In The Know: Auto dealers trying to stop sales tax on vehicles set to take effect Saturday

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Auto dealers trying to stop sales tax on vehicles set to take effect Saturday: Car dealers are asking the Oklahoma Supreme Court to prevent a law putting a sales tax on vehicles from taking effect. Lawmakers passed House Bill 2433. The measure removes the sales-tax exemption on vehicles, thus imposing a 1.25 percent tax on top of the existing 3.25 percent excise tax. The measure is set to take effect Saturday [Tulsa World]. The budget is sitting on shaky constitutional foundations [OK Policy].

Parents of developmentally disabled children wait more than decade to receive help: Beau Clifton, 34, is a slight man, calm and gentle with a seemingly serene countenance. He also is developmentally disabled. His intellectual capacity is about that of a toddler 18 months to 2 years old. He sits next to his mom, Laurie Burt, 56, at a shady park picnic table. His clothes are freshly laundered, his face is shaven and his hair is neatly combed and cut [NewsOK]. Oklahomans with disabilities face devastating delays for services [OK Policy].

Senate GOP health-care bill appears in deeper trouble following new CBO report: Senate Republicans’ bill to erase major parts of the Affordable Care Act would cause an estimated 22 million more Americans to be uninsured by the end of the coming decade — only about a million fewer than similar legislation recently passed by the House, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The forecast issued Monday by Congress’s nonpartisan budget scorekeepers also estimates that the Senate measure, drafted in secret mainly by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and aides, would reduce federal spending by $321 billion by 2026 — compared with $119 billion for the House’s version [Washington Post]. The health care bill could put rural Oklahoma hospitals in jeopardy [KOCO].

A doctor prescribed so many painkillers, she’s been charged with murdering her patients, authorities say: On Nov. 21, 2012, Sheila Bartels walked out of the Sunshine Medical Center in Oklahoma with a prescription for a “horrifyingly excessive” cocktail of drugs capable of killing her several times over. A short time later, she was at a pharmacy, receiving what drug addicts call “the holy trinity” of prescription drugs: the powerful painkiller Hydrocodone, the anti-anxiety medication Xanax and a muscle relaxant known as Soma. In total, pharmacists handed her 510 pills that day — all legal, because she had a prescription with the signature of her doctor, Regan Ganoung Nichols, scrawled at the bottom, according to a probable cause affidavit [Washington Post].

SB 816: Positive step for rural medical training: Last month, Gov. Mary Fallin signed SB 816 into law as legislation designed to increase the participation of Oklahomans in rural medical training programs that support the state’s medically underserved areas. SB 816 by Rep. Leslie Osborn (R-Tuttle) and Sen. Kim David (R-Porter) directs that any Oklahoma resident or Oklahoma-based medical student in good standing receive preference in selection for Oklahoma hospital residencies in medically underserved areas [NonDoc].

Agencies still have cash from 2016: Several state agencies will get money for this year’s budget from money that showed up two years ago, and some policy analysts said the practice proves agencies can budget better than it might seem. During fiscal 2018, agencies will get more than $16 million to spend from 2016 appropriations. Most of that will go to common education, which gets about $9.2 million from a handful of funds [Journal Record].

Oklahoma AG says rainy day fund borrowing OK: State finance officials can borrow money from Oklahoma’s Constitutional Reserve Fund, Attorney General Mike Hunter wrote in an opinion released Monday. So far this budget year, Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger has borrowed the entire $240.7 million balance from the account, also called the rainy day fund, and used the money to pay the state’s expenses. That included monthly disbursements to state agencies that lawmakers approved during last year’s appropriation process [NewsOK].

Federal appeals court overturns death sentence for Oklahoma man: A three judge panel with the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has overturned the death sentence for convicted killer, James Pavatt. Pavatt was sentenced to death for the murder of Rob Andrew in November of 2001. Andrew’s wife, Brenda Andrew, was also convicted and sentenced to death for the murder. The federal appeals judges found the state did not meet the criteria that the crime was “heinous, atrocious or cruel.” [KFOR]

Superintendent changes mind on closing North Highland: Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Aurora Lora has changed her mind about closing North Highland Elementary and decided to staff the troubled school for the upcoming year, the district reported. Monday’s move came hours before the school board was going to consider Lora’s recommendation to close the school for 2017-18 [NewsOK].

On children’s issues, Oklahoma lawmakers praised for bipartisan work: When it came to legislation that affected children’s lives, advocates praised Oklahoma lawmakers’ bipartisanship through a hard budget cycle. The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy pushed for laws that would have reformed the criminal justice system and improved how the government interacts with minors, said CEO Joe Dorman. The area he’s most proud of is the effort to feed hungry kids through summer food programs [NewsOK].

Oklahoma State Capitol Celebrates Centennial: The State Capitol celebrates its centennial on Friday, June 30, and will host a ceremony Monday to mark the birthday. The ceremony is highlighted by a time capsule, planned to be opened 100 years from now. Artifacts donated to the time capsule will be displayed in the Capitol’s 4th-floor rotunda beginning on Monday at 1 p.m. The ceremony will start at 2 p.m. [News On 6].

Quote of the Day

“If you ask any family with a (developmentally disabled) child, we’re just doing what we have to do to make life good. We do everything we can, but we can’t do it all. I could not work if (my daughter) didn’t have support. Families will do their part, but they can’t do it all.”

-Wanda Felty, an advocate and parent of a 28-year-old developmentally disabled daughter who is one of more than 7,500 Oklahomans on a waiting list for home- and community-based services. Felty says she expects to wait more than 11 years for services (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of lynchings reported in Oklahoma between 1877 and 1950.

Source: Equal Justice Initiative

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How the U.S. military turned into a model for universal childcare: Tech Sgt. Parker and her husband always knew they wanted to have a big family. Today, they have five children between the ages of three and 16. Multiply five by the typical cost of daycare, and they could have been looking at spending more than $190,000 over their children’s early years. Yet the cost of childcare never stopped them. Thanks to Parker’s 17-year career as a linguist for the Air Force, all of her children have been cared for in the military’s childcare system where she never has to pay more than about 10 percent of her income [Think Progress].

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Ryan Gentzler worked at OK Policy from January 2016 until November 2022. He last served as the organization's Reserach Director and oversaw Open Justice Oklahoma. He began at OK Policy as an analyst focusing on criminal justice issues, including sentencing, incarceration, court fines and fees, and pretrial detention. Open Justice Oklahoma grew out of Ryan’s groundbreaking analysis of court records, which was used to inform critical policy debates. A native Nebraskan, he holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Oklahoma and a BA in Institutions and Policy from William Jewell College. He served as an OK Policy Research Fellow in 2014-2015.

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