In The Know: Estimated 270,000 low-income Oklahomans could lose SoonerCare | Oklahoma voted second most conservative legislature in U.S. | Capitol Update | 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. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

Years of unrestored budget cuts have kept vital state agencies underfunded (Capitol Update): During the decade downturn in the state’s economy, state agencies were hollowed out. When the economy turned around, the governor insisted on agencies submitting flat budget requests to the legislature and “saving” the increased revenue in various accounts. Then he used the “savings” to demand tax cuts. It may be a good idea to discuss reorganizing state government, but legislators might choose instead to adequately fund the government we have. Doing more with less has limits. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

Pandemic Protections Ending for Oklahomans Covered By SoonerCare: After a summer pause to expand outreach efforts to SoonerCare members, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority has resumed an unwinding process to pare an estimated 270,000 low-income Oklahomans who kept Medicaid coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • This year’s Affordable Care Act enrollment is different: What you need to know [The Hill via KFOR]
  • To help Oklahomans stay connected to Medicaid (SoonerCare), OK Policy and Together Oklahoma hosted the online OK Wellness Watch event along with statewide partners focused on helping Oklahomans stay healthy. [More Information]

State Government News

Oklahoma has the second-most conservative Legislature in the US. Here’s how local lawmakers responded: According to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Oklahoma ranks as the second-most conservative Legislature in the country, behind West Virginia. Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, praised the rating Monday and attributed the state’s standing to “almost a decade of hard work to champion conservative principles here in Oklahoma.” [The Oklahoman]

Attorney general’s office ‘exploring options’ after Oklahoma loses Title X funding: The state attorney general’s office is “exploring options” after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suspended the Oklahoma Department of Health’s Title X grant and now apparently has awarded money to an out-of-state agency for the provision of family planning services in Oklahoma. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Treasurer Todd Russ increases state funds invested in Israel: In response to a request from the Israeli government, the Treasurer’s Office purchased a $10 million bond from the country last week, which will bring the state’s total investment to $62.5 million. [Oklahoma Voice]

Oklahoma lawmakers eye bills targeting edible cannabis: Legislators heard from medical professionals and health agency leadership Monday to learn more about an increase in accidental edible consumption by children and help determine what actions the Legislature can take to prevent those cases. [Journal Record]

Federal Government News

Lawmakers stress need for extension of Farm Bill during Oklahoma City forum: While hearing questions on the Farm Bill in Oklahoma, congressional members said the bill will need an extension. [KOSU]

Tribal Nations News

‘Not One More’: Commission delivers report on missing, murdered and trafficked in Indian Country: A national commission of federal and tribal experts is calling for a “Decade of Action and Healing” to help address the crisis of missing, murdered and trafficked people in Indian Country. []

Editorial: Stitt, tribes could work together regarding state income tax: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt should be more concerned with a civil working relationship with the state’s tribes than whether some Native Americans will pay state income tax. A case winding its way through the courts could determine whether tribal members living on tribal land while working for their tribe are required to pay state income tax. [Editorial / Muskogee Phoenix]

Voting and Election News

Stitt Creates Campaign Finance and Election Threats Task Force: Outside groups spent at least $33.6 million in Oklahoma elections during the 2022 cycle, with much of that being poured into the gubernatorial race, according to an analysis from The Frontier. That’s nearly two times what outside groups spent in the 2018 cycle. Despite the staggering increase, the 2023 session came and passed without legislative action to reign in dark money spending. [Oklahoma Watch]

Health News

New VA clinic to open in 2024 at Vinita Health Center: The Cherokee Nation and Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System have announced an agreement that will provide a VA clinic for area veterans inside the tribe’s Vinita Health Center. [Journal Record]

Criminal Justice News

DA District 22 updates: Hughes County Jail closed, Brent McGee investigated, Wewoka violence unfolds: The troubled Hughes County Jail has been closed, six arrests have been made related to a rash of gang violence in Wewoka, charges have been dismissed in a vacated 1987 conviction, and new information has been revealed in a host of cases involving alleged financial or sexual misconduct by former public sector employees. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma launches new safety threat reporting app: A new safety threat reporting app is coming to Oklahoma. Created through a collaboration between the state and the Oklahoma School Security Institute, the ProtectOK app allows people to anonymously report suspicious activity to law enforcement. [KOKI]

Education News

Ryan Walters’ administration tasked with offering Civil Rights Movement curriculum: A new law that took effect last week mandates that state education officials develop a curriculum on the Civil Rights Movement, a requirement that has raised doubts among Black leaders in Oklahoma. [Oklahoma Voice]

Four new charter schools applying to open in OKC: Four potential charter schools have applied to open in Oklahoma City, with three seeking to expand educational options in majority-Black neighborhoods. It marks the first time in four years that Oklahoma City Public Schools has received any charter applications. [Oklahoma Voice]

What to know about Oklahoma’s comprehensive new tutoring program for students: Oklahoma students will soon be getting the most comprehensive tutoring program in the nation, says state schools Superintendent Ryan Walters. [The Oklahoman]

General News

Final brief filed in Tulsa Race Massacre survivors’ suit: The two remaining known survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre are asking the Oklahoma Supreme Court to overturn a lower court’s decision to toss out their case. Their attorneys on Monday filed a final brief in the case pending before the state’s high court. [Tulsa World]

Want to own a former marijuana farm? Price on seized Oklahoma property has dropped drastically: Now you can get a 19-acre former marijuana farm at a big discount. The former illegal grow farm in Johnston County went on the auction block with a minimum bid of $755,006. No one was interested at that price. But now the minimum bid has been dropped to $100,000. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

Quote of the Day

“This is a group of folks that tend to rail against diversity, equity and inclusion and yet they want to develop a curriculum about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

– Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa, on new legislation mandating that state education officials develop a curriculum on the Civil Rights Movement, a requirement that has raised doubts among Black leaders in Oklahoma. [Oklahoma Voice]

Number of the Day


As of Sept 1, 2023, Oklahoma has disenrolled nearly 160,000 people from Medicaid (SoonerCare) coverage following the end of pandemic-related protections. Children represented more than 58,000 (or 36%) of these disenrollments. [KFF]

Policy Note

The Medicaid Enrollment and Unwinding Tracker: The Medicaid Enrollment and Unwinding Tracker presents the most recent data on monthly Medicaid disenrollments, renewals, overall enrollment and other key indicators reported by states during the unwinding of the Medicaid continuous enrollment provision. The unwinding data are pulled from state websites, where available, and from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Across all states with available data, 71 percent of all people disenrolled had their coverage terminated for procedural reasons. That rate in Oklahoma was 75 percent. [KFF]

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Annie Taylor joined OK Policy as a Digital Communications Associate/Storybanker in April 2022. She studied journalism and mass communication at the University of Oklahoma, and was a member of the Native American Journalists Association. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communications from the University of Central Oklahoma. While pursuing her degree, she worked in restaurant and retail management, as well as freelance copywriting and digital content production. Annie is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation, and holds a deep reverence for storytelling in the digital age. She was born and raised in southeast Oklahoma, and now lives in Oklahoma City with her dog, Melvin.

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