In The Know: Oklahoma makes the grade in Indian education

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 Oklahoma was the only state in which Native American students outperformed the national average in both grades in reading and math. A new report finds Oklahoma and 14 other states have passed legislation hindering reproductive rights. Most Oklahoma doctors are not using a program meant to curb prescription drug abuse.

David Blatt writes in the Journal Record on how expanding Medicaid would benefit Oklahomans’ health and financial security. The Tulsa World writes that expanding Medicaid will improve health and eliminate cost-shifting that makes everyone’s care more expensive. The OK Policy Blog discusses how two state ballot questions putting new caps and exemptions on property taxes could actually result in a property tax increase for many Oklahomans.

Lawmakers from Oklahoma and other states wrote a letter asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service not to list the lesser prairie chicken as an endangered or threatened species. OKC Councilman Ed Shadid writes that conflict over design of a new boulevard represents a cultural shift for the city. A judge will soon rule on State Rep. Mike Christian’s workers’ compensation claim for an injury resulting from a traffic accident while driving to the state Capitol.

The Number of the Day is the amount deposited this fiscal year into the state’s Rainy Day Fund, surpassing an earlier record for largest deposit. In today’s Policy Note, the Brennan Center for Justice examines the difficulties that millions of eligible voters face to obtain photo ID in ten states with unprecedentedly restrictive voter ID laws.

In The News

Oklahoma makes the grade in Indian education

Earlier this month, the National Center for Education Statistics released some dismal news: American Indian students are stuck in an “academic rut.” The overall trends for Native American students are at odds with other recent NAEP studies, which have found black students narrowing achievement gaps with white students on the NAEP and Hispanic students increasing in achievement while holding gaps steady. NCES Commissioner Sean P. “Jack” Buckley said there aren’t any statistics that point to a particular reason American Indian and Alaskan Native students should be so far behind their peers. Researchers couldn’t pinpoint a reason for the achievement gap but did note that the majority of American Indian students tested identified as low-income and attended small, rural schools, which have less access to required resources. One the positive side, however, Oklahoma was “the only state in which Native American students outperformed the national average in both grades in reading and math,” according to Education Week.

Read more from This Land Press.

Report says Oklahoma is abortion bellwether

Oklahoma is among 15 states that passed legislation hindering reproductive rights, according to a report released Wednesday by the Center for Reproductive Rights. The Center has successfully brought suit against Oklahoma following the passage of legislation restricting abortions, including a law that would have required women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound within an hour of the procedure and have its results explained to her. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has appealed the lower court’s decision to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, where it is pending, along with the Center’s successful challenge to a law putting restrictions on abortion-inducing drugs. “As it has for the last several years, Oklahoma’s legislature spent a significant portion of its legislative session focused on reducing women’s access to health care and restricting women’s reproductive rights,” the report said.

Read more from The Tulsa World.

Program to curb Rx drug abuse not used by most doctors

Prescription drug addicts who need a fix often go from doctor to doctor, getting new prescriptions written each time. There are procedures to keep so called “doctor shopping” from happening, but as News 9 found out, few doctors are using it. The legislature will study the issue this summer, but according to Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics less than one in three doctors use the program. Dustin Harvick was addicted to Loritab for about 10 years. He took as many as 40 pills a day and became an expert at doctor shopping. “Dentist to dentist, doctor to doctor, hospital to hospital, they don’t check, they just pass it out,” Harvick says.

Read more from News9.

David Blatt: Medicaid matters

While the Supreme Court ruled that most of the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, it did overturn a provision that would have ended all federal Medicaid funding for states that failed to expand coverage to low-income adults. States must now decide whether to cover these adults or leave them among the ranks of the uninsured. By joining the expansion, research shows that we could significantly improve the physical and financial health of hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans. In 2008, Oregon held a random lottery for low-income uninsured adults on its Medicaid waiting list. A team of leading health care researchers and economists has been comparing the population that gained Medicaid coverage with those who didn’t. The study finds that Medicaid coverage increases your access to health care, improves your health and reduces the financial strain against being uninsured.

Read more from The Journal Record.

Tulsa World: Expanding Medicaid in Oklahoman’s best interests

Gov. Mary Fallin has yet to announce any decision over whether the state will agree to expand Medicaid, as called for in the Affordable Care Act. We hope that’s an indication that the governor is carefully weighing the proposition and is seeking to do what’s in the best interests of the state. If she is listening to knowledgeable stakeholders, she will come away with little if any doubt that expanding Medicaid is in our best interests. What’s important to remember in a state such as Oklahoma is that the hundreds of thousands of residents who don’t have insurance are driving up the costs of medical care for all of us. It is axiomatic that broadening the pool of insured Oklahomans will have a positive effect on costs. That is a basic underpinning of the insurance industry. Critics point out that Oklahoma’s Medicaid spending has risen in recent years, and that’s true. But what they don’t point out is that we have obtained something for that spending. Hundreds of thousands of children are now insured, thanks to Medicaid expansion. That means they are receiving the kind of appropriate – and less costly – care that insurance affords covered individuals.

Read more from The Tulsa World.

Property tax “cuts” create winners and losers

Two state questions related to property taxes will be on the November ballot. SQ 758 would reduce the maximum annual increase in assessments of homes and agricultural land from 5 percent to 3 percent. SQ 766 would exempt all intangible property owned by businesses from taxation. Both measures will be presented as tax cuts by their proponents. However, the real result may be a tax cut for some and a tax hike on others. That’s because the property tax bill that Oklahomans receive each year depends on several variables: taxable value, millage rate, and assessment rate. If assessments are capped so they cannot keep up with real property values, or if significant business properties become newly exempt from taxation, that creates pressure on other parts of the system.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Lawmakers’ letter urges against endangered listing for lesser prairie chicken

Lawmakers from Oklahoma and other states continued their effort on Tuesday to dissuade the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from listing the lesser prairie chicken as an endangered or threatened species. In Oklahoma, that has included $42 million devoted to conservation efforts, along with management activities on more than 563,000 acres of habitat, the letter states. Inhofe, R-Tulsa, has been pushing hard to keep the lesser prairie chicken off the endangered or threatened species list since the restrictions that would follow the federal listing could hamper wind power development and other activities in the bird’s northwestern Oklahoma habitat.

Read more from NewsOK.

Ed Shadid: Conflict over OKC boulevard represents cultural shift

The impending conflict over the Oklahoma City Boulevard is far-reaching both in terms of cause and consequence. When Steve Lackmeyer, in his coverage of the Boulevard in the Oklahoman, makes reference to “cars vs. people’, he is referencing the growing realization among Oklahoma City citizenry that we have largely built the infrastructure for the city for the benefit of the automobile and that fostering economic development and community-building requires more complete design based on the scale of the human being. What is likely to be expressed in the near future is that the citizenry of OKC (and their elected officials), like those of many other American cities, will resist being marginalized, or altogether excluded, as government agencies create large-scale urban infrastructure projects which seek at times to focus solely on automobile traffic volumes.

Read more from OKC Central.

Judge to rule on Oklahoma legislator’s worker’s comp case

State Rep. Mike Christian told a workers’ compensation court judge Wednesday that he suffered an on-the-job injury when he was involved in a traffic accident driving to the state Capitol in February 2009. Christian, 42, testified for about an hour Wednesday at a comp trial after rejecting a settlement offer from the state’s insurance provider. He was the only witness. He said he hurt his neck and back in the Feb. 26, 2009, accident and may have to have neck surgery. The judge will rule later this month whether Christian, a Republican, is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The key issue is whether Christian was already working on the morning of the accident three miles south of the state Capitol on Central Avenue. Christian contends he was “on duty” at the time of the accident because he was driving from his “duty station” — his district in south Oklahoma City.

Read more from NewsOK.

Quote of the Day

In terms of the design of our city, one principal guides me as much as any other: one gets more of the behavior for which we design. If a city builds more bicycle trails, it will get more bicyclists riding longer distances. If one builds complete streets and sidewalks which facilitate pedestrian activity, the city will see an increase in the number of people walking the estimated 10,000 steps a day which we all need. If the City exhibits tunnel vision and focuses almost exclusively on moving the greatest number of vehicles through limited access points, it will not only get more people driving automobiles through the type of congestion it sets out to solve, but we will limit our economic development potential and the ability to create that which we all so innately crave; the development of community.

Oklahoma City Councilman Ed Shadid

Number of the Day


Amount deposited this fiscal year into the state’s Rainy Day Fund, surpassing an earlier record for largest deposit – $596.6M – set before the recession

Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The challenge of obtaining voter identification

Ten states now have unprecedented restrictive voter ID laws. Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin all require citizens to produce specific types of government-issued photo identification before they can cast a vote that will count. Legal precedent requires these states to provide free photo ID to eligible voters who do not have one. Unfortunately, these free IDs are not equally accessible to all voters. This report is the first comprehensive assessment of the difficulties that eligible voters face in obtaining free photo ID.

Read more from the Brennan Center for Justice.

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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