In The Know: Governor Fallin blocks military benefits for National Guard spouses

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 you should know that Gov. Mary Fallin has ordered the National Guard to stop processing requests for military benefits for same-sex couples, despite a Pentagon directive to do so. The State Chamber of Commerce is seeking $300,000 to create a new lobbying group on education policy. New Census data shows that the number of uninsured children in Oklahoma continues to fall due to coverage offered Oklahoma’s Medicaid program, but the situation is very different for working-age adults.

At a Legislative study meeting, parents, coaches and school administrators voiced complaints about a private non-profit that oversees Oklahoma’s high school sports and other extracurricular activities. Urban Tulsa Weekly dicussed how Tulsa’s changing demographics may affect the future of the city.

Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Ganz writes in the Tulsa World that Oklahoma has to get serious about reducing incarceration. Arnold Hamilton discussed how Insurance Commissioner John Doak is working to confuse Oklahomans about the Affordable Care Act. NewsOK previewed stories that will appear on Sunday about how the new health insurance marketplace will benefit consumers.

The Number of the Day is the percentage of working age adults in Oklahoma who don’t have health insurance. In today’s Policy Note, USA Today discussed a new report finding that high-income people who live in states that generally do poorly in health care are worse off than low-income people in states with high health care scores. You can read the full report from the Commonwealth Fund here.

In The News

Governor Fallin blocks military benefits for National Guard spouses

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has ordered the National Guard to stop processing requests for military benefits for same-sex couples, her office confirmed Tuesday, despite a Pentagon directive to do so. Oklahoma National Guard spokesman Col. Max Moss said the agency had been processing benefits for same-sex soldiers just like those from heterosexual couples until Fallin’s office ordered the change in policy. Moss added that any soldiers who request marriage benefits for their same-sex spouse will be directed to apply at a federal facility.

Read more from Politico.

State Chamber pushing new education reform lobbying group

This morning, The McCarville Report (TMR) released a document showing that the Oklahoma State Chamber has applied for a Walton Family Foundation (WFF) grant. The grant application lists the project name as “Start-up Funding for Business-Education Reform Advocacy.” Here is how the Chamber describes the purpose of the grant: “This grant request will provide funds in the amount of $300,000 over three years for the Oklahoma State Chamber to establish a new 501 (c) 3 education reform advocacy organization under its auspices that is geographically diverse and ambitious in its aims to advocate for an aggressive change agenda within Oklahoma’s K-12 education system.”

Read more from okeducationtruths.

New Census data shows continued drop in uninsured Oklahoma kids

Fifteen years after Oklahoma expanded Medicaid eligibility for children, the number of uninsured children in the state continues to fall. The child uninsured rate in Oklahoma reached an historic low of 8 percent in 2011-2012, which is half the rate (16 percent) of 1999-2000, according to new Census Bureau data released today. There are 53,000 fewer uninsured children now in Oklahoma than there were in 1999-2000, even as the state’s overall child population has grown by some 80,000. The state’s success in reducing the uninsured rate for children stands in stark contrast to the situation for working-age adults, 24 percent of whom were uninsured in 2011-12, up from 21 percent in 1999-2000.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

State legislature looking at high school athletics management

Parents, coaches and school administrators voiced numerous complaints on Tuesday about a lack of oversight of the organization that oversees tens of thousands of Oklahoma high school athletes, cheerleaders and other extracurricular activities. People from across Oklahoma were invited by legislators to testify before the House Administrative Rules Committee about their experience with the private, nonprofit Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association. Tuesday’s day-long hearing is one of three such meetings scheduled before the committee over the next month to determine whether more transparency and oversight is needed for the association.

Read more from the Muskogee Phoenix.

Tulsa Council looks at how demographic changes will influence future of city

It topped the list of seven points about Tulsa’s changing population: “The city’s not growing, and the county’s only growing slightly,” said Phil Dessauer, executive director for the Community Service Council. Dessauer read from his presentation at a Sept. 12 committee meeting of the Tulsa City Council, highlighting research put together in hopes of shining a light on trends — some obvious, some less so — that will shape the city in the years ahead. Using maps as part of his presentation, Dessauer described a colored map that used green to show where the population increased in the city. “The bright green, of course, is out in the far east and northeast,” Dessauer said. “That’s where the growth of the Hispanic population is.”

Read more from Urban Tulsa Weekly.

Funding first step in justice initiative

The incarceration rate in Oklahoma is among the highest in the nation with approximately 26,000 people behind bars at any given time. Spending on corrections has increased 41 percent over the past decade. The overcrowding challenge at the state level has spilled over into county jails, particularly in the larger counties, such as Tulsa, where we have had at times up to 200 inmates waiting to be transferred to a state institution. This has pushed the inmate population at the jail beyond our capacity by hundreds of inmates. We have to get serious about considering ideas that will reduce the inmate population.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

With state leaders’ reaction to Obamacare, ideology trumps public service

When it comes to ObamaCare, state Insurance Commissioner John Doak should be indicted for political malpractice. With important elements of the new federal law coming online Oct. 1, you’d expect Oklahoma’s public servants to be hard at work educating the masses on what to expect, how to access the new system, and how to determine for themselves whether it’s an improvement, merely maintains the status quo, or makes things worse. Sadly, Doak seems to be working to confuse rather than enlighten, spreading as fact preposterous claims that don’t stand up to scrutiny.

Read more from Urban Tulsa Weekly.

Take care in shopping in Oklahoma’s new health insurance marketplace

Under new health reform laws, insurers — starting in 2014 — can’t deny people medical coverage based on any illnesses or health conditions they may have. Also, beginning next year, most residents — by law — must have health insurance or pay penalty taxes on their 2014 tax returns. In Sunday’s editions of The Oklahoman, medical reporter Jaclyn Cosgrove and I will explain how the new marketplace may help you. Any Oklahoma resident is welcome to shop in it, and individuals who have incomes between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($11,490 to $23,550, or $31,322 to $94,200 for families of four) will be eligible for variable subsidies, depending on income and family size.

Read more from NewsOK.

Quote of the Day

We want our soldiers to have all the benefits to which they’re entitled to.

-Oklahoma National Guard spokesman Col. Max Moss, who said they are directing Guard members to apply for same-sex marriage benefits at federal facilities after Governor Fallin ordered them to stop processing applications at state-run facilities (Source:

Number of the Day

24 percent

The percentage of working age adults in Oklahoma who don’t have health insurance

Source:  U.S. Census via Oklahoma Policy Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Study: State’s poor health care affects all income levels

High-income people who live in states that generally do poorly in health care are worse off than low-income people in states with high health care scores, according to a Commonwealth Fund study released today. “In the United States, income is not a guarantee of good healthcare or good health,” said David Blumenthal, president of The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that works to increase access to health care. “Where you live plays a very big part in your experience.

Read more from USA Today.

See also: The full report from the Commonwealth Fund

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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