In 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
Deadline placed on DACA, creating uncertainty for thousands of Oklahomans: For nearly 7,500 undocumented immigrants in Oklahoma, many of whom have only known a life in the United States, deportation relief found under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, will come to an end in six months without an act of Congress. On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced an “orderly wind down” of the program that gave children brought into the country illegally a path to employment, higher education and comfort in knowing they would not be the target of immigration enforcement [NewsOK]. Both of Oklahoma’s federal senators support President Donald Trump’s decision to return immigration policy to Congress, but their responses and backgrounds indicate a possible split in opinions on what Congress should do next [NewsOK].
Oklahoma City superintendent says ending DACA “will be a devastating blow” to the district: Oklahomans are reacting after the Trump administration formally announced the end of DACA — a program that had protected nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation. The Department of Homeland Security will stop processing any new applications for the program and has formally rescinded the Obama administration policy. Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Aurora Lora says that many DACA recipients are students in the district, while others work as staff members at various schools around the city [KFOR]. OU President David Boren also expressed support for DACA recipients [Norman Transcript]. Groups gathered at Oklahoma State University and elsewhere to protest the executive action [Tulsa World].
It’s time to revisit State Question 640: When I was elected to the House, I knew the job would be challenging and there would be many obstacles. But at the end of my first legislative session, I realized there is a certain well-intentioned constitutional provision in place that proves to be an extraordinary hurdle to effective legislating. This hurdle is State Question 640, which voters approved in 1992. SQ 640 changed Oklahoma’s constitution to require either a majority vote of the people or a three-fourths majority vote in the Legislature to raise any tax [Rep. Marcus McEntire / OK Policy].
Consortium looks to non-medical factors to improve health care outcomes: Medical treatment is important to the health people on Medicaid and Medicare. That much seems obvious. What may not be so obvious is that social, economic and behavioral factors are even more important, according to data presented Tuesday by Dr. David Kendrick of MyHealth Access Network. Those three components total 70 percent of health indicators, Kendrick said Tuesday, compared to just 10 percent for health care delivery systems — which is why a an effort is underway in Oklahoma and nationally to better connect Medicaid and Medicare providers with social service agencies [Tulsa World].
Keep Oklahoma’s higher education affordable and accessible: In 2015, as a member of the Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents, I received a letter from Gov. Mary Fallin highlighting her vision for Oklahoma’s future. More than two years have passed since opening that letter, but I feel its contents are more important than ever. The primary concern shared was that by the year 2020, 77 percent of jobs in the state will require education beyond high school, yet only 54 percent of Oklahoma’s working age adults meet that criteria [NewsOK].
Oklahoma’s rural hospitals need every lifeline: One of the most pressing problems in Oklahoma’s rural areas is closure of rural hospitals. Just last year in Eufaula, the Epic Medical Center shut down, making it the third rural hospital to close in Oklahoma that year. Forty-one rural hospitals in Oklahoma are in financial distress. When these hospitals close, not only do many people lose access to care and have to travel far to the next-nearest hospital, but economically a town suffers. Hospitals are some of the largest employers in the area. Rural towns need hospitals to provide jobs along with patient care [Dr. Kenneth Gibson / NewsOK]. Rejecting federal funds is devastating Oklahoma’s rural hospitals [OK Policy].
Behind Bars Beauty School: Ashley Davis of Enid is serving her second prison sentence at Mabel Basset but says that learning to do cosmetology and eventually earning her cosmetology license while in prison will make all the difference for her when she is released in a few years. “This is my second time in prison, and the first time I got out, I spent nine months not finding a job,” said Davis. “To be able to get out and have a job – that will make all the difference.” [Red Dirt Report]
Oklahoma City joins county-wide criminal justice reform panel: The city of Oklahoma City has four seats on a new Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory Council. The council is to conduct research and promote policies to enhance public safety while improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the criminal justice system in Oklahoma County. A primary focus of reform will be the troubled Oklahoma County jail [NewsOK].
Oklahoma City Officials Campaign For ‘Better Streets, Safer City’: Oklahoma city neighbors go to the polls in one week to make some very serious decisions. At issue is how to spend close to a billion dollars in city bond projects. The Sept 12th bond election has been dubbed “Better Streets, Safer City” by Oklahoma City Officials. There are 15 different items that voters will decide on next Tuesday. There are 13 bond projects totaling $967 million [News 9].
Interim study focuses on impact of unconstitutional laws: When just over a week remained in Oklahoma’s latest legislative session, media outlets throughout the state questioned whether leadership would reach a budget agreement and get it passed from both chambers within the constitutionally mandated five days prior to the end of session. Leadership did not [NonDoc].
Pruitt for governor? Senator? President? What is Scott Pruitt’s political endgame? That’s the subject of a popular parlor game in energy and environmental circles. President Trump’s U.S. EPA boss isn’t ruling out a future run for office. He’s been in the national spotlight for his prominence in Trump’s decision to exit the Paris climate deal, and he spent much of the summer traversing the country in a trip that some view as politically motivated [E&E News].
Excessive Occupational Licensing: A Solvable Problem: The burden of excessive occupational licensing in Oklahoma is unfair to both workers and employees. The problem is significant, it’s getting worse, but it is also solvable. Back in the 1950s only 1 in 20 workers in the United States was required to obtain licensure. Today, nearly one in three workers is required to obtain a license. According to a 2015 White House study on Occupational licensing, “Overall, the empirical research does not find large improvements in quality or health and safety from more stringent licensing. In fact, in only two out of the 12 studies, was greater licensing associated with quality improvements.” [Cathy Costello / CapitolBeatOK]
This Oklahoma Nonprofit Wants to Highlight the Muslim Community’s Service: A group of Muslim Americans in Oklahoma have started a new nonprofit to help highlight their community’s philanthropic efforts and help others better understand Islam. The organization, called Muslims4Mercy, started planning in June in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the state’s second-largest city. “Muslims, like everyone else, do a lot of community service,” Aliye Shimi, vice president of the organization, told NBC News. “That’s one of the huge tenants of the five big tenants of our faith. We’ve done that for years and years and years, but we’ve never really been recognized.” [NBC News]
New Tulsa vodka distillery could help city’s schools: Three former teachers are hoping to help education in the state of Oklahoma from outside the classroom. They are starting new careers by opening a distillery on 7th Street near Utica. When they’re in production they plan to donate 5 percent of their profits to our schools [KTUL].
Quote of the Day
“As the daughter of a Mexican immigrant who came to this country for the American dream, I stand with countless governors, mayors, state legislators, local elected officials, businesses, law enforcement professionals, school leaders and faith-based and civic leaders to support DACA recipients, recognizing their incredible contributions to our schools, workplaces and communities. Ending DACA protections will be a devastating blow to our many students and staff members who came to this country as children.”
– Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Aurora Lora, reacting to the Trump administration’s announcement that it plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in six months (Source)
Number of the Day
35.4¢ per gallon
Combined state, local, and federal gas tax in Oklahoma, lower than any other state except Alaska.
Source: National Journal
Gun Sellers Join Forces To Curb Suicide-By-Firearm, Rampant In Rural Areas: John Yule, 53, manages Wildlife Sport Outfitters, a hunting and fishing supplies store on the edge of Manchester, N.H., and is “deeply involved in the Second Amendment community.” But six years ago, while listening to a public radio story, Yule heard about a way he could tackle a familiar problem — the high rates of suicide in rural areas like some nearby in his state — through the New Hampshire Firearms Safety Coalition. He decided to get involved. Now he’s part of a team of people on the front lines — gun dealers like himself who, in many cases, claim a rural customer base — trying a simple but radical approach to curb rates of suicide, the nation’s 10th-leading cause of death [Kaiser Health News].
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