[In The Know] Modest national job growth, unemployment rate holds steady

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 gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

The economy added 103,000 jobs in September, but the job growth was not enough to lower the unemployment rate, which stayed at 9.1 percent for the third consecutive month.  The average interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage fell below 4 percent for the first time in history.  The OK Policy Blog explains why a federal balanced budget amendment is unlikely and undesirable.

There is some confusion at the state Commercial Pet Breeders Board about procedure for conducting kennel inspections.  The Board of Juvenile Affairs approved additional security measures after episodic violence and escapes at a juvenile center in Tecumseh.  Local clinics file suit against a state law that restricts the use of abortion-inducing drugs, which are also used to treat ectopic pregnancies.

Ceremonies were held in observance of domestic violence awareness month at the state Capitol.  Today’s Number of the Day is Oklahoma City’s rank nationally on a list of smoggiest cities.  In today’s Policy Note, the Violence Policy Center released a study analyzing homicide data for violence against women. 

In The News

Economy adds 103K jobs, rate stays 9.1 percent

Employers added 103,000 jobs in September, a modest burst of hiring after a sluggish summer.  Still, job growth remains too weak to lower the unemployment rate, which stayed at 9.1 percent for the third straight month.  The Labor Department also revised the previous two months to show that companies hired at a better pace than first estimated.  Nearly half of the gains last month occurred because 45,000 striking Verizon workers returned to their jobs.  Employers have added an average of only 72,000 jobs in the past five months. The economy must create twice as many just to keep up with population growth.  The jobs crisis has intensified a debate in Washington 13 months before President Barack Obama will run for re-election.

Read more from NewsOK at http://newsok.com/economy-adds-103k-jobs-rate-stays-9.1-percent/article/feed/304772#ixzz1a6OV3rXq

30-year mortgage below 4 pct. for first time ever

The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage has fallen below 4 percent for the first time in history.  For the lucky few with good jobs and stable finances, it’s a rare opportunity to save potentially thousands of dollars each year. For most people, it’s a tease and a reminder of how weak their own financial situation is.  Mortgage rates are now lower than they were in the early 1950s. The average rate reached 4.08 percent for a few months back then, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. Although mortgages at that time typically lasted only 20 or 25 years.  Super low rates haven’t been enough to lift the housing market, which has struggled in recent years with anemic sales and declining home prices.

Read more from NewsOK at http://newsok.com/30-year-mortgage-below-4-pct.-for-first-time-ever/article/3611029?custom_click=lead_story_title

Why a federal Balanced Budget Amendment will never happen, and why that’s a good thing

As part of the agreement to raise the federal debt ceiling, Congress will vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment this fall. Every Republican Senator has endorsed it. So have many Oklahoma state legislators.  So what’s the problem with a Balanced Budget Amendment?  #1: The BBA endorsed by Senate Republicans is not really about balancing the budget.  In fact, this amendment would make it much harder if not impossible to balance the budget, because it would require any tax increases to have a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress.  On top of that, it says total spending cannot exceed 18 percent of GDP. To understand how radical this is, we should realize that not a single year’s budget under the George W. Bush or Reagan administrations would be constitutional under this rule. Even Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, which included cuts so unpopular that they were quickly abandoned by Republicans, would have spent too much under this amendment.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at https://okpolicy.org/why-a-federal-balanced-budget-amendment-will-never-happen-and-why-that%e2%80%99s-a-good-thing/

State agency allegedly breaks pet breeder law

A state agency is breaking the law by not allowing veterinarians to inspect kennels that are applying for state licenses, a LeFlore County dog breeder alleges in a lawsuit.  The state representative who wrote legislation allowing veterinarians to do the inspections says the issue is damaging the reputation of the state Commercial Pet Breeders Board at the state Capitol and that the board members can either fix the problem or deal with the Legislature on the issue next year.  The minutes indicate that board Chairman Angel Soriano suggested to Brogden that a list of veterinarians who are approved to do the inspections be removed from the board’s website and that applicants be instructed to contact the agency’s office about inspections. Brogden said he would change the website, according to the minutes.

Read more from the Tulsa World at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=11&articleid=20111007_16_A1_CUTLIN843720&rss_lnk=12

Inmate violence prompts new rules

The Board of Juvenile Affairs approved additional measures to curb unruly youths Thursday after a rash of violence and escapes at the Central Oklahoma Juvenile Center in Tecumseh.  The board directed the Office of Juvenile Affairs to recommend rules governing the use of pepper spray and tasers on juvenile offenders.  The OJA has a rule allowing pepper spray, but it is not used. The agency was directed to modify the rule to cover when it can be used and in what circumstances.  The dismissal order limits solitary confinement to three hours and puts strict limitations on the use of mechanical restraints.

Read more from the Tulsa World at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=336&articleid=20111007_16_A11_TECUMS127229&rss_lnk=12

Clinics file suit against state anti-abortion law

Reproductive Services in Tulsa and the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice filed a legal challenge late Wednesday to a state law that restricts the use of abortion-inducing drugs.  The organizations are being represented by the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, which has also challenged a law that would require a woman seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound within an hour of the procedure and have the results explained to her.  House Bill 1970, the law restricting access to abortion-inducing drugs, including RU-486, would require physicians to give the drugs in accordance with U.S. Food and Drug Administration rules instead of recommendations by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Read more from the Tulsa World at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=17&articleid=20111007_17_A1_Reprod941646

Domestic Violence Awareness month observed in Capitol ceremonies

With support from telecommunications giant Verizon Wireless, activists are observing Domestic Violence Awareness month in Oklahoma. Last night (Wednesday, Oct. 5) included a spotlighting of the state Capitol dome with the color purple, while today brings an awards presentation to honor advocates.  Governor Mary Fallin has joined forces with the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, YWCA and the Office of Attorney General Scott Pruitt to raise awareness of the often-silent scourge.  In a statement, Fallin said, “Domestic violence has wide-ranging effects in our state on families, children and most importantly the victims. I applaud the efforts of the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (OCADVSA), as well as Verizon Wireless Oklahoma, for their work supporting victims and raising awareness.” Fallin encouraged Oklahomans to wear purple as a means of showing support for victims of domestic violence.

Read more from Tulsa Today at http://www.tulsatoday.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2926:domestic-violence-awareness-month-observed-in-capitol-ceremonies&catid=60:state&Itemid=108

Quote of the Day

In the grand scheme of things, the proposals before the agency’s board are Band-Aids to a larger problem.  Eventually, the state needs to address how to create proper space and the methods to handle high-risk juvenile offenders.

Rep. Kris Steele, on recent changes at the Board of Juvenile Affairs

Number of the Day


Metropolitan Oklahoma City’s rank nationally on a list of smoggiest combined statistical areas as of August 2011; Metropolitan Tulsa ranked 14th smoggiest.

Source: EPA via Environment America Research & Policy Center

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2009 Homicide Data

VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand states, “Violence against women too often escalates to homicide. Prevention of such violence deserves serious and sustained attention from law enforcement officials and policymakers alike.”  Nationwide, 1,818 females were murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents in 2009. Where weapon use could be determined, firearms were the most common weapon used by males to murder females (861 of 1,654 homicides or 52 percent). Of these, 69 percent (593 of 861) were committed with handguns. In cases where the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 93 percent of female victims (1,579 out of 1,693) were murdered by someone they knew. Of these, 63 percent (989 out of 1,579) were wives or intimate acquaintances of their killers. Nearly 14 times as many females were murdered by a male they knew than were killed by male strangers. In 88 percent of all incidents where the circumstances could be determined, the homicides were not related to the commission of any other felony, such as rape or robbery.

Read more from the Violence Policy Center at http://www.vpc.org/press/1109dv.htm

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