In The Know: Oklahoma AG, OG&E fight Clean Air Act in federal court

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 Attorney General Scott Pruitt told a federal appeals court that implementing Clean Air Act regulations in Oklahoma is too costly and usurps states’ rights.  Public Service Co. opted to convert its coal powered plants to natural gas rather than pursue a court battle, and points out that consumer electricity rates will be even higher if the AG loses the suit than they would have been under compliance.

The Oklahoma House passed a bill to increase the unclaimed state lottery prize money that’s distributed to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.  The Senate approved a bill to build a new medical examiner’s office, an agency that recently lost its accreditation due to old equipment, and inadequate space and staffing.

Animal advocates gathered at the Capitol in opposition to a bill legalizing commercial horse slaughter. Advocates once again raised red flags about nursing home oversight in Oklahoma.  The OU School of Community Medicine opened a medical library intended for use by patients, the first of its kind in the state.  

The OK Policy Blog posted a video illustrating public opinion research exploring Americans views on wealth distribution and inequality.  In today’s Policy Note, the Journal of the American Medical Association found an association between the strength of a state’s firearm laws and their rate of gun deaths.  The Number of the Day is the number of disabled workers in Oklahoma receiving a monthly benefit from Social Security.

In The News

OG&E, Oklahoma deliver arguments in air quality case

Pruitt, OG&E and the big industries claim the EPA usurped state authority by imposing an alternate plan. That plan would cost the utility, and ultimately its customers, much more than the state plan.  The EPA contends it had a duty to impose its plan because the state plan did not meet federal standards to adequately control emissions.

Read more from NewsOK

PSO doesn’t join State’s fight against EPA

PSO spokesman Stan Whiteford says PSO instead chose to reach a settlement with the EPA that he says will be cheaper for customers in the event that the AG’s office loses its legal battle.  “That will be less costly to our customers overall, though it WILL have rate impacts, but not until about 2016.  Whiteford points out that if the EPA prevails, there will be a huge number of utilities that will all be simultaneously trying to buy the same equipment to comply with the EPA rules, and he says that will make things even more expensive for those utilities.

Read more from KRMG

Okla. House more lottery funds for mental health

The Oklahoma House has passed legislation to increase the amount of unclaimed state lottery prize money that’s distributed to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.  The House voted 84-5 for the bill on Thursday and sent it to the Senate for consideration.  The bill by Rep. Gary Banz of Midwest City increases distribution of unclaimed lottery prize money to the mental health agency from the first $500,000 to the first $1.5 million.

Read more from the Associated Press

Oklahoma Senate passes measure for new medical examiner’s office

The Oklahoma Senate on Tuesday passed a measure to build a new medical examiner’s office in Edmond.  Senate Bill 653, by Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, heads to the House for consideration.  The agency recently lost its accreditation in part due to equipment, space and staffing problems. The current office is in Oklahoma City, and plans call for the new facility to be built on the University of Central Oklahoma campus.

Read more from the Tulsa World

Animal advocates oppose horse slaughter in Okla.

Animal lovers from across Oklahoma roamed the halls of the state Capitol on Thursday urging their local legislators to oppose legislation that would pave the way for a horse slaughtering facility in the state.  Officials with three animal rights groups sponsored Humane Lobby Day and briefed about 50 participants on how to lobby their elected officials.

Read more from the Associated Press

Oklahoma Health Department criticized for lack of nursing home oversight

The state agency tasked with regulating Oklahoma’s nursing homes is failing to ensure the safety of those who live within them, an advocate for reform said Thursday.  On the lawn of the state Health Department, flanked by the daughters of a 96-year-old woman who was physically abused by two Oklahoma City nursing home aides last year, Wes Bledsoe said the department should ramp up its inspections and investigations process immediately. 

Read more from the Tulsa World

OU dedicates new medical library for patients’ use

The University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine has established a medical library intended for use by patients, the first of its kind in Oklahoma.   The library, on the first floor of the Schusterman Center Clinic, is financed by a grant from the Morningcrest Healthcare Foundation in Tulsa.  It was dedicated Wednesday but had a soft opening in October. More than 800 people have used it so far, a spokeswoman said.

Read more from the Tulsa World

Watch This: Wealth Inequality in America

A study by researchers at Harvard Business School and Duke University found that Americans think the wealth distribution in America should be less unequal, even as they dramatically underestimated the current level of wealth inequality.

Read more from OKPolicy Blog

Quote of the Day

“I know the people of Oklahoma. I was born and raised here, and I know they don’t want this here.  We are not going to stand for these horses to be trucked into Oklahoma from all over the country, brutally slaughtered and shrink wrapped and sent to Europe to eat.”

Cynthia Armstrong, Oklahoma director of the Humane Society 

Number of the Day


The number of disabled workers in Oklahoma receiving a monthly OASDI (Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance) benefit from Social Security, about 5 percent of working age adults in 2011

Source: U.S. Social Security Administration

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Study: States with more gun laws have fewer deaths

In conclusion, we found an association between the legislative strength of a state’s firearm laws—as measured by a higher number of laws—and a lower rate of firearm fatalities. The association was significant for firearm fatalities overall and for firearm suicide and firearm homicide deaths, individually. As our study could not determine a cause-and-effect relationship, further studies are necessary to define the nature of this association.

Read more from The Journal of the American Medical Association

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