In The Know: September 9, 2011

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.

Today you should know that Gov. Fallin appointed Edmond Mayor Patrice Douglas to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to fulfill the unexpired term of Jeff Cloud.  Rep. Tom Cole says Congress is ready to work with President Obama on the infrastructure investments and tax breaks outlined in a major jobs speech yesterday evening.  Calls to Domestic Violence Intervention Services’ crisis hot line in Tulsa are up nearly 500 percent over the past three years.

A federal appeals court will consider the constitutionality of Oklahoma’s amendment to ban state judges from considering Shariah law.  Watch a video on the OK Policy blog of roundtable discussion among interfaith leaders explaining Shariah law.  As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers listing the lesser prairie chicken as an endangered species, representatives from the oil and gas industry, electric utilities, transportation, and farmers and ranchers testify that it would threaten their business in western Oklahoma.

The OK Policy blog has a must-read post explaining that everyone pays taxes.  The OU Daily reports on the challenges and rewards of pursuing higher education while parenting young children.  Today’s Number of the Day is the effective state income tax rate of a joint-filing married couple with two children and $50,000 in income.  In Today’s Policy Note, the Commonwealth Fund reports on the alarming rise in the number of underinsured American adults.

In The News

Fallin appoints new Corporation Commission leader

Gov. Mary Fallin on Thursday appointed Edmond Mayor Patrice Douglas to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.  Douglas, who will resign her post as mayor, will fulfill the unexpired term of Jeff Cloud, who announced his resignation to join the private sector.  “As a small business owner, banker, accomplished attorney and proven leader at the state and local level, Patrice will be an excellent addition as Oklahoma’s newest commissioner,” Fallin said.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Oklahoma lawmakers react to Obama’s speech

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa: “In addition to ending over-regulation, we need serious tax cuts and reforms to create a pro-growth environment for our economy. We need leadership and action, not speeches, that will lower taxes and spur job creation. Otherwise, his proposals are unlikely to generate the economic results the country so desperately needs.”  Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee: “The best way to create certainty in this economy is for Congress and the president to do big things – not small things – to fix entitlement programs, reform our tax code and eliminate wasteful and duplicative spending that is a drag on our economy.“

Read more from NewsOK at

Domestic violence numbers up, Tulsa’s shelters are crowded

One number in a story earlier this week about Tulsa shelters for battered women should jump out: Last year, Domestic Violence Intervention Services received 39,000 calls to its crisis hot line.  This staggering figure represents a nearly 500 percent increase in calls over the past three years.  Couple that number with the fact that the two shelters for women and children have been running at capacity for two years. The DVIS shelter is housing some clients in group rooms and on couches in an attempt to keep families together.  This demand comes at a time when funding – both public monies and private donations – for such shelters cannot keep pace with needs. To be honest, there’s never been a time when shelters anywhere in the state were adequately funded. The crushing demand always far outstrips resources. This has been especially apparent during the worst economy in 80 years.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Okla. anti-Shariah amendment heads to appeals court

An amendment to Oklahoma’s constitution that bans state judges from considering Islamic law will face its next legal hurdle on Monday (Sept. 12) when a federal appeals court considers its constitutionality.  Just weeks after it was approved by 70 percent of Oklahoma voters last November, U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange ruled it unconstitutional, saying “the will of the ‘majority’ has on occasion conflicted with the constitutional rights of individuals.”  The case now heads to the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the outcome could affect efforts to pursue similar legislation in more than 20 other states.

Read more from the Washington Post at

Bird causes economic development worries in state

The potential listing of the lesser prairie chicken as an endangered species could cause major economic problems for an area of Oklahoma already hit hard by an ongoing drought and dwindling population, business and industry leaders said Thursday.  “At this point, the Fish and Wildlife Service is at the point of diagnosis. Is the lesser prairie chicken threatened or endangered?” Ashe said. “And what we consider in the course of making that decision is the biological status of the species and the nature of the threat facing the species.”  Officials representing the oil and gas industry, electric utilities, transportation, farmers and ranchers all testified at the forum that listing the bird would threaten their industries in western Oklahoma.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Guest Blog (Peter Fisher): Everyone pays taxes

Let’s get one thing straight. Everyone pays taxes.  Even the lowest-income one-fifth of Americans pay about 16 percent of their income in taxes; they pay gas taxes if they drive, part of their rent goes to pay property taxes, they pay sales taxes when they go to the store, some pay state income taxes. There is no such thing as a class of people who pay no taxes.  Some would like to focus the debate just on the federal income tax and have succeeded in creating the impression that there is a large, permanent class of people who never pay federal income taxes. But they ignore the fact that most of those paying no income taxes this year will pay plenty of taxes later in life, or already paid a substantial share. They may be paying no taxes this year because they are young, starting out in a low-paying job, have young kids, and therefore need every penny they earn to pay for child care and to get by until they move up the career ladder.

Read more from OK Policy blog at

For students with children, studies met with perspective

“Everyone says you have to work hard to play hard,” Nabors said. “As a parent, this seems even more true. I want to get my work done so I can go home and spend time with my kids.”  For parents attending college, time management is crucial. In her first semester of law school, Turner acknowledges that she tried studying the long hours that typical law students did and found that her grades didn’t benefit and she missed out on spending time with her family.  By reevaluating her time, she was able to balance both.

ReRead more from the OU Daily at

Quote of the Day

This is not our first rodeo.

Terry Detrick, president of American Farmers and Ranchers, on listing western Oklahoma’s lesser prairie chicken as an endangered species

Number of the Day

2.83 percent
The effective state income tax rate of a joint-filing married couple with two children and $50,000 in income, 2011
Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Affordable Care Act Reforms Could Reduce the Number of Underinsured U.S. Adults by 70 Percent

The number of underinsured adults—those with health insurance, but high medical expenses relative to income— rose by 80 percent between 2003 and 2010, from 16 million to 29 million. Provisions in the Affordable Care Act to increase affordability could reduce the number of underinsured by 70 percent.

Read more from the Commonwealth Fund at

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