In The Know: Oklahoma landowners in path of Keystone pipeline will lose their land

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.

Governor Fallin opposes a smog-reduction plan to bring Oklahoma power plants into compliance with the Clean Air Act.  Some Oklahoma landowners are opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline because they will lose their land through the eminent domain process.  The Oklahoma Education Board requested a $158 million budget increase, including funding to reinstate bonuses for nationally certified teachers.

An editorial in the Tulsa World points out the tension between some state legislators support for HB 1804, and opposition to a guest worker program.  Oklahoma City once again ranked near the top of metro surveys on economic performance, in large part because of very low unemployment.  Unemployment among African-Americans in Oklahoma continues to be nearly double the rate for white workers.

The OK Policy Blog explores how some profit from detaining immigrants in Oklahoma.  The state Board of Education voted to allow districts to use one of three teacher evaluation systems during a yearlong pilot.  In today’s Policy Note, the ACLU explains how mass incarceration is a windfall for the private prison industry.  The Number of the Day is the amount of energy consumed per capita in Oklahoma in 2007, 11th most in the nation.

In The News

Governor Mary Fallin Responds to EPA Smog Reduction Plan

Governor Mary Fallin today responded to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plan to reduce regional haze and control emissions at three Oklahoma power plants. The EPA posted the plan to their website after rejecting a proposal to reduce regional haze put forward by the state of Oklahoma earlier this year.  “It is frustrating and disappointing that the EPA continues to move forward with a federal plan that will raise costs for ratepayers and utility companies, leave less money in the pockets of Oklahomans and push our economy in the wrong direction. The EPA’s plan could drive utility rates significantly higher in the next five years, something that many citizens cannot afford, especially during a recession.

Read more from The State Column at

The Keystone XL pipeline and why it matters to Oklahoma

Among those who oppose the pipeline are environmental groups. Thousands of activists and protestors have devoted their time to slamming the possible impact on wildlife and its habitats along the route.  Early on in the fight, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heinman, a Republican, opposed the route drawn up by Transcanada because of its tracking through an environmentally sensitive area of his state. After negotiating with the company for a change, he has since changed his position.  Also vocal with opposition are some Oklahoma landowners who don’t wish their land taken in the eminent domain process.

Read more from KRMG at

Oklahoma Education Board requests $158 million budget increase

The overall budget request is for $2.4 billion for common education in fiscal year 2013, which is a $157.9 million increase over fiscal year 2012 funding levels.  “We’re getting back to FY 11 numbers. We were cut $100 million,” Superintendent Janet Barresi said. “To sum it up as Will Rogers said, ‘It takes you longer to climb out of a hole than it does to fall into one,’ so we’re going to start climbing back up.”  Included in the budget was roughly $16 million to reinstate $5,000 bonuses given every year to teachers who have achieved National Board Certification. The bonuses were suspended for fiscal year 2012 due to budget cuts.

Read more from NewsOK at

Two legislators state the obvious concerning immigration reform

Coates, a Seminole Republican, proposed SB 995, which would allow illegal immigrants who meet certain conditions to work in Oklahoma. His reasonable yet ill-fated bill received the expected reception at the Capitol.  But responses from two Tulsa legislators were interesting.  Republican Sen. Brian Crain said that although he understands what Coates is trying to do, it is “fundamentally a federal issue.”  Republican Sen. Dan Newberry said, “I don’t know that there is anything the state can really do to initiate a guest worker program. It is a federal issue.”  Let’s get this straight: Crain and Newberry believe that a guest worker program for illegal immigrants falls within the purview of the federal government but other issues, such as those addressed in HB 1804, are within the state’s jurisdiction? Some illegal immigrant legislation is OK but other legislation is not?

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Oklahoma City gets high ranks in new surveys

Two national surveys giving Oklahoma City high marks for its economic performance are turning out to be “more of the same” and of no surprise to the president of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.  “Metro Trends,” a survey of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, gave Oklahoma City an “A” grade for its ongoing economic performance and ranked it No. 1 for economic security (Tulsa also finished high, at No. 4).  “It is a reflection of what we’ve seen the last couple of years in the economy and how different Oklahoma City and the metro have been from the rest of the country,” said chamber President Roy Williams. “Our unemployment continues to be among the lowest, our housing market has held up better than almost anyone else, and our cost of living continues to be extremely competitive.”

Read more from NewsOk at

People as Commodities: Some profit by detaining immigrants

Among the 312 city and county prisons nationwide, the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center in Tulsa serves as the only detention facility in Oklahoma that allows local officials to exert federal authority for immigration enforcement. The Tulsa County Sheriff gains financially from this federal agreement, because they make $54.13 per day per federal immigration detainee, almost twice as much as the $27 per inmate paid by the state Corrections Department. According to NewsOK,  “transport and detention brought in nearly $6 million for the Tulsa County jail over an 18-month period” allowing for the sheriff department to expand from a staff of 230 to 360.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at

Tulsa teacher evaluation may be state model

The state Board of Education on Thursday voted to allow individual school districts throughout the state to use one of three teacher evaluation systems during a one-year test run.  The board made the Tulsa model recommended by a special commission a “presumptive default,” meaning it likely will be the state model after more information about it is gathered during the year-long pilot.  The Oklahoma Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Commission voted 13-5 on Dec. 5 to make Tulsa’s system the primary new model for evaluating public school educators. The recommendation came after six months of study by a group of education, government and business leaders.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Quote of the Day

I don’t know that there is anything the state can really do to initiate a guest worker program. It is a federal issue.

Sen. Dan Newberry

Number of the Day


BTU’s of energy consumed per capita in Oklahoma in 2007, 11th most in the nation.

Source: U.S. Census

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Banking on Bondage: Private Prisons and Mass Incarceration

The imprisonment of human beings at record levels is both a moral failure and an economic one — especially at a time when more and more Americans are struggling to make ends meet and when state governments confront enormous fiscal crises. This report finds, however, that mass incarceration provides a gigantic windfall for one special interest group — the private prison industry — even as current incarceration levels harm the country as a whole. While the nation’s unprecedented rate of imprisonment deprives individuals of freedom, wrests loved ones from their families, and drains the resources of governments, communities, and taxpayers, the private prison industry reaps lucrative rewards. As the public good suffers from mass incarceration, private prison companies obtain more and more government dollars, and private prison executives at the leading companies rake in enormous compensation packages, in some cases totaling millions of dollars.

Read more from the ACLU at

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