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...]

Budget decisions confront numerous unmet needs for Oklahomans (Capitol Update)

It seems a little earlier than usual, but you can tell when thoughts start turning toward adjournment of the Legislature by increased talk about the budget. Because the Legislature runs on a timetable of deadlines, the substantive law and policy… Read more [More...]

Gov. Fallin’s transformation of OMES resembles Gov. Stitt’s plan for other state agencies (Capitol Update)

It came to light recently that the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) is out of money and needs an emergency $16 million to avoid furloughing employees. Obviously, this isn't going down well with legislators who just went through the same thing in 2017 with the Oklahoma State Department of Health only to later learn that the shortfall wasn't really a shortfall. Senate Appropriations Chairman Roger Thompson has filed a bill splitting out the information technology functions of the agency. [More...]

Opportunities this session to bend Oklahoma’s justice system toward justice (Capitol Update)

Prison Visit A defining issue for this legislature and Governor Stitt's leadership in his first session could be a remarkable advancement in criminal justice reform. [More...]

Push for agency accountability produces a mixed bag (Capitol Update)

Last week the Legislature turned its accountability focus toward state government, with leadership announcing agreement between the House, Senate and the Governor on five bills to reorganize the governance of five larger state agencies...It will be interesting to see how things work when the power brokers that have been given new powers strongly disagree with each other.  It could be a prescription for "gridlock," which would be the opposite of "turnaround."  [More...]

House and Senate leadership bills show similar priorities, different approach (Capitol Update)

With the passage of the first committee deadline, it's interesting to observe the bills the two top legislative leaders have filed.  If they decide to throw the full weight of their office behind a proposal, it is likely to become law, at least in some form. [More...]

Teacher pay, criminal justice reform, and cultural issues get attention with committee deadline looming (Capitol Update)

The firehose effect of early session continued last week with members scrambling to get their bills heard in committee before this Thursday's deadline. By this Friday, the number of active bills will be reduced considerably. One of the big items that got the spotlight was a $1,200 teacher pay raise passed in the House and sent to the Senate. [More...]