In The Know: AG issued opinion on Parole Board's early releases

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. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that the Attorney General issued an opinion on the Pardon and Parole Board’s practice of granting inmates early release; a separate investigation into whether or not the board violated the Open Meeting Act is ongoing.  The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids reprimanded Oklahoma lawmakers for holding a ‘ridiculous’ public hearing to promote smokeless tobacco as a safer alternative to cigarettes.

Planned Parenthood accused the state of using infants and children as political pawns and said they will fight to retain WIC funding.  The State Chamber of Commerce has launched a half-million-dollar campaign to support exempting intangible property from taxation.  State and local agencies and organizations in Oklahoma have received more than $25 million in federal health care funding under the Affordable Care Act.

The Chancellor of Higher Education says economic growth hinges on the state’s ability to link academic programing directly with the needs of business.  Oklahoma groups will use White Cane Safety Day to remind motorists that blind pedestrians have the right of way.  Payne County firefighters are relying on voters to approve a sales tax increase to fund training, buy new equipment, and sustain operations.

SQ 764 would expand programs that lend money to local governments that need to improve their drinking water, sewage and the storm runoff systems.  OK Policy has an information page on the 2012 State Questions.  In today’s Policy Note, an interactive chart from the Economic Policy Institute parses nearly 40 years of dismal growth in real wages for American workers.  The Number of the Day is the number of counties where at least 1 in 5 residents do not have a high school diploma.

In The News

Oklahoma Attorney General issues Pardon and Parole Board opinion

Attorney General Scott Pruitt issued an opinion, after a request from the Pardon and Parole Board, on the controversy surrounding several inmates given early release from prison.  In the written opinion, Pruitt stated the board has the authority to recommend and the governor has the authority to grant clemency. The power of clemency includes three separate and distinct powers: the power to commute, the power to parole and the power to pardon, the statement went on to say.

Read more from KOCO

Oklahoma lawmakers shouldn’t be promoting tobacco products

Should the government of Oklahoma help tobacco companies market their products? Most of us would think that’s ridiculous, yet it’s exactly what the tobacco companies and their allies are pressing the Legislature to do.  Unfortunately, this bad idea is being taken seriously enough that a legislative committee held a hearing recently on promoting smokeless tobacco as an alternative to cigarettes.

Read more from NewsOK at

Planned Parenthood official: Fight for WIC funds in Tulsa will continue

To claim that WIC funds would be better used by other providers is an insult to the thousands of women who consider Planned Parenthood their primary care provider. Women have different reasons for choosing Planned Parenthood, but the No. 1 reason is that they trust us to provide quality health care, including annual exams, Pap tests and breast exams, at a price they can afford.  Some politicians will stop at nothing — even using infants and children as political pawns — in their vendetta against Planned Parenthood. But we’re not giving up on WIC funding in Tulsa. We will fight to regain our funding.

Read more from NewsOK at

Oklahoma State Chamber launches half-million dollar campaign against intangible property taxes

The State Chamber of Commerce is running an almost half-million-dollar campaign in support of a proposed constitutional amendment that would exempt all intangible property from taxation.  “This was our number-one legislative priority in the last session,” said Fred Morgan, president of the state chamber, a lobbying group for Oklahoma businesses. “We’ve already started TV ads and we’ll be using multimedia-type approaches.”

Read more from NewsOK at

Despite objections to ‘Obamacare,’ Oklahomans received $25.5 million in federal health care funding

Despite Gov. Mary Fallin’s rejection last year of $54 million in federal health-care allocations, millions of dollars in Affordable Care Act funds have been awarded to state and local agencies, programs and organizations in Oklahoma.  More than $25.5 million in federal health-care funding has been awarded to the state since the legislation passed in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Higher ed chancellor: Investments have long-term benefit for Oklahoma

The ability of Oklahoma’s economy to grow in the face of global economic turmoil continues to draw positive national attention. In August, Gov. Mary Fallin summarized our economy this way: “With the fourth-lowest unemployment rate in the nation and third-best rate of job growth, the Oklahoma economy remains strong and resilient.”  The Oklahoma State System of Higher Education is determined to continue to help drive our economy in that positive direction by linking our academic programs directly with the needs of business, particularly in health care and allied health, engineering, aerospace, wind turbine technology and other areas.

Read more from NewsOK at

Okla. groups to mark White Cane Safety Day

Oklahoma groups are marking White Cane Safety Day to help remind motorists that blind pedestrians have the right of way.  A ceremony is set for 1:30 p.m. Monday at the Outlet Shoppes at Oklahoma City, with NewView Oklahoma, the Heartland Council of the Blind, and the U.S. Veterans Administration.  Participants will hear from a number of speakers, including Oklahoma House Speaker Kris Steele.

Read more from KTUL at

Officials: Sales tax vote crucial to Payne County’s fire departments

Payne County voters will decide if a 1/16-cent sales tax increase to help fund fire departments in Payne County will be approved or rejected in the Nov. 6 election.  The tax would start April 1, 2013. It would be authorized for five years and require another vote to extend the tax.  County Commissioner Gloria Hesser said revenue from the tax would be divided evenly among the fire departments in each city in Payne County. Those fire departments include Cushing, Glencoe, Perkins, Stillwater and Yale.

Read more from the Stillwater NewsPress at

State Question 764 would back loans for water, sewer projects

For voters staring at the six referenda on the state ballot Nov. 6, perhaps none will seem more arcane than State Question 764.   Simply put, the state wants to expand programs that lend money to local governments that need to improve their drinking water, sewage and the storm runoff systems.   To do that, backers of the plan are asking for voter authority to guarantee those loans with up to $300 million in general obligation bonds.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Quote of the Day

I am all for good schools, but like a police department, a school system likely already reflects what the community demands from its public education.  There is an elected school board that any parent could run for, and that board sets policy and hires a superintendent to carry out that policy.  So before legislation is considered and enacted, how about using the system we have?

Jeff Mayo, Associate Publisher of the Sequoyah County Times on so-called “parent trigger” legislation to allow parents to petition to fire staff at under-performing schools and convert to a charter school

Number of the Day


Number of counties where at least 1 in 5 residents age 25 and older does not have a high school diploma, 2010

Source: U.S. Census via OK Policy County-Level Database

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Real hourly wage growth: The last generation

The last generation has been marked by a stark disconnect between productivity growth (up 80 percent between 1973 and 2011) and slow or stunted wage growth. The real hourly wages of the median worker grew only 4 percent over this span, and real hourly compensation (wages and benefits) grew only 10.7 percent. The graphic at the end of this post parses this dismal wage record by gender, by wage decile, and by business cycle.

Read more from Economic Policy Institute at

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