In The Know: Chance to expand access to care; appropriations chair shoots down OMES supplemental; legislators to study retiree COLA…

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

Oklahoma has the chance to expand access to care. Here’s why that matters: State leadership made waves in January when both Gov. Kevin Stitt and Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat suggested that they were in favor of accepting federal dollars to expand access to health coverage in Oklahoma. Although Gov. Stitt later walked his comments back, many legislators have said that they’re nonetheless still committed to some form of expansion. [OK Policy]

Prosperity Policy: Fixing a broken record: For decades, Oklahoma has convicted and incarcerated its citizens at among the highest rates in the nation. Not only are tens of thousands of Oklahomans locked away, but even more have a criminal conviction on their record that can prevent them from finding a job and providing for themselves and their families. [David Blatt / Journal Record]

Mitchell Talks: Oklahoma Criminal Justice Reform & Controversial Waiver Program: Director of Open Justice Oklahoma Ryan Gentzler joined Mitchell Talks: The News 9 Sessions with Aaron Brilbeck to reply to the February appearance of District Attorney Brian Hermanson. Scott Mitchell and Capitol chief Aaron Brilbeck discuss various aspects of justice reform including the controversial waiver program. [News9]

In The News

Senate appropriations chairman shoots down supplemental request for Office of Management and Enterprise Services: Senate Appropriations Chairman Roger Thompson on Wednesday said he currently is not inclined to provide a supplemental appropriation to the Office of Management and Enterprise Services. Representatives from the agency appeared Tuesday before a joint legislative panel to explain why the agency sought $16 million in supplemental money to get through the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. [Tulsa World] Officials with the Office of Management and Enterprise Services said the agency is behind on payments to its vendors and owes $7 million on invoices that are 60 days late. [NewsOK]

Legislators to study cost of living adjustments for Oklahoma state retirees: Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat on Wednesday said he will appoint a working group to study the viability of giving cost-of-living increases to state retirees. House Bill 2304, by Rep. Avery Frix, R-Muskogee, would provide a 4 percent cost-of-living adjustment from all six of the state’s retirement funds. [Tulsa World]

Bill in state senate would make bail more affordable: A bill being considered in the Oklahoma State Senate aims at making bail more affordable for jail inmates. It’s author, Rep. Nicole Miller, says unreasonably high bails are keeping non-violent offenders in jail longer than they need to be. [FOX25] Our research has shown that money bail costs vulnerable communities and county governments millions of dollars each year.

11 inmates flagged for “issues” during jail count: The results from a face-to-face jail count at the Oklahoma County Jail have been released in a report to Honorable Judge Thomas Prince, where eleven inmates were flagged for “issues” during the count. The count comes after a judge ordered it to be done after an inmate had been lost in the system for nearly eight months. [FOX25]

Nowata County interim sheriff appointed amid jail turmoil: A 30-year law enforcement veteran has come out of retirement to lead the beleaguered Nowata County Sheriff’s Office. Nowata County commissioners appointed Mirta Hallett on Wednesday to be interim sheriff after most of the office’s employees resigned at the start of the week amid turmoil surrounding the shuttered jail. [Tulsa World]

State troopers propose bill to help protect law enforcement officers from prosecution if a person dies in a felony vehicular pursuit: State troopers are seeking legislation to help protect law enforcement officers from possible criminal charges if a felony vehicular pursuit results in a death. But that added layer of insulation for officers isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card, according to the Oklahoma State Troopers Association, which submitted the proposed change. [Tulsa World]

Lawsuit claims medical marijuana rules are too vague: A legal challenge to Oklahoma’s recently adopted rule book for medical marijuana was filed by a nurse who says the state’s laws could jeopardize her career and business. Leslie Ann Collum is a registered nurse who owns Painted Nurse Apothecary in Edmond, described as a cannabis consultant business. Her lawsuit filed this week is the first court challenge of the 77-page Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act, signed last week by Gov. Kevin Stitt. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma’s top court hearing request to delay opioid lawsuit: Drugmakers are trying to persuade Oklahoma’s top court to postpone the trial in the state’s lawsuit accusing them of fueling the opioid epidemic. The Oklahoma Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday, a week after rejecting drugmakers’ request to immediately postpone the scheduled May 28 start. [AP News]

App promises to get people to court on time: A nonprofit organization and the Tulsa County Public Defender’s Office have partnered together on an app designed to help reduce failure-to-appear charges. Family & Children’s Services and the defender’s office are using the Uptrust app, a messaging service that allows two-way communication between the attorneys and their clients. [Journal Record]

Tulsa Beyond application for statutory, regulatory freedom outlines new model proposals for most participating high schools: The intended future for three of the four Tulsa Beyond schools is coming into focus thanks to an in-depth application seeking legal flexibility. Design teams for the Tulsa Public Schools initiative aimed at “re-imagining” high schools spent several months preparing a detailed request for more statutory and regulatory freedom. School board members will vote on whether to approve the application March 25. [Tulsa World]

Regulations on short-term rentals in Tulsa being finalized: The Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission sent back for changes Wednesday a proposed amendment to Tulsa’s zoning code dealing with short-term rentals. [Public Radio Tulsa] Property owners urge Tulsa planning commissioners not to over regulate Airbnbs and other short-term rentals. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“What happens is they, a lot of times, lose their job, they lose their ability to produce any kind of income and then sometimes they lose their homes. The far-reaching effects of that, sometimes their children go into DHS custody, and that is what we’re trying to obviously prevent.”

-Rep. Nicole Miller, R-Edmond, speaking about why she has introduced a bill to make bail more affordable so Oklahomans don’t end up waiting for weeks in jail before ever seeing a judge [Source: Fox 25]

Number of the Day


The annual cost of drug court per participant in Oklahoma, compared to $19,000 per person for incarceration.

[Source: ODMHSAS]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Family Dollar was once considered “Amazon-proof.” Now it’s closing hundreds of stores: Dollar stores are particularly popular in distressed areas of the US, where the middle class is eroding. While some wealthy shoppers are turning to high-end destinations, many middle-and low-income shoppers are turning away from traditional department stores like Macy’s or Sears and opting for dollar stores instead. [Vox]

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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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