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In The Know: OK ranked high for rate of uninsured & rate of women killed by men; #okleg freshmen class ‘almost unprecedented’…

by | September 19th, 2018 | Posted in 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 high on uninsured list: Although Oklahoma’s surging uninsured rate problem is multifaceted and difficult to pin down, the solution might not be, according to medical professionals and analysts considering new U.S. Census data. The recently released information shows Oklahoma’s uninsured rate is now the second highest in the nation. About 14.2 percent of Oklahoma’s nearly 4 million residents had no medical coverage in 2017, up from 13.8 percent in 2016. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma continues to rank high in rate of women killed by men, study shows: Oklahoma ranks 11th in the nation in the rate of women killed by men, according to a study released Tuesday. Thirty-one women were killed by men in Oklahoma in single-victim, single-offender incidents in 2016, a homicide rate of 1.57 per 100,000 females. Oklahoma’s overall ranking worsened slightly from last year’s report, when the state ranked 15th in the nation. [NewsOK]

#OKleg freshman class size to be ‘almost unprecedented’: Even if no incumbents lose their November general elections, the 57th Oklahoma Legislature will feature a large freshman class of 44 new members in the House of Representatives and 12 in the State Senate. At a minimum, then, 43 percent and 25 percent of members will be new in each chamber, respectively. But numerous other legislative seats are up in the air for the Nov. 6 election. [NonDoc]

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OKPolicyCast 37: Together Oklahoma (with Sabine Brown)

by | September 18th, 2018 | Posted in Podcast | Comments (0)

The OKPolicyCast is hosted by Gene Perry with production help from Jessica Vazquez. You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre. If you have any questions for the OKPolicyCast, topics you’d like us to cover, or people you want us to interview, you can reach us at policycast@okpolicy.org.

Sabine Brown

In this episode, I spoke with Sabine Brown, who is the outreach and advocacy coordinator for Oklahoma Policy Institute. Through that work, Sabine heads up Together Oklahoma, a grassroots coalition with chapters across the state of people joining with their neighbors to advocate for better public policy. We talked about how Sabine got into this work, and how many others have become members and leaders of Together Oklahoma without having a lot of prior experience working on state policy or advocacy. It’s a very useful conversation for anyone who may be a frequent follower of OK Policy’s information but now wants to know what you can do with it.

You can download the episode here, subscribe at the links above, or play it in your browser:

Oklahoma poverty numbers are part of a larger picture (Capitol Update)

by | September 18th, 2018 | Posted in Blog, Capitol Updates, Poverty & Opportunity | Comments (0)

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.

There’s an interesting, unsettling piece in a recent update by Oklahoma Policy Institute’s Courtney Cullison. It reviews new data from the Census Bureau that reminds us we are behind in Oklahoma when it comes to Oklahomans living in poverty and without health insurance. In 2017, nearly 1 in 6 Oklahomans (15.8 percent) were living with income below the poverty line ($24,600 for a family of four) before taxes. Worse, more than one in five (21.5 percent) of Oklahoma children live in a household below the poverty line. At the same time, Oklahoma’s uninsured rate increased to 14.2 percent (up from 13.8 percent in 2016.) This is the first increase in our uninsured rate since 2010 and puts us second highest in the nation of people uninsured.

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In The Know: OK candidate spending reaches $33M; education is top issue for voters; OKC city manager to retire…

by | September 18th, 2018 | Posted in 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 candidate spending reaches $33 million as cash flows through multiple sources: Oklahoma candidates have already spent $33 million running for state offices this election cycle, with nearly half of that being pumped into the governor’s race. Another $2 million has flowed through outside groups, with most of that money targeted at the Republican races for governor and attorney general. [NewsOK] 2018 Oklahoma State Questions and Elections [OK Policy]

Pollsters: Education is the top issue for voters in November: Oklahoma’s November ballots will include races for nearly 100 lawmakers, including re-election bids for some of the state’s most high-profile members. In addition to the statewide races for governor and other top executive positions, a majority of state lawmaker seats are up for grabs. [Journal Record 🔒] A former Oklahoma teacher of the year has five ideas for how you can honor the work of public school teachers [Stephanie Canada-Phillips / Tulsa World]

Oklahoma City’s longtime city manager, Jim Couch, to retire in January: Jim Couch announced Monday that he would retire in January after 18 years as city manager of Oklahoma City. Couch, 62, said after 31 years with the city he feels like he has “another chapter” to write in his career, though he has no particular plans. A South Dakota native, he said he plans to stay in Oklahoma City. [NewsOK]

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In The Know: Dark money spending record; renewed push for lobbying ban; Walmart officials defend SQ 793…

by | September 17th, 2018 | Posted in 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

Dark-money’ spending hits record in Oklahoma, with surge to come: Political spending by secretive groups that are allowed to hide their donors have already spent what is likely a record amount this year to influence Oklahoma political races. An Oklahoma Watch review of campaign finance records found so-called “dark money” groups had spent nearly $2.7 million on Oklahoma’s legislative, statewide and congressional races by the end of August. [Oklahoma Watch] Oklahoma’s biggest dark-money players [Oklahoma Watch]

Ethics Commission continues to push for two-year ban on lobbying by former lawmakers: The Oklahoma Ethics Commission on Friday voted unanimously to resubmit a rule to lawmakers that would ban them from lobbying for two years once they leave office. The ban also would cover chief administrative officers for state agencies and other elected state officials. Last year, lawmakers rejected the rule. [Tulsa World]

Walmart officials respond to criticism of State Question 793, which allows eye exams in big box stores: Walmart officials on Thursday disputed claims that passage of a state question could result in inferior eye care in their stores. At issue is State Question 793. If approved by voters, it would let big-box stores such as Walmart offer eye care. It would also amend the constitution. [Tulsa World] State Question 793 fact sheet [OK Policy]

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The Weekly Wonk: Falling behind on poverty & uninsured rate—again; raising the minimum wage; we’re all in it together…

by | September 16th, 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

This week, Economic Opportunity and Financial Security Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison published an analysis of new Census data which shows that Oklahoma fell further behind the U.S. on poverty and uninsured rate for the second consecutive year. Fall Intern Deon Osborne pointed to the citizen petition as Oklahoma’s best chance at raising the minimum wage

In his weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt wrote about Chobani’s enlightened view of corporate responsibility which recognizes that we’re all in it together. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update described the cost of maintaining the world’s highest incarceration rate

OK Policy in the News

Policy Director Carly Putnam spoke with The Journal Record about the need to find affordable solutions to health insurance in Oklahoma. Our fact sheet on State Question 798 was cited by CHNI

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In The Know: OK further behind on poverty and uninsured; candidates endorse municipal property tax…

by | September 14th, 2018 | Posted in 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 Census data shows that Oklahoma fell further behind the U.S. on poverty and uninsured rate for second consecutive year: Oklahoma lags behind the nation in our efforts to help families get ahead. New data from the Census Bureau shows that poverty in Oklahoma is still above the national average. In 2017, nearly 1 in 6 Oklahomans (15.8 percent) were living with income below the poverty line ($24,600 for a family of four) before taxes. [OK Policy

Oklahoma climbed to third-heaviest state in 2017: Oklahoma jumped to the third-heaviest state in 2017, from the already unenviable position of eighth, according to the Trust for America’s Health’s new report on obesity. The obesity rate increased to 36.5 percent, making Oklahoma one of seven states where more than 35 percent of adults have obesity. Only West Virginia and Mississippi had higher obesity rates. [NewsOK]

Legislators seek alternatives to school suspensions: Some of Oklahoma’s top mental health and juvenile justice officials are helping lawmakers as they call for the state to reconsider its use of out-of-school suspension, especially among young students. There has been a push in the Legislature to require schools to consider alternatives to suspension or to mandate an appeals process for children who get suspended. [Journal Record]

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New Census data shows that Oklahoma fell further behind the U.S. on poverty and uninsured rate for second consecutive year

Oklahoma lags behind the nation in our efforts to help families get ahead. New data from the Census Bureau shows that poverty in Oklahoma is still above the national average. In 2017, nearly 1 in 6 Oklahomans (15.8 percent) were living with income below the poverty line ($24,600 for a family of four) before taxes.  And though the percentage of Oklahoma families living in poverty is lower than it was last year (16.3 percent), the distance between Oklahoma’s poverty rate and the national rate has widened.

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In The Know: Public defender system needs money; growth of chicken farms examined; raising the minimum wage…

by | September 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

Public defender system needs more money, observers say: Oklahoma’s state-appointed attorneys are seeing massive caseloads as their budgets decrease, and some observers said criminal justice reformers should place more focus on that portion of the judicial process. The Oklahoma Indigent Defense System’s caseload has more than doubled since 2007, according to the agency’s most recent annual report. Its state appropriations break down to less than $300 per case, which can include murder trials. [Journal Record]

State, Cherokee Nation announce plans to study growth of chicken farms in northeastern Oklahoma: The state of Oklahoma and the Cherokee Nation announced Wednesday that the state and tribe plan to form a coordinating council to evaluate the expansion of poultry farms in northeastern Oklahoma. The Coordinating Council on Poultry Growth will examine the expansion of poultry production and its impact on rural communities and citizens in the region, according to a media release issued by Gov. Mary Fallin’s office. [The Frontier]

Citizen Petition: Oklahoma’s best chance to raise the minimum wage: Workers shouldn’t have to struggle to survive on the minimum wage. Since the founding of Oklahoma, our state constitution has allowed for citizens to bring issues to a vote of the people through a signature-gathering process. The success of citizen petitions in recent years suggests that bringing a state minimum wage raise directly to the ballot has a better chance of passing in Oklahoma than through the state Legislature. [OK Policy]

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Citizen Petition: Oklahoma’s best chance to raise the minimum wage

Deon Osborne is a fall intern with the Oklahoma Policy Institute. He recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Strategic Media from the University of Oklahoma.

Workers shouldn’t have to struggle to survive on the minimum wage. Since the founding of Oklahoma, our state constitution has allowed for citizens to bring issues to a vote of the people through a signature-gathering process. The success of citizen petitions in recent years suggests that bringing a state minimum wage raise directly to the ballot has a better chance of passing in Oklahoma than through the state Legislature.

The minimum wage was established to give workers fair pay for their labor since 1938.  Yet, the value of the minimum wage hasn’t been able to keep up with the rising cost of living, placing working families in poverty. Today, 28,000 Oklahomans make the federal minimum wage of $15,080 per year or less. This $7.25 per hour minimum wage isn’t enough to live on, even in Oklahoma.  This low wage is especially detrimental to women. Working families are the backbone of our economy.  They shouldn’t have to choose between putting food on the table and paying rent.

While Oklahoma lawmakers have not raised the minimum wage — and even passed legislation preventing raises in local minimum wage laws — four other politically conservative states have passed minimum wage hikes through citizen petitions in recent years.  A citizen petition may be low-income workers’ best chance to establish a livable, minimum wage.

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