In The Know: Oklahoma AG Pruitt appeals abortion drug ruling

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.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt will appeal a District Court’s ruling that struck down a state law restricting the use of some medications administered by doctors when terminating pregnancies.  Oklahoma’s revenue collections rose again last month, in spite of declining crude oil and natural gas prices.  For an overview of recent historical trends in state revenue collections, see OK Policy’s 2-page Budget Trends and Highlights.

State education officials now say they will redact personal information from student records related to the appeal of high-stakes testing requirements, but will continue to require students to waive federal privacy rights to file an appeal.  Watchdog OK details how students (or their parents) sign a privacy waiver allowing records to be used, “for the purposes of discussion and consideration in meetings open to the public.”  Gov. Fallin and officials from Boeing celebrated the grand opening of a new facility in Oklahoma City.  The Department of Agriculture will issue emergency rules governing commercial pet breeders in the state by the end of the month.

The Oklahoman applauds legislative efforts to repair the state’s crumbling roads and bridges.  The OK Policy Blog hosts a story on the state’s first Republican Governor, Henry Bellmon, from Voices of Oklahoma.  The Miami and Modoc tribes of Oklahoma are cited as defendants in a federal lawsuit alleging payday lenders lied about their fees and falsely threatened customers with arrest or imprisonment for failing to pay.  Oklahoma Assets hosts a 1-day Summit on high-cost lending next week, including discussion on the extent of payday and predatory lending.

The Number of the Day is the amount of state and local taxes paid by undocumented immigrants living in Oklahoma.  In today’s Policy Note, Governing presents a state-by-state breakdown of public and private sector employment changes between 2008 and 2012.

In The News

State of Oklahoma appeals abortion drug ruling

The state is appealing a judge’s ruling last month that struck down a law intended to restrict the off-label use of certain abortion-inducing drugs.  “The district judge in this case took the unprecedented step of finding that the Oklahoma Constitution contains a right to an abortion — a right never before recognized in any Oklahoma court and purposefully left out of our constitution by those who drafted it,” Attorney General Scott Pruitt said in a statement after filing his appeal with the Oklahoma Supreme Court.  In his ruling, District Judge Donald Worthington said the law was unconstitutional because it would violate “the fundamental rights of women to privacy and bodily integrity.”

Read more from NewsOK at

Okla. revenue grows but oil, gas prices remain low

Oklahoma’s revenue collections continued to rise last month in spite of declining crude oil and natural gas prices, the state treasurer said Tuesday.  Treasurer Ken Miller said revenue collections in May were up 5.8 percent compared to the previous May. The average growth over the past 12 months has been 9.2 percent per month.  Miller said the revenue increase was driven primarily by income and sales taxes. Income tax collections have shown double-digit increases from the same time the previous year in nine of the past 12 months, while sale tax collections have averaged 8 percent growth, he said.  “With incomes climbing and sales tax collections on the rise, Oklahomans continue to show confidence in the economy in spite of renewed global uncertainty and a pullback in U.S. job growth,” Miller said.

Read more from the Associated Press at

Students’ personal information will not be released, an official says.

Amid outcry from lawmakers and concerns from their own board members, the Oklahoma Department of Education now says it will redact personal information from the records of high school seniors who appeal high-stakes testing requirements.  However, they maintain that students will continue to be required to waive their federal privacy rights concerning educational records in order to enter the appeals process of Oklahoma’s Achieving Classroom Excellence Act.  Within hours of the State Board of Education’s denial of the first seven appeals on Tuesday, officials posted the applications, showing students’ names, schools, grade point averages, learning disabilities, test scores and other personal information. Addresses and phone numbers were redacted.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Open Records Act means exactly that

According to a Tulsa World article, some Tulsa-area school officials are not happy that a packet of information released in conjunction with the State Board of Education meeting this week includes some information regarding students appealing the Achieving Classroom Excellence (ACE) requirements in order to get a diploma.  In order to file the appeal, the student or his or her parent had to sign a waiver exempting the records from the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) so that their records could be discussed at a State Board of Education meeting.  It clearly states in the waiver access to the records will be granted “for the purposes of discussion and consideration in meetings open to the public.”

Read more from the Oklahoma Watchdog at

Governor To Celebrate Grand Opening Of Boeing Facility In OKC

Gov. Mary Fallin will join officials from The Boeing Co. for the grand opening of its new Oklahoma City facility.  The ceremony is planned for Thursday afternoon at the new Boeing office building near Tinker Air Force base.  The new facility will house Boeing’s avionics modernization programs for several military aircraft, including the B-1 bomber and C-130 transport aircraft. Boeing is bringing more than 1,000 new jobs to the Oklahoma City facility.

Read more from NewsOn6 at

Emergency rules are in works for pet breeders

The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture plans to have emergency rules governing commercial pet breeders in place by the end of the month — resolving the concern that dog and cat kennels would go unregulated.  Earlier this year, the Legislature voted to eliminate the Oklahoma Board of Commercial Pet Breeders and transferred regulation and licensing of kennels to the agriculture department.  The same new law eliminates all the state’s rules for pet breeders as of June 30.  To avoid a period when there is no regulation of pet breeders, the Department of Agriculture plans to create emergency rules by the end of the month, said General Counsel Teena Gunter.

Read more from NewsOK at

Oklahoma bridge-funding bills worth celebrating

Amid the gamesmanship and noise at the Capitol during the legislative session, Oklahoma lawmakers occasionally manage to do good work on behalf of taxpayers. Examples of that are found in two bills signed Monday by Gov. Mary Fallin.  House Bill 2248 and HB 2249, both by Rep. T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, are designed to nearly eliminate the number of structurally deficient bridges in the state in the next seven years. That total now stands at more than 700.  Transportation advocates, road contractors, engineers and others were among the large crowd who attended the bill signing ceremony — a celebration of sorts, and for good reason. After so many years as an afterthought, road and bridge repair and upkeep are and remain a priority at the Legislature.

Read more from NewsOK at

Voices of Oklahoma: Henry Bellmon – Déjà vu all over again

Voices of Oklahoma is a nonprofit organization dedicated to “preserving Oklahoma’s legacy, one voice at a time.” Click here to hear Henry Bellmon’s story, in his own words, interviewed by John Erling.  In this “reddest of red states,” it took Oklahoma more than 50 years to elect our first Republican gover­nor (1963).  During Henry Bellmon’s military and political careers – as a Tank Commander, State Representative, Governor, U.S. Senator and as a political appointee – he wrestled with many issues that are still on our political plate today. U.S. foreign policy, funding our public schools, state and interstate energy policies, divisive national politics, political term limits, and running our Department of Human Services were all issues for Mr. Bellmon.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at

Two Oklahoma tribes’ payday loan operations cited in FTC complaint

A federal court in the state of Nevada has been fully briefed on a Federal Trade Commission complaint that alleges two American Indian tribes in Oklahoma are operating payday loan companies that mask hidden fees, violate lending practices and falsely threaten customers with arrest or imprisonment for failing to pay their bills.  The lawsuit, filed in April in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, names several defendants, including the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma’s AMG Services and Tribal Financial Services, and the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma’s Red Cedar Services.

Read more from the Joplin Globe at

Quote of the Day

Oklahoma’s doctor shortage is a real problem for the insured and uninsured alike, particularly in rural areas. Improving hospital residency programs is a pragmatic, realistic step the state can take to boost the number of doctors treating patients in our state.

Rep. Kris Steele, on a move to boost funding for primary care residencies in Oklahoma

Number of the Day

$81.1 million

Amount of state and local taxes (sales, income, and property) paid by undocumented immigrants living in Oklahoma in 2010

Source: ITEP via Immigration Policy Center

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Public vs. Private Sector Cuts: A State-by-State Breakdown

Nearly all states coped with sizable private sector job losses during the recession along with now-sluggish growth. How these private sector cuts have carried over to the public sector, though, has varied greatly across the country.  While public payrolls generally downsized in recent years, a Governing analysis of Labor Department data finds state and local government reductions being applied unevenly so far, with employment growing or remaining roughly unchanged in about half of states since the start of the recession. Private sector employment, by contrast, increased in only five states.  The state-by-state Current Employment Statistics data, shown below, measures employment for all non-federal public employees, including those working in schools.

Read more from Governing at

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