2020 Focus Areas

OK Policy has determined its focus areas for Oklahoma’s upcoming legislative session based on the organization’s original research, analysis, and feedback from state residents.

We are committed to advancing equitable and fiscally responsible policies that expand opportunity for all Oklahomans. During the past year, OK Policy and its Together Oklahoma program met with residents throughout the state to learn what issues matter most to them. Based on that feedback, OK Policy team members evaluated those concerns within the context of the state’s political landscape as well as what groups or resources were available to move the issues forward.

“Built on its non-partisan policy research and analysis, OK Policy is uniquely positioned to lift and elevate state policies that can allow all Oklahomans to thrive,” said OK Policy Board Chair Don Millican. “This is especially true for policy areas where underserved Oklahoman might lack a political voice to ensure that elected officials and policy makers hear about their needs.”

For the 2020 Legislative Session, OK Policy has identified the following legislative focus areas:

  • Protecting Medicaid: Straightforward expansion of Medicaid would increase access to healthcare, improve the health of children and families, reduce the number of uninsured Oklahomans, expand rural health care options, and more. OK Policy seeks to keep a clear path for Oklahoma voters to determine SQ 802, which calls for a straightforward Medicaid expansion. OK Policy will fight legislation or administrative actions for other Medicaid expansion options that reduce access to health care and would tie up the state in lawsuits.
    Issue summary (PDF) | About SQ 802 | Additional resources

  • Targeted criminal justice reform: Oklahoma has the second highest per capita incarceration rate in the nation, as well as the nation’s highest rate of both female incarceration and Black incarceration. To address Oklahoma’s incarceration crisis, OK Policy is calling for bold legislative action to modernize Oklahoma’s sentencing based on national best practices. Additionally, OK Policy recommends moving forward with policies that rebuild the criminal justice system’s financial structure to remove its reliance on fines and fees to find its operations.
    Issue summary (PDF) | Additional resources

  • Tax cut for working Oklahomans: The Earned Income Tax Credit has a clear, documented history of encouraging work and reducing poverty. In a 2016 cost-cutting move, Oklahoma lawmakers eliminated EITC refundability, a key component of EITC’s effectiveness. Prior to that change, workers could earn a refund if they had a larger EITC credit than the state income tax they owed. This has reduced the impact of one of the few state tax credits available to working families. OK Policy is calling for restoring refundability EITC, which most benefits Oklahoma’s working poor.
    Issue summary (PDF) | Additional resources

  • Paid family and medical leave for Oklahoma workers: Paid leave is an important piece of family and economic health. It allows workers to take the time they need to care for themselves or a relative during illness. OK Policy proposes adopting statewide insurance programs that make paid family and medical leave available to all workers and self-employed through a payroll tax, which can be less than 1 percent.
    Issue summary (PDF) 

  • Cost of living adjustments for retired state employees: More than 120,000 Oklahomans depend on state retirement or pension systems for their retirement income. Oklahoma last gave a cost of living adjustment in 2008. Since that time, the general cost of living has gone up by 20 percent and health insurance costs have risen by 42 percent. OK Policy is proposing lawmakers provide a 4 percent cost of living adjustment for state retirees, which includes state employees and all the state’s teachers, firefighters, and police officers.
    Issue summary (PDF) | Additional resources | Interactive maps

Throughout the session, OK Policy will monitor these issues while providing its research, analysis and advocacy to help these issues move forward. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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