August 20, 2014

Miller suggests retirement systems look at TRS, OP
Treasurer Ken Miller suggested Wednesday two state pension systems should look at their largest counterparts for ways to generate higher returns with lower fees. Miller, who chairs the Oklahoma State Pension Commission, noted during its meeting Wednesday that the Police Pension and Retirement System and the Firefighters Pension and Retirement System paid significantly higher investment management and consultant fees than the Teachers Retirement System and the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System but reported lower investment returns. “Those two funds were outperformed by funds paying lower fees,” Miller said. bk

August 19, 2014

Garber-Wellington Management Study updated
Garber-Wellington Management Study updated to OWRB The Oklahoma Water Resources Board received an update Tuesday on findings of a study which has spanned over the last six years. The Garber-Wellington Management Study, which is named after the central Oklahoma aquifer that was specifically researched, was released in February and the predictions were presented to the board Tuesday. As stated by its abstract, the study “is to describe an investigation of the Central Oklahoma aquifer that included analyses of the hydrogeology, hydrogeologic framework of the aquifer, and construction of a numerical groundwater flow model.” Another purpose of the study was to “evaluate changes in groundwater storage associated with increased future demands.” bk

August 19, 2014

School districts continue to struggle with vacanci
School districts continue to struggle with vacancies, survey shows A new survey from the Oklahoma State School Boards Association shows that school districts in Oklahoma continue to struggle with filling teaching vacancies. Data shows school districts in the state reported more than 800 teaching vacancies. Survey results also showed more than half of districts with vacancies said they sought emergency certification for teachers who are not fully qualified to teach in the required subject area for which they were hired. About half of the districts also said they will use long- or short-term substitute teachers to fill vacancies. Districts representing nearly three-fourths of the state’s public school enrollment completed the survey. bk

August 19, 2014

Water Resources Board planning for upcoming interi
The Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) talked about two upcoming interim studies during their monthly board meeting Tuesday. The two studies, ISH14-003, Water Usage Fracking, and IS-H14-032, Water Infrastructure and Available Resources will both receive input from the board. Lauren Sturgeon, director of external affairs with the OWRB said right now the information that will be provided from the board is “quite broad.” “We’re still working with the members to figure out what they’re wanting to discuss,” said Sturgeon. “What we’re being asked to discuss is fairly broad: what goes on here at the agency and the different aspects of ground water versus surface waters. So in our sense it’s going to be broad.” bk

August 19, 2014

Ethics Commission to consider fees to support trai
The Ethics Commission will consider an amendment to its rules that would permit the agency to collect fees for training events and from lobbyists and campaign committees. Under the proposed Ethics Rules amendment, the executive director would be authorized to establish and collect registration fees to participants for training and education seminars, classes and similar programs and for related materials. “In establishing such registration fees, the Executive Director shall endeavor to recover costs to the Commission incurred in development and presentation of programs to assist in the implementation of and compliance with these Rules,” the proposed amendment reads. The proposed amendment also would permit the commission to charge registration fees to lobbyists, lobbyist principals, political action committees and candidate committees. The commission would be required to publish the fees annually on July 1 of each year beginning in 2015. The proposed amendment will be the subject of a public hearing and possible vote during the September commission meeting. bk

August 19, 2014

Pardon, Parole Board will seek legislative change
Voters took the governor out the parole process for non-violent offenders when they approved State Question 762 in 2012 but they did not take her out of the revocation process, Pardon and Parole Board members were told Monday. Chairman Marc Dreyer said everyone thought the governor was removed from the revocation process with the passage of the state question. “I thought the board could revoke what the board granted and the governor could revoke what the governor granted,” he said Monday. “But in conversations with the governor’s office, I learned the statute regarding the revocation power was not changed when State Question 762 passes. It still specifies that all revocations go through the governor.” bk