In 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oklahoma is still digging its way out from under a record-breaking blizzard, but there’s plenty of activity to prepare for the debates of the upcoming legislative session. Yesterday OK Policy released the updated 2011 Legislative Overview. This popular resource provides a concise, user-friendly summary of the Oklahoma legislative process.
The Tulsa World has an editorial in favor of the proposed hospital provider fee that would bring in more revenue from federal matching funds than it would cost the hospitals that pay it. Meanwhile NewsOK warns against copying Arizona’s immigration law after looking at how it has worked out in other states. More on these stories and others below the jump.
In The News
Blizzard halts Tulsa World’s print edition for the first time in history
A blizzard that socked Oklahoma with snow, sleet and ice has halted the Tulsa World’s production of its Wednesday print edition. It will be the first time in the paper’s nearly 106-year history an edition hasn’t been published. Tulsa World publisher Robert E. Lorton III says he wants to make sure employees and their families are safe as they deal with the bad weather. Readers still will be able find breaking news and other information on the World’s website and on iPhone and other smart phone applications.
Read more from the Associated Press at http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2011/02/01/national/a132837S53.DTL.
Fallin, Askins each raised $4 million in governor’s race
Vying to become the state’s first female governor, Republican Mary Fallin and Democrat Jari Askins each raised more than $4 million for their races, reports filed with the state Ethics Commission show. It’s the first time in state gubernatorial elections that both general election candidates raised at least $4 million. Their fundraising efforts fell about $800,000 short of the record high $4.83 million raised in 2006 by then-Gov. Brad Henry in his landslide re-election.
Read more from this NewsOK article at http://newsok.com/fallin-askins-each-raised-4-million-in-governors-race/article/3537379.
Republicans, Independents surge in voter numbers, new election machines selected
The Oklahoma state Election Board has released the latest online summary of voter registration data. While the two major political parties both gained in registration, Republicans had a decided advantage in the rate of increase. Democrats continued to lose “market share,” but remain the state’s largest political party. Perhaps most notable, however, was the continuing rise in the number of registered Independents in the Sooner State.
Read more from this CapitolBeatOK article at http://capitolbeatok.com/CustomContentRetrieve.aspx?ID=3813680.
Barresi speaks with AG about Oklahoma education board meeting
Oklahoma’s new state schools superintendent, Janet Barresi, said she’s spoken with Attorney General Scott Pruitt about what she thinks are possible violations of the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act during a contentious state Board of Education meeting last week. During last Thursday’s meeting, board members accused Barresi of breaking the law by paying proposed staffers with private money, while Barresi said the board members broke the open-meetings law by conducting votes that were not listed on the agenda. She said Tuesday she thinks board members also might have communicated before the meeting concerning what might happen, but doesn’t know if a majority of the members were involved at any one time.
Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=19&articleid=20110201_19_0_hrimgs180825.
Board of Education member Tim Gilpin responds
Until recently, Oklahomans probably did not know we have a state Board of Education. I have served on the Board for almost 6 years. The Board was created by Oklahoma’s Constitution and its powers are found in our state’s laws. I’ve attended some meetings that were dull and a few with heated debate. But, this last meeting was a doozy and I’d like to tell you about it.
Read more from the Oklahoma Gazette at http://www.facebook.com/notes/oklahoma-gazette/whats-going-on-at-the-state-board-of-education/304224969966.
Tulsa World: Time has come for hospital provider fee
State and local health leaders have taken a huge step toward improving the state’s health care woes by coming together on a plan to bolster hospital revenues. The Oklahoma Hospital Association announced recently that 76 hospitals in the state have agreed to a 2 percent assessment on net patient revenues. The assessment would raise about $123 million that would be deposited into a fund, and then matched by federal funds of about $228 million, according to the OHA.
Read more from this Tulsa World editorial at http://www.tulsaworld.com/opinion/article.aspx?subjectid=61&articleid=20110202_11_A7_Saeadl989005.
NewsOK: Copying Arizona not working for many states
Some conservative members of the Oklahoma Legislature are eager to pass an immigration reform law that’s every bit as stout as the one signed into law last year in Arizona. House Speaker Kris Steele and Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman aren’t in such a hurry, wisely suggesting that law enforcement and others who deal with this issue every day be consulted before moving forward. Lawmakers, Bingman said recently, need to “identify what the problem is.” They also might want to see how copying Arizona’s law has worked out for other states. The short answer: not very well.
Read more from this NewsOK editorial at http://newsok.com/copying-arizona-not-working-for-many-states/article/3537294.
Rep. Charles Key: It’s time to restore representative government in Oklahoma Legislature
The Legislature has a historic opportunity to end special interest influence and restore representative government. We have a systemic flaw in our rules that encourages government secrecy, corrupts politicians and cuts the heart out of representative government. The problem: Bills are assigned to committees whose chairmen exercise dictatorial control over whether a bill gets a fair hearing. Without discussion or vote, chairmen can arbitrarily kill any legislation they choose.
Read more from this NewsOK editorial at http://newsok.com/its-time-to-restore-representative-government-in-oklahoma-legislature/article/3537304.
Quote of the Day
Five more minutes and I would’ve been home-free. I guess that’s life.
–Todd Fuqua, a semi driver stranded a half mile from his destination by the blizzard
Number of the Day
Average annual number of people treated in the ER for snow-shoveling injuries.
Illegal immigration in U.S. stabilizes
After two years of declines, the number of illegal immigrants living in the U.S. was virtually unchanged last year, according to a report released Tuesday by the Pew Hispanic Center. The annual report, relied upon by both sides in the contentious immigration debate, found 11.2 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S., statistically identical to the 11.1 million estimated in 2009. The number peaked in 2007 at 12 million and dropped steadily as the economy collapsed.
Read more from this Los Angeles Times article at http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-pew-immigration-20110202,0,4296778.story.