In The Know: April 26, 2011

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 on In The Know, an amendment passed in the Oklahoma House targeting Planned Parenthood could result in cutting off of federal funds to eight contractors that help distribute food to mothers, babies and small children. The OK Policy Blog looks at an example from Kansas City that shows how tax incentive wars trap us in a race to the bottom. The Senate passed a hospital provider fee that will help fund Medicaid reimbursements with federal matching dollars.

Senator Tom Coburn said on “Meet The Press” that he would be fine with increasing tax revenue to reduce the deficit. Governor Mary Fallin signed a bill allowing deadly force when faced with a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm to business owners, managers and employees. In a trial that inspired this law of an OKC pharmacist who killed a robber, the judge is allowing evidence that the pharmacist faked a gunshot wound to bolster his claims of self-defense.

Harsh anti-immigration laws proposed in the legislature are getting opposition from many religious leaders. You can see Oklahoma Policy Institute’s overview of the 2011 immigration bills here. In today’s Policy Note, Governing magazine looks at the story behind tax expenditures.

More below the jump.

In The News

Tulsa World: Measure would impact infant feeding program to target Planned Parenthood

Among the headlines, one doesn’t ever expect to read in the local newspaper: “Lawmakers take food out of the mouths of babies.” Unbelievably, something like that occurred last week in the Oklahoma House. Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, moved to amend a senior nutrition bill so that it prohibits independent contractors from distributing federal funds for a program that feeds mothers, babies and small children. Why would Murphey do such a thing? Because Planned Parenthood of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma, based in Tulsa, is among the nine independent contractors that administer the federal Women, Infants and Children feeding program.

Read more from this Tulsa World editorial at

How the tax incentives war puts states in a terrible bargaining position

Last week, 17 of the top business executives from the Kansas City area made an unexpected request to the governors of Kansas and Missouri – they asked to end tax incentives for their businesses. The letter describes competing incentives as inciting an “economic border war,” where companies get escalating payoffs to move back and forth across state lines, with no benefit to the larger community. The situation in Kansas City is only the most dramatic example of a nationwide problem.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at

Senate advances hospital provider fee

The Oklahoma Senate on Monday passed a measure to assist financially troubled hospitals. House Bill 1381, called the Supplemental Hospital Offset Payment Program, would allow hospitals to assess a 2.5 percent fee on net patient revenue, said Craig Jones, Oklahoma Hospital Association president. The assessment would generate about $153 million in funds that would draw federal matching dollars of $223 million, Jones said.

Read more from this NewsOK article at

Sen. Coburn: Raising tax revenue may be necessary

As many as 237 members of the House and 41 senators have signed a conservative pledge not to raise taxes, but one conservative senator suggested Sunday that it’s time to break that pledge. Changing the tax code to increase federal tax revenue “would be fine with me,” Republican Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. Coburn is part of the “Gang of Six,” a bipartisan group of senators attempting to come up with a plan to address the nation’s deficit and debt. Coburn said the group is not talking about including tax rate increases, but there are other ways to raise revenue, such as taking away tax credits.

Read more from this CBS News article at

Oklahoma governor signs bill that expands self defense rights

Business owners, managers and employees soon will be able to defend themselves when they have a reasonable fear they face death or great bodily harm. Gov. Mary Fallin on Monday signed into law House Bill 1439, which expands the right to use deadly force when in fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm. It takes effect Nov. 1. Rep. Steve Vaughan, the author of the measure, said he filed the bill partly because of a pharmacist who has been charged with first-degree murder after shooting a masked robber six times in May 2009 inside an Oklahoma City pharmacy.

Read more from this NewsOK article at

See also: Oklahoma City pharmacist’s trial judge OKs evidence of faked gunshot wound from NewsOK

Immigration bill face opposition from religious leaders

In March, the Oklahoma House of Representatives gave overwhelming approval to House Bill 1446. The measure is intended to toughen state enforcement of immigration provisions, beyond strictures first enacted in the state’s House Bill 1804. In opposition to this approach, Oklahoma’s two Catholic bishops recently issued a statement citing Sacred Scripture and encouraging respect and dignity for every human being. Also speaking out this past month against additional legislation focused on illegal immigration has been the Oklahoma Conference of Churches. The group is comprised of 16 member denominations, approximately 1,500 local congregations and approximately 500,000 members in Oklahoma.

Read more from this CapitolBeatOK article at

See also: Overview of 2011 immigration legislation from Oklahoma Policy Institute

Quote of the Day

If there are specific public safety issues which need to be addressed by the Oklahoma legislature, that legislation must only target the criminal perpetrators and avoid the desire of some to stereotype and scapegoat an entire population based upon fear, prejudice or the actions of a few.

-A statement from the Oklahoma Conference of Churches opposing harsh immigration laws proposed in the Oklahoma legislature.

Number of the Day

36.2 percent

Oklahoma families that are ‘low-income working families’ (income below 200% of the federal poverty line in 2007); 28 percent are ‘low-income working families’ nationally.

Source:  The Working Poor Families Project

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The story behind tax expenditures

Tax expenditures. They’ve been mentioned prominently in President Obama’s April 13 budget speech, and highlighted in two reports from prestigious tax commissions — the Simpson-Bowles commission and the Domenici-Rivlin commission. Tax expenditures have officially entered the mainstream lexicon as a key chess piece in budget negotiations — on the federal level and, to an extent, the state level as well. Much of the federal debate centers on whether to eliminate all or some of these tax expenditures, such as the mortgage interest deduction or the earned income tax credit. States are also rethinking expenditures. They are trying to decide whether to designate sunset provisions or eliminate some of their tax incentives, credits and subsidies, such as offering breaks to businesses located in distressed neighborhoods.

Read more from Governing at

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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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