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TAKE ACTION: Submit a comment by Friday to protect SoonerCare for thousands of Oklahoma families

All articles by Jessica Vazquez

In The Know: A look at bills filed for 2019; making SQ 780 retroactive; business interests brief new lawmakers…

by | January 18th, 2019 | 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.

New from OK Policy

Today is the last day to submit your public comments on the SoonerCare waiver: Oklahoma’s proposal to cut health coverage for families who don’t meet a work requirement is awaiting consideration by federal regulators – but first, it’s time for people like you to weigh in. We have less than 24 hours to submit comments on the proposal. To take action, visit OKsays.com.

Less than one week left to purchase your 2019 State Budget Summit tickets: We are thrilled to welcome one of the nation’s most highly respected and honored social scientists, William Julius Wilson, as our keynote speaker. The program will also include an overview budget presentation by our Executive Director David Blatt, a panel discussion on the budget with state leaders, and a panel on how current budget priorities align with the needs of Oklahoma’s children. Visit our event page for more information and to purchase your ticket today.

In The News

Laws proposed for 2019 in Oklahoma: Higher minimum wage, constitutional carry and straight-party voting: Lawmakers have until Jan. 17 to file bills for the 2019 session, which starts Feb. 4-5. Among the notable early bills that were filed address issues including firearms, abortion and education. [Tulsa World]

continue reading In The Know: A look at bills filed for 2019; making SQ 780 retroactive; business interests brief new lawmakers…

In The Know: Thousands could lose Medicaid; a message for Gov. Stitt; Fallin leaves unfulfilled record requests…

by | January 17th, 2019 | 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.

New from OK Policy

Oklahoma’s Medicaid Waiver Proposal Will Harm Its Most Vulnerable Families: Unfortunately, our series of reports looking at harmful state Medicaid work requirement rules targeting very poor parents is getting longer. Today we are releasing an updated look at Oklahoma’s proposal, which is currently up for public comment at the federal level. The impact of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority’s proposed could mean some of the state’s poorest parents would lose health coverage altogether. And that loss of coverage will affect their children, who may lose coverage, as well. [Joan Alker / OK Policy] Friday is the last day to submit a comment on this proposal; to send your feedback, visit OKsays.com

Prosperity Policy: A message for our new governor: Kevin Stitt became governor of Oklahoma this week at a highly promising time for our state. “With rising employment and positive outlooks across most industries, the outlook for Oklahoma’s economy heading into 2019 appears positive,” wrote the head of the Oklahoma City office of the Federal Reserve Bank in a mid-December report. [David Blatt / Journal Record]

David Blatt: Oklahoma’s budget situation is some better … Don’t blow it: After a decade of budget shortfalls and cuts to core services, Oklahoma’s finances are finally on a path toward recovery. Revenues are growing and lawmakers expect to have substantially more money for next year’s budget. [David Blatt / OK Policy]

continue reading In The Know: Thousands could lose Medicaid; a message for Gov. Stitt; Fallin leaves unfulfilled record requests…

In The Know: How Oklahoma abandoned class size limits; parent groups join forces; voter registration tops 2.1 million…

by | January 16th, 2019 | 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.

New from OK Policy

Kicking the can down the road: How inadequate funding dismantles data-driven education reform: There is a saying that “what gets measured, gets done,” and in 1990, our state Legislature seemed to understand this adage. That year, they passed HB 1017, which dedicated $560 million dollars over five years to implement historic education reforms including class size reduction, curriculum standards, testing, and early childhood programs. Since that time, state funding gains have severely eroded, and Oklahoma has not been able to maintain many aspects of HB 1017 including class size limits. [OK Policy]

In The News

State voter registration topped 2.1 million, most ever following gubernatorial election : The Oklahoma State Election Board’s annual Jan. 15 voter registration count topped 2.1 million, the most ever following a gubernatorial election. “Our state saw a big increase in voter engagement in 2018, and I am hopeful that this trend will continue through 2019 and into the 2020 elections,” said election board secretary Paul Ziriax. [Tulsa World]

Parent groups advocating for more public education funding join forces across Oklahoma: Grassroots parent organizations that have been advocating for improved state funding for public education in recent years are forming a new coalition ahead of the next legislative session. Organizers say the Oklahoma Parent Legislative Action Committee, or OKPLAC, aims to unite the efforts of thousands of parents to create a collective voice on behalf of students and schools. [Tulsa World]

continue reading In The Know: How Oklahoma abandoned class size limits; parent groups join forces; voter registration tops 2.1 million…

In The Know: Gov. Stitt inaugurated; push to end agency boards; new judge advocates sentencing reform…

by | January 15th, 2019 | 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.

New from OK Policy

(Capitol Update) Push to end agencies’ boards could inject more politics and ideology into state agency operations: It looks like we may be in for a wholesale change in the way state government works in the upcoming session. During the campaign Governor Stitt made an issue of the so called “weak governor” system in effect in Oklahoma since statehood and proposed putting the power to “hire and fire” agency directors in the hands of a “strong” governor. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

State Budget Summit to feature ‘genius grant’ recipient, state leader panels on budget and child issues: As the 2019 Oklahoma legislative session nears, a new governor and many newly elected lawmakers are preparing to take on the challenge of funding Oklahoma’s core services. On January 24th in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Policy Institute’s 6th Annual State Budget Summit will bring together hundreds of Oklahomans looking to gain a clearer sense of the budget issues at stake. [OK Policy] There are still tickets available for the 2019 State Budget Summit. Register today to reserve your seat!

In The News

Gov. Kevin Stitt inaugurated, lawmakers talk ‘optimism’: Tulsa businessman Kevin Stitt became Oklahoma’s 28th governor today, delivering a speech that continued his campaign narrative while fleshing out a goal for state agencies’ accountability. [NonDoc] As Gov. Kevin Stitt began his first day as Oklahoma’s 28th governor, he spoke time and again of seemingly insurmountable feats. [Journal Record] A fresh start for the state is speakers’ theme at Gov. Kevin Stitt’s inaugural ball in Oklahoma City. [Tulsa World]

continue reading In The Know: Gov. Stitt inaugurated; push to end agency boards; new judge advocates sentencing reform…

In The Know: 13k could lose Medicaid coverage; 7th inmate this year dies in OK County jail awaiting treatment; governor, other new officials take office today…

by | January 14th, 2019 | 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.

In The News

Researchers estimate up to 13,000 would lose Medicaid coverage under Oklahoma work requirements: Oklahoma wants adult Medicaid recipients to submit proof they’re working, volunteering or job training 20 hours a week. That could cause 4,000 to 13,000 people to lose coverage, according to Georgetown University researchers. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Jail inmate waited for mental health treatment bed for months before death: For nearly three months before she died, Krysten Mischelle Gonzalez sat in an Oklahoma County jail cell while public defenders searched for an inpatient mental health treatment facility that would agree to accept her, the county’s chief public defender says. [NewsOK]

Oklahoma Ethics Commission bans leadership PACs: The Oklahoma Ethics Commission voted 5-0 Friday to ban state legislators from operating leadership PACs. The new rule likely will never go into effect, though, because legislators are expected to reject it once their upcoming session begins in February. [NewsOK] Ethics proposal would mandate disclosure of ‘indirect’ lobbying donors. [Journal Record]

continue reading In The Know: 13k could lose Medicaid coverage; 7th inmate this year dies in OK County jail awaiting treatment; governor, other new officials take office today…

The Weekly Wonk: Addressing the mental health crisis; Oklahoma’s budget outlook; a needed boost for working families; & more…

by | January 13th, 2019 | Posted in Weekly Wonk | Comments (0)

What’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, Mental Health Policy Analyst Lauren Turner explained why accepting federal funds for Medicaid expansion is the most practical way to address Oklahoma’s mental health crisis, which has been exacerbated by lack of mental health care funding. Executive Director David Blatt’s state budget analysis found that although next year’s budget looks promising, Oklahoma remains a long way from full recovery and economic forecasts could throw the optimistic projections into doubt.

In his weekly Journal Record column, Blatt presented an opportunity to boost working families and provide a critical hand up for parents: restore the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update urged legislators to find better, more permanent solutions to our severe prison overcrowding and high incarceration rate.

OK Policy in the News

The American Prospect quoted Blatt in a story on the potential for progressive reforms in states following the 2018 elections. The Tulsa World spoke to Open Justice Oklahoma Director Ryan Gentzler about Oklahoma’s heavy reliance on fines and fees to fund the court system and a new effort to change it.

continue reading The Weekly Wonk: Addressing the mental health crisis; Oklahoma’s budget outlook; a needed boost for working families; & more…

In The Know: Federal employees filing unemployment; drug court participation down; Ethics Commission sues over unpaid late fees…

by | January 11th, 2019 | 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.

New from OK Policy

Today is the LAST DAY to grab tickets at the early-bird discounted price for the 2019 State Budget Summit. Click here to buy your tickets now. OK Policy’s 6th Annual State Budget Summit will bring together Oklahomans with an interest in state policy issues to gain a clearer sense of our challenges and how they can be resolved. The event will be held January 24th, 2019, and today is the last day to take advantage of early-bird pricing on registration. Visit our event page for more information.

A chance to boost working families: Too many Oklahoma families are working hard but are still not getting ahead. We are among the top 10 states for workers in low-wage jobs – 28.7 percent – according to 2018 data from the policy think-tank Prosperity Now. More than one in five Oklahoma children live in poverty. The working poor struggle with a whole range of obstacles to financial stability, including unreliable access to food, health care, child care and transportation. Oklahoma’s elected officials have an opportunity this session to boost low-paid workers, and to reverse a regrettable policy choice of recent years, by restoring the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit. [David Blatt / Journal Record]

In The News

State agency ‘swamped’ with federal employees seeking to file unemployment claims as government shutdown continues: As the partial government shutdown drags on, some federal employees in Oklahoma have started to feel the weight of upcoming missed paychecks, and more have started to file unemployment claims. [The Frontier] U.S. House votes to end furloughs at Monroney Center, but Senate action unlikely as government shutdown drags on. [NewsOK]

continue reading In The Know: Federal employees filing unemployment; drug court participation down; Ethics Commission sues over unpaid late fees…

In The Know: How to improve mental health in Oklahoma; restoring the EITC; state revenue up, but low oil prices threaten…

by | January 10th, 2019 | 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.

New from OK Policy

Want to improve the mental health of Oklahomans? Expand Medicaid: Oklahoma is in crisis. While need for mental health care climbs, Oklahomans overwhelmingly lack access to the care needed to address these sometimes preventable, always treatable conditions. This has serious consequences: untreated mental illness can mean increased risk for other health problems, incarceration, difficulty keeping a job and keeping up with financial responsibilities, and homelessness. [OK Policy]

Prosperity Policy: A chance to boost working families: Too many Oklahoma families are working hard but are still not getting ahead. We are among the top 10 states for workers in low-wage jobs – 28.7 percent – according to 2018 data from the policy think-tank Prosperity Now. More than one in five Oklahoma children live in poverty. The working poor struggle with a whole range of obstacles to financial stability, including unreliable access to food, health care, child care and transportation. [David Blatt / Journal Record]

Friday is the last day to take advantage of our early-bird discount for the 2019 State Budget Summit: Our 6th Annual State Budget Summit will bring together Oklahomans with an interest in state policy issues to gain a clearer sense of our challenges and how they can be resolved. The event will be held Thursday, January 24th, 2019. Early-bird registration is $80 per ticket and ends tomorrow, January 11th. Registration will be $95 per ticket starting January 12th. Visit our event page for more details. 

continue reading In The Know: How to improve mental health in Oklahoma; restoring the EITC; state revenue up, but low oil prices threaten…

In The Know: Speaker McCall given new powers; record number of women lawmakers; Governor’s staff won’t disclose finances…

by | January 9th, 2019 | 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.

In The News

Speaker, with new powers, sets table for session: House Speaker Charles McCall was officially elected by his Republican caucus Tuesday to retain control of the state House of Representatives, along with being given more power to call committee meetings and create legislation after deadlines under new rules approved along partisan lines. [NewsOK] Organizational day at the Capitol sets tone for upcoming session; speaker cites need for ‘decorum and civility’ [Tulsa World]

As Oklahoma lawmakers meet for the first time, a record number of women prepare for session: Oklahoma legislators met for the first time on Tuesday. This year, a record number of women lawmakers entered the state capitol: 32 compared to last year’s 21. Many tell 2 Works for You the overwhelming feeling there is optimism. They believe with a growing number of women they can accomplish more to help Oklahomans. [KJRH]

Governor’s business-connected staff won’t have to file disclosures: Gov.-elect Kevin Stitt’s staff, which will include several individuals with close business ties, will not be subject to personal financial disclosures, following new state ethics rules that recently went into effect. In 2015, state ethics rules were changed to require personal financial disclosures only from elected officials. [NewsOK 🔒]

continue reading In The Know: Speaker McCall given new powers; record number of women lawmakers; Governor’s staff won’t disclose finances…

In The Know: Saying ‘no more prisons’; Stitt plan to address conflict-of-interest; road projects delayed by government shutdown…

by | January 8th, 2019 | 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.

New from OK Policy

(Capitol Update) Finding the courage to say “no more prisons”: “We’re not going to build any more prisons.” I remember House Speaker Dan Draper making that declarative statement many years ago when I was a freshman House member. In the previous decade there had been prison riots, and Oklahoma’s prison system had been taken over by a federal court as the result of a lawsuit filed by inmates. The state had already spent a lot of money, but prisons were still overcrowded and there were tremendous demands for new prison building. This was before the era of private prisons which were considered bad public policy in those days. Draper knew there were only two choices: more prisons or less prisoners. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

In The News

Stitt unveils plan to address potential business conflicts: Incoming Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt is asking the attorney general to review his plan to step away from his mortgage company as it becomes a bank and to approve a conflict-of-interest policy for his family investments. Stitt, who takes office Jan. 14, is facing potential conflicts of interest related to Tulsa-based Gateway Mortgage Group LLC, which he founded, and possibly some real estate and other personal investments. [Oklahoma Watch]

Stitt picks Sonic executive as new COO: Oklahoma’s incoming governor has named a Sonic executive to a newly created chief operating officer post in what he says is an effort to help state agencies deliver efficient, customer-focused services. Gov.-elect Kevin Stitt announced John Budd as COO on Monday. Budd is chief strategy and business development officer for Oklahoma City-based Sonic Corp. Stitt says Budd will also serve as secretary of agency accountability, a new cabinet position that will require Senate confirmation. [AP News] Stitt will tour state in lead up to inauguration [NewsOK]

continue reading In The Know: Saying ‘no more prisons’; Stitt plan to address conflict-of-interest; road projects delayed by government shutdown…