In The Know: Grand jury clears Okla. County District Attorney Prater

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

A grand jury cleared Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater of allegations of wrongdoing.  The Reuters’ blog cited Oklahoma and North Dakota as evidence of a conservative revolt against extreme tax policy.  Governing interviewed national experts on the recent wave of state tax cut proposals.  Economist and researcher Tim Bartik listed five effective, evidence-based techniques to boost economic activity – tax cuts were not among them.

Construction on the Oklahoma portion of the Keystone XL pipeline will begin in July.  The Oklahoma Department of Human Services released revisions to a plan to improve child welfare services.  The Tulsa World applauded local schools for advancing medically accurate sex education.  The legislature capped state taxes for ‘captive insurers,’ companies established explicitly to finance risk for their parent group.

The OU Daily questioned the wisdom of abolishing the human rights watchdog agency in a state with so many pressing equal rights challenges.  The CDC reported five times as many motorcyclist deaths in states without adult helmet laws.  OSU announced tuition increases for the upcoming school year.  Oklahoma City was dubbed the ‘manliest’ city in America.

In today’s Policy Note, The Nation looked at the unintended legal consequences of anti-Sharia laws and the self-professed xenophobic intentions of the man behind state efforts targeting ‘foreign’ or Islamic law.  The Number of the Day is the percentage of Oklahoma’s African American children who live in low-income families.

In The News

Grand jury clears Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater

State grand jurors on Thursday cleared Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater of any wrongdoing involving a 2006 victory party, and they condemned defense attorney Irven Box for making the allegations.  “I’m relieved,” Prater said.  The multicounty grand jury did indict one person — possibly for perjury. The indictment will be made public later.  In a 25-page report, grand jurors called the accusations about Prater “unfair, untrue and unjust.”

Read more from NewsOK at

A conservative revolt on cutting taxes

Voters and legislators in two very red states, Oklahoma and North Dakota, have recently defeated conservative initiatives to eliminate important taxes. Among some Republicans, there seems to be a realization of the need to pay taxes to fund essential services like schools and police and firemen, and of the need to find other sources of revenue once a given tax is repealed.

Read more from Muniland at

Taking Tax Cuts to a Deeper Level

Tax cuts are an increasingly popular legislative mantra. Generally, the debate centers around whose taxes should be eased and why. But this year, the discussion took a significant turn in four states. Legislators in Georgia, Kansas and Oklahoma considered proposals to eliminate the income tax, while voters in North Dakota went to the polls June 12 to vote on a ballot initiative that would abolish property taxes.

Read more from Governing at

Summer Re-Run: What’s the best way to boost the economy? Hint — it’s not tax cuts

Bartik explained that across-the-board business tax cuts are usually not the most cost-effective tool for economic development. Because state government resources are small relative to the size of a state’s economy, we need policies with a high “bang-for- the-buck” to see meaningful increases in per capita earnings. Across-the-board cuts are not targeted enough to account for the opportunity cost of paying for them though reductions in public services or increases in other taxes.  Instead, Bartik recommended five policies with proven effectiveness and high bang-for-the-buck.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin frustrated by Keystone XL pipeline delays

However, Fallin said she’s encouraged that the backer of the US$7.6-billion project, TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP), plans to start building a stretch of pipe from her state south to Texas refineries soon.  “We’ve had some great meetings while we’ve been here with TransCanada to talk about those operations and they’re anticipated to begin construction on that section of the pipeline in July in our state.”

Read more from the Canadian Press at

Oklahoma DHS revises child services improvement plan

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services on Thursday released its revisions to a plan to improve child welfare services that is part of the settlement of a lawsuit that alleged mistreatment of children in state custody.  The revisions to the so-called Pinnacle Plan include placing all children younger than 2 in a family-like setting rather than a group shelter by Dec. 31 and establishing a training program for DHS staff by July 1, 2013, rather than Sept. 1.

Read more from NewsOK at

TPS makes courageous decision to offer sex education

Kudos to Tulsa Public Schools leaders and those of other nearby school systems for their courageous willingness to introduce sex education into area schools.  With one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country, Oklahoma taxpayers have been burdened for many years with the costly consequences of youthful childbearing.  The Tulsa City-County Health Department will offer the Personal Responsibility Education Program, an evidence-based sex education program, to secondary students attending TPS summer school this summer.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Oklahoma law caps state taxes owed by captive insurers

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has signed into law a measure that would cap state taxes owed by captive insurance companies.  While there are no captives operating in Oklahoma, under S.B. 1617, which the governor signed Friday, any captives formed in the state would pay a maximum of $100,000 in aggregate taxes in any given tax year.  The new law also eliminates a previous requirement that a captive insurer’s registered agent be a licensed third-party administrator or managing general agency and maintain its principal place of business in Oklahoma.

Read more from Business Insurance at|60|302|83|87

Attorney general’s office unrightfully engulfs Human Rights Commission

Human rights in Oklahoma are in severe shape. In Oklahoma, women earn 76 percent of what men earn. Men of same-sex couples in Oklahoma earn 26 percent less than married men. As of January 2011, only Oklahoma County and the cities of Tulsa, Del City, Altus, McAlester, Vinita and Miami prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation for public employees by local government policy. Black workers in Oklahoma were unemployed at more than twice the rate as white workers in 2010.

Read more from the OU Daily at

Helmet laws reduce deaths, study finds

Fewer motorcyclists die in states that require helmets, and the costs to society are lower too, according to a new federal study released Thursday.  Oklahoma does not have a helmet law for adult motorcycle riders. The Legislature repealed the most recent law in 1976. However, riders under 18 are required to wear a helmet while on a motor-cycle, according to state law.  About five times as many no-helmet biker deaths occur in states with less restrictive laws, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found.  “These laws save lives,” said Rebecca Naumann, an epidemiologist and the study’s lead author.

Read more from NewsOK at

Oklahoma State University proposes tuition and fee hikes for undergraduates

Oklahoma State University students could see a tuition increase for the upcoming year, but it likely won’t be as large as last year’s hike.  According to a preliminary version of the proposed budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year, OSU officials plan to seek a 2.8 percent increase in tuition and fees for undergraduates from Oklahoma at the university’s Stillwater and Tulsa campuses.  Last year, OSU raised tuition just less than 5 percent for undergraduates and just more than 7 percent for graduate students.  OSU’s funding remained flat under a budget for the upcoming fiscal year passed last month by the Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education.

Read more from NewsOK at

Macho, Macho Men: America’s Manliest Cities

Together, they used a variety of hetero-normative factors to make the distinction: a high concentration of tractor supply stores and steakhouses can push cities up the rankings, while “girly” things like nail salons and upscale outlet malls can move them down.  “The results don’t lie: the manliest place to be is the city they call ‘OKC,’” Craig Hall, General Manager of Combos’ manufacturer, Mars Chocolate North America, said in a press release.

Read more from Time at

Quote of the Day

But human rights issues aren’t exclusively for minorities. They’re issues for families, communities and the state. If we continue to politicize human rights, reduce its funding and shrink the size of agencies responsible for addressing human rights issues, we aren’t properly investing in our state.

OU Daily Editoral Board, on the state’s decision to abolish Oklahoma’s Human Rights Commission

Number of the Day

71 percent

Percentage of Oklahoma’s African American children who live in low-income families, compared to 62 percent nationally in 2010; a low-income family of four with two children earns below $22,050.

Source: U.S. Census via National Center for Children in Poverty

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The True Story of Sharia in American Courts

Of course, the anti-Sharia crusade is not about the careful consideration of constitutional principles; it is about discrimination and bigotry. Take the Oklahoma anti-Sharia statute, which was written in a way that makes it clearly unconstitutional. In a New York Times profile of attorney David Yerushalmi—“The Man Behind the Anti-Shariah Movement”—Yerushalmi openly admitted that his anti-Sharia campaign had an ulterior motive that went beyond the statutes themselves. “If this thing passed in every state without any friction, it would have not served its purpose,” he said. “The purpose was heuristic—to get people asking this question, ‘What is Shariah?’” This question was meant to render Muslims suspect and their faith threatening to the rest of us.

Read more from The Nation at

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


One thought on “In The Know: Grand jury clears Okla. County District Attorney Prater

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.