In The Know: Hundreds gather at Capitol to protest personhood bill

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. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that hundreds gathered at the Capitol yesterday to protest legislative efforts to declare personhood at conception. Because it would reduce the glut of oil in the Midwest, completion of a leg of the Keystone XL pipeline from Cushing to the Gulf Coast would likely increase gas prices for Oklahoma drivers by 10 to 30 cents per gallon. News9 reports on difficulties of those trying to force Oklahoma’s new pet breeder regulations against fierce resistance and threats from breeders.

Lawmakers are refusing to continue allowing state employees to make charitable contributions by payroll deduction, and the chair of the United Way of Central Oklahoma said this will have a devastating effect on nonprofits. Legislative leaders announced an agreement for $92.5 million in supplemental appropriations to cover responsibilities that were left out of last year’s budget.

Outgoing DHS Director Howard Hendrick said IT consolidation of the agency would cost millions and potentially provide less service. DHS commissioners clashed over what to do about two deteriorating and outdated institutions for the severely developmentally disabled. On the OK Policy Blog, guest blogger John Thompson discussed the rewards and dangers for urban schools under Oklahoma’s No Child Left Behind waiver.

Former Oklahoma Senate leader Mike Morgan began testimony in his corruption trial. A federal appeals court upheld Oklahoma’s right to regulate and collect taxes on tobacco sold on Indian land.

The Number of the Day is the growth rate of clean energy jobs between 1998 and 2007. In today’s Policy Note, New Deal 2.0 explains how women’s access to contraception has benefited the economy.

In The News

Hundreds gather at Capitol to protest personhood bill

Hundreds gathered Tuesday on the north steps of the Capitol to protest legislative efforts to declare personhood at conception. They were loud, enthusiastic and, at times, off color. Senate Bill 1433, by Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, is pending in the House after securing approval in the Senate. Another measure, House Joint Resolution 1067, by Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, proposes to put the issue to a vote of the people. But Rep. Gary Banz, R-Midwest City, said the measure would not be heard in House Rules, which he serves as chairman and where it was assigned. Protesters donned aprons and took off their shoes to show the measure was a throwback to when women had few reproductive or career choices. “Women brought you in 2 the world,” read one sign. “Women will vote you out of this Legislature.”

Read more from NewsOK.

Cushing pipeline likely to increase gas prices for Oklahoma drivers

Pump prices may make you cringe right now, but we actually have some of the cheapest gas prices in the nation. But a proposed pipeline from Cushing to Gulf Coast refineries could change that. Crude oil here, called west Texas intermediate, is priced lower because of the huge oil jam in Cushing. The oversupply of oil stored in tanks has lowered its price throughout a great swath of the plains and Rocky Mountain states. Refineries in this part of the country pay less as a result and you pay less at the pump. An energy researcher explained to MSNBC that the pipeline would break the logjam in Cushing, thus lowering Midwest supplies and raising the cost of both oil and products made from oil, like gasoline. A business professor at UC-Berkley believes prices at the pump could be anywhere from 10 to 30 cents more per gallon for Oklahomans and the Midwest, reflecting the prices the rest of the country is paying.

Read more from NewsOn6.

Enforcement of pet breeder law requires dogged determination

A new law requiring state licensing of commercial pet breeders sits under a cloud of uncertainty, while those trying to enforce it express frustration — even fear — over the resistance they’re encountering. The law has engendered vehement protest from some breeders, who claim they are already regulated, and that this is a thinly veiled effort by animal rights activists to put breeders out of business. Prior to the law’s passage, there was no oversight of breeders at the state level. Breeders selling their animals out of state were already required to be inspected and licensed by the USDA, but Oklahoma animal welfare advocates say that process is inconsistent, and allows many sub-standard breeders to operate under the radar.

Read more from News9.

Oklahoma may end charitable payroll deduction for state employees

The demise of a state committee that allows state employees to contribute to charitable groups by payroll deduction will have a devastating effect on the amount of money raised by nonprofits, the chairman of the board of United Way of Central Oklahoma said Monday. House Bill 2228, which would have extended the life of the Oversight Committee for State Employee Charitable Contributions through July 1, 2016, will not be heard, Rep. George Faught said Monday. Faught, chairman of the House of Representatives Administrative Rules and Government Oversight Committee, said he won’t bring the bill up because the charitable contributions committee isn’t an essential state service. Faught said some committee members supported allowing the charitable committee to end because they thought Planned Parenthood was a member agency of the United Way of Central Oklahoma. A United Way spokeswoman said Planned Parenthood is not a member agency and hasn’t been for about 20 years.

Read more from NewsOK.

Supplemental appropriations of $92.5 million proposed by legislative leaders

Legislative leaders announced an agreement for $92.5 million in supplemental appropriations on Tuesday. The proposal includes $14.8 million for $5,000 bonuses for teachers who attained National Board certification. The bonuses were not funded in fiscal year 2012 because of budget cuts. The agreement also includes $37.6 million to pay for insurance benefits for teachers and support staff. It also includes $34.1 million for the State Emergency Fund to reimburse local communities and counties for disaster assistance and another $5 million to pay for a Highway Patrol trooper academy. Some $1 million is slated to pay for personnel and equipment at the state Medical Examiner’s Office. The supplemental appropriation does not include funds to move that office from Oklahoma City to the University of Central Oklahoma campus in Edmond.

Read more from The Tulsa World.

DHS Director sounds plea against consolidating IT

State plans to consolidate computer technology will cost the Oklahoma Department of Human Services millions and potentially give it less service, the agency’s director said Tuesday. The agency needs a total exemption from the plan, which was passed by the Legislature last year, Director Howard Hendrick told the state Human Services Commission. State Finance Director Preston Doerflinger said he isn’t planning to grant the exemption because it would short-circuit state plans to save as much as $170 million by combining technology services. Hendrick said the state stands to lose more than $3 million in federal funding immediately if DHS loses authority over its own computer system and an additional $2.3 million a year in ongoing federal funding.

Read more from The Tulsa World.

DHS commissioners clash over residential treatment centers

Howard Hendrick’s last comission meeting as Department of Human Services director was punctuated by strife Tuesday as commissioners clashed over what to do about two deteriorating and outdated institutions for the severely developmentally disabled. Commission Chairman Brad Yarbrough attempted to head off conflict, saying he was exercising his prerogative as chairman to not bring up an agenda item. Yarbrough said he was going to skip the agenda item that called for discussion and possible approval of a modified plan for future operations of the Northern Oklahoma Resource Center in Enid and the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls Valley. Commissioner Jay Dee Chase strenuously objected, saying he wanted to hear about a trip Commissioner Steven Dow had taken to the Pauls Valley institution — purportedly to encourage someone to file a class-action lawsuit against the commission. Dow denied encouraging a lawsuit.

Read more from NewsOK.

Guest Blog (John Thompson): The rewards and dangers of NCLB waivers for urban schools

When Oklahoma’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver was granted, local news celebrated a new era of “freedom and autonomy,” apparently believing that standardized testing will become less ubiquitous. But the waiver does not mean that educators who are tired of standardizing testing should be smiling, or that we will begin “a whole new way of educating children”. Neither, however, does it mean that a right-wing conspiracy is poised to take over local schools. Basically, the Obama Administration’s NCLB waivers were designed to relieve pressure to teach to the test for 90 percent of the nation’s schools, while doubling down on ‘bubble-in accountability’ for the most challenging 10 percent, and imposing new standards for evaluating teachers. It may or may not be possible, however, for a poor state like Oklahoma to successfully comply with the federal mandates.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Former Oklahoma Senate leader Mike Morgan begins testimony in corruption trial

Former state Senate leader Mike Morgan told jurors Tuesday at his political corruption trial that he was never asked to influence legislation on behalf of a power plant company that was paying him $5,000 a month. He said the company, Tenaska Inc., hired him because he is a lawyer. He said he wouldn’t have had the company as a client if it had wanted his influence in the Legislature. “I’m not going to risk everything I’ve worked for all my life,” he testified. Prosecutors allege Morgan, a Democrat, accepted more than $400,000 in bribes from three companies for his influence. Morgan contends he was paid for legitimate legal services.

Read more from NewsOK.

Federal appeals court upholds state right to regulate, collect taxes for Indian tobacco

The Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday affirmed the state of Oklahoma’s right to prohibit the sale of Indian-made cigarettes, which has cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenue, court records show. The Creek Nation sued the state in 2010 because lawmakers passed a law to make it a criminal offense to sell cigarettes not approved by the state as part of the Master Settlement Agreement, records show. Before the law was passed, Creek-affiliated stores were selling Seneca and King Mountain cigarettes without a state tax stamp and without remitting payments to the state in lieu of taxes, court records show.

Read more from The Tulsa World.

Quote of the Day

When I saw that sign out of all of those signs, I was like, I’ve got to have a picture of it. I thought if my 87-year-old mother sees this, I’m going to get hell this weekend, but it was too late.
Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre, D-Tulsa, who posed at the anti-personhood rally with a sign that said, “If I wanted the government in my womb I’d f — a senator.”

Number of the Day

6.8 percent

Growth rate of clean energy jobs between 1998 and 2007, compared to 2.4 percent growth for all jobs.

Source: Pew Center on the States

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

What the U.S. economy owes to contraception

Research consistently demonstrates a link between decreased fertility thanks to contraception and increased female employment. And right on cue, women, freed up from unwanted child bearing and child rearing, consequently flooded the workforce after the pill became widely accessible. Overall, from 1970 to 2009 women went from holding 37 percent of all jobs to almost half of them. This change has had a significant impact on women’s lives and families, the fallout of which is still reverberating throughout the culture wars. But the impact on our economy is easy to quantify. The private sector has long recognized this fact: consulting giant McKinsey explains that without the huge increase in women’s workforce participation since the 1970s, “our economy would be 25% smaller today — an amount equal to the combined GDP of Illinois, California and New York.”

Read more from New Deal 2.0.

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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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