In The Know: Fallout from Medicaid work rules; lawmakers commit to education funding; deaths linked to meth have surged…
In 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
Okla. missing opportunities to reduce the child uninsured rate: All children should be able to see a doctor or fill a prescription when they need to. After all, access to quality health care in childhood makes it more likely that a person will succeed and thrive throughout their life. But in Oklahoma, children are less likely to have access to health care than their peers in most other states. [Carly Putnam / Enid News & Eagle]
In The News
Loss of Medicaid coverage in Arkansas raises questions in Oklahoma: Oklahoma’s eastern neighbor is facing fallout from its Medicaid work requirements, but state officials said that won’t be the case here. Thousands of Medicaid beneficiaries in Arkansas have lost coverage for not complying with that state’s work requirements. [Journal Record] This year, OK Policy released a report in partnership with the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families which found that Oklahoma’s proposed work reporting rule would largely harm mothers and children.
Senate leader: Despite ‘fear mongering,’ lawmakers committed to education funding: Legislative leaders on Tuesday vowed to continue the funding strides made earlier this year in education, but they also hope to work on reforms. Senate President Pro Tem-designate Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, said there is a lot of “fear mongering” going on, at least on social media, that the Legislature will back out of investments made in education. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” Treat said. [Tulsa World]
‘It’s our No. 1 killer’: Deaths linked to meth have surged in Oklahoma: As Oklahoma has gotten a foothold in its battle with opioids, the number of people dying from methamphetamine use has skyrocketed and more people are seeking addiction treatment. The synthetic drug had a part in 330 overdose deaths in 2017 — up 136 percent from 2012. Experts say methamphetamine is tied to more deaths than any other single drug in Oklahoma, but compared to opioids it receives little attention. [The Frontier]
Leapfrog says only one in four Oklahoma hospitals gets an A for quality: A national ranking group says only one-quarter of Oklahoma hospitals deserve an A for quality, but some contend the grading system ignores the efforts of small hospitals. Leapfrog Group, which compiles report cards for hospitals nationwide twice a year, recently ranked the 50 states based on the percentage of hospitals that it had given an A. [NewsOK]
Oklahoma tobacco trust appoints interim director: The trust that oversees Oklahoma’s anti-tobacco programs named its spokeswoman and legislative liaison as interim director. The Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust’s board appointed Julie Bisbee to serve as interim director until the board hires a permanent replacement. [NewsOK]
Sticker shock: ‘High demand’ increasing medical marijuana prices: As the first cannabis harvest hits shelves, medical marijuana patients are experiencing sticker shock at dispensaries. “It’s a supply and demand issues I would say,” said Chip Paul, chairman of Oklahomans for Health and a medical marijuana advocate. “Some people crying about the price being high will be glad when it drops.” [Enid News & Eagle] Some Oklahoma medical marijuana dispensaries are now selling products. [NewsOK 🔒]
Health experts offering free flu shots as flu season continues: As flu season ramps up, health officials are hoping a free flu shot clinic will stop it from spreading across the Sooner State. On Wednesday, the Oklahoma State Department of Health reported that there have been 84 hospitalizations since the start of the flu season in September. During that same time span, three people have died from the virus. [KFOR]
Wheat crop continues to shrink in Oklahoma: In a trend that has been growing for several years, Oklahoma farms are bringing in less wheat. This year Oklahoma’s wheat harvest was 28.6 million bushels less than last year. In 2018, 70 million bushels were harvested in comparison to 98.6 million bushels in 2017. Crops such as cotton, soybean, corn and sorghum are being planted on land that once grew wheat. [Tulsa World]
Kingfisher County Commissioners ask Oklahoma’s Supreme Court to reconsider its oil, gas decision: Kingfisher County commissioners are asking Oklahoma’s Supreme Court to reconsider an order it issued in mid-November that ruled state law gives the Oklahoma Corporation Commission exclusive authority to regulate oil and gas operations. Effectively, the commissioners are arguing the ruling takes away authority county officials are required to exercise under state law. [NewsOK 🔒]
Oklahoma City Metro takes big step toward regional public transit: Moore became the sixth and final city to approve a new government entity called the Regional Transit Authority, or RTA, on December 3. Moore joined Edmond, Del City, Norman, Midwest City and Oklahoma City— a major milestone in an effort to connect the Oklahoma City metro through public transit. [KGOU] U.S. Fleet Tracking is donating a program that provides live GPS data for the MAPS 3 streetcar system, which is scheduled to launch Dec. 14. [Journal Record]
Hobby Lobby to lease St. Gregory’s campus to OBU: The sale of a closed private university is now complete. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. purchased the campus property of St. Gregory’s University on Tuesday for $8 million. In a prepared statement, the craft-supply company said its immediate plan is to lease the property to Oklahoma Baptist University while a long-term use is developed. The former St. Gregory’s campus is about a mile west of OBU in Shawnee. [Journal Record]
Tulsa School Board approves expansions of three public charter schools: Tulsa public charter schools are set to grow by nearly 900 students combined over the next five years. The Tulsa school board approved the expansion of three public charter schools. Tulsa Honor Academy will start the five-year rollout of a high school next year, while Collegiate Hall will begin adding pre-K through third grades and Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences will start offering sixth grade in 2020. [Public Radio Tulsa]
Tribe’s Free Press Act might be restored: After a month without it, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation may be reinstating its Free Press Act. The Muscogee (Creek) National Council’s Business, Finance and Justice Committee is scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and among the items on its agenda is a bill, NCA 18-184, which would rescind NCA 18-180 and reinstate the tribe’s Free Press Act as previously written. [Journal Record]
US Supreme Court seeks more details in Oklahoma case: The U.S. Supreme Court is asking new questions in a case that will decide whether an Oklahoma-based Indian tribe retains control over a vast swath of eastern Oklahoma. The court on Tuesday asked attorneys for both the U.S. and Muscogee (Creek) Nation to file written answers to questions in the case that involves a Native American man sentenced to death for murder in state court. [AP News]
Quote of the Day
“You might catch a train from Oklahoma City to Edmond and then you may get a shuttle or a scooter or something like that to go to UCO.”
-John Sharp, Deputy Director of the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments, speaking about efforts to create a regional public transit system for the OKC metro area. Sharp said residents may one day be able to get around without a car. [KGOU]
Number of the Day
Number of counties in Oklahoma where the median household income decreased from 2016 to 2017, while it increased in 40 counties.
During Obamacare enrollment in the Trump Era, states face greater challenges: In the sixth year of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), many states have two big hurdles to overcome: less federal funding for outreach and advertising, and people who may choose to be uninsured now that there’s no tax penalty for lacking health coverage. [Governing]
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