In 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 or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.
Download today’s In The Know podcast here or play it in your browser:
Today you should know that hundreds of people lined up at sites across Tulsa to get help enrolling in insurance on the Affordable Care Act marketplace. The Obama administration is granting more time for people to apply for health care if they started the process but were unable to complete it before the March 31 deadline. U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services wrote an op-ed in the Tulsa World about how Oklahomans benefit from the Affordable Care Act.
Organizers of a March 31 rally at the state Capitol for education funding are estimating about 25,000 Oklahomans will attend. OK Policy released a report showing how Oklahoma can close its budget shortfall without further cutting education and other important services that are still funded way below pre-recession levels. The Senate Finance Committee voted to extend a tax credit that pays part of the salaries of private aerospace engineers. A bill to allow counties to impose a tax on sand and limestone mining operations that sell their product elsewhere didn’t make it through the full House by the deadline.
Oklahoma City business leaders and educators are speaking out against a push to scrap Common Core standards in Oklahoma schools. The Oklahoma Board of Education voted to adopt new science standards, beginning in the 2016-17 academic year. A Senate committee approved a bill that would require parents with minor children who want a divorce to take a class about the negative impact on kids.
A House Committee voted to erect a privately funding monument to the U.S. Bill of Rights at the Oklahoma Capitol. The monument’s approval would bypass a process that has been put on hiatus after the Capitol Preservation Commission received requests from Hindu, Satanist, and animal rights activist groups to erect their own monuments.
The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority has reached a deal to allow Oklahoma and Kansas turnpike passes to work across state borders. A group supporting Senate candidate T.W. Shannon said they had been incorporated as a for-profit company instead of a non-profit because of a paperwork error.
The Number of the Day is how much Oklahoma could increase revenues by eliminating the “double deduction” for state income taxes, an unintentional fluke of the fluke of the law that serves no rational purpose. In today’s Policy Note, SCOTUSblog gave a plain English summary of the US Supreme Court oral arguments in Hobby Lobby’s lawsuit against the requirement to offer insurance covering contraception.
In The News
Hundreds line up for health insurance enrollment help
Like many people at the Thornton YMCA on Monday, Marci Parkhurst knew she needed to do something about health insurance by March 31. She just wasn’t sure how to do it. Parkhurst was among hundreds of people who waited in line for hours at YMCA and three other Tulsa sites during “Marketplace Monday,” an enrollment event for the Affordable Care Act. She said she has been without health insurance since being laid off from a job in 2008.
Extra time to enroll for health care
The Obama administration is granting more time for people to apply for health care if they started the process but were unable to complete it before the March 31 deadline. Health and Human Service spokesman Aaron Albright said Tuesday night the administration will be ready to help people —quote— “in line” by the deadline finish their applications, either online or over the phone.
Kathleen Sebelius: Affordable coverage is only a click, call, or visit away
If you or someone you care about does not have health care, it’s not too late to sign up for quality affordable coverage: but you’ll want to act today. The deadline to get insurance is Monday. After that, you’ll have to wait until November 2014 to sign up. Many of the people I’ve met have told me they were surprised at just how affordable marketplace insurance can be. Six out of 10 uninsured Americans can get covered for $100 per month or even less, some a lot less.
Schools prep for big public education rally
Edmond parent-teacher organizations are paying for school buses that will transport pro-education forces to a key rally at the state Capitol. At 10:30 a.m. Monday, school employees from across the state will rally for about 90 minutes on the south steps of the Capitol. Oklahoma Education Association President Linda Hampton said organizers anticipate 25,000 people will attend.
Filling the Hole: Options for a balanced approach to the state budget shortfall
The Board of Equalization has certified that legislators will have $188 million less for next year’s budget compared to this year. In her FY 2015 Executive Budget, Governor Fallin proposed an overall cut of 1.9 percent across all of state government and cuts of 5 percent to most agency budgets. In a new issue brief, OK Policy argues that responding to budget shortfalls by imposing deeper budget cuts is not an inevitable outcome.
Tax Credit for Oklahoma Aerospace Extended
A tax credit that Oklahoma provides to aerospace companies that hire engineers would continue until 2018 under a bill that has cleared a Senate committee. The Senate Finance Committee voted 8-1 Tuesday for the bill by Tulsa Republican Sen. Mike Mazzei. Oklahoma offers a tax credit to companies on the salary paid to an engineer during the first five years of employment.
Bill to Allow New Tax On Limestone and Sand Mines Dead Until Next Year
Representative Charles McCall’s bill to allow counties to impose a tax on sand and limestone mining operations that sell their product elsewhere didn’t make it through the full House by the March 14 deadline. But McCall, R-Atoka, says he will try again next year. “Unfortunately the measure will go no further this session … however it can and will be introduced next year,” McCall tells StateImpact. “The additional time will afford further education to the membership on this matter.”
OKC Chamber, educators speak out on plans to scrap Common Core programs
When a business is looking to expand in Oklahoma, one of its first questions deals with local college graduates. Mark VanLandinham, vice president of government relations and policy for the Greater OKC Chamber, said, “Do we have a workforce who’s capable of meeting the demands of our businesses if we locate there or expand there?” Unfortunately, sometimes that answer is ‘no.’ VanLandingham was excited about Common Core academic standards in Oklahoma. He says its higher standards would have improved the talent pool in Oklahoma for jobs in bio sciences, aviation and oil and gas.
Oklahoma Board of Education adopts new science standards
The state Board of Education on Tuesday adopted a new set of academic standards for science. The standards are a product of more than a year of work by a committee of more than 60 members, said Tiffany Neill, the state Education Department’s director of science education. The academic standards lay out subjects students in each grade level are expected to have mastered. They don’t dictate what curriculum districts should use to reach those thresholds, meaning decisions about how the standards should be taught are left up to local districts and teachers.
Divorce child-impact bill advances in Oklahoma Senate
Parents with minor children who want a divorce based on incompatibility would have to be educated about the negative impact on kids under a measure that advanced Tuesday from a Senate committee. House Bill 2249 by Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, now heads to the Senate floor for consideration. Nelson said he expects the measure to be changed through amendments. Additional details, such as the content and course details, will be worked out, he said.
House panel OKs new monument for Oklahoma Capitol
A plan to erect a privately funded monument of the U.S. Bill of Rights at the Oklahoma Capitol came one step closer to fruition on Wednesday. The House States’ Rights Committee voted 9-3 for the bill by Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, which authorizes the Capitol Preservation Commission to place the monument on the Capitol grounds. The measure next goes to the full House for consideration.
Oklahoma and Kansas strike turnpike pass deal
The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority has passed a resolution allowing Oklahoma and Kansas turnpike passes to work interchangeably. Kansas’ turnpike authority passed a similar resolution Monday. This decision allows K-Tag holders from Kansas to use it on Oklahoma’s 10 turnpikes. In turn, Oklahoma Pikepasses will be accepted on the Kansas Turnpike — a 236-mile toll road stretching from the Oklahoma border at Interstate 35 to the Missouri border in Kansas City, Kan.
Group supporting T.W. Shannon makes paperwork error
A group supporting former Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon for U.S. Senate is reorganizing after what it says was an administrative error that caused it to be incorporated as a for-profit corporation. Charles Spies, a Washington attorney prominent in political finance law, said Oklahomans for a Conservative Future was intended to be a non-profit and has conducted itself as one since it was organized last month.
Quote of the Day
Let me tell you about one of these people, a 27-year-old Oklahoman named Kendall Brown. When Kendall was in middle school, she was diagnosed with a serious medical condition. Her medication and treatment are expensive, and when Kendall was growing up, her mom would sometimes take on clerical jobs just to get insurance. At 27, Kendall can no longer stay on her mom’s plan, and until recently, she was uninsured because of her pre-existing condition. Today, Kendall is covered by a quality, affordable plan she bought through the marketplace which she told us meant “life or death” for her. And because of the Affordable Care Act, her new insurer can’t legally discriminate against her just because she’s a woman, or because she has a health condition.
-U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, writing in the Tulsa World about how Oklahomans benefit from the Affordable Care Act (Source: http://bit.ly/1o0DGoy)
Number of the Day
How much Oklahoma could increase revenues by eliminating the “double deduction” for state income taxes, an unintentional fluke of the fluke of the law that serves no rational purpose.
Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute
Birth control, business, and religious beliefs: In Plain English
Almost two years ago to the day, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which requires virtually everyone in the United States to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. This morning, it heard a new and different challenge arising out of the Affordable Care Act: can a business be required to provide its female employees with health insurance that includes access to free birth control, even if doing so would violate the strong religious beliefs of the family that owns the business? After the oral argument today, it looked like the Court’s answer may well be no, although the decision may not prove as sweeping as some of the challengers might prefer.
You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.