In 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.
Although state general revenues grew last month, gross production tax collections were below last year’s March collections by 65.9 percent, or $25.9 million. In the Tulsa World, Policy Director Gene Perry of OK Policy and Jonathan Small of OCPA shared their differing perspectives on whether this year’s budget shortfall will allow the state to continue funding core functions of government like education and roads. Oklahoma has options for closing the budget gap.
Speaking to a Senate appropriations committee on Tuesday, ODHMSAS commissioner Terri White explained that the state has never adequately funded the mental health system and said that flat funding, rather than an increase for her agency, will result in thousands of Oklahomans losing services. The Oklahoman shared how Mike Brose and the organization he directs, Mental Health Association Oklahoma, work decrease stigma around mental illness. A new post on the OK Policy Blog discussed how Congress’s recent approval of a higher federal match to fund children’s health care signals that fears the government would fail to hold up its obligation to fund health coverage to low-income Oklahomans are unfounded. Although some politicians blamed the federal government when Oklahoma’s federal match decreased last year, the real problem was closer to home.
The Oklahoma Chapter of the NAACP and has asked state Attorney General Scott Pruitt and the US Department of Justice to investigate the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, Rep. Mike Shelton has called for the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation to step in, and the Oklahoma Chapter of the ACLU has called for Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz’s resignation over the shooting of an unarmed man by a reserve deputy. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office has said that some training requirements for the deputy might have been waived. Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett sought to clarify that the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office operates independently of the City of Tulsa and the Tulsa Police Department.
A bill that would allow charter schools to expand statewide passed through the Senate Thursday, and now awaits Gov. Fallin’s signature. Amendments added to a controversial “right to farm” bill would allow individual counties to vote whether to adopt the measure rather than putting it before a statewide vote to amend the Oklahoma Constitute. Legislation that would cut Oklahoma’s property tax exemption for new wind power developments passed through the House and now proceeds to the Senate, which already approved an earlier version of the bill. Oklahoma now ranks fourth nationwide for wind energy produced.
The Tulsa City Council voted unanimously Thursday night to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of classes protected under the city’s fair housing policy. The ordinance amendment now goes to the mayor for his signature. A Cleveland County judge has set a hearing for today on a gun advocacy group’s lawsuit challenging a firearms ban at the upcoming Norman Music Festival. The Number of the Day is 472 – the number of federal public corruption convictions in Oklahoma from 1976 through 2010. In today’s Policy Note, The Atlantic notes that more than half of all prisoners in the US are mentally ill, and very few are receiving treatment for this illness in prison or jail.
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