In The Know: Lawmaker alleges improper release of medical records by House

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.

Today you should know that Rep. Mike Christian accused the Oklahoma House of inappropriately releasing confidential medical information related to a workers compensation claim.  Mickey Hepner, Dean of the University of Central Oklahoma College of Business, explains to the Edmond Sun why a recent legislative proposal amounts to a tax increase on Oklahoma’s middle class.  Oklahoma Policy Institute provided a detailed analysis of the effects of this legislative proposal in this fact sheet.  Sen. Clark Jolley told the Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce that the state still faces a multi-million dollar budget shortfall.

Advocates warn of ‘transfer trauma’ and even death if medically fragile mentally disabled Oklahomans are moved out of facilities slated for closure improperly.  The trial of a Stephens County sheriff’s deputy charged with rape, sexual battery, and kidnapping begins today.  A former detention officer at the Muskogee County Jail was indicted on six charges related to two separate assaults of an inmate and subsequent attempts to cover up the assaults.

Oklahoma Department of Human Services Director Howard Hendrick will be considering whether or not he will stay with the agency he has lead for 13 years.  Rep. John Enns filed a bill to make knowingly transmitting human papillomavirus (HPV) a crime.  In today’s Policy Note, the Kaiser Family Foundation released their annual survey of employer health benefits, with a detailed look at trends in employer-sponsored health coverage.  Today’s Number of the Day is the average tax increase on sixty percent of Oklahoma households under a legislative proposal to eliminate a slate of broad-based tax credits and exemptions.

In The News

Oklahoma lawmaker says medical, legal records released

A Republican state lawmaker alleged Friday that GOP leaders of the Oklahoma House have inappropriately released his confidential medical and legal information — an accusation that was promptly denied House speaker.  Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, said the accusations by Rep. Mike Christian, R-Oklahoma City, “are just the latest in a continued series of disingenuous political attacks on the House of Representatives.  “We have work to do here and won’t be deterred by false accusations and attacks,” Steele said.

Read more from the Durant Daily Democrat at–legal-records-released?instance=home_news_lead

Tax proposal burdens poor, middle-class

Thanks to a proposal going before the Oklahoma Legislature this spring, taxes on middle-class Oklahoma families could soon be going up.  Recently, a legislative task force on comprehensive tax reform proposed reducing the top Oklahoma personal income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 4.75 percent. In order to offset the lost revenue from the reduction in the top tax rates, though, the task force proposed the elimination of many deductions, exemptions and credits claimed by Oklahoma taxpayers.

Read more from the Edmond Sun at

Legislators brace for state revenue shortfall

The state of Oklahoma will have a revenue gap when the 2012 legislative session begins at noon Feb. 6, said state Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond.  “Despite what my good friend Ken Miller (state treasurer) has been saying in the media, Oklahoma’s economy has not completely recovered and we are not completely out of the woods yet,” said Jolley, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.  One more certification is needed before the Legislature will know how much of a budget shortfall it will have this year, Jolley said. Gov. Mary Fallin bases her budget on the November revenue certification.  “That one is $150 million short of what we spent last year when you take the one-time revenues out,” Jolley said.

Read more from the Edmond Sun at

Change ahead for Oklahoma’s mentally disabled

Some of Oklahoma’s most fragile mentally disabled people could die as Oklahoma moves toward closing state centers for the mentally disabled, warned an attorney who helped dismantle the state’s first institution.  Bullock worked with DHS on the Hissom plan that placed about 450 severely mentally disabled residents in community homes. But he said DHS planning is different this time.  “The plan that DHS originally presented, we are convinced is not well thought-out. And it lacks the essential safeguards that are necessary to be sure that the move is safe and successful,” Bullock said.

Read more from NewsOk at

Former Okla. deputy faces trial in assault charges

A former Stephens County sheriff’s deputy charged with assaulting women he allegedly targeted while on the job is set to go on trial Monday on felony counts including rape, sexual battery and kidnapping.  Brandon Balthrop, 29, is charged with three counts of sexual battery, two counts of rape by instrumentation and one count of kidnapping, online court records show. According to a copy of the complaint posted by KWTV when he was charged in 2010, Balthrop was accused of molesting four people, ages 16-37, between 2007 and 2010 while he was employed as a law enforcement officer.

Read more from the Alva Review-Courier at

Former Oklahoma Detention Officer Indicted For Assaulting An Inmate

A federal grand jury in Muskogee, Okla., has indicted Jerrod Porter Lane, 26, former detention officer at the Muskogee County Jail (MCJ) in Oklahoma, on six charges related to two separate assaults of an inmate housed at MCJ and the subsequent attempts to cover up his behavior, all during October 2011.  Lane is charged with violating the civil rights of the victim for spraying him with Oleoresin Capsicum (OC or pepper spray) on Oct.1, 2011, while the victim was fully restrained. Lane is also charged with falsifying both his own incident report and the report of a fellow jailer when Lane falsely wrote that the victim was physically resisting and that the victim was not restrained at the time Lane dispensed his pepper spray.


DHS director to decide whether he should stay or quit

After 13 years of leading the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Howard Hendrick says he will be deciding in the next two to three months whether to stay on the job.  Hendrick said Friday that he is not going to make a decision next week, but “this is a good time to consider that question.”  “There are several milestones for me coming up, but you’re never really going to have everything done that you want,” Hendrick said.  Significant accomplishments he cited under his leadership included having the 16,000th adoption finalized last week, tripling child support collections and moving food stamp applications online.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Culture and HPV

State Representative John Enns also has a list of bills filed for the session. One of his bills deal with tornado liability. If an individual allows his neighbor to use his cellar during a tornado, and the neighbor is hurt, Enns’ bill will prevent the owner from being liable.  Another bill will make knowingly transmitting human papillomavirus a crime. A transmission of HPV, which constitutes an assault if knowingly transmitted, will be added to the list of sexually transmitted diseases, he said.  “It you have HPV and know it and expose someone else, it is considered assault,” Enns said. “I’m adding HPV to that list, because of the cancer it causes. There are more than 100 HPV viruses, and one third of them cause cancer.”

Read more from the Enid News and Eagle at

Quote of the Day

These grandiose visions that agencies are going to get hundreds of millions of dollar more than they got last year, because we’re back healthy, or even $1 million more is probably not going to happen.

State Senator Clark Jolley, R-Edmond

Number of the Day


Average tax increase on sixty percent of Oklahoma households under a legislative proposal to eliminate a slate of broad-based tax credits and exemptions.

Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Employer Health Benefits 2011 Annual Survey

This annual survey of employers provides a detailed look at trends in employer-sponsored health coverage, including premiums, employee contributions, cost-sharing provisions, and other relevant information. This year’s survey also includes new questions on the percent of firms with grandfathered health plans, changes in benefits for preventive care, enrollment of adult children due to the new health reform law, and the use of stoploss coverage by firms with self-funded plans. The survey continues to document the prevalence of high-deductible health plans associated with a savings option and includes questions on wellness benefits. The 2011 survey included 3,184 randomly selected public and private firms with three or more employees (2,088 of which responded to the full survey and 1,096 of which responded to an additional question about offering coverage). Researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation, NORC at the University of Chicago, and Health Research & Educational Trust designed and analyzed the survey.

Read more from the Kaiser Family Foundation at

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2 thoughts on “In The Know: Lawmaker alleges improper release of medical records by House

  1. Rep. Enns’ bill regarding HPV transmission is absurd. According to the CDC, “there is no general test for men or women to check one’s overall HPV status.” Thus no person can knowingly transmit HPV. This bill is another waste of legislative time to pander to the scientifically-uneducated right.

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