In The Know: Falling oil prices increasingly impact state revenue

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.

Falling oil prices are having an increasing impact on the Oklahoma economy, according to a report from the state treasurer’s office. Gross production taxes dropped one-fifth, or nearly $8 million, from the previous January. However, state Treasurer Ken Miller reports that January saw record sales tax collections and total gross receipts. Oklahoma Watch reports that a loophole in state law is allowing people to get a handgun license without completing a live training requirement. Increasing interest at the Capitol in restricting wind industry tax credits may be placing plans for a $2 billion transmission line in jeopardy. Advocates for the transmission line say that it could transform the panhandle into a US energy hub.

A bill that would have increased the speed limit on Oklahoma turnpikes to 80 mph has been withdrawn by its sponsor, who says it needs to be rewritten. The bill may not be heard this year. OK Policy research fellow Brandon Crawford wrote that too many Oklahoma foster youth exit the system without a safety net, resulting in high levels of homelessness among former foster youth. Although Oklahoma’s teen pregnancy rate has declined, the state can and should do more, said the Tulsa World’s Editorial Board. Since the flu season began in September, over 1,600 Oklahomans have been hospitalized and 68 have died of the flu.

Although federal officials have backed off of a plan to end chronic homelessness by the end of next year, organizers in Oklahoma City believe it’s attainable. A count in January 2014 found that the city is hosted nearly 250 chronically homeless Oklahomans. Incoming Tulsa Public Schools superintendent Deborah Gist met parents and teachers in her first public forum in the state on Thursday. PostRock Energy Corp. has announced that it is trimming its Oklahoma City staff by one-quarter due to falling energy prices.

The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is holding its first-ever “Muslim Day” at the Capitol on Friday, February 27. At least four earthquakes have shaken Alfalfa County since late Wednesday, damaging part of the courthouse in Cherokee. The Number of the Day is the percent of Oklahomans with a Bachelor’s degree or higher. In today’s Policy Note, Bloomberg View examines the effects of mandating paid sick leave in Connecticut, San Francisco and Seattle, and found that the economic consequences were minimal.

In The News

Oil price declines have impact on Oklahoma’s revenue report

A monthly report from the state treasurer’s office shows oil price declines are having an increasing effect on the Oklahoma economy. Gross production taxes on oil and natural gas generated $55.8 million in January, a decrease of $7.92 million or 12.4 percent from the previous January.

Read more from NewsOK.

Treasurer Ken Miller Says State Economy Grew In January

Oklahoma’s top financial officer says the state’s economy expanded in January. State Treasurer Ken Miller said Thursday gross receipts entered new territory during the first month of 2015 with record highs in sales tax collections and total gross receipts than any January on record.

Read more from KGOU.

Loophole Allows Handgun License Without In-Person Training

A loophole in Oklahoma law allows individuals to obtain a valid handgun license without ever firing a practice shot or picking up a gun. Scores of Oklahomans have avoided the state’s requirement to take live firearm training with a licensed instructor in order to obtain a license to carry a concealed or visible handgun.

Read more from Oklahoma Watch.

Wind Power ‘Superhighway’ Could Help Transform Panhandle Into U.S. Energy Hub

The wind energy boom has largely evaded Oklahoma’s Panhandle, but new turbine projects and a proposal for a $2 billion transmission line could transform the prairie into a national wind energy hub. But the projects are being planned amid uncertainty at the state Capitol, where tax credits for the wind industry are in the crosshairs.

Read more from StateImpact.

Bill to increase speed limit to 80 mph withdrawn in Oklahoma

bill to allow drivers on Oklahoma turnpikes increase their speed to 80 mph has been withdrawn from consideration and may not be heard this year. Oklahoma City Republican Sen. Ralph Shortey said Thursday that his bill to increase the maximum allowable speed on turnpikes from 75 to 80 mph needs to be rewritten and he may not have time to do so this session.

Read more from NewsOK.

Too many foster youth enter the adult world without a safety net

For most Oklahoma teenagers, turning 18 is an uncomplicatedly exciting time in their lives. However, for foster children, turning 18 means exiting the state’s foster system – and that can mean transitioning to a world fraught with intense uncertainty and anxiety, including a significant risk of experiencing homelessness.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Oklahoma can and should do more about teen pregnancy

Recently released figures show Oklahoma had the third highest birth rate for women 15-19 years old in the nation during 2013. The state was really only a hair’s breadth out of first place in the statistics prepared by the National Center for Health Statistics. The good news is that Oklahoma’s teen pregnancy numbers are declining. The 2013 Oklahoma average rate for 15- to 19-year-olds was 42.9 per thousand. In 2012, the state’s rate was 47.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

68 Oklahomans confirmed dead from flu

More Oklahomans have been hospitalized by the flu this season than ever previously recorded, state Health Department data shows. Since late September, 1,652 residents have been confirmed hospitalized because of the contagious respiratory illness.

Read more from NewsOK.

Despite federal changes, Oklahoma advocacy groups continue efforts to house chronically homeless

Even as federal officials back off a plan to end chronic homelessness nationwide by the end of next year, homeless advocates say they still think the goal is attainable in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Norman are among 71 cities nationwide included in a national initiative to find housing for homeless veterans and chronically homeless people over the next two years.

Read more from NewsOK.

Tulsa parents, teachers meet and greet TPS’ superintendent designee Deborah Gist

School choice and support for teachers were the burning topics on parents’ minds at Deborah Gist’s first public forum since being selected as Tulsa Public Schools’ next superintendent. About 75 people, including teachers and administrators, turned out Thursday for an after-school meet-and-greet with Gist, who is in the midst of a three-day initial visit.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

PostRock Energy announces layoffs

PostRock Energy Corp. announced Thursday plans to cut staff and expenses in response to low oil and natural gas prices. The oil producer said it has reduced its Oklahoma City headquarters staff by nearly 25 percent from 2014 levels in a move that will save the company about $2.2 million annually.

Read more from NewsOK.

Muslim Day To Be Held At Oklahoma Capitol

Muslims from across the state of Oklahoma will come to the state Capitol later this month to learn about the legislative process and join panel discussions on issues important to their community. The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations announced its first ever “Muslim Day” will be held at the Capitol on Friday, Feb. 27.

Read more from KGOU.

Swarm of earthquakes strikes parts of northern Oklahoma

A swarm of earthquakes has shaken parts of Alfalfa County in northern Oklahoma. The U.S. Geological Survey says four earthquakes have been recorded around Cherokee and Helena since late Wednesday, including a magnitude 4.3 quake about five miles east-northeast of Cherokee at 9:08 a.m. Thursday.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Quote of the Day

“Public funding of effective programs to reduce teen pregnancies are a smart investment for the state. They improve lives and leave the state financially ahead. There’s no valid reason Oklahoma shouldn’t increase its emphasis on such a smart investment, and many reasons why it should.”

– The Tulsa World’s Editorial Board, urging lawmakers to be more proactive in reducing the state’s teen pregnancy rate (Source:

Number of the Day


Percent of Oklahomans with a Bachelor’s degree or higher

Source: Office of Management and Enterprise Services.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Sick Leave Doesn’t Hurt Business, Says Business

President Barack Obama’s push to mandate paid sick leave generates two types of pushback. The first is a philosophical question about how much government interference is appropriate in the workplace, which can’t be answered with data. The second type of resistance is different, because it revolves around the effects of such a law — for businesses, workers and consumers. Here, the data matter a lot. And unlike a few years ago, when those practical effects could mostly just be guessed at, a lot more information has recently become available, as an increasing number of cities and states adopt laws mandating paid sick leave.

Read more from Bloomberg View.

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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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