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In The Know: State budget cuts hit Medicaid patients

by | July 1st, 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. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

State budget cuts hit Medicaid patients: The ripple effect of this year’s legislative budget cuts has reached Oklahoma’s Medicaid recipients. Starting July 1, only children can receive coverage through Medicaid for sleep studies and the machines that treat apnea. Family Medical Supply CEO Jerry Barnhart said without CPAP equipment, people with apnea can develop hypertension, heart attack, stroke or heart disease [Journal Record].

With Supreme Court decision, Fallin should reconsider Medicaid rejection: As of 2012, Oklahoma ranked sixth among states with the highest percentage of its population being uninsured — approximately 21 percent of the population was uninsured. The only step taken by Oklahoma to address this tragic condition is Insure Oklahoma which is, in fact, dependent on federal money [Tulsa World].

Budget cuts could shut down more state parks: Since 2011, one of the ways the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation has dealt with budget cuts has been to close state parks or transfer them to new managers. With the agency taking a cut of more than $16 million dollars going into the new fiscal year, the big question is whether more parks will have to go [OETA/StateImpact Oklahoma].

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Understanding Oklahoma’s new tax rates on oil and gas production

by | June 30th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Taxes | Comments (1)

With the start of the new fiscal year tomorrow (July 1), many new laws are set to take effect. Perhaps the most consequential new law is one passed last session, HB 2562, which extended and made permanent tax breaks for the state’s oil and gas producers.

Under current law, the standard tax on gross production is 7 percent. However, over the years the Legislature has enacted a series of exemptions that lower the tax rate for various forms of production, including enhanced recovery projects, inactive wells, new discovery wells, and 3-dimensional seismic shoots. The most significant of these exemptions is for horizontally-drilled wells, which are taxed at just 1 percent for the first 48 months of production. As the lion’s share of new oil and gas drilling in Oklahoma has shifted from vertical to horizontal production over the past decade, the cost of the horizontal tax break has ballooned to $282 million in FY 2014 from just $2 million in FY 2004. The cost in FY 2015 was projected at $379 million by the Tax Commission in December.

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In The Know: Supreme Court upholds Oklahoma lethal injection drug

by | June 30th, 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. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Supreme Court upholds Oklahoma lethal injection drug: The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday effectively sanctioned a sedative used by Oklahoma for lethal injections, rejecting arguments that it could lead to an unconstitutional level of pain [NewsOK]. State officials say they are prepared to move forward with three previously scheduled executions [NewsOK].

Supreme Court delays mercury emissions rule: The Supreme Court said EPA officials failed to properly consider economic costs of new pollution controls on coal-burning power plants [Washington Post]. Oklahoma’s two major utilities will continue moving forward with plans to comply with the rule [Tulsa World].

How a 1942 Supreme Court decision blocking Oklahoma’s attempt to sterilize a chicken thief laid the foundation for marriage equality: In 1935, Oklahoma passed a law allowing “habitual criminals”—defined as those who had been convicted three times of “felonies involving moral turpitude”—to be sterilized. Skinner, a one-footed drifter who had been convicted twice for armed robbery and once for poultry theft, challenged the three-strikes-and-you’re-sterile law and took his case all the way to the Supreme Court [Slate].

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Our new Director of Operations and Development

by | June 29th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)

Shiloh KantzOklahoma Policy Institute is very pleased to announce that Shiloh Kantz has been promoted to the position of Director of Operations and Development effective June 1, 2015.

In the newly-created position, Kantz’s responsibilities include financial management, fundraising and development, event coordination, strategic initiatives, and human resources. She is also coordinating the Summer Policy Institute, an annual program that brings 60 students from across the state to Tulsa in August for a four-day training in state policy issues.

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In The Know: Cherokee Chief Bill John Baker wins reelection

by | June 29th, 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. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Cherokee Chief Bill John Baker wins reelection: Cherokee Principal Chief Bill John Baker appeared to have won a second term according to unofficial results posted at 6:30 a.m. by the tribal election commission. With a little over 700 ballots left to be counted, Baker had 53 percent of the vote against three challengers, including former Chief Chad Smith [Tulsa World].

What the same-sex marriage ruling means for Oklahoma: Gay marriage already has been legal in all of Oklahoma’s 77 counties, but the latest ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court expands the rights of married gay couples, especially when traveling to neighboring states [Associated Press]. The ruling will simplify a lot of financial and personnel policy decisions for businesses, but it may be a while before previous legal conflicts are untangled [Journal Record]. A study says same-sex marriage will boost Oklahoma income tax revenue [OK Policy Blog].

Oklahoma’s black clergy talk security in wake of Charleston shootings: Several clergy leaders said there’s a fine balance between the usual hospitality offered by their churches and operating with a sense of caution that has been heightened by the Charleston killings [NewsOK].

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The Weekly Wonk: Subsidies upheld, off-the-top apportionments, and more

by | June 28th, 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:

The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the subsidies that allow 87,000 Oklahomans to purchase affordable health insurance is a victory for Oklahomans and a clear sign that the Affordable Care Act is here to stay. Although off-the-top apportionments got a lot of attention during this spring, they aren’t completely to blame for the state’s fiscal woes. In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis suggested that the responsibility to adequately fund core services rests with everyday Oklahomans, not their legislators.

We shared happened to bills on tax reform, elections, and more we followed during the legislative session. Previously, we checked in on bills concerning education and criminal justice. In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt discussed a new study showing that the social safety net has been far more effective at fighting poverty than previously thought.

OK Policy in the News:

Policy Director Gene Perry was interviewed by the BBC regarding the Supreme Court subsidies case. OK Policy’s statement on the case was picked by up a variety of local media, including KGOU, Oklahoma Watch, The Frontier, The Edmond Sun, and The Miami News-Record. Oklahoma Watch also cited OK Policy in its discussion of what the case means for Oklahoma.

Weekly What’s That:

Voter ID Requirements

n 2010, Oklahoma voters approved State Question 746, which established new voter identification requirements. The state question requires voters to present a valid government-issued document that includes their name and picture or a voter identification card issued by their county election board. Read more.

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

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Responsibility to fund Oklahoma services rests with “we the people” (Capitol Update)

by | June 26th, 2015 | Posted in Budget, Capitol Updates, Taxes | Comments (1)

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.

When I was first elected to the House, former Speaker Bill Willis was still serving as a member after having served as Speaker.  He’d already served 22 years in the House, and when he had something to say people usually listened.  I remember one time during his debate in favor of a particularly contentious issue he said “the only time government acts is in a crisis.” This was in the 1980s, and we had quite a few crises.

After four tax increases in five or six years several individuals got together under the moniker S.T.O.P New Taxes and funded an initiative to essentially remove the power to tax from the legislature.  State Question 640 amended our constitution to require a 75% vote of the legislature and approval of the governor or a vote of the people to pass a tax increase.  The measure passed in 1992 with 56.2 % of the vote.

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In The Know: Supreme Court upholds subsidies for 87,000 Oklahomans

by | June 26th, 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.

Today In The News

US Supreme Court upholds health insurance subsidies: In a 6-3 ruling, the United States Supreme Court ruled to uphold the subsidies more than 87,000 Oklahomans and 6.4 million nationwide used to purchase health insurance on Healthcare.gov [Tulsa World]. This decision cements the reality that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and is here to stay [OK Policy]. SCOTUSblog has a thorough breakdown of the case in plain English [SCOTUSblog]. This Q&A explains what the case means for Oklahoma [Oklahoma Watch]. Oklahomans who get the subsidies are happy they can keep their coverage [NewsOK]. Policy Director Gene Perry shared the history and implications of the case with the BBC [audioBoom]. 

Oklahoma Board of Education approves flat budget: The state Board of Education has approved a flat $2.5 billion dollar budget for FY 2016 [Tulsa World]. Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has said that due to rising costs, flat funding essentially translates to a funding cut, and will mean school closings and teacher layoffs [Oklahoma Watch].

Regents approve tuition, fee hikes: The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education have unanimously approved tuition and mandatory fee increases  between 3.2 and 5 percent at colleges and universities across the state [News9]. The state’s higher education budget was cut $24 million, or 2.4 percent, during this spring’s legislative session [The Ada News]. School leadership says that state disinvestment and subsequent tuition hikes makes it particularly hard for low-income and first-generation students to complete their degrees [NewsOK]. Our FY 2016 Budget Highlights issue brief breaks down the state budget in greater detail [OK Policy].

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Statement: Supreme Court health care decision is a victory for Oklahomans

Oklahoma Policy Institute released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court decision upholding subsidies for insurance purchased on the Affordable Care Act federal marketplace:

The Supreme Court decision is a victory for tens of thousands of Oklahomans and millions of Americans. The Affordable Care Act’s subsidies are helping more than 87,000 Oklahomans purchase affordable health coverage and making Oklahoma a stronger, healthier state.

This decision cements the reality that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and is here to stay. It is time for Oklahoma lawmakers to move past fruitless obstruction of the law and shift that energy into making sure that it succeeds in providing access to affordable coverage to as many Oklahomans as possible.

A good start would be to accept federal funds to extend health coverage to the 150,000 low-income, working Oklahomans in a “coverage crater” because they make too much to qualify for Soonercare but not enough to receive subsidies on the federal marketplace. States that have accepted federal dollars to expand Medicaid have seen large gains in the number of adults with health insurance and given more citizens access to lifesaving screenings and treatments, all while saving money in state budgets. Hospitals in expansion states are treating fewer uninsured patients, and the amount of “uncompensated care” they are providing is declining steeply.

In The Know: Supreme Court to rule on botched execution, other cases

by | June 25th, 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.

Today In The News

Supreme Court to rule on lethal injection drugs: The US Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on the use of drugs used in a botched execution in Oklahoma in 2014 within the next few days. Three Oklahoma death row inmates brought the case (Glossip v. Gross) when the state announced it intended to continue using the drugs despite concerns that the drugs were not having the intended effect [Oklahoma Watch]. Should the Court rule that the drugs cannot be used in executions, the state may switch to using nitrogen gas instead [The New Yorker]. The Supreme Court has until June 29 to issue seven remaining rulings, which include cases concerning gay marriage and the Affordable Care Act [SCOTUSblog].

Tulsa Sheriff files motion to dismiss grand jury petition: Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz has filed a motion to dismiss a grand jury petition calling for an investigation into the county Sheriff’s Office, citing technical arguments based on how the signature form was circulated. The petitions organizers contend that the petition is valid [Tulsa World].

State GOP political director resigns over domestic violence charges: The former political director of the state Republican Party, T.C. Ryan, has resigned after news broke that he had previously plead guilty to a domestic violence charge [NewsOK]. Top party leadership, including Gov. Fallin, had said that Ryan’s history of domestic violence should have disqualified him from a staff position [Tulsa World].

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