In The Know: Legislators await governor’s health care proposal, House to increase state board oversight

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

Meet OK Policy: Nicole Poindexter, Outreach and Legislative Liaison: “My favorite thing about doing this work is that I get to help change the lives of Oklahomans in real ways. I love getting to interact with the legislators and learning about how they got to the State Capitol. Many are great people who really want to make a difference and that’s exciting to me.” [OK Policy]

In The News

Legislators look to Stitt for health care plan to rival Medicaid expansion initiative: As an initiative petition asking voters whether Oklahoma should expand Medicaid appears poised to qualify for the ballot, all eyes are on Gov. Kevin Stitt, who vowed to unveil a rival health care plan this fall. State legislators, who are also crafting their own template to improve health care in Oklahoma, are curious to see what Stitt will put forth. [The Oklahoman] OK Policy favors Medicaid expansion, previously noting that States that have expanded Medicaid have seen much larger reductions in their uninsured rates than hold-out states.

House legislators to increase oversight of state boards, commissions: House Speaker Charles McCall announced Friday that oversight of 40 state boards and commissions will be divvied up among the House committees with legislators attending board meetings to improve their understanding of state agencies and keep a closer eye on the appointed boards. [The Oklahoman] McCall emphasized in his announcement Friday that House members will be prepared to invoke a rarely-used component of the Open Meeting Act that allows lawmakers access to board conversations otherwise closed to the public. [NonDoc]

Prisons average at least 1 assault daily, stats show: Though recent incidents have been publicized, records obtained by CNHI Oklahoma show the state’s prison system is averaging at least one assault a day the past five years. Since the start of 2015, nearly 2,700 assaults were reported behind bars, according to statistics released by the Department of Corrections in response to an open records request. Of those assaults, there were 1,880 incidents of inmate-on-inmate violence; more than 800 inmate-on-correctional officer assaults; and one or two instances where guards injured inmates, according to the data. [CNHI] As of Oct. 14, Oklahoma prison’s were at 111% of their rated capacity. See Open Justice Oklahoma’s online tracker to learn more. 

Stillwater News-Press: Scare tactics lacking data: The tough-on-crime folks can crow all they want, we’re already awake. Recent reports that showed an uptick in violent crime in Oklahoma have been feeding a narrative that is grounded more in fear-mongering that actual data.  [Editorial Board / Stillwater News-Press] Oklahomans deserve justice reforms driven by evidence, not anecdote, and the evidence is clear – raising felony theft thresholds doesn’t change crime levels, but it does mean fewer people in prison.

Fuel tax revenue declining amid EV growth: With more electric vehicles zipping around Oklahoma, more questions are being asked at the Capitol and elsewhere about how the state will avoid a breakdown resulting from declining fuel tax revenues used to pay for maintenance of roads, bridges and highways. [Journal Record ????] Learn more about the motor fuel tax via OK Policy’s Online Budget Guide. 

State senator wants to strengthen Oklahoma hate crime law: State Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee, filed legislation last week to toughen the state’s hate crime law in the wake of an incident in which one of his constituents was badly beaten. Sharp said Senate Bill 1083 would allow district attorneys to charge hate crime offenders with a felony. Hate crimes currently can be charged only as misdemeanors. [Tulsa World]

State has no labs licensed to test medical cannabis, despite law requiring proof of testing: A law that went into effect nearly two months ago states businesses can only sell medical cannabis products that have proof of testing. But as of Friday, there are zero laboratories properly licensed with the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority. [Tulsa World]

Jail Trust funding approved after several earlier attempts failed: The Oklahoma County Budget Board voted on Thursday to allocate $100,000 from General Fund appropriations for the Sheriff’s department to the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority. The Jail Trust has been functioning without funding since it was formed in June of this year. The funds requested will be used in part to pay for legal counsel, an independent financial review of Jail operations, and consulting services. [Free Press OKC]

Oklahoma City PD is changing the way it investigates rape following a botched case: The Oklahoma City Police Department is changing its protocol on how the agency handles cases after a rape reported in 2011 was not investigated for more than seven years. [The Frontier]

MAPS 4 vote only for tax, not projects being promoted says Supreme Court: The 16 projects being listed in promotions are promised by the Oklahoma City Council to be pursued if the measure passes, but they are not going to be a part of the vote in December. [Free Press OKC]

Norman sales tax vote for public transit funding approaches: Norman’s newly acquired public transit system is about $2.2 million short in system coverage, but a potential sales tax could make up that difference. The sales tax would generate an estimated $2.5 million and comes from Cleveland County’s one-quarter percent sales tax which is slated to end March 2020. The county is also holding an election for a one-eighth percent sales tax during the Nov. 12 election. [CNHI]

Trump outpaces Dems in early fundraising from Oklahoma donors: With the 2020 general election just over a year away, President Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the battle to secure campaign contributions from Oklahoma donors. [Oklahoma Watch

Quote of the Day

“It’s really, what does the governor want to do? I think he’s really the one that we’re waiting to see what his plan is going to be and if that’s going to include Medicaid expansion in some way, shape or form.”

-Rep. Trish Ranson, D-Stillwater, discussing Gov. Stitt’s forthcoming health care proposal.  [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day

22 months

Median length of prison stay for property-related crimes in Oklahoma, compared to the national average of 13 months

[Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

State border splits neighbors into Medicaid haves and have-nots: State borders have become arbitrary dividing lines between Medicaid’s haves and have-nots, with Americans in similar financial straits facing vastly different health care fortunes. This affects everything from whether diseases are caught early to whether people can stay well enough to work. [NPR]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.