In The Know: Funding for Governor’s alternative Medicaid plan appears dead; pension increase for state retirees moving forward; 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.

In The News

Republican proposal to fund Stitt’s Medicaid expansion plan appears dead: A funding plan for Gov. Kevin Stitt’s proposed Medicaid expansion appears to be dead. Republicans earlier this week filed a bill that would increase the fees paid by hospitals to draw down additional federal dollars. Enacted in 2011, the Supplemental Hospital Offset Payment Program, known as SHOPP, can assess a fee on hospitals of up to 4% of annual net patient revenue. Some 65 hospitals participate. [Tulsa World] 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.

COLA compromise: Public pension boost based on longevity: A compromise over how much to hike payments to retired public employees would provide different cost of living adjustments based upon how long individuals have been receiving benefits. Called a COLA, a cost of living adjustment has not been approved for teacher, police, firefighter, judicial and other retired public employees in 12 years. [NonDoc] OK Policy has identified a cost of living adjustment for state retirees as one of its 2020 Legislative Focus areas. Issue summary (PDF) | Additional resources

Hamilton: People need to decide fate of Medicaid expansion: In the life or death world of health care, what could possibly go wrong? This is a question worth exploring in light of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s obsession with derailing State Question 802, the proposed constitutional amendment that would expand Medicaid. [Arnold Hamilton / Journal Record ????]

Attorneys for death row inmates file motion, say 150-day stay is still in place: Oklahoma’s new execution protocol is “incomplete,” attorneys representing Oklahoma’s death row prisoners said on Thursday, saying that information provided by the state so far “does not comply” with a 2015 joint stipulation dismissing the inmates’ former lawsuit. [The Frontier]

Federal judge rejects requests by two tribes to join lawsuit against Gov. Stitt: An Oklahoma City federal judge has rejected requests by two tribes to join a tribal gaming lawsuit against Gov. Kevin Stitt. At issue in the lawsuit is whether the state’s 15-year gaming compacts with more than 30 Oklahoma tribes expired on Jan. 1 or automatically renewed on that date. [The Oklahoman]

(Audio) Super Tuesday, tribal gaming funds, Dove Charter School & more: This week’s episode discusses Oklahoma’s involvement in the upcoming Super Tuesday Presidential Primary, a call to the Attorney General on whether Governor Stitt can keep tribal gaming funds in an escrow without putting them in state coffers and Stitt signs his first bill of 2020 to increase transparency in private school money from public dollars. [KOSU]

Universal Occupational Licensing Act moves to Senate floor: The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Universal Occupational Licensing Recognition Act Wednesday night.  Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, authored the bill to help attract more professionals to move and work in Oklahoma. [CNHI / Edmond Sun]

Bill would create state-sponsored retirement plan: A bill making headway in the Oklahoma Legislature proposes to establish a state-sponsored trust fund to help people save for retirement. State Sen. John Michael Montgomery, R-Lawton, said his goal in authoring Senate Bill 1890 was to address rising concerns for more than half of Oklahomans who report working for businesses that do not offer workplace retirement plans. [Journal Record ????]

Oklahoma Representative advocates for mental health resources for first responders: An Oklahoma State Representative has spent the last four years advocating to get first responders the mental health resources they need. Currently in Oklahoma, a mental injury for first responders only qualifies for workers comp if you have a physical injury to go along with it. Representative Josh West wants that to change. [NewsOn6]

Utilities Committee passes bill to limit telemarketers and scam calls: The House Utilities Committee today passed legislation to prevent telemarketers from replicating phone numbers and misrepresenting the origin of a phone call. House Bill 3081, authored by Rep. Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow, would prohibit callers from tampering with information displayed on caller IDs to disguise their identities. [CNHI / Woodward News]

Guns and undocumented immigrants dominate committee ahead of legislative deadline: Worried about gun-grabbers and undocumented immigrants, the Oklahoma House of Representatives’ Public Safety Committee slammed through a series of bills Thursday that would make it harder for anyone except the Legislature to control firearms and would allow seizure of some undocumented immigrants’ vehicles while penalizing towns that offer them refuge. [Tulsa World] House committee chair uses amendments to push through two gun bills on deadline day. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Cali’s Law: Shelter animals could be designated as Oklahoma state pet: A lawmaker authors a bill that would make shelter animals, or rescue pets, the state pet of Oklahoma. State Rep. Mark McBride filed House Bill 3971 and named it after his own rescue dog, Cali. [KOAM News Now]

Oklahoma awarded $16 million for emergency road, bridge repairs: The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded Oklahoma just over $16 million in emergency relief funds to “make repairs to roads and bridges damaged by storms, floods, mudslides or other unexpected events.” [The Oklahoman]

Gathering input: Student advisory council recommends individualized curriculum, additional counseling staff: Three Carter County teens traveled to Oklahoma City last week as part of a state-level advisory council to give student perspective to education officials. For the three local students who all attended the Friday meeting, providing individualized curriculum for students and more counseling staff for schools could be keys in improving the quality of public education in Oklahoma. [The Ardmoreite]

Epic Charter grads less likely to enroll in college: In a five-month investigation into Epic’s college-going rates, Oklahoma Watch found that fewer than one in five 2019 graduates enrolled in a public Oklahoma college or university last fall. Its rate was lower than rates for all of the state’s 10 largest school districts, according to an Oklahoma Watch analysis of education data. [Oklahoma Watch] Where Epic, school districts sent high school graduates to college. [Oklahoma Watch]

University of Oklahoma students want change — in the form of a new provost: What started as a protest over two incidents of professors using the N-word during class has escalated into a student sit-in Oklahoma’s central administration building and calls for Provost Kyle Harper to resign. The university says it won’t happen. [Inside Higher Ed] Demonstrator motivation remains high on second night of protest. [OU Daily]

Tulsa World Editorial: Innocent but televised for your entertainment: The A&E program “Live PD” sometimes features innocent people, although viewers may not always realize it. Sometimes, it takes a while to figure out if people in the path of police are really of any interest to law enforcement. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]

Majority of councilors support putting police oversight monitor to a vote of the people: A majority of city councilors say they would support allowing Tulsans to vote on whether to establish a police oversight program, according to interviews conducted by the Tulsa World. Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper said earlier this week she plans to propose an amendment to the city charter that would establish an Office of the Independent Monitor based on the one pitched by Mayor G.T. Bynum, but with significant differences. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma County keeping costs low for upcoming vote on Sunday liquor sales: Putting together an election is costly. But Oklahoma County is piggybacking a countywide vote on Sunday liquor sales with the presidential primary election Tuesday, keeping costs low. [The Oklahoman]

OKC parks could be boosted by Tuesday sales tax vote: While it might not get as much attention as who will win Oklahoma’s Democratic primary, Oklahoma City voters could take a big step toward boosting their parks department Tuesday. [NonDoc]

CAIR-OK to host 6th annual Oklahoma Muslim Day at the Capitol: This years’ Muslim Day at the Capitol focuses on local level civic engagement with a keynote address from Norman Mayor Breea Clark and an advocacy training talk by Kyle Lawson of Oklahoma Policy Institute. [The City Sentinel]

Quote of the Day

“It is also an indication that there is a bipartisan skepticism that this alternative to traditional Medicaid expansion is going to really serve the people of Oklahoma.”

-Rep. Forrest Bennett, D-Oklahoma City, speaking about the Governor’s alternative Medicaid proposal [Tulsa World

Number of the Day

$435 million

The accumulated state budget savings since 2001 due to a 64 percent decline in youth detention costs.

[Source: Open Justice Oklahoma]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Before their day in court, poor people charged with crimes can spend years in jail: This morning Viola Bowman woke up in her cell in the Clay County jail, as she has for the past 1,778 days. The 58-year-old homemaker hasn’t been convicted of a crime and maintains her innocence. But she is charged with murder, and has been locked up for more than four years while her trial has been delayed again and again with her public defender juggling up to 227 other cases. People like Bowman spend years in jail because they don’t have money for a lawyer and their public defender is too busy to help them. Some give up and plead guilty. A lucky few make it to trial and win their freedom. [Kansas City Star]

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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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