Recent Articles

House lawmakers request a wide range of interim studies (Capitol Update)

This could be an active interim if House interim study requests are any indication. The deadline for representatives to request studies was last Friday, June 21. Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, will announce the approved studies and related committee assignments no later than July 19. House members have requested 145 studies on a variety of topics. In the past the Speaker has combined requests that appeared to be on the same or compatible topics and approved them as a single study. It is within the Speaker's discretion which studies to authorize and, with 145 requests, it's doubtful they will all be approved. [More...]

Joe Allbaugh resigned, but his critique of Oklahoma’s justice system remains true (Capitol Update)

Surprisingly, Joe Allbaugh resigned abruptly as Department of Corrections (DOC) director last week. Judging from the comments he made I'd say, put simply, that he was "fed up." Allbaugh took on the task of restoring and improving DOC about 3 1/2 years ago when the previous director got into hot water after a botched administration of the death penalty. The job appears to have been a battle every day. [More...]

An impossible job done as well as it could be by departing DHS Director (Capitol Update)

Recently on the radio I heard a pundit being asked about his opinion of the performance of the just-resigned British Prime Minister Theresa May. He said, "She had an impossible job and she did it poorly." I thought of Ed Lake at the time (the impossible job part) wondering if he would remain head of DHS. Like May with Brexit, Lake's entire tenure as DHS director seemed to be subsumed by the child welfare crisis and implementation of the "Pinnacle Plan." He had an impossible job and he did it probably as well as it could be done by anyone. [More...]

Justice delayed… (Capitol Update)

On Monday of the last week of the legislative session, criminal justice reform bills that had worked their way through committee and earlier floor passage for months were primed for final consideration on the House and Senate floors. Instead, Governor Stitt issued an executive order creating a new task force to "study, evaluate, and make recommendations regarding policies" for criminal justice reform. Effectively, criminal justice reform died for the year. [More...]

A successful session for Gov. Stitt’s priorities (Capitol Update)

It appears this will be the last week of the legislative session with leadership saying they plan to adjourn either Thursday or Friday. By any measure Governor Stitt can call this a successful session for his priorities. Early in the… Read more [More...]

Health coverage expansion still in the waiting room (Capitol Update)

Although nothing is certain until the session ends, it looks like one of the disappointments for this year will be the failure to pass a method for Medicaid expansion. Thousands of people who need medical and mental health treatment will have to wait. [More...]

Policy discussions slowing down under new governor (Capitol Update)

For a while there was speculation that the Legislature would adjourn on May 10th, which would be this Friday, 3 weeks before the constitutionally-mandated deadline. Safe to say that's not happening. Then the speculation moved to May 17th. Given the time frames needed to pass measures, even after agreements are reached, that date is now somewhere between overly optimistic and almost impossible. Speculation now centers on May 24th, one week ahead of the deadline. What happened? [More...]

A ‘special law’ cannot stand (Capitol Update)

A long-awaited ruling by the Oklahoma Supreme Court was issued last week dealing with the Legislature's ability to place a limit or "cap" on the recovery of non-economic damages by persons injured through the fault of another party. [More...]

In his first veto, Gov. Stitt rejects citizen involvement (Capitol Update)

Governor Stitt vetoed his first bill last week. HB 1205, by Rep. Carol Bush and Sen. Greg McCortney, would have created an Oklahoma Home- and Community-Based Services Ombudsman Program Task Force to research, compile data, and make recommendations to the Governor and Legislature regarding the creation and operation of an ombudsman program to serve recipients of in-home care and services. [More...]

How much longer will Oklahoma pass up the benefits of health care expansion? (Capitol Update)

Word is beginning to circulate around the Capitol about a possible expansion of Medicaid services in Oklahoma. I don't know what form this would take, but hopefully it will be broad enough to take full advantage of the 90 percent funding available to the state through the Affordable Care Act (ACA.) A recent compilation of studies by the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation found many positive effects for the states that have accepted Medicaid expansion. Oklahoma is among only 14 states who still refuse to accept the expansion. [More...]