Speaker McCall greenlights nearly 100 interim studies (Capitol Update)

You can't read a lot into the 50 request denials. The Speaker doesn't have to give a reason, and his reason may be different for different requests and different members. It could be that he likes the idea but wants some other member to take the lead or he doesn't like the idea and doesn't want it to gain traction. In some instances, it may be about the author. [More...]

To address opioid crisis, expand Medicaid (Capitol Updates)

As Dr. Clancy described it, "New Mexico has done many of the same things we have done in Oklahoma to combat opioid overdose deaths such as the development of closer tracking of opioid prescriptions before physicians write another prescription, intervening when physicians are overprescribing opioids and the use of Narcan by first responders to prevent a death when there is an opioid overdose." [More...]

In better budget times, Legislature takes back control of the purse strings (Capitol Update)

Legislators learned quickly they were not off the hook with the public when  popular and needed programs were eliminated. It was not long until line items began to show up in appropriations measures again, and the practice has grown steadily. [More...]

Preview of an attack on Oklahoma’s judicial nominating process (Capitol Update)

I heard Professor Andrew Spiropoulos of the OCU Law School speak last week about the need to restructure the way we select our supreme court justices in Oklahoma. In 2005-2006 Spiropoulos was Senior Counselor to Oklahoma House Speaker Todd Hiett. Hiett was elected Speaker after the Republicans gained control of the House in 2004. Spiropoulos is also associated with the Heritage Foundation and the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. His ideas are worth noting because they will likely influence what will become known as "court reform" when the next legislative session rolls around. [More...]

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...]