In The Know: Backers of shelved personhood bill seek to revive it

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 several lawmakers and church pastors vowed Monday to revive the personhood bill, and Rep. Mike Christian said Speaker Steele should be ousted if he doesn’t bring it up for a hearing on the House floor. NewsOK writes that lawmakers should listen to Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, who said that the anti-abortion bills are going too far.

The attorney for an Oklahoma police officer who shot a fleeing black teenager in the back blamed concerns about “racial discord” for the manslaughter charges against his client. The House voted to move oversight of commercial pet breeders to the Agriculture Department and wipe out current rules, leaving pet breeders unregulated until at least next year.

NewsOK took issue with an OK Policy Blog post, which pointed out that the assault on income tax is being pushed by out-of-state groups but is not supported by Oklahoma economists and business leaders. The Norman Transcript writes that the state tax cut debate will ramp up this week. Find talking points and ways to get involved on this issue at OK Policy’s Take Action page.

The OK Policy Blog has a guest post examining how Oklahoma veterans’ program compare to others in the US. Reuters reports that Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon may be timing wells sales to suit his personal interests, rather than those of the company.

The Number of the Day is how many operational crude oil refineries are in Oklahoma. In today’s Policy Note, two leading economists show that across developed countries, there is no good evidence to support the view that higher tax rates slow growth.

In The News

Backers of shelved personhood bill seek to revive it

Several lawmakers and church pastors vowed Monday to revive the personhood bill, which was shelved last week when House Republicans privately voted against having it heard on the House of Representatives floor. But a polling of House Republicans in a closed caucus meeting before the House adjourned Monday evening again showed members do not want to bring Senate Bill 1433 up for a floor vote at this time, a spokesman for House Speaker Kris Steele said. House Republicans, who have a 66-32 majority, were polled again by the whip system, in which members are asked privately how they would vote on a particular bill. Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, who called a news conference Monday with about a dozen lawmakers and pastors, said he would pursue other avenues to get SB 1433, which states life begins at conception, heard by Thursday night’s deadline. Rep. Mike Christian, a frequent critic of Steele, said Steele should be ousted if he doesn’t bring Senate Bill 1433 up for a hearing on the House floor.

Read more from NewsOK.

NewsOK: GOP lawmakers should listen to criticism from one of their own

Our guess is that Gov. Mary Fallin will sign a bill requiring abortion providers to offer women the opportunity to hear the fetus’s heartbeat. Riling up her conservative base, who strongly back the bill, isn’t worth the trouble. But the governor and other Republicans at the Capitol ought to pay attention to a complaint lodged by one of their own during debate on the bill. Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, said measures such as Senate Bill 1274 have the potential for unintended consequences. This bill, Cox said, could allow a sibling, spouse, guardian or another doctor who wasn’t present during the appointment to sue an abortion provider if the woman wasn’t given the chance to listen to the heartbeat. “This is a terrible law,” said Cox, a medical doctor. And, he said, several other bills introduced in recent years have ventured into a similar gray area, leaving him to vote against them even though he is anti-abortion. “You’re about to drive me to the other side,” Cox said.

Read more from NewsOK.

Attorney for Oklahoma police officer who shot fleeing black teenager blames concerns about ‘racial discord’ for charges

Prosecutors’ decision to charge a white Oklahoma police captain with felony manslaughter after he shot a fleeing black teenager in the back was made in part to prevent the kind of racial discord that erupted after high-profile shootings in Florida and Tulsa, the officer’s attorney claimed Monday. Capt. Randy Harrison was charged last week with one count of first-degree manslaughter in the death of 18-year-old Dane Scott Jr. Harrison was trying to arrest Scott after a car chase and managed to take a handgun from the teen during a struggle, according to a police affidavit. As Scott ran away, Harrison fired three times and missed, but a fourth shot struck Scott in the back. Another police officer was running about 10 to 15 feet behind Scott and had just shot him with a Taser when Harrison fired the fatal shot, Del City Police Capt. Jody Suit wrote in an affidavit. “At the time he was shot, Dane Scott was unarmed and was not posing a threat of death or great bodily harm to the officers or any other person,” Suit wrote.

Read more from The Associated Press.

House votes to abolish pet breeder board, move oversight to agriculture department

The House of Representatives passed a bill Monday that would move oversight of commercial pet breeders to the state Agriculture Department. Senate Bill 1919 – which now goes to the state Senate for consideration – would eliminate the Oklahoma Commercial Pet Breeders Board and its rules. Under the proposal, kennels with 11 or more intact breeding females would be required to be licensed, inspected and regulated by the state Agriculture Department, said Rep. Don Armes, R-Faxon. Armes said the Agriculture Department already has inspectors and state-certified law enforcement officers for enforcement operations and would be “less obnoxious” in dealing with pet breeders than the board has been. Because the measure would wipe out current rules of the commercial pet breeders board, kennels would be unregulated until the Agriculture Department created new rules and the Legislature approved them, which couldn’t happen until next year.

Read more from The Tulsa World.

OETA awaits fate of reauthorization bill

On Monday afternoon John McCarroll, the executive director of the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority, sat alone in the north gallery of the Oklahoma Senate, waiting. McCarroll hadn’t come to the Capitol to ask for additional employees. He wasn’t there for an increase in funding, either. He came to the Capitol to try and make sure the OETA continued to exist. With a deadline for legislation from the opposite house set to expire Thursday, McCarroll was concerned that legislation renewing OETA’s authorization as a state agency would not be heard. “If nothing happens to the bill, if it’s not heard, then we go dark,” he said. “We would shut down at midnight on June 30.”

Read more from The Journal Record [subscriber only].

Why the concern over outside influence in the income tax debate?

Outside influence (or the more volatile “outside agitators”) is a term drawn like a weapon in the ideology wars. If you like what an outlander has to say, it’s natural to arm yourself with it. If you don’t like it, fire back with the broadside that ideas and political solutions should be homegrown instead of smuggled in from the “outside.” Gov. Mary Fallin speaking at the Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon, April 3, 2012. Photo By David McDaniel The Oklahoma Policy Institute has loaded its anti-tax cut arguments with some anti-outside influence bullets. We’d make the same observation about Jesse Jackson’s Oklahoma visit recently or the entire “Occupy” movement or any number of things.

Read more from NewsOK.

Previously: Who’s behind the assault on income tax? from the OK Policy Blog

State tax cut debate will ramp up this week

In an pre-session forum, state Rep. Scott Martin said the proposals to cut and eventually eliminate the state’s income tax would make for some interesting debate this legislative session. It has been interesting and the debate could reach a zenith this week. House and Senate leaders are expected to take up the tax-cutting proposals this week. House Bill 3038, which began as a plan to reduce the income tax rate from 5.25 percent down to 2.25 percent now looks to cut the rate to 4.95 percent. The annual rate cut of .25 percent has also been eliminated. Now the plan calls for a .25 percent tax rate cut each year that the state revenues from sales, use, motor vehicle and corporate income taxes grow by 5 percent or more.

Read more from The Norman Transcript.

See also: Ways to Take Action from Oklahoma Policy Institute

How do veterans’ programs in Oklahoma measure up?

Benefits for veterans are an essential component of our country’s military program. Of course, there are federal veterans’ programs that provide a range of services and advantages for current and returning veterans, but the policies and implementations can vary from state to state. Two of the most important areas in which veterans can receive benefits are education and health care. Often, a returning veteran needs re-education in order to integrate back into society—and without an accredited degree, career options are limited. Health care is also a vital provision, particularly for veterans who have been injured or disabled as a result of their service. Oklahoma is considered one of the most veteran-friendly states—perhaps one of the top two in the nation. How does the veterans’ program in the state of Oklahoma compare to others in the country?

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

CEO’s sales of well stakes raise questions at Chesapeake

Chesapeake Energy Corp’s chief executive came under fire last week after Reuters reported that he used his stakes in company wells to take out as much as $1.1 billion in personal loans. Now, Reuters has found, CEO Aubrey K. McClendon has employed another way to cash in on a perk unique to the company he runs: He sold his share of two large energy plays at the same time the company divested its interest. Analysts say the deals, which generated $6.5 billion in proceeds, pose a potential conflict because of the possibility that they could have been timed and structured to suit McClendon’s personal interests, rather than those of the company he runs. “I can imagine a scenario where Aubrey is suffering some financial distress and might want to get a deal done – and it’s not the best price for the company,” said Joseph D. Allman, oil and gas industry analyst at JPMorgan in New York. Because of the potential conflict, Allman said, Chesapeake should scrap the CEO perk that makes them possible.

Read more from Reuters.

Quote of the Day

If nothing happens, we go dark. At midnight on June 30, the electricity would be shut off at all 18 OETA transmitters and the broadcast head-end in Oklahoma City. Stations in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Cheyenne and Eufaula and 14 other cities will go dark. There would be no entity to legally operate the statewide system and no funds to make any transition. We’d be dead.
John McCarroll, executive director of OETA, who is concerned that a bill to reauthorize the agency will not be heard in the Senate before the Thursday deadline.

Number of the Day


Number of operational crude oil refineries in Oklahoma, 7th highest refining capacity in the nation in 2010.

Source: Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

High tax rates won’t slow growth

Will raising top tax rates significantly lower economic growth? In the postwar U.S., higher top tax rates tend to go with higher economic growth—not lower. Indeed, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, GDP annual growth per capita (to adjust for population growth) averaged 1.68% between 1980 and 2010 when top tax rates were relatively low, while growth averaged 2.23% between 1950 and 1980 when top tax rates were at or above 70%. Neither does international evidence support a case for lower growth from higher top taxes. There is no clear correlation between economic growth since the 1970s and top tax-rate cuts across Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries. For example, from 1970 to 2010, real GDP annual growth per capita averaged 1.8% and 2.03% in the U.S. and the U.K., both of which dramatically lowered their top tax rates during that period, while it averaged 1.72% and 1.89% in France and Germany, which kept high top tax rates during the period. While in no way does this prove that higher top tax rates actually encourage growth, there is not good evidence from the aggregate data supporting the view that higher rates slow growth.

Read more from The Wall Street Journal.

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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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