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The Weekly Wonk: Court criticism, three-legged stools, and more

by | July 12th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Weekly Wonk | 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 from OK Policy:

OK Policy summer intern Chan Aaron explores changing demographics in Texas County, Oklahoma, and discusses what they mean for the state’s future. OK Policy Research Fellow Ryan Gentzler explained why recent efforts to revamp the state’s tax incentives miss a key reform. In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis describes why criticism of the state’s courts system is nothing new. The results of our spring audience survey are in. In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt praises a proposed rule extending the salary threshold for overtime pay.

OK Policy in the News:

Blatt spoke with Oklahoma Watch about turnover in Oklahoma’s health insurance market.

Weekly What’s That:

Individual mandate

An individual mandate is a requirement that all persons procure a particular good or service. In health care, it refers to the requirement within the Affordable Care Act that all Americans (with some exceptions) be covered by health insurance. Read more.

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

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Criticism of court is nothing new (Capitol Updates)

by | July 10th, 2015 | Posted in Capitol Updates | Comments (0)

Oklahoma Supreme Court

The Oklahoma Supreme Court

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.

Last week’s decision by the Oklahoma Supreme Court to require the statue of the Ten Commandments to be removed from the capitol grounds has unleashed a predictable attack on the court by a few legislators.  Some already had an agenda that included attacking the court for their own reasons.  The decision simply provided a new opportunity to harangue against the justices.  Others are genuinely dismayed by the decision which they view to be a rejection of the values they hold to be important.

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In The Know: Oklahoma’s No Child Left Behind waiver extended

by | July 10th, 2015 | 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.

Today In The News

Oklahoma’s No Child Left Behind waiver extended for another year: State K-12 schools have been guaranteed another year of flexibility from mandates imposed by No Child Left Behind. The waiver may be extended for another two years if they are able to demonstrate “continued and significant progress” in improving college- and career readiness. State Superintendent of Schools Joy Hofmeister welcomed the news but emphasized that it illustrates the importance of ending No Child Left Behind altogether [Tulsa World].

Cherokee election results stand: The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that a results of the election for Cherokee Nation principal chief, which were certified June 29, will stand. The Court unanimously found that former chief Chad Smith, who had appealed for the results to be thrown out and a new race, had insufficiently demonstrated that the Cherokee Nation’s election code was violated during the June election. Incumbent Principal Chief Bill John Baker won the four-way race with 53 percent of the vote [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma City’s homeless population declines: A new report finds that Oklahoma City’s homeless population decreased by about 12 percent over the last year. Veteran homelessness dropped by nearly one-third over the same period, and the number of chronically homeless people declined for the second consecutive year. Although advocates are committed to locating stable housing for those in need of shelter, they warn that underlying issues causing homelessness need to be addressed [NewsOK].

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Oklahoma’s ‘three-legged stool’ of tax incentive reform is incomplete (Guest post: Ryan Gentzler)

by | July 9th, 2015 | Posted in Taxes | Comments (0)

Ryan Gentzler is an OK Policy Research Fellow and a Research Associate with the Early Childhood Education Institute. He recently completed his Master of Public Administration degree at the University of Oklahoma.

stoolAfter years of stalled reforms on tax incentives in Oklahoma, the Legislature this year passed a pair of bills that could have a real and positive impact on a growing problem. HB 2182 requires all tax incentives to be evaluated by a newly formed Incentive Evaluation Commission at least once every four years, and SB 806 requires the Legislature to state a measurable goal for any new tax incentive. These reforms could be the first two legs of a three-legged stool that supports strong accountability for tax breaks in Oklahoma. For the third leg, lawmakers should pass sunset provisions for all tax incentives, which will periodically require them to act on the information they receive from the Incentive Evaluation Commission.

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In The Know: State PTA considers testing boycott

by | July 9th, 2015 | Posted in Blog | 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.

Today In The News

 State PTA contemplates testing boycott: The state PTA will decide on Friday whether to boycott non-federally mandated high-stakes test. The group’s president, Jefferey Corbett, points out that members had frequently urged lawmakers to reduce the number of exams during the legislative session. The group would also call for end of instruction tests to be replaced by an exam offered by the ACT, a move state superintendent of schools Joy Hofmeister has says she supports [Oklahoma Watch].

Gov. Fallin moved slowly on “awkward” quake cause: Analysis of thousands of pages of emails released under the Open Records Act show that Gov. Fallin and her advisers resisted any suggestion that the state’s earthquakes could be caused by oil and gas drilling long after most other states experiencing similar earthquakes had allocated substantial resources to the issue – and in some cases, blocked further drilling. As questions about the cause of the quakes persisted, the Governor’s administration reached out to Devon Energy Corp. for talking points [EnergyWire].

Gov. Fallin discusses education, criminal justice, health at Tulsa Chamber: Gov. Mary Fallin delivered her State of the State to a sold-out crowd at the Tulsa Regional Chamber on Wednesday. In her speech, Gov. Fallin said the state needs to do a better job of making sure the education system prepares students for jobs. She also touted recent criminal justice reforms and acknowledged the state’s health challenges [Tulsa World].

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The results of our audience survey

by | July 8th, 2015 | Posted in OK Policy | Comments (0)

tin-can-phoneA few months ago, we asked you to give us some feedback about how you use the information that we provide and what you’d like to see us do in the future. Nearly one thousand of you took our survey, and the responses gave us valuable information about who our audience is and what you want most. Now that we’ve had time to analyze the responses, we wanted to thank everyone who took the time to complete the survey and share some of the highlights.

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In The Know: Gov. Fallin defies Supreme Court ruling on Ten Commandments monument

by | July 8th, 2015 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Gov. Fallin defies Supreme Court ruling on Ten Commandments monument: Fallin said the Ten Commandments monument will stay at the Capitol despite a court ruling that said it violated the state Constitution and must be removed.  Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to reconsider its 7-2 decision, and lawmakers have filed legislation to create a State Question on removing the portion of the state Constitution cited in the ruling [Tulsa World].

House Democrat argues for bipartisan redistricting: Rep. James Lockhart said he intends to push legislation next year to create a bipartisan commission for determining legislative districts after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a similar plan in Arizona last week. He introduced the measure as House Joint Resolution 1008 in the 2015 session but it was not given a hearing [CapitolBeatOK].

Oklahoma sees sharp increase in deadly shootings by police: Oklahoma City in the last few days bring to 21 the number of fatal shootings by law enforcement so far this year in Oklahoma, putting the state on pace to easily eclipse its previous high since such records started being kept [KRMG].

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In The Know: Gov. Fallin calls for earlier release of inmates

by | July 7th, 2015 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Fallin orders earlier release of inmates: Gov. Fallin is pushing the Oklahoma Board of Corrections to loosen its policies governing when most prisoners serving time for “85 percent crimes” can be awarded early-release credits [Oklahoma Watch]. Fallin’s memo directs the board to make a policy change that was recently voted down by the Legislature after it was labeled “soft on crime” [Oklahoma Corrections Professionals].

American Indian Cultural Center opens first installation: With lawmakers recently providing a $25 million bond to finish construction, the museum just unveiled its first permanent outdoor installation. The stainless steel structure “Touch to Above” was created by Cherokee father-and-son Bill Glass, Jr. and Demos Glass [Indian Country Today].

What this panhandle county tells us about the future of Oklahoma: With a population that is majority-Hispanic for all age groups 44 and below, Texas County, OK offers a glimpse into the opportunities and challenges of a rising generation of Hispanic Oklahomans [OK Policy Blog]. Over a four-year period between July 1, 2010, and July 1, 2014, the Hispanic population has increased by an estimated 48,158 people, while the number of non-Hispanic whites has increased by 17,687 [Tulsa World].

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What this panhandle county tells us about the future of Oklahoma

by | July 6th, 2015 | Posted in Economy, Immigration | Comments (4)

American Theater in Guymon, Texas County, OK | Photo by Nathan Gunter | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The American Theater in Guymon, Texas County, OK | Photo by Nathan Gunter | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Chan Aaron is an OK Policy summer intern. He is pursuing an environmental policy degree at The University of Tulsa. He is also a graduate of Oklahoma State University with a degree in philosophy and a veteran of the United States Navy.

The average Oklahoman probably doesn’t know much about Texas County, OK (other than that it is next to Texas). Yet this small panhandle county could be a glimpse of the state’s future. A new OK Policy fact sheet lays out the rapid changes happening in Texas County in recent years, and in this post we discuss what they could mean for the state as a whole.

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In The Know: OSCN.net has funding to make it through the year

by | July 6th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

OK courts information website has funding to make it through the year: OSCN.net has enough money to stay in operation — for now. The free website provides details about civil, criminal, probate, small claims and divorce cases at 18 courthouses, as well as appeals at the Capitol. Proposed budget cuts in May had put its availability in doubt [NewsOK].

Tulsa schools budget loses millions: Tulsa Public Schools’ new budget is the story of a blessing and a curse. With deep federal funding cuts and flat-lined state aid levels, the school district’s financing plan for 2015-16 is to prop itself up on the $5 million in savings it only has because it couldn’t find enough teachers and support workers to hire last year [Tulsa World].

Funding shortfalls motivate finding waste… but also ending important services: Agencies are continuing to craft their FY-2016 budgets based on the legislative appropriations. Both those who believe there is waste in government and those who believe there’s a lack of adequate funding can point to examples. A case in point came up this week in the Oklahoma Healthcare Authority Board meeting [OK Policy Blog].

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