Two great OK Policy opportunities for Oklahoma college students

by | August 12th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)

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OK Policy is pleased to announced two exciting opportunities for Oklahoma college students. We are currently accepting applications for our fall internship and for our 2014-2015 research fellowship. Students working with OK Policy have a wide range of opportunities to conduct research, write blog posts, and contribute to OK Policy projects and events. We invite all interested candidates to apply.

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In The Know: Fallin emails show debates on politics of health-care decisions

by and | August 12th, 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.

Gov. Mary Fallin’s office released 100 pages of emails on Monday that it withheld last year regarding her decision to reject federal funds to create a state health-care exchange and expand Medicaid. While Fallin said she needed to withhold some records to protect the “deliberative process” involving policy decisions, most of the emails revolve around the political cost of accepting federal funds for health care. You can see all of the e-mails here

Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel said the county’s jail will not have enough money to sustain operations since the Department of Corrections began pulling inmates out and moving them to state facilities. None of the 11 firms asked to bid on auditing Tulsa County jail’s daily inmate cost want the job. With juvenile crime down significantly, Tulsa County’s 55-bed juvenile detention center is almost half empty after this weekend. A lawsuit filed Monday accuses an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper of raping a Tulsa woman after pulling her over in a traffic stop.

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services set a new record in collecting $362.5 million in child support payments last year, but unpaid child support in Oklahoma still totals $2.2 billion. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says more than 1,800 unaccompanied immigrant children were processed through Fort Sill before the facility was closed last week. The Tulsa World shared the story of an Oklahoma couple who had been together 20 years but ran out of time waiting for Oklahoma’s marriage laws to change before one of them passed away. NewsOK profiled a conservative judge who became the swing vote in the 10th Circuit Court decision overturning Oklahoma’s same-sex marriage ban.

Oil and gas driller Continental Resources will build two water recycling and processing centers to support the company’s drilling in Garvin and Stephens counties. A Prague woman is suing drilling wastewater disposal well operators over an earthquake that toppled a chimney onto her and may require her to get knee replacement surgery.  U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor will speak at the University of Tulsa on Sept. 10.

The Number of the Day is the total number of adult Oklahomans who received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families payments (commonly known as “welfare”) in May 2014. In today’s Policy Note, Wonkblog discusses new research showing the 24 states refusing to expand Medicaid will lose $423.6 billion in federal funds from 2013 to 2022.

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In The Know: Oklahoma sees decline in rate of people without health insurance

by and | August 11th, 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.

The rate of Oklahomans without health insurance declined 3.9 percentage points in 2014, but states that accepted federal dollars to expand coverage saw much bigger drops, according to a survey released this week. Arkansas led the country with a 10.1 percentage point decrease — from 22.5 to 12.4. NewsOK looked at how Oklahoma’s Medicaid copay increases are creating hardship for an Oklahoma man who has been unable to work since he broke his back on the job. The OK Policy Blog previously discussed why increasing Medicaid copays is likely to harm Oklahomans’ health without creating any savings in the long run.

With results from the first full-year of the Affordable Care Act’s implementation coming in, the OK Policy Blog assessed the law’s impact on Oklahoma. David Blatt’s Journal Record column argued that it is hard to fathom why Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and Attorney General Scott Pruitt are pursuing a lawsuit to take away affordable health care from 55,000 newly insured Oklahomans. Several Tulsa families have lost in-home nursing care for their children with disabilities due to state cutbacks. The OK Policy Blog previously discussed the devastating delays for care these families face due to the state’s decade-long waiting list.

Public Radio Tulsa shared audio from the numerous panels of state leaders and policy experts who spoke at OK Policy’s 2014 Summer Policy Institute. You can see social media highlights from the Summer Policy Institute compiled on Storify. The latest OK Policy Podcast features some of the best comments made by speakers during the event. The Tulsa World reported on segments at the SPI honoring former Governor Henry Bellmon and sharing firsthand stories of the child migrants that had been housed at Fort Sill. OK Policy previously debunked several myths that had emerged about these children. As of last Thursday all the children have either been transferred to standard shelters or released to sponsors to await immigration proceedings.

Oklahoma collected more tax revenue last month than any July in state history, though that comes before subtracting revenue that will be paid back in tax refunds and tax expenditures. Gov. Mary Fallin’s office appears to be taking a renewed interest in 2012 criminal justice reforms that largely went unimplemented because of politics and a lack of funding. An OK Policy face sheet previously laid out why Oklahoma’s attempts at criminal justice reform so far fall far short of what is needed. The list of K2 drugs deemed illegal by state lawmakers will balloon Nov. 1 with more than 150 identified concoctions marked as Schedule I controlled substances. The OK Policy Blog discussed how lawsuits challenging two major tax cut bills in Oklahoma could hinge on the definition of two small words.

Reuters shared stories from Oklahomans experiencing numerous earthquakes that are likely connected to drilling wastewater disposal. The energy industry has grown to make up nearly 13 percent of the state’s economy. Vox shared charts showing the six state economies most dependent on fossil fuel production. The administrator of the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission wrote in the Oklahoman about the importance of being vigilant in protecting the state’s water resources. The Cherokee Nation and the town of Welch are working together on a study to help provide healthier drinking water for residents in the town.

A panel put on by the Tulsa County Democratic Party argued that women’s health and well-being are being ignored in Oklahoma politics. The Number of the Day is the financial aid grant dollars per undergraduate student provided Oklahoma. In today’s Policy Note, Robert Reich discusses a growing number of corporations being organized to balance the needs of all stakeholders, not just shareholders.

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The Weekly Wonk August 10, 2014

by | August 10th, 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.

This week on the OK Policy blog, we discussed the legal challenges to two bill passed by the state legislature this spring. An upcoming lecture in OKDHS’s Policy and Practice lecture series examines incarceration and mental illness. Now that the dust has settled following the Affordable Care Act’s first open enrollment period, we took stock of its impact in Oklahoma. In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt wondered why state officials are so committed to removing access to affordable health insurance in Oklahoma.

In The Know, our daily morning news briefing, was on break this week because we at OK Policy were otherwise occupied with the 2014 Summer Policy Institute (SPI). SPI brought together 50 top college students from across the state together for an intensive four-day seminar on public policy in Oklahoma. Ourselves and students tweeted about the event using the hashtag #okspi. You can see a collection of SPI’s Twitter activity on Storify.

KWGS Public Radio Tulsa also recorded much of the Institute and have posted their footage online, where you can listen to SPI’s panel discussions on Oklahoma’s fiscal challenges, education, poverty and opportunity, health care, and more. Our weekly OK Policy Podcast features highlights from KWGS’s coverage, including discussion of Oklahoma’s education system and fiscal challenges, and the history of the Cherokee people in Oklahoma. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS.

During SPI, we honored former Oklahoma Governor and US Senator Henry Bellmon with our 2014 Good Sense/Good Cents award, and held a subsequent panel and reception honoring his legacy. The Tulsa World described the event here. The Tulsa World also covered our breakout session discussing the refugee crisis at the border and the children housed at Ft. Sill.

 The Weekly Wonk’s regular roundup of the Editorial of the Week, Quote of the Week, Numbers of the  Day, and Policy Notes will return next week!

 

OK Policy Podcast: Episode 3

by | August 8th, 2014 | Posted in Podcast | Comments (0)
Kara Joy McKee and Gene Perry in OK Policy's "recording studio."

Kara Joy McKee and Gene Perry in OK Policy’s “recording studio.”

This special episode of our podcast features highlights from the 2014 Summer Policy InstituteYou can subscribe to the podcast on iTunesStitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

Guests this week include Oklahoma Education Association Associate Director Amanda Ewing on challenges facing Oklahoma’s education system; State Treasurer Ken Miller on the state’s budget troubles; Catholic Charities’ Richard Klinge on the immigrant children at Fort Sill; and Cherokee Chief Bill John Baker on the story of the Cherokee Nation since the Trail of Tears.

Download the episode here or play it in your browser:

Public Radio Tulsa has also provided the full audio from many of the Summer Policy Institute panels. And you can check out a Storify collection of SPI on Twitter here.

Upcoming Event: Policy & Practice lecture series discusses mental illness and prison

by | August 7th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Criminal Justice, Upcoming Events | Comments (0)

dlugaczOn August 26th, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) will host Mr. Harry Dlugacz, MSW, JD, for his lecture, “The Offender with Mental Disabilities: Critical Issues in Correctional Mental Health and Planning for Successful Reentry” as part of its Policy & Practice lecture series. Mr. Dlugacz will discuss the scope of incarceration and rates of mental illness within the incarcerated population before outlining areas of concern, including public health and safety implications, legal obligations and responsibilities, and professional ethics and standards.

Henry Dlugacz, MSW, JD, is an attorney and social worker who has worked to improve correctional mental health and reentry services for over 30 years. Mr. Dlugacz is a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at New York Medical College, a partner in the New York law firm of Beldock Levine and Hoffman LLP, and an adjunct professor of law at New York Law School. He previously co-founded and co-chaired the New York State Bar Association’s Health Law Sections Committee on Mental Health Issues, and is the former director of mental health and acting assistant program director for the St. Vincent’s Hospital Prison Health Services.

This free lecture will be Tuesday, Aug. 26th from noon to 1pm at the Oklahoma History Center (800 Nazih Zuhdi Dr, Oklahoma City, OK 73105). Click here to register. DHS attendees will receive 20% off purchases at the Winnie Mae Cafe.  Please arrive early or call in your order at (405) 522-2321 if you plan to purchase lunch. For more information, contact the OKDHS Office of Planning, Research and Statistics at 405-521-3552.  View the complete lecture series lineup here.

Definition of two small words could have large consequences

by | August 6th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Taxes | Comments (0)

dictionaryIs a bill that adjusts the tax rates on production of oil and gas a “revenue bill” under the terms of the Oklahoma Constitution? This is the question for the Oklahoma Supreme Court to decide in a challenge filed by Oklahoma City Jerry Fent to HB 2562. Along with a similar challenge to a bill , SB 1246, that cuts the top income tax rate, the Court’s answer could have a dramatic effect on Oklahoma’s fiscal and political landscape.

HB 2562 was the outcome of one of most contentious political battles of the past year. Currently, Oklahoma assesses a standard 7 percent severance tax on oil and gas but offers lower tax rates as a way to support and incentivize various forms of production. The most generous tax break – a 1 percent rate on horizontal wells for the first 48 months of production – is set to expire at the end of June 2015. With an overwhelming share of drilling activity in Oklahoma and elsewhere having shifted to horizontal production in recent years, the question of whether to continue the tax break became one with significant budgetary and economic implications.

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In The Know is on hiatus

by | August 4th, 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.

 No In The Know this week as we are busy putting on the Summer Policy Institute (SPI), a 4-day seminar for 50 college students from across the state. You can follow the going’s on at SPI with the Twitter hashtag #okspi.

Have you heard our new weekly podcast? What began as a daily podcast summarizing the In The Know headlines is now a longer weekly podcast with in-depth discussion of major Oklahoma news stories, interviews with OK Policy staff and others, and key numbers of the week. There’s even some good news to end the podcast each week!

The podcast comes out on Fridays. You can check out the first two episodes here.

Thanks for reading!

Results on the first year of Obamacare are in. What’s it look like for Oklahoma?

by | August 4th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Healthcare | Comments (0)
obamacare awesome

Image by Will O’Neill used under a Creative Commons license

The Affordable Care Act’s first open enrollment period, when eligible Americans could compare and purchase health insurance on the online marketplaces, was a bit of a roller coaster. But despite considerable hiccups with the launch of Healthcare.gov in October, eight million people had signed up nationwide when enrollment closed on March 31st, a number that exceeded earlier estimates. The nationwide uninsured rate has dropped precipitously thanks to the marketplaces and to expansions of Medicaid coverage in states that accepted federal funds. And those with new health insurance coverage report being pleased with it.

However, much of the ACA’s positive benefits in Oklahoma have been muted by the state government’s obstruction of the law, especially by its refusal to accept federal funds and expand coverage. Here’s what’s happening.

continue reading Results on the first year of Obamacare are in. What’s it look like for Oklahoma?

The Weekly Wonk August 3, 2014

by | August 3rd, 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.

This week, we examined some ways to improve Oklahoma’s budget forecasting. OK Policy intern Rosie Nelson discussed the importance of the Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship program. OK Policy previously broke the story that Oklahoma lawmakers were attempting to divert funds from the scholarship to fill a budget hole.

We reported that the error rate for SNAP (food stamps) is at a record low – and explained why that isn’t entirely good news. On the second episode of our new weekly podcast, we discussed a variety of topics, including new research on how term limits affected the Oklahoma legislature, a lawsuit that could shake up tax politics in Oklahoma, Oklahoma City’s first community school, and more! You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS.

In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt discussed the power and triumph of the #oklaed movement in defeating State Superintendent Janet Barresi in a recent primary election. Last week, Blatt guested on the Common Ground radio show, talking about Russia, air travel, a Biblical perspective on handgun safety, and more. In our Editorial of the Week, UCO Business Dean Mickey Hepner wrote in the Edmond Sun that Oklahoma’s cuts to the health care safety net could have been avoided by legislators.

OK Policy is pleased to invite you to attend as we present the 2014 Good Sense/Good Cents award to former Oklahoma Governor and US Senator Henry Bellmon, followed by a panel discussion of the Bellmon legacy. The presentation and panel will take place on Monday, August 4th, from 1:00 to 3:00pm at the Lorton Performance Center on the University of Tulsa campus. Refreshments will follow.

The award and panel are part of OK Policy’s annual Summer Policy Institute, a 4-day program that brings together 50 top students from across Oklahoma for an intensive immersion in state policy issues. We’ll be live-tweeting the program; you can follow it on Twitter with the hashtag #okspi.

Quote of the week

“We are now cutting personnel, cutting services and trying to see where there might be alternate sources of income, which is mostly donations. We are in a very difficult and untenable position.”

- Jim McCarthy, CEO of Community Health Connection, one of over a dozen community health centers in Oklahoma that provide services regardless of ability to pay in underserved areas. These health centers are under threat because the state’s uncompensated care fund ran dry last December and will not be replenished until January (Source: http://bit.ly/XhVzn6).

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Numbers of the Day

  • 10,050,000 – Bushels of soybeans produced by Oklahoma farmers in 2013.
  • 50.2% – Percentage of Oklahomans with “minimal fruit consumption”; the national average is 37.7%.
  • $38,639 – Debt held by the average Oklahoma household in 2013.
  • 212 – Number of unaccompanied child migrants who have been placed with sponsor families in Oklahoma, less than 1 percent of the 30,340 child migrants who have been placed nationwide.
  • 7 – Occupational fatalities per 100,000 workers in Oklahoma. The national average is 4.1.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

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