In The Know: Treasurer says he will sue state to protect unclaimed property beneficiaries if Legislature passes bill

by and | February 24th, 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 Treasurer Ken Miller said a bill being pushed by insurance companies in the Oklahoma Legislature is so bad for consumers that he would sue the state if it were ever passed. On the OK Policy Blog, a guest post from Treasurer Miller’s Oklahoma Economic Report warns against Oklahoma’s passage of repeated tax cuts without saying how they will be paid for. Appropriations and budget subcommittees in the House and Senate are meeting with agency leaders this week to find out how they would handle budget cuts ranging as high as 10 percent. Oklahoma Arts Council Director Amber Sharples said they would have to cut community arts programs in rural Oklahoma.

Fallin’s finance secretary, Preston Doerflinger, said he may have found a source of savings in agency travel costs, memberships to other organizations, and promotional and events expenses, or what his office calls “swag,” but Oklahoma Watch reported that there may not be much savings to be found from cutting those expenses. Longtime Tulsa oil leaders discussed how the oil price collapse of 2015 compares to the oil bust of 1985. Former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn came to the state Capitol to urge lawmakers to pass a bill calling for a Constitutional Convention to change the U.S. Constitution. On the OK Policy Blog, we explained why a constitutional convention would put everything at risk with a process that cannot be controlled.

The House approved a bill allowing Oklahoma district attorneys to collect DNA samples for the state’s offender database from defendants who aren’t sentenced to prison. On the OK Policy Blog, we previously explained how indiscriminate DNA testing could lead to false convictions of innocent Oklahomans. A bill establishing a six-month mandatory minimum sentence for eluding police has been pulled back for revision after pushback against mandatory minimums. The OK Policy Blog previously examined how excessive mandatory minimums have contributed to the state’s incarceration crisis. An Oklahoma Watch investigation showed how ex-offenders face a steep price to reinstate their driver’s license, which creates a major barrier to getting a job and reintegrating with society. A professional bull riding circuit has expressed interest in bringing back Oklahoma’s prison rodeo, which has been cancelled due to budget cuts. Tulsa County and the city of Tulsa are inching closer to a deal on a new jail agreement.

The House Common Education Committee approved a bill to make permanent the changes made to the state’s third-grade reading sufficiency requirements last year. A bill in the state Senate could set up a water fight between eastern Oklahoma and the drought-stricken west. The Tulsa World spoke with teachers about how black history is being taught in Oklahoma schools today. Oklahoma Muslims and their interfaith supporters will visit the state Capitol Friday, despite a threatened protest by an anti-Muslim group.

The Number of the Day is the percentage of Tulsa County residents who claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit in 2012. In today’s Policy Note, the Washington Post examines the underrated economic benefit of parents who work less.

continue reading In The Know: Treasurer says he will sue state to protect unclaimed property beneficiaries if Legislature passes bill

Avoid ‘naked tax cuts with none of the pay fors’ (Guest post: Oklahoma Economic Report)

by | February 23rd, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Taxes | Comments (1)
State Treasurer Ken Miller

State Treasurer Ken Miller

This article originally appeared in State Treasurer Ken Miller’s monthly newsletter, the Oklahoma Economic Report.

At the dawn of a new legislative session, current government expenses once again exceed expected revenues and agencies are lining up with $2 billion in additional requests. Policymakers and the public are questioning whether Oklahoma taxes too little or too much, if the state has the right mix of taxes, and what the state should or should not be incentivizing through tax policy.

For years, the discussion about Oklahoma’s tax structure has focused on eliminating the income tax. Mostly ignored is how to replace the more than one-third of state revenue it generates. Nine states don’t tax personal income. Only one state, Alaska, eliminated the personal income tax, but it did so by depending almost entirely on oil and gas industry taxes. Two no-income tax states – Florida and Washington – have higher tax burdens than some income-tax-assessing states, including Oklahoma, according to the Tax Foundation. Tax burden is defined as the collective weight of all taxes levied on an individual.

continue reading Avoid ‘naked tax cuts with none of the pay fors’ (Guest post: Oklahoma Economic Report)

In The Know: Okla. debate over US history overshadows education cuts

by and | February 23rd, 2015 | Posted in 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.

While Oklahoma lawmakers debate controversial funding cuts for an Advanced Placement United States history course, critics said the measure is a politicized distraction that overshadows the greater threat to education posed by insufficient school funding. Tulsa high school teacher John Waldron wrote that the threat to AP U.S. history is part of a general assault on public education. Oklahoma City Schools superintendent Robert Neu wrote that the state Legislature is the greatest threat to Oklahoma public education today.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday in the case of a Tulsa Muslim who was denied a job at Abercrombie & Fitch because she wears a head covering. Nearly a third of Oklahoma’s 308 nursing homes experienced a drop in their public rating as the federal government adopted new, more rigorous standards. KGOU examined how large, off-the-top transfers to transportation has contributed to the funding crunch for other state needs.

In the latest OK PolicyCast, we share a panel discussion on what’s really going on in Oklahoma’s economy. The Tulsa World wrote that a bill that would undermine the Oklahoma Open Records Act sailed through a legislative committee Thursday without any discussion of its most pernicious provision. A new peer-reviewed paper published in the journal Science urges greater collaboration and transparency between industry, government agencies and researchers in responding to the consequences of earthquakes triggered by oil and gas activity.

The Tulsa World reported that a dramatic drop in the number of meth labs in Oklahoma has lead to Mexican cartels filling the void. The Number of the Day is Oklahoma’s place in Gallup’s 2014 State Well-Being Ranking. In today’s Policy Note, Bloomberg Business reported on how more religious groups in the South are joining the fight against predatory payday lending.

continue reading In The Know: Okla. debate over US history overshadows education cuts

The Weekly Wonk February 22, 2015

by | February 22nd, 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 on the OK Policy Blog, Executive Director David Blatt reviewed contentious policy issues that seem unlikely to appear on the legislative agenda this session. Sean Wallace, Executive Director of Oklahoma Corrections Professionals, called for the legislature to pass common-sense sentencing reform. Rachel V. Cobb of Suffolk University explained the benefits of online voter registration. A post on the Together Oklahoma blog shared seven ways to get your legislators’ attention.

On the OK PolicyCast, a panel from our 2015 State Budget Summit share insights on what’s really going on with the state economy. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunesStitcher, or RSS.

In his Journal Record column, Blatt discussed how restrictions on employment for ex-felons can make working a crime. Policy Director Gene Perry called for a range of policy shifts to allow ex-felons to readjust to rebuild their lives outside prison. Perry previously described three barriers to life after prison on the OK Policy Blog.

KGOU and Public Radio Tulsa shared excerpts of OK Policy’s statement responding to the news that the state budget hole had reached $600 million. The full statement can be found here.

continue reading The Weekly Wonk February 22, 2015

OK PolicyCast Episode 21: An Economic Check-Up for Oklahoma

by | February 20th, 2015 | Posted in Podcast | Comments (0)

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

economic_check-up_panelistsThis week we share a panel discussion from OK Policy’s 2015 State Budget Summit. In recent years Oklahoma has seen among the lowest unemployment and highest personal income growth in the nation. At the same time, there’s evidence that is rising tide is not lifting all boats. Oklahomans continue to struggle with relatively high levels of poverty, low educational attainment, and falling behind on many measures of quality of life.

In this informative and wide-ranging discussion, panelists Shelley Cadamy (Workforce Tulsa), Dr. Mickey Hepner (University of Central Oklahoma), Chuck Hoskin Jr. (Cherokee Nation), Rep. Dennis Casey (Oklahoma House of Representatives), and Dr. Dan Rickman (Oklahoma State University) share their insights about what’s really going on in Oklahoma’s economy.

You can download the episode here or play it in your browser:

In The Know: Proposed changes to Open Records Act pass committee

by | February 20th, 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.

A bill that would allow a public body to deny Open Records Requests if its officials believe the request would cause “excessive disruption of (its) essential function” has passed out of committee in the House. Senate panels passed measures that would ban texting while driving and smoking in vehicles if a minor is present. Writing in the OK Policy Blog, the Executive Director of Oklahoma Corrections Professionals urged lawmakers to pass common sense sentencing reforms.

The Tulsa World examined the impact of Wal-Mart’s wage increase in Oklahoma. The Cherokee Nation as adopted a new maternity leave policy that will provide female employees with eight weeks of fully paid leave. Oklahoma has received more than $10 million in federal grands for a program that provides home visitations to pregnant women and parents with young children.

This year’s flu season statewide death count has reached 84, a new record. StateImpact explained that increased municipal interest on drilling regulations has state lawmakers considering limits on “local control.”  The Number of the Day is the number of health plans selected in Oklahoma on Healthcare.gov from Nov. 15, 2014, through Feb. 15, 2015. In today’s Policy Note, the New York Times shares how unusually bipartisan coalitions have formed to advocate for criminal justice reform.

continue reading In The Know: Proposed changes to Open Records Act pass committee

Pass common sense sentencing reforms now (Guest post: Sean Wallace)

by | February 19th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Criminal Justice | Comments (5)
Sean Wallace

Sean Wallace

Sean Wallace is the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Corrections Professionals, an association representing employees of the Department of Corrections.

During her 2015 inaugural address, Governor Mary Fallin told the crowd assembled on the Capitol steps that one of the three areas Oklahoma “must improve or risk stifling our forward momentum” was “over-incarceration.” She went on to say that “year after year another issue that holds back our state, breaks apart our families and leads to poverty is crime and incarceration.”  

The Governor deserves credit for saying that Oklahoma locks up too many of its citizens because too few elected officials are willing to say that.  To do so is to risk being called “liberal” or “soft on crime.”

continue reading Pass common sense sentencing reforms now (Guest post: Sean Wallace)

In The Know: 125,000 Oklahomans have signed up for health insurance under Affordable Care Act

by and | February 19th, 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.

Federal health officials say nearly 125,000 Oklahomans have signed up for health insurance coverage through the federal marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act. Oklahoma’s judicial system is among those facing budget a budget cut this year, raising questions about whether it would be able to collect as much in court fines and fees that help fund other state agencies. Three weeks after the Tulsa County parks director recommended closing three county swimming pools, county officials on Tuesday took $500,000 from the Parks Department reserve fund to keep the Tulsa Jail operating through June.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said Wednesday that she is “partnering” with a Yukon lawmaker to revise a highly controversial bill that sought to ban the teaching of AP US History. On the OK Policy Blog, we looked at the hot-button issues that so far haven’t gotten much attention this legislative session. David Blatt’s Journal Record column discussed how for many ex-felons in Oklahoma, it can be illegal to get a job.

The Tulsa World editorial board argued in support of a bill to increase cigarette taxes as a way to partially close the state’s $611.3 million budget hole. A House committee approved three state question proposals to have the governor and lieutenant governor run on the same ticket, create a constitutional amendment to expand gun rights, and call a state constitutional convention. A bill to establish guidelines for court-ordered mental health treatment advanced out of committee after lawmakers moved its effective date to 2016, because they don’t have money to fund it this year.

As cities are considering tougher rules on fracking, state lawmakers have filed at least eight bills to take local control away from municipalities for regulating oil and gas drilling. A bill that would bar workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity will not get a hearing in the House. The Number of the Day is the percentage of Oklahomans age 18-64 who receive Social Security disability assistance. In today’s Policy Note, Bloomberg discusses a survey showing low-income Americans are far more worried about saving enough for retirement than other Americans.

continue reading In The Know: 125,000 Oklahomans have signed up for health insurance under Affordable Care Act

Sleeping dogs of the 2015 session

by | February 18th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Healthcare, Immigration, Poverty | Comments (0)
Photo by Chris Waits

Photo by Chris Waits

The 2015 session is now underway and it’s clear that this year, as always, will feature heated debates on a multitude of contentious issues, from proposals to expand school choice through vouchers and charter schools to efforts to rein in tax credits to hot-button social issues, such as guns, abortion, and same-sex marriage.

Less noted, but perhaps equally significant, is the low profile of several issues that have been highly contentious in recent years and that many expected to see back on the agenda in 2015. Here’s a review of four issues on which few, if any, bills have been filed and it now appears that minimal legislative action is likely this session.

continue reading Sleeping dogs of the 2015 session

In The Know: Oklahoma budget hole reaches $611 million

by and | February 18th, 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 agencies in Oklahoma are being told to brace for budget cuts after a state board led by Gov. Mary Fallin certified that the Legislature will have $611 million less to spend this year. OK Policy released a statement that the budget shortfall cannot be blamed only on the slowdown in the energy industry, as legislators have repeatedly voted to cut taxes and expand tax breaks. State officials said all options are on the table to address the budget hole, but ruled out canceling a cut to the top income rate that adds $50 million to the shortfall this year.

Two bills that would require stricter oversight of various state tax credits and incentives have cleared a Senate committee. Members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education approved measures that would boost teacher salaries and pump more money into Oklahoma classrooms, while acknowledging they do not know how to pay for them. Together Oklahoma discussed seven ways to get your legislators’ attention about an issue.

An Oklahoma Watch investigation showed how two private companies that provide banking services in prisons are extracting onerous fees from inmates’ family members. Tulsa has seen a rash of self-defense shootings this year by civilians or security guards. A House committee moved forward two bills that would discontinue state marriage licenses and forbid state and local government employees, including judges, from complying with federal rulings on same-sex marriage. Another Oklahoma bill would require couples to prove they don’t have a communicable disease before getting a marriage license.

Oklahoma’s attorney general is praising a ruling by a federal judge in South Texas who has temporarily blocked President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration. The number of heroin deaths increased tenfold during a recent five-year period, according to a recently updated state Health Department report, but the increase could be due to both more heroin usage and better reporting. Chesapeake Energy Corp filed suit Tuesday alleging its founder and former chief executive, Aubrey K. McClendon, stole confidential company data during his last months on the job in order to launch his new oil and gas empire.

Oklahoma City is looking at building a 29-mile pipeline to move more water from reservoirs in the south to the drought-stricken north side of the city. Efforts to save monarch butterflies in Oklahoma and nationwide are underway after years of declining population. The Number of the Day is the estimated lifetime earnings of an Oklahoma City Public Schools teacher, lowest out of all 125 large districts studied in a national report. In today’s Policy Note, Vox debunks the myth that there are more black men in prison than in college.

continue reading In The Know: Oklahoma budget hole reaches $611 million

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. 8
  10. 9
  11. ...
  12. 252