In The Know: Fallin orders Medicaid work requirement

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.

Today In The News

Fallin orders Medicaid work requirement; details unclear: Gov. Mary Fallin signed an executive order Tuesday ordering the state Medicaid agency to try to add a work requirement, but it appears to affect only 1 percent of recipients. The order requires the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to seek a waiver allowing it to add a work requirement to the Medicaid program in the next six months [NewsOK]. 2018 Policy Priority: Stop Proposed Medicaid Work Restrictions [OK Policy]

On day West Virginia teachers end walkout, Oklahoma teachers union gives Legislature deadline for school shutdown: The success of West Virginia’s teacher walkout emboldened Oklahoma teachers to advocate for themselves, as the Oklahoma Education Association announced Tuesday evening that the state Legislature must act by April 23 or face a full work stoppage. Alicia Priest, head of the Oklahoma Education Association, said beleaguered Oklahoma public school educators have been watching the nearly two-week walkout and resulting school shutdown in West Virginia, but the 5 percent pay increase that drew that state’s strike to a close on Tuesday wouldn’t be enough here [Tulsa World]. 2018 Policy Priority: Increase Teacher Pay [OK Policy]

Oklahoma teacher: My contract said I worked 6.5 hours a day and had summers off. In my dreams: Whenever there is some disaster at a school, such as the February shooting at a South Florida high school that left 17 people dead, we hear stories about heroic teachers who sometimes give up their own lives to save the lives of their students. But aside from these moments of catastrophe, teachers have made clear in poll after poll in recent years that they feel beleaguered, blamed unfairly by their bosses for student problems that stem from their lives outside school [Washington Post]. 

Know your county better with CountySTATS 2018: What are the biggest job sectors in Oklahoma’s 77 counties? What counties have fewer residents today than they did at statehood? How does your county compare for health, income, home values, and educational attainment? The answers to these questions and more can be found in Oklahoma Policy Institute’s newly redesigned and updated CountySTATS fact sheets for 2018 [OK Policy].

Marlow mayor wins state House race: The mayor of Marlow cruised to victory Tuesday in a two-way race for the Oklahoma House, keeping the southwestern Oklahoma seat in Republican hands. Brad Boles won the election by a 72-28 margin over Charles L. Murdock, a Democrat [NewsOK].

State Lawmakers Plan to Stave Off Teachers Strike: The Oklahoma Education Association is giving the legislature an April 23 deadline to come up with a plan for raises, or teachers will strike. State lawmakers are working to stave off a teacher strike. Legislative leaders met with the governor and discussed ideas Tuesday morning after they failed to reach the 75 percent majority needed to raise taxes for a teacher pay increase [News 9]. Lawmakers weigh in on possible teacher strike at Oklahoma Capitol [KOCO].

Gubernatorial candidates weigh in on potential teacher walkout: Republican gubernatorial candidate Mick Cornett said Monday night that he would not support a potential walkout by the state’s teachers over pay. “I sympathize with the plight of teachers,” said Cornett, the mayor of Oklahoma City. Oklahoma Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones, a Republican running for governor, said Tuesday that a walkout was avoidable [NewsOK].

Fallin and DAs Champion Criminal Justice Legislation, But Reform Advocates Are Asking What The Bills Do: Gov. Mary Fallin on Monday announced a compromise between district attorneys and Republican lawmakers on six bills they say will reduce Oklahoma’s prison population while maintaining public safety. One criminal justice reform advocacy group is criticizing the timing of the announcement because the bills’ language still hasn’t been made public [StateImpact Oklahoma]. 2018 Policy Priority: Pass Smart On Crime Reforms [OK Policy]

Legislature Moving to Consolidate Oklahoma State Bureaus of Investigation, Narcotics: Both chambers of the legislature are taking a run at consolidating the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs into one agency. House Bill 2910 essentially proposes folding OBNDD into OSBI. Rep. Bobby Cleveland said there are too many state agencies and too much duplication of effort [Public Radio Tulsa].

Oklahoma Opioid Deaths Continue To Rise: New data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests drug overdose deaths declined in some states — but not in Oklahoma. Drug overdose deaths dropped in 14 states, making health officials hopeful that policies aimed at curbing the death toll may be working. But preliminary numbers from CDC show drug overdose deaths in Oklahoma rose by 12 percent, to 844 people [StateImpact Oklahoma].

Oklahoma considers ‘Stand Your Ground’ for churches: House lawmakers on Tuesday approved legislation that would expand civil lawsuit immunity to Oklahoma churches when someone uses a gun or other deadly force in self-defense. State law — known as the “Stand Your Ground Law” — already shields businesses and property from lawsuits stemming from an accidental injury or death by someone who was acting in self-defense on that property. House Bill 2632 adds “place of worship” to the list [NewsOK].

Sales tax extends gains in Oklahoma City: Ten months and counting. Oklahoma City sales tax has posted year-over-year monthly gains for 10 consecutive months. Sales tax was up 6.4 percent for the February reporting period [NewsOK].

Organization makes big donation to help keep arts in Oklahoma City schools: Students in the Oklahoma City Public School district will have more opportunities to get involved in the arts after a major donation. This school year, numerous organizations came together to help keep the arts in classrooms with the ‘Arts Partnership’ after budget cuts put those programs in jeopardy [KFOR].

The States Where Democrats Are Overperforming Most — And Least — In Special Elections: Things are about to get exciting again for election junkies. Next week, we’ll be treated to the first congressional election since December’s contest for one of Alabama’s U.S. Senate seats: a special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District. And another Democratic upset could be in the works: Polls show a tight race in this very Trumpy district that includes Pittsburgh ’burbs and rural areas in the southwestern corner of the state [FiveThirtyEight].

Scott Pruitt traveled first class a few times while Oklahoma attorney general: Scott Pruitt, who has come under criticism in recent weeks for his first-class airfare, traveled first class on a few occasions as Oklahoma’s attorney general, according to documents obtained by The Oklahoman. Thousands of pages of travel logs, emails and expense reports obtained Tuesday in an open records request show the Republican attorney general took about 80 trips between 2012 and when he left office last February [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“The walkout in West Virginia has really given educators, teachers, support professionals, a sense of solidarity and a sense of knowing that they need to work together with a unified voice. It really does embolden us to advocate.”

– Alicia Priest, head of the Oklahoma Education Association, on a teacher walkout planned for April 23rd if no teacher pay raise is passed before that date (Source)

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s ranking in a US News & World report assessment of how well states are meeting their residents’ health care needs

Source: US News & World Report

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How Lenders are Turning Low-Level Courts into “Debt Collection Mills”: On Christmas Eve in 2013, an out-of-work welder named Rex Iverson was rushed to a Utah hospital. He survived, but was hit with a hefty bill for the ambulance ride. There is a widespread assumption that that indigent patients never have to pay emergency room bills they can’t afford, and instead the cost is passed on to those with insurance. But in fact, companies and municipalities pursue such debts aggressively [The Intercept].

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Ryan Gentzler worked at OK Policy from January 2016 until November 2022. He last served as the organization's Reserach Director and oversaw Open Justice Oklahoma. He began at OK Policy as an analyst focusing on criminal justice issues, including sentencing, incarceration, court fines and fees, and pretrial detention. Open Justice Oklahoma grew out of Ryan’s groundbreaking analysis of court records, which was used to inform critical policy debates. A native Nebraskan, he holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Oklahoma and a BA in Institutions and Policy from William Jewell College. He served as an OK Policy Research Fellow in 2014-2015.

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