In The Know: Senate considers changing criminal justice reform panel

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 a state Senate committee considered changing a rule that requires three members of a corrections reform panel to have a ‘diverse criminal justice background’, to a rule that lets the governor and legislative leadership pick whomever they want.  Some lawmakers are urging the state to develop procedures for post-conviction DNA testing requests, currently provided for in every state except Oklahoma.

David Blatt’s Journal Record column reviewed how decades of new education standards and mandates pile on top of each other with each shift in the political winds, often without follow-through to fully fund them. An important new report by the Oklahoma Technical Assistance Center for Oklahoma Policy Institute catalogued the cumulative effect of these reforms.

Missouri Republicans are inching closer to compromise on Medicaid expansion.  A federal appeals court in Denver will hear oral arguments at the end of May in Hobby Lobby’s suit against new health insurance requirements.  A bill to allow pilots to fly at low-levels with marksmen to shoot at feral hogs won unanimous approval from a state legislative committee.

The State Chamber of Oklahoma released a report on the economic impact of higher education, which generates $4.72 for every dollar it receives in state funding.  In today’s Policy Note, a new report from the Insight Center for Community Economic Development evaluates the net economic impact of high interest ‘payday lending’ across the country.  The Number of the Day is the net economic value lost in Oklahoma through payday lending interest payments made by state residents.

In The News

Okla. panel to consider justice reinvestment bill
An Oklahoma Senate committee is scheduled to consider a bill to change the way members of a committee overseeing the state’s plans to reduce prison overcrowding and efforts to reduce violent crime are appointed. The initiative was signed into law last May and is meant to reduce violent crime and prison crowding. The Senate Public Safety Committee is to discuss the bill Thursday. The bill calls for the governor, House Speaker and Senate President Pro Tem to each select three committee members. Current law says the panel’s members must come from a diverse criminal justice background. The bill would allow the three to pick whomever they want.

Read more from NewsOn6

Oklahoma Legislature mulls changes in criminal justice system
Oklahoma’s criminal justice system is in need of reform, according to some state legislators. Currently, post-conviction DNA testing can be requested by convicts in every state except Oklahoma – and state lawmakers say that needs to change. House Bill 1068, or the “Postconviction DNA Act,” Would allow convicted criminals to ask for additional DNA testing of evidence in certain cases. Although Oklahoma does allow for such testing, there is no established application process for the convicts themselves. Cases would be limited to those convicted of violent felonies or sentenced to 25 years or more, among other criteria.

Read more from NewsChannel10

Prosperity Policy: Reform fatigue
In recent years, Oklahoma has introduced a new A-F grading system for schools, testing requirements before students can receive a high school diploma, and a mandate for third-graders to pass a reading test or be retained. On top of these changes, lawmakers are debating controversial reforms such as a parent trigger that would allow petitions to turn public schools over to charter companies.

Read more from The Journal Record

Nixon and Republicans inching toward possible Missouri Medicaid expansion
Gov. Jay Nixon hopscotched across the state for months trying to line up public support for adding 300,000 uninsured Missourians to Medicaid. Yet each time the issue has come before lawmakers, the Republican supermajority rejected it. On Wednesday, he made his case directly to those very lawmakers. They didn’t sign on to his plan, but something in the middle looks to be taking shape. For the first time as governor, the Democrat met with the entire House GOP caucus for nearly an hour Wednesday. He emerged optimistic that Republicans will come on board with a middle-ground idea for expanding the public health insurance program for the poor — a key component of the federal Affordable Care Act commonly known as Obamacare.

Read more from the Kansas City Star

Federal court to hear Hobby Lobby arguments in May
A panel of nine federal appeals court judges will hear oral arguments in Hobby Lobby Stores Inc.’s fight against part of the Affordable Care Act on May 23 in Denver. On Friday, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted Hobby Lobby’s request to speed up legal proceedings in the case. The Oklahoma City retailer faces potential fines of up to $1.3 million a day beginning in July for failing to comply with part of the new health care law that requires the company to cover the cost of emergency contraceptives for workers through its employee health plan.

Read more from NewsOK

Bill targeting feral hogs flies through Oklahoma legislative panel
A bill that would allow landowners to hire bush pilots to fly marksmen who would shoot feral hogs won unanimous approval Wednesday from a legislative committee, despite one lawmaker raising questions about safety.“This low-level flying is very dangerous,” said Rep. James Lockhart, a member of the House of Representatives Agriculture and Wildlife Committee.Lockhart, D-Heavener, said he was concerned about pilots flying into power lines and questioned how they could tell property lines from the air, which could result in some livestock being shot by mistake.

Read more from NewsOK

Oklahoma sees substantial benefits from higher education, State Chamber reports
Conducted for the State Chamber by the research firm Battelle Technology Partnership Practice, the study shows public higher education “brings highly substantial benefits for Oklahoma.” The business lobbying group released the study Wednesday. According to the report, the total economic output of the higher education system during the 2011 fiscal year was $9.22 billion. That figure includes the creation of about 85,000 jobs.

Read more from NewsOK

Quote of the Day

“Reforms have repeatedly addressed the same topics, revising and replacing previous efforts. For administrators and teachers, new standards and mandates get piled on top of each other with each shift in the political winds in Washington, D.C., and Oklahoma City. Meanwhile, as budgets have gotten tighter in recent years, the funding needed to ensure that major reforms can be properly implemented falls far short.”

David Blatt, Oklahoma Policy Institute Director

Number of the Day


Net economic value lost in Oklahoma through payday lending interest payments made by state residents.

Source: Insight Center for Community Economic Development

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The Net Economic Impact of Payday Lending in the U.S.

This study examines the net impact of payday lending in terms of value added to the national economy
and jobs. The Insight Center for Community Economic Development (Insight Center) finds that the
payday lending industry had a negative impact of $774 million in 2011, resulting in the estimated loss of
more than 14,000 jobs. U.S. households lost an additional $169 million as a result of an increase in
Chapter 13 bankruptcies linked to payday lending usage, bringing the total loss to nearly $1 billion.

Read more from the Insight Center

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