In The Know: Legislature moves to allow horse slaughter for human consumption

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 both chambers of the Oklahoma Legislature passed separate measures ending a ban on horse slaughterhouses.  The ‘Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act’, which prohibits schools from penalizing students in any way if they subscribe to a ‘particular position on scientific theories’, was approved by a House committee. 

Gov. Fallin voiced support for a legislative proposal to overhaul workers compensation court and replace it with an administrative system.  A small collaboration in Tulsa has had great success with the Altamont Bakery, creating work and community for mentally ill residents (also creating very delicious cookies).  On the OK Policy Blog, Dr. John Schumann explored how mandatory helmet laws might be having a perverse effect on public health. 

Mike Fogarty, former director of Oklahoma’s Medicaid agency, explained that expanding Medicaid would alleviate uncompensated care costs for providers, improve the health of the uninsured, and result in a net savings for state taxpayers.  A spokesman for Gov. Fallin said she ‘does not plan on revisiting’ the Medicaid expansion issue after GOP Gov. Rick Scott announced that Florida would accept federal funds to cover more low-income uninsured residents. 

Oklahoma has become a preferred spot for developing unmanned aircraft systems, and mission tests for wildfire monitoring, search and rescue, and disaster response.  In today’s Policy Note, StateImpact OK explores the relationship between earthquakes and natural gas production.  The Number of the Day is the amount of economic activity Oklahoma workers would generate in one year with the additional wages they would earn under a minimum wage increase.

In The News

Horse slaughterhouse bills approved in House, Senate

Both chambers of the Oklahoma Legislature have passed separate measures allowing horse slaughterhouses to operate in the state.   The House of Representatives passed House Bill 1999 on a 82-14 vote.  Without debate, the Senate passed Senate Bill 375 on a 38-6 vote.  The measures would strike the state’s previous legal ban on horse slaughter facilities but would only allow equine slaughter if the horse meat is to be exported internationally. The Senate bill would require that horses headed to slaughter be sold through a livestock auction and purchased by a livestock dealer.

Read more from the Tulsa World

Oklahoma ‘Creationism Bill’: State’s House Education Committee Passes Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act

Oklahoma’s most recent creationism measure has made it over its latest hurdle.  The Oklahoma Common Education committee passed the Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act Tuesday in a close 9-8 vote, Mother Jones reports.  Introduced by Republican state Rep. Gus Blackwell, the legislation would “permit teachers, schools, and students to explore alternative theories without repercussions,” the Week columnist Dana Liebelson writes.  In layman’s terms, students would be able to challenge universally accepted scientific theories, such as evolution and climate change. Teachers would also be required to find more effective ways to address such controversies in their teachings.

Read more from the Huffington Post

Workers comp move to administrative system gets Gov. Mary Fallin’s support

Overhauling Oklahoma’s workers compensation court and replacing it with an administrative system has the support of the governor.  “It’s time that we do a major overhaul of our workers compensation system,” Gov. Mary Fallin said Thursday at a breakfast sponsored by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. “We have done some good reforms in the past, but we still know that Oklahoma’s ranked among the top states in the nation on workers compensation premium costs.”

Read more from the Tulsa World

Mentally ill Tulsans find recipe for success in cookie project

The 700 to 1,000 cookies that come out of the Altamont Bakery at B’nai Emunah synagogue each week have a secret ingredient – love.  It’s difficult to measure, but its flavor is unmistakable.  The bakery is a collaboration between the synagogue and the Mental Health Association in Tulsa, supported by the Housing Faith Alliance.  It takes its name from the Altamont Apartments, a housing facility operated by the Mental Health Association.

Read more from the Tulsa World

Guest Blog (Dr. John Schumann): Helmet heads and common sense

Like a lot of preventive health ideas, we have beaten the importance of bike helmets into (onto?) everyone’s head. Overall, this is probably a good thing.  I was lucky in my previous job (in Chicago) to be able to walk or ride my bike to work. Let me repeat that, fellow Oklahomans: WALK. OR RIDE MY BIKE. TO WORK. [What will it take for us to do that here, in a land of little to no snow and moderate winter and spring temperatures? As for summer, that raises other issues. But I digress…] 

Read more from OK Policy Blog

Frederick Rotarians Get the Facts About Medicaid Expansion

Fogarty said he was in Frederick to present facts not opinion and two of the facts he is proud of are contained in the mission of the Authority:  1. To purchase health care in the most efficient and comprehensive manner;  2. To study and improve health care for Oklahomans regardless of their ability to pay.  “That was our mission then, and it is our mission today,” he said.

Read more from the Frederick Press-Leader

Fallin sticking by opposition to Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma

With Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s Wednesday announcement that he is ready to accept “Obamacare” money to expand his state’s Medicaid program for at least three years, nearly half the states – representing more than 55 percent of the nation’s population – have either opted into the plan or are leaning that way.   Not Oklahoma.

Read more from the Tulsa World

McKeever: Oklahoma a top spot for unmanned craft testing

The small, pilotless aircraft, known as a Raven, climbed gracefully over an Oklahoma field into the clear January skies. It was on a mission to search for a missing person in the woods near Fort Sill.   The missing person was an actor working for the Department of Homeland Security and the mission was part of a test developed by DHS personnel to evaluate the performance of the Raven in such circumstances.

Read more from the Tulsa World 

Quote of the Day

“I love it. I really love it.  It helped me get into an apartment, and it helped me to buy clothes for my son.  That was a big deal.  I was happy when I was able to buy him a pair of shoes.  People take that stuff for granted.”

Kimberly Ferry, on working at B’nai Emunah’s Altamont Bakery, a joint project with the Mental Health Association in Tulsa supported by the Housing Faith Alliance

Number of the Day

$215 million

Amount of economic activity Oklahoma workers would generate in one year with the additional wages they would earn under a minimum wage increase (to $9.00/hr)

Source:  Economic Policy Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Exploring the Link Between Earthquakes and Oil and Gas Production

Several scientists have suggested that disposal wells, used to dispose of waste from some oil and gas drilling operations — including hydraulic fracturing — could be the cause of the recent spike.  More than 10,000 underground injection wells were active in Oklahoma as of January 2013, data from the state Corporation Commission show. About 6,000 of these wells are a type of injection well used for enhanced oil recovery, says the commission’s injection well manager Charles Lord.

Read more from StateImpact OK

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