In The Know: Oklahoma, Texas permit companies to dump workers’ compensation plans

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 In The News

Oklahoma, Texas Permit Companies To Dump Workers’ Compensation Plans: Standing before a giant map in his Dallas office, Bill Minick doesn’t seem like anyone’s idea of a bomb thrower. But backed by some of the biggest names in corporate America, this mild-mannered son of an evangelist is plotting a revolution in how companies take care of injured workers. His idea: Let them opt out of state workers’ compensation laws — and write their own rules [NPR/ProPublica].

Nearly 85,000 jobs are unfilled in Oklahoma: Oklahoma has nearly 85,000 job openings and not enough skilled workers to fill them, the secretary of education and workforce development said Wednesday. Secretary Natalie Shirley revealed the number during a public forum to address how to create a better-prepared workforce. Just three weeks ago, Gov. Mary Fallin mentioned the number of job openings statewide was 68,000 [NewsOK].

Mixed grades for DHS improvement in foster care plan: Oklahoma is making strides in lowering caseloads for child welfare workers to allow for more visits to foster children, but it’s failing in finding enough therapeutic foster homes and permanent placements, according to a report released Wednesday. The Pinnacle Plan is the negotiated agreement in a class-action federal lawsuit that alleged abuses of children in foster care [Tulsa World]. 

Tulsa County sees decrease in teen pregnancy rate, still above national average: The latest numbers from the Oklahoma State Department of Health show teen pregnancy rates continue to decline in Tulsa County and statewide. However, declines from 2013 to 2014 are not nearly as great as those from 2012 to 2013. And the state and Tulsa County still rank above the projected national average [Tulsa World].

Damario Solomon-Simmons to be honored with the Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher Diversity Award: We’re happy to announce that OK Policy’s legislative liaison, Damario Solomon-Simmons, is receiving the Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher Diversity Award from the Oklahoma Bar Association. The award will be presented during the annual Oklahoma Bar Association Diversity Dinner on Thursday, Oct. 15th [OK Policy].
A runaway danger: For many Americans, the size of the federal deficit and failure of the federal government to get its finances in order is a grave concern. It has led some states over the years to call for adoption of a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution through a procedure known as an Article V convention. It has not been used in more than 200 years [David Blatt / Journal Record]. Oklahoma’s legislators recognized these dangers just five years ago when they  adopted a resolution that rescinded earlier legislation calling for a constitutional convention [OK Policy].
Past-due tax collections are up in Oklahoma: A two-month state offer to allow people to pay back taxes without penalty or interest is working better than expected. The program was expected to produce $35 million, but a total of $38.5 million has been collected in its first four weeks, the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services said Wednesday [NewsOK].
OK Lawmaker Pushing Plan To Consolidate Law Enforcement Agencies: A former state trooper is pushing a plan to consolidate state law enforcement agencies, including the one he used to work for. Rep. Mike Christian chairs the House Public Safety committee, and he held an interim study this summer on this notion of making the state’s law enforcement entities more efficient and effective by consolidating them [News9].
In under a decade, tribal gaming boosted Oklahoma state government revenues $1 billion: Revenues generated by the Oklahoma Tribal Gaming Act, passed by state citizens in a 2004 referendum, have become an important part of budget planning for the state government, according to an analysis of gaming compliance data documents. When it comes to Indian gaming, the impact is a cumulative $1 billion to boost state coffers in the last decade, and billions annually in broader economic impact [City Sentinel].
Oklahoma lawmaker wants to replace income tax with a service tax: Oklahoma Representative Mark McCullough of Sapulpa introduced a plan Wednesday to members of a State House subcommittee. He says replacing Oklahoma’s corporate and individual income tax with a tax on services would be a more reliable source of revenue for the state [KTUL].
Oklahoma Judge Halts 1 Abortion Law, Lets Another Stand: A proposed new anti-abortion law that would ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure was temporarily blocked Wednesday, but an Oklahoma judge declined to halt a second law increasing the waiting period for women seeking an abortion. Both laws were set to take effect Nov. 1. The temporary injunction will last until a full hearing is held on the center’s challenge to the laws [ABC News].
Oklahoma given a one-year Real ID extension: Oklahomans can stop worrying, at least for a while, about whether their driver’s licenses will get them through airport security. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has granted the state another one-year extension for implementation of the Real ID Act [Tulsa World].
Tribe appoints first natural resources secretary: The Cherokee Nation has appointed the tribe’s first secretary of natural resources. The Tahlequah-based tribe announced the confirmation of longtime Cherokee attorney Sara Hill. The job is a cabinet-level position to oversee the tribe’s environmental programs and advise the chief and tribal councilors on land, air and natural resources policies [Journal Record].
EPA Wants Oklahoma Oil and Gas Officials to Issue More Earthquake Restrictions: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is urging Oklahoma oil and gas officials to issue more regulatory actions to stem the surge of industry-linked earthquakes. An EPA review that concluded Sept. 29 recommends the Oklahoma Corporation Commission “implement additional regulatory actions … including further reduction of injection volumes” [StateImpact].

Quote of the Day

“The central problem here is that we’re not expecting enough of our institutions. We’re not expecting enough of our government and we’re not expecting enough of ourselves. We’re not going to get better if we don’t start expecting it.”

– State Secretary of Education and Workforce Development and Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City President Natalie Shirley, on new numbers showing that the state has nearly 85,000 job openings, in part because the state’s workforce isn’t adequately trained to fill them (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of children under age 6 who received a developmental screening in Oklahoma, 2011-2012. The national average was 30%.

Source: Kids Count.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

It’s Getting Harder To Move Beyond A Minimum-Wage Job: Minimum-wage jobs are meant to be the first rung on a career ladder, a chance for entry-level workers to prove themselves before earning a promotion or moving on to other, better-paying jobs. But a growing number of Americans are getting stuck on that first rung for years, if they ever move up at all [FiveThirtyEight].

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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