In The Know: Court upholds motor vehicle sales tax, OK prison population reaches all-time high

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.

In The Know will take a break on Monday for Labor Day.  We will return on Tuesday, September 5th. 

Today In The News

State supreme court upholds elimination of sales tax exemption: The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled in favor of a bill that eliminates a sales tax exemption on motor vehicle sales, denying challenges to a piece of legislation expected to raise $124 million this fiscal year. Oklahomans pay a 3.25 percent excise tax when they purchase a vehicle, but were exempt from paying a 1.25 percent state and local sales tax. House Bill 2433, which removes the exemption, was challenged by the Oklahoma Automobile Dealers Association. [Norman Transcript] Court ruling confirms that Oklahoma lawmakers have good options to fix budget in special session [OK Policy]

Oklahoma’s prison population reaches all-time high: The number of people in Oklahoma’s corrections system topped 63,000 for the first time on Thursday, the Department of Corrections said. Thursday’s count of 63,009 means the system has grown by almost 2,000 prisoners in the past nine months, prompting DOC Director Joe Allbaugh to ask “What are we to do?” [Tulsa World] What works to stop crime? Not incarceration…[OK Policy]

Low Pay, Charity, and Emergency Certificates for Oklahoma Teachers: Oklahoma teachers are among the lowest paid in the country. They haven’t had a raise in more than 10 years. ow charities are stepping in to rescue teachers who are struggling to make ends meet, according to the Associated Press. Habitat for Humanity has built homes for two Tulsa teachers, and has received applications from about a dozen more. [Education Week] When K-12 schools are underfunded…[OK Policy]

Gov Fallin issues state of emergency for OK to help states affected by Harvey: Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has issued a state of emergency for Oklahoma in order to help states affected by Harvey. This allows state agencies to make emergency purchases to speed up the delivery of resources to those hit hardest by the disaster. [KSWO]

Autopsies Reveal a March of Infant Deaths Tied to Unsafe Sleeping: Despite more than two decades of national and state safe-sleep campaigns, unsafe sleeping practices are playing a significant role in dozens of infant deaths across Oklahoma each year. An Oklahoma Watch review of autopsy reports from 2014 to 2016 found that 149 children under age 1, or around 50 a year, died in circumstances in which co-sleeping, sleeping in unsafe sleep environments, or both, were involved or suspected at the time of their deaths. [Oklahoma Watch]

Deep Blue Connecticut Faces Fiscal Woes. So Does Deep Red Oklahoma.: Connecticut is a blue state that has fiscal problems. Oklahoma is a red state that has fiscal problems. Conservatives blame Connecticut’s problems on liberal tax-and-spend policies. And liberals blame Oklahoma’s problems on conservative economic policies. [WSHU] Revenue Options for closing the structural budget deficit [OK Policy]

Small staff, big impact: Curbside Chronicle is well-known in the core of the metro where about 50 vendors wearing the signature green smocks sell the award-winning magazine at street corners. Only three people produce it and coach some vendors on how to write stories. But the impact of the monthly magazine is big. They help people who are homeless transition into having a home and earning a living by some other means than panhandling. [OKC Free Press]

Oklahoma’s adult smoking rate falls to record low: In 2016, Oklahoma’s smoking rate fell to its lowest level since the federal government has tracked tobacco use, with 19.6 percent of adults reporting they smoke. That was down from 22.1 percent of adults in 2015, suggesting about 72,000 people may have quit smoking last year. [The Oklahoman]

OKC doctor teachers women how to change their lifestyles for better health: As a child growing up in the Deep South, Tabatha Carr devoured bowls of cookies ‘n’ cream ice cream as an after-school snack. At the dinner table, Carr was served decadent Paula Deen-style meals. When her family moved from Georgia to Enid, Carr found her new Oklahoma friends also ate dishes dolled up with gravies and fried meats and vegetables. [OK Gazette]

Favors for Big Pharma Could Cripple Oklahoma Hospitals: In 1992, President George H.W. Bush worked in a bipartisan fashion to craft protections for rural hospitals, like the ones that dot the Oklahoma landscape. A very significant part of the 1992 law is section 340B. But now big Pharma is pushing Congress to revoke 340B, claiming losses on the program and unaccountable hospitals. [Ronda Vuillemont-Smith/The Okie] Rejecting federal funds is also devastating Oklahoma’s rural hospitals [OK Policy]

DREAMers with kids prepare for the worst: If Trump does end DACA, these young immigrants could no longer live and work legally in the United States and would be deportable. They are known as “Dreamers” —undocumented immigrants, younger than 35, whose parents brought them to the United States illegally as children. The fact that the federal government now has their names and addresses is particularly alarming to them. [Vox]

Republicans want to sideline this regulator, but it may be too popular: While many federal agencies have begun to loosen the reins on the companies they regulate, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, born out of the Dodd-Frank financial law in 2010, has taken the opposite course. Congress granted it unusually broad authority — and autonomy from the White House and Congress — to both enforce existing federal rules and write new ones, including issuing fines against financial companies. [NY Times] Congress is trying to strip away Americans’ protections from predatory lending [OK Policy]

Quote of the Day

“We must still deal with the immediate problem of the loss of $215 million from the earlier high court ruling that struck down the proposed smoking cessation fee. The $215 million represents just state funds, but with the loss of matching federal funds, state agencies estimate the total is nearly $500 million.”

– Governor Mary Fallin, reacting to the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision Thursday to uphold the elimination of a sales tax exemption for motor vehicle sales (Source)

Number of the Day

21 percent

Oklahoma households reporting that their income varied somewhat or a lot from month to month in the last year, 2015

Source: Prosperity Now

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

People who get Medicaid are made to feel powerless. That pushes them out of politics and toward fatalism: With images in the media showing protesters being pulled from wheelchairs and arrested on Capitol Hill, it may have seemed that Medicaid beneficiaries were mobilizing in large numbers. But very few of the 70 million low-income and disabled Americans who receive Medicaid benefits actually participated in the debates, despite the fact that changes to the federal program could have had fundamental consequences for their lives [Jamila Michener/Washington Post]

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Courtney Cullison worked for OK Policy from 2017 to 2020 as a policy analyst focused on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma. A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve.

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