In The Know: Higher than expected early voting turnout; a lifeline in Medicaid expansion; health care sign-ups begin…

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.

Early voting continues today from 8 am to 6 pm: Today is the second day of early voting in Oklahoma. Voters can cast their votes at their local county election board from 8 am to 6 pm. Tomorrow, Saturday, November 3rd is the last day of early voting. Visit our #OKvotes page to find more election information, important dates, and other resources.

In The News

As early voting kicks off, turnout numbers much higher than expected, officials say: Pete Messler walked up to the large glass windows at the front of the Tulsa County Election Board on Thursday morning and peered inside.“There’s more people here than there are at the University of Tulsa football games,” he joked, as the rain poured down.No joke was the turnout on the first day of early voting for Tuesday’s statewide election.  [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma’s rural hospitals see a lifeline in Medicaid expansion: As more GOP-led states with vast rural areas consider Medicaid expansion, supporters in Oklahoma are watching. They say it’s the best solution to make sure rural hospitals survive. “Because other states have found ways to accept these federal funds, they are moving forward, their hospitals are in better shape because of it,” said Patti Davis, director of the Oklahoma Hospital Association. [StateImpact Oklahoma] We previously examined how rejecting federal funds is devastating Oklahoma’s rural hospitals here.

Health insurance marketplace sign-ups begin: Oklahomans who want to buy individual health insurance through the exchange have until Dec. 15, but the navigators who help with enrollment recommend an early start. Open enrollment on the exchange starts Thursday. It is open to people who don’t have insurance through a job, Medicare, SoonerCare or another government program. Andrea Chica-Rodriguez, one of two navigators with the Latino Community Development Agency, urged people who want to compare their options not to wait. [NewsOK]

‘No one wants him:’ The state says it can’t care for Russell Ables. There’s nowhere else for him to go: No one knows what to do about Russell Ables. He has lived in a state-run mental health facility in Vinita for more than three years, but the court and the state’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services say he doesn’t have a mental illness. [The Frontier]

University of Oklahoma lays off 50 in first phase of staff reductions: The University of Oklahoma cut approximately 50 staff positions Thursday in ongoing efforts to bring expenses in line with income.A university spokeswoman said this is the first phase of layoffs and further layoffs may come next year as departmental efficiency plans are submitted and refined.”Because this will be a constant process of evaluating efficiencies within the university, there is no timeline for layoffs,” she said. [NewsOK]

SQ 800: Should we create the Oklahoma Vision Fund? Much like the Constitutional Reserve Fund (aka the Rainy Day Fund), the Oklahoma Vision Fund would create a trust designed to protect state funding in bad times while adding benefit during good times. Known as a budget-reserve fund, passage of SQ 800 would amend the Oklahoma Constitution in the following ways. [NonDoc]  See more background information and arguments for and against SQ 800 on OK Policy’s fact sheet here.

Video Breakdown: State Question 801: Our collaborative election project Oklahoma Engaged is not solely focused on informative and in-depth radio stories. We also want to strip away all extraneous information and get down to the bare bones of state questions. This video breaks down State Question 801—to show what it means if you vote ‘yes’ and what it means if you vote ‘no’. [KOSUSee more background information and arguments for and against SQ 801 on OK Policy’s fact sheet here.

Still undecided? Listen to each gubernatorial candidate on the issues: KGOU’s Dick Pryor and eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley spoke with all three Oklahoma gubernatorial candidates on Capitol Insider about where each stands on our state’s biggest issues like worsening teacher shortages, tax policy, government transparency, exemptions for childhood vaccinations, carrying out the death penalty and more. [KGOU]  Find more about Oklahoma’s upcoming elections and state questions at OK Policy’s resource page here.

While Stitt has more money, more donors support Edmondson: The campaign donation ledgers of Oklahoma’s major-party gubernatorial candidates have many differences, but some are easier to see than others. The most obvious difference is the total dollar amount. Republican Kevin Stitt’s more than doubles that of his Democratic challenger, Drew Edmondson. From Jan. 1 to Nov. 1, the Stitt campaign has gotten about 4,300 total donations. Edmondson has nabbed more than 14,000. [Journal Record]

AP Fact Check: Ads attack Stitt’s mortgage business record: Republican nominee for Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt has been criticized by his Democrat opponent for his record as the head of a mortgage company. Stitt, running as a businessman and outsider, is locked in a tight race against Democratic Drew Edmonson, a former attorney general who served 16 years before making an unsuccessful bid for governor in 2010. [AP News]

Drew Edmondson in Little Dixie: Rural life ‘worth preserving’: Most of the 75 people who packed the Western Sizzlin’ banquet room were old enough to remember southeast Oklahoma’s legendary politicians: U.S. Sen. Robert S. Kerr, U.S. Speaker of the House Carl Albert and controversial state Sen. Gene Stipe. [NonDoc] Edmondson talks school finance, Medicaid expansion. [Ada News]

Lieutenant governor’s race: Big gap in campaign donations: One of Oklahoma’s top statewide races has generated less than $1 million in campaign donations in 2018. Of that, almost all of it went to one candidate. The lieutenant governor’s race proved to be a competitive primary for Republicans Dana Murphy and Matt Pinnell, the latter of whom won the runoff in August. [Journal Record]

In One Minute: Insurance Commission election: Take 60 seconds and learn who is running for insurance commissioner and why the office is important all Oklahomans. This series of short videos is being offered by Oklahoma Watch in partnership with the League of Women Voters of Oklahoma. [Oklahoma Watch]

Congressional District 1 candidates answer questions: One in a series featuring candidates who are competing during the 2018 election cycle. This article focuses on candidates for U.S. Representative District 1 — Tim Gilpin, Democratic candidate, and Kevin Hern, Republican. The two will face off in the general election on Nov. 6. [Claremore Daily Progress]

Examining campaign finance reports from local candidates: With early voting starting today, here is a look at the campaign finance reports for candidates in local races. These figures are based on the pre-general election report as reported by the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. [Norman Transcript]

Kansas and Oklahoma may deliver surprise victories for Democrats on election day: As the nation tunes into election results next Tuesday night, they may end up seeing a few spots of blue in an unusual place — smack dab in the middle of America’s heartland. In both Kansas and Oklahoma, the GOP’s hold on its governors’ mansions is in peril, as polling has tightened and the elections in these states are now considered toss-ups. [The Intercept]

Oklahoma teachers working to get out the vote as Election Day approaches: Teachers across the state are hoping to carry the momentum of April’s walkout to the polls. “We have been door knocking, phone banking, driving people around, helping people with signs, anything we can do to promote awareness and be proactive,” said Amber Ball, a teacher for Putnam City Schools. [FOX25]

City of Tulsa expected to contract with Betty Shelby’s trial lawyers in Terence Crutcher civil rights lawsuit: Mayor G.T. Bynum is set to consider a contract arranging for the city to fund private legal counsel for former Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby in federal civil rights litigation over the death of Terence Crutcher.City legal personnel said in a motion on Oct. 22 that they have a conflict of interest preventing them from aiding the city of Tulsa, Shelby, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan and Officers Tyler Turnbough and Jason Roy. The document did not specify what the conflict of interest is, and spokeswoman Michelle Brooks said the city would not comment on its nature. [Tulsa World]

Marijuana dispensaries still growing: Much of Oklahoma’s growing medical marijuana industry is doing just that — still growing. Many Oklahoma City businesses secured proper licensing through state agencies to sell marijuana seeds, plants and buds to licensed patients, but are still awaiting the full maturation of their first plants. [NewsOK ????]

Highway to be named in honor of Nancy Randolph Davis, first student to integrate at OSU: In 1949, Nancy Randolph Davis became the first African-American student to enroll at Oklahoma State University, then known as Oklahoma A&M College. Today, a stretch of Interstate 35 outside Stillwater is being named in her honor. [Stillwater News Press]

Oklahoma has increase in number of volunteer firefighters: Almost 300 new volunteer firefighters have joined rural fire departments in three years after state lawmakers eliminated the age limit for new volunteers, according to the Oklahoma House of Representatives. House Bill 2005, authored by Rep. Mike Sanders and Sen. AJ Griffin, took effect Nov. 1, 2015. [Fire Engineering]

Quote of the Day

“We performed a more rigorous analysis and controlled for things like local market conditions such as unemployment rate, median income and also hospital characteristics to see if the increased probability of closure in states that did not expand Medicaid remain — and it did.”

-University of Colorado professor Richard Lindrooth, whose study found that the probability of rural hospitals closing increased by more than 81 percent in states that refuse to expand Medicaid [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Number of the Day


Median household income for Native Americans in Oklahoma in 2017, compared to $50,051 median income for all Oklahoma households.

[U.S. Census American Community Survey]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Blue-collar men are riding America’s economic wave. Women? Not so much: A new report from Georgetown University found there are now about 13 million jobs nationwide that require only a high school diploma and pay at least $35,000 annually, a higher wage than most entry-level service roles. Three-quarters of them, however, belong to men. [Washington Post]

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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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