The Weekly Wonk – May 6, 2011

What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk is dedicated to this week’s events, publications, and blog posts.

This week OK Policy continued its in-depth analysis of the state’s efforts to implement national health care reform.  Wednesday’s blog post explains how draft legislation to set up the state’s insurance exchange, SB 971, falls short of federal standards.  The Tulsa World covered OK Policy’s take on the bill and linked to our memo detailing specific aspects of SB 971 that would be out of compliance with new federal law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  For information and additional resources on health care in Oklahoma, visit the health care page on our website or read our continuing series of blog posts examining the ACA and health policy issues in the state.

Also this week, amidst the flurry of well-deserved condemnation, we extract a legitimate policy discussion from Sally Kern’s statements on the House floor.  The Legislature moves to cut access to child nutrition benefits for thousands of low-income mothers in Oklahoma and Tulsa county, in a misguided attempt to target a single Planned Parenthood location.  In a blog post yesterday, we caution that if the bill is not corrected in conference committee it will add strain to an already stressed Health Department budget, deprive vulnerable low-income families with young children of healthy groceries, and transform a program efficiently operated with the active involvement of the private sector into a government monopoly.

Finally, on Tuesday we took a look at how outside interest groups influence legislators’ decisions on issues affecting the state.  When politicians sign a pledge sponsored by a special interest, should that give the interest veto power over their own judgement or constituents’ interests?  This prompted a response from the state affairs manager for Americans for Tax Reform, the anti-tax lobbying group headed by Grover Norquist.  Check out today’s OK Policy blog for information on an upcoming event on May 19, the last in a series of Practice & Policy lectures sponsored by OKDHS, featuring the senior vice president and director of the Human Services Research Division of Mathematica Policy Research.

Numbers of the Week

  • $30 million – The cost of transitioning from a paper-based to an electronic case management system for the state’s courts
  • 133,002 – Average monthly participation in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program in Oklahoma, 2010
  • 1.51 – Average number of payday loan transactions per Oklahoma borrower during the month of June 2010
  • 250 – Registered sex offenders that would be without a place to live if the legislature passes SB 852 and closes a mobile home park run by Hand Up Ministries, a Christian prison mission
  • 22.2 percent – Food hardship rate in Oklahoma in 2010, compared to 18 percent nationally; Percentage of people answering yes to the question, “Have there been times in the past twelve months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?”

Click here for source citations and archived numbers of the day.

In the Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blog posts.  You can sign up here to receive In the Know in your inbox each weekday morning and the Weekly Wonk each Friday afternoon.


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