In The Know: Lack of Medicaid expansion impacts older adults, tribal gaming discussions stall, 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

Report finds more low-income older adults die prematurely in states that have not expanded Medicaid: Oklahoma is one of 14 states that has not expanded the government health insurance program to include more low-income adults. A new report about the effect of Medicaid expansion shows 476 Oklahomans nearing retirement age died prematurely between 2014 and 2017. [KOSU] OK Policy supports SQ 802 and has provided information and resources to better understand the issue. 

Dueling pressers: Stitt, tribes talk gaming negotiations: With all parties agreeing the issue could head to court if compromise is not found, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and tribal representatives held dueling press conferences about gaming negotiations this afternoon at the State Capitol. [NonDoc] Gov. Kevin Stitt on Thursday accused tribes of refusing to communicate with him over possible changes to their gaming compacts. A tribal gaming executive said the tribes were asking for the state to identify whether there was a dispute and to offer a remedy to get around the disagreement on renewal. [Tulsa World]

Initiative would end certain sentence enhancements: Criminal justice reform advocates said it’s time for prosecutors to stop using sentencing enhancements to add prison time for non-violent offenders. Members of the bipartisan coalition Oklahomans for Sentencing Reform filed a ballot initiative that — if approved by voters — would force prosecutors to stop the practice for low-level property and drug crimes. It also would allow an unknown number of current inmates to petition courts for sentencing relief. [CNHI] OK Policy analysis has shown that Oklahoma’s incarceration rate should prompt an evaluation of the state’s criminal justice system.  

(Audio) Medicaid block grants, sentence enhancements, Real ID compliance and more: This Week in Oklahoma Politics discusses Gov. Kevin Stitt’s suggestion for Oklahoma to use Medicaid block grants rather than going with Medicaid expansion, an initiative petition to end certain sentencing enhancements for nonviolent offenses, and the State Insurance Commissioner chooses to not enforce a law giving patients the right to choose a pharmacy provider. [KOSU]

Life after being released in Oklahoma’s record commutation: Warren Rawls is one of more than 450 Oklahomans set free in the nation’s largest single-day commutation on record. Two days after being discharged from Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing, Rawls is standing on the porch of a sober living home in Oklahoma City, waiting to claim a bed. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Census count important to Enid, state, leaders say: Community leaders, organizers and stakeholders met Wednesday afternoon to discuss the importance of the 2020 census and to brainstorm to get every person in the county counted. Enid Regional Development Alliance Executive Director Lisa Powell welcomed those in the attendance and thanked them to taking to to discuss such an important topic. [CNHI]

Independent congressional redistricting commission is about fairness, advocate says: Choosing an independent commission to redraw Oklahoma’s legislative and congressional districts after the 2020 census may appeal to frustrated Democrats, but in the end it probably won’t make much difference in the partisan distribution of the state’s lawmakers. The executive director of a coalition seeking to put a redistricting commission on the ballot next November said the real goal is fairness and transparency. [Tulsa World]

State Reps meet with rural fire chiefs: State Reps. Chris Sneed (R-Fort Gibson), Avery Frix (R-Muskogee) and House Majority Leader Mike Sanders (R-Kingfisher) met with rural fire chiefs from Muskogee and Cherokee counties in Muskogee. Items discussed included the need for a cost-of-living adjustment through their state pension plan, recruitment, retention, aging equipment, and ways to attract younger volunteers. [Muskogee Phoenix]

Aerospace tax credit facing some scrutiny: A popular tax credit designed to attract top-notch aerospace engineers is facing scrutiny after some employees are abruptly discovering they don’t qualify under its exacting accreditation standards. In recent months, the law has faced at least one legal challenge from a disgruntled engineer. And some observers warn that its selection criteria could create constitutional questions because it chooses between similarly situated candidates. [CNHI]

Utilities present ‘Smart Grid’ efforts at informational meeting before the Oklahoma Corporation Commission: Customers who take electricity from publicly regulated utilities are looking for reliable, affordable services. Recent “Smart Grid” upgrades involving both hardware and software, some of which already have been deployed, boost utilities’ ability to meet their desire. [The Oklahoman]

Governor brings cabinet tour to McAlester: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt brought his Top Ten Cabinet Tour to McAlester, where he and members of his cabinet addressed a crowd from a stage at the Expo Center. Afterwards, the governor and more cabinet members stuck around to meet and talk with local residents. [CNHI]

Mayor outlines progress in State of the City address, says work still needs to be done in north Tulsa: Mayor G.T. Bynum used his State of the City address Thursday to highlight the progress Tulsa is making to become a globally competitive, world-class community. [Tulsa World] Bynum caps third State of the City with announcement he’ll run for second term as Tulsa mayor. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Tulsa man dies fleeing OHP, which doesn’t say why troopers chased stolen car tracked by GPS at high speed on wet I-44: State troopers pursued a stolen car Monday that was being tracked by GPS until the driver rolled the vehicle after swerving to avoid spike strips on a wet interstate highway and died. A national expert on police pursuits has publicly questioned how the agency conducts and regulates chases. [Tulsa World]

Millions from MAPS 4 may go to owner who closed eastside Smart Saver: The owner who closed the Smart Saver at N.E. 23rd Street and Martin Luther King Avenue is positioned to receive up to $5 million in MAPS 4 money. While some may question the big payday, other eastside voices are calling for it to happen for the sake of people in the neighborhoods who need development in the area. [Free Press OKC] MAPS 4 would dedicate millions for youth and senior facilities. [The Oklahoman]

Film, music industries investing more in Oklahoma: It might be said that the film industry is a rising star in Oklahoma. The state has been the site of filming for more than 30 movies and television shows in 2019 alone. A two-day conference in Oklahoma City drawn hundreds of entertainment industry professionals ranging from movie producers to music composers and including professionals from casting agents to accountants. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma town reels after a detective is charged with killing its police chief: The two men — 44-year-old Lucky Miller, who had been Mannford’s police chief since 2007, and 49-year-old Michael Nealey, whom Mr. Miller hired to the eight-person department several years ago — had been attending a law enforcement training conference in the Florida Panhandle. [New York Times]

Family to get $10 million after death of man left in jail cell with a broken neck: An Oklahoma county agreed to pay the estate of Elliott Williams, whose complaints were ignored by members of the detention and medical staff for five days. [New York Times]

Quote of the Day

“State decisions not to expand have cost the lives of 15,600 people.”

-Danielle Wells, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities spokesperson [KOSU]

Number of the Day


Total number of K-12 students enrolled in a language program provided by a tribal nation  in an Oklahoma public school

[Source: Oklahoma Advisory Council on Indian Education 2018 Annual Report]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The U.S. has spent more money erasing Native languages than saving them: According to Ethnologue, of the 115 Indigenous languages spoken in the U.S. today, two are healthy, 34 are in danger, and 79 will go extinct within a generation without serious intervention. In other words, 99% of the Native American languages spoken today are in danger. [High Country News]

Note: November is Native American Heritage Month. We recognize and celebrate the history, cultures, and contributions of American Indian and Alaska Native people in the state and across the country.

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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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