In The Know: Women’s march planned in Oklahoma, Washington

In The KnowIn 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

Five days left to register: OK Policy’s 4th Annual State Budget Summit will be held on Thursday, January 26th in Oklahoma City. Click here for the full program or here to go directly to the registration page to purchase tickets.

Women’s march planned in Oklahoma, Washington: Oklahomans are expected to rally Saturday as part of a larger network of marches taking place across the country following Donald Trump’s inauguration. “We can no longer complain on Facebook, and here is a chance to actually do something,” said Lindsey Kanaly, an Oklahoma City attorney who is helping to organize the Women’s March on Oklahoma at the state Capitol [NewsOK].

Oklahoma AG and EPA Pick Pruitt Stalled Pollution Lawsuit After Contributions From Poultry Industry: President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to run the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, walked back a legal fight to clean up rivers polluted by chicken manure after accepting tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions linked to the poultry industry, campaign and court records show [StateImpact Oklahoma]. Senate Democrats had a lot of questions for Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt on Wednesday [Tulsa World].

Senator Wants Virtual Schools Accountable for Student Attendance: Virtual charter schools would be required to track and report student attendance —something the schools aren’t currently tasked with doing — under a law proposed by an Oklahoma senator. Oklahoma has five virtual charter schools, enrolling a combined 13,225 students. Two schools reported 100 percent attendance last year, drawing questions and criticism from education advocates [Oklahoma Watch].

Proposed Bill Would Force Legislature To Fund Mandates On Public Schools: A state lawmaker wants to make sure schools in Oklahoma don’t carry the costs for programs the legislature requires them to put into place. State representative Avery Frix said the new bill would force the state legislature to fund programs if they choose to mandate them on public schools [NewsOn6].

State Lawmaker Wants To Increase Retirement Age For Teachers: One state representative wants to increase the retirement age for teachers by two years. He says it would save the state money. But the teachers union says it would cost the state teachers. State lawmakers will start the legislative session next month about $900-million in the hole while working to give teachers a raise. Oklahoma teachers are among the lowest paid in the country [News9].

Upcoming Event: Education in Oklahoma panel discussion at USAO: The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma’s Nita R. Giles Public Policy Program and the Oklahoma Policy Institute present Education in Oklahoma, a panel discussion examining feasible solutions to problems facing the Oklahoma education system [OK Policy].

Proposed law would provide immunity to those calling for overdose help: State officials proposed a bill that would take the next step in fighting the drug-related death epidemic. They aim to cut users’ fear of getting help when a friend overdoses. Senate Bill 226 would give them immunity from possession charges while calling for medical services [Journal Record].

With Obamacare repeal, Oklahoma could lose almost $47 million in public health funding: Oklahoma could lose almost $47 million in public health funding over the next five years if the prevention and public health fund, part of the Affordable Care Act, were repealed, according to an analysis by the Trust for America’s Health, a D.C-based nonpartisan health advocacy group [NewsOK]. Affordable Care Act repeal plans threaten chaos for Oklahomans’ health care [OK Policy].

Another year, another budget hole for lawmakers to address: Oklahoma budget writers are bracing for yet another gaping hole to work around for the upcoming fiscal year – the third consecutive year with a significant shortfall. Officials estimate a $600 million deficit for the budget that’ll pay for public safety, health care and infrastructure starting July 1. The 2017 fiscal year deficit, as well as last year’s $1.3 billion shortfall and $611 million one the year before, are all due to lower revenue from oil and natural gas production and the impact of various tax cuts and deductions [FOX23].

State law to collect on tax on internet sales has no teeth: Those of you who are excited about the passage of House Bill 2531 should take a closer look. Hailed by many as the answer to the collection of use tax for online purchases, HB 2531 suggests that Amazon, eBay, QVC and other online retailers provide customers with records of their purchases so they can pay local use tax on their income tax. It does not require online retailers to report customers’ purchases to the state [Norman McNickle / Tulsa World].

Prosperity Policy: Complicated and simple: “It’s complicated.” That’s the refrain I heard constantly over eight days spent recently in Israel and the Palestinian territories. I traveled with an interfaith group of nearly two dozen clergy and laypeople from Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Our group, which included ministers, rabbis, and an imam, along with educators, a police officer, a journalist, and a think-tank director, represented Oklahoma’s Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities [David Blatt / Journal Record].

The Road Ahead: Guymon, home to a rural rebirth, awaits era of Donald Trump: With her husband working the cash register and her mother-in-law behind the counter kneaded flour with her fists to make tortillas, Ana Mora did a final check of the store shelves before the lunchtime rush. She straightened a bag of red beans most popular with customers from El Salvador who shop at Mora’s Market, a small grocery store and restaurant off Guymon’s Main Street [NewsOK]. In the last decade, Texas County, OK has experienced a significant population surge [OK Policy].

The Road Ahead: Educators in Alex, Okla., are hopeful that Donald Trump will invest in rural schools: The stillness of Main Street on a weekday afternoon is interrupted by a line of three concrete mixer trucks rumbling into this back-roads town. Each truck passes the Feedlot Smokehouse restaurant before making a left at Alex Arms, a boarded-up firearms training business with events from seven months ago still advertised on the building’s marquee [NewsOK]. However you count it, Oklahoma’s per pupil education funding is way down [OK Policy].

The Road Ahead: Elk City has hope in pro-energy president elect: Randy Morse squinted as bright-white sparks bounced off a metal pipe. He adjusted his protective glasses and let out a deep sigh as he watched one of his employees weld the end of a gas pipe before it was to be sanded, painted and trucked off to a west Texas oil patch [NewsOK].

City accelerates Vision Tulsa project timeline by using bonds for funding: Mayor G.T. Bynum and the City Council revealed a schedule for Vision Tulsa economic-development projects Wednesday with most aimed for funding in the next five years. The aggressive front-loading for funding in the 15-year tax, which voters approved in April, is possible through a series of bonds the city plans to issue beginning this spring [Tulsa World].

Pryor Buys Body Cameras For Entire Police Force: Pryor’s city council gave its approval Tuesday for the purchase of 23 body cameras and related equipment for the police department. Police Chief Dennis Nichols says this will allow every one of his officers to have a body camera. “We hope that these cameras will protect our officers as well as the public. We want to be as transparent with the public as possible,” Chief Dennis Nichols said [NewsOn6].

Holistic legal aid program begins taking clients in north Tulsa: When a “holistic” legal assistance program aimed at assisting women in the criminal justice center opened Jan. 9 in north Tulsa, it immediately went to work. Still She Rises, the first outpost of its kind outside of New York for an organization called The Bronx Defenders, opened for business Jan. 9 at 567 E. 36th St. North. Personnel from the law office spoke to its first prospective client, a woman in the Tulsa Jail, the same day [Tulsa World].

When Kevin Durant left for Golden State, this was the piece of his heart he left in OKC: When Kevin Durant’s name comes up in Oklahoma City these days, it’s likely to elicit a variety of responses. Almost all of them, however, stem from how he performed on the basketball court during his nine years with the Thunder, or his decision to leave and join the Golden State Warriors as a free agent this past summer. …But Durant is also a patron saint for Positive Tomorrows, a school for homeless children and their families in the Oklahoma City area [Washington Post].

Quote of the Day

“We do expect another tough year of having cuts. I hope it’s the last. I’m optimistic that the economy is going to turn around.”

– Sen. Kim David, R-Porter, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, on the budget shortfall state lawmakers will have to contend with in the upcoming legislative session (Source)

Number of the Day

19 minutes

Average time patients wait in Oklahoma emergency rooms before being seen by a doctor

Source: ProPublica

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Medicaid expansion tied to employment among people with disabilities: Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid coverage to people living just above the poverty line may be responsible for more disabled people getting jobs, according to a recent study. Before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) – also known as Obamacare – was passed in 2010, people with disabilities and low income jobs were often unable to afford their expensive medical care. So many chose unemployment in order to be poor enough to qualify for Medicaid coverage, researchers report in the American Journal of Public Health [Reuters].

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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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