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Save the Date: Our 2019 State Budget Summit is January 24, 2019. Tickets will go on sale Monday, December 10th. 

In The Know: April 1, 2011

by | April 1st, 2011 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

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. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today on In The Know, the State Senate will not hear a bill that would establish a governing board for an Oklahoma health insurance exchange, a requirement of federal health care reform.  The House Insurance Committee passed a bill to allow out-of-state insurers to sell insurance in the state, despite concerns that plans might not have to provide Oklahoma-mandated coverage.  OK Policy Blog examines Gov. Fallin’s proposal for an executive ‘closing fund’ to lure businesses to the state, citing the fund’s history in Oklahoma and its mixed record in Texas.

A bill to strip the state Board of Education of control over the state Department of Education was sent to the Governor yesterday.  Senate Pro Tem Brian Bingman reiterated yesterday that cuts of 5 to 7 percent to the education budget are more likely than proposed 3 percent cuts.  Meanwhile, House Democrats criticize GOP leaders for missing their own deadline for submitting a common education budget.

Sen. Ralph Shortey was successful in amending a bill to allow lawmakers to carry weapons anywhere in the state.  The Daily O’Collegian writes in an opinion column about the need to raise student awareness about sexual assaults on Big XII campuses.  Sen. Jim Inhofe questions the Army Corps of Engineers about federal funding commitments for planned development on the Arkansas River.

In our policy note, a new report from the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute looks at the lessons learned about health insurance exchanges from Massachusetts and Utah.  Finally, April 1 brings a big announcement from Oklahoma Policy Institute.

More after the jump.

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OK Policy, OPI to merge

by | April 1st, 2011 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (8)

Oklahoma Policy Institute, the state policy think-tank, announced today, April 1st, that it is merging with OPI, the nail care and beauty industry giant.

“For three years, we’ve been engaged in a futile battle to convince people that we are OK Policy, not OPI,” stated David Blatt, Oklahoma Policy Institute’s Director.  “Reporters, legislators, Board members – no matter how often we repeated that we’re OK Policy, we kept getting called OPI. It’s time to face facts and embrace a new reality. Besides, OPI’s  line of Nail Envy Natural Nail Strengtheners promises to deliver the strong, natural nails that my staff and I deserve.”

If approved by the two boards, the new entity, which will be called OPI, will continue to produce issue briefs, fact sheets, and blog posts, but with a greater emphasis on nail-related policy concerns. Their first reports are expected to include: “The Case for Exempting Manicures from the Sales Tax”, “Expanding Access to Nail Lacquer Among Low- and Moderate-Income Households”, and “Brittle Nails, Brittle Tax Systems: Addressing the Skin-Care Structural Deficit.”

“Last fall we were very excited to announce our new fiscal analysis collection,” said OPI President & CEO George Schaeffer.  “Now by merging with OK Policy, we’ll be adding three new colors:  In The Red, Ad Valorem Violet and Budget Berry.”

The merger also includes the naming of Ron “Opie” Howard as Chairman of the Board.

A tale of two closing funds, the Chinese Communist Party, and genetically modified mice

by | March 31st, 2011 | Posted in Blog, Economy | Comments (0)

As the state continues to grapple with severe budget shortfalls, Gov. Fallin’s agenda has mostly involved regulatory changes and managing additional cuts to state services. Yet the governor does have one major new program on her wish list: a deal-closing fund to entice new businesses to Oklahoma. The “Oklahoma Quick Action Closing Fund” would allow the Governor and Department of Commerce to help cover businesses’ relocation and expansion costs, pay for maintaining existing jobs that are at risk of termination, or invest in capital improvements requested by a company.

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In The Know: March 31, 2011

by | March 31st, 2011 | Posted in Blog, 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. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today on In The Know, former State Senator Mike Morgan has been indicted on 63 counts of federal bribery, extortion and mail fraud for allegedly accepting illegal payments from companies while a legislator.  Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush met yesterday with GOP lawmakers in Oklahoma to highlight efforts to overhaul public education.  The Oklahoma Corporation Commission meets today to discuss whether crude oil supply exceeds capacity at the oil storage hub in Cushing and is driving down Oklahoma oil prices.

Two bills passed out of House committee yesterday that could delay pension benefits for future school teachers and state employees. Residents of Bokoshe, Oklahoma fear their high rates of cancer and asthma are linked to the town’s coal ash dump site.  A bill to ease Oklahoma’s prison population by making more people eligible for community sentencing cleared a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday.

The State Senate reinstated a $3.5 million tax credit for aerospace companies.  Oklahoma doctors criticize KV Pharmaceuticals for raising the price of a commonly used drug administered to pregnant women – from $15 per shot to $1,500 – after it was approved by the FDA.  The Tulsa World will soon no longer allow unlimited access to digital content to non-subscribers.

More after the jump.

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Upcoming Event: Loan Modification Scam Alert Summit, April 8th

by | March 30th, 2011 | Posted in Blog, Upcoming Events | Comments (1)

As home foreclosures continue to rise across the United States, loan modification scams are increasing at an alarming rate. Loan modification scams in Oklahoma have a devastating impact on families and communities.  A free luncheon event, “Loan Modification Scam Alert Summit” in Tulsa on Friday, April 8 from 11:30 -2:00pm will shed some light on the growing problem and share tools and resources to help combat loan scams.

The summit is sponsored by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s Oklahoma City Branch, NeighborWorks America, the Oklahoma Homebuyer Education Association and Oklahoma Assets.  The summit will provide you with:

  • Knowledge of foreclosure and loan modification scams,
  • Tools and resources to protect you and your community, and
  • Opportunity to network with service providers and community leaders engaged in this effort

The hosts encourage elected officials, community and faith-based leaders and housing agency representatives to support solutions that are reducing the devastating impact loan modification scams are having in Oklahoma.  The event will be held at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in downtown Tulsa on April 8 from 11:30 -2:00pm.  RSVP to Emerson Hall at Emhall@fdic.org by Thursday, March 31. Due to space limitations, pre-registration is required.

In The Know: March 30, 2011

by | March 30th, 2011 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

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. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today on In The Know, critics of immigration bills pending in the state legislature speak to lawmakers about their concerns that the bills could hurt the state’s efforts to attract and retain businesses.  An Oklahoman op-ed argues for real solutions to immigration concerns and against provisions in HB 1446 that would criminalize working immigrant families.  The OK Policy Blog reports on bills that would rescind higher education opportunities for the children of undocumented immigrants.

School officials across the state say budget cuts and a loss of stimulus dollars have forced cutbacks and school closuresTulsa parents speak out at a forum set up by the League of Women Voters about plans to close 17 local schools.  The State House, a day after Gov. Mary Fallin implored them for a quick and affirmative vote, approved two bills yesterday that change how defendants are treated in a lawsuit.  Gov. Fallin vowed to fight EPA oversight of hydraulic fracturing, a technique where sand and chemicals are injected underground to force natural gas to the surface, which some say could contaminate groundwater for drinking.

A new survey ranks Oklahoma as the second worst-funded state for government pensions.  A local pastor who has worked with sex offenders in Oklahoma for three years speaks out against a bill that would close a facility that houses more than 100 sex offenders.  Negotiations continue on a measure to allow municipalities to collect their own sales tax from local businesses.  Rep. David Dank praised the House Revenue and Taxation Committee for trading a sales tax exemption for rock quarries for one that benefits the surviving spouses of disabled veterans.

More below the jump.

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Dream Small: Lawmakers may rescind educational opportunities for children of undocumented immigrants

by | March 29th, 2011 | Posted in Blog, Education | Comments (2)

In the spring of 2003, Saul Munoz* was a Tulsa high school senior thinking seriously about his future.  Saul’s parents had moved the family to Oklahoma years earlier, leaving Mexico at a time of increasing violence and instability, and he was not a legal U.S. resident.  A member of the National Honor Society, ranked in the top ten in his class, and enrolling in extra math and science classes to graduate with a Certificate of Distinction, Saul worried constantly about what would happen after graduation.  He couldn’t enroll in college and even if he were allowed to enroll he knew his family would struggle with the tuition payments.  His teachers, unaware of his immigration status, peppered him with questions about his plans and couldn’t understand why a student so smart and so clearly driven was not more proactive about applying for admission and scholarships. In February, a few months before graduation, Saul heard about a bill making its way through the state legislature.

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In The Know: March 29, 2011

by | March 29th, 2011 | Posted in Blog, 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. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today on In The Know, Tulsa Public Schools released proposals to close up to 17 schools to save money. OK Policy has a new fact sheet and blog post looking at oil and gas tax breaks in Oklahoma. The Tulsa World reported on OK Policy’s research here.

In a party line vote, the Senate General Government Committee approved repealing the Municipal Employees Collective Bargaining Act. Edmond is filing a lawsuit against its police union after an arbitration board ruled in the union’s favor on a salary dispute. The Senate Education Committee voted to expand the State Superintendent’s powers over the Board of Education and end trial de novo for teachers. Governor Fallin is pushing to fast track several bills in the legislature, including the measure to begin implementing health care reform. Oklahoma Catholic Church leaders released a statement calling for immigration laws to treat the undocumented with dignity.

A bill requiring DHS to conduct deeper background checks before reuniting children with their parents is estimated to cost $450k and may not have saved Aja Johnson, since her biological father had custody of her when she was kidnapped and killed by Lester Hobbs. The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would put a trailer park and ministry for rehabilitating sex offenders out of business by making stricter a state law that bans convicted sex offenders from living together. NewsOK warns against a mandate that OETA broadcast legislative proceedings without any extra money to do so.

More below the jump.

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I don't need it but I'll take it – Revisiting oil and gas tax breaks

by | March 28th, 2011 | Posted in Blog, Taxes | Comments (0)

A recent news report examining proposals to limit the federal tax deduction for charitable giving concluded with a comment that gets to the crux of the debate over tax breaks:

As one donor explained, he doesn’t give to charity to get a deduction — but he’ll take it if it’s there.

It seems as though Oklahoma oil and gas producers think the same way.

State tax breaks ranked last among 10 variables cited by Oklahoma oil industry executives as affecting their decision to drill, according to the findings of  a non-scientific 2008 survey by Oklahoma City University economics professor Steven Agee. However, most producers will gladly take them when they’re there: Agee found that 83 percent of respondents had claimed a gross production tax rebate.

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In The Know: March 28, 2011

by | March 28th, 2011 | Posted in Blog, 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. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today on In The Know, Governor Fallin is calling on the legislature to come up with more alternatives to reduce the severity of budget cuts to core state agencies. With a major corrections reform bill heading to the full Senate, House Speaker Kris Steele said it is not the end of needed reforms. Oklahoma district attorneys have also come out in support of more alternatives to prison. State officials disputed some numbers in a study on reforming Oklahoma’s parole system, but board members say they agree with most of the recommendations. The Tulsa World has more on the Innocence Clinic being established by OCU law school to identify and help wrongfully convicted Oklahomans.

Analysis by the Community Service Council shows major demographic changes coming to Tulsa, as the population ages and grows more diverse. Today’s Policy Note looks at the challenges of many U.S. counties on the losing end of population shifts. At their convention this weekend, the Tulsa GOP voted to take a harder line on requiring public officials to adhere to the most conservative position on guns, abortion, and tax cuts. The OK Policy Blog reports on Governor Fallin’s message to insurance underwriters that like it or not, health reform is “still the law of the land.”

Residents of eastern Oklahoma are upset over the Tourism Department’s plan to close seven state parks, most on the Oklahoma-Arkansas border.

The state’s debt to the higher education system is growing, as a commitment to provide matching funds for private donors who fund endowed chairs remains suspended during the budget crisis. After a year of collaborations with translators from the tribe, the Cherokee language is now searchable on Google. NewsOK calls for hitting fast-forward on providing mental illness records to the national gun registry.

You can hear OK Policy Director David Blatt today at 11am on KGOU’s Oklahoma Voices speaking about pensions, health care reform and other issues. Read on for more.

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