In The Know: Records show same drugs used in botched OK, AZ executions

by | July 25th, 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 or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

Records show that the same drugs were used in the botched lethal injections in Arizona on Wednesday and in Oklahoma nearly three months ago. The Tulsa World reports that the probe into Oklahoma’s botched execution is still pending and that a variety of records, including the autopsy report for the deceased prisoner, still have not been released. A research group has found that Texas and Oklahoma, two states whose leadership most vociferously oppose EPA regulation on carbon pollution, would be the biggest economic winners from that regulation due to increased demand for natural gas. The study’s authors note that the increased natural gas production would drive job creation and corporate revenue in producing states. StateImpact discussed conflict and conversation around increasing wind energy production in Oklahoma’s Osage County.

The federal government says that more than 200 unaccompanied children from Central America who had been housed at Fort Sill have been placed with sponsors in Oklahoma, primarily parents, relatives and family friends. The government also says that all the children have been vaccinated and medically cleared. OK Policy previously debunked some of the myths being spread about the children at Fort Sill. A team of child abuse medical experts, who have served as expert witnesses in countless Oklahoma court cases, will be disbanded due to lack of funding.

On Monday, August 4th, OK Policy will honor Governor Henry Bellmon with the 2014 Good Sense/Good Cents Award, followed by a panel discussion of the Bellmon legacy. The event is free and open to the public. A provision of the Affordable Care Act called the  Medical Loss Ratio Rule, which requires health insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on patient care and quality improvement, has generated $6.7 million in refunds to Oklahomans from health insurance companies this summer. The Tulsa World reported on a Tulsa Community College program that allows prisoners to work towards degrees while in prison. Since 2007, more than 345 certificates and degrees have been awarded to inmates. Some anti-abortion laws passed by the legislature this spring may end of up in court.

The chairman of the state Workers Compensation Commission has rescinded bids for a project discussed during a secret meeting and pledged greater transparency moving forward. The Commission has come under scrutiny recently due to alleged violations of the Open Records Act. A study conducted by Southwestern Oklahoma State University reported on the financial impact of the Oklahoma Army National Guard, finding that for every 100 jobs created by the Guard, 127 are created statewide.

Norman residents are upset after city staff admitted to withholding information regarding a zoning change in southeast Norman that could bring a Wal-Mart Supercenter to the area. The Oklahoman argued in favor of better maintenance of the state’s dams due to public safety concerns. Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman has named the final three members to a nine-person committee that will oversee the renovation of the state Capitol. Other committee members were selected by Gov. Fallin and House Speaker Jeff Hickman.

The Number of the Day is the percentage of wage and salary workers in Oklahoma that were members of a union in 2013. In today’s Policy Note, the New Republic reports on the sexual and gender-based violence forcing children to flee Central America.

continue reading In The Know: Records show same drugs used in botched OK, AZ executions

Upcoming Event: The Legacy of Gov. Henry Bellmon

BellmonHLOklahoma Policy Institute will honor Governor Henry Bellmon with the 2014 Good Sense/Good Cents Award, followed by a panel discussion on the Bellmon legacy, on Monday August 4th from 1:00 – 3:00 pm at the Lorton Performance Center on the University of Tulsa Campus. The events are free and open to the public.

The Good Sense/Good Cents award will be presented to Gov. Bellmon’s daughters Ann Denney and Pat Hoerth by Tulsa Mayor Dewey F. Bartlett Jr., whose father, Dewey F. Bartlett Sr., succeeded Henry Bellmon as Governor and served concurrently with him in the United States Senate. The  annual award honors political leaders whose political service is distinguished by a commitment to respectful political dialogue, sound fiscal stewardship, and concern for the less fortunate. The inaugural recipients of the award in 2013 were Mayors Robert LaFortune of Tulsa and Melvin Moran of Seminole.

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In The Know: Education board stalls process to create new standards

by and | July 24th, 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 or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

The Oklahoma Board of Education voted to table a plan to develop new educational standards replace the Common Core standards. Some board members raised concerns that the process proposed by Superintendent Barresi was too complicated. Nearly half of the 1,128 Tulsa Public Schools third-graders who scored unsatisfactory on the state reading test in the spring have either qualified for exemptions or are being considered for probationary promotion to fourth grade. The Tulsa World praised Governor Fallin softening her position on making passing the third grade dependent on a high-stakes reading test.

Oklahoma schools are receiving a state aid increase of about $38 per student this year. Total state aid is still $172 million below what it was in 2008. Oklahoma’s Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger wrote an op-ed in the Tulsa World on how off-the-top funding mandates have contributed to this year’s budget shortfall. OK Policy previously examined how these mandates caused the shortfall — along with growing tax refunds and oil and gas industry rebates. A new OK Policy report examines what’s behind the growing cost of the Quality Jobs program, one of the largest business subsidies in Oklahoma.

David Blatt’s Journal Record column discusses how term limits have affected legislative experience levels since they went into effect in 1992. We previously discussed on the OK Policy Blog how the data shows a more complicated story than the popular understanding of term limits.

The Oklahoma County district attorney’s office has initiated an investigation into possible Open Meeting Act violations by the new Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission. One commissioner said the group has had up to five “informational meetings” attended by a quorum of commissioners but not posted as public meetings. The Tulsa World expressed disappointment that sweeping workers compensation reforms were being implemented with “an unpleasant odor of secrecy.” An independent expenditure group that paid for television advertisements opposing State Superintendent Janet Barresi in last month’s primary has not filed any required spending reports with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. U.S. Rep. James Lankford and state Rep. T.W. Shannon spent more than $4 million combined in the Republican race to replace U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, while two dark money groups added about $1.5 million.

AmeriCorps volunteers are working with Tulsa’s Southern Hills United Methodist Church on a program to improve literacy for at-risk kids. An event Aug. 16-17 at the Oklahoma City State Fair Park will provide free dental, vision and limited medical care to Oklahomans. Based on previous events, it is expected hundreds of Oklahomans will wait hours in line for care, with many turned away. University of Tulsa researchers have won a grant from the EPA to study methods to improve indoor air quality and reduce asthma triggers in tribal schools.

The Number of the Day is average teacher base salary for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree and ten years of teaching experience in Oklahoma. In today’s Policy Note, E.J. Dionne explains why a recent ruling by a D.C. Circuit federal court to disallow ACA health insurance subsidies is a serious distortion of the law for ideological purposes.

continue reading In The Know: Education board stalls process to create new standards

New issue brief examines one of the largest business subsidies in Oklahoma

by | July 23rd, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Budget & Taxes | Comments (0)

Quality Jobs subsidyMark Lash is a retired federal employee who follows Oklahoma policymaking. He has previously written about the Quality Jobs Program for the OK Policy Blog.

Download the full report here.

According to a New York Times report, state and local governments provide over $80 billion each year to a variety of businesses through tax exemptions, tax credits, incentives, and other programs. That same report showed Oklahoma provides over $2 billion each year to businesses for economic development.

Perhaps the most popular and well-known subsidy in Oklahoma is the Quality Jobs Program. A new OK Policy issue brief examines the background of this program, describes its key elements, and makes recommendations on how to best achieve its stated purpose of job growth while also maximizing the use of limited state revenues. Read on for a summary or click here to download the full issue brief.

continue reading New issue brief examines one of the largest business subsidies in Oklahoma

In The Know: Fallin rejects lawmaker’s call for ‘Catastrophic Health Emergency’ over migrant children

by and | July 23rd, 2014 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (3)

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 or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

Today you should know that Governor Fallin rejected a call by Rep. Mike Ritze to declare a Catastrophic Health Emergency related to the immigrant children being held at Fort Sill. The OK Policy Blog debunked several myths that have emerged about these children. Tax credits that help 55,000 Oklahomans purchase insurance on the federal marketplace were thrown into question when separate federal appeals courts came down on opposite sides of the issue. OK Policy released a statement on the rulings. Oklahoma Watch shared a Q&A on how the rulings will affect Oklahomans.

Rep. Mike Shelton requested an Attorney General’s opinion on the constitutionality of legislation that diverted $5 million from a fund earmarked for trauma care assistance. Backers of school tornado shelters and legalized marijuana are quickly running out of time to place these issues before voters in November. About 600 of the 800 Tulsa third graders who failed a state reading test should soon learn how they did on a make-up test. The Tulsa World praised the efforts of the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma to address huge problems of hunger in Oklahoma.

The Enid News & Eagle reported on OK Policy awarding our annual Good Sense/Good Cents award to former Governor Henry Bellmon. Creek County Rural Water District No. 2, which serves about 4,700 customers in south Tulsa, Jenks, Mounds, Glenpool and Sapulpa, has violated drinking water standards going back to 2012. Tulsa came in at number four on a list of cities with high rates of fatal DUI accidents.

The Number of the Day is the number of laboratory-confirmed cases of rabies in Oklahoma during 2013. In today’s Policy Note, the New Yorker examines how in some cases the “alternatives to incarceration” industry is profiting by sending Americans who can’t afford traffic fines into deeper debt.

continue reading In The Know: Fallin rejects lawmaker’s call for ‘Catastrophic Health Emergency’ over migrant children

Debunking myths about migrant children at Ft. Sill

by and | July 22nd, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Immigration | Comments (45)

As most Oklahomans have heard and seen on the news, there are currently between 1,000 and 1,500 migrant children being housed in dormitories on Fort Sill, an Army base in southwestern Oklahoma near Lawton (among other places across the country). The vast majority are from three Central American countries: Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

The response by federal agencies has been swift and represents a coordinated effort between agencies with very different missions and mandates – from the U.S. Border Patrol, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Military to Health and Human Services (HHS). The children are currently being cared for by the Administration for Children and Families (a division of HHS) with the assistance of countless volunteers working on behalf of churches and charities.

These children’s entry into the U.S. and into Oklahoma has sparked a large amount of commentary and speculation about their situation. In the hopes of providing some clarity for Oklahomans interested in these developments, this post responds to some common misconceptions about who they are, why they came, and what’s being done.

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In The Know: Fallin starts petition to close facility housing child immigrants

by and | July 22nd, 2014 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (1)

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 or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

Gov. Mary Fallin’s re-election campaign launched an online petition calling for the closure of the facility housing child immigrants at Fort Sill. The petition criticized President Obama for meeting the “transportation, education and health care of illegal immigrants, even as Washington ignores the very real needs of American citizens.” The American Mental Health Counselors Association estimates that 122,000 Oklahoma with mental health issues are being denied care because Governor Fallin has refused federal funding to expand Medicaid for Oklahomans. The Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs Executive Director said the agency is operating a dangerously low staffing levels due to state budget cuts.

Nearly 1 in 4 Oklahoma children live in poverty and the number of children living in high-poverty areas has more than doubled since 2000, according to a national study released Tuesday. Oklahoma City Public Schools is among 60 of the nation’s largest districts throwing their support behind a presidential initiative meant to ensure more students of color are succeeding academically. Two elementary schools in the Oklahoma City district are facing critical teacher shortages as the start of school draws near. Teachers say they repeal of Common Core Standards won’t greatly affect their teaching methods, but some expressed concern that tests will be less rigorous. The OK Policy Blog examined a new initiative that is seeking  to coordinate the thousands of people working to improve education in Tulsa.

NewsOK examined challenges faced by grandparents who are the primary caretakers of their grandchildren. Oklahoma Watch examined why Moore has not received federal storm damage prevention aid, even as other cities in Oklahoma at less risk for storms are receiving aid. Residents in north Tulsa are unsure where they will get affordable groceries after the impending closure of the area’s only grocery store.

The Number of the Day is the number of women in the Oklahoma legislature out of 149 legislators. In today’s Policy Note, Vox discusses the evidence that expanding Medicaid coverage has improved lifelong health by improving care for pregnant mothers.

continue reading In The Know: Fallin starts petition to close facility housing child immigrants

Initiative seeks to bring together the puzzle pieces for improving Tulsa schools

by | July 21st, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Education | Comments (1)
Rebecca Hollis

Rebecca Hollis

This post is by Rebecca Hollis, who is working with OK Policy during the summer as a Southern Education Leadership Initiative Fellow. Rebecca attends Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH and is part of the Philosophy, Politics, and the Public Honors Program. She previously contributed a post about community schools in Oklahoma

With over 300 early childhood education providers, fifteen independent school districts, ten four-year colleges, one community college, and more than one hundred education-related nonprofits in the greater Tulsa area, the task of educating students involves a huge number of individuals and institutions. Yet for all these efforts, we don’t have a good idea of who is doing what, or what programs are showing the best results. This disconnect is what Jeff Edmonson, Managing Director of the StriveTogether Network, has called “program rich but system poor.” To ensure students have access to quality education at all levels of their academic career, all of the pieces of this puzzle must come together.

continue reading Initiative seeks to bring together the puzzle pieces for improving Tulsa schools

In The Know: Oklahoma’s ban on gay marriage ruled unconstitutional

by and | July 21st, 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 or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS.. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

A federal appeals court struck down Oklahoma’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional, though the ban remains pending an expected appeal of the decision. You can read the full decision here. Governor Fallin released a statement condemning the decision. A new poll by Rasmussen finds the Oklahoma governor’s race between Mary Fallin and Joe Dorman is within the margin of error. Dorman said Oklahoma should accept federal dollars to expand Medicaid program to cover low-income Oklahomans. The Tulsa World shared the colorful history of runoff elections in Oklahoma.

Speaking at the annual Oklahoma PTA conference, Gov. Fallin seemed to back off her position for relying on one high-stakes reading test to determine whether a third-grader should move on to fourth grade. Hundreds of Oklahoma City students are participating in a summer reading academy to try to pass the reading test before a new school year begins. The tiny Panola School District may close its doors after 102 years due to a budget shortfall. A Tulsa World op-ed discusses how Tulsa Community College is getting national recognition for a program that provides free tuition and fees for all Tulsa County students who graduate high school with at least a 2.0 grade point average.  The University of Oklahoma College of Education is offering a new program to forgive student debt for graduates who stay in Oklahoma and enter high-need teaching areas.

The Tulsa World reported that the state Workers Compensation Commission repeatedly discussed budget decisions in meetings that the public was not allowed to attend, a possible violation of the Open Meetings Act. Upcoming community meetings in Tulsa and Oklahoma will make a case for extending foster care to age 21. The Oklahoman editorial board argued that Oklahoma still has a long way to go on corrections reform. The Tulsa County Jail and Sheriff Stanley Glanz are facing multiple lawsuits alleging extreme neglect, abuse, and needless death of inmates.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol has seen a significant increase in the number of applicants, which department officials attribute to a pay increase and reduced education requirements approved this legislative session. The Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs is cutting funding for Community Intervention Centers by about $610,000, which law enforcement officials said will take police officers off the streets to take care of juveniles in custody.

A consumer survey found Oklahomans have a better view of the economy than neighboring states Arkansas and Missouri, but all three states trail the national average. The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined to 4.5% in June and is down a whole percentage point from this time last year. The 2014 Farm Bill is contributing $26.4 million in federal funds to assess and rehabilitate dams in Oklahoma. A study examining oil and gas wastewater wells in Oklahoma found that certain wells may be able to trigger earthquakes as far away as 21 miles. About 300 residents of Boise City in the Oklahoma Panhandle came to a town meeting to discuss a dozen members of a fundamentalist Mormon group settling in the town.

The Number of the Day is the number of beginning farmers in Oklahoma in 2012, down about 26 percent from 2002. In today’s Policy Note, Al Jazeera America looks at the growing criminalization of homelessness in American cities.

continue reading In The Know: Oklahoma’s ban on gay marriage ruled unconstitutional

The Weekly Wonk July 20, 2014

by | July 20th, 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 explored whether term limits really changed how long Oklahoma legislators served. We explained how despite Governor Fallin’s attempt to shift the blame to President Obama, the real reason behind state Medicaid cuts is Oklahoma leaders’ mismanagement of the state budget.

A guest post warned of the influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a secretive organization that connects corporate lobbyists with state legislators. An upcoming series of Community Meetings in Oklahoma City and Tulsa will explore extending foster care in Oklahoma to age 21.

In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt explained how tax cuts in Kansas were intended to boost the economy but have had the opposite effect. RH Reality Check linked to OK Policy resources to argue that health care access and accepting federal funds to expand health coverage will be key issues in the state’s gubernatorial race. 

In our Editorial of the Week, an advisory board member for a hospital in Creek County wrote that Oklahoma’s refusal to accept Medicaid funds could force rural hospitals to close their doors.

Quote of the Week

“They start with the mentality of seeing employees as assets to be maximized.”

- Zaynep Ton of MIT’s Sloan School of Management, on retailers such as QuikTrip, Trader Joe’s and Costco Wholesale that are paying workers living wages. Such retailers consistently report better operational efficiency, better customer service, and better sales than their low-wage competitors (Source: http://bit.ly/1zDQV1z)

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Numbers of the Day

  • 57 minutes – Average time patients with broken bones had to wait before receiving pain medication in Oklahoma emergency rooms.
  • 2,700,990 tons – Total tonnage processed by the Port of Catoosa in 2013.
  • 17 – Number of journalists reporting  full-time from the Oklahoma statehouse. Oklahoma ranks 15th nationwide.
  • 6 – Number of Oklahoma high schools with a dropout rate above 40 percent for the Class of 2012.
  • 9 percent – Percentage decline in Oklahoma’s teen birth rate from 2012 to 2013.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

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