What President Obama’s immigration order means for Oklahoma

by | February 12th, 2015 | Posted in Immigration | Comments (0)

This post is by OK Policy intern Nikki Hager. She is a senior Political Science and Economics major at the University of Tulsa.

Immigrant Rights Day rally at the US Capitol. Photo by Elvert Barnes.

Immigrant Rights Day rally at the US Capitol. Photo by Elvert Barnes.

In November, President Obama issued an executive order to grant deportation relief to approximately half of the nation’s estimated 11.2 million undocumented immigrants. The Immigration Accountability Executive Action (IAEA) is contentious and its future is uncertain—Oklahoma and 24 other states are suing the President over the order—but it nonetheless will have a significant effect on Oklahoma’s undocumented residents. This post will explore who is affected by the order in Oklahoma and what the order means for them.

continue reading What President Obama’s immigration order means for Oklahoma

In The Know: More Oklahoma parents opt out of vaccinating children

by | February 12th, 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.

Data from the state Department of Health shows that more Oklahoma parents are opting out of vaccinating their children, and the state is seeing a rise in vaccine-preventable illnesses, such as whooping cough. Nearly 110,000 Oklahomans have signed up for a 2015 health insurance plan on Healthcare.gov, compared to about 70,000 last year. In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt pointed out that the best way for Gov. Fallin to meet her stated goal of substantially lowering the state’s uninsured rate by 2019 would be to accept federal funds to expand health coverage to low-income Oklahomans. We’ve written about how the success of expanded health coverage in other states shows it’s a good deal for Oklahoma.

The state House has passed a bill legalizing cannabidiol, a marijuana-derived drug, in the treatment of severe epileptic seizures. As the debate over wind energy heats up at the Capitol, we asked four of the debate’s participants to make their cases on the OK Policy Blog. A bill banning texting while driving has passed through committee and will be sent to the full House for debate and vote. A bill calling for a statewide vote to allow the public to decide if the state Legislature would dedicate every other year exclusively to writing a budget cleared a Senate committee. The House passed two bills further limiting access to abortions.

A House committee approved a bill that would allow district attorneys to collect DNA samples from offenders convicted of certain crimes, potentially expanding the state’s database by 10,000 samples per year. We’ve written about why indiscriminate DNA testing could put innocent Oklahomans in prison before. Hundreds of parents and students encouraging lawmakers to expand opportunities for charter schools rallied at the Capitol on Wednesday. 

State and tribal leaders are exploring the option of expanding the state’s Insure Oklahoma program to cover low-income uninsured tribal members, which would potentially cover about 40,000 people at no cost to the state. StateImpact has mapped disposal wells designated particularly risky in earthquake-prone regions of the state. The Number of the Day is the number of bank robberies in Oklahoma in 2014, down from more than 60 in 2013. In today’s Policy Note, Fusion reveals how the the US government has created a second-class federal prison system specifically for immigrants.

continue reading In The Know: More Oklahoma parents opt out of vaccinating children

The wind energy debate comes sweeping down to the Capitol

by | February 11th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Economy, Taxes | Comments (3)
Wind farm near Weatherford, OK. Photo by Travel Aficionado used under a Creative Commons license.

Wind farm near Weatherford, OK. Photo by Travel Aficionado used under a Creative Commons license.

Editor’s Note: Wind power is a growing source of energy production in Oklahoma that is drawing close scrutiny at the state Capitol. Is wind production beneficial to Oklahoma’s economy and communities? Should the state continue to provide the industry with tax incentives? We invited four active participants in the wind debate to contribute guest blog posts on the subject. Making the case for wind power are Johnson Bridgwater and Whitney Pearson of the Sierra Club, Oklahoma Chapter and Jeff Clark of the Wind Coalition; making the case for greater industry regulation and a curb on tax breaks are Frank Robson of the Oklahoma Property Rights Association and Windwaste, and former Congressman Ernest Istook.

continue reading The wind energy debate comes sweeping down to the Capitol

In The Know: Bills allowing execution by nitrogen hypoxia pass Senate panels

by | February 11th, 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.

 Identical bills allowing execution by nitrogen hypoxia should the US Supreme Court find Oklahoma’s current three-drug cocktail method unconstitutional passed legislative panels on Tuesday. The Oklahoman’s Editorial Board wrote that a recent court dispute highlights Oklahoma’s mental health crisis. A judge threatened to jail state mental health commissioner Terri White because an inmate hadn’t received treatment six months after it was court ordered, although White noted that the inmate’s treatment had been deferred because no treatment beds were available. A Senate panel passed a measure that would allow property owners to shoot down drones without being held liable for monetary damages, although lawmakers questioned its necessity.

The US Department of Education has approved a waiver to eliminate a requirement for grade-level math assessments for middle school students who take end-of-instruction exams in algebra, algebra II or geometry. The waiver eliminates double-testing for some students. State educators are supporting a measure that increases funding for classroom instruction and teacher pay, although lawmakers say the state’s $300 million shortfall makes additional funds hard to find. Speaking at OK Policy’s 2015 State Budget Summit, state auditor Gary Jones made the case for evaluating the state’s tax credits and business incentives. The State Chamber of Commerce released a study on the economic benefits of the state’s ad valorum tax exemption for wind farms and manufacturers.

A town hall forum hosted by the Oklahoma Assets Network will examine predatory lending in Oklahoma. The event is free and open to the public. Proposed legislation would increase the penalties for the thefts of livestock and equipment, and ban the sale of ivory in the state. A Prague earthquake victim is seeking class-action status against two energy companies on behalf of people in nine counties whose homes have allegedly been damaged by frequent earthquakes. Ginnie Graham wrote in the Tulsa World that foster youth still need support, even though Tulsa’s Laura Dester Shelter is closing. We’ve written about the need for more support for foster youth before.

Voters have approved bond measures in Edmond, and the Tulsa-area Broken Arrow, Jenks and Union school districts. A newly-proposed tax incentive district to spark residential growth south of downtown Oklahoma City could force OKCPS to build a new school in the area. The Number of the Day is the percentage of women incarcerated in Oklahoma in 2013 who had a history of or were currently being treated for a mental disorder. In today’s Policy Note, The New York Times shares the Obama administration’s new rules discouraging nonprofit hospitals from using aggressive tactics to collect payments from low-income patients.

continue reading In The Know: Bills allowing execution by nitrogen hypoxia pass Senate panels

Upcoming Event: Who Pays More? A Town Hall Forum on Predatory Lending in Oklahoma

by | February 10th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Poverty & Opportunity | Comments (0)

Oklahoma Assets Network (OAN) is pleased to invite you to save the date for a town hall forum on predatory lending. This event is free and open to the public.

pasted-image-17The forum will feature remarks from Dr. Haydar Kurban, the author of new research on payday lending patterns in the state, ‘The Demographics of Payday Lending in Oklahoma.‘ Dr. Kurban is an Associate Professor of Economics at Howard University whose previous research has been published in the National Tax Journal and Economic Development Quarterly.

Wednesday March 4th, 2015
6:30pm Heavy hors d’oeuvres
7:00-8:30pm Remarks & discussion

OU Faculty House
601 Northeast 14th Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73104

Please RSVP to Kate Richey at
(918) 794-3944 or krichey@okpolicy.org

Please join Dr. Kurban and our local panel of experts for a discussion about the disproportionate share of predatory lenders located among particular communities and demographics, including:

  • Military families
  • Older Oklahomans
  • Lower income earners
  • Single parent households
  • Young adults
  • Communities of color

 

 

 

Following Dr. Kurban’s remarks, we will take questions and comments from the audience, and host a discussion featuring local experts and practitioners: 

  • [Moderator] Damario Solomon-Simmons, Legislative Liaison with Oklahoma Policy Institute 
  • David Blatt, Director of Oklahoma Policy Institute
  • Kate Richey, Coordinator for Oklahoma Assets Network
  • Cristy Cash, Vice President of Central Oklahoma Consumer Credit Counseling 
  • Tina Pollard, Consumer Lending Manager with Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation

oanlogo_1386809291_1_a8eac2

In The Know: Oklahoma House chairman says ‘no more tax credits’

by and | February 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.

Rep. David Dank said any bills assigned to his House Appropriations Subcommittee on Revenue and Taxation that have a negative fiscal impact on state revenues won’t be heard, no matter how worthy the cause. Lawmakers are reconsidering the taxpayer-funded incentives that been used by more than two dozen wind developments in the state in recent years. Gov. Mary Fallin has imposed a ban on any new hires or salary increases at state agencies without direct approval by the statewide elected official or Cabinet secretary who directs and manages the agency. On the OK Policy Blog, we examined signs that Oklahoma gaming revenues have peaked.

Oklahoma’s overcrowded prisons need another $26.1 million just to keep from bursting at the seams, says the Department of Corrections. Oklahoma Watch examined how since State Question 640 made it almost impossible to increase taxes, much of the burden of paying for corrections has been shifted to fines and fees on convicted criminals, traffic violators, inmates’ families and others. Oklahoma City Public Schools board members say they learned about a city plan to redirect more downtown tax revenue away from schools and other purposes only after the City Council voted to go ahead with evaluating the plan.

Two lawmakers want to greatly expand a program that would allow state money to be used for private or home schooling expenses. A Senate committee approved legislation aimed at helping protect schools from unknowingly hiring sexual predators. NewsOK reported that Medicaid expansion is still getting no traction in the state Legislature, despite a growing number Republican states that are moving forward to expand coverage. The Oklahoma House has approved prescription drug monitoring legislation that is one of Gov. Mary Fallin’s top priorities for the 2015 Legislature. OK Policy previously examined why a prescription monitoring program is needed.

The Tulsa World wrote in support of House Bill 1673, a proposal to allow some terminally ill patients to end their own lives with prescribed medication. With executions in Oklahoma on hold amid a constitutional review of its lethal injection formula, Republican legislators are pushing to make Oklahoma the first state to allow the use of nitrogen gas in executions. The Tulsa Healthcare Coverage Project is helping small restaurant owners get affordable health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Oklahoma Secretary of State Chris Benge has been named Gov. Mary Fallin’s Native American liaison

Oklahoma recorded more than three times as many earthquakes as California in 2014 and remains well ahead in 2015. In a three part series (1, 2, 3), the Tulsa World examined the debate over the oil and gas industry’s role in causing earthquakes. Despite a strong consensus among national researchers that oil and gas wastewater injection wells cause earthquakes, the Oklahoma Geological Survey has not issued any final studies on the state’s most damaging earthquakes, and it shelved a plan to seek public comment on “best practices” for oil and gas operations after the energy industry protested.

The Number of the Day is the mean annual wage of a correctional officer in Oklahoma in 2013. In today’s Policy Note, The Crime Report examines how an overburdened court system has led to thousands of Americans, many of them poor, being wrongfully convicted each year for crimes that don’t make headlines.

continue reading In The Know: Oklahoma House chairman says ‘no more tax credits’

Have Oklahoma gaming revenues peaked?

by | February 9th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Budget | Comments (0)
Photo by I-5 Design & Manufacture

Photo by I-5 Design & Manufacture

Ten years after Oklahoma voters approved gaming compacts with Native American tribes and racetrack gaming, the state is collecting over $140 million annually as its share of gaming revenues. However, years of growth in gaming revenue have now ended, which may be a sign that the gaming market in Oklahoma has reached a saturation point .

State Question 712, which Oklahoma voters approved in November 2004 with 59.4 percent support, had two principal components:

continue reading Have Oklahoma gaming revenues peaked?

In The Know: Hofmeister eliminates field tests from 2015 state writing exams

by and | February 9th, 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.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has decided to eliminate field testing for this year’s state writing assessments amid growing concerns among educators and parents. The Tulsa World shared a Q & A with new Tulsa superintendent Deborah Gist. The state’s new secretary of education and workforce development, Natalie Shirley, says programs are in place to help Oklahomans acquire the skills they need to get good jobs, but low expectations are holding some students back

The Muskogee Phoenix reported that requests keep coming for tax breaks at the Capitol despite a $300 million budget shortfall. The Oklahoma editorial board wrote that further income tax cuts aren’t on policymakers’ radar. In a Tulsa World op-ed, David Blatt discussed how lawmakers have set Oklahoma up for long-term budget shortfalls. In the latest OK PolicyCast, we talk with Affordable Care Act Navigator Donna Orban on what’s being done to get Oklahomans signed up for health insurance, and we hear David Blatt’s takeaways from Governor Fallin’s new budget proposal. On the OK Policy Blog, Steve Lewis discusses how chronic budget shortfalls are not creating much of a future for Oklahoma kids. 

Gov. Mary Fallin has signed an executive order that carries forward 24 executive orders from her and previous administrations and eliminates dozens of others. In the wake of court action legalizing same-sex marriages, lawmakers in the GOP-controlled Legislature have filed more than a dozen bills that affect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Oklahomans. Philanthropist Lynn Schusterman wrote in The Oklahoman that enshrining discrimination against LGBT Oklahomans into law would damage the social and economic fabric of the state. KGOU shared several briefs on what else happened during the first week of the legislative session. Oklahoma lawmakers are debating a bill that would ban selling a used tire with a tread length less than 2/32nds of an inch. 

After rising for three years, the percentage of union membership among Oklahoma workers dropped in 2014. Since 2005, the 211 Helpline serving the Tulsa area has fielded more than 1 million calls from people seeking assistance from health and human services agencies, a number that has far exceeded expectations. An oil and gas wastewater disposal well is suspected of triggering an earthquake that damaged homes in Love County near the Texas border, but when residents protested the operator’s application to build the well before the Oklahoma Corporation Commission they were told their concerns were out of the commission’s jurisdiction.

The Number of the Day is the percentage of Oklahomans aged 18-29 who turned out to vote in 2012, well below the national average of 45 percent. In today’s Policy Note, Grist shares the story of a bakery that will hire anyone who applies for an open position.

continue reading In The Know: Hofmeister eliminates field tests from 2015 state writing exams

The Weekly Wonk February 8, 2015

by | February 8th, 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.

This week, we shared four takeaways from Gov. Fallin’s proposed budget and priorities for Oklahoma lawmakers in 2015. You can read our statement on the Governor’s budget here. Steve Lewis warned that by tapping revolving funds to cover the deficit, lawmakers are robbing the future to pay for the present. Executive Director David Blatt wrote in his Journal Record column that while Gov. Fallin’s State of the State speech showed clear need to resolve obstacles to progress for the state, her budget showed why it’s going to be difficult to move forward.

OK Policy Research Fellow Brandon Crawford explained why too many foster youth enter adulthood without a safety net. With the release of new state health rankings, we examined the causes and effects of Oklahoma’s march to the back of the pack. We’ve released new tools to help you navigate the legislative session: our updated 2015 Legislative Primer, and “What’s That?“, a glossary of key terms to help clarify Oklahoma politics and government.

This week on the OK PolicyCast, we interviewed Affordable Care Act Navigator Donna Orban on what’s being done to enroll Oklahomans in health coverage before the open enrollment period ends on February 15th, and Blatt on his takeaways from the Governor’s budget. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunesStitcher, or RSS.

The Tulsa World’s Wayne Green cited Blatt in a discussion of the budget-building process, and shared video of Blatt speaking about the budget. Panel members at our 2015 State Budget Summit said it’s unlikely lawmakers will reexamine business tax incentives. Blatt’s presentation from the Summit is available here.

continue reading The Weekly Wonk February 8, 2015

OK PolicyCast Episode 20: One more push for health insurance | Takeaways from the Governor’s budget

by | February 6th, 2015 | Posted in Podcast | Comments (2)

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

This week we talk with Affordable Care Act Navigator Donna Orban on what’s being done to get Oklahomans signed up for health insurance during this year’s Affordable Care Act enrollment period. You can download a flier for upcoming sign-up events in Tulsa here. We also speak with OK Policy Executive Director David Blatt, who shares some takeaways from Governor Fallin’s new budget proposal.

Download the episode here or play it in your browser:

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