In The Know: Government shutdown could cut off food stamps

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Government shutdown could cut off food stamps: A government shutdown Oct. 1 could immediately suspend or delay food stamp payments to some of the 46 million Americans who receive the food aid. The Agriculture Department said Tuesday that it will stop providing benefits at the beginning of October if Congress does not pass legislation to keep government agencies open [NewsOK].

State explores privatizing care for aged and disabled: At the insistence of state lawmakers, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority is exploring cost-saving options that could lead to partial privatization of the state’s $2.4 billion Medicaid program for aged, blind and disabled people. The state tried that once before, and it didn’t work out. Costs escalated, companies dropped out, and the state pulled the plug. Supporters of the new effort predicted it might turn out better because of improvements in managed-care practices [Oklahoma Watch]. Oklahoma’s current Medicaid program already has lower per-patient costs than 11 out 12 states with a high percentage of Medicaid patients in managed care [OK Policy].

Oklahoma City school district suspends fewer students: Seven weeks into the school year, Oklahoma City Public Schools suspended 42.5 percent fewer students than it did over the same period last year. The declining number of suspensions comes as the district seeks to confront a discipline problem that prompted an investigation by the U.S. Education Department [NewsOK]. Some teachers and school staff are complaining that the district’s reluctance to issue suspensions leaves them unable to control student behavior [NewsOK].

Youth incarceration and Oklahoma’s school-to-prison pipeline: Oklahoma public schools are suspending and expelling young persons of color at rates much higher than their white peers. Black, Hispanic, and American Indian students are disproportionately subjected to arrest, incarceration, and judicial referrals. More often than not, their initial contact with law enforcement comes through the school system. On September 11, the Oklahoma Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights heard testimony from academics, educators, and community leaders working to reform school disciplinary practices and repair the juvenile justice system [Red Dirt Report]. Part two of this two-part story is here.

Chief of police, pastor and community discuss race: It was an earnest and progressive come-together Monday evening between the African-American pastor of East 6th Street Christian Church, Jesse Jackson, and Oklahoma City Chief of Police Bill Citty. But two different stories were still being told [NonDoc].

Mental Health Association Oklahoma pushes for better police training to averting suicides: The most recent data from the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s office shows a nearly steady increase in suicide deaths in Oklahoma throughout the last decade. Mental Health Association Oklahoma Executive Director, Mike Brose, said moments of mental crisis can happen to anyone. Brose said a lack of more in-depth training or involvement with mental health professionals for police leaves individuals in crisis and the police disadvantaged [OU Daily].

Parole board rejects sentence reduction for Tondalo Hall: The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board on Wednesday unanimously rejected a bid to reduce the sentence of a woman given 30 years in prison for permitting child abuse, while the actual abuser was jailed for just two years. The case of Tondalo Hall, 31, has gained national attention and critics of the sentence say it unfairly punishes victims of domestic violence [NewsOK].

Oklahoma death row inmate’s lawyers say prosecutors intimidating witnesses: Attorneys for an Oklahoma death row inmate say prosecutors have arrested a key witness who has new evidence and filed a request on Wednesday asking the courts to order the state to stop intimidating witnesses. The attorneys said Michael Scott, who signed an affidavit saying he heard convicted murderer Justin Sneed brag about setting Glossip up for the crime, was arrested on Tuesday on a warrant for a $200 unpaid fine and failure to complete community service connected to a recent drunk driving arrest. Scott was arrested in Rogers County, but was interrogated by Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, who serves the county where the murder took place around 100 miles to the southwest, according to the filing [Reuters].

Healthy progress for some: Since the Affordable Care Act took full effect in 2014, the United States is making historic progress in reducing the number of people who lack health insurance, new data from the Census Bureau confirms. However, states like Oklahoma that continue to refuse federal dollars to expand coverage to low-income adults continue to lag behind at the expense of residents’ health and financial well-being [David Blatt/Journal Record].

Water fight goes before Oklahoma County judge: Oral arguments appealing the decision made by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board to dramatically reduce the amount of groundwater that can be pumped from the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer are scheduled to be heard Wednesday by Oklahoma County District Judge Barbara Swinton. The decision came following years of scientific studies, court battles, and political wrangling on how best to implement Senate Bill 288 — the law that connected ground and surface water for the first time in Oklahoma and protects springs and streams in south central Oklahoma [The Daily Ardmoreite].

Oklahoma AG says confidential deliberations OK after all: Changing his advice to conform with a recent state Supreme Court ruling, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt issued a new attorney general’s opinion Wednesday that says the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission can engage in confidential deliberations while acting as an appellate panel in workers’ compensation cases [NewsOK].

Introducing our 2015-16 Research Fellows and Fall Interns: Oklahoma Policy Institute is very pleased to announce that Alexandra Bohannon, Matt Hecox, John Lepine and Candace Smith have been selected as our third class of Research Fellows for 2015-16. The Fellowship program is intended to recognize and support top-performing graduate students who are conducting promising research on public policy issues [OK Policy].

Quote of the Day

“I think it’s irresponsible. We tried this in the late 1990s. We set up (Medicaid) HMOs throughout Oklahoma, and it failed. Why would we repeat that mistake?”

-Trish Emig, a board member of the Oklahoma Alliance on Aging, speaking about Oklahoma lawmakers’ attempt to move aged, blind and disabled Medicaid patients into a privatized managed-care program (Source)

Number of the Day


Estimated number of households in Oklahoma with no Internet access, 24.4% of all households in the state.

Source: U.S. Census American Community Survey

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Why states’ increasing reliance on sales taxes is risky: As states have recovered from the recession, seven cut individual income taxes (and increased sales taxes). Others increased their sales tax after income tax cuts resulted in too little revenue. The temptation to cut income taxes and raise sales taxes could leave some states less prepared for an economic downturn than they were for the Great Recession [Governing].

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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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