In The Know: Lawmakers demand state return Youth Expo funds

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 lawmakers suing the state for appropriating funds to the Oklahoma Youth Expo sent demand letters to state officials, insisting that the money be returned.  Gov. Fallin issued a statement reminding Oklahomans about exemptions and exceptions to the new open carry law.  

Students at the OU Health Sciences Center started a nonprofit mobile grocery store to provide healthy food to low-income areas.  The OK Policy Blog explained how untaxed Internet sales disadvantage local business – and how the state could remedy the problem.

Rep. David Dank argued that a major state tax cut won’t happen without serious tax reform.  The U.S. Dept. of Education is investigating a parental allegation that an Oklahoma high school senior, who reportedly failed the state’s new graduation test, was denied reasonable accommodations for her disability by the State Dept. of Education.

In today’s Policy Note, Wonkblog explains the ramifications of Congress letting the Farm Bill lapse.  The Number of the Day is the number of states that doubled their rate of obesity over the last 15 years.

In The News

Lawmaker: Okla. should recover Youth Expo cash

Gov. Mary Fallin and other state officials received letters Wednesday claiming a $2 million appropriation to a private, nonprofit livestock show violates the state constitution and demanding that the officials recover the money.  The letters were delivered by state Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, who with Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, has filed a lawsuit alleging that the appropriation to the Oklahoma Youth Expo livestock show is an inappropriate use of taxpayer money. The demand letters are signed by Reynolds’ attorney, Andrew Karim.

Read more from the Associated Press at

Governor Fallin Issues Reminders Regarding New Open Carry Law

“I am reminding all Oklahomans that the law allows for open carry of firearms only for those with handgun licenses,” said Fallin. “Gun owners with concealed carry permits will now be allowed to carry their guns openly. Anyone without such a permit who wishes to take advantage of the open carry law must apply for and receive a license through the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.  ”Those carrying firearms, either openly or concealed, must have both their handgun license and a valid government ID on their person at all times.“It’s also important to remember that any privately owned business may prohibit open carry or concealed carry on their property. 

Read more from Fox25 at 

OU students starting nonprofit grocery story to bring healthy food to low-income areas

Students at the OU Health Sciences Center are starting a nonprofit mobile grocery store to provide healthy food to low-income areas.  The OKC Mobile Market aims to provide a sustainable source of healthy and quality foods for areas of Oklahoma City where healthy food options are scarce, according to a press release.  The mobile grocery store will carry fruits, vegetables, lean meats, low fat dairy and shelf stable foods to Oklahoma City communities that are furthest from grocery stores, according to the release.

Read more from the OUDaily at

Online Sales Tax: While Rome burns and Congress fiddles, states can act

The problem of untaxed Internet sales is gaining new prominence.  As we wait on Congress for a permanent fix, there are actions that Oklahoma can take immediately to create a more level-playing field for our local brick-and-mortar businesses.  The Oklahoma Tax Commission has estimated that Oklahoma state and local governments are losing $200 million every year when people buy products online and don’t pay the required tax. The ability to sell goods tax-free creates a significant competitive advantage for online retailers over the brick-and-mortar businesses in our cities and towns.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at

Tax credits hamper tax cuts, Oklahoma lawmaker says

Rep. David Dank blamed lawmakers’ failure to deal with “runaway tax credits” on their failure earlier this year to reduce the top 5.25 percent personal income tax rate.  “Even the most pro-tax relief members, as well as the governor, saw that we could not move ahead on tax relief for 3.5 million (Oklahoma taxpayers) when we refused to stop the bleeding in the form of tax credits for a few hundred recipients,” said Dank, R-Oklahoma City. 

Read more from NewsOK at 

U.S. Department of Education investigating complaint on state’s disability accommodations for state tests

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating allegations that the Oklahoma State Department of Education violated the rights of a local girl and untold other special education students by limiting accommodations for them on state tests.  The girl’s parents, whose names were redacted from the copy of a letter obtained by the Tulsa World, allege the state discriminated against their daughter on the basis of her disability.  The girl, who has autism and encephalopathy – a disease of the brain that alters brain function or structure – apparently is a high school senior who reportedly failed state tests that place her in jeopardy of not receiving her high school diploma in the spring.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Quote of the Day

“I think it’s unfortunate that so much time is spent out at the state capitol exploiting stereotypes like this for political gain.”

Ryan Kiesel, Director of ACLU Oklahoma on a new law that codified existing drug screening procedures for welfare applicants

Number of the Day

Number of states that doubled their rate of obesity over the last 15 years, including Oklahoma

Source:  Trust for America’s Health

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Congress just let the farm bill expire. It’s not the end of the world … yet.

The current Congress has been spectacularly adept at not doing stuff. They’ve passed fewer bills than any other Congress in the past 50 years. They can’t get appropriations bills finished on time. They nearly let the highway bill expire. So it’s hardly a stunner that, this weekend, the 112th Congress managed to let the farm bill lapse as well.  Yes, the farm bill.

Read more from Wonkblog at

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