Editor’s Notebook: comp clarification, comp conviction, rate rebate, defense costs, constitutional reserve, tax debate

The state Insurance Department sent a release late Tuesday (August 30) afternoon dubbed a “correction/clarification/amplification” and reading as follows:

“A Friday press release from the Oklahoma Insurance Department reported that the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) filed to reduce rates in Oklahoma for 2012. 

“A more accurate statement would be that NCCI filed to reduce loss costs in the state. Lower loss costs will be applied by insurers to their premium calculations and, combined with other factors, could reduce workers’ compensation insurance rates for many Oklahoma employers.”

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A long-time workers compensation lawyer in Tulsa has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for embezzling more than $1 million in clients’ benefits. 

William Anton entered a plea agreement and must pay $702,813 in restitution, and faces four consecutive sentences totaling 35 years, with 25 of those years suspended.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt announced the outcome today (Tuesday, August 30). Previously, Anton pled guilty to three counts of embezzlement and one count of workers comp fraud. His accused accomplice faces an October 25 trial in Tulsa County. 

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Yesterday (Monday, August 29), the Oklahoma Corporation Commission ordered Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OG&E) to credit customers a total of $4.2 million on next month’s bills, and another $3 million from October 2011 to April 2013. September savings for consumers/ratepayers will range from $3.25 for residential to $4.27 for general service customers. 

Commission Chairman Dana Murphy said a competitively-bid natural gas transportation contract between OG&E and Enogex came under scrutiny because it was renewed in 2009 without new review at the Commission. 

Vice Chairman Jeff Cloud noted that the order includes an independent review of transportation and storage needs to find “the lowest cost alternative for the period beginning May of 2013.” Commissioner Bob Anthony said the order “results from the Corporation Commission’s vigilance in conducting annual fuel reviews to protect Oklahoma ratepayers.” 

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An analysis of the annual U.S. defense spending bill pegs its debt cost at $6,299.79 per American family. 

The estimate was reached in an analysis of House Resolution 2219, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2012, by WashingtonWatch.com.
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Forthcoming in Perspective magazine, published monthly by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, Executive Vice President Joel Kintsel argues that if Congress indeed advances a federal balanced budget amendment, it must include a constitutional reserve like Oklahoma and several other states have. The measure would, he said, “prevent Congress from immediately spending every penny collected, thus allowing significant migration of any downturns in revenue.”

Early this month, Kintsel applauded Republican legislators for pledging to ratify a federal amendment that includes string financial provisions. 
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Speaking of OCPA (http://ocpathink.org/), Policy Vice President Brandon Dutcher has a new commentary, “Inconvenient truths about welfare,” that runs down both “big picture” and specific examples of abuses in the system (http://ocpathink.org/articles/1498).  
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Oklahoma Policy Institute has a new “fact sheet” making the case for maintaing the state income tax, asserting the levy is “modest.” 

The progressive policy think tank calls for “an open and honest discussion with real-life numbers and the real-life impacts on people.”