In The Know: House Speaker introducing bill to repeal common core standards

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 with just two weeks left in the legislative session, Republican House Speaker T.W. Shannon said he will introduce a measure to repeal common core standards in Oklahoma school districts. The Legislature approved a bill to ban prescription refills of the painkiller hydrocodone. A Senate panel approved a measure to fund the American Indian Cultural Center and a pop culture museum in Tulsa with money taken off the top of sales tax and use tax revenues.

After 18 months of growth, Oklahoma City’s sales tax receipts have dropped two months in a row compared to the previous year. Senate Minority Leader Sean Burrage wrote in the Pryor Daily Times that the income tax cut signed by Governor Fallin will do almost nothing for 80 percent of Oklahomans. M. Scott Carter writes that by combining the tax cut and state Capitol repairs into one bill, lawmakers are thumbing their nose at the state’s constitutional ban on logrolling.

NewsOK writes that Oklahoma corrections officers are hoping for a cool August, since they are unprepared to safely deal with prison riots in the heat. The OK Policy Blog shared a 3-minute video that sheds light on America’s racial wealth gap. This Land Press has an in-depth story on the struggle of descendants of black slaves held by Cherokees to keep their citizenship in the Cherokee Nation.

The Number of the Day is the average annual wage in Oklahoma, 42nd lowest in the U.S. in 2012. In today’s Policy Note, the Washington Post reports on the Obama administration’s new draft of regulations for fracking on federal and Indian lands.

In The News

House Speaker introducing bill to repeal common core standards

Republican House Speaker T.W. Shannon is joining a growing chorus of conservatives opposed to a set of public education principles known as common core state standards. Shannon announced Thursday that with just two weeks left in the legislative session he is unveiling a measure to repeal a 2010 law that requires common core to be implemented by Oklahoma school districts. Common core standards include basic requirements for students to learn in math, English, history, social studies and science. The standards were developed by a consortium of states. Shannon called them a “federal intrusion into our education system.”

Read more from KTUL.

Legislature approves ban on painkiller prescription refills

Two measures intended to help tackle the prescription drug overdose problem in Oklahoma won final legislative approval Thursday and are on their way to the governor. House Bill 1783 would prohibit a written or oral prescription containing the painkiller hydrocodone from being refilled. There are no refill limits now on the drug. The House of Representatives voted 75-6 to accept a Senate amendment to HB 1783, which earlier passed 43-0 in the Senate. The original House version of the measure capped refills at two; the Senate amendment eliminated any refills.

Read more from NewsOK.

Senate panel OKs funds for pop culture museum, American Indian Cultural Center

In a surprise move, a Senate panel approved a measure Thursday to fund construction of a pop culture museum in Tulsa and another to finish the financially troubled American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City. The Senate Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget passed Senate Bill 1133, which provides $40 million for the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture, dubbed OKPOP, to be built in the Brady Arts District. The funds would come from sales taxes taken out of gross revenues before the money is placed into the general revenue fund. It calls for $5 million in fiscal year 2015, another $5 million in fiscal year 2016, $10 million in fiscal year 2017 and a final apportionment of $20 million in fiscal year 2018.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Sales tax receipts decline for second consecutive month in Oklahoma City

After 18 months of growth, Oklahoma City’s sales tax receipts have dropped two months in a row — a fact that has the attention of city leaders. Sales tax is the biggest single contributor to the city’s budget. Sales tax growth is an indicator of the city’s overall economic health. Adding to concerns are furloughs announced this week by the U.S. Defense Department in response to federal budget cuts that took effect March 1. “Two months are not enough to constitute a trend, but we will certainly be watching this very closely,” said Doug Dowler, the city’s budget director.

Read more from NewsOK.

Sean Burrage: Pay attention to distribution of tax cut

The plan to reduce Oklahoma’s income tax from 5.25 percent to 5.00 beginning in 2015 is a done deal. We know it means losing $200 million from state revenues that could have gone to hire more teachers and properly fund public safety so that we have enough troopers on the road and ensure they’re paid a competitive salary. All along, supporters of income tax reduction plan have talked about the “real” tax relief this bill will bring. According to them, the “average” taxpayer will see a savings of $82 a year—that’s less than a quarter a day. But the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy has taken it a step further by showing us how that tax reduction impacts Oklahoman’s by breaking down the tax benefit by household incomes. You might want to pay attention to this.

Read more from the Pryor Daily Times.

Taking the state constitution to heart

Remember the name Jerry Fent. Because he has something important to say. For several years now Fent, an Oklahoma City attorney, has almost single-handedly reminded the Oklahoma Legislature that they should, more often than not, pay attention to the state’s constitution. Fent has filed lawsuit after lawsuit and has successfully taken the Legislature to task for questionable spending, state debt and logrolling – writing and passing bills that have more than one subject. And more often than not Fent has been right. This year, expect to see Fent in court again.

Read more from the Journal Record.

As study unfolds, Oklahoma prison guards hoping for a cool August

Oklahoma made it through the past two broiling summers without a major prison brawl — remarkable, really, considering the state’s lockups are packed with groups that don’t like each other, in facilities that aren’t fully air conditioned. And, with little to stop inmates if they do decide to rumble. Only three-fifths of the state’s correctional officer positions are filled. Keeping even that many men and women on the job is difficult because the pay is bad. The starting wage for a prison guard is $11.83 per hour, lower than what the same job pays in neighboring states and certainly below what’s available in local oil field jobs.

Read more from NewsOK.

Watch This: The racial wealth gap in America

The racial wealth gap has been a hot topic lately on our blog. The United States remains one of the wealthiest countries in the world, yet escaping poverty and achieving prosperity remains out of reach for millions of Americans. Too many people of color, striving to make a better life for themselves and their families, face significant barriers to building wealth and less access to opportunities that are widely available for Whites. This 3-minute video from the Urban Institute sheds more light on the issue with a simple, compelling illustration.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

From One Fire

On an oppressively hot evening last May, David Cornsilk addressed a room of so-called “black Indians” at Gilcrease Hills Baptist Church in northwest Tulsa. He wore a leather-braided bolo tie clasped by an emerald quartz. Though Cornsilk never formally studied law, his voice bellowed with the rhetorical ire of a white-shoed seasoned litigator. “By a show of hands, how many folks here tonight are Freedmen?” Cornsilk asked into the microphone. Each raised an arm. Visibly dismayed, Cornsilk shook his head. It was a trick question. “No,” Cornsilk said. “The Freedmen died a long time ago. You are not Freedmen. You are Cherokee, and it is time that you begin to recognize who you are.”

Read more from This Land Press.

Quote of the Day

Several years ago, lawmakers slashed the budget of an agency that provided analyses of how corrections-related policy affected Oklahoma’s criminal justice system. The data didn’t sit well with those in charge, so they shot the messenger. But doing so didn’t change the data, which showed the state’s prison population ever on the rise as the result of tough-on-crime laws approved by the Legislature through the years.

Oklahoman Editorial Board

Number of the Day


Average annual wage in Oklahoma, 42nd lowest in the U.S. in 2012

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Obama administration issues draft fracking regulations

The Obama administration drew sharp criticism from environmental and oil industry groups Thursday when it issued a new draft of regulations for fracking on federal and Indian lands. Environmental groups said the new draft provided weaker water protections than a version the Interior Department proposed a year ago, while oil industry groups said they wanted regulation left in the hands of states and were opposed to any federal rules. In its first update of hydraulic fracturing regulations in three decades, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management would require wider disclosure of chemicals used in drilling. It would also require that companies have a water-management plan for fluids that flow back to the surface and take steps to assure wellbore integrity and prevent toxic fluids from leaking into groundwater.

Read more from the Washington Post.

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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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