In The Know: Health coverage forums; new study on doctor shortage; Oklahoma cancels halfway house contracts…

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

Health care forum set Thursday: Together Oklahoma has scheduled a public forum Thursday to give residents a chance to learn more about the state of health care. The forum, which will be co-hosted by the League of Women Voters of Lawton, will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Patterson Center, No. 4 NE Arlington. [Lawton Constitution] Contact your legislator and ask them to expand coverage in Oklahoma at

Medicaid expansion in focus at forum: A discussion about a proposed expansion to Oklahoma’s Medicaid program was the subject of a public forum Sunday at the Norman Public Library Central. Panel members all spoke in favor of expanding Medicaid through the acceptance of federal funds matched by state funding, while emphasizing the complexity of providing health care to low-income Oklahomans. [Norman Transcript] Learn more about the campaign to expand coverage at

Advocates discuss health care expansion in Oklahoma: Medicaid expansion was a large part of the Affordable Care Act. But multiple states, including Oklahoma, chose not to take expansion dollars. Now, as the state’s ranking continues to worsen, several Oklahoma based groups are hoping the state’s legislature will listen to their concerns. [News9]

In The News

New study reaffirms Oklahoma’s doctor shortage: The country as a whole is projected to have a doctor shortage of 120,000 by 2030, according to the report. A study released last week ranks Oklahoma as having the fourth-worst risk of a doctor shortage in the near future. Oklahoma ranked in the bottom 10 in all three categories in the report: 205.3 doctors per 100,000 people – rank No. 46; 33 percent of doctors nearing retirement – rank No. 41; 22.3 doctors in residency programs per 100,000 people – rank No. 42. [Enid News & Eagle]

Corrections Department cancels contracts with Turley and Oklahoma City halfway houses: The Oklahoma Department of Corrections announced Friday afternoon it was terminating its contract with two inmate halfway houses, the Turley Residential Center for females in Tulsa and the Oklahoma Halfway House for males in Oklahoma City. The Department stated it is ending the contracts because more inmates are eligible for global positioning system supervision after changes to state law governing the program. [The Frontier]

What’s dead? More than 250 state legislative bills hit the recycling bin on deadline day: More than 250 bills and the last remaining joint resolution went dormant last week as the 2019 Oklahoma legislative session hit another deadline. This latest winnowing left fewer than one-fifth of the 2,800 measures pre-filed for this session still active with about six weeks left until the May 31 adjournment deadline. [Tulsa World] Check out our latest Bill Watch for an update on bills we’ve been tracking closely.

Stitt yet to issue first bill veto: Gov. Kevin Stitt is making progress on the ever-growing stack of bills on his desk, but has yet to issue his first gubernatorial veto. Stitt, who is in his first year as governor, has signed 36 bills so far this session. He also has 17 bills — 22 from the House and 14 from the Senate — on his desk awaiting action. [NewsOK] After first signing constitutional carry into law, Stitt has celebrated legislation on state agency controls and funding for economic development. [Tulsa World]

School districts hope passage of substitute bill will alleviate shortage: Although there’s still a long way to go in reversing Oklahoma’s troubling teacher shortage, educators say a new law will help school districts fill gaps in the classroom. Gov. Kevin Stitt approved House Bill 1050 last week, increasing the number of days a substitute can work during a school year from 90 to 135. [Tulsa World]

Will day-care services help recruit teachers? Oklahoma district aims to find out: A school district in Oklahoma plans to run a low-cost day-care center next school year for district personnel as part of an effort to attract teachers. Employees will be expected to pay $125 a week for infants, and $100 a week for children a year and older. [Education Week ????]

Truce called in battle over nurse independence: Doctors and nurses called a truce Thursday in their battle over expanding the authority of nurse anesthetists and hope to craft compromise legislation for lawmakers to consider next year. Jenny Schmitt, president of the Oklahoma Association of Nurse Anesthetists, said she was pleased the Oklahoma State Medical Association “has finally agreed to sit down to honest negotiations with all interested parties.” [NewsOK]

SGA’s External Affairs committee proposes two higher education policy reform resolutions to lawmakers: OU’s Student Government Association External Affairs committee recently authored two resolutions regarding advocating for higher education initiatives to be administered in Oklahoma. The resolutions, both passed at Feb. 26’s Undergraduate Student Congress meeting, advocated for funding and career options for higher education. [OU Daily]

Oklahoma is one step closer to arming teachers with no weapons training: A bill currently making its way through the Oklahoma legislature known as the “Teacher Carry Bill” would allow educators to carry weapons in the classroom even if they have not received additional weapons training. [Rolling Stone]

Hemp bill heads to Governor: Legislation paving the way for the production of industrial hemp in Oklahoma is heading to Gov. Kevin Stitt after the state House passed the proposal. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Benefit corporations: It’s not just about money: If it is signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt, House Bill 2423 would allow for the formation of “benefit corporations” in Oklahoma. Companies in that category would occupy a sort of middle ground between strictly for-profit publicly traded companies and not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organizations that rely strictly on charity to keep operations going. [Journal Record]

State GOP platform is not priority for legislative leaders: Priorities for the Oklahoma Republican Party and Republican leaders in the state Legislature don’t always align. The party platform adopted by the Oklahoma GOP at its state convention last week included several policy positions that lawmakers this year have ignored or outright rejected. [NewsOK ????]

Don Parker: The education being provided to north Tulsa students is illegal and unconstitutional: The education being provided to north Tulsa students is illegal and unconstitutional. This has been true for an extended period of time regardless of who is sitting in the Tulsa Public Schools superintendent’s office. [Don Parker / Tulsa World]

Duopoly or pro-business? Shots taken in liquor distribution fight: The difference between “shall” and “may” in one portion of Oklahoma’s new alcohol laws has left liquor stores, a locally owned wholesaler and some legislators pushing to break up what they call a duopoly in the liquor distribution market. [NonDoc]

Liquor stores staying afloat, but not thriving under new laws: While brewers and grocers reap the benefits of new liquor laws, hundreds of small businesses across the state are experiencing a sobering reality.The biggest impact has been the precipitous drop in wine sales. [Norman Transcript]

Growing measles outbreak raises concerns in Oklahoma: State health officials are concerned about the current outbreak of measles in the United States, which spread to four new states the first week of April. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 465 cases of measles have been confirmed in 19 states so far this year, the second-highest number of cases for the first quarter since the disease was eliminated in 2000. [NewsOK]

Southeastern property owners sue over OKC water deal: A group of property owners is suing over Oklahoma City’s agreement to siphon water from the Southeastern part of the state. They claim federal, tribal and state governments failed to consider two endangered freshwater mussels: the Ouachita rock pocketbook and the scaleshell. [KGOU]

Quote of the Day

“What gets lost in the politics is that we’re going to pay for these services anyway. Whether that comes in the form of Medicaid expansion up front or emergency rooms that have to care for people, bear these costs, and then end up closing, like the Pauls Valley hospital did in 2018.”

-Dan Sorrells, president of Molina HealthCare, at a forum on expanding health coverage in Oklahoma [Source: Norman Transcript]

Number of the Day


Projected increase in the number of Oklahoma prison inmates by 2026 under current policies.

[Source: Department of Corrections]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Rural America faces a housing cost crunch: The problem of housing affordability, long a concern in popular big cities, has moved to rural America. Nearly one-fourth of the nation’s most rural counties have seen a sizeable increase this decade in the number of households spending at least half their income on housing, a category the federal government calls “severely cost-burdened.” [Stateline]

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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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