In The Know: Controversial Medicaid rule change returns; interim OU president named; budget bills advance…

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

Increased federal funding gives child subsidy a much-needed boost: Parents who seek child care for infants and toddlers face a common conundrum. Without child care parents cannot work, yet many working families cannot afford the costly child care they need to maintain employment. This is why helping families who earn low-incomes get access to quality child care is so important. Having access to quality child care means that not only can parents stay in the workforce, but children can learn the skills they need to be school ready. [OK Policy]

In The News

Oklahoma Health Care Authority resuscitates controversial rule to check Medicaid eligibility by mail: The Oklahoma Health Care Authority is again considering a controversial rule that would terminate health coverage for Oklahomans if their mail is undelivered. OHCA, which administers the state’s Medicaid program, is set to consider an emergency rule change during a special board meeting on Tuesday that would end benefits if letters sent to enrollees are returned as undeliverable. [The Frontier]

Dean Joseph Harroz Jr., former OU general counsel, named interim president: Joseph Harroz Jr., dean of the College of Law at the University of Oklahoma, will serve as its next president. Harroz, who was a finalist for the position last year when it was given to James Gallogly, will begin his term immediately as an interim. [Norman Transcript] The choice raises additional questions about the board’s handling of sexual misconduct investigations surrounding former President David Boren and former Vice President Tripp Hall. [NonDoc]

Budget bills advance in Oklahoma Legislature: A Republican lawmaker inserted language into the proposed state budget package to scrap an April 1 statutory deadline to fund common education. The public on Thursday got its first look at the details of a state budget agreement announced the day before by Republican legislative leaders and Gov. Kevin Stitt. [NewsOK] It isn’t easy to find, but a $1.5 million line item for the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission is tucked into the proposed $8.13 billion general appropriation bill launched into the legislative process late Thursday. [Tulsa World]

Bill to make SQ780 reforms retroactive back on track: With the end of session in sight, Oklahoma lawmakers now appear poised to pass legislation making a voter-approved criminal justice reform retroactive. A sticking point on making State Question 780 retroactive was how to resentence hundreds of people sent to prison when their drug and property crimes were felonies. [Public Radio Tulsa] If the bill becomes law, within 30 days the Oklahoma Department of Corrections would be required to forward a list of affected inmates to the state Pardon and Parole Board. [Journal Record ????]

A target of Gov. Stitt’s first executive orders, state airplane sells for $1.2 million: One of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s first executive orders was to sell the state’s airplane. The 1990 Beech B300 King Air cost about $1 million a year to use and maintain, said Stitt, a pilot. It had been used by former Gov. Mary Fallin and previous governors. It was purchased in 1997 when Gov. Frank Keating was in office. [Tulsa World]

Pinnell lays out plan for improving state education during Enid visit: In his first visit to Enid since taking office, Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell spoke to Greater Enid Parent Legislative Action Committee during its monthly meeting Thursday at Autry Technology Center. Pinnell said improving Oklahoma public schools is a top priority, and he laid out his plan for achieving growth in the area, by focusing on the relationship between education, business and tourism. [Enid News & Eagle]

‘Precedent setting’ opioid trial to begin in Oklahoma: A case that could signal the outcome of a flood of litigation against opioid drug manufacturers begins May 28th in Oklahoma. The bench trial is poised to be the first of its kind to play out in court. Okla. Attorney General Mike Hunter’s suit alleges Johnson and Johnson and Teva pharmaceuticals helped ignite a public health crisis that has killed thousands of state residents. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Things to know about new measles case, outbreaks and vaccination policies: With the state’s first confirmed measles case this year and hundreds of cases in other states, vaccination rates and public health policies are back in the spotlight. Here are answers to some common questions about the measles outbreak, the first confirmed Oklahoma case and the state’s vaccination policies. [Oklahoma Watch]

Citizen group crunches the numbers to help Tulsa 911 center run smoother: An analysis looked for ways to get calls answered faster and reduce burnout at Tulsa’s 911 center. Oral Roberts University students participating in the City of Tulsa’s Urban Data Pioneers, a program meant to boost the use of data in policy decisions, looked at two years of calls to see when people call the most and whether staffing can be tweaked to help hit answering time targets. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Ride of Silence honors those cyclists killed by autos: The first ever Ride of Silence in downtown Oklahoma City Wednesday evening joined with other Ride of Silence events worldwide. “The ride of silence is to honor and memorialize those pedestrians and cyclists who have been killed or even just suffered injuries on our streets,” organizer Tony Carfang told Free Press. [Free Press OKC]

New Achille mayor will not face charges for December arrest: Authorities in Bryan County say charges will not be filed against the new Achille mayor following his arrest in December. In December, then- Achille councilman Lynn Chambers was arrested after police said they discovered 200 grams of meth, two pounds of marijuana, and several guns on his property. [KFOR]

Does Citizens United apply to Cherokee elections? Candidates for chief weigh in on this and other issues at televised forum: The three candidates for chief of the Cherokee Nation took to the airwaves Thursday night to make their cases to voters. Hosted by RSU-TV, Thursday night’s candidate forum featured eight questions to David Walkingstick, Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Dick Lay on a range of topics, but the use of limited liability corporations in campaigning popped up early and often. [Tulsa World]

Mental health training for police introduced by Oklahoma lawmakers: Two members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation  — Republican Senator Jim Inhofe and Democratic Representative Kendra Horn — have introduced bipartisan, companion bills designed to help law enforcement officers receive better training for dealing with individuals experiencing mental health crises. [NewsOK]

EPA watchdog suggests agency recover $124,000 in Pruitt’s ‘excessive’ travel expenses: The Environmental Protection Agency should consider recovering nearly $124,000 in improper travel expenses by former EPA chief Scott Pruitt, the agency’s inspector general recommended Thursday. [Washington Post]

Quote of the Day

“The citizens of Oklahoma told us the number one incarceration rate in the world is not acceptable. They want low-level offenders not to be incarcerated. This bill will lower incarceration rates, but it also allows for those records to be expunged, so that people can get back into the workforce and not have to carry that felony.”

-Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, speaking about a bill to make SQ 780 retroactive that is close to final passage in the Legislature [Journal Record]

Number of the Day

21, 216

Number of people seen by mental health staff at Oklahoma County Jail with diagnosed mental health needs from May 1st of 2018 to May 1st of 2019.

[Source: Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The danger private school voucher programs pose to civil rights: Voucher supporters such as Secretary DeVos describe vouchers as providing parents with freedom of choice in education. However, some states have historically used private school voucher programs as a means to avoid racially integrating schools, as occurred during the 1950s and 1960s. More recently, evidence has shown that these programs are not effective at improving educational achievement. [American Progress]

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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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