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Encouraging signs from this year’s legislative candidates (Capitol Update)

by | August 13th, 2018 | Posted in Blog, Capitol Updates | Comments (1)

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.

To put it bluntly there is nearly nothing visible going on inside the Capitol unless you want to count the efforts of the construction workers that are repairing and remodeling the building. The place is pretty much torn up. In most areas it’s very much a construction zone. As fall approaches and activity picks up toward next session working around the mess won’t be easy.

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In The Know: Teacher shortage persists; bipartisan commutation campaign; the incumbents fighting for their political lives…

by | August 13th, 2018 | 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

No indication pay raises significantly affecting Oklahoma’s chronic teacher shortage yet: Local school leaders say Oklahoma’s chronic teacher shortage shows no signs of easing even as new state-funded teacher raises take effect. Teacher turnover appears to have slackened for some Tulsa-area school districts but ticked up at others, and the state of Oklahoma is on pace to eclipse last year’s record for emergency certified teachers. [Tulsa World]

Coalition leads ‘commutation campaign’ in effort to reduce ‘excessive’ sentences in Oklahoma: A bipartisan coalition is campaigning to reduce the sentences for dozens of people serving time for crimes that no longer carry such severe punishments following criminal justice reform efforts in Oklahoma. Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, a group of law enforcement, lawmakers and business and community leaders, is assisting with what the group considers to be “excessive and unjust sentences.” [NewsOK 🔒]  Some state inmates serving 10 years to life in prison for what has been described as “low-level” drug crimes have applied for commutations thanks to the help of advocates and law students. [Tulsa World]

Criminal justice reforms have yet to save the state money, prison chief says: A state agency has no plans to alter a recent report on criminal justice reform cost savings, despite concerns that its findings are not accurate. The Office of Management and Enterprise Services on July 31 issued a report indicating a recent state question on criminal justice reform had saved the state more than $63 million in fiscal year 2018. Department of Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh called the report just another “fiasco” by the Office of Management and Enterprise Services. [Tulsa World]

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The Weekly Wonk: Who’s affected by Medicaid restrictions; a frank conversation on criminal justice…

by | August 12th, 2018 | Posted in Weekly Wonk | Comments (1)

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 at OK Policy, we released a report with the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center for Children and Families which found that Oklahoma’s proposed work rule would harm mothers and children, especially in small town and rural Oklahoma. In a guest post, regional director of government affairs for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Dana Bacon expressed his concerns with the Medicaid reporting requirement and warned that the state hasn’t said how many people would become uninsured

Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison explained the SNAP error rate and why the increase in payment error should not be used as an excuse to cut or dismantle the program. For episode 35 of the OKPolicyCast, we featured one of the most popular panels at the Summer Policy Institute: a frank conversation on criminal justice between D’Marria Monday, Jill Webb, Erik Grayless, and Kris Steele. 

In his weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt pointed out that despite all the positive headlines, the economic boom is not making it to workers’ paychecks. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update discussed State Question 801, which would give schools more flexibility, but no new funding sources.

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In The Know: Vision Fund on Nov. ballot; coverage losses under reporting requirements unknown…

by | August 10th, 2018 | 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.

[ICYMI: OK Policy is celebrating its 10th Anniversary with a gala dinner. We hope you will join us on September 13th, 2018 as we celebrate our first decade of advancing policy change benefiting Oklahomans through research, education, and advocacy.]

In The News

Oklahoma governor places Vision Fund on November ballot: Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has placed on the Nov. 6 general election ballot a proposal to create a new oil and natural gas trust fund to help operate state government. Fallin said Thursday she signed an executive order scheduling a statewide vote on the Oklahoma Vision Fund ballot question. If State Question 800 is approved, at least 5 percent of gross production tax receipts would be deposited into the fund annually. [AP News]

How many Oklahomans would lose health coverage under reporting requirements? The state doesn’t say: As required by both executive order and state law, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) released an 1115 Medicaid waiver proposal for SoonerCare on July 3. Oklahoma hopes to join a handful of states in requiring some adults on Medicaid to report their work-related activities to the state, without any misunderstandings or technical glitches, or risk losing their health coverage. [Dana Bacon / OKPolicy]

Still too high, but OK teen birth rate trending in right direction: As a mother at just 17 years of age, Leslie Marban of Oklahoma City has a tough road ahead. The statistics make that abundantly clear. Only about 50 percent of teen mothers earn a high school diploma. Leslie, who gave birth to her daughter last month and who was featured in a story Sunday by The Oklahoman’s Darla Slipke, will get a late start on her senior year but intends to finish and hopes to become an architect or an emergency medical technician. [NewsOK] Increasing access to long-acting reversible contraception brings lasting gains for Oklahoma women and girls [OKPolicy].

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How many Oklahomans would lose health coverage under reporting requirements? The state doesn’t say

by | August 9th, 2018 | Posted in Healthcare | Comments (0)

Dana Bacon

Dana Bacon serves as regional director of government affairs for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

As required by both executive order and state law, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) released an 1115 Medicaid waiver proposal for SoonerCare on July 3. Oklahoma hopes to join a handful of states in requiring some adults on Medicaid to report their work-related activities to the state, without any misunderstandings or technical glitches, or risk losing their health coverage.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), like many patient advocacy groups and other organizations with an interest in health care, has deep concerns about Medicaid reporting requirements such as these. LLS has adopted a set of Principles for Meaningful Coverage to help us judge the value of health care reform ideas. We embrace ideas that would improve access, quality, affordability, and stability in health care, and discourage ideas that would make it harder for patients to get the life-changing care they need.

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In The Know: Oklahoma ranks for 7th worst for health care; economic boom not seen in paychecks…

by | August 9th, 2018 | Posted in Blog, 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

2018 Rankings Peg Oklahoma as Seventh-Worst State for Health Care: Oklahoma comes in 45th in a new set of 2018 state health care rankings. While WalletHub considered measures of cost, access and outcomes, a big part of Oklahoma’s poor ranking is the adult uninsured rate. Oklahoma Policy Institute’s Carly Putnam said with nearly one in four adults not having health insurance, they’re visiting emergency rooms to get care for conditions exacerbated by not being able to visit a primary care physician [Public Radio Tulsa].

SNAP Error Rates Went up Last Year, but It Wasn’t Due to Fraud: For many years, anti-hunger advocates have pointed to the low error rates of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as evidence of its efficiency and effectiveness. And that is true – SNAP does have a very low rate of improper payments and it is an effective program that helps millions of American families, including thousands of Oklahomans, put food on the table [OKPolicy].

Prosperity Policy: Boom Not Making It to Paychecks: Recent months have brought much good economic news as the expansion that began in 2010 under the Obama administration continues under President Trump. Gross domestic product rose by 4.1 percent in the last quarter, its fastest growth since 2014. The official unemployment rate fell in July to 3.9 percent … Yet while the economic boom has led to more people finding jobs, the benefits of a robust economy are still not being felt in workers’ paychecks [David Blatt / Journal Record].

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SNAP error rates went up last year, but it wasn’t due to fraud

For many years, anti-hunger advocates have pointed to the low error rates of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as evidence of its efficiency and effectiveness. And that is true – SNAP does have a very low rate of improper payments and it is an effective program that helps millions of American families, including thousands of Oklahomans, put food on the table.

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In The Know: Work requirements hurt poorest mothers; frank conversation on criminal justice…

by | August 8th, 2018 | Posted in Blog, 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

Analysis Finds Oklahoma’s Proposed Medicaid Work Requirements Would Mostly Affect Poorest Mothers: More than three-fourths of the nearly 6,200 people that would be subject to Oklahoma’s proposed Medicaid work requirements are mothers. The state is asking the federal government to approve a waiver requiring people to work, volunteer or participate in job training 20 hours a week unless they qualify for an exemption [Public Radio Tulsa]. Oklahoma has one of the highest uninsured rates for children in the nation, and the state will likely make matters worse if it goes through with a plan to impose more red tape requirements on poor parents [OKPolicy]. In a statement to The Associated Press, Gov. Fallin said assertions that the policy’s goal is “to kick people off of public assistance” are not true [Associated Press]. Here’s what you can do to speak out about this proposal [OKPolicy].

OKPolicyCast 35: A Frank Conversation About Criminal Justice (With D’Marria Monday, Jill Webb, Erik Grayless, and Kris Steele) Last week, Oklahoma Policy Institute hosted our annual Summer Policy Institute for about 60 college students from all over Oklahoma. The 4-day event featured speakers and panels on a wide range of topics. For this episode of the OKPolicyCast, we’re sharing the live recording of one of those panels — an interesting, frank, contentious discussion of Oklahoma’s criminal justice system [OKPolicy].

OK Policy Celebrating 10th Anniversary with Gala Dinner: For ten years, Oklahoma Policy Institute has advanced effective public policies through research-based education and advocacy. The organization will celebrate this 10th anniversary with a gala dinner on September 13 at the Farmers Public Market in Oklahoma City, honoring Kris Steele and Sandy Garrett, and featuring New Yorker humorist Ian Frazier as the keynote speaker [OKPolicy].

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OKPolicyCast 35: A frank conversation about criminal justice (with D’Marria Monday, Jill Webb, Erik Grayless, and Kris Steele)

by | August 7th, 2018 | Posted in Criminal Justice, Podcast | Comments (0)

The OKPolicyCast is hosted by Gene Perry with production help from Jessica Vazquez. You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre. If you have any questions for the OKPolicyCast, topics you’d like us to cover, or people you want us to interview, you can reach us at policycast@okpolicy.org.

Last week, Oklahoma Policy Institute hosted our annual Summer Policy Institute for about 60 college students from all over Oklahoma. The 4-day event featured speakers and panels on a wide range of topics. For this episode of the OKPolicyCast, we’re sharing the live recording of one of those panels — an interesting, frank, contentious discussion of Oklahoma’s criminal justice system.

If after listening to this you’d like to hear more from panelist Jill Webb, check out Episode 25 of the OKPolicyCast, which features an interview with her.

You can download the episode here, subscribe at the links above, or play it in your browser:

Oklahoma’s Proposed Work Rule Would Harm Mothers and Children (Guest post: Joan Alker)

by | August 7th, 2018 | Posted in Blog, Healthcare | Comments (1)

Joan Alker is the Executive Director of the Center for Children and Families and a Research Professor at the Georgetown McCourt School of Public Policy

Oklahoma has one of the highest uninsured rates for children in the nation, and the state will likely make matters worse if it gets a green light from CMS to go through with a plan to impose more red tape requirements on poor parents.

Oklahoma is seeking approval to amend its Section 1115 demonstration waiver to impose a work or community service requirement on Medicaid beneficiaries with incomes at or below 45% of the federal poverty level. These are families whose income is no more than $779 a month for a family of three. Parents of children under 6 years old would be exempt but it is unclear how a parent would claim such an exemption. The state itself projects that the vast majority of parents who would be impacted by this new proposal are very low income – below 20% of the poverty line, just $346 a month for a family of three.[1]

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