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

OK PolicyCast Episode 15: Oklahoma’s Racial Wealth Gap

by | December 5th, 2014 | Posted in Podcast | Comments (0)
"Black Wall Street" is burnt down during the Tulsa Race Massacre. Image courtesy of Oklahoma Historical Society Research Division.

“Black Wall Street” is burnt down during the Tulsa Race Massacre. Image courtesy of Oklahoma Historical Society Research Division.

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 talk with Kate Richey about what’s created the huge wealth gap between whites and people of color in Oklahoma.

You can download this week’s episode here or play it in your browser:

Stars could be aligning for criminal justice reform in Oklahoma

by | December 5th, 2014 | Posted in Capitol Updates, Criminal Justice | Comments (3)
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.

It looks like the stars could be aligning to do something next session to make Oklahoma’s criminal justice system fairer and less expensive.  According to a story in The Oklahoman and the Tulsa World, the governor’s office has been in contact with the Council of State Governments Justice Center, the same organization that helped the state write the Justice Re-investment Initiative (JRI) in 2012.  This follows a study commissioned last summer that recommended many of the same reforms passed in the JRI.

continue reading Stars could be aligning for criminal justice reform in Oklahoma

In The Know: 1 in 5 Oklahomans suffer from mental illness

by | December 5th, 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.

In a new series, the Tulsa World explores the lives and stories of the one in five Oklahomans who suffer from a mental illness. One such story follows a family of four, including two young children, who are homeless in downtown Tulsa. The rest of the “Hitting Home” collection can be found here. On Thursday, attorneys for The Oklahoma Observer and Guardian US argued in favor of greater media access to executions following a botched execution in the spring. A Department of Corrections representative claimed that the botched execution was an anomaly and that officials need to have discretion over protocol. The Department of Corrections is investigating whether its notification system needs repairs after a Tulsa family was erroneously notified that their daughter’s killer had been released from prison.

Following public outcry, the City of Tulsa and a group of charitable foundations have combined funds to keep a juvenile center open. In his Journal Record column, Oklahoma Observer editor Arnold Hamilton suggested that a state Supreme Court decision upholding income tax cuts will strain the state’s already-strained finances. StateImpact wrote that legislative reexamination of wind energy subsidies could result in stricter regulations on the industry. The federal government is seeking an injunction to halt construction of a wind development in Osage County while a lawsuit over the development is heard.

Public health officials say that people should get flu shots this year even though the vaccine may be less effective than in previous years. We’ve written about why everyone should get a flu shot before. Tulsa Superintendent Keith Ballard says that the district’s $415 bond package, if approved, will include a STEM  center for use by all TPS students. A new drought report shows that a little under two-thirds of the state remains in drought. The state Department of Human Services will accept applications for winter heating assistance starting next week.

The Number of the Day is the average age of an incarcerated person in Oklahoma. In today’s Policy Note, The Pew Charitable Trusts describe how more states are revamping their incorporation laws to encourage companies to deliver social and environmental benefits, not just profits.

continue reading In The Know: 1 in 5 Oklahomans suffer from mental illness

In The Know: OKC, Tulsa schools rank near bottom in teachers’ lifetime earnings

by and | December 4th, 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.

A new report by the National Council on Teacher Quality finds the lifetime earning of teachers in Tulsa and Oklahoma rank at near the lowest in the nation, even after adjusting for cost-of-living. Out of 125 large school districts nationwide, Tulsa ranked 101st and Oklahoma City ranked 113th. Before the lifetime earnings were adjusted for cost of living, Oklahoma City came in last, at 125th, and Tulsa was ranked 122nd. Oklahoma’s public school enrollment grew by 6,722 students this year compared with last year. State Superintendent Janet Barresi commented that the increase in enrollment is increasing the challenges of Oklahoma’s teacher shortage and budget cuts to schools. Legislators said a proposal by Sen. Brian Crain to take out very large bond issues to create a trust for boosting education funding will have ‘no chance’ in the House

Oklahoma Senate Pro Tem Brian Bingman said lawmakers should not be involved in writing new academic standards. On the OK Policy Blog, we look at a new initiative seeking to require Oklahoma high schoolers to pass a civics test to graduate. The filing period for school board candidates in 14 Tulsa County school districts and Tulsa Technology Center District 18 ended Wednesday without a single contested race. The Oklahoman editorial board discussed how uncontested legislative races are becoming routine in Oklahoma. Oklahoma Sen. Bryce Marlatt, R-Woodward, was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence after a sheriff’s deputy found him sleeping in his running pickup on a county road.

A federal judge is expected to hear arguments from attorneys for a group of journalists and news organizations who want to prevent the state from restricting the media’s access to executions. Oklahoma is among five states that struggle the most with high rates of mental illness and a lack of access to treatment, according to a national report released Wednesday. You can see the full report here. The Tulsa World looked at how a new Domestic Violence Court could impact Tulsa County’s out-of-control domestic violence problem. In the Journal Record, David Blatt discussed a new proposal to expand desperately needed health coverage in Oklahoma using a state-based model.

Bixby will be the first city in Oklahoma to have gigabit Internet connection speeds for residents. State Impact Oklahoma examined how a regional haze ruling in Texas could mean cleaner air in Oklahoma. The Number of the Day is the amount spent by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections on private prisons in 2013. In today’s Policy Note, an infographic by USA Today shows nearly 1,600 places where the disparity in black and white arrest rates is worse than in Ferguson, Mo.

continue reading In The Know: OKC, Tulsa schools rank near bottom in teachers’ lifetime earnings

Should Oklahoma require a civics test to graduate high school?

by | December 3rd, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Education, Elections | Comments (1)
Photo by the Town of Chapel Hill.

Photo by the Town of Chapel Hill.

This post is by OK Policy intern Dakota States. Dakota is a recent graduate of Oklahoma State University, where he studied political science, environmental sociology, and screen studies.

A common stereotype of high school civics is a teacher who’d rather be coaching reading directly off slides as he unenthusiastically tells students about the branches of government. Admittedly, that stereotype is unfair to many creative and talented social studies teachers in our state; however, it’s true that civics has not typically been given the same importance as other high school academic and social goals.

Students often leave high school with an incomplete understanding of how the social and political structures around them function. That may be why an Annenberg Public Policy Center survey found that 35 percent of Americans were not able to name a single branch of government and only 32 percent could correctly identify the U.S. Constitution as the supreme law of the land.

continue reading Should Oklahoma require a civics test to graduate high school?

In The Know: Oklahoma Supreme Court upholds income tax cut measure

by and | December 3rd, 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 state income tax cut bill passed by the Oklahoma Legislature this year was upheld Tuesday by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. You can read the Court’s decision here. A rape charge has been filed against a former Norman High School student in a case that sparked a protest by classmates of the alleged victim. State Superintendent-elect Joy Hofmeister on Tuesday released the results of an unscientific poll conducted by her transition team that identified testing, teacher pay and overall funding as the top three priorities identified by more than 10,000 respondents.

On Thursday, OK Policy’s Kate Richey will speak about her research on the wealth and opportunity gap for people of color in Oklahoma at a meeting of the  Alliance for Economic Inclusion for Northeastern Oklahoma. The meeting is free and open to the public and will be held from 6-8 pm at 221 E Mathew B Brady St in Tulsa. You can find our report and past presentations on the opportunity gap here. A protest is being planned outside the weekly Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee meeting over an article the groups’s president wrote titled, “Why blacks hate cops & how blacks can be winners, not losers!”

Oklahoma’s unemployment rate for 2014 is 4.5 percent, down significantly from 5.6 percent in 2013. OSU economist Dan Rickman warned that a drop in oil prices could cost the state up to 1,000 jobs next year. A survey by Arvest Bank found that Oklahomans’ sentiment about their financial situation improved from June to October, but 60 percent of respondents foresee widespread unemployment in five years. A Tulsa police officer charged in the murder of his daughter’s boyfriend retired last month and collected a lump sum pension payout of more than $160,000. While a state law prevents officers convicted of felonies from collecting their monthly pensions, Officer Shannon Kepler gets to keep the lump sum even if convicted in the case.

A north Tulsa specialty health clinic celebrated the opening of a new education center Tuesday. The clinic is aimed at easing the doctor shortage in north Tulsa and helping area residents to have easier access to specialists. The Oklahoman editorial board argued that Oklahoma should get off the short list of states that haven’t banned texting while driving. The Oklahoma Lottery Commission will again ask legislators to lower their 35 percent minimum mandated percentage of net profits going to education.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission ended its four-month inquiry into wind energy development in Oklahoma, which could lead to new rules for the industry. National Geographic Traveler magazine has named Oklahoma City as one of the ‘Best Trips’ of 2015. You can see the magazine’s write-up here. The Number of the Day is the percentage of consumers with subprime credit in Oklahoma. In today’s Policy Note, Wonkblog reports that many Americans didn’t vote in the most recent elections because they couldn’t get time off from work.

continue reading In The Know: Oklahoma Supreme Court upholds income tax cut measure

Upcoming Event: ‘Closing the gap’ & Alliance for Economic Inclusion

by | December 2nd, 2014 | Posted in Upcoming Events | Comments (1)

Photo_Kate RicheyThe Alliance for Economic Inclusion for Northeastern Oklahoma (“NEOK AEI”) will host their quarterly meeting this Thursday, December 4th. Kate Richey, who works for Oklahoma Policy Institute as project coordinator for Oklahoma Assets Network will present her research, ‘Closing the Opportunity Gap: Building Equity in Oklahoma.‘ This research outlines an equity agenda for Oklahoma’s future, one that acknowledges the racial wealth gap and income inequality as products of our collective history, culture, and public policies:

Oklahoma’s prosperity depends on the financial success and economic achievement of the people who call it home. For a state that has always been rich in natural resources and entrepreneurial spirit, the future continues to look bright. Yet we’ve also inherited a legacy of discrimination that historically impeded economic opportunity for people of color and created a wealth deficit that persists today. Left unaddressed, this wealth deficit threatens Oklahoma’s ability to achieve shared prosperity into the
future.

aeiThe NEOK AEI partnership seeks to improve the financial capability of low- to moderate-income consumers and is comprised of community based organizations, financial institutions, foundations, employers, faith-based organizations, tribal, state and local governmental agencies, bank regulators, and public officials. The NEOK AEI, launched in October 2012, has over 150 members representing 97 organizations. 

The meeting is free and open to the public and will be held from 6:00 to 8:00pm at 221 E Mathew B Brady St in Tulsa Oklahoma.

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