In The Know: Legislature adjourns; one criminal justice reform moves, others stall; AG says Medicaid expansion petition is constitutional…

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

HB 1269 makes 780 retroactive but leaves issues unresolved: The bill’s goal is to make the historic impact of State Question 780 retroactive so that people arrested for simple drug possession before SQ 780 have the opportunity to undo the lifelong consequences of a felony sentence. HB 1269 is a positive step for justice reform in Oklahoma, but a recent amendment will complicate the bill’s resentencing process and create financial hurdles that will lessen the positive impact of retroactivity. [OK Policy]

In The News

One criminal justice reform moves before sine die, others stall: After months wrangling over the details of several criminal justice reform measures, the 2019 Oklahoma Legislature adjourned sine die after passing a retroactivity measure but punting on other bills pushed by advocates. [NonDoc] Governor Stitt insisted that the Senate vote on House Bill 1269, the so-called “retroactivity bill” that will allow those serving time for crimes that no longer require prison sentences to seek relief through the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. [Tulsa World] Just before adjourning, Senate Republicans brought it up on a revised agenda. The bill passed without debate by a vote of 34-11. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma lawmakers end early, give new governor policy wins: The Oklahoma Legislature finished the session early on Thursday, ending its first with new Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who checked nearly every item off his to-do list and saw the budget for his office more than double. [AP News] Like schoolchildren hearing the final bell before the summer break, state lawmakers cheered Thursday as the House and Senate adjourned for the year. [The Oklahoman]

Attorney general’s office says Medicaid expansion petition flawed but fixable: The Oklahoma Supreme Court should reject a proposed initiative petition to expand Medicaid because the summary contradicts the petition regarding income eligibility for the public health insurance program, the Oklahoma attorney general’s office argued Thursday. The petition is otherwise constitutional, the attorney general’s office said in a brief to the court, which asked for the AG’s views in the matter. [The Oklahoman]

Making the Cut: What lawmakers did (and didn’t do) this year: Oklahoma lawmakers closed out the 2019 session Thursday after nearly four months of debate on hundreds of bills that could impact the state for years to come. The final week of the session saw the passage of a flurry of bills, including the $8.1 billion spending bill – along with a plan to build up state savings by socking away $200 million in reserves. [Oklahoma Watch]

Legislators increase education funding, kick most health and criminal justice questions down the road: This session was far less contentious than last session in part because lawmakers were working with a budget surplus. Oklahoma teachers didn’t stage any walkouts, but education was still a dominant topic. Most of the debate was focused on funding.  [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Oklahoma lawmakers pass bill prohibiting vaccines at school, mobile clinics without parental consent: The Oklahoma House sent the governor a bill Thursday to require written parental consent before Oklahoma kids get any vaccine at school or in a mobile clinic. Supporters said House Bill 2339 is needed so kids don’t get doubled up on shots. Rep. Cynthia Roe said that’s not an issue because every vaccine given is already reported to the Oklahoma State Immunization Information System. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Attorney ‘unable to substantiate’ allegation against Kannady, McDugle: An internal investigation by the Oklahoma House of Representatives was “unable to substantiate” an allegation of sexual misconduct against Rep. Chris Kannady and Rep. Kevin McDugle, according to an attorney hired by the House. Posts by conservative activist Al Gerhart on his Sooner Tea Party blog have accused Kannady (R-OKC) and McDugle (R-Broken Arrow) of acting inappropriately toward a then-colleague in the basement of Nic’s Place in 2017. [NonDoc]

House passes bill creating budget office: The Oklahoma House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a measure creating a legislative office to evaluate agency budgets and programs for lawmakers. Senate Bill 1, by House Speaker Charles McCall and Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, would create the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency within the existing Legislative Service Bureau. [Journal Record ????]

State boosts funding for nursing homes by 15%: Money committed to the care of nursing home residents across the state will increase from an average of $150 per resident per day to $173, thanks to a new state budget approved by the Legislature and Gov. Kevin Stitt. Funding included in Oklahoma’s recently adopted fiscal year 2020 budget will amount to a 15% increase for facilities that care for residents on Medicare or Medicaid. [Journal Record ????]

An expanded footprint for cannabis: Podiatrists authorized to prescribe medical marijuana to patients: Podiatrists have been added to the types of physicians authorized to recommend medical marijuana to patients in Oklahoma, and the list of medical professionals allowed to recommend may become even more inclusive in the future, the executive director of the Oklahoma Medical Board believes. [Journal Record]

Wildlife department audit uncovers suspicious activity: A state performance audit of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has uncovered suspicious bidding activity in which requisitions prepared by a wildlife department employee frequently resulted in the projects being awarded to a company headed by the employee’s brother. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Board of Education votes to change testing window: In an effort to provide more instruction time for state tests and keep students more engaged after taking them, the new-look state Board of Education on Thursday voted unanimously to open the annual testing window on or after April 20 and keep it open for 20 school days. [The Oklahoman]

More defendants added to bar association lawsuit: A lawsuit against the Oklahoma Bar Association now has more than 20 defendants, including seven Oklahoma Supreme Court justices. But the case is facing another, more immediate challenge. On Tuesday, it landed on a third federal judge’s desk. Judge Stephen P. Friot was the second judge to get the case, but he recused himself Tuesday. The case was originally assigned to Robin J. Cauthron, but she recused herself on May 17. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma takes on drugmakers J&J, Teva in landmark opioid trial: Gail Box vividly remembers the day in May 2011 when she first learned her 22-year-old son Austin, a University of Oklahoma linebacker, was abusing opioid painkillers: It was the day he died of an overdose. [Reuters] Nation’s first opioid trial promises long odds, high drama. [Stateline]

The Oklahoma Editorial Board: Hope, healing close to home for Oklahomans: Sometimes, dreams come true. They will this month for four local mental health advocates with the opening of a state-of-the-art addiction services facility in Edmond. Arcadia Trails Center for Addiction Recovery will provide a holistic approach to chemical addiction treatment when it opens May 28. [Editorial Board / The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma City population ranks 27th in the US: Oklahoma City is the 27th largest city in the nation with a population nearing 650,000, according to new U.S. Census Bureau estimates of incorporated areas. The city itself — not the seven-county metropolitan area — grew by nearly 6,000 residents between July 2017 and July 2018. [The Oklahoman]

Horn introduces legislation to help high school students get airborne: U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn has introduced bipartisan legislation that provides some high school students with scholarships to help them become pilots. The Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited Act, which is named for the term pilots use to describe ideal flying conditions, provides scholarships for pilot’s certificates to students in high school-based Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, otherwise known as JROTC. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“Low-income working Oklahomans were once again forgotten this session. In a year where there was plenty of money to expand business incentive programs like the Quick Action Closing Fund and to allocate enormous increases for the governor’s office and the Legislature, there was no excuse for turning a deaf ear to those struggling to get by and get ahead.”

-OK Policy Executive Director David Blatt, on lawmakers’ failure to expand Medicaid, restore the Earned Income Tax Credit, or approve a cost-of-living allowance for retired teachers and state workers this year [Associated Press]

Number of the Day


The labor force participation rate for Oklahomans age 25-64 who did not complete high school – compared to 69.7% for high school graduates and 85.2% for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

[Source: American Community Survey]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Tribute to a pioneering woman and a hero to all wonks: Rivlin was a passionate advocate for a bipartisan approach to policymaking. As the policy environment grew increasingly—and often unbearably—polarized, she consistently encouraged policymakers to reach across the aisle and put the American people first. “Programs that affect people’s lives so intimately,” she once wrote, “must flow from a broad bipartisan consensus.” [Brookings]

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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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