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 or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zebre.
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Today you should know that Michigan authorities filed criminal antitrust charges against Chesapeake Energy and Delaware-based Encana Oil and Gas for allegedly collaborating to avoid bidding against each other for oil and gas leases. Some of the nation’s biggest corporations – including Google, Facebook, Starbucks and Pfizer – said Oklahoma’s same-sex marriage ban dissuades them from expanding business here. In the Journal Record, David Blatt discussed how Oklahoma lawmakers are flying blind when it comes to deciding tax and budget policy.
On the OK Policy Blog, the latest post in the “Neglected Oklahoma” series shares the story of an Oklahoma nursing student who was ripped off by a private college. A group presented state lawmakers with a petition signed by more than 7,000 Oklahomans supporting Common Core education standards. A bill to force people arrested for certain crimes to submit DNA samples was rejected by the Oklahoma House.
Oklahoma City is planning a $70 million expansion of Will Rogers World Airport to improve security check-in procedures and add three new gates. House Democrats announced unanimous support for a bill to fund completion of the American Indian Cultural Center. Tulsa officials said residents should not be surprised to see a reduction in services over the next few years as the city struggles with flat revenues.
The Number of the Day is how many Oklahomans were lifted out of poverty by the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. In today’s Policy Note, the Center for American Progress discusses what a report by Congressman Paul Ryan got right and what it got wrong about early childhood education.
In The News
Criminal charges filed against Chesapeake Energy in Michigan
Michigan authorities filed criminal antitrust charges Wednesday against Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Delaware-based Encana Oil and Gas USA for allegedly collaborating in 2010 to avoid bidding against each other for oil and gas leases. Prosecutors claim Chesapeake and Encana executives conspired through a series of emails to divide up oil and gas leases in Michigan, and that the corporations crafted a draft agreement, according to the charges. The emails, made public in 2012 by Reuters, included discussions between the companies’ executives regarding an agreement to split up Michigan counties so that each company would be an exclusive bidder for both public and private leases.
Some big corporations says Oklahoma same-sex marriage ban causes them problems
Some of the nation’s biggest corporations – including Google, Facebook, Starbucks and Pfizer – say laws in Oklahoma and other states banning same-sex marriage pose administrative burdens and force them to violate their principles. In a friend-of-the-court brief filed with the federal appeals court that is hearing same-sex marriage cases from Oklahoma and Utah, 46 companies and business groups said they are ultimately hurt by laws they consider discriminatory. “The mandate in Utah, Oklahoma and other states requires that we single out colleagues with same-sex partners and treat them as a separate and unequal class as compared to employees with heterosexual partners when dealing with state marital benefits,” the brief says.
Prosperity Policy: Flying Blind
Oklahoma recently tied for last place in a national report evaluating how states conduct long-term budget planning. While some in the state’s budget office took issue with how the rankings were calculated, the Oklahoma Senate’s recent passage of tax-cut legislation confirms that lawmakers are flying blind when it comes to deciding tax and budget policy. “When state policymakers are writing a budget, they should be mindful of the future, not just the present,” the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said, rightly, in its report.
Rip Off U
“I’m mad. Really mad. I’m stuck with thousands of dollars in debt for training that I didn’t get. The State of Oklahoma pushed me into a training program that was worthless and expensive. I spent 10 months and $15,900 on a stinking pile of nothing. They ripped me off.” Marsha Bradley’s life started to unravel in 2007. “My mom’s breast cancer returned. She didn’t make it. My brother and sister were still in high school so I moved them in with me. I couldn’t keep all those balls in the air. I lost my job.” She applied to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) for assistance.
Lawmakers receive petitions backing Common Core standards
A group supporting Oklahoma’s Common Core education standards presented state lawmakers Wednesday with more than 7,000 electronic signatures asking for continued support of the stiffer education standards. The signatures were obtained through an Internet petition circulated by a group called The Expect More OK! Coalition. Amber England, governmental affairs director of The Expect More OK! Coalition, said petitioners wanted to show the Legislature that there is a lot of support for Common Core among Oklahoma parents, teachers and business organizations.
House rejects bill to expand DNA database
A plan to force people arrested for certain crimes to submit DNA samples for a law enforcement database was rejected Wednesday by the Oklahoma House, despite an emotional plea from the bill’s author about a brutal Oklahoma murder solved because of the database. The House voted 51-35 against the bill by Rep. Lee Denney, R-Stillwater, who said the measure would help solve cases and only target people arrested for certain violent felonies. But Republicans and Democrats raised concerns about targeting people who haven’t been convicted of a crime and asked what would happen to DNA profiles in cases where people are acquitted or had charges expunged.
Oklahoma City unveils plan for $70 million airport expansion
Administrators are planning a $70 million project at Will Rogers World Airport to expand the terminal, improve security check-in procedures and add a concourse with three new gates. Six more gates eventually could be added to the new east concourse, bringing the airport’s total to 26, the city’s airports director, Mark Kranenburg, told the city council on Tuesday. A larger terminal and three new gates could open by 2017. The project would be financed by a combination of grants and loans, with airport revenues and charges on passengers expected to be sufficient to repay the debt over a 30-year period.
House Democrats announce support for American Indian Museum
Oklahoma House Democrats on Wednesday announced their unanimous support for a Senate bill that would allocate $40 million from the state’s Unclaimed Property Fund to help complete Oklahoma City’s American Indian Cultural Center and Museum. The bill has already been approved by the state Senate, but House Speaker Jeff Hickman has said previously that the bill received a chilly reception when it was initially presented to House Republicans, who control a majority of House votes. Rep. Scott Inman, the House minority leader, urged Hickman to allow a vote on the House floor, noting that only 22 of the 72 House Republicans would need to vote for the measure to obtain its passage.
Tulsa service cutbacks possible with revenue shortfall
Tulsans should not be surprised to see a reduction in services over the next few years as the city struggles to make ends meet in a time of flat revenues, city officials said Wednesday. What those reductions would be has yet to be determined, but the city wants to keep residents aware of the possibility, Communications Director Kim MacLeod said. With the expectation that the shortfall could grow as high as $10 million by the end of the fiscal year June 30, the city has already made $6.7 million in cuts to this year’s general fund budget primarily by not filling funded positions.
Quote of the Day
This mandate upsets our business philosophy and prevents our companies from reaching our full economic potential because it dissuades those employees from living and working in the jurisdictions where we do, or want to do, business.
-A friend-of-the-court brief filed by 46 companies and business groups, including Google, Facebook, Starbucks and Pfizer, weighing in against Oklahoma’s same-sex marriage ban (Source: http://bit.ly/1e5deA4)
Number of the Day
Number of Oklahoman lifted out of poverty by the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.
What the House Budget Committee got wrong and what it got right on early childhood education
On Monday, the House Budget Committee released a report on a broad range of social service and education programs. The report addresses early childhood education programs, including Head Start and the Child Care and Development Fund. Here is a look at what the report got right and what it got wrong.
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