In The Know: Bill to expand health coverage moves forward; modernizing OK’s Supreme Court districts; panel rejects more state funds for private schools…

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.

New from OK Policy

(Capitol Update) New legislators taking on overlooked problems: The legislative pace picked up considerably last week, the second week of session. Bills that do not get a hearing in their assigned committee on or before February 28th will be dead for this session. That means the author and those interested in a bill have only two more meetings of a committee to get the bill heard and passed out of committee. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

In The News

Bill seeks to expand health insurance coverage for working poor: A Senate panel passed a measure Monday aimed at reducing the number of Oklahomans without health insurance. Senate Bill 605, by Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada, would require the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to seek federal approval for a waiver to expand Insure Oklahoma. [Tulsa World] Medicaid expansion bill advances. [NewsOK] Insure (more of) Oklahoma: SB 605 passes committee. [NonDoc] Expanding Medicaid is one of our 2019 Policy Priorities.

Bill expanding association health plans without consumer protections passes Senate committee: The Senate Retirement and Insurance Committee unanimously approved a bill by President Pro Tempore Greg Treat that would expand who can sell association health plans. [Skiatook Journal] These plans would be allowed to discriminate against patients with pre-existing conditions, to refuse to cover critical services like mental health or substance use disorder and maternity care, and to cut off coverage based on annual and lifetime dollar limits. Safeguarding access to quality health care by rejecting ‘junk coverage’ is one of our 2019 Policy Priorities.

Bills seek to modernize 1967 Supreme Court district map: A lot has changed since the Oklahoma Supreme Court district map was drawn in 1967, especially the state’s demographics. As such, both of the Legislature’s judicial committee chairpersons believe regional requirements for the nine-member Supreme Court should be updated after reviewing data about where Oklahoma attorneys reside. [NonDoc]

Panel nixes bill to use state money for private tuition: An impassioned plea by a Norman senator wasn’t enough to advance a bill to provide bullying victims with state funds for private school tuition. Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, told members of the Senate education committee last week that the Hope Scholarship Program Act created in House Bill 570 would cost $5 million to fund. [NewsOK]

Educators work to help Oklahoma kids exposed to trauma: While many students had Monday off – some educators used the day to learn how to help their students learn better while at school. Teachers learned how to deal with one of the biggest problems facing Oklahoma kids: trauma. [KFOR]

Bill to change Oklahoma teacher pension calculation stalls in committee: A bill to change Oklahoma teachers’ pension benefits appears dead on arrival. The Senate Retirement and Insurance Committee declined to even vote Monday on Senate Bill 979, which would change the average salary calculation to cover seven years starting July 1, 2020. Opponents noted the average salary calculation change would reduce a retirement pay bump teachers expected because of last year’s raises. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Analysis: A looming legislative backlash against teacher strikes? Why walkouts could become illegal in some states, with strikers facing fines, jail, or loss of their license: In 2018 and 2019, after a decade of disinvestment in education that led to stagnant teacher salaries, policymakers have introduced proposals in states across the country to begin reinvesting, spurred in part by teacher walkouts and activism nationwide. [The 74 Million]

Lawmakers to mull Senate bill that would require sex education courses cover consent: Lawmakers are expected to consider a measure requiring schools that offer sex education to include the definition of consent. Drafted by Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, Senate Bill 926 would insert the statutory definition of consent into the program. [Tulsa World]

Abortion debate continues at Capitol as abolitionists push for hearing on SB 13: Supporters of a bill that would criminalize abortion lined a Capitol hallway on Monday to push for a Senate committee to hear the legislation, which it is not expected to take up. About 40 protesters chanted “Senate Bill 13” and “Abolish abortion.” They carried signs that read “No Sen. Smalley. Abortion is ‘extremely’ unconstitutional.” [Tulsa World]

Business groups work to strengthen property rights in gun bill: The state’s largest business groups, which opposed so-called constitutional carry legislation in the past, knew they probably couldn’t stop it this year but wanted some changes to assure organizations they could ban weapons from events they sponsored in the state. [NewsOK ????]

Campaign shop part of Democratic success stories in OKC: After a decade of election losses at almost every level of state government, Democrats have rebuilt a foundation of power in Oklahoma City, thanks in part to a political consulting firm that has helped candidates get elected to the state Legislature, city council, county board of commissioners and the school board. [NewsOK ????]

Oklahoma mother pushes to keep pressure on legislation banning pets as prizes, spurred by daughter’s concern over carnival game awards: The mother of girl, whose concern over animals awarded as carnival prizes spurred the authoring of legislation banning the practice, is hoping to keep the pressure on legislators as it appears the bill has stalled for a second year in committee. [KFOR]

Ag Board could take up revised poultry setback rules Tuesday: A proposal to establish setbacks from homes and municipalities for poultry operations is part of a lengthy agenda in front of the Oklahoma Board of Agriculture at its Tuesday meeting in Oklahoma City, but the proposed rules on the docket differ from those up for public comment the past two months. [Tulsa World]

Turnout varies from 4.7 percent to 11.5 percent in OKC council elections: Turnout in the Feb. 12 Oklahoma City Council primary elections was highest in wards with the fewest registered voters, though participation topped out at only 11.5 percent. Elections were in Wards 2, 5, 6 and 8. All results were outright wins, and no runoff election will be held. [NewsOK]

OKC bomb plot trial continues: A Sayre man with a history of schizophrenia either plotted to bomb downtown Oklahoma City, or was induced into doing so by the United States government and a convicted felon who tipped off the FBI for profit, a federal jury has heard. [NewsOK]

Former bank building on N Classen to become Clara Luper Center: After more than a century of being crammed into buildings not designed for offices, the Oklahoma City Public School district has begun renovating and expanding a former bank just west of Midtown. Work has begun to turn the two-block property into both a headquarters and community space designed to show off accomplishments of students and faculty. In tribute to the late educator and civil rights pioneer, the new headquarters will be named the Clara Luper Center. [NewsOK ????]

Quote of the Day

“I think the important thing here is they are looking to expand coverage and bring federal dollars back at the 90 percent match that is provided under the Affordable Care Act. This is certainly not straight Medicaid expansion in that people would be enrolled in commercial health insurance plans and not in Medicaid. It is a different approach.”

-Oklahoma Policy Institute executive director David Blatt, speaking about a bill approved in Senate committee to expand health insurance coverage for the working poor [Source: Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Median weekly earnings of female full-time workers in Oklahoma as a percentage of male full-time workers’ median earnings (2018).

[Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

13 million people in poverty are disconnected from the social safety net. Most of them are white: More than a quarter of people living in poverty in the U.S. receive no help from food stamps and other nutrition programs, subsidized housing, cash benefits, or child care assistance, according to a new Urban Institute analysis examining the reach of the social safety net. That means 13 million people at the poverty line, with household incomes below $25,100 a year for a family of four, are disconnected from federal programs for the neediest Americans. Among the very poorest Americans — families of four making less than $13,000 a year — nearly a third receive no benefit from the federal safety net. [Washington Post]

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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