In The Know: June 15, 2011

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 on In The Know, the Oklahoma Supreme Court upheld most of HB 1804, the 2007 anti-immigration law. The court struck down one provision that denies bail to undocumented immigrants arrested on felony counts or DUI complaints. Tulsa is looking at opening more city services to managed competition against private sector firms after city employees found cost savings and outbid 11 private firms to continue maintenance of city hall. Roy Clark Elementary in Tulsa is gaining national recognition for its success as a community school.

At a contentious Oklahoma City council meeting, councilpersons and members of the MAPS 3 citizens’ committee fought over the schedule for completing MAPS 3 projects. Oklahoma City and Norman were blasted by damaging hail and wind that tore the roof off an apartment building and snapped trees and power poles. The legislature is establishing a joint committee on long-term water planning and a special House committee to look at further pension reforms. A Tulsa police captain who refused to attend Law Enforcement Appreciation Day at an Islamic Center has been suspended for two weeks without pay.

A third Oklahoma town has passed an ordinance requiring prescriptions for pseudoephedrine tablets in an attempt to fight meth, and Dr. Jack Beller writes in NewsOK about the significant negative consequences of these measures. The OK Policy Blog has a guest post about a nationwide analysis of how states are moving forward on health insurance exchanges. An upcoming webinar hosted by the Oklahoma Assets Coalition will examine how Individual Development Accounts can help low-income individuals to save money for education, a small business, or a home. In today’s Policy Note, a new study by the Economic Policy Institute shows that the EPA’s new rules on power plant pollution would not hurt job growth but would in fact slightly increase the number of jobs in coming years.

These stories and more below the jump.

In The News

Oklahoma Supreme Court upholds anti-immigration bill

The state Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a lower court’s decision that determined virtually all of the state’s anti-illegal immigration law is constitutional. The law makes it illegal to knowingly transport illegal immigrants, creates state barriers to hiring illegal workers and requires proof of citizenship before a person can receive government benefits. The high court in an 8-1 vote did strike down a provision of HB 1804, which took effect in 2007, which denies bail to illegal immigrants arrested on felony counts or driving under the influence complaints. The Supreme Court ruled it should be left up to the courts to decide on bail. Rep. Randy Terrill said he is considering seeking a proposed constitutional amendment that would be up to voters to approve that would deny bail for illegal immigrants arrested for misdemeanors, felonies and driving under the influence offenses.

Read more from this NewsOK article at

Tulsa planning to expand public vs. private competition to provide city services

Vickie Beyer, the director of the city’s new Management Review Office describes managed competition as a situation in which city teams bid against private sector firms to provide services at best value. Best value is not only about price, she says. It’s also about quality of service. In the first instance of managed competition, the mayor revealed that city employees submitted a winning bid of a little more than $977,000 to continue performing the electrical, mechanical, plumbing and carpentry work — a savings of more than $115,000 compared to the amount currently budgeted for those tasks. The city employees came up with the winning bid while competing against a number of national firms, including several from New York City. Terry Simonson, the mayor’s chief of staff, said 298 city services were identified as candidates for managed competition in the KPMG report, and the MRO staff is engaged in the process of going through that list now.

Read more from this Urban Tulsa Weekly article at

Clark Elementary honored for achievements

Tulsa Union’s Roy Clark Elementary was recently named a 2011 National Community School, one of only three in the country to be honored by the national Coalition for Community Schools in Washington, D.C. The two other schools are Ethel Taylor Academy in Cincinnati and Glencliff High School in Nashville, Tenn. All three schools will be recognized at a national awards ceremony Thursday in the nation’s capital. Community schools provide a web of support and resources to improve the academic, emotional, physical and social development of its students. At Clark, the results have been staggering. Absenteeism has dropped to near zero. Reading and math scores have risen dramatically. And the school has increased its parent-teacher conference participation to 100 percent.

Read more from this Tulsa World article at

MAPS 3 schedule criticized in Oklahoma City meeting

A drawn-out, contentious debate broke out Tuesday as council members and members of MAPS 3 citizens’ committee fought over a proposed new schedule that would allow work to start sooner rather than later on a convention center. The Oklahoma City Council is set to vote on the schedule assembled by Mike Mize with Architectural Design Group on July 5, but if Tuesday’s 90-minute discussion is any indication, a unanimous vote may be unlikely.

The latest proposal moves the convention center project to 2012 — about 30 months from its previous targeted start date, and also starts the white water rapids attraction six months sooner, and moves up the start of a State Fair Park exhibit hall by one year. By doing so, transit is delayed to include a contested “investigation” phase, and only basic landscaping along the northern edge of a Core to Shore park would be complete when a nearby new boulevard is set to open in 2014. Three of four senior aquatics centers also would be started later than first planned.

Read more from this NewsOK article at

High winds tear roof from apartment building, snap power poles in Norman, hail pounds Oklahoma City

High winds tore the roof off an apartment building and snapped trees and power poles in Norman, and hail the size of tennis balls fell in Oklahoma City on Tuesday evening as a severe storm swept through central Oklahoma. Norman Fire Deputy Chief Jim Bailey said wind damage was widespread as far north as Rock Creek Road and as far south as Lindsey Street. Bailey said only one injury was reported. “That was a telephone pole that came down and hit a vehicle,” Bailey said. “That person had a laceration on his head, but he will be OK.” There are 8,649 customers in Norman without power Wednesday morning, the OG&E website shows.

Read more from this NewsOK article at

Joint water policy committee formed, further pension reforms envisioned

Two of the most significant issues facing the 2012 session of the Oklahoma Legislature will get fresh examination from key legislators, in wake of leadership announcements this week. Today (Tuesday, June 14), leaders of the House and Senate formed a joint committee to fashion long-range policy for water. Speaker of the House Kris Steele of Shawnee and Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman of Sapulpa formed the water panel, which will work during the summer and fall interim period, and into the 2012 session. In other news, a special House committee will look at further state government pension reforms. State Rep. Randy McDaniel of Oklahoma City will serve as chairman of a select House committee on oversight committee on pensions.

Read more from this CapitolBeatOK article at

Tulsa police captain who refused to attend mosque event suspended for two weeks

A Tulsa Police Captain who was reassigned for refusing to order his officers to attend a Law Enforcement Appreciation Day event at the Islamic Center has begun serving an 80-hour suspension without pay. The Tulsa Police Department says the suspension is for violation of two police department policies. Forty hours for violating policy “Duty to be truthful and obedient,” and forty hours for violating policy “Conduct unbecoming an officer or police employee.” In February, Captain Paul Fields said the order violated his religious beliefs.  He filed a civil lawsuit in federal court in Tulsa which is still pending.

Read more from this NewsOn6 article at

Jack J. Beller, MD: Prescription mandate will have negative consequences

On behalf of the Oklahoma State Medical Association and its nearly 5,000 physician and medical student members, I would like to express our opposition to the recent proposal to require a prescription for pseudoephedrine products. We believe that requiring a prescription for many common cold and allergy medications is a shortsighted solution that won’t address the problems of these drugs being brought in from out of state and will needlessly penalize law-abiding Oklahomans with these common illnesses. Oklahomans with more serious illnesses will face longer wait times to get an appointment and longer lines in the doctor’s waiting room as physicians attempt to handle the additional influx of patients seeking cold and allergy medications.

Read more from this NewsOK article at

See also: Third Oklahoma town bans pseudoephedrine tablets from NewsOn6

Center on Budget: States moving forward on health reform’s insurance exchanges

The continuing rhetorical battle over health reform shouldn’t obscure the fact that states are taking important steps to implement last year’s historic legislation. For example, virtually every state has made at least some progress toward setting up health insurance marketplaces or “exchanges,” which will give individuals and small businesses affordable, comprehensive coverage options. The Affordable Care Act calls for states to have exchanges up and running in January 2014. Our analysis finds that 39 states have introduced exchange legislation this year. While some states failed to pass their exchange bills during this legislative session, only Louisiana has publicly announced that it won’t set up an exchange.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at http://center-on-budget-states-moving-forward-on-health-reform%E2%80%99s-insurance-exchanges/.

Upcoming event: Oklahoma Assets webinar

Oklahoma Assets will host the third in a series of webinars on asset-building next Thursday, June 23rd from 1:00 to 2:00 pm CDT.  The 60-minute webinar, “Individual Development Accounts (IDAs): Programs and Policies that Work!” will show how IDAs offer individuals with low income and limited resources the opportunity to save money for education, a small business, or a home.  IDA participants enjoy matched savings, peer support, financial education and training specific to their savings goal.  The webinar will begin with a short introduction to IDAs by the moderator and then presenters will share their first hand experiences administering IDAs.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at

Quote of the Day

Many children had not ever tried fresh fruits and vegetables. They were gnawing on the banana skins because they didn’t know how to peel them.

Theresa Kiger, the principal of Roy Clark Elementary in Tulsa, which received national honors for its success in breaking down barriers to academic, emotional, physical and social development of its students.

Number of the Day

60 percent

Percent of the state’s surface water that is used for public water supply; the rest is used mainly for thermoelectric power generation and irrigation

Source: Oklahoma Water Resources Board via

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

EPA’s toxics rule no threat to job growth, new study finds

A new study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) finds that new regulations on mercury, arsenic and other toxic air pollution from power plants proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in March would not provide a drag on the current economic recovery and would in fact have a slightly positive impact on job growth in coming years. While the “toxics rule” would primarily benefit the economy through large improvements to health and quality-of-life, it has been opposed by those claiming it would hamper job growth; today’s study finds that this is not true.

Read more from the Economic Policy Institute at

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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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