In The Know: Bills address health care costs, Oklahoma eyes telehealth for mental health crises, and 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. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

Smart policy decisions could improve economic well-being for all Oklahomans: Oklahoma’s state budget is recovering from record deficits and the unemployment rate remains near record low levels. Despite that, not all Oklahomans are doing well. The newly released Prosperity Now Scorecard confirms that too many Oklahomans still struggle to meet basic needs while building a better, more stable financial future for their families. [OK Policy]

In The News

Oklahoma Senate committee keeps alive several bills to address health care costs: Senate Bill 1620 would let pharmacists relay patients’ requests for a breakdown of their prescription drug costs to insurers, manufacturers and distributors. Senate Bill 1646 would prohibit hospitals from reporting medical debt to credit bureaus or going to collections unless a patient agreed to the total cost of services ahead of time. Senate Bill 1575 would direct insurers to offer incentives for people to find lower-cost health care services, regardless of whether they’re in or out of network. [Public Radio Tulsa] Senate Bill 1868, also known as the Oklahoma Out-of-Network and Surprise Billing Act, advanced with its title stricken on a 9-0 vote through the Senate Retirement and Insurance Committee. [Journal Record????]

Oklahoma eyes telehealth to help police during mental health crises: Oklahoma lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow police officers to use telehealth to help assess someone having a mental health crisis, rather than immediately taking that person into protective custody. SB 1208, sponsored by State Senator Michael Bergstrom, would give responding law enforcement officers the opportunity to connect with a licensed mental health professional via telemedicine for an initial assessment. [mHealth Intelligence]

Claremore Daily Progress Editorial: Oklahomans should demand SQ 802 be placed on the ballot: Healthcare is a matter of life, death, and quality of life—not politics. Recently, Gov. Kevin Stitt has attempted to block the expansion of Medicaid in Oklahoma, an expansion that would provide health coverage to an estimated 200,000 state residents who earn less than $17,000 a year. The governor needs to focus on the lives of those he is elected to represent. [Editorial Board / Claremore Daily Progress]

Bill passes committee requiring inmates to be issued valid state IDs upon release: House Public Safety Committee advanced a bill on Feb. 20 that would require the Department of Corrections and Department of Public Safety to coordinate to issue valid state ID’s to inmates when they are released. House Bill 1310 by Rep. Marilyn Stark, R-Bethany, would create the ‘Inmate ID Act of 2020’ if passed into law. [FOX25]

Chris Bernard: Don’t let fear and misunderstanding surrounding the new Public Charge rule allow families to go hungry: On Monday, a change in a federal immigration rule took effect; the change affects relatively few families but the confusion could impact many more. The change expands the “Public Charge” rule to allow immigration officials to factor an individual’s use of certain public benefits against them when determining whether or not to grant permanent residency or reentry into the country. [Chris Bernard / Tulsa World]

Capitol Insider: State revenue figures certified: Lawmakers now know how much money they can appropriate in the 2021 Fiscal Year budget. KGOU’s Dick Pryor and eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley discuss that story and more in Capitol Insider. [KGOU]

Oklahoma House sends juvenile detention bills to Senate: A bill to keep most juvenile offenders out of adult jails and prisons sailed through the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Monday. House Bill 3214, by Rep. Mark Lawson, R-Sapulpa, would make the state’s 16 juvenile detention facilities the default placement for youths younger than 17, including those charged with murder and other violent crimes. [Tulsa World] An OK Policy report showed justice reinvestment offers a model to support vulnerable Oklahoma youth.

State lawmakers representing north Tulsa get mixed results with bills on police accountability: State representatives from north Tulsa went one-for-two in getting their bills on police accountability and transparency to the House floor. Rep. Monroe Nichols’ proposal (HB 2946) to establish a Community Policing Standards Task Force passed committee and will be heard on the House floor. Rep. Regina Goodwin saw her bill (HB 3515) on body camera use voted down last week by the same House committee. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Bills would notify public of missing Native women, children: With the support of Oklahoma tribes seeking to reduce the incidence of violence among Native women and children, the state Legislature is considering measures that, if approved, could increase the chances of good outcomes for Native American women and children in dangerous situations. [Cherokee Phoenix]

Senate passes bills aimed to toughen penalties for strangulation: The Oklahoma Senate passes two bills that aim to toughen penalties for domestic strangulation and for assault and battery on a pregnant woman. Senate Bill 1103 and 1104 are just two of several measures going through the state legislature this session that take aim at domestic violence. [KJRH]

School suicide awareness training approved by the Senate: A bill requiring Oklahoma school districts to adopt suicide awareness and training programs for grades seven through 12 has been passed by the Senate. Senate Bill 266 by Sen. Allison Ikley-Freeman, D-Tulsa, who is also a mental health professional, is the first step in preventing suicide among Oklahoma’s children, she said. [Sand Springs Leader]

State Senate OK’s bill requiring children in back seat to wear seat belts: The Oklahoma Senate on Monday narrowly passed a bill requiring those 17 years old and younger to wear a seat belt when in the back seat. The measure passed by a vote of 25-22. It takes 25 votes to pass the upper chamber. The measure heads to the House for consideration. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma DHS launches child support website: As part of the Stitt administration’s push to digitally transform state government, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services launched a website where Oklahomans can apply for child support. The department launched so residents can complete and submit a child support application and check the status of their case online. [The Oklahoman]

Legislation to increase access to ophthalmic medications passes House committee: State Rep. Ryan Martinez, R-Edmond, advanced a measure to allow optometric physicians to dispense ophthalmic medications in their clinics. House Bill 3862 passed the House Business and Commerce Committee by a vote of 17-0. [Edmond Sun]

Lawmaker pitches nocturnal coyote hunting legislation: A rural Oklahoma lawmaker is proposing legislation that would make it legal to hunt coyotes at night to protect cattle herds from the predators. Murdock said ranchers can legally shoot coyotes during the day, but it’s currently forbidden at night — unless landowners obtain a depredation permit. [Norman Transcript]

Corporation Commission considering rules to require public notice from more injection well operators: Production or disposal wells pumping less than 5,000 gallons of water into the ground per day would have to go through a hearing if they’re within 1 mile of a public water supply. For wells injecting more than 5,000 barrels, the distance would be 2 miles. The current distance for all is half a mile. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Commercial navigation still faces restrictions on Arkansas River waterway: Commercial navigation along the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System is expected to remain limited by tow size and be restricted to daylight hours-only through March, a Tulsa Port of Catoosa Director David Yarbrough said. [Tulsa World]

OG&E submits plan to improve grid: Oklahoma Gas and Electric announced Monday an $810 million, five-year plan to modernize the state’s electric grid that would raise customer rates immediately, but save the utility and its customers money in the long run. [Journal Record????]

Experience shows as OKC Public School Board encounters new challenges: The Board of Education for Oklahoma City Public Schools discussed the district’s strategic plan and the core concepts of a bond issue with unique ease in a work session Monday night. [Free Press OKC]

Kiowa Tribe charters historic state Indian college: The Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma is chartering the state’s oldest operating institution of higher learning. The Kiowa Tribe agreed Thursday to charter Bacone College when Tribe Chairman Matthew Komalty and College President Dr. Ferlin Clark signed an agreement at the tribe’s headquarters in Carnegie. [Lawton Constitution]

Judge blocks University North Park vote in Norman: A judge Monday blocked a citywide vote on the future of development at University North Park. Cleveland County District Judge Jeff Virgin agreed with four former mayors that organizers of a petition drive did not give the public sufficient information when they gathered signatures for a vote. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“The Legislature has taken important steps to aid criminal justice reform, but the changes implemented over the last few years won’t be as effective without focusing on our recidivism rate as well.”

-Rep. Marilyn Stark, R-Bethany, about her bill to provide state ID cards to those released from incarceration [FOX25]

Number of the Day


The percentage change for nonviolent crime in Oklahoma from 2010 to 2018

[Source: Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

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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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