In The Know: Alcohol task force disbands after 2 meetings with no recommendations

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

Today you should know that the Oklahoma liquor task force is disbanding after only two meetings without any consensus on recommendations for lawmakers. Despite a crumbling state Capitol, a medical examiner’s office so cramped and outdated it lost its accreditation, and other capital needs approaching $1 billion, House Republicans have refused to consider any new bond issuances. Sen. Sean Burrage, D-Claremore, and Sen. Jim Wilson, D-Tahlequah, have announced they will seek the Senate minority leader post being vacated by Sen. Andrew Rice.

Writing in The Edmond Sun, Rep. Jason Murphey described this year’s agenda for the Government Modernization Committee, including a request by Republican Speaker-designate T.W. Shannon to study privatizing state assets. Oklahoma City councilman Ed Shadid will introduce a measure to protect gay and bisexual people from discrimination in city offices and hiring. A similar ordinance is being considered in Norman.

A $26 million federal grant will help underprivileged students at 10 Oklahoma City middle schools prepare to attend college. Tulsa Public Schools are implementing a new “value-added” teacher evaluation system required by state law to examine how well teachers are doing in the context of their students’ backgrounds and factors outside of the classroom. The upcoming 2011 Financial Education in Oklahoma Conference will provide information on how to identify and prevent financial cons, scams and frauds.

Today’s Number of the Day is the number of bankruptcy filings in Oklahoma during the 2nd quarter of this year. In today’s Policy Note, economist Nancy Folbre discusses gender differences in economic hardship during the recession.

In The News

Oklahoma liquor task force disbands after two meetings with no recommendations

A trip to the grocery store for my evening meal saw me buying bread, pasta, meatballs and sauce. What’s missing is a fine red dinner wine and it’s not likely to be found in a grocery store in the state any time soon. A Joint Task Force created by the Senate voted last week to sunset, or to rest without any more meetings or recommendations to lawmakers. The move comes after only two meetings on the matter. Those who represent grocery stores in the matter are saying the deck was stacked against them from the beginning because some lawmakers on the panel were already set against the possibility of selling wine or stronger beer at the stores. What may have swayed the decision was testimony offered by Steve Buck, deputy commissioner for Communications and Prevention with the Oklahoma Dept. of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Read more from KRMG.

See also: Oklahoma liquor task force: Two meetings, and that’s it from NewsOK.

Oklahoma bond proposals face resistance in state House

With a crumbling state Capitol, a run-down headquarters for the state Veterans Affairs Department and a medical examiner’s office so cramped and outdated it lost its national accreditation, lawmakers say Oklahoma’s list of capital improvement needs is approaching $1 billion. But even with the state’s solid bond rating and moderate debt-to-revenue ratios, conservative lawmakers, particularly in the House, are not eager to embrace a state bond issue to fund many of the repairs and new construction projects that some say are desperately needed. The Senate has been more eager to support the idea of issuing bonds for various projects. A Senate panel this year approved bond issues totaling more than $100 million for a new building for the Veterans Affairs Department, a new laboratory for the state medical examiner’s office and to complete the unfinished American Indian museum in Oklahoma City. None of those proposals were even considered in the House.

Read more from NewsOK.

Senators from Claremore, Tahlequah seek minority leader job

Two eastern Oklahoma lawmakers are vying to succeed Senate Minority Leader Andrew Rice. Sen. Sean Burrage, D-Claremore, and Sen. Jim Wilson, D-Tahlequah, both said on Monday that they are seeking the post. Rice, D-Oklahoma City, announced last week that he is resigning effective Jan. 15 because he and his family are moving out of state. Democrats have 16 seats in the 48-member Senate, the lowest number in state history. Burrage is known as a conservative Democrat who rarely debates, and Wilson is an outspoken liberal Democrat who made an unsuccessful attempt to unseat U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, D-Oklahoma. Wilson also filed two unsuccessful legal challenges to the recently approved Senate redistricting plan.

Read more from The Tulsa World.

Rep. Jason Murphey: Legislature to study more modernization ideas

The Government Modernization Committee will conduct a series of interim studies next month. These studies are designed to bring attention to the implementation of past modernization reforms and begin the process of developing the next round of modernization legislation. On Nov. 8, our committee will take up a request for a study from Republican Speaker-designate T.W. Shannon. Shannon will ask the committee to consider a system for returning excess state-owned property to the private sector. You may recall my past articles about the importance of inventorying and liquidating unneeded state assets. Shannon’s proposal would do this by documenting the assets that are not being used by state government, selling those assets and placing the proceeds into an endowment fund that could be used to maintain existing state assets, such as the crumbling exterior of the Oklahoma Capitol, and other state buildings.

Read more from The Edmond Sun.

Oklahoma City councilman to introduce measure barring discrimination based on sexual orientation

Sexual orientation would become a protected category in employment discrimination under a measure set to be discussed at Tuesday’s Oklahoma City Council meeting. The ordinance change, to be introduced by Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid, would protect gay and bisexual people from discrimination in city offices and hiring. The city’s equal employment opportunity ordinance now lists only classes protected by federal and state law, like gender, race, ethnic origin, religion, disability and political affiliation. Discrimination based upon sexual orientation is not explicitly prohibited federally or in Oklahoma. A memo from the city attorney’s office explaining Shadid’s proposal to the council notes that some jurisdictions consider language prohibiting discrimination based upon sex or gender to include sexual orientation.

Read more from NewsOK.

See also: Equality advocates seek recognition for GLBT from The Norman Transcript.

Federal grant to help Oklahoma City students reach college 

A $26 million federal grant will help underprivileged students at 10 Oklahoma City middle schools prepare to attend college. We hope the grant will help change the culture at the schools into one where higher education is more of an expectation, not the exception. The GEAR UP Grant is intended to increase the enrollment of low-income children in higher education programs. Oklahoma City received a portion of the $177.4 million awarded this year by U.S. Department of Education. About 4,500 district sixth- and seventh-grade students will benefit directly from the grant starting in the spring and continuing until they graduate. The grant will pay for a site coordinator in charge of college readiness at 10 middle schools — Oklahoma Centennial, Douglass, Jackson, Jefferson, John Marshall, Northeast, Rogers, Roosevelt, Taft and Webster. Once this year’s sixth-grade class reaches high school, the programs will move to the corresponding high schools.

Read more from NewsOK.

New evaluation system reveals surprising data about Tulsa Public Schools

Tulsa Public Schools unveiled a new tool to find out just how effective your child’s teacher is. It’s a new and controversial technique. Until now, we’ve really relied on one way to measure teachers and schools and that’s state exams. Those who did poorly on state tests were labeled bad schools or low performing. Those who did well were heralded as great schools and high performing. This new tool says that’s not the whole picture. The new system is called value-added. It doesn’t just look at a final test score; it measures the growth of that score. It also eliminates the effect of factors outside of the classroom, like socioeconomic background and attendance. The result: you can drill down to see if a teacher is boosting scores, regardless if they have low-achieving students or high-performing ones.

Read more from NewsOn6.

Upcoming Event: Frauds, Scams and Cons: Protecting Yourself and Your Assets – Wednesday, November 2

The 2011 Financial Education in Oklahoma Conference brings together financial education service providers and stakeholders to learn about programs offered in the state, share experiences, and identify new resources for financial education. This conference is sponsored by the Oklahoma JumpStart Coalition and the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Oklahoma City Branch and is titled “Frauds, Scams and Cons: Protecting Yourself and Your Assets through Financial Education.” The event will take place on Wednesday, November 2nd at the Moore Norman Technology Center South Penn Campus from 9:00am to 4:00pm.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Quote of the Day

In my own estimation, if your Capitol is falling down, that’s got to be one of your top priorities. If the buildings are causing health problems for the people who work there, then those have to be considered at the top of the priority list.
Sen. David Myers, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Despite finding approval in the Senate, House Republicans have refused to consider any bond issues to meet dire infrastructure needs.

Number of the Day


Number of bankruptcy filings in Oklahoma during the 2nd quarter of this year, down 14 percent from the same quarter in 2010.


See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The recession in pink and blue

Measured in terms of absolute job loss, men bore the brunt of the Great Recession, hence the term “mancession.” On the other hand, men have fared better than women in regaining jobs during the slight rebound sometimes called the recovery. Many people – even those who live alone – share a portion of their earnings or devote unpaid hours of work to family members, including children and others who are dependent as result of age, sickness, disability or unemployment. Measures of economic hardship should take responsibility for dependents into account. Women tend to be more vulnerable in this respect than men, primarily because they are more likely to take both financial and direct responsibility for the care of children.

Read more from the Economix blog.

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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