In The Know: Gov. Fallin signs work requirement bill for some Medicaid recipients

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

Gov. Fallin signs work requirement bill for some Medicaid recipients: Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law Monday controversial legislation that could lead to work or training requirements for some Medicaid recipients. House Bill 2932, by Rep. Glen Mulready, R-Tulsa, instructs the Oklahoma Health Care Authority — administrator of the state’s Medicaid program — to seek a federal waiver allowing the same requirements for food stamp eligibility to be applied to Medicaid recipients [Tulsa World]. Most Medicaid-eligible adults who can work already do, and ​most of the rest have barriers to employment ​that ​a work requirement won’t fix [OK Policy].

Oklahoma legislators reject ethical rules restricting when they can become lobbyists: Oklahoma legislators have declared that what they do once they leave state service is none of a watchdog agency’s business. The Oklahoma Ethics Commission in February voted unanimously to bar legislators and other elected state officials from becoming lobbyists during their first two years out of office [NewsOK].

It shouldn’t be this hard to get something done to fund basic services: For the first time in 28 years legislators were able to pass a tax increase. It has taken that long to overcome the 75 percent threshold of SQ 640 that was the backlash from the ruinous economic downturn in the 1980s. But think for a minute about what it took to get that done. It should not take the threat of thirty to forty thousand teachers leaving their classrooms and literally occupying the Capitol for weeks to get something done. Now, the backlash, led by Tom Coburn, has already begun [OK Policy].

Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite!: The log in Dr. No’s eye: With a flourish, the retired Sen. Tom Coburn aka Dr. No reappeared on the state’s public stage in late March to express his outrage that the Oklahoma Legislature might have the gall to actually fund a teacher pay raise — the first in 10 years — by overcoming the absurd 75 percent threshold required [Gary Watts / NonDoc]. Will the teacher raise be delayed by a veto petition? [OK Policy]

OKC senator picked by state Democrats to lead caucus: Oklahoma Senate Democrats elected Senator Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, to be their next caucus leader for the 57th Oklahoma Legislature after John Sparks, D-Norman, ended his 12-year term last week. She began her conversation with Free Press by phone Monday by praising outgoing caucus leader Sparks as one who has been “strong and consistent.” [Oklahoma City Free Press]

770 candidates vying for 317 Oklahoma seats: Nearly 800 candidates will vie for more than 300 government seats ranging from U.S. representatives to state legislators, judges and governor, according to Oklahoma Election Board records. Following a period of candidacy declarations, withdrawals and contests of candidacies, 770 candidates running for 317 governmental seats will appear on ballots for Oklahoma’s June 26 primary elections. The last day to register for the primaries is June 1 [Cherokee Phoenix].

Oklahoma officer-involved shootings have been fatal 17 times so far this year: A Tulsa man was fatally shot by police officers on Monday, and his death marked the 17th fatal officer-involved shooting in Oklahoma this year. The Tulsa World compiled a list of the people who were killed, information about the shootings and whether the shootings have been ruled justified [Tulsa World].

State Senator Proposing New Prison Reform Program: An Oklahoma state senator is pushing for a prison reform program that’s turning some inmates into entrepreneurs, saving taxpayers millions of dollars. It’s only in Texas right now, but it’s getting national attention. Here in Oklahoma, we have the highest incarceration rates of men and women, and the Governor just recently signed a handful of prison reform bills [News On 6].

OKC eviction rate is “20th worst” in nation, new program gives free legal help to tenants: Every day in Oklahoma City about 18 households get evicted, one of the highest rates in the nation, according to a new study. “Oklahoma City is the 20th worst in the country. That’s another one of those standards that I hope we’re not proud of. We want to cut that down,” said Richard Klinge, the director of the Pro Bono Housing Eviction Assistance Program at the Oklahoma City University School of Law [NewsOK].

Oklahoma state cancer plan sets ambitious goals for reducing deaths: Oklahoma’s new state cancer plan lays out ambitious goals to screen more people for disease, reduce long-term risk factors and hopefully save lives. The plan, unveiled last week, sets a goal of reducing the cancer mortality rate by 2022 by more than 6 percent from the 2016 baseline. It also sets goals to cut deaths due to some specific cancers even further — in the case of lung cancer, by 16 percent [NewsOK].

Gun bill concerns chief: Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty says a gun-rights measure awaiting action by Gov. Mary Fallin, if enacted, would put law enforcement officers at greater risk. Senate Bill 1212 was sent to the governor by the state Senate last week. If it becomes law, individuals could carry a firearm “concealed or unconcealed, loaded or unloaded” without obtaining a permit or taking a firearms training course [NewsOK].

GOP candidates for governor support gun bill while broad coalition urges veto: While a broad coalition that includes Oklahoma City, Tulsa and the state’s largest business groups is urging Gov. Mary Fallin to veto a gun bill, Republican candidates hoping to replace Fallin say they would sign the constitutional carry legislation. In a letter to Fallin, Oklahomans for Business and Property Owners’ Rights said the bill, approved by the Legislature late last week, “will jeopardize public safety and enable dangerous individuals to carry loaded handguns in many places frequented by Oklahoma families.” [NewsOK]

Why is a Legislature that can’t figure out five-day school weeks messing with football classes? Late in the closing days of a legislative session, there are often puzzling shenanigans that make citizens shake their heads and wonder what lawmakers could be thinking, or if they were capable of thinking. This year was no exception. Take, for example, Senate Bill 1599, which would have wired around the inability of big high schools in central Oklahoma to compete with Jenks’ and Union’s gridiron teams by legislative fiat [Editorial Board / Tulsa World].

Quote of the Day

“The expenditure of so much effort just to continue inadequately funding that which is the most popular expenditure of state government —public schools — does not bode well for other needs of a forward leaning state.”

– Former Oklahoma House Speaker Steve Lewis, writing about the massive amount of effort to pass and then protect revenues that were passed to fund a teacher pay raise this year (Source)

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s national ranking for healthy life expectancy at birth in 2016, down from a ranking of 38th in 1990.

Source: US Burden of Disease Collaborators

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

For millions, low-wage work really is a dead end: The U.S. economy is booming, unemployment is at a 17-year low and wages appear to be picking up. So what’s not to like? If you’re one of the approximately 65 million Americans in low-paid service jobs, getting a share of that economic prosperity may be unbearably difficult. Jobs may be plentiful, but finding one that pays better than your current gig is much more rare than commonly believed, according to new research paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York [CBS News].

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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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