In The Know: Governor requests federal disaster declaration

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. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that Governor Fallin requested federal disaster aid for Oklahomans affected by wildfires.  The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on the FBI to investigate an attack yesterday on an Oklahoma City mosque; vandals fired numerous paintballs into the doors, which those inside first thought was a volley of bullets.

The Oklahoma City Council and Oklahoma City School Board will hold a joint formal meeting, thought to be the first of its kind in the state.  Despite the closing of a wind tower manufacturer who benefited from the program, state officials say the Quality Jobs program is working as designed.  State tax credits face continued criticism for lack of oversight.

Gun rights advocates say mental health treatment will keep guns out of the wrong hands, not background checks.  A DHS official sees a bright future on the heels of recent reforms.  The OK Policy Blog discusses the ‘coverage crater,’ whereby most adults living in poverty will be left without health insurance options if the state chooses not to expand Medicaid under the new health care law.

The Owasso school board joins Union, Jenks, Sand Springs and other districts in passing a formal resolution opposing high-stakes testing.  The Number of the Day is the percentage of homes damaged or destroyed by recent wildfires in Oklahoma that weren’t insured.  In today’s Policy Note, the Centers for Disease Control released the results from a recent telephone survey showing that more than a third of adults nationally report being obese.

In The News

Governor requests federal disaster declaration for Oklahoma counties

Gov. Mary Fallin has requested federal disaster aid for Oklahomans affected by recent wildfires. If approved, the request would deliver individual assistance to residents and business owners in Cleveland, Creek, Oklahoma and Payne counties.  Nearly 680 homes and businesses have been damaged since July 28 as fires burned more than 114,000 acres across the state.  Statewide, 603 homes were destroyed, including 376 in the Creek County fires, the Governor’s Office reported Monday.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Video Shows Paintball Attack on Oklahoma Mosque

The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK) today called on state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate a paintball attack on an Oklahoma mosque as a hate crime.  CAIR-OK said vandals fired numerous paintballs at the doors of the Grand Mosque of Oklahoma City early Sunday and then fled the scene. The attack, which the mosque’s director first thought was a volley of bullets, was captured on surveillance video. Local police are investigating the incident.

Read more from PRNewswire-USNewswire

Oklahoma City Council, school board to hold pioneering joint meeting

Work done by a task force made up of Oklahoma City Council and Oklahoma City School Board members has led to a groundbreaking joint formal meeting Tuesday with the full strength of both groups.  The city council and school board members meet at 5:30 p.m. at the Oklahoma History Center in what officials think is the first formal meeting between a municipal council and school board in Oklahoma history. Because schools are run by the state here, partnerships between municipal governments and schools are rare.

Read more from NewsOK at

Oklahoma officials praise Quality Jobs program despite firm’s closing

But state officials, including one of the Legislature’s chief critics of tax incentives, say DMI’s failure isn’t an indictment of Quality Jobs.  In fact, they say, the closure shows the program is working the way it’s supposed to.  “It’s a performance-based program, and there’s no money up front,” said Donald Heckler, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, which administers Quality Jobs applications. “Those initial jobs probably wouldn’t have been created in the first place without this incentive program.”

Read more from the Tulsa World at

2NEWS investigates: State tax credits

A 2NEWS investigation found little to no oversight when it comes to many state tax credits. The money is supposed to go job creation, investments or economic development, but it’s hard to tell if that’s happening because those specifics are on tax forms and tax information is protected by law.   “Everything we have is confidential until the law states that we make it public,” said Paula Ross, with the Oklahoma Tax Commission.  Dank and Jones fear that can open the door to abuse.  “We don’t have any transparency,” said Dank.

Read more from KJRH at

Mental health treatment, not gun control, may be key to keeping guns out of the wrong hands

While privacy laws and alleged lack of political will make Oklahoma a target of national gun control advocates, local gun rights activists and those who work in the industry say more stringent rules and regulations may not be the best way to keep Oklahoma safe.  Though mental health issues seemingly played a role in all of the recent mass shooting incidents in the United States, there was another variable at play — gun-free zones, industry members said.  Miles Hall, owner of H&H Shooting Sports Complex in Oklahoma City, the state’s largest gun emporium, said it’s foolish to believe background checks and federal mental health record databases will keep guns out of the hands of those who intend to do harm.

Read more from NewsOK at

Tulsa-area DHS official sees bright future with reforms

The new organization will bring those together under one child welfare division.  The result should be more workers in the field to cut down caseloads, and the agency will be hiring 200 more child welfare workers. This month, the child-welfare staff members saw raises of about 5 percent in their paychecks.  The last pay bump was in 2006, and the settlement requires steady increases through the next five years.  “I’m the most hopeful I’ve been in a long time,” Johnson said. “It’s a paradigm shift for our staff, but we are ready to make this work and want to make this work. You don’t work here for any length of time and not want to help kids.”

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Avoiding the Medicaid ‘coverage crater’

A major consequence of the Supreme Court’s ruling is that in a state that chooses not to expand Medicaid, most adults living in poverty will be left without coverage options. They will earn too little to be eligible for premium credits that will make individual coverage affordable through the exchange. Yet they will remain ineligible for Medicaid unless they fit the narrow categorical and income requirements (parents of dependent children under 37 percent of poverty). Some 130,000 uninsured Oklahomans could remain stuck in the ‘coverage crater’.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at and download a 1-page fact sheet about Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act at

Owasso school board joins ranks of those protesting high-stakes testing

The school board approved a resolution Monday protesting high-stakes testing for students, aligning the district with others across Oklahoma and the nation that contend that the exams are unfair, unreliable and punitive.  Owasso is the latest addition to a list of Tulsa-area school districts taking a stand against using the results of one exam as the basis for promotion or graduation.  In Oklahoma, high school seniors must pass at least four of seven exams to get a high school diploma. Beginning in the 2013-14 school year, third-graders will have to pass a reading exam to move on to the fourth grade.  Union, Jenks, Sand Springs and other districts also have adopted the resolution, which calls on state and federal officials to institute a different system of assessment and accountability.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Quote of the Day

We’re out here to spend the taxpayers’ money responsibly.  I really don’t think we’re doing that in a lot of respects.

Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, on the lack of transparency and accountability in state tax credits and incentives

Number of the Day

85 percent

Percentage of the homes damaged or destroyed by recent wildfires in Oklahoma that were uninsured; 1,283 homes and businesses have been hit since July 28th

Source: Tulsa World

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

CDC unveils national obesity rates: Where does your state rank?

What did the survey show? Overall, more than a third of adults are obese, similar to earlier reports, but rates differ by state.  State rates remained about the same although the number of those with very high rates went from nine to 12. That signifies that at least 30 percent of adults are obese in Alabama (32 percent), Arkansas (30.9 percent), Indiana (30.8 percent), Kentucky (30.4 percent), Louisiana (33.4 percent), Michigan (31.3 percent), Mississippi (34.9 percent), Missouri (30.3 percent), Oklahoma (31.1 percent), South Carolina (30.8 percent), Texas (30.4 percent) and West Virginia (32.4 percent).

Read more from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via CBS News at

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