In The Know: Legislators told major decisions looming on health reform

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 legislators were told the state likely needs to act on health reform during the next legislative session.  Oklahoma Policy Institute’s presentation on the state’s timetable to enact required aspects of the federal law can be found here.  State Treasurer Ken Miller thinks most of Oklahoma’s budget problems are behind us.  The OK Policy Blog recently cautioned against expecting revenue growth to last forever; adequately funding core services during the good years can make or break our prosperity during the bad.

The Oklahoma Insurance Department had full accreditation restored after the National Association of Insurance Commissioners found major deficiencies in their financial examination procedures last February.  OU President David Boren emphasizes education as the linchpin to economic competitiveness.  The EPA will study the impact of hydraulic fracturing on water supplies.  The Norman Transcript bemoans the impact of a slow and partial economic recovery.

The Oklahoma State School Boards Association tells the Oklahoman that the personal income tax is vital to maintaining the infrastructure needed to attract business to Oklahoma. The ABLE Commission’s crack down at local fundraisers and festivals leads some to question the state’s outdated liquor laws. The OK Policy Blog presents an hour-long OETA documentary highlighting creativity in education in four Oklahoma schools.

In today’s Policy Note, Amnesty International finds that Native American women are 2.5 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than other women in the U.S..  Non-Native men, who perpetrate most of the assaults, frequently escape consequences because of a maze of overlapping state, local, tribal, and federal jurisdictions.  Today’s Number of the Day is the amount the federal government spent per Oklahoma resident last year.

In The News

Lawmakers told Oklahoma faces April health care reform law deadline

Oklahoma realistically has until April to get moving on a state health insurance exchange or the federal government will start the process of imposing one, a former federal health regulator told lawmakers Thursday.  But a policy expert from the Heritage Foundation described a scenario for the state to dare the federal government to do just that.  Legislative leaders on the issue said it’s too soon to say what Oklahoma will do.  “No decisions have been made at all,” he said.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Oklahoma tax revenues rise, budget outlook improves

The state’s budget problems appear to be fading, State Treasurer Ken Miller said Thursday.  “I think that everything we have seen has said that revenues are coming in strong and I expect the biggest difficulties with the budget gaps are behind us,” Miller said during a news conference in which he released the gross revenue report for October.  “Now, that of course is with the caveat that we are going to continue on the path that we are on without interruption in our recovery.”  His comments were made following years of revenue declines that resulted in budget cuts to state agencies.  Gross revenue collections for October were 7.4 percent higher than October of last year, according to Miller’s office. Collections for the past 12 months are up almost 9 percent from the prior 12 months.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Insurance Regulators: Oklahoma’s Financial Examination Process Corrected

A national organization of state insurance regulators found that Oklahoma has resolved problems in the financial examination section of the state insurance department that were discovered in a review of the agency in February 2010.  The NAIC accreditation team that conducted the February 2010 review of the OID’s regulation functions uncovered serious concerns within the financial examination section of the Oklahoma agency. As a result of the subpar review, the OID was scheduled to undergo a re-review about 18 months after that February 2010 inspection instead of receiving the normal five-year accreditation.

Read more from the Insurance Journal at

Education will decide nation’s future

We face a looming crisis in education. How we deal with it will determine our future. With even less than 6 percent of the world’s population and with economies in countries like India and China growing much more rapidly than our own, can the United States remain a leading nation?  India and China have 10 times our population, and ultimately, with their growing economies, they could equal our military strength.  One thing is clear: We can remain a world leader only if we are the best-educated nation with the most productive workforce in the world. We must also remain the world’s leader in university-based research and in new inventions and discoveries.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

EPA to launch study on fracking impact on water supplies

In a move sure to capture the attention of energy producers and conservationists, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revealed its final research plan Thursday for a multiyear study of hydraulic fracturing’s impact on the water supply.  The EPA said it will release initial findings next year. The final report is due by 2014.  “The overall purpose of this study is to elucidate the relationship, if any, between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water resources,” the study report’s executive summary states. “This study emphasizes hydraulic fracturing in shale formations.”

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Recession’s bounce back is slower than usual

The widening gap between the richest and poorest Americans has been a background theme of the Occupy Wall Street movement that has meandered throughout the nation.  The movement showed itself briefly in Norman on Wednesday and has been more pronounced and visible in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. In Tulsa, more than a dozen protesters have been arrested for curfew violations.  More than 20 million Americans — about 6.7 percent of the population — are considered the poorest of the poor. They live on less than half of the official poverty level.  It’s the highest percentage in the 35 years that the Census Bureau has maintained such records.  Of the millions of jobs shed over the past few years, not that many are returning. The bounce back has been slow. Employers are reluctant to take on more workers for fear that the numbers will change quickly and they will be forced to cut payrolls again.

Read more from the Norman Transcript at

Doing away with personal income tax would hurt Oklahoma

Elimination of the state personal income tax would exacerbate a bleak financial future for Oklahoma’s infrastructure. At a time when Oklahoma’s roads, bridges, education system and other public services are in desperate need of additional revenue to fix, repair and sustain the growth of these necessary public services, how can we contemplate something with such dire consequences?  No reliable evidence suggests that elimination of the personal income tax will result in business growth.  Some of the amenities a company considers are the availability of employees, the quality of roads and bridges, proximity to transportation hubs and the cost of living. Also, schools and education opportunities for employees’ families, education and training opportunities for employees and other state services such as law enforcement, medical facilities and insurance protections. A corporation doesn’t relocate solely because the state has no personal income tax.

Read more from NewsOK at

The ABLE Commission has been making its presence felt in recent months

Whitney Cross, the event’s organizer, said the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission called the museum’s cafe and told them that some of the beer vendors couldn’t provide their services at the event.  “It was seven hours before the event,” Cross said. “They gave us a good scare.”  The same weekend Cross and her co-workers got “quite a scare” from ABLE — enforcement officers representing the agency showed up at a fundraiser hosted by Moore-based Learn to Brew. The Southern Plains Craft Brew Festival, which cost $15 to enter and was scheduled to begin the next day, benefited a local animal rescue operation.  Milum said he and other organizers were threatened with arrest if they allowed the home brewers inside the beer festival.  “I think the whole incident shows the problem with Oklahoma’s liquor laws,” he said. “And I would say, with the increase in the popularity of craft brewing, you’re going to see a lot more of these types of problems.”

Read more from NewsOK at

Watch This: Creativity and Learning

This enlightening hour-long film explores creativity in education by highlighting four Oklahoma schools: Educare Preschool in Tulsa, Flower Mound Elementary School in Lawton, Odyssey of the Mind at Piedmont Middle School, and Santa Fe South Charter High School in Oklahoma City.  The film interviews teachers, parents and national experts about the role of creativity in children’s’ development and the most effective ways to promote creativity while maintaining a rigorous academic focus.  This film was produced for OETA by InCA Productions, an internationally renowned and award-winning television production company.

Read more from OK Policy Blog at

Quote of the Day

No decisions have been made at all.

Representative Glen Mulready, on the federal health law in Oklahoma

Number of the Day


Amount the federal government spent per Oklahoma resident last year – $38.5 billion in federal dollars came into the state in total.

Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Maze of Injustice

Sexual violence against Indigenous women in the USA is widespread. According to US government statistics, Native American and Alaska Native women are more than 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than other women in the USA. Though rape is always an act of violence, there is evidence that Indigenous women are more likely than other women to suffer additional violence at the hands of their attackers. According to the US Department of Justice, in at least 86 per cent of the reported cases of rape or sexual assault against American Indian and Alaska Native women, survivors report that the perpetrators are non-Native men.

Read more from Amnesty International at

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