In The Know: Justice working group chairs resign, cite disingenuous Governor’s office

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 former House Speaker Kris Steele and Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater resigned from a panel charged with implementing criminal justice reforms citing dismay over ‘disingenuous’ statements from Governor Fallin’s office.  A new study by Jackson Hewitt Tax Service found that rejecting Medicaid expansion will cost Oklahoma employers tens of millions annually in additional taxes. 

A plan to defund OETA and a second anti-science bill died in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.  The House passed several new education bills and a proposal to allow elderly prisoners to request parole.  Because state legislators failed to include a definition of intangible property with State Question 766, we still don’t know how much the new tax loophole will cost.  

The Number of the Day is the additional annual tax penalty for Oklahoma employers if the state does not expand Medicaid.  In today’s Policy Note, Shriver Center examined a new report from the Federal Trade Commission showing that widespread mistakes at credit rating agencies prevent too many households from maintaining a good credit score.

In The News

Oklahomans Kris Steele, David Prater resign from crime reform panel

Former House Speaker Kris Steele and Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater on Thursday abruptly resigned from a panel charged with implementing a highly touted criminal justice reform measure.  Both men accused Gov. Mary Fallin of changing her position on supporting the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, which was the result of House Bill 2052.

Read more from Tulsa World

Rejecting Medicaid expansion would hit Oklahoma employers hard, study shows

Oklahoma employers could pay as much as $52.6 million a year in higher taxes under the Affordable Care Act, if the state refuses to accept Medicaid expansion funding under the law, according to a study by Jackson Hewitt Tax Service.  Nationally, the 22 states that have rejected the Medicaid money or remain undecided on the issue could cost their employers extra taxes up to $1.3 billion, the report says.

Read more from Tulsa World 

Oklahoma House rejects plan to cut OETA funding

Lawmakers killed a proposal Thursday that would have slowly reduced state funding for Oklahoma’s public television network, but the author of the bill said the agency still could be phased out of existence.  The House voted 57-41 against the bill to reduce state appropriations to the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority.

Read more from the AP

Second antiscience bill dies in Oklahoma

House Bill 1674 died in the Oklahoma House of Representatives on March 14, 2013, when a deadline for bills to have their third reading in their house of origin passed. Along with Senate Bill 758, which died in February 2013, HB 1674 was one of two proposed laws that would have undermined the integrity of science education in Oklahoma. 

Read more from the National Center for Science Education

Oklahoma house crams education bills on deadline

A fistful of education bills – including two that would give school districts more flexibility in dealing with state mandates and another that creates a task force to study the controversial A-F school grading system – limboed under the deadline for House passage.  Thursday was the so-called Third Reading Deadline – the final day for legislation originating in the House of Representatives to be voted on in the House – and lawmakers ground through more than 40 pieces of legislation in one day.

Read more from the Tulsa World

Okla. House passes parole of elderly inmates bill

The measure by Rep. Jeannie McDaniel of Tulsa would create the Parole of Aging Prisoners Act to allow aging prisoners to request parole after completing 10 years or one-third of their prison sentence. The Pardon and Parole Board would recommend parole only if the board finds that the inmate does not pose a risk to public safety.  McDaniel says allowing elderly prisoners who don’t pose a risk to public safety to be released from prison on parole will free up some of the state’s crowded prison cells.

Read more from the AP

We still don’t know how much SQ 766 will cost (Guest Blog: Michelle Cantrell)

Last November, Oklahoma voters approved State Question 766, a constitutional amendment which exempts all intangible personal property from ad valorem taxation. Though the new law seems simple, it creates complex questions for assessors and corporations that will have a major impact on the amount of property tax revenue that can be raised to support local services. 

Read more from OKPolicy Blog

Quote of the Day

“Let’s quit pretending everyone can afford cable television.  There’s passion among the people for OETA. And you’ll feel that passion in the next election if you keep treating the people this way.”

Rep. David Dank R-Oklahoma City, concerned that a bill to slash OETA funding would cut critical educational programming for young children and rural or low-income Oklahomans who can’t afford or can’t receive cable

Number of the Day

$52.6 million

Total annual additional tax penalty for Oklahoma’s employers if the state does not accept federal funds to expand Medicaid

Source: Jackson Hewitt viaTulsa World

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Consumers Pay for Credit Reporting Agency Errors

Recently, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a long-awaited report on credit reporting accuracy. The report, which is required under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACT Act), shows that credit reporting agencies (CRAs) make errors that negatively affect millions of peoples’ credit scores. Without a good credit score, it is difficult if not impossible to qualify for a mortgage, obtain a credit card, buy a car, or finance a small business.

Read more from Shriver Center

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