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In The Know: New tax revenue that may never be collected certified by state board

by | June 20th, 2018 | 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.

In The News

New Tax Revenue That May Never Be Collected Certified by State Board: The Oklahoma Board of Equalization on Monday certified nearly $461 million in new revenue that may never be collected if an effort succeeds to repeal the tax bill passed in March. The board, composed of Gov. Mary Fallin and other elected officials, met to make an official adjustment to estimated revenue for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The adjustment was needed to include the estimated revenue from increases to taxes on cigarettes, motor fuels and some oil and gas production [NewsOK]. Tulsa Superintendent Deborah Gist said the district has no alternative but stipends if it’s going to pay the raise and doing otherwise could potentially bankrupt the district [Tulsa World]. What we know – and don’t know – about the revenue bill veto challenge [OKPolicy].

Oklahoma City schools reduce suspensions, but black student rate remains high: Over the past few years, Oklahoma City schools have significantly reduced the number of students it suspends each year. However, the disproportionate suspension rate of black students remains high. Oklahoma City Public Schools issued 40 percent fewer suspensions during the 2016-17 school year, compared to four years earlier. But of the 3,382 students suspended during the 2016-17 school year, 44 percent were black, despite the fact that black students make up just 24 percent of district enrollment [NewsOK]. Overuse of suspensions can seriously harm kids’ educational futures [OKPolicy].

Accepting Our Highest-In-The-World Incarceration Rate Means Believing That Oklahomans Are the Worst People: We knew the day would come when Oklahoma surpassed Louisiana as the highest-incarcerating state in the highest-incarcerating country in the world. After Louisiana’s legislature passed a sweeping criminal justice reform package in 2017, Oklahoma Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh said that he “expect[s] Oklahoma’s incarceration rate to eventually be the country’s highest.” As it turns out, Oklahoma has had the highest incarceration rate in the world since the end of 2016; we just didn’t know it because federal statistics are released on a year-long lag [OKPolicy].

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Accepting our highest-in-the-world incarceration rate means believing that Oklahomans are the worst people

by | June 19th, 2018 | Posted in Criminal Justice | Comments (1)

We knew the day would come when Oklahoma surpassed Louisiana as the highest-incarcerating state in the highest-incarcerating country in the world. After Louisiana’s legislature passed a sweeping criminal justice reform package in 2017, Oklahoma Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh said that he “expect[s] Oklahoma’s incarceration rate to eventually be the country’s highest.”

As it turns out, Oklahoma has had the highest incarceration rate in the world since the end of 2016; we just didn’t know it because federal statistics are released on a year-long lag. This bitter milestone should be an occasion to reflect on what this says about our state and our current justice reform debates. We must begin to ask opponents of reform why Oklahoma deserves to maintain the highest incarceration rate in the world, and what that says about their view of our fellow citizens.

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In The Know: Revenue failure and 6.5 percent budget cuts expected if teacher funding bill repealed

by | June 19th, 2018 | 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.

In The News

Revenue Failure a Concern If Teacher Pay Raise Funding Bill Repealed, Panel Told: If an effort to repeal a tax hike for teacher pay raises is successful, the state would see a revenue failure, the Board of Equalization was told Monday. The end result would be across-the-board cuts to state agencies of about 6.5 percent, including to the Oklahoma Department of Education, said Denise Northrup, Office of Management and Enterprise Services director [Tulsa World]. What we know – and don’t know – about the revenue bill veto challenge [OKPolicy].

Out-Of-State Money Floods Oklahoma Congressional Campaigns: Out-of-state interests are increasingly spending money and spending it earlier in attempt to influence Oklahoma’s congressional races. Recently released campaign finance records show nearly half of all money raised so far among the 39 candidates running for one of the state’s five U.S. House seats has come from out of state. An Oklahoma Watch analysis of the filings found that individuals or political action committees based outside the state have spent nearly $3.2 million on the campaigns [Oklahoma Watch].

Oklahomans Can Vote Starting Thursday: County election boards across the state will open for early voting from Thursday to Saturday this week. Voters will be able to cast their ballots in the primary election for statewide and local races, along with State Question 788 that, if passed, would approve state-sanctioned medical marijuana. Election Day is June 26, a Tuesday, but Oklahoma law allows registered voters to cast in-person absentee ballots at their county election boards before each election on Thursday and Friday between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., then on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. [NewsOK]. Oklahoma 2018 State Questions and Elections [OKPolicy].

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As election day approaches, support for SQ 788 may be narrowing (Capitol Update)

by | June 18th, 2018 | Posted in Capitol Updates | Comments (4)

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.

The June 26 primary elections are coming on quickly now. A lot of candidates, both new political entries and incumbents are starting to feel the pressure. In most campaigns the early months are consumed by planning, making contacts with potential supporters and the all-important fundraising. This is especially true for non-incumbents. They are generally not public figures yet and don’t have as much access to campaign funds as those already in office.

Early on there’s not much time to think about whether you’ll win or lose. You just keep your head down and plow ahead. But now, with only a few days left it begins to sink in that this will soon be over. There is an unavoidable answer coming on a day certain, June 26th. Either the candidate will fulfill his dream of serving in public office or he’ll return to whatever he was doing before — or perhaps begin to find a different dream. For incumbents, it’s a day of reckoning. Most did in office what they thought was right and what they thought their constituents wanted them to do. They’ll find out suddenly and publicly if voters approve. Elections can be cruel. The best people don’t always win, and sometimes good people get turned out. It’s why most people would never consider putting their name on a ballot.

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In The Know: Oklahoma optometry petition gathers enough signatures to appear on ballot

by | June 18th, 2018 | 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.

In The News

Oklahoma Optometry Petition May Appear on Ballot: A state question that would allow eye doctors to practice inside Oklahoma retail establishments has enough signatures to appear on the November ballot if approved. The Oklahoman reports that Oklahoma’s secretary of state has certified nearly 250,000 signatures gathered to put the state question up for a vote. The petition needed just 123,725 valid signatures of registered voters [AP News]. Oklahoma 2018 State Questions and Elections [OKPolicy].

Oklahoma’s Medical Marijuana Proposal Borrows from Other States’ Existing Policies, but Opponents Cite That as Cause for Concern: Proponents of legalized medical marijuana in Oklahoma had 30 other states’ policies to look to in drafting a ballot measure, but opponents of State Question 788 say those trailblazing states set a bad example. “All of 788 is borrowed from policies in other states,” said Frank Grove, chairman of the Vote Yes on 788 political action committee and co-author of the state question that will go before Oklahoma voters in the June 26 primary [Tulsa World]. Fact sheet: State Question 788 – medical marijuana legalization initiative [OKPolicy].

Oklahoma Gubernatorial Candidates Split by Party on Expanding Medicaid: After months of considering the possible fiscal and political impacts, Gov. Mary Fallin decided in late 2012 not to expand Medicaid, the state-federal health care program for the poor. If Fallin is replaced by a Republican, that posture will remain. If a Democrat wins the gubernatorial race, there will be an immediate push to add more than 200,000 Oklahomans to the Medicaid rolls [NewsOK]. Gubernatorial candidates lay out their platforms at Oklahoma Press Association meeting [Tulsa World]. Expanding Medicaid would give Oklahoma the freedom to take better care of our people, grow the economy, and save state funds [OKPolicy].

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The Weekly Wonk: Medical cannabis & SQ 788, immigration rhetoric v. facts, and the ongoing battle to reduce incarceration

by | June 17th, 2018 | Posted in Weekly Wonk | Comments (0)

What’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

In this week’s episode of the OK PolicyCast, Director of Strategy and Communications Gene Perry sat down with Elizabeth Nichols to talk about medical cannabis and State Question 788. Nichols is an attorney who has worked extensively with the emerging cannabis industry in Oklahoma and nearby states. Criminal Justice Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler cut through the noise on immigration rhetoric and urged us to consider the facts regarding undocumented Oklahomans.

In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis spoke about Oklahoma’s ongoing battle to reduce incarceration and increase justice, particularly now that a new report shows Oklahoma is number one for incarcerating its citizens. In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt discussed the increasing suicide rates and the need to fund critical suicide prevention programs, like those administered by Oklahoma’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

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In The Know: Battle looms over effort to move Oklahoma opioid Lawsuit to federal court

by | June 15th, 2018 | 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.

In The News

Battle Looms over Effort to Move Oklahoma Opioid Lawsuit to Federal Court: Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter vowed Thursday to fight an effort by pharmaceutical companies to have a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers decided in federal court. Attorneys for the state plan to ask an Oklahoma City federal judge to conduct an emergency hearing, where they can argue drug company attorneys breached a contractual agreement by transferring the case. State attorneys will ask that the case be sent back to Cleveland County District Court and allowed to proceed, Hunter said [NewsOK].

State Question 788 foes report $453,000 media buy to combat medical cannabis ballot measure: The coalition of business, medical, religious and law enforcement organizations opposed to State Question 788 laid out $453,000 this week for advertising to combat the medical cannabis ballot measure, according to independent expenditure reports filed with the Oklahoma State Ethics Commission. The vast majority, $443,000, went to an Oklahoma City marketing company for media buys [Tulsa World]. SQ 788 Fact Sheet [OK Policy].

Justice Patrick Wyrick Wins U.S. Senate Committee Vote: Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Patrick Wyrick cleared a major hurdle Thursday in his bid to become a federal judge. The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee approved Wyrick’s nomination along party lines, with 11 Republicans voting in support and 10 Democrats opposing his nomination to sit on the federal bench in the Western District of Oklahoma. His nomination overcame concerns about his ties to former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who now serves as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency [NewsOK].

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In The Know: Oklahoma comes in 51st for summer school lunch participation, officially

by | June 14th, 2018 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The Know].In 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.

In The News

Oklahoma Comes in 51st for Summer School Lunch Participation, Officially: Oklahoma officially ranks last in summer lunch participation for 2017, the same spot it held in 2016. That’s according to the Food Research and Action Center’s review of programs to feed low-income kids last year in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report shows fewer than one in 20 kids eligible for free and reduced-price lunches received summer meals [Public Radio Tulsa]. Why is Oklahoma worst in the nation for feeding hungry kids in the summer? [OKPolicy]

Magnetic Survey Surprises Scientists with ‘Numerous’ Potential Faults in Oklahoma near Perfect to Host Earthquakes: Underground imaging of seismically active swaths of Oklahoma revealed the state’s “basement” granite rock is near perfect orientation for faults to rupture, suggesting there are “numerous” faults prone to earthquakes, according to a recent scientific study. Aerial surveys were flown from August to October in north-central Oklahoma to collect magnetic data on geologic structures deep underneath the state. Estimating the state’s seismic hazard is difficult because the earthquakes predominantly pop off on faults previously unknown to scientists [Tulsa World].

On Immigration Rhetoric, Consider the Facts: Undocumented Oklahomans are woven into the fabric of our communities in countless ways. Many have lived here for decades as they raise U.S.-born children, and they often work difficult, labor-intensive jobs that few legal residents will take. As the race to replace Governor Fallin heats up, it’s disappointing – if unsurprising – that dubious claims about the effects of undocumented immigration have appeared in candidates’ platforms [OKPolicy].

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On immigration rhetoric, consider the facts

by | June 13th, 2018 | Posted in Blog, Immigration | Comments (1)

Undocumented Oklahomans are woven into the fabric of our communities in countless ways. Many have lived here for decades as they raise U.S.-born children, and they often work difficult, labor-intensive jobs that few legal residents will take. As the race to replace Governor Fallin heats up, it’s disappointing – if unsurprising – that dubious claims about the effects of undocumented immigration have appeared in candidates’ platforms. 

While the value of undocumented immigrants to our state can’t be measured merely by their economic costs and benefits, it’s important to set the record straight: by any fair estimate, undocumented Oklahomans contribute a great deal to our economy and state tax base, and they would contribute even more if granted legal status. Voters should recognize that Oklahoma is much better off when our communities unite to reject appeals that minimize the contributions of our neighbors.

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In The Know: Oklahoma health agency restores child abuse prevention fund

by | June 13th, 2018 | 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.

In The News

Oklahoma Health Agency Restores Child Abuse Prevention Fund: Oklahoma health officials say they are restoring funding for mandated child abuse prevention programs. The state Department of Health says it will restore $2 million for contracts for the Office of Child Abuse Prevention for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Former agency leaders cut funding for the current fiscal year after announcing a budget shortfall. State auditors and investigators later said money was available, but that funds had been moved into areas that made it appear unavailable [AP News].

Oklahoma Revenue Collections Top Estimate by 20 Percent: State finance officials say collections to Oklahoma’s main operating fund exceeded the monthly estimate by nearly 20 percent, a jump attributed largely to continued economic recovery. The Office of Management and Enterprise Services reported Tuesday that collections to the General Revenue Fund in May totaled nearly $500 million, about $82 million more than expected. OMES Director Denise Northrup says lower-than-expected corporate and personal income tax refunds are partially responsible for the spike [KOCO].

The Effort to Overturn Funding for Teacher Pay-Raises Explained: The Oklahoma Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday over the legality of a petition to overturn new state taxes. The petition, which is being circulated by an anti-tax group called Oklahoma Tax Payers Unite, seeks to overturn HB1010xx, a $430 million tax package lawmakers passed this year. The legislation raises taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel, imposes a new tax on cigarettes and little cigars and increases oil and gas taxes from 2 percent to 5 percent [StateImpact Oklahoma]. Here’s What we know – and don’t know – about the revenue bill veto challenge [OKPolicy].

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