ presentation are available here.

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In The Know: Oklahoma’s growth could trail nation in 2015

by and | December 12th, 2014 | 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.

Experts at an Economic Outlook Conference said Oklahoma’s economic growth Oklahoma in 2015 likely will go from bettering the nation to trailing it slightly, thanks to the slump in energy prices. The state’s General Revenue Fund collections in November flattened, dropping below last year’s revenue and the official estimate. The Justice Department released a memo implying that federal prosecutors will take a hands-off approach to prosecuting marijuana charges on any Indian lands when tribes vote to allow it, but an Oklahoma City U.S. Attorney said it will only apply in states that have already legalized marijuana

A new “fracking scorecard” released by a coalition of shareholder advocates and environmental watchdogs found that major Oklahoma oil and gas companies are not being transparent about their fracking practices or their progress in reducing risks of the operations. Oklahoma City-based Continental Resources, Inc. was ranked last out of 30 major companies in the report with a score of ‘zero.’ You can read the full report here. In the Journal Record, Arnold Hamilton argued that Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s close collaboration with oil and gas companies to fight regulation of their industry has violated the spirit of his oath of office. Rep. Earl Sears says he will sponsor legislation that would put regulations on the wind industry in next year’s legislative session.

The Oklahoma Hospital Association president made the case to state lawmakers for why Oklahoma should accept federal funds to expand Insure Oklahoma. OK Policy previously discussed how the state’s negotiations with the federal government over Insure Oklahoma can pave the way for this long-term solution. There have 16,219 new Soonercare enrollees in the past six months. Monday is the last day to sign up for new individual coverage through the federal health insurance marketplace in order to be covered on Jan. 1, but Oklahomans can continue to sign up through Feb. 15. The Oklahoma Department of Health says influenza has taken the lives of two people in the state. OK Policy previously discussed why everyone should get a flu shot.

A federal judge denied the state’s request for a broad protective order to conceal information and block testimony in a lawsuit filed by Oklahoma death row inmates. On the OK Policy Blog, we look at who’s on the new leadership team appointed by House Speaker Jeff Hickman. Members of the State Capitol Repair Expenditure Oversight Committee asked the Legislature to delay the due date of its final plan by six months. Oklahoma County District Judge Bernard Jones said he would not overturn the results of Locust Grove’s contested 20-19 win over Douglass in 3A high school football quarterfinals.

Oklahoma’s drought continued to spread this week, and some parts of the state have gone more than a month without substantial rain. StateImpact Oklahoma reported that expanding residential development has increased the risks associated with dam failures, but the state has put little funding into safety efforts. The Number of the Day is how many babies were born to women incarcerated in Mabel Basset Correctional Center in 2013. In today’s Policy Note, PBS reported that domestic violence is as prevalent an issue among college students as sexual assault.

continue reading In The Know: Oklahoma’s growth could trail nation in 2015

A look at the new House leadership team (Steve Lewis Capitol Updates)

by | December 11th, 2014 | Posted in Capitol Updates | Comments (0)
Steve Lewis

Steve Lewis

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.

House Speaker Jeff Hickman began naming leadership positions last week.  The top leadership position named directly by the Speaker is the Majority Floor Leader who is usually considered his right hand person.  From the standpoint of actual power, floor leader is the number two position in the House.  The floor leader prepares the agenda every legislative day controlling which bills will be heard and when.  He also controls the floor action with all recognitions for motions and bill presentations going through him.  The floor leader serves as both counselor to the Speaker and agent for carrying out his decisions and policies. 

continue reading A look at the new House leadership team (Steve Lewis Capitol Updates)

In The Know: Some early legislative proposals could rock Oklahoma state government

by and | December 11th, 2014 | 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.

Lawmakers have begun to introduce measures for next year’s legislative session, including bills that seek to eliminate the state Senate, reduce legislators’ pay, and transfer gaming and tobacco revenue to pay for completing the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum. David Blatt’s Journal Record column discusses the voices still missing from the Oklahoma Legislature. Devon Energy CEO Larry Nichols admitted that he believes oil and gas wastewater disposal wells have been triggering earthquakes.

Officials from the Osage and Cherokee nations were sworn-in as tribal special assistant U.S. attorneys on Wednesday, becoming the first two such attorneys in the state. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in a case involving a retailer that denied employment to an Oklahoman after she wore a religious head scarf to a job interview. Students protesting against racism at Oklahoma State University said they’ve received death threats on social media.

Marketplace examined the huge cost of prescription drugs that are thrown out unused, and efforts in Oklahoma and other states to donate unused drugs to people who need them. Oklahoma scored slightly above the national average for readiness to protect people during a health emergency or disaster. Governor Fallin and state agencies will participate in a conference on improving older Oklahomans’ health.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that seniors in Oklahoma have about two fewer years of healthy life than the national average.

 On the OK Policy Blog,  a guest post discusses a new program that is providing grants for innovation in Oklahoma’s rural public schools. The okeducationtruths blog discussed a new rule from the state Department of Education seeking to block schools and parents from opting out of field tests that are used only to help testing companies develop questions. The Oklahoman editorial board praised new Oklahoma City Schools superintendent Rob Neu’s frank assessment of problems facing the district.

Randy Brogdon, a former state senator and one-time tea party favorite who ran unsuccessfully for governor and U.S. Senate, is now setting his sights on the chairmanship of the state Republican Party. Grand River Dam Authority directors voted a $45,000 raise for Chief Executive Officer Dan Sullivan on Wednesday, bringing the former legislator’s annual base pay to $270,000 a year. Discussions have begun to potentially start a Space Flight Participant Training Program in Oklahoma.

The Number of the Day is the percentage of households in Oklahoma that do not have bank accounts. In today’s Policy Note, Slate shared an excerpt of a new book on why it’s so hard to climb out of poverty in the United States.

continue reading In The Know: Some early legislative proposals could rock Oklahoma state government

Supporting innovation in Oklahoma’s rural schools (Guest post: Sarah Julian)

by | December 10th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Education | Comments (0)

rural schoolSarah Julian is the Director of Communications for the Oklahoma Public School Resource Center, a non-profit that provides support and resources to the state’s public schools.

Oklahoma’s public schools continue to face difficult financial challenges—this is neither new nor surprising. The state lags behind the nation in education funding, yet it currently allocates 50 percent of its budget to education. While efforts can and should be made to identify additional funding for Oklahoma’s public schools, it is incumbent on the state to also find ways to incentivize innovation in our public school system.

 In addition to the funding crisis, much attention has been given over the past few years to the difficulty American companies are experiencing in filling highly technical positions with qualified applicants. The numbers of graduates with knowledge in advanced levels of science, math and complex analysis just aren’t at the levels needed to support these companies’ requirements, and it puts them in the position of having to hire from an international pool.

continue reading Supporting innovation in Oklahoma’s rural schools (Guest post: Sarah Julian)

In The Know: Despite some progress, Oklahoma drops to No. 46 in national health ranking

by and | December 10th, 2014 | 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.

Despite some progress, Oklahoma dropped to No. 46 in overall health, according to a national health ranking report released Wednesday. The state’s public health laboratory continues to crumble, despite repeated requests from health leaders that the Legislature provide funding to build a new facility. Seventeen Oklahoma health centers have received a total of $351,319 in federal grants through the Affordable Care Act. You can see the list of Oklahoma grant recipients here.

The Edmond Sun examined how low pay is driving teachers out of Oklahoma. A Tulsa area center that provides supervision and services for troubled juveniles has been rescued for the next six months thanks to the city and a few charitable foundations that came up with $113,000, but its long-term existence still depends on restoring state funding. The Oklahoma Transportation Commission has approved its largest-ever single contract — a $71 million project that involves the reconstruction of two interchanges along Interstate 35 in Norman.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt announced Tuesday that Oklahoma is joining other states in a lawsuit challenging President Barack Obama’s policy on immigration. Spanish-speaking residents in Oklahoma reported feeling better prepared for severe weather, but they still couldn’t always find up-to-date information in an emergency. A federal judge declined to unseal thousands of pages of documents related to the botched execution of Clayton Lockett. A new pipeline is now in service shipping North Dakota and Canadian crude oil from Illinois to Cushing, Oklahoma.

The Tulsa World wrote that a recent vote by the Oklahoma City school board to eliminate the Redskins mascot from one of its schools should be followed by Tulsa Union, which still uses the Redskins mascot despite protests from Native Americans. A new elementary school that would alleviate overcrowding in east Tulsa is set to be included in a $415 million bond proposal being considered by the Tulsa School Board next week. The Number of the Day is the season limit on bobcat hunting in Oklahoma (per license). In today’s Policy Note, ESPN columnist Jason Whitlock discusses how gains of the Civil Rights Movement have been thwarted by a half-century of segregation by incarceration.

continue reading In The Know: Despite some progress, Oklahoma drops to No. 46 in national health ranking

In The Know: Oklahoma income tax cut could be blocked by oil tax revenue declines

by and | December 9th, 2014 | 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. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Vanishing oil and gas tax revenues may delay implementation of a cut to Oklahoma’s income tax, because it is not triggered until revenue grows larger than FY 2014. A miscalculation by researchers at the National Council on Teacher Quality ranked Tulsa and Oklahoma City teachers’ lifetime earnings as higher than they actually were. Both cities were already ranked near the bottom in the nation for teacher pay, and the corrected numbers push them down even further. A report from Pew Charitable Trusts ranked Oklahoma 24th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in federal dollars received per capita in fiscal year 2013. You can read the report here.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt responded to a New York Times investigation that revealed he has participated in a secretive alliance with large energy companies to fight environmental regulations. State corrections officers are ‘freaking out’ over a new push to cut overtime costs at prisons by sending home officers, even though they are already severely understaffed. In a continuing series on mental health and homelessness, the Tulsa World examined the challenges of a father trying to help his son who has been diagnosed with treatment-resistant paranoid schizophrenia. On Dec. 11, the state Department of Human Services will host Tim Knapp, the director of career training and education at The Bowery Mission in New York City, for a free public lecture on providing services to the homeless.

The New York Times examined the controversy over a referee’s error in an Oklahoma high school football game that could be decided by a judge. The Oklahoma City school board voted unanimously to remove “Redskins” as the mascot for Capitol Hill High School. The Jenks school board called for a $120.4 million bond issue election on Feb. 10 that would include building a new elementary school. KGOU shared audio of a presentation by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce’s Diedre Myers on what Oklahoma needs to do to better prepare its citizens to find good jobs. 

In the latest religious challenge to the federal health care law, four Christian colleges in Oklahoma that object to covering birth control in their employee health plans argued in federal appeals court that the government has not gone far enough to ensure they don’t have to violate their beliefs. Under current policy, the groups don’t have to cover contraceptives, but they have to tell the government they object on religious grounds in order to get an exemption. The Number of the Day is the percentage of women incarcerated in Oklahoma who experienced childhood physical and/or sexual abuse. In today’s Policy Note, NPR discusses what some schools are doing to convince children to eat healthier school lunches.

continue reading In The Know: Oklahoma income tax cut could be blocked by oil tax revenue declines

Upcoming Event: Lecture shares stories of providing services to the homeless

by | December 8th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Upcoming Events | Comments (0)

TheBoweryMissionLogoOn Dec. 11, the state Department of Human Services will host Tim Knapp for his talk, “Services to the Homeless,” as part of its Practice & Policy lecture series. As the director of career training and education at The Bowery Mission, one of New York City’s oldest missions to the homeless, Mr. Knapp will share his experiences providing services to the homeless in New York City. Attendees are encouraged to bring coats, hats and scarves to donate to the Oklahoma City Homeless Alliance

Born and raised in Oklahoma, Tim Knapp works to help homeless men at The Bowery Mission develop the skills necessary to reenter the workplace, including counseling, career and job development, GED prep, and computer skills.

This free lecture will be on Thursday, Dec. 11th from noon to 1pm at the Oklahoma History Center (800 Nazih Zuhdi Dr, Oklahoma City, OK 73105). For more information, contact the OKDHS Office of Planning, Research and Statistics at 405-521-3552.  View the complete lecture series lineup here.

In The Know: Energy firms in secretive alliance with Oklahoma Attorney General to fight regulation

by and | December 8th, 2014 | 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. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

A New York Times investigation found that Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s letter challenging federal regulations of natural gas drilling was written by lawyers working for Devon Energy and delivered to him by Devon’s chief of lobbying. Oklahoma State Treasurer Ken Miller warned that energy-related revenues are feeling the squeeze from lower oil prices. Through the first four months of FY-15, allocations for the General Revenue Fund exceeded the estimate by $82.4 million or 4.7 percent. Economists at the Oklahoma Economic Outlook Conference said the decline in oil prices could result in the loss of as many as 1,000 energy sector jobs. Bloomberg explained why gas fell below $2/gallon in Oklahoma City before anywhere else in the country.

House Speaker Jeff Hickman has announced several appointments to leadership positions in the Republican-controlled House. Democratic House Minority Leader Scott Inman said he believes the 29 members of his caucus can be relevant, especially when it comes to politically difficult issues like criminal justice reform and funding to complete the unfinished Native American museum in Oklahoma City that may divide the GOP caucus. Rep. Dennis Casey, R-Morrison, said there’s talk among members of the Oklahoma House Republican Caucus about the need to “get out of the way” when it comes to some education issues.

Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, has filed a bill that seeks to exempt firearms manufactured in Oklahoma from all federal regulations. Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, wrote an op-ed criticizing the rise of “dark money” campaigns allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. On the OK Policy Blog, Steve Lewis discussed why the stars may be aligning for action on criminal justice reform in Oklahoma. Tulsa County officials say the Tulsa County Jail has become the state’s largest mental health facility. Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz wrote an op-ed questioning Oklahoma’s practice of jailing the mentally ill. A Tulsa World series examines challenges faced by the city’s homeless population.

On the OK PolicyCast, we spoke about the roots of Oklahoma’s racial wealth gap. Joining protests across the nation in the wake of the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, students at Oklahoma State University held a ‘die-in’ on campus. The Oklahoma Department of Human Services is looking for volunteers to open their homes on Christmas Day to children staying in emergency shelters across Oklahoma. The Number of the Day is how many people workers as embalmers in Oklahoma in 2013. In today’s Policy Note, USA Today examines the impact of a growing number of rural hospitals that are shutting down.

continue reading In The Know: Energy firms in secretive alliance with Oklahoma Attorney General to fight regulation

The Weekly Wonk December 7, 2014

by | December 7th, 2014 | 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.

On the OK Policy Blog this week, we discussed a new initiative that would require Oklahoma students to pass a civics test in order to graduate high school. For World AIDS Day, we shared a Q&A with Kathy Williams, the executive director a Tulsa-based HIV/AIDS testing and educational organization.

In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis said that the legislature may be willing to tackle criminal justice reform – but pointed out that the real test will come when the reformers are accused of being “soft on crime.” Staffer and Oklahoma Assets Network coordinator Kate Richey presented her research “Closing the Opportunity Gap: Building Equity in Oklahoma” at the Alliance for Economic Inclusion for Northeastern Oklahoma‘s quarterly meeting.

Rickey discussed Oklahoma’s racial wealth gap on this week’s PolicyCast. The podcast also features the week’s headlines. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunesStitcher, or RSS.

Writing in his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt argued that the Oklahoma Hospital Association has a viable plan to expand health coverage in the state, and that we only need political will from the Governor to move forward. In our Editorial of the Week, The Oklahoman noted that uncontested legislative races are becoming routine in Oklahoma. We’ve discussed Oklahoma’s broken democracy before.

continue reading The Weekly Wonk December 7, 2014

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