In The Know: 300,000 Oklahomans could lose Medicaid coverage as COVID-19 emergency ends | New bills create exceptions to state’s strict abortion laws | More

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. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Oklahoma News

Your guide to voting and a sample ballot for Valentine’s Day Oklahoma elections: Love and democracy are in the air this Valentine’s Day, with a number of local elections on Tuesday’s ballot. For voters in the Oklahoma City metro area, several city council races are afoot, as well as school board elections and bond proposals to bring improvements to local school districts. Many of the elections are primaries and could lead to an April runoff. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Capitol event celebrates the Black history ‘we are still making today’: Rep. Monroe Nichols was the first person in his family born after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the first to grow up in a country where segregation was no longer legal and the playing field for Black Americans had presumably been leveled. [The Oklahoman]

  • Photos: Oklahoma Black Caucus has Black History Day [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma lawmakers advance bills creating exceptions to state’s strict abortion laws: Oklahoma lawmakers are considering exceptions to the state’s abortion laws, which are widely supported nationwide, but not necessarily commonplace. A Senate Committee on health advanced two bills late last week that clarify some exemptions in the state’s abortion ban. [KGOU]

State Government News

Here are the bills Oklahoma lawmakers have filed to expand social services and improve child welfare policies: Many of the bills are pulled directly from recommendations from the HELP task force Gov. Kevin Stitt created to study how to support women through unplanned or crisis pregnancies after abortion was banned in the state last year. [The Frontier]

The latest on the push to legalize sports betting in Oklahoma: A bill to bring sports betting to Oklahoma advanced on Monday, but its House quarterback made clear the proposal is far from final. Rep. Ken Luttrell’s statement signals that state officials and tribal leaders don’t agree yet on what sports betting should look like in Oklahoma. Tribal nations have exclusive gaming rights in Oklahoma and, in exchange, pay the state a share of proceeds every month. [The Oklahoman]

  • Sports betting clears first hurdle in Oklahoma House of Representatives [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma cockfighting industry says criminal penalties are too steep: A bill that would support Oklahoma’s involvement in the international cockfighting industry is being framed as an extension of the state’s criminal justice reform efforts. Senate Bill 1006 would let counties decide whether to reduce penalties for cockfighting and breeding of fighting chickens. [The Oklahoman]

Recent Poll Shows Majority of Oklahomans Oppose School Voucher Plan: A poll recently released by the Oklahoma Education Coalition shows an overwhelming majority of Oklahomans oppose the school voucher plan. The coalition, which includes Oklahoma City Public Schools and the Oklahoma Education Association, surveyed 600 statewide voters. [News 9]

Tribal Nations News

Cherokee Nation to build $18 million drug treatment center in Tahlequah: The Cherokee Nation on Monday unveiled plans for the tribe’s first in-house drug treatment center during a ceremony at Three Rivers Health Center. The $18 million, 17,000-square-foot treatment facility will be located in the Park Hill area of the city. Construction is set to start this year. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond seeks to drop McGirt-related case pushed by O’Connor: Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond has moved to drop a case seeking to restore more criminal jurisdiction to the state on tribal reservations, signaling a pause in the office’s efforts to chip away at the McGirt ruling. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal leaders support bill allowing Native American students to wear regalia: Public schools across Oklahoma would no longer be able to prevent Native American students from wearing traditional regalia if proposed legislation becomes law. Senate Bill 429, which passed the Senate Education Committee this week by a vote of 11-0, would ban the practice. [Norman Transcript]

Health News

Many to lose insurance as public health emergency ends: Some 300,000 Oklahoma adults and children may lose access to health care coverage through the state’s SoonerCare program in the coming year. That’s because of a change being made in rules that govern who may qualify for coverage. The rules were relaxed in 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic to prevent people from losing access to health care at that critical time. Now, with the public health emergency set to officially expire in May, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has ordered state agencies like the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to revert to pre-pandemic rules. [Journal Record]

  • 300,000 Oklahomans to lose Medicaid coverage as COVID emergency ends [Tulsa World]
  • Thousands of Oklahomans may not qualify for Medicaid program [KOCO]
  • SoonerCare to Restart Renewal Process for Members [Oklahoma Health Care Authority]
  • 10 Things to Know About the Unwinding of the Medicaid Continuous Enrollment Provision [KFF]

Even with health insurance, many Oklahomans face barriers to mental health care: A Healthy Minds Policy Initiative study found that barriers to mental health care mean many Oklahomans are either going without or paying high prices for out-of-network services. The study found the vast majority of mental health providers in the state are out of network with most insurance plans. Companies with the broadest networks only included about 30 percent of the state’s providers. [KOSU]

Economic Opportunity

Column: When addressing poverty, strategic interventions are cost-effective: Most people engage with poverty-fighting systems by initially identifying a single need — many times food benefits— yet the all-consuming nature of poverty results in deeper needs, including housing, mental health, workforce training and others. [Justin Brown Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Education News

House bill to require a statewide school curriculum ‘transparency portal’ advances: All public school instructional materials would have to be available through an “online transparency portal” operated by the Oklahoma Department of Education under legislation advanced Monday by a state House of Representatives appropriations subcommittee following lengthy discussion. [Tulsa World]

General News

In the face of mass migration, we can learn from Oklahoma’s young people: It has been estimated that up to 1.2 billion people will be displaced by climate change worldwide by 2050. That means the number of refugees coming to the United States will likely explode, changing immigration from a challenge that has solutions to a predicament over which we have much less control. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Tulsa school board seat remains vacant, with allegations of candidates’ criminal records [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“There’s a push right now to ignore history, but I wish my colleagues (in the state Legislature) would understand that this is not a conversation about blame, this is a conversation about how to close the gap.”

– Rep. Monroe Nichols, speaking on the importance of having honest conversations about the history of racial inequity and how it impacts the present, including systems of housing, employment and education. [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Percentage of income paid in taxes by the lowest earning 20% of Oklahoma residents, which is nearly double the rate (6.2%) paid by the top 1% of Oklahomans. [Institute on Taxation and Policy via OK Policy]

Policy Note

Why the States Have a Major Role to Play If We Want Tax Justice: Americans scored a tax victory with last summer’s Inflation Reduction Act, raising hundreds of billions of dollars for climate, health and debt reduction, and breaking a long streak of little progress or even backward movement on tax fairness. Now, with fears of gridlock in a divided Washington, tax justice champions are building momentum in other places where there’s dire need for better tax policy: the states. We can upgrade communities across the country by making 2023 a year to win tax improvements in statehouses. [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy]

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Hana Saad joined OK Policy in August 2022 as the Communications and Operations Fellow. She graduated from the University of Tulsa with degrees in Media Studies and English and is part of Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society. At TU, Hana regularly wrote for The Collegian and was the Co-Editor of the Stylus Journal of Art and Writing. She also serves on the team at Puppy Haven Rescue to help in their mission of saving rescue dogs across Oklahoma. Hana is eager to learn more about public policy in Oklahoma and use her skills to support the OKP work to build a more equitable state. In her free time, she loves to read fiction and poetry, walk her dog, and make copious cups of tea.

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