In The Know: Fee for Governor’s Medicaid plan unveiled; raising cap for state’s saving account proposed; and 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. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

Don’t save – Invest!: Governor Stitt is to be commended for thinking about the future. His vision, however, is incompatible with his often-repeated vision of making Oklahoma a Top Ten state. We cannot save our way to better education, health, and economic outcomes. Prosperity comes from wise investments based on actual need. [OK Policy]

OK Policy Statement on SB 1046 – Funding for Governor’s Medicaid Proposal: Lawmakers did the right thing when SB 1046 was not taken up on Wednesday, and this measure should remain tabled. Introduced less than 24 hours before today’s committee meeting, this bill provided a funding mechanism for the governor’s alternative Medicaid plan — a plan the public and most lawmakers have not fully seen. Read the full statement.

Policy Matters: Recognizing the uneven playing field: As Black History Month draws to a close, I think it’s important to shine a light on Oklahoma’s unique history with black-owned businesses and how those impacts are still felt in our state today. write these words less than a mile away from Tulsa’s Greenwood District, which was nationally recognized for its affluent black-owned business and earned the nickname “Black Wall Street for its concentrated wealth. [Ahniwake Rose / Journal Record]

In The News

‘Negotiations are ongoing’: Fee for Governor’s Medicaid plan unveiled amid managed care debate: Meetings of the House and Senate Joint Committees on Appropriations and Budget fizzled Wednesday, as complex negotiations over Gov. Kevin Stitt’s proposed Medicaid program waiver delayed consideration of a bill to expand a hospital fee that would help fund Oklahoma’s portion of Medicaid expansion. [NonDoc] GOP leadership in Oklahoma’s House and Senate scheduled the bills to be voted on in committee Wednesday, but the votes were delayed following opposition from Oklahoma hospitals. [The Oklahoman] OK Policy: Lawmakers have had nearly a decade to decide how to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma, and taxpayers deserve the opportunity to have their elected officials thoughtfully evaluate important financial matters rather than rushing them through committee. We renew our call on the governor’s office to respect the will of Oklahoma voters by setting an election date for SQ 802, which calls for straightforward Medicaid expansion.

Bill that would allow Oklahoma voters to raise cap in savings account heads to Senate floor: A measure asking voters to raise the amount sent to the state’s saving account is headed to the Senate floor. The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday voted 15-4 to pass Senate Joint Resolution 30, drafted by Sen. Joe Newhouse, R-Broken Arrow. [Tulsa World] OK Policy: Oklahomans should demand that their elected officials invest wisely, so our state can live up to the future we deserve. 

Committee deadline tomorrow: Turnpike speed limit, gun restrictions among bills considered in Oklahoma: Oklahoma legislators filed 2,243 bills and resolutions for the 2020 session. House bills must be advanced by a House committee and Senate bills must be advanced by a Senate committee to remain under consideration after the close of business Thursday, Feb. 27. [Tulsa World] Make sure to check out OK Policy’s Legislative Primer for information about how Oklahoma’s legislative process works. 

Initiative petition bill advances: House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, is author of House Bills 3826 and 3827 to improve the initiative and referendum petition processes used to place state questions on the ballot in Oklahoma. HB 3827 addresses a lack of transparency in campaign finance for state questions. HB 3826 requires the initiative and referendum signature gathering form to include each signatory’s printed first name, last name, ZIP code, house number, and month and day of birth. [Journal Record ????]

State constitution: Measure would ask Oklahoma voters to limit pain, suffering damages: A measure that asks voters to amend the state constitution to cap pain and suffering damages in civil lawsuits at $350,000 is headed to the Senate floor. The Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday passed Senate Joint Resolution 40, by Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville, by a vote of 7-2. [Tulsa World]

State civil service reform measure advances: The dismantling of state government’s venerable civil service structure continued moving forward Wednesday with the advancement of House Bill 3094, by Rep. Mike Osburn, R-Edmond, from committee. In its current form, the bill would phase out the existing merit protection system by putting all new employees and current employees who opt to do so under a newly created Human Capital Management Administration. [Tulsa World]

Stitt signs private-school scholarship bill despite privacy concerns: Gov. Kevin Stitt signed House Bill 1230 into law Tuesday, requiring private schools to provide information about recipients of the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship. The program, named after former Gov. Brad Henry’s daughter, offers state-funded scholarships to private schools for students with disabilities and to those who are in state custody, including children in foster care. [The Oklahoman]

House Bill aims to increase doctors in rural areas, includes tribal component: The House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday to help combat doctor shortages in rural areas. House Bill 3823, authored by House Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka) authorizes a $25,000 tax credit for doctors who move to a rural community to practice. [FOX25]

Nonsmoking advocates rally around bill to ban smoking in bars: Organizers of a forum held Wednesday on the economics and politics of smoke-free workplace laws hope the discussion will add momentum to a bill progressing in the Legislature that would ban, with few exceptions, smoking in restaurant bars and taverns in Oklahoma. [Journal Record ????]

Oklahoma Senate considers bills that will allow local farmers markets, home bakers more freedom: Some local bakers, farmers, and farmers markets are closely eyeing two bills in the Senate right now. One impacts regulation for farmers markets (Senate Bill 1714) and the other does the same for home bakers (Senate Bill 1785). [KFOR]

Oklahoma legislators, Cherokee Nation emphasize need to address missing and murdered Indigenous people: Activist organizations across the United States have compared incidents of missing and murdered Indigenous people to a plague, an epidemic, and a national emergency. Oklahoma state legislators and the Cherokee Nation recently pledged to end it, with bills and natives targeted at data collection and emergency response. [Claremore Daily Progress]

Hoskin lauds ‘powerful’ friendships with lawmakers on Cherokee Nation Capitol visit: Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. addressed both chambers of the Oklahoma legislature Wednesday as Cherokee Nation officials visited the capitol. Cherokee Nation officials have made an annual visit to the capitol for years, but this one comes in the midst of the dispute over gaming compacts with Gov. Kevin Stitt. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Proposed legislation could bolster Oklahoma’s electric vehicle industry: Two bills intended to help Oklahoma’s electric vehicle industry are moving through the state Legislature. If they become law, EV engineers could avoid paying part of the state income tax if they settle in Oklahoma, and companies that invest in EV technology could receive tax breaks. [KGOU]

Resolution to make Oklahoma 2nd amendment sanctuary state advances: A resolution to make Oklahoma a second amendment sanctuary state advances to the Senate floor. Senate Joint Resolution 16 would change the state constitution to, according to the author, prevent any new laws that would weaken Oklahomans rights to have guns. [News9]

Atheists, Christians clash at Capitol over ‘In God we trust’: A small group of atheists held signs and wandered the Capitol on Wednesday attempting to persuade lawmakers that “In God we trust” doesn’t belong on state buildings. [CNHI / McAlester News-Capital]

Holt focuses 2020 State of the City speech on idea of ‘collaborative conversation’ to improve public schools: Mayor David Holt said Wednesday he would be gathering city, business, educational and philanthropic leaders together with the goal of producing a “unified vision” for public education in Oklahoma City. [The Oklahoman] ‘Triumphant’: MAPS 4 investment celebrated in State of the City address. [Journal Record ????]

Parents voice concerns about proposed changes to Tulsa Public Schools’ Indian Education Program: Parents are voicing their concerns about proposed changes to Tulsa Public Schools’ Indian Education Program. [NewsOn6]

Oklahoma colleges get creative to support mental health treatment as need grows: Experts have taken notice of the rise in depression and anxiety on college campuses. A 2019 Chronicle of Higher Education report estimates about 80% of Generation Z students have mild to moderate anxiety or depression. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Demanding action: OU students sit in at Evans Hall overnight: The group of students and faculty started small Wednesday morning, barely spilling out of the OU provost’s suite as they sat in protest. By 5 p.m., the group had swelled to more than 100 students, faculty and staff, most sitting on the ground throughout the first and second levels of Evans Hall. [Norman Transcript] OU Evans Hall sit-in: Inside a historic day — and night — for a campus in crisis amid demands for change. [OU Daily]

Tribal jurisdiction on Supreme Court docket again with McGirt v. Oklahoma: Oral arguments in a case that could reshape tribal justice in eastern Oklahoma have been set to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on April 21. The case, McGirt v. Oklahoma, argues under the Indian Major Crimes Act the state does not have the authority to prosecute convicted child rapist Jimcy McGirt. [KGOU]

Early voting for Oklahoma presidential primary begins Thursday: Early voting is available at all county election board offices statewide. Early voting is from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. There is no early voting Monday. All regular polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“To double the cap when we have so many critical needs I think is dangerous”

-Sen. J.J. Dossett, D-Owasso, speaking about a proposal to increase the state’s Rainy Day Fund cap [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Total number of Black children in Oklahoma in 2018 — 8% of the total Oklahoma child population.

[Source: KIDS COUNT]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Black History Month: Greenwood District & 1921 Race Massacre: Starting as a simple land acquisition by black entrepreneur O.W. Gurley, Greenwood, in just over a decade, had become one of the most vibrant hubs of African American business in the country. After much of it was destroyed in the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, many residents would stay and rebuild, and the area would eventually regain much of its former glory. But a decline followed, brought on by desegregation and other factors. Today, the area is receiving renewed attention and projects are underway to promote its historic value. [Tulsa World] Decades would pass before the event was openly discussed in Tulsa or taught in its schools. With accounts of deaths that number into the hundreds, a city effort to search for possible burial sites of victims was launched last year and remains ongoing. [Tulsa World]

February is Black History Month — a time to celebrate and reflect on contributions Black men and women have made to American history and the struggle for freedom and equality. To commemorate Black History Month, we have highlighted relevant content in our Number of the Day and Policy Note sections during the month. #BlackHistoryMonth

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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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