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The Weekly Wonk: Oklahoma ranks poorly on looking out for kids, how to avoid past mistakes on Medicaid

by | July 1st, 2018 | 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

OK Policy and the Annie E. Casey Foundation released the 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book this week, and we learned Oklahoma ranks near the worst in the nation for child well-being. In an op-ed for The Oklahoman, Strategy and Communications Director Gene Perry pointed out that Oklahoma is simply not doing what it takes to give all kids what they need to thrive.

Policy Director Carly Putnam warned us that although federal Medicaid funding is climbing, Oklahoma should avoid repeating past mistakes of cutting state support for health care. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update argued that the connection between refusal to expand Medicaid and high incarceration is significant. Executive Director David Blatt’s Journal Record column called on U.S. Sens. James Inhofe and James Lankford to protect SNAP for struggling Oklahoma families and vote in favor of the bipartisan Senate farm bill (unfortunately, both senators voted against the measure).  

Did you miss our evening with Danielle Allen? The entire conversation between Danielle Allen and Tulsa civil rights attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons is now available on our podcast

OK Policy in the News

Blatt sat down with The New Yorker to talk about the primaries and the lasting impact of the walkout in Oklahoma. Following Tuesday’s primary, Blatt spoke with New on 6 about the driving forces behind the primary turnout surpassing the 2014 general election turnout. An interview with Blatt on the significant increase in early voting appeared in The Ada News, Claremore Daily Progress, Joplin Globe, Enid News & Eagle, & Stillwater News-Press.

Perry talked to Tulsa World and Public Radio Tulsa about the release of the 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book and the importance of having an accurate Census count of children living in Oklahoma.

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Now that Oklahoma’s federal Medicaid funding is climbing, let’s not repeat past mistakes

by | June 29th, 2018 | Posted in Healthcare | Comments (0)

For Oklahoma families to prosper, they must be able to take advantage of work and educational opportunities. But working or doing well in school is much, much harder without consistent access to health care. SoonerCare, Oklahoma’s Medicaid program, provides that needed care for more than one million low-income Oklahomans every year, two in three of whom are children. SoonerCare is an effective, efficient system that is funded by a combination of state and federal dollars. This year, Oklahoma was able to reverse a years-long trend of cuts and increase the rates paid by SoonerCare to doctors and other care providers. After this spring’s legislative sessions, the state’s key health care agencies were able to reverse a years-long trend and increase payments to care providers. These rate increases were possible in part because Oklahoma’s federal Medicaid funding is increasing.

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In The Know: Special session may not be needed for medical marijuana regulations

by | June 29th, 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

Special session may not be needed for medical marijuana regulations, House majority leader says: A special session to deal with regulating medical marijuana under the terms of State Question 788 appears a diminishing prospect as legislative leaders say they’re content to let the state Department of Health do the work [Tulsa World]. The head of Oklahoma’s health agency said Wednesday there’s a framework in place to get the medical marijuana industry rolling in the state soon, despite concerns from Gov. Mary Fallin that a statewide vote “opens the door” for recreational use [AP News]. Oklahoma’s new medical marijuana law is expected to bring in some new tax revenue, although it’s too early to put an exact figure on how much [News on 6].

The expressed will of the people in SQ 788 must not go up in smoke during the rule-making process: The state Capitol is hard at work on rules to implement the medical marijuana law approved by voters on Tuesday. The state Health Department has drawn up 61 pages of proposed rules, and Gov. Mary Fallin is said to be considering a special session of the Legislature to consider new laws. The state needs to be very careful moving forward on this effort. Regulation must not be used to undo the clearly expressed intent of a strong majority of Oklahoma voters [Editorial Board / Tulsa World].

Oklahomans Must Choose Between Their Guns and Medical Marijuana: Guns or medical marijuana? Thousands of Oklahomans will be forced to choose between the two to avoid committing a felony, federal officials say. And unless something changes, medical marijuana users also will be prohibited from obtaining state handgun permits, said Rick Adams, Oklahoma’s incoming director of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. Oklahomans voted to approve state-sanctioned medical marijuana Tuesday, but marijuana use continues to be illegal under federal laws that concern both possession and gun ownership [NewsOK]. Q&A with Charlie Plumb: Possession, use of marijuana at work still prohibited, regardless of Tuesday’s vote [NewsOK].

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In The Know: Department of Health says it will be ready to implement marijuana law

by | June 28th, 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

Health Official: Will Be Ready to Implement Marijuana Law: Oklahoma’s interim health commissioner says the state Department of Health will be ready to implement a new law allowing medical marijuana.Tom Bates said Wednesday the agency has been working to develop rules and regulations for medical marijuana since he was appointed on April 1. He said the rules will be ready according to the requirements of the law, which is scheduled to go into effect 60 days after passage [AP News]. First medical cannabis clinic sets up shop in Tulsa, but licensing guidelines and protocols yet to be established [Tulsa World].

Sen. Greg Treat: ‘No Desire to Unwind the Will of the People’ on SQ 788: The people of Oklahoma spoke loudly Tuesday night to say they want medical marijuana, and at least one leader of the Legislature says the body plans to listen. “I don’t think anyone in the Legislature or the governor’s office but especially the Senate wants to go against the will of the people,” Senate Majority Leader Greg Treat (R-OKC) said during a conference call this afternoon to discuss State Question 788’s implementation [NonDoc]. Mapping the medical marijuana vote, by county [Oklahoma Watch].

Report: Oklahoma Drops into the Bottom 10 States for Child Well-Being: Oklahoma ranks as one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to the general well-being of its children, according to an annual national report. The 2018 Kids Count Data Book, released Wednesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, ranks Oklahoma 44th out of 50 states for child well-being. The state ranked 36th overall last year and had hovered in the lower 30s for several years after once ranking in the mid-40s [Tulsa World].

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New KIDS COUNT Data Book ranks Oklahoma near the worst in the nation for child well-being

A new report shows the youngest generation of Oklahomans face far-reaching challenges. The state ranks near the bottom in the nation for most measures of child well-being, according to the 2018 KIDS COUNT® Data Book released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Overall, the report ranks Oklahoma 44th out of all 50 states for child well-being. Even in areas where Oklahoma has seen the most improvement recently, we’re not keeping up with the progress in other states. We have a high percentage of kids scoring below proficient in reading and math, a high rate of teen births, hundreds of thousands of kids living in poverty, and tens of thousands without health insurance. The 2018 Data Book shows that while Oklahoma has improved on some measures of child well-being, we still have a lot of work to do.

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In The Know: Oklahoma voters show statehouse lawmakers the door

by | June 27th, 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

Oklahoma Voters Show Statehouse Lawmakers the Door: Several House lawmakers lost their seat or face a dangerous runoff election after Tuesday’s primary, capping off a year of exasperated politics focused on money and education. Five lawmakers lost in the primary election, whether by a wide margin or within a few dozen votes, according to election results Tuesday [NewsOK]. It was a mixed bag for teachers running for political office in Oklahoma but clearly a bad night for incumbent Republicans who voted this year against a tax package to fund a teacher pay raise [NewsOK]. Oklahoma voters encountered some glitches at the polls Tuesday, but a spokesman for the state Election Board said that is pretty typical of an election day [NewsOK].

Puff, Puff, Pass: Oklahoma Approves Medical Marijuana: Voters in Oklahoma appear to have passed State Question 788, which will legalize medical marijuana, according to unofficial results from the State Election Board. Soon after polls closed, initial voting totals showed favor for the measure by a consistent margin of about 10 points. The latest totals as of the time of this posting maintained that early margin, with about 56 percent of voters in favor of the initiative and about 44 percent opposed [NonDoc]. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin released a statement saying her office will work to properly regulate medical marijuana after the passage of State Question 788 [OU Daily]. The new Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority is accepting public comments on draft rules to regulate medical marijuana [omma.ok.gov].

Mick Cornett and Kevin Stitt Head to a Republican Runoff: See How Each County Voted for Governor: Former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett comfortably advanced and Tulsa businessman Kevin Stitt upset Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb to get into the Republican runoff for governor. On the Democratic side of the governor’s race, former Attorney General Drew Edmondson easily advanced to the general election, securing more than 60 percent of the vote over state Sen. Connie Johnson. Cornett and Stitt move on to an Aug. 28 runoff [Tulsa World]. See registration and voting deadlines for the runoff on our Oklahoma 2018 State Questions and Elections page [OKPolicy].

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Episode 32: Danielle Allen, from South Central Los Angeles to the Declaration of Independence

by | June 26th, 2018 | Posted in Blog, Criminal Justice, Podcast | Comments (0)

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 OK PolicyCast, topics you’d like us to cover, or people you want us to interview, you can reach us at policycast@okpolicy.org.

We’ve got something really special for you today. We’re sharing the recording of an event that Oklahoma Policy Institute co-hosted with Danielle Allen, a Harvard University professor and the author of the new book, “Cuz”. In the book, Allen tells the story of her attempt to rescue her cousin, who was arrested at 15 for an attempted carjacking, was tried as an adult and sentenced to thirteen years. He served eleven years in prison, and three years after coming out of prison, he was dead.

In this conversation between Danielle Allen and Tulsa civil rights attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons, they dig deep into how the inequalities of America — racial inequality, social inequality, economic inequality — play out not just in statistics and political debates, but in the personal dynamics of real individuals and families — as Danielle Allen puts it, in the “rending of kith and kin.” It was a powerful, impactful conversation, ranging all the way from South Central Los Angeles to the Declaration of Independence. It’s worth your time to give a listen.

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In The Know: Early voting suggests turnout could be bigger than 2016 presidential primaries

by | June 26th, 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

Early Voting Suggests Turnout Could Be Bigger Than 2016 Presidential Primaries: Tulsa County Election Board officials said Monday that early in-person voting and absentee ballot requests suggest turnout for the primary elections that conclude Tuesday could top 50 percent. That translates into about 170,000 votes, or nearly three times as many as in the 2014 statewide primary and more than even the 2016 presidential primary [Tulsa World]. Visit our State Questions & Elections page for links to helpful information, resources, and deadlines [OKPolicy].

More Oklahoma Candidates Are Female, but Numbers Still Low: Men have called Carrie Blumert “princess” and “honey.” They have commented on her body, invited her inside their homes and even grabbed her hand to check for a wedding ring. Blumert, 31, has been campaigning for an Oklahoma County commissioner seat for more than a year, and she said sexism and harassment have become common occurrences for her. She now understands why many women don’t want to run for office. The number of women running for Oklahoma’s Legislature has nearly tripled since four years ago, but they still only make up 29 percent of the candidates [NewsOK].

(Capitol Update) A Connection Between the Nation’s Highest Incarceration and Refusal to Expand Medicaid?: The latest state-by-state comparison for incarceration rates drew headlines in Oklahoma because we are now number one in incarceration. Rounding out the top ten after Oklahoma are Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Arizona, Kentucky and Missouri. A quick view at the list suggested the question of whether there is a correlation between incarceration rates and Medicaid expansion, so I decided to look [OKPolicy].

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A connection between the nation’s highest incarceration and refusal to expand Medicaid? (Capitol Update)

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.

The latest state-by-state comparison for incarceration rates drew headlines in Oklahoma because we are now number one in incarceration. Rounding out the top ten after Oklahoma are Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Arizona, Kentucky and Missouri. A quick view at the list suggested the question of whether there is a correlation between incarceration rates and Medicaid expansion, so I decided to look.

I found that six of the ten highest incarcerating states have refused to expand Medicaid coverage: Oklahoma, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Texas and Missouri. Louisiana adopted a “demonstration” version of expansion like the Arkansas plan, effective July 1, 2016. Since then it has dropped from Number one to Number two. Arkansas, on March 4, 2014 adopted its private option version of Medicaid expansion. Arizona adopted a private option version of Medicaid expansion but 42 percent of the state’s 773,000 uninsured are eligible but not enrolled in Medicaid due to certain barriers; Kentucky had one of the more successful transitions to Medicaid expansion although it recently changed to a private option plan.

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In The Know: Tax hike bill to fund teacher pay raises will stand, state Supreme Court rules

by | June 25th, 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

Tax Hike Bill to Fund Teacher Pay Raises Will Stand, State Supreme Court Rules: A referendum petition seeking to repeal tax hikes used to fund teacher raises is invalid, the Oklahoma Supreme Court said in a ruling issued Friday. Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite sought to ask voters to repeal House Bill 1010xx, which hiked taxes on cigarettes, little cigars, fuel and gross production. State Question 799 drew two legal challenges before the Oklahoma Supreme Court [Tulsa World]. UPDATED: Here’s what we know – and don’t know – about the revenue bill veto challenge [OKPolicy]. Local education officials discuss state Supreme Court ruling on tax bill to fund teacher raises [Tulsa World]. Leaders release statements about Oklahoma Supreme Court’s tax repeal decision [KFOR]. 

Anti-Tax Group Weighs Options After Supreme Court Tosses Petition: A group working to repeal recent tax hikes will decide in the next few days whether to file a new referendum petition after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Friday that the one being circulated was misleading and fatally flawed. “We are keeping all of our options open,” said Ronda Vuillemont-Smith, one of the organizers of Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite! “We are discussing it and giving serious consideration to filing another petition” [NewsOK].

Proposed Rules Show How Oklahoma Might Regulate Medical Marijuana If Voters Approve State Question 788: Pregnant women would be barred from obtaining a medical marijuana license if voters on Tuesday approve State Question 788, under proposed rules under consideration at the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The draft rules would also restrict people on probation and those recently convicted of a felony from obtaining a commercial license [StateImpact Oklahoma]. Oklahoma conservatives’ views on medical marijuana evolving [AP News]. Oklahoma medical pot question hinges on conservative support [Public Radio Tulsa].

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