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An Oklahoma Agenda for Broad-Based Prosperity

by | July 25th, 2016 | Posted in Blog, Featured Home Page | Comments (4)

countryside roadsThe next class of state lawmakers will face huge challenges when it comes to their most important task of supporting broad-based prosperity for Oklahomans. Years of shrinking funding have undermined Oklahoma’s most important public investments in education, public health and safety, and other core services. At the same time, Oklahoma families are living in an economy marked by limited access to good-paying jobs, persistent poverty, and lack of upward mobility, even before a weakening oil and gas industry made the situation worse.

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In The Know: 2016 sees increase in women running for Oklahoma Legislature

by | July 25th, 2016 | 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

2016 sees increase in women running for Oklahoma Legislature: The number of female candidates for the Oklahoma Legislature is almost as high this year as the last two election cycles combined. If these candidates are successful, the state could boost its current low ranking for women holding legislative positions. Seventy-seven women filed for a state legislative seat this year and 56 were still in the race after last month’s primaries, according to Oklahoma State Election Board records [NewsOK]. There are some offices in Oklahoma where women already hold most of the seats [OK Policy].

Oklahoma Democrats heading to Philadelphia for historic national convention: Isabel Baker attended her first Democratic National Convention in 1960 in Los Angeles, where John F. Kennedy won the nomination. She’s been to quite a few in between and is looking forward to being a delegate in Philadelphia next week to help Hillary Clinton become the first female presidential nominee of a major U.S. political party. “I never in my 87 years thought I’d see a woman at this point,” said Baker [NewsOK].

Oklahoma senator’s opponents say consulting payments to candidate from PAC are unfair: A political action committee formed to support Republican candidates for state Senate has paid state Sen. Greg Treat more than $61,000 since 2014. Had the money come to Treat in the form of campaign contributions, it would have been a state ethics violation. Treat, R-Oklahoma City, only has general election opponents, so his 2016 campaign is prohibited from receiving more than $5,000 from any particular PAC. These payments appear to be permissible, however, because the PAC was paying Treat as a consultant rather than making a contribution to his re-election campaign, said Lee Slater, former executive director of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission [NewsOK].

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The Weekly Wonk: Raise the minimum wage, off the runoff, and more

by | July 24th, 2016 | Posted in Weekly Wonk | Comments (0)

the_weekly_wonk_logoWhat’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.

This Week from OK Policy

This week on the OK Policy Blog, Executive Director David Blatt wrote that raising the minimum wage would be good for both working families and local economies. Intern Kylie Thomas explained that income inequality in Oklahoma has declined

Blatt’s Journal Record column argued that Oklahoma should end runoff elections, a topic he explored in greater depth in a blog post on the same topic. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update explained a new initiative to offer treatment for Oklahomans with prescription drug addiction issues.

Weekly What’s That

Coinsurance

Coinsurance” (or co-insurance) is an insurance term that means splitting or spreading risk among multiple parties. Expressed as a percentage, it describes what portion of health care costs will be paid by an insurance company after the insured person has exceeded their deductible up to the policy’s stop-loss (after which all related costs are typically covered). Read more.

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

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Oklahoma drug law enforcement agency moves toward ‘treatment option’ to combat addiction (Capitol Updates)

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 find past Capitol Updates archived  on his website.

There was an important announcement this week by leaders of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (OBNDD) that they would like to start offering a “treatment option,” in conjunction with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) for people who show up on their prescription monitoring program as serial purchasers of certain addictive drugs. You may remember the prescription monitoring program was created by legislation authored in 2015 by Rep. Doug Cox (R-Grove) and Sen. A.J. Griffin (R-Guthrie.) It requires pharmacists to report every prescription purchase of certain drugs to the PMP. Physicians are required to check the PMP before writing a first prescription of those drugs to any patient, and thereafter every 6 months before renewing a prescription.

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In The Know: Fallin says Trump can unite a divided and fearful country

by | July 22nd, 2016 | 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 says Trump can unite a divided and fearful country: Depicting Americans as divided and afraid, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said here Thursday Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump “will get this country on the right track.” “We must make America one again and restore confidence in the strength of our nation,” Fallin said in a speech at the Republican National Convention. The second-term governor spoke in prime time for a third consecutive national convention, though this was her first to speak on the final night [NewsOK]. Video is available here.

Capitol to be under construction for six years, tenants told: Construction on the outside of the state Capitol will begin early next month and take six years to complete, tenants were told Thursday. Scaffolding has started going up on the north side of the building. The restoration of the outside will begin Aug. 8. Officials will be repairing, restoring and replacing exterior stone, said Josh Martin, vice president of operations for JE Dunn Construction Co. [Tulsa World].

Confront the ‘parasite economy’ by raising the minimum wage: Every three months, the ADP Research Institute releases its Workforce Vitality Index, a measure of private sector job and wage growth. For the past two quarters, Washington state has led the nation in growing jobs and boosting wages, far outpacing the national average and such states as Texas, Florida, and California. Why does this matter? Because Washington state has one of the highest minimum wages in the nation at $9.47 an hour [OK Policy].

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Confront the ‘parasite economy’ by raising the minimum wage

by | July 21st, 2016 | Posted in Blog, Economy, Poverty & Opportunity | Comments (1)

Every three months, the ADP Research Institute releases its Workforce Vitality Index, a measure of private sector job and wage growth.  For the past two quarters, Washington state has led the nation in growing jobs and boosting wages, far outpacing the national average and such states as Texas, Florida, and California.

Why does this matter?   Because Washington state has one of the highest minimum wages in the nation at $9.47 an hour. And since April 2015, the city of Seattle has been moving towards a $15 minimum wage, with the current minimum ranging from $10.50 to $13 depending on employer size.  As the Workforce Vitality Index shows, businesses in Seattle and Washington state are thriving and generating more employment. Seattle’s restaurant industry — which fought the wage laws fiercely — is continuing to add jobs.

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In The Know: Trump considering fracking mogul Harold Hamm as energy secretary

by | July 21st, 2016 | 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

Exclusive: Trump considering fracking mogul Harold Hamm as energy secretary – sources: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is considering nominating Oklahoma oil and gas mogul Harold Hamm as energy secretary if elected to the White House on Nov. 8, according to four sources close to Trump’s campaign. The chief executive of Continental Resources (CLR.N) would be the first U.S. energy secretary drawn directly from the oil and gas industry since the cabinet position was created in 1977, a move that would jolt environmental advocates but bolster Trump’s pro-drilling energy platform [Reuters].

Fallin readies prime-time speech at Republican convention: Gov. Mary Fallin plans to speak at the Republican National Convention here Thursday about “things that are valuable in life, the principles that made America great and what we need to do to make America great again.” The governor has a 6-minute slot on the last night of the convention, when Donald J. Trump is set to accept the nomination for president [NewsOK].

Promises of change made at Tulsa Talks forum on law enforcement, race issues: The best-attended discussion in recent weeks about law enforcement and racial divides in Tulsa left community leaders with several promises on policy changes Tuesday. Tulsa Police Department and Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office officials told an audience of several hundred people that they would look into adopting several practices, including requiring officers to better identify themselves, publish education about how people should interact in arrest situations and include implicit-racial-bias training for officers [Tulsa World]. Three takeaways from the meeting are available here.

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Income inequality in Oklahoma has declined but there’s more work to be done

by | July 20th, 2016 | Posted in Economy, Poverty & Opportunity | Comments (0)

Income inequality between people conceptKylie Thomas is an OK Policy intern and a Master’s student in economics at American University. She previously earned her Bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Tulsa.

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) recently released an updated report on income inequality in the U.S. by state, and the data shows improvements in Oklahoma. In 2012, income inequality in Oklahoma reached a historic high. The bottom 99 percent of Oklahomans were earning an average income of $41,995, while the top 1 percent were earning $1,105,521, which was 26 times greater. Overall, in 2012, Oklahoma ranked 12th highest in the nation for income inequality.  

However, Oklahoma’s income inequality gap narrowed in 2013 (the year of most recent data). To be considered part of the top 1 percent in 2013 in Oklahoma, an individual needed to make an income of at least $324,935. The average income of the bottom 99 percent rose nearly $3,000 to $44,849 and fell for the top 1 percent to $903,201, which is still 20.7 times greater than the bottom 99 percent. That’s a little more equal than overall in the U.S., where the average income of the top 1 percent was 25.3 times greater than the bottom 99 percent. Consequently, Oklahoma’s national rank improved from 12th to 15th most unequal.

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In The Know: Arkansas execution case could lead court to revisit Oklahoma

by | July 20th, 2016 | 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

Arkansas execution case could lead court to revisit Oklahoma: Lawyers for eight death row inmates in Arkansas say their challenge of the state’s execution procedures should warrant a U.S. Supreme Court review that would likely revisit the high court’s ruling on an Oklahoma case. The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled against the prisoners last month, but the inmates’ lawyers want the court to withhold a final order pending a possible U.S. Supreme Court review [Associated Press].

How we are transforming our states’ justice systems: President Ronald Reagan once famously said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” No one could have seen it at the time, but we now know that, with respect to our justice system, truer words were never spoken. In 1994, then-President Bill Clinton signed into law a “tough on crime” bill that contributed to the explosion of the federal prison population [Governors Deal, Fallin and Bevin / Fox News]. Governor Fallin’s new, inclusive approach to criminal justice reform is bearing fruit [OK Policy].

A Natural Gas Well Next Door: It sits among a clutch of homes, not far away from a storage tank for natural gas. The pumpjack isn’t operating now, but the company that owns the well says it hopes to re-start the pumping soon. The appearance of a natural gas well in the middle of a neighborhood, less than 30 feet from a home, is startling. Then again, the location is in predominantly black northeast Oklahoma City, where an urban renewal plan has identified numerous environmental and blight issues [Oklahoma Watch].

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In The Know: Oklahoma Supreme Court clears path for November vote on sales tax initiative for education

by | July 19th, 2016 | 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

Oklahoma Supreme Court clears path for November vote on sales tax initiative for education: The Oklahoma Supreme Court issued a ruling Monday that clears the way for Oklahomans to vote this November on whether to increase the state sales tax by 1 cent per dollar to pay for $5,000 teacher pay increases and other educational purposes. Supreme Court justices ordered modifications to the ballot title to eliminate bias and make the purposes of the sales tax initiative more clear, but rejected a court challenge that could have kept the issue off the November ballot [NewsOK]. Read our statement on the proposal here.

Academic standards, tests discussed as Hofmeister launches town hall series on new federal education law: State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister on Monday said the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act will ensure greater state autonomy over public education matters, and many changes are still in store. At Broken Arrow High School, Hofmeister hosted the first of a series of required stakeholder input events at “EngageOK on the Road,” the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s annual summer education conference [Tulsa World]. ESSA maintains annual testing and reforms teacher evaluations [OK Policy].

Oklahoma City school board set to consider charter school expansion: Charter school expansion is back in play, and supporters of KIPP Reach Academy say they are in a much better position heading into Monday night’s Oklahoma City School Board meeting. In recent days, a group of elected officials, business leaders and community activists has met individually with school board members and Superintendent Aurora Lora to address concerns or misconceptions about the high-performing middle school [NewsOK]. The school board approved a modified charter school expansion [NewsOK].

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