Skip to Content

The Weekly Wonk: OK Policy welcomes two new additions, Republican health bill would devastate Oklahomans’ access to care, DHS may soon run out of money to care for vulnerable seniors, and more

by | March 26th, 2017 | Posted in Blog, Weekly Wonk | Comments (0)

the_weekly_wonk_logoWhat’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.

This Week from OK Policy

This week, OK Policy welcomed two new additions – Courtney Cullison has been hired as a policy analyst and Dr. Susan Louise Chambers has joined the Board of Directors. In Executive Director David Blatt’s Journal Record column, we met Beth, a self-employed woodworker who receives subsidies from Healthcare.gov to purchase health insurance and would no longer be able to afford that insurance under the proposed American Health Care Act. Policy Analyst Carly Putnam described the devastating impact the House Republican health bill would have on Oklahomans’ access to care and reported that the Oklahoma Department of Humans services may soon run out of money to pay for care of vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities.  

Policy Director Gene Perry shared a letter from Director of Oklahoma Department of Human Services Ed Lake discussing Oklahoma budget cut scenarios that range from “the terrible to the unthinkable”. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update explains that state legislators still have a lot of work to do to solve the state’s big budget problems this session.

OK Policy in the News

Blatt’s report that the state supplanted lottery funds was picked up by KFOR and the Tulsa World for stories about the state’s requirement to pay back the $10 million that was supplanted. The Tulsa World quoted Putnam’s work on the effects of the proposed Republican health care bill for a story about Oklahomans’ perspective on the legislation, and Putnam was interviewed by OETA for a story on the effects of that bill on health care for Oklahomans.

Blatt’s participation in a panel discussion on the minimum wage was reported by NewsOK. Blatt was also quoted by the OCCC Pioneer in a story about dangerous small loans that could be offered in Oklahoma if HB 1913 becomes law this session.

Continue Reading »

As we near halfway point of legislative session, still waiting for solutions on big issues (Capitol Update)

by | March 24th, 2017 | Posted in Capitol Updates | Comments (0)

“Hourglass” by Jamie is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol.

This past week was spring break week for most of the state’s schools, so the Legislature worked a short week. The goal was to give legislators more time with family and a chance to get away for a few days with the kids if it worked out for them.

It’s hard to get away during session, and most members don’t want to miss roll call votes. Missed votes are always good fodder for opponents in the next election. Many of these early votes aren’t the final vote on a bill because they’ll likely be amended in the other chamber and come back for another vote for final passage, but even so an absence counts as a missed vote.

Continue Reading »

In The Know: Senate kills bill to prevent cities from protecting LGBT community

by | March 24th, 2017 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including the Legislative Primer and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

Senate kills bill to prevent cities from protecting LGBT community: The Oklahoma Senate on Thursday killed a bill that would have nullified city of Tulsa ordinances offering protections against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in housing and employment. Senate Bill 694, by Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, failed by a vote of 18 for and 25 against. It requires 25 votes in the Senate to pass a measure. Brecheen held the bill on a motion to reconsider the vote by which it failed. That motion failed as well, by 15 for and 28 against [Tulsa World]. After the bill failed, the author of a second measure to allow businesses to discriminate against gay people withdrew his proposal [NewsOK].

DHS Director: Oklahoma budget cut scenarios range “from the terrible to the unthinkable”: Unless lawmakers find new revenues to close their budget shortfall, Oklahoma is looking at unprecedented cuts to the most basic services of state government, including those for the most vulnerable seniors, children, and people with disabilities. Even before next year’s budget, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) will run out of money in May to pay for in-home care of 25,000 seniors and individuals with severe disabilities unless the Legislature acts quickly to provide supplemental funds [OK Policy]. Cuts to programs and services would include eliminating some or all of the staff positions and contracts associated with those programs [Tulsa World].

Agencies: Potential cuts are alarming: Legislators required all state agencies to report how a 14.5-percent budget cut would affect them. On the whole, it would mean more than 1,000 layoffs and a severe drop in services. Agencies have already seen millions drop out of their budgets. They’ve already let thousands of employees go, initiated hiring freezes and capped services. But as 2018’s fiscal year looms with the threat of an almost $900 million shortfall, everyone is looking at what else they can cut. They aren’t mincing words [Journal Record].

Continue Reading »

DHS Director: Oklahoma budget cut scenarios range “from the terrible to the unthinkable”

OKDHS Director Ed Lake

Unless lawmakers find new revenues to close their budget shortfall, Oklahoma is looking at unprecedented cuts to the most basic services of state government, including those for the most vulnerable seniors, children, and people with disabilities. Even before next year’s budget, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) will run out of money in May to pay for in-home care of 25,000 seniors and individuals with severe disabilities unless the Legislature acts quickly to provide supplemental funds.

Yesterday, OKDHS Director Ed Lake sent a message to all employees of the agency stating that further cuts would threaten the elimination of entire programs serving very vulnerable adults and children. The cuts could even undo the progress made under court order to improve our child welfare system. Here is Director Lake’s message in full:

Continue Reading »

In The Know: Senate plan for teacher pay raises hinges on fuel tax hike

by | March 23rd, 2017 | Posted in Blog | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including the Legislative Primer and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

Senate plan for teacher pay raises hinges on fuel tax hike: The Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday passed a measure that would increase teacher pay. But the funding mechanism, an increase in the motor fuel taxes, must start in the House, said Sen. Gary Stanislawski, R-Tulsa, the author of the bill. Senate Bill 618 passed by a vote of 40-2 and heads to the House for consideration [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma lawmakers rush to hear bills, including teacher pay: Oklahoma lawmakers are rushing to decide whether or not bills will move forward into the House and Senate this week. Today, the Senate voted on a number of issues, including 22 bills pertaining to education. One bill, which would give teachers a raise, is headed to the House for consideration. Oklahoma is losing teachers, creating a shortage, but lawmakers and teachers both agree that a salary increase could help fix the problem [KTUL].

Oklahoma House passes bill that could restore Ten Commandments monument to Capitol grounds: State representatives voted late Tuesday to allow monuments to “historically significant documents” — primarily the Ten Commandments — to be displayed on public property. House Bill 2177, by Rep. John Bennett, R-Sallisaw, is offered as an antidote to a state Supreme Court decision that removed such a memorial from the Capitol grounds and a vote of the people last fall that essentially reinforced that ruling [Tulsa World].

Continue Reading »

Oklahoma DHS is about to run out of money to pay for care of vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities

by | March 22nd, 2017 | Posted in Blog, Healthcare, Poverty & Opportunity | Comments (7)

There are honest arguments and discussions to be had about the place and role of government. However, we generally agree that the government has an important role in protecting the lives and health of Americans who aren’t able to protect themselves, including those who are elderly or have significant disabilities.

However, in Oklahoma, years of budget cuts have now compromised our Department of Human Services’ ability to fulfill this core function of government. As a result, thousands of Oklahomans who are elderly or have disabilities could lose access to vital services in just a few months. Without a supplemental appropriation, DHS doesn’t have the funds to pay providers for the care of more than 25,000 Oklahomans after April.

Continue Reading »

In The Know: Oklahoma House votes to ban abortion of abnormal fetuses

by | March 22nd, 2017 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including the Legislative Primer and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

Oklahoma House votes to ban abortion of abnormal fetuses: The Oklahoma House of Representatives voted Tuesday to ban abortions of fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome or “viable genetic disorder” or the possibility of one. The measure, House Bill 1549, by Rep. George Faught, R-Muskogee, would bring penalties against persons performing such abortions, but not the woman involved. It passed 67-16. It is expected to be challenged by abortion rights groups [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma Senate approves expanding OSBI role in police shooting inquiries: Faced with growing controversy over officer-involved shootings in Oklahoma and elsewhere, the Oklahoma Legislature passed a bill Tuesday that would give the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation increased authority to investigate such incidents. Under Senate Bill 247, the OSBI would be given the responsibility of investigating all law enforcement- or peace officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths, excluding jails or prisons, for all jurisdictions with a population less than 150,000 [NewsOK].

Opponents Of New OK Bill Say It Could Impact Healthcare Coverage: A new bill that just passed the house and senate insurance committees has some Oklahomans worried about their health care coverage. Families flooded the State Capitol this time last year to advocate for Autism insurance reform in Oklahoma. They won their fight, but now they say they’ve been handed another. Senate Bill 478 is a bill that would allow insurance companies from out of state to sell policies to people in Oklahoma, including businesses [NewsOn6].

Continue Reading »

Meet the new additions to our staff and board

by | March 21st, 2017 | Posted in OK Policy | Comments (1)

Courtney Cullison

Oklahoma Policy Institute is pleased to announce the addition of Courtney Cullison to its staff and Susan Chambers, MD to its Board of Directors.

Courtney Cullison has been hired as a policy analyst focusing on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma.

A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve. Courtney can be contacted at clcullison@okpolicy.org.

Continue Reading »

In The Know: Senate reconsiders, passes maternity leave bill

by | March 21st, 2017 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including the Legislative Primer and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

Senate reconsiders, passes maternity leave bill: Legislators were almost evenly split when they voted on a maternity leave extension bill last week, which failed then, and the measure has outsiders split as well. On Monday, the senators reconsidered the bill and passed it with a 31-8 vote after striking the title, giving the Senate an opportunity to vote on it again once it has gone through the House. State Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, pitched Senate Bill 549, which would increase unpaid maternity leave from 12 weeks to 20 weeks. Federal law requires any organization with more than 50 employees to give women 12 weeks [Journal Record].

Oklahoma Legislature takes up criminal justice reform measures: A bill that would allow some nonviolent state inmates to be eligible for parole after serving one-fourth of their sentences sailed through the state House of Representatives Monday and is now headed for the Senate. House Bill 2286 passed the House 81-3 without debate. If the Senate approves the bill, it still must come back to the House for final consideration because the title was removed. The bill, authored by state Rep. Terry O’Donnell, R-Catoosa, is part of a package of approximately a dozen criminal justice reform measures the Oklahoma Legislature is expected to take up this week [NewsOK]. The Justice Reform Task Force recommendations could be the solution Oklahoma desperately needs [OK Policy].

Northeast OKC braces for another round of school closures: Educators and residents in northeast Oklahoma City are bracing for another round of school closures, a process that has plagued the predominantly black neighborhoods for generations and left abandoned schools scattered throughout the community. Superintendent Aurora Lora told The Oklahoman this month the district is considering the closing of several schools in an effort to address state budget cuts. An announcement could come as soon as Monday, multiple sources with the district said [NewsOK]. 

Continue Reading »

House Republican health bill would devastate Oklahomans’ access to care

by | March 20th, 2017 | Posted in Blog, Healthcare | Comments (2)

This post has been updated to reflect amendments released on March 20.

Congressional Republicans finally have the opportunity to make good on their longstanding promise to repeal and replace the health law. In campaign rhetoric, they promised they could bring better, more affordable health care to Americans. Unfortunately, the replacement they’ve developed, known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA), doesn’t live up to that rhetoric. In reality, it would decimate historic health coverage gains in Oklahoma, leave the state on the hook for millions in Medicaid funding, and effectively double the uninsured rate by 2026. Here’s how.

Continue Reading »

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. ...
  10. 352