In The Know: Oklahoma House passes bill to cut 111,000 from Medicaid

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.

Today In The News

Oklahoma House passes bill cutting 111,000 from Medicaid: Just how grim the state’s budget situation has become was apparent Wednesday morning as the state House of Representatives discussed and ultimately agreed to a bill that would cut 111,000 Oklahomans, most of them women, from Medicaid. House Bill 2665, by Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, instructs the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which administers the state’s Medicaid program, to request a federal waiver that would allow it to exclude all able-bodied adults younger than 65 [Tulsa World]. Lawmakers are thinking the unthinkable with proposed health care cuts [OK Policy].

Embattled oilman Aubrey McClendon dies in single-vehicle wreck: Police confirmed the victim of a fatal single-vehicle wreck this morning in Oklahoma City was embattled oilman Aubrey McClendon. Oklahoma City firefighters said earlier Wednesday that one person was found dead in a burned vehicle that had crashed on the city’s northeast side. Police say it’s too early to tell if the collision was intentional. McClendon was indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury in Oklahoma City on charges of conspiring to rig bids on oil and gas leases [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma Senate approves bill to do away with end-of-instruction high school tests: The Oklahoma Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would end some high-stakes testing for high school students. Senate Bill 1170, by Sen. John Ford, R-Bartlesville, passed by a vote of 41-0 and heads to the House for consideration. There was no debate. The measure would discontinue the controversial end-of-instruction exams that high school students must take to graduate [Tulsa World].

Voter turnout for presidential primary breaks records in Oklahoma on Super Tuesday: Oklahoma’s presidential primary on Super Tuesday brought people to the polls in record numbers. According to the state election board, turnout reached an all-time high of 795,096. The previous record was set in 2008 when 752,261 people voted in the presidential primary. Experts said Donald Trump’s candidacy, first-time voters and independents helped turnout reach a new record [KJRH]. 

A rare act of political courage: Anyone who spends time at the state Capitol or follows the Oklahoma Legislature knows that political courage is in short supply. When it comes to making tough choices – whether it’s accepting federal funds to expand health coverage for Oklahomans who struggle to get by, pursuing school consolidation, or eliminating ineffective tax breaks – our elected leaders often acknowledge what’s right, only to back off from doing it because of “political realities.” That’s why it came as a refreshing surprise last week when the Senate Finance Committee, under the leadership of Republican Sen. Mike Mazzei, voted 10-3 to reverse the latest income tax cut that took effect this year [David Blatt / Journal Record]. Sen. Mazzei’s bill is SB 1073. Reversing the income tax cut is one of our balanced solutions to Oklahoma’s budget emergency [OK Policy].

House approves insurance verification change: Legislation that would keep some motorists with insurance from receiving a fine when they fail to carry their insurance verification form was approved by the Oklahoma House of Representatives. House Bill 2473, by state Rep. Ken Walker, would remove the penalty for failure to show proof of insurance in instances in which an officer is able to verify a person’s insurance. He said law enforcement officers currently have access to a person’s insurance coverage when they look up the person’s tag or vehicle identification number [Journal Record].

Sayre, OK loses its hospital: Mrs. Emma Oliver warns me, “Don’t have a heart attack in Sayre, Oklahoma.” The hospital in Sayre, about 20 miles southwest of Elk City, just closed its doors. “Don’t wreck your car or have a stroke, either. If you live out here, any medical condition where minutes count is much more likely to kill you now than it was a week or so ago.” Sayre Memorial Hospital, in this town of 4,600 on I-40 near the Texas panhandle border, went broke [OK Policy]. Rejecting available federal funds is devastating Oklahoma’s rural hospitals [OK Policy].

Show Us the Money: Kansas’ Income Growth Slowed After Tax Cuts: Kansans looking at their paychecks couldn’t be blamed for wondering when, if ever, the supposed windfall from state tax cuts is going to show up. It’s plain to see that Kansas’ personal income growth has slowed since the tax cuts took place. Today, Kansas ranks near the bottom of the nation in that category. And that’s no surprise, because the occupations that have added the most jobs since the tax cuts haven’t seen much wage growth. In many cases, they don’t pay enough to get a family of three above the federal poverty line [Kansas Center for Economic Growth].

Jury rules in favor of plaintiff in Tulsa Jail sexual assault case, recommends $25,000 in damages: A jury awarded a 23-year-old woman $25,000 in damages Wednesday after determining that her civil rights were violated when she was repeatedly sexually assaulted at the Tulsa Jail over a four-month period in 2010. The five-man, two-woman jury deliberated for a full day after hearing more than a week of testimony before finding that both former Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz, in his individual capacity, and Acting Sheriff Michelle Robinette, in her official capacity as a representative of Tulsa County, were liable for actions that resulted in the violations of the plaintiff’s rights [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma’s Wind Generation up to 18 Percent of State’s Electricity: The federal government says Iowa became the first state in 2015 to provide more than 30 percent of its electricity generation from wind. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said Iowa’s wind farms generated more than 31 percent of all generation in the state. South Dakota was second with 25.5 percent of all generation per megawatt hour and Kansas was third at 23.9 percent. Oklahoma ranked fourth at 18.14 percent with a 2010 goal of 15 percent by 2015. North Dakota was fifth with 17.7 percent of its electricity manufactured by wind farms [OK Energy Today].

Kaiser Family Foundation, TU acquire Bob Dylan Archive: A new world of Bob Dylan is waiting to be discovered, and researchers will be able to explore it in Tulsa. The Bob Dylan Archive — comprising more than 6,000 items spanning nearly 60 years of the icon’s artistic career — was purchased by the George Kaiser Family Foundation and the University of Tulsa, the organizations announced Wednesday. The massive collection of manuscripts, photos, letters, notebooks, recordings and more will be under the stewardship of TU’s Helmerich Center for American Research, for subsequent public exhibition in the city’s Brady Arts District [Tulsa World].

Right-to-Farm Opposition Hopes Lawsuit Can Stop State Question Before the Ballot: Will Oklahoma be more like Missouri or North Dakota? In Missouri, Right-to-farm — a constitutional amendment that broadly protects the agricultural industry from future laws and regulations — was a contentious fight that pitted farmer against farmer and forced a recount of the statewide vote. But in North Dakota, Right-to-Farm passed by a 2-to-1 margin. Early indications in Oklahoma seem to show a big battle brewing [StateImpact Oklahoma]. 

Quote of the Day

“Are we going to kick 111,000 people off healthcare or are we going to be brave, because I think that’s about all this amounts to. Are we going to be brave enough to stand up for the least among us or are we going to give in to the people that control this building? What in the world are we doing?”

– Rep. James Lockhart (D-Heavener), speaking on the House floor against HB 2665, which would remove Medicaid eligibility for the very low-income parents of dependent children in an attempt to generate savings in the state budget. The bill passed the House 65-34 (Source). 

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma high school students who self-report smoking cigarettes on at least 1 day during the past 30 days in 2015

Source: United Health Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

A college degree is worth less if you are raised poor: People with more education have higher earnings. Boosting college education is therefore seen by many—including me—as a way to lift people out of poverty, combat growing income inequality, and increase upward social mobility. But how much upward lift does a bachelor’s degree really give to earnings? The answer turns out to vary by family background [Brookings].

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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