In The Know: State PTA votes to boycott tests

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

State PTA votes to boycott non-federally mandated tests: The Oklahoma PTA voted on Friday to boycott all non-federally mandated exams to pressure lawmakers into reducing the number of tests Oklahoma students take. The boycott includes writing, history, geography, and non-required end of instruction tests. It does not include English, science, or math tests [Oklahoma Watch].

Supt. Hofmeister calls on teachers: At EngageOK, the State Department of Education’s annual conference, State Superintendent of Schools Joy Hofmeister called on teachers to continue to elevate student achievement and work to highlight the state’s teacher shortage. The event drew upwards of 6,000 educators, administrators, advocates and parents over three days [NewsOK]. 

Oklahoma ranks high for state, local sales tax: A new report from the Tax Foundation ranks Oklahoma sixth nationwide for combined state and local sales taxes nationwide. Sales taxes are often the only taxes politicians will consider raising, which disproportionately impacts low- to middle-income Oklahomans [Tulsa World].

Lobbyist spending in Oklahoma doubles following rule change: New rules that increased the amount lobbyists could spend on legislators and state officials by 400 percent had a clear impact, with $326,000 spent on lobbying in the first six months of the year. The new rules also required more people to register as lobbyists, increasing the number of registered lobbyists in the state from 360 to 500 [NewsOK]. 

Hospital distances are barrier for women seeking health services: Thousands of Oklahoma women have to drive an hour or more for access to a hospital with a maternity center. Although some doctors make monthly rounds to area clinics, many women have to travel significant distances to give birth, and Oklahoma women disproportionately go without preventive screenings, such as Pap smears and mammograms [NewsOK].

DHS closes last institution for Oklahomans with developmental, intellectual disabilities: After 107 years in operation, DHS has closed the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center, with patient care now provided in home- and community-based settings. However, recent DHS provider rate cuts have care providers concerned that they will be unable to continue providing the same level of needed services [NewsOK].

Insure Oklahoma extension approved: The federal government has approved an extension of the waiver allowing the Insure Oklahoma program to operate. Insure Oklahoma, which provides coverage both to businesses and individuals, uses a combination of state and federal monies to cover part of the costs of health insurance [NewsOK]. The state has the option to accept an infusion of federal funds to expand Insure Oklahoma to cover an additional 150,000 low-income Oklahomans [OK Policy]. A number of other states have been similarly innovative in developing ways to extend health overage [OK Policy]. Nearly 18,000 people were covered by Insure Oklahoma in May of 2015 [Oklahoma Health Care Authority].

Health insurance rates could climb in 2016: Rate filings from the state’s health insurers indicate that Oklahomans with plans through Blue Cross Blue Shield Oklahoma could see significant rate hikes in 2016. Rate filings from the state’s other insurers are not yet publicly available [Oklahoma Watch].

Tulsa Police closer to dash cams in every vehicle: Following five years of delays, TPD is in the final stages of testing widespread use of cameras in police cars. Technicians believe they have solved the largest issue – how to simultaneously upload large batches  of footage at the end of shifts. If the tests are successful, TPD will proceed with full implementation [Tulsa Frontier].

Abandoned mines pose risks: A program designed to eliminate safety hazards from abandoned coal mines in eastern Oklahoma is running low on funds and personnel, and the federal tax that funds it expires in 2021. Since the program began, it has reclaimed nearly 5,000 acres of mine land [NewsOK].

Lesser prairie chicken recovering: The endangered lesser prairie chicken population is estimated to have grown 25 percent since 2015. Increases were spotted in three of the five states within the bird’s habitat, including northwest Oklahoma [Journal Record].

Quote of the Day

“Frankly, I don’t know what’s going to happen to the people they stop serving, and that’s my biggest concern. I’m very interested to find out what the department’s plan is to do with these people when the providers can’t serve them, because there’s no place else for them to go now, nor would we want them to go back to the institutions.”

– Judith Goodwin, executive director of Oklahoma Community-Based Providers, which represents 60 agencies which serve 6,000 to 10,000 clients, speaking about a 3.5 percent provider reimbursement rate cut. Care providers have warned that they will have to cut wages and stop providing some services, leaving some Oklahomans with disabilities without a source of needed care (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma women living with a person with a disability age 15 or older in 2013. The national average is 14.4%.

Source: Status of Women in the States.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

What denying Medicaid expansion looks like

When the Virginia-Kentucky District Fair returned to Wise County recently, it brought funnel cakes and whole families smiling — a sight not too common here in the coalfields. This week, another gathering on the Wise County fairgrounds will see thousands of people standing in the bright summer sun: the 16th annual Remote Area Medical clinic. Some of those same families and their friends will be among those who travel to Wise not for fun rides or local band favorite Folk Soul Revival but for something lacking in this county, this state and this country: access to health care.

Read more from The Washington Post.

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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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