In The Know: Life in the coverage crater; first Stitt veto; OU regents nomination opposed…

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

Restoring the EITC is good for Oklahomans’ health: There is a good chance you know someone struggling to make ends meet. Oklahoma’s poverty rate is higher than the national average. In 2017, almost one in six Oklahomans and one in five children experienced poverty. Although Oklahoma’s unemployment rate is low, we also have a higher proportion of people working low-wage jobs compared to the national average. As a result, too many Oklahomans struggle to pay for basic needs like food and going to the doctor. [OK Policy] Visit to tell your legislators to restore the Oklahoma EITC.

Video: Life in the Coverage Crater: Kelly is uninsured and lives with epilepsy and MS. Expanding coverage would help Oklahomans like her across the state. [Watch Kelly’s Story] Visit to tell legislators to expand health coverage in Oklahoma and then join us on April 24 for a rally at the Capitol.

Prosperity Policy: Oklahoma still in the red: After years of chronic and severe budget shortfalls, it became hard to deny that Oklahoma faced a structural budget deficit, where revenue collections were not keeping pace with the cost of providing services. As Gov. Mary Fallin acknowledged in her 2017 State of the State address, “Oklahoma will continue to struggle if we don’t fix our structural deficits in our budget.” [David Blatt / Journal Record]

In The News

Stitt vetoes first bill: Gov. Kevin Stitt vetoed his first bill Tuesday, dismissing a relatively innocuous measure to form a new state task force to advocate for people receiving in-home and community-based care services. But Stitt, in his veto letter, said he prefers for his cabinet and agency directors to work with state lawmakers to protect Oklahomans receiving in-home and community-based care. [NewsOK]

Bill banning tax on plastic bags goes to governor: Town councils in Oklahoma that might consider taxing plastic bags as a way to protect local environments have been dealt a setback by the Oklahoma Legislature. Senate Bill 1001, which would prohibit local governments from banning or taxing “auxiliary containers” including thin plastic bags commonly used in grocery and other retail stores, has been sent to Gov. Kevin Stitt after being passed by a vote of 51-41 by the state House of Representatives. [Journal Record]

Stitt’s OU regents nomination faces opposition: Gov. Kevin Stitt’s latest appointment to the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents may face a tough confirmation process with some lawmakers skeptical there is enough support within the Senate. Stitt on Tuesday nominated Oklahoma businessman Gary Pierson to fill a vacant seat on the board, which requires Senate approval. Pierson is the president and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company, which was over The Oklahoman newspaper until its sale to GateHouse Media in 2018. [NewsOK]

Anti-abortion strategy splits Oklahoma lawmakers: Energized by new conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court, anti-abortion opponents believe that the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the U.S. could be overturned. If that happens, the regulation of abortion returns to the states. Some state legislatures led by liberal Democrats, such as New York, have decided to protect the right to an abortion. In more conservative states, such as Oklahoma, anti-abortion lawmakers are rushing to make sure their state statutes do not ensure the right to an abortion. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Senate approves overhaul of Supreme Court districts: The Oklahoma Senate easily approved legislation Wednesday to overhaul the boundaries used to select state Supreme Court justices, as supporters argued that the changes would expand the pool of qualified candidates. Under the legislation, approved 34-13, one justice would be appointed from each of the five congressional districts and four would be appointed statewide. [NewsOK]

Oklahoma House votes to pay nursing homes more but limit their use of anti-psychotic drugs: Legislation to boost Medicaid payments to nursing homes and to limit those nursing homes’ use of anti-psychotic drugs to control patients won approval Wednesday in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Senate Bill 280, by Sen. Frank Simpson, R-Ardmore, provides for what would amount to a $23-a-day boost in payments for Medicaid patients, but with $5 of that dependent on meeting certain quality of care measures. [Tulsa World]

Video: Oklahoma educators discuss public schools one year after walkout: One year after the teacher walkout, The Oklahoman visits with three educators to talk about the public school landscape across the state and in Oklahoma City. [NewsOK]

National report ranks Oklahoma among top states in pre-K education: Oklahoma continues to be a national leader in providing universal access to prekindergarten, according to a report released Wednesday. The National Institute for Early Childhood Education ranks Oklahoma in a five-way tie for No. 4 for access to prekindergarten, with 74% of the state’s 4-year-olds enrolled in early education programs during the 2017-18 school year. [Tulsa World]

Measles resurgence prompts renewed appeal for vaccinations to reduce contraction risk: It takes only one measles case to be considered an outbreak. So far in 2019, there have been no reported measles cases in Oklahoma. There were three cases in the state during 2018, one of which occurred in Tulsa County. There have been 555 measles cases nationally during the first four months of 2019, according to the CDC. [Tulsa World]

Two Oklahoma Hospitals Fought Off Deadly Fungal ‘Superbug’: It wasn’t publicized locally, but within the past few years teams of health officials at two Oklahoma health facilities took rapid actions to contain the spread of a fungal “superbug” that federal officials have declared a serious global health threat. Only one patient at each facility was infected, and both patients recovered. [Oklahoma Watch]

AG Mike Hunter’s son got a job with the university program that’s reaping most of opioid settlement, but AG’s office says there’s no connection: Attorney General Mike Hunter’s office said this week there is no connection between the Oklahoma State University College of Health Sciences’ receiving $197.5 million from the state’s settlement with Purdue Pharma and OSU-CHS’ November hiring of Hunter’s son to an administrative job. [Tulsa World]

Canadian County leads state in population growth rate: Canadian County led the state in growth last year, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures that show the county’s population rising by 3 percent, ranking it in the Top 50 growing counties in the nation. The county, which includes El Reno, Mustang, Yukon, Piedmont and part of Oklahoma City, added an estimated 4,394 residents, according to the Census Bureau. [NewsOK]

Population: 1 million? Not quite yet, as census shows Tulsa metro’s ‘sluggish population growth’: The Tulsa metro may have to wait a while longer before it cracks the 1 million population mark. The latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show population growth in the Tulsa metropolitan statistical area continued to slow in the 12-month period ending July 1, 2018. [Tulsa World]

‘We don’t want our jobs outsourced’: Aviation labor teams unite in rally at Tulsa International Airport: Union aviation workers picketed Wednesday outside Tulsa International Airport to raise awareness against the foreign outsourcing of aircraft maintenance work by American Airlines and other major carriers. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Help is out there. We’ve just got to, you know, encourage it. If we don’t give up, there’s always hope.”

-Kelly, an Oklahoman battling MS and epilepsy without health insurance while also caring for her son with serious disabilities. Kelly is among the more than 100,000 Oklahomans who could gain access to health coverage if lawmakers vote to accept federal funds to expand care. [Source: OK Policy]

Number of the Day


Increase in drug overdose deaths in Oklahoma from 2003-2018.

[Source: The Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The Filer Voter experiment: How effective is voter registration at tax time?: The United States has comparatively low voter turnout. One barrier to voting is the registration process. The Pew Research Center estimated that in 2014, 21.4 percent of the voting eligible population in the U.S. was not registered to vote. Unfortunately, the states are not moving consistently toward policies that would increase the registered population. [Brookings]

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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