In The Know: Romney to visit GOP headquarters in Oklahoma City

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.

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney will join the governor today for an event at the Oklahoma Republican Party Headquarters.  Gov. Fallin and legislative leaders continued to negotiate a budget agreement, which they say will include a cut to the state’s personal income tax rate.  A member of the House Education Committee said he is embarrassed over the dire funding situation for public schools in Oklahoma.  Parents, teachers, and students will rally at the Capitol today to protest cuts to education funding.

Oklahoma City topped a list of places considered small business friendly in a national survey.  The Tulsa World reported on a bill that could result in insurance policies that don’t cover minimum mandated services, such as mammograms and immunizations.  OK Policy previously discussed the implications of SB 1059, which repeals access to a wide range of health services.

A Chesapeake Energy shareholder filed a lawsuit against the company over its corporate jet policy, alleging improper use of the jet for personal trips over several years.  A new video produced by OK Policy shares personal stories of the impact of ending tax credits for working families with children.  The governor and tribal leaders will meet on a task force to try and resolve a water rights dispute.

A Democratic lawmaker expressed concern about what she considers an anti-woman agenda among GOP legislators in the state.  Dozens rallied for gun rights at the Oklahoma Capitol.  In today’s Policy Note, the Pew Center on the States calculated the full cost of incarceration for taxpayers in each state – including employee benefits, capital costs, and education and medical services for inmates.  The Number of the Day is the percentage of employees in Oklahoma who say their workplace is hiring.

In The News

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is heading to the Sooner State for an event with Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin.

The expected Republican nominee will join Fallin on Wednesday for an event at the Oklahoma Republican Party Headquarters in Oklahoma City. Romney is holding an event earlier in the day at an oil and gas company in Colorado.  Romney’s also expected to attend a fundraiser later in the day with Harold Hamm, chairman and CEO of Oklahoma City-based Continental Resources.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Budget talks progressing, Oklahoma governor says

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin still is pushing for a cut in the state’s personal income tax rate. No budget deal is expected this week; lawmakers have less than three weeks to approve a budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.  Steady progress is being made preparing a budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which will take into account a cut in the state’s personal income tax rate, Gov. Mary Fallin said Tuesday.  “My goal is to get an income tax cut this year,” she said. “We’re still working on the range.”

Read more from NewsOK at

State Rep.’s dire education funding predictions

A decision has still not been made about the funding amounts the state government will give to Oklahoma school districts. FOX23’s Adam Paluka had very candid conversation with Representative Jabar Shumate who sits on the House Education Committee. Representative Shumate says he is embarrassed the state is in this situation, and he has little confidence districts like Tulsa Public Schools will see any increased funding for next year.  TPS mom Kelly Walton wants the state to put children first and boost funding to school districts  “If they don’t do something, we’re going to lose good teachers. There’s going to be more drop outs and then where are our kids going to go? They’re going to go out of state, and Oklahoma is going to be left with nothing,” Walton said.

Read more from Fox23 t

Parents set to rally over education cuts

Parents, teachers and students will rally in Oklahoma City today to protest possible cuts to education funding. Millions of dollars are at stake, for teaching positions, services, and programs. Parents at Mayo Demonstration Academy are worried about Tulsa Public Schools possibly ending its practice of busing students across the district to that school. Kids who come to Mayo come from south Tulsa, west Tulsa, and north Tulsa. Without having a bus to take, they might not be able to come to Mayo at all.

Read more from Fox 23 at

Survey: Oklahoma City Tops for Small Business

Small businesses in Oklahoma City may be less frustrated with local regulations than small businesses elsewhere.  Local business owners gave Oklahoma City top marks for “overall regulatory friendliness” – including health and safety, environmental and labor rules, according to the survey of 6,000 small firms by, an online marketplace for local services, such as general contracting, plumbers and florists.  The city received a grade of A-plus. By contrast, San Francisco and New York both received Ds, at least from this sample of business owners.  Oklahoma City also ranked high for low hiring costs, lighter licensing regulations and more robust networking programs.

Read more from the Wall Street Journal at

Proposed Oklahoma health insurance bill ignores mandated services

A bill that would allow Oklahoma to enter a compact with other states could result in insurance policies that don’t cover currently mandated services such as mammograms and immunizations.  Proponents say Senate Bill 1059, which would allow companies to sell health insurance policies across state lines, would lower insurance costs and promote competition and more choices in Oklahoma’s health insurance market.  But opponents say the law would result in Oklahomans getting sub-par policies that don’t protect them.  “You might as well get a pencil and a piece of paper and write ‘insurance’ on it,” said Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Legislature poised to limit access to mammograms, prostate screenings, immunizations & more

While the new federal health law has expanded consumer guarantees for minimum health benefits, Oklahoma is poised to move in the opposite direction. Embedded in an ‘interstate compact’ bill to allow out-of-state insurers to sell policies in Oklahoma is a provision that could nullify several of the state’s existing consumer protections. Language in SB 1059 appears to exempt both out-of-state and in-state insurers from state laws regarding minimum coverage and benefits offered by health insurance policies.  This bill would turn back the clock on our health care system and deprive Oklahomans of essential medical care that they rely on their insurance to provide.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at

Chesapeake shareholder files lawsuit over its corporate jet policy

A Chesapeake Energy Corp. shareholder on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the company over its corporate jet policy.  Gilberta S. Norris contends the company has wasted millions of dollars by allowing senior executives and board members to use corporate jets for personal trips.  Chesapeake reported that its executives and board members made nearly $14 million worth of flights on company planes between 2007 and 2011, according to the lawsuit, but Norris’ attorneys contend internal company documents show the undisclosed fixed costs add another $10 million or more a year.

Read more from NewsOK at

Why raise taxes on working families?

Lost amid much of the tax cut discussion has been the fact that proposals coming out of the legislature would actually increase taxes on hundreds of thousands of low- and moderate-income families. That’s because they could lose a host of broad and effective tax credits designed to encourage work, support basic nutrition, and support families with children.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at

Okla. governor, tribal leaders to meet on water

Gov. Mary Fallin and the leaders of two Oklahoma American Indian tribes will meet on a task force to try and resolve a dispute over water rights in Oklahoma.  Fallin’s office announced the creation of the 19-member task force Monday. The group was convened by a court-appointed mediator who is overseeing negotiations between the state, Oklahoma City and the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations, and will meet behind closed doors.

Read more from the Associated Press at–governor–tribal-leaders-to-meet-on-water

Okla. lawmaker says GOP assaulting women’s rights

A Democratic state senator said Tuesday that the election of Oklahoma’s first female governor hadn’t stopped what she called a Republican assault on the rights of women with proposals such as the now-defeated “personhood” bill and a ballot proposal asking voters to wipe out affirmative action programs.  The personhood bill would have granted fertilized human eggs in the rights and privileges of Oklahoma residents. The anti-abortion bill died in the state House after passing the Senate earlier this year.  “What’s going on is insulting to women,” said Sen. Constance Johnson, D-Oklahoma City. “And to suggest that’s not an assault on women is adding insult to injury.”

Read more from the Associated Press at

Dozens rally for gun rights at Oklahoma Capitol

Firearms were on display at the Oklahoma Capitol as a group of about 30 people rallied for an expansion of gun rights in the state.  The event on Tuesday was sponsored by OK2A, a group the supports furthering the rights of gun owners in Oklahoma. The group is pushing several open-carry bills that will allow Oklahomans to openly carry their weapons.  This year, the Legislature appears poised to send an open-carry bill to Gov. Mary Fallin, who has indicated her support.

Read more from the Associated Press at

Quote of the Day

You might as well get a pencil and a piece of paper and write ‘insurance’ on it.

Rep. Mike Shelton, on SB 1059, a bill that would repeal minimum coverage requirements for health plans in Oklahoma

Number of the Day

34.6 percent

Percentage of employees in Oklahoma who say their workplace is hiring new people and expanding the size of their workforce, 3rd highest in the U.S.

Source: GALLUP

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The Price of Prisons: What Incarceration Costs Taxpayers

States’ corrections expenditures, which have nearly quadrupled over the past two decades, are receiving considerable attention.  These circumstances make it crucial for policy makers and the public to understand the full cost of prisons to taxpayers—something that is easier said than done. Although corrections departments pay the vast majority of costs for state prisons, other departments pay related expenses—some of which are substantial. Depending on the state, these can include employee benefits, capital costs, in-prison education services, or hospital care for inmates. Additionally, the cost of underfunded contributions for corrections employees’ pension and retiree health care plans must be included in a comprehensive accounting of prison costs.

Read more from The Pew Center on the States at

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