In The Know: April 8, 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 OK Policy Blog has an update on proposed anti-immigration laws in Oklahoma. OK Policy also released an issue brief summarizing all 2011 Oklahoma immigration legislation, and the YWCA has a new policy brief on immigration in Oklahoma. CNN looked at the rising Hispanic population in Oklahoma and the role of immigrants in our community.

Oklahoma schools Superintendent Janet Barresi testified before the US Congress, requesting more flexibility to use federal funds for school vouchers and other programs. A new project by the Tulsa City-County Health Department illustrates differing mortality rates across Tulsa with photos taken by children in their communities.

Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman said he is looking at dipping into state revolving funds to lessen budget cuts. A bill to require OETA to broadcast the legislative session failed in the House. Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett is planning to break up the city’s Public Works Department into three separate agencies.

In today’s Policy Note, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities debunks the myth that tax rates cause large numbers of people to migrate between states.

More below the jump.

In The News

Where angels fear to tread: Oklahoma wades back into immigration debate

Immigration is back on the agenda in Oklahoma, four years after passage of HB 1804, a law intended to give the state new powers to stem illegal immigration. The issue is once again highly contentious, as Oklahoma wades further into areas of law traditionally reserved for the federal government. Some are urging Oklahoma to push beyond HB 1804 and pass legislation akin to Arizona’s SB 1070 that received national attention as one of the strictest immigration laws in the country. On the other side, prominent business, religious, and community leaders caution lawmakers against enacting sweeping measures that target working families, are likely unconstitutional, and tarnish the state’s image.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at

See also: Overview of 2011 Immigration Legislation from Oklahoma Policy Institute; Immigration in Oklahoma Policy Brief from YWCA Tulsa

Cultures clash as Oklahoma’s Hispanic population surges

Marcelino Garcia’s three-decade journey from illegal immigrant to successful businessman has unfolded against an unlikely backdrop — the deeply conservative state of Oklahoma. State leaders here have passed some of the country’s strictest immigration laws, including some that go beyond the controversial measures approved in Arizona last year. Latino activists said Oklahoma’s laws drove tens of thousands of Hispanic immigrants away, although an exact number is difficult to calculate. But that makes the newest U.S. Census figures even more remarkable: Oklahoma’s Hispanic population has nearly doubled in the last 10 years, from 179,000 to more than 332,000.

Read more from this CNN article at

Barresi asks Congress for more flexibility with federal funds

Oklahoma schools Superintendent Janet Barresi joined a chorus of educators on Thursday asking lawmakers for more flexibility to reform schools using federal money. At a hearing of the House Education and Workforce Committee, Barresi said she was worried state innovation would be stifled by the limits on how federal money can be used. “We would very much welcome the opportunity to decide for ourselves how those dollar bills are spent,” she told the committee.

Read more from this NewsOK article at

Project illustrates health disparities between different Tulsa communities

The Tulsa City-County Health Department has released a revealing study about mortality rates based on where you live.  Now photos are exposing some serious problems in our area, problems some are coping with everyday. It’s something you may not think about everyday, where you live,  determining how long you live.  But, it’s a reality brought to life through project “Flash Focus”. Lamar Brown, the project coordinator says kids from South, East, West and North Tulsa were asked to take pictures of their communities. … “In west Tulsa and in Tulsa north they talked about problems with housing, trash access to healthy food, one little girl said she had to walk 4 or 5 miles to get to a grocery store,” says Brown.

Read more from Fox23 at

Senate Pro Tem Brian Bingman discusses budget, other issues at weekly talk

Senator Brian Bingman, in his weekly discussion with Capitol reporters, expressed satisfaction over legislative progress for the conservative agenda, but said workers compensation reforms would “be the next challenging test.” … Democrats have suggested in recent days that agencies might look at revolving funds or other reserves as a means to avoid budget cuts. Bingman said senators were “looking at certified numbers” for spending decisions. He added later that use of revolving funds, for instances when that is allowed, is “not off the table.” Concerning reported budget gaps between the governor, on the one hand, and Speaker Steele and himself, on the other, Bingman said, “It is a process. We are looking at instances where some federal matching dollars might be involved, so a possible savings might cost us. We are trying now to sift through all the possibilities to come up with real numbers.”

Read more from CapitolBeatOK at

Bill to require OETA to broadcast legislature dies

A proposal to broadcast state legislative sessions on OETA died Thursday in the state House. Senate Bill 89 passed the state Senate unanimously last month but could only gather 15 votes in the House. State Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, said a coalition of supporters of state’s public broadcast network and opponents of OETA came together to kill the bill.

Read more from this Tulsa World article at

Mayor plans to break up Tulsa Public Works Department

There’s a shakeup at City Hall underway, which will take Tulsa back to the days when commissioners ran big city departments. Mayor Dewey Bartlett plans to break up public works and have one person oversee each division, thinning out at least one layer of management. … Mayor Bartlett announced what for city hall will be the biggest reorganization in 30 years. The 1,400 employees of Public Works will be divided into three departments focusing on streets, water, and engineering services.

Read more from NewsOn6 at

Quote of the Day

My dream was to have a little restaurant to work myself and my family. But I think I passed my dreams 100 times more than I ever dreamed.
Marcelino Garcia, who originally came to the US as an undocumented immigrant. Today Garcia owns 12 restaurants and several other businesses and employs hundreds of people in Oklahoma.

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s Safeline, a toll-free 24-hour hotline for domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

Source: Oklahoma Attorney General

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Exposing the migration myth… again

Between now and “tax day” on April 18, we’re going to see a lot of misinformation about the impact of taxes on people’s lives — like the oft-repeated myth that state tax policies cause great numbers of people to flee one state for another. In reality, people move for lots of reasons, and taxes make almost no difference at all. A recent article advanced the tax-them-and-they-will-flee canard, noting in part that the top three destinations of people who left California between 2000 and 2008 were Arizona, Nevada, and Texas — which it calls “low-tax states.” But it failed to mention that during the same period, the top destination for people who left Arizona, Nevada, and Texas was … California.

Read more from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities 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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