In The Know: Arkansas GOP considering opting-in to Medicaid expansion

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that Arkansas Republicans are seriously considering opting-in to Medicaid expansion.  The ACLU of Oklahoma filed Open Records requests with the Governor’s office and other agents of state government, on behalf of entertainment and satire website; they are preparing to challenge the Governor’s legal arguments in court if the requests are denied.

A U.S. Air Force veteran and McAlester native is asking the Justice Department to investigate local law enforcement and FBI agents who have been following and harassing he and his family.  Tax breaks for horizontal drilling in Oklahoma are gutting gross production tax revenue.  

Oklahoma ranks among the worst in the nation in female representation.  The incoming House speaker has formed two new committees and issued leadership assignments for the standing House committees.  The IRS and Treasury Department have proposed guidance intended to clear up confusion about what is taxable and what is excluded under existing statutes for tribal nations.

In today’s Policy Note, Small Business Majority polled small business owners for their opinions on economic policy, tax cuts, jobs and the role of government.  The Number of the Day is the number of Oklahoma teens and young adults now eligible for a temporary reprieve from the threat of deportation under Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA). 

In The News

In Post-Election Twist, Arkansas Republicans Consider Medicaid Expansion
Rising health costs have aggravated budget problems for many states. Arkansas is planning to cut $138 million in services from its program next year because of growing costs.  But the Republicans in Arkansas, where Democrats had long controlled the Legislature, say the expansion might work if they can require co-pays from some beneficiaries, mandate drug tests, impose stiffer penalties for fraud and use other measures to limit expenses. “It goes back to being able to have a system that’s solvent and sustainable,” said Republican Sen. Jonathan Dismang. Democrats say they’re willing to listen to the proposals, but that the benefits of the expansion should be obvious. “If we miss this opportunity,” said Democratic Sen.-elect Keith Ingram, “…then shame on us.”

Read more from Arkansas Business at

ACLU of Oklahoma Assists in Joining the Fight for Open Government
Local news, entertainment and satire website is the latest media organization to request that Governor Mary Fallin comply with Oklahoma’s Open Records Act. The request seeks the release of emails and reports surrounding the Governor’s decisions rejecting medicaid funding that would have provided health care to nearly 200,000 Oklahomans and refusing to set up a state health care exchange. With the ACLU of Oklahoma serving as legal counsel, the publisher of filed an open records request with the office of Governor Fallin, as well as Secretary of State Glenn Coffee and other agents of state government.

Read more from the ACLU of Oklahoma at

Muslim man from Oklahoma seeks justice department inquiry
A Muslim man is seeking answers from federal law enforcement agencies about what he describes as their harassment of him and his family since his return to Oklahoma from the Middle East. Saadiq Long, a U.S. Air Force veteran and McAlester native, said Thursday he and his sister have been followed by the FBI and have had several unexpected and unwanted encounters with agents of the federal agency since he arrived in Oklahoma from Qatar on Nov. 19. Adam Soltani, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the Muslim civil rights group sent a letter Thursday to the federal Justice Department asking the government agency to investigate the recent treatment of Long and his family.

Read more from NewsOK at

The incredible disappearing gross production tax
With all the attention last legislative session on the failed attempt to do away with the state personal income tax, a potentially bigger story seems to have escaped most people’s notice: the effective disappearance of the gross production tax. This week, Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger announced General Revenue (GR) collections for November, the fifth month of FY 2013. For the month, the GR fund collected $0 from gross production tax revenues; year-to-date, gross production collections to GR are a miniscule $6.7 million.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at

Women a rare commodity in Oklahoma Legislature
Oklahoma has a female governor and was the first in the nation to elect a woman to statewide political office, but when it comes to electing women to the Legislature, the state ranks among the worst in the nation. Only 12.8 percent of Oklahoma’s 149 state lawmakers are women, ranking the state 48th in the nation based on membership before the 2012 elections, according to the Center for American Women and Politics. Oklahoma’s ranking is unlikely to move as a result of this year’s elections, since there were no net gains for women in the Legislature, which now has four women in the 48-member Senate and 15 females in the 101-member House.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Oklahoma House committee leaders named
A new House of Representatives committee will explore Oklahoma’s sovereign rights, and a lawmaker booted as chairman by the previous speaker is back in charge of the energy panel, according to committee assignments announced Thursday. House Speaker-elect T.W. Shannon kept many of the standing committees, and created two more, including the States’ Rights Committee. The House now has 19 committees. Shannon, R-Lawton, named Rep. John Trebilcock, R-Broken Arrow, chairman of the House Energy and Aerospace Committee.  Former House Speaker Kris Steele removed Trebilcock in November 2011 as chairman of the previously named House Energy and Utility Regulation Committee. Trebilcock claimed the move was in retaliation for his voting for Shannon to be the next speaker instead of Steele’s choice. Steele denied it.

Read more from NewsOK at

Treasury spells out rules on taxing of tribes
At a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing in June, tribes complained that the IRS was enforcing tax laws without taking into account unique aspects of their sovereign governments. In one case detailed in written testimony, an IRS agent ruled tribal members who benefited from government programs should be taxed on the part of the benefit paid for by gambling revenue. Amid the complaints, the IRS and Treasury Department met with tribal representatives to hammer out some proposed “guidance” on what is taxable and what is excluded under existing laws.

Read more from the Associated Press at 

Quote of the Day

If you sit at the right angle in the Senate gallery, you can’t even see any women on the floor.

Sara Jane Rose, the president and founder of Sally’s List, an organization dedicated to electing women to office in Oklahoma

Number of the Day

Number of Oklahoma teens & young adults now eligible for a temporary reprieve from the threat of deportation under Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Opinion Poll: Small Business Views on Taxes and the Role of Government
Contrary to popular belief, nationwide scientific opinion polling conducted earlier this month found that the majority of small business owners—more of whom identify as Republican than Democrat (47%-35%)—believe that raising taxes on the wealthiest 2% is the right thing to do in light of our budget crisis. What’s more, 40% strongly believe this. The polling also found the majority of entrepreneurs see a productive role for government in helping small businesses achieve success. Nearly 6 in 10 agree government can play an effective role in helping small businesses thrive.

Read more from Small Business Majority at

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.