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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.
Today you should know that Sen. Sean Burrage and Sen. Tom Adelson plan to file a bill to require health insurers in the state to offer child-only insurance policies to newborns and babies. To learn about the Insurance Commissioner’s recent decision to allow insurers to deny coverage to babies up to one year, click here to read our blog post. Superintendent Barresi told a state Senate education appropriations hearing why more money is needed to fund remediation for students unprepared for new high-stakes graduation tests.
The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education are seeking a budget increase of $34.7 million to cover mandatory fixed costs, including health and retirement benefits and utilities. The Oklahoma Ethics Commission voted down a proposal to require disclosure of all campaign expenditures in municipal and county elections. Despite severe drought, the value of Oklahoma farmland has been rapidly appreciating in recent years.
What is an individual development account (IDA)? The OK Policy Blog hosts a short video on how IDAs help low and moderate income earners save for important assets like a college education, a home, or a business. In today’s Policy Note, State Impact Oklahoma investigates the causes and consequences of persistent poverty in one of the poorest counties in the state. The Number of the Day is the number of filers in Oklahoma who claimed the federal earned income tax credit (EITC) on returns filed in 2011.
In The News
Okla. Senate Democrats promote infant insurance
Democrats in the Oklahoma Senate plan to file legislation this week that would require health insurers in the state to offer child-only insurance policies that covers anyone under age 18 — including newborns — not covered by family plans or Medicaid, two of the party’s top senators said Thursday. Democratic Leader Sean Burrage of Claremore and Sen. Tom Adelson of Tulsa accused Republican Commissioner of Insurance John Doak of not doing enough to restore coverage to infants after insurance companies doing business in Oklahoma stopped writing child-only policies in response the federal health care law passed in 2010.
Read more from Business Week at http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9S7MROO0.htm
Testing for Oklahoma high-school diplomas vital, school superintendent tells funding panel
The class of 2012 is the first group of students to face state graduation requirements created by lawmakers in 2005. Each student is required to pass four of seven end-of-instruction exams to get a high school diploma. The exams are in Algebra I and II, English II and III, Biology I, geometry and U.S. history. Sen. Gary Stanislawski, R-Tulsa, questioned Barresi about concerns some teachers have expressed that schools are being required to spend too much time testing. Stanislawski said he wasn’t specifically referring to the graduation testing, but to testing throughout the grades.
Read more from the Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=11&articleid=20120112_16_A1_CUTLIN650945
Oklahoma state regents seek $34.7 million more, citing cost increases
The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education are seeking a budget increase of $34.7 million, Chancellor Glen Johnson said. The bulk of the request is for increases in mandatory fixed costs. Those costs include health and retirement benefits and utilities, he said. He said 89 percent of Oklahoma residents who graduated with a bachelor’s degree remain in the state and are employed here one year after graduation. The figure is “strong validation that academic programs are linked to business needs,” he said.
Read more from the Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=336&articleid=20120113_16_A11_OKLAHO416596
No action taken on Oklahoma’s campaign disclosure laws
Lack of regulations requiring corporations and labor unions to disclose how much they spend on state, legislative and local campaigns may lead to fewer candidates seeking municipal office, an Oklahoma City Council member told a state ethics agency Thursday. An unprecedented amount of money was spent last year in both Oklahoma City’s and Tulsa’s municipal elections. After more than two hours of discussion, the commission voted down the proposal, 3-2. A majority of commissioners felt it was premature to pass the local-level campaign recommendation because the commission has yet to pass similar guidelines in state races.
OK Farmland Attracting Outside Investors
If you’re looking for a safe investment with healthy returns, the plains of Oklahoma are the new proverbial X on the map for agricultural investors. Despite severe drought, farmland values in the state have been on the rise for the better part of the past two years, making productive land a gold mine for local and out of state farmers. “Farmers that have never had money in their life are sitting on five million dollars and they don’t know what to do with it. So they’re going out and buying land. And that’s why land prices are going up so high because individuals with that kind of money have no faith in the stock market.” Land values are not expected to appreciate much further, but they also show no signs of falling.
Read more from KOSU at http://kosu.org/2012/01/ok-farmland-attracting-outside-investors/
Quote of the Day
They want all the rewards and profits that come with the insurance business, but none of the risk.
Number of the Day
Number of filers in Oklahoma who claimed the federal earned income tax credit (EITC) on returns filed in 2011.
Source: Internal Revenue Service
For One of Oklahoma’s Poorest Counties, No Easy Way Out of Poverty
For Oklahomans under the age of 18, the hardest place to grow up is in Choctaw County. The area reflects the latest U.S. Census numbers showing poverty on the increase in many rural areas across the country. The situation is especially bad for Choctaw County’s young people, who suffer under a poverty rate of almost 40 percent, the highest in the state. About 20 area citizens gather at the Christian Life Outreach Church in Hugo. They’ve been told a reporter is coming and are anxious to tell why their area is so poor.
Read more from StateImpact OK at http://stateimpact.npr.org/oklahoma/2012/01/12/choctaw-county-youths-face-entrenched-poverty/
You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.