In The Know: April 7, 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, the Oklahoma Gazette reports on Oklahoma City’s negotiations with Chesapeake and Boeing to give the companies millions of dollars for bringing new jobs to Oklahoma. The House Democrats held a press conference criticizing the majority for not doing enough to prevent harmful cuts to public programs and calling for more efforts to eliminate tax credits. In a 9-8 vote, a House committee defeated a bill that would have allowed open carrying of firearms. A committee approved a measure exempting federally licensed pet breeders from state rules. During the meeting, one representative from the breeders was ejected for making derogatory comments at a member of the oversight board, and another held up a copy of Adolph Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.”

Gov. Fallin signed a law to create a new task force on children of incarcerated parents. The task force will prepare a report on the problems faced by those children and possibilities for new legislation. Former Senate leader Mike Morgan and co-defendants all pleaded not guilty to corruption charges. The OK Policy Blog looks at a new measure of economic security and what happens when jobs do not pay enough to support even a bare bones family budget. The OU policy on sexual assault is receiving criticism after a student who tried to report a rape to campus police was told that she could not press charges more than 30 days after the incident.

Two state legislators are calling for the removal of Cleveland County District Judge Tom Lucas, after he refused to step down from cases prosecuted by the Cleveland County DA even though that office is investigating a member of his family. The OU Daily finds that OU may be overcharging the public for open records requests. The Tulsa World argues that rejecting grant money to create a health insurance exchange is nonsense, and Andrew Spiropoulos makes the case that insurance exchanges increase liberty.

In today’s Policy Note, The New York Times looks at the impact a federal government shutdown would have at the state and local level.

Read on for more.

In The News

Oklahoma City negotiating to give Chesapeake and Boeing millions of dollars in economic development incentives

The city is in the process of drawing up agreements to offer two companies millions of dollars in incentives to bring hundreds of high-paying jobs to the city, which would have an estimated economic impact in the hundreds of millions of dollars. At its March 29 meeting, the City Council gave staff permission to negotiate a deal with Chesapeake Energy and Boeing Co. to receive financial incentives from the city’s strategic investment program, in exchange for a combined 900 new jobs paying an average of more than $90,000 a year.

Read more from this Oklahoma Gazette article at

House Democrats press majority Republicans on budget

State Rep. Scott Inman of Del City today (Wednesday, April 6) told Capitol reporters that Democrats in the state House believe, “It’s time to get serious about the state budget. It’s time to put something on the table.” … Inman said members of his caucus continue to, as he put it, “support Gov. Mary Fallin in her stated purpose to keep agency budget cuts in the 3 to 5 percent range. However, we completely oppose her methods. We are opposed to the new Republican majority’s borrow and spend philosophy.”  Rep. Inman claimed, “Her solution is to take the state taxpayers’ credit card and borrow $200 million, and to raise taxes on the middle class.  Our solution is that instead of raising taxes or borrowing money and spending it, take some of the $5 billion in tax credits and exemptions off the books.”

Read more from this CapitolBeatOK article at

Oklahoma House committee defeats open carry measure

A measure that would have allowed residents with concealed handgun permits to carry their weapons in the open failed to pass Wednesday out of a House committee. The defeat is a blow to advocates of the open carrying of handguns. Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Tuttle, House author of Senate Bill 129, said she was surprised the House Public Safety Committee voted 9-8 against the measure. “I totally expected that bill to pass,” she said. “I don’t think there’s anything else I can do this year.” The Republican-controlled House of Representatives and Senate passed similar legislation last year, but it was vetoed by then-Gov. Brad Henry, a Democrat.

Read more from this NewsOK article at

House committee votes to exempt federally licensed pet breeders from state rules

Federally licensed pet breeders would be exempt from meeting the rules and licensing requirements of a new Oklahoma board under a bill approved Wednesday by a state House committee. Committee members took the action during a 90-minute meeting in which an attorney who said she represented commercial dog breeders had to be removed for making derogatory comments at a member of the newly created state pet breeders board, and a dog breeder who held up a copy of Adolf Hitler’s book, “Mein Kampf,” and said the board wants to exterminate pet breeders.

Read more from this NewsOK article at

New law created Task Force for Children of Incarcerated Parents

Getting an accurate number of Oklahoma children who have a parent in prison and understanding the societal, educational and psychological issues those children face will be part of what a new legislative task force will examine. Gov. Mary Fallin signed House Bill 1197 into law Monday to create the Task Force for Children of Incarcerated Parents. Rep. Jeannie McDaniel, D-Tulsa, and Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, sponsored the bill. “We have to be considerate and realize there is no cookie-cutter approach,” McDaniel said. “We need to help children adjust and know they are valued as people no matter what their parents have done” but still know that “the relationships between parent and child are important.”

Read more from this Tulsa World article at

Former Senate leader, lobbyist, attorney plead not guilty in corruption case

Former Senate leader Mike Morgan spoke in a clear voice at his arraignment Wednesday in a public corruption case, telling a judge, “My plea is not guilty.” Attorney Martin Stringer was next, saying, “Not guilty on everything.” Lobbyist Andrew Skeith then had his turn, saying, “Not guilty, your honor.” U.S. Magistrate Judge Valerie K. Couch allowed the three to remain free after each personally promised her to make future court appearances. She did not require them to post any bail. She gave them until noon Friday to surrender their passports.

Read more from this NewsOK article at

When a job is not enough: New measure looks at what’s needed for economic security

As we recover from the great recession, the need to create jobs is foremost in the minds of the public and the promises of politicians. But if too many jobs don’t pay enough to cover the basic needs of a family, we may only dig ourselves further into a hole and cripple our ability to support the next generation of Americans. So what is an adequate income to meet those basic needs? The question is important, as it determines how we set goals, determine eligibility for public support, and understand many problems in society.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at

OU policy on sexual assault charges questioned

University of Oklahoma President David Boren said Wednesday that he will move to change the school’s policy on sexual assault investigations by next fall, but many students and other advocates say Boren’s changes aren’t good enough. Student groups, sororities and even some OU athletes are urging school officials to change the sexual assault statute of limitations policy from the 30 days from the time of the assault now provided for in the Student Code Handbook to one year. OU sophomore Jordan Ward proposed the changes after she went to the OU Police Department to report that she had been raped and received a variety of responses about how she should proceed.

Read more from this Tulsa World article at

See also: Protest planned next week on university campus from The Norman Transcript

State representatives call for judge’s removal

Two state representatives have called for the removal of Cleveland County District Judge Tom A. Lucas from office. According to a press release issued by the State House of Representatives on Wednesday, State Reps. Mike Ritze and Mike Reynolds want Lucas removed from his elected post. … According to the release, the resolution notes that a member of Lucas’ family is currently being investigated by the Cleveland County District Attorney’s Office for child molestation and declares that Lucas’ refusal to disqualify himself from hearing cases prosecuted by the Office of the District Attorney of Cleveland County “constitutes gross partiality in office.”

Read more from this Norman Transcript article at

Open Records fees eclipse costs

Over the past three years, OU’s Open Records Office may have overcharged the public by more than $11,000, according to estimates based on revenues released by the university on Tuesday. OU charges the public 25 cents per page for the fulfillment of all document requests in excess of 30 pages. Under the Oklahoma Open Records Act, a public body is only allowed to charge “the reasonable direct costs of document copying or mechanical reproduction.” The OU Office of Administration and Finance has determined the cost of producing one copy is more than 32 cents per page, said Rachel McCombs, Open Records Office director.

Read more from this OU Daily article at

Tulsa World: Rejecting federal health exchange grant is nonsense

A group of Republican state senators has turned against their Republican governor and Republican House speaker and continues to maintain that Oklahoma will not accept a $54 million federal grant to build a health insurance exchange. Why? Because a federally funded health insurance exchange – a website-based vehicle to connect health insurance customers with providers of affordable health plans – sounds too much like President Obama’s health-care reform law, and Oklahoma won’t be caught dead supporting something that Obama favors.

Read more from this Tulsa World editorial at

See also: Andrew Spiropoulos: Insurance exchanges needed for building institutions of liberty from The Journal Record

Quote of the Day

Those are the people who need to be inspected. They have something to hide. That’s why they do not want those inspections. USDA cannot follow up on their inspections. There’s been no enforcement.

Sue Ann Hamm, a member of the pet breeders board, expressing her disappointment at House committee vote to exempt federally licensed breeders from state rules.

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s ‘Nest Egg’ index rank out of 50 states, ranking citizens ability to build and nurture financial saving and retirement assets.

Source: A.G. Edwards

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

States fear local effects if shutdown cuts off cash

Already straining to make ends meet as the longest downturn since the Great Depression grinds on, state and local governments are now facing a new, unwelcome question: What would a shutdown of the federal government mean for their struggles to balance their budgets? If a shutdown were to happen, the federal money that helps states pay the administrative costs of their stretched unemployment programs could dry up, forcing states to advance the money to keep the programs running. Federal grants for a variety of programs — including research, higher education and training local law enforcement officers — could be delayed.

Read more from The New York Times 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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