Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma Watch is a non-profit organization that produces in-depth and investigative journalism on important public-policy issues facing the state. Oklahoma Watch is non-partisan and strives to be balanced, fair, accurate and comprehensive. The reporting project collaborates on occasion with other news outlets. Topics of particular interest include poverty, education, health care, the young and the old, and the disadvantaged.

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health insurance cards and dollar bills
Lindsey Whelchel / Oklahoma Watch

Oklahomans who buy health insurance for next year from the largest insurer on the Affordable Care Act marketplace could face double-digit rate increases running as high as 44 percent, filings with the federal government show. 

Law Enforcement Seizures Misspent, Missing

Jul 18, 2015
Oklahoma state senator Kyle Loveless.
Oklahoma Senate

Funds and property seized by Oklahoma law enforcement agencies have gone missing or have been used for personal or other improper purposes, state audit records reveal.

Among the violations were using seized money to pay on a prosecutor’s student loans and allowing a prosecutor to live rent-free in a confiscated house for years, records show.

Ryan LaCroix / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

A push to amend the state Constitution to keep a Ten Commandments monument at the State Capitol could also boost efforts to expand school choice vouchers and education savings accounts in Oklahoma.

Oklahomans who purchase health insurance policies next year from the leadinginsurer in the Affordable Care Act marketplace could face unsubsidized rate increases averaging 31 percent, Oklahoma Watch data research shows.

That’s how much Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma has asked the federal government to approve, on average, for all of its “Obamacare”-compliant individual health policies in 2016, according to an actuarial memo filed by the insurer.The proposal doesn’t apply to policies offered through employers.

Natalie Freitas / Flickr

Oklahoma’s Parent Teacher Association voted Friday to boycott all non-federally mandated tests in an attempt to pressure lawmakers to cut back the number of high-stakes tests students take.

The boycott targets the state’s controversial writing tests, history and geography tests and any end-of-instruction tests not needed to graduate, but would not affect most math, English and science tests.

Oklahoma PTA President Jeffery Corbett said the resolution shows parents believe it's time to end standardized testing.

Alberto G. / Flickr

The Oklahoma Parent Teacher Association is considering boycotting a slew of Oklahoma’s high-stakes tests, as educators continue to push back against such testing.

State PTA President Jeffery Corbett said on Wednesday that the organization will consider a resolution this Friday boycotting all non-federally mandated tests.

ok.gov

Gov. Mary Fallin is pushing the Oklahoma Board of Corrections to loosen its policies governing when most prisoners serving time for “85 percent crimes” can be awarded early-release credits.

Murders, rapists and others convicted of violent crimes would be eligible for the credits. However, because of existing law, any change made by the corrections board would not affect those convicted of drug or human trafficking crimes, said Steve Mullins, Fallin’s general counsel.

The corrections board must approve the proposal.

health insurance cards and dollar bills
Lindsey Whelchel / Oklahoma Watch

Two private health insurance companies participating in the Affordable Care Act market in Oklahoma are expected to leave the program next year, while another big insurer wants in.

The shuffle, which would occur on Jan. 1, illustrates the rapid evolution of the “Obamacare” health insurance marketplace as it approaches its third year of operation. Some insurers are finding it difficult to make a profit on Affordable Care Act policies, while others see an opportunity that could pay off big over time.

Demonstrators gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. after Friday's ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
Ted Eytan / Flickr

Republican lawmakers, chafing after the U.S. Supreme Court shot down bans on same-sex marriage and upheld a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, could push back with new bills in the 2016 session, two state lawmakers said Tuesday.

The proposals could come in the form of resolutions denouncing the rulings and bills aimed at protecting those who would oppose same-sex marriage, the lawmakers said. The moves would also appeal to many Republicans' conservative base during the 2016 election cycle.

a school classroom with empty chairs
comedy_nose / Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma is writing new academic standards in math and English that in some ways go beyond the current standards and the now-repealed Common Core goals, according to a review of initial drafts by Oklahoma Watch.

The drafts show, for example, that elementary-school students would have to write research papers and learn the use and concepts of American currency. High school students would be expected to grasp the “whys” behind math formulas.

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