In The Know: Supreme Court upholds subsidies for 87,000 Oklahomans

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

US Supreme Court upholds health insurance subsidies: In a 6-3 ruling, the United States Supreme Court ruled to uphold the subsidies more than 87,000 Oklahomans and 6.4 million nationwide used to purchase health insurance on [Tulsa World]. This decision cements the reality that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and is here to stay [OK Policy]. SCOTUSblog has a thorough breakdown of the case in plain English [SCOTUSblog]. This Q&A explains what the case means for Oklahoma [Oklahoma Watch]. Oklahomans who get the subsidies are happy they can keep their coverage [NewsOK]. Policy Director Gene Perry shared the history and implications of the case with the BBC [audioBoom]. 

Oklahoma Board of Education approves flat budget: The state Board of Education has approved a flat $2.5 billion dollar budget for FY 2016 [Tulsa World]. Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has said that due to rising costs, flat funding essentially translates to a funding cut, and will mean school closings and teacher layoffs [Oklahoma Watch].

Regents approve tuition, fee hikes: The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education have unanimously approved tuition and mandatory fee increases  between 3.2 and 5 percent at colleges and universities across the state [News9]. The state’s higher education budget was cut $24 million, or 2.4 percent, during this spring’s legislative session [The Ada News]. School leadership says that state disinvestment and subsequent tuition hikes makes it particularly hard for low-income and first-generation students to complete their degrees [NewsOK]. Our FY 2016 Budget Highlights issue brief breaks down the state budget in greater detail [OK Policy].

Kansas judge blocks abortion ban: A Kansas state judge has temporarily delayed a second trimester abortion ban scheduled to go into effect on July 1 while a lawsuit challenging the ban proceeds. An identical ban passed through the Oklahoma Legislature this spring [The New York Times].

Glanz to use taxpayer funds to hire counsel: Embattled Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz has said that he will be forced to use taxpayer funds to pay for “outside counsel” in fighting a petition calling for a grand jury investigation of his office because he isn’t receiving assistance from the Tulsa County Defense Attorney. Tulsa County DA Steve Kunzweiler says he is unable to provide assistance because his office doesn’t have jurisdiction until a grand jury is empaneled, and that he advised Glanz to either hire outside counsel or ask the state Attorney General to represent him [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma ranks in top 20 in births to unmarried women: New data from the CDC finds that Oklahoma has the 17th-highest percentage of births to unmarried mothers. In 2014, 42 percent of births in the state were to unmarried women [NewsOK]. The full report is available here.

Contractors begin trial work on state Capitol: Workers have begun trying different repair methods on parts of the Capitol to determine cost and scope of the renovation efforts. The trial work is expected to continue through September [NewsOK].

No timetable for I-35 landslide repairs: A June 18 landslide involving nearly 20,000 tons of rock has left 1-35 in southern Oklahoma partially closed. The state Department of Transportation has not yet released a timetable for the repairs, although they are expected to cost upward of $750,000. Experts from the Colorado Department of Transportation are consulting on-site [KGOU].

Drought, mites take toll on Oklahoma bees: Oklahoma saw the highest percentage of bee deaths in the US last year, and researchers say it’s due to a combination of factors. One is a species of invasive mites; another is the state’s persistent drought [StateImpact].

Quote of the Day

“I’m hoping now the state can stop these stupid challenges and work together with the community to make sure our poorest and most vulnerable residents have access to health-care coverage. Anybody who thinks that this is a bad decision is not representing the needs of the people of this state.”

– John Silva, CEO of  Morton Comprehensive Health Services, which provides health care to uninsured and low-income Oklahomans, speaking following a Supreme Court ruling upholding access to health insurance for those purchasing health insurance on Federal funds are available to expand health coverage for 150,000 low-income Oklahomans, but the state has thus fare refused to accept them.  (Source)

Number of the Day


Estimated state savings on uncompensated care 2015-2024 if Oklahoma accepted federal funds to expand health coverage to 150,000 low-income Oklahomans.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

What the Supreme Court’s ‘Disparate Impact’ Decision Means for the Future of Fair Housing

The Supreme Court of the United States issued an opinion Thursday morning that affirms the understanding of housing discrimination that has guided the nation for nearly 50 years. Led by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Supreme Court ruled by 5-4 to affirm the decision of the Fifth Circuit in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project. The ruling supports one of the tentpoles of the nation’s Civil Rights legislation. At the heart of the decision is the notion of “disparate impact”: whether the Fair Housing Act can be read to prohibit policies that adversely affect minority groups even when that’s not the stated goal of the policy.

Read more from CityLab.

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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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