In The Know: Health care delays worry patients in Oklahoma high-risk pool

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 Oklahomans in the state’s Temporary High Risk Pool are worried that problems accessing Affordable Care Act plans may disrupt their care. Rep. Mike Shelton (D-Oklahoma City) says he’s canceled plans for a study of the state’s gun laws because gun rights groups declined to participate. A year after enactment of an open-carry firearms law, Tulsans remain evenly divided over its desirability and effectiveness.

Superintendent Barresi said she does not foresee any further changes in the formula for Oklahoma’s A-F grades for schools. Local superintendents disputed Barresi’s claim that they had input on development of the formula. The OK Policy Blog examined the debate surrounding A-F grades and whether schools can overcome the effects of poverty.

ACLU leaders wrote an op-ed arguing that Tulsa should stop ‘debtors prison’ practices of incarcerating Oklahomans for failure to pay fees and fines. The Journal Record urged the US House to pass an internet sales tax law. The Number of the Day is the average NAEP reading score for Oklahoma 4th Graders who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. In today’s Policy Note, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that most of the states with the deepest education cuts in recent years also cut income tax rates.

In The News

Health care delays worry patients in Oklahoma high-risk pool

“This is what keeps me up at night,” Tanya Case told me earlier this week. Case is executive director of the Oklahoma Temporary High Risk Pool, funded by the federal government to sell insurance to people denied coverage by private health insurers. Her worry is about some 300,000 people in her program and others like it who now must quickly find health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Many of the programs are set to close by law on Dec. 31. By then consumers are supposed to be able to enroll in new plans that can’t discriminate against them based on their health status.

Read more from Pro Publica.

Lawmaker cancels study of gun laws

A Democratic state representative from northeast Oklahoma City says he’s canceled plans for a study of the state’s gun laws because several gun rights groups declined to participate. Rep. Mike Shelton says he planned to host an interim legislative study on Tuesday to look at both the state’s open carry law, which allows licensed adults to openly display a handgun, and the “Stand Your Ground” law that allows the use of deadly force. But he says some local gun rights groups that he spoke with “simply stopped returning our calls.”

Read more from News9.

Tulsans split on feeling safe 1 year after open carry

A year after enactment of an open-carry firearms law, Tulsans remain evenly divided over its desirability and effectiveness. The latest Oklahoma Poll, conducted Nov. 1-5, asked 401 Tulsa residents if they “feel safe knowing that people not connected to law enforcement can openly carry loaded guns in public.” Forty-seven percent said yes. Forty-seven percent said no. “The more guns you have, the more likely somebody is going to get shot and killed,” Ruthie Ball said.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Barresi doesn’t foresee any changes in A-F Grading System

A controversial system that assigns letter grades to each public school in Oklahoma accurately represents that school’s performance, the state’s top education official said Friday in Enid. Amid the rollout of the 2013 A-F Report Cards, now in its second year following significant changes to the way the grades are tallied, Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi gave the system a vote of confidence. She doesn’t foresee any further changes in the formula, noting the need for consistency.

Read more from the Enid News & Eagle.

Local superintendents say there were allowed no input on A-F formula

The controversy continues over the State Department of Education’s A-F grading system for schools, as superintendents across Green Country continue to claim they had no input in developing the formula for those grades. On Wednesday, Barresi told FOX23’s Ian Silver that 60 superintendents across the state helped develop the formula. On Friday, some of those superintendents say they were told what the formula was, there was no discussion.

Read more from Fox23.

Do schools matter?

In a report released last month (and summarized on our blog here), researchers at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University found major flaws in Oklahoma’s A-F grading system for schools. The Fallin administration recently jumped to the defense of the A-F grades by zeroing in on a single claim by the report. Gov. Fallin’s spokesperson Alex Weintz argued that this claim ”undermines the advocates of public education who believe it is worth investing in and improving.”

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Ryan Kiesel and Eric Balaban: Tulsa should stop ‘debtors prison’ practices

More than 40 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court in Bearden v. Georgia held that courts could not jail men and women whose only crime was that they were too poor to pay the fines and fees imposed on them as part of a criminal conviction. Despite Bearden, it appears Tulsa has joined a growing list of cities and counties across the country that have chosen to create new debtors’ prisons. As recently reported in the Tulsa World, 29 percent of all individuals booked into Tulsa County Jail for the month of July were there for failure to pay fines.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Journal Record: House should pass the internet sales tax

Markwayne Mullin, Oklahoma’s U.S. representative from the 2nd District, said last week there is no chance the House will pass the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013. Oklahoma’s congressmen should buck the tide. The U.S. Senate passed the measure 69-27 in May and it now languishes in the House Judiciary Committee. Oklahoma’s senators each voted against the bill, which had bipartisan support. The Internet made it easier for retailers to sell goods without having a physical presence in most of the places where the transactions occur. That left them unaccountable for sales tax, thanks to a pair of U.S. Supreme Court decisions that long predated the Internet.

Read more from the Journal Record.

Quote of the Day

[Ex-felons] see their incomes fall, their credit ratings worsen, their prospects for housing and employment dim, and their chances of ending up back in jail or prison increase. Despite serving their sentences, these debts keep them tethered to the criminal justice system — sometimes decades after they complete their sentences — and under constant threat of being sent back to jail or prison, solely because they cannot afford to pay an unmanageable legal debt.

-Ryan Kiesel and Eric Balaban, on the trend of Oklahoma’s court system assessing increasingly large fines and fees and incarcerating those who cannot pay (Source:

Number of the Day


Average NAEP reading score for Oklahoma 4th Graders who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, 22 points below the average score for wealthier kids.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

For some states, education cuts and tax cuts go hand in hand

Not only have many states imposed deep funding cuts for K-12 schools since the recession hit, as our recent report explained, but most of the states that cut the deepest also cut income tax rates, reducing revenue that might have gone to schools. Five of the seven states that have cut general school aid per student by more than 15 percent since 2008 also cut personal or corporate income tax rates during this period. Not all the states that cut income tax rates also imposed big cuts in school funding. But there’s no question that tax cuts leave less revenue for schools and make school cuts more likely.

Read more from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.