August 20, 2014

Work comp panel to consider staff firings, hirings
The Workers Compensation Commission will consider four items Thursday related to the voluntary buyouts and terminations of a group of its employees, the hiring of other staff and the chair’s authority related to employment with the agency. The three commissioners will discuss and possibly take action on the authority of the chair to employ the commission’s administration staff; ratification of the chair’s actions related to 10 voluntary buyouts and six terminations in July; possibly re-termination of the six fired employees; and ratification of the hiring of eight other staff members. Commissioners were told during an August 6 presentation by Assistant Attorneys General Sandra Rinehart and Neal Leader that the statutory provisions in the law regarding employment at the agency “…are ambiguous and susceptible to more than one interpretation.” bk

August 20, 2014

Banking Department up for five-year review
The Oklahoma Department of Banking is up for its annual five-year review which will commence Monday according to Banking Commissioner Mike Thompson. “We are scheduled to have our five-year annual renewal for accreditation with CSBS (Conference of State Bank Supervisors) starting on Monday,” said Thompson. “We were first accredited in 1994.” Thompson called the review an “intense” review “from A to Z.” bk

August 20, 2014

Oklahoma teen birth rate second highest in the U.S
Oklahoma’s teen birth rate was ranked the second highest in the country in a new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Wednesday. The report showed Oklahoma’s teen birth rate has decreased over the past 20 years, but at a slower pace than in every state except North Dakota and South Dakota. The 2012 rate was about 47 births per 1,000 teenagers ages 15 to 19. Only New Mexico had a higher rate. Oklahoma had the highest birth rate in the nation for women ages 18 to 19 in 2012, with a rate of 83 births per 1,000 mothers in this age group. The national average was 51 births per 1,000 mothers of this age group. bk

August 20, 2014

Banking Board not anticipating any bills
Banking Commissioner Mike Thompson said during the Wednesday meeting that the board is not expecting any substantial or correlating bills that will impact upon the entity. “We don’t see, unless the OBA (Oklahoma Bankers Association) has something, that we may have a very complex bill, if any this session,” said Thompson. “We’re still working on information with our congressman… CSBS (Conference of State Bank Supervisors) is trying to work on some of the issues and the OBA is working to lessen some of the community banks. If there’s any board member that knows of any legislation that we should be considering or looking in now’s the time to start working on drafting a bill.” bk

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