In The Know: Medicaid expansion applications open June 1 | Some Epic finances to become public | State EITC supports working families

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. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

“A Day Without Taxes … or, Be Careful What You Wish For”: Twelve years ago, I wrote this article to make a point about the essential role taxes play in our everyday lives. Local, state, and federal revenue help provide robust public services to build stronger communities, support the future generations of Oklahomans, invest in our economy, and make our state a place where people want to live. The original piece was intended neither as a prediction nor as a challenge to lawmakers. Since then, however, the real Oklahoma has moved closer to the one I feared in my dream. Here’s an update shared on what is traditionally the due date for taxes, although the federal and state deadlines this year have been extended to June 15 due to the winter storms. [Paul Shinn / OK Policy]

Policy Matters: EITC supports working Oklahomans: Tax equity advocates have called out the shortcomings of Oklahoma’s House Bill 2041, a proposed individual income tax cut that mostly benefits residents earning more than $100,000 annually. In its current form, the bill also would provide support for low-income Oklahomans by restoring the refundability of the state Earned Income Tax Credit. However, more can be done to equitably distribute this intended tax relief and improve the power of the state’s EITC. [Ahniwake Rose / Journal Record] To learn more about how the Oklahoma EITC impacts each of Oklahoma’s 77 counties, check out the interactive map at

Oklahoma News

Enrollment for Oklahoma’s Medicaid expansion begins June 1: Oklahoma will open enrollment on June 1 for more low-income residents to qualify for Medicaid. Newly eligible Oklahomans can apply for health care coverage starting a month prior to when the state expands Medicaid on July 1. Following the passage of State Question 802, Oklahoma will expand Medicaid to Oklahomans ages 19-64 whose income is at or below 138% of the federal poverty level, which is roughly $17,796 for an individual or $36,588 for a family of four. [The Oklahoman]

  • Medicaid expansions will include those eligible in Enid’s Micronesian community [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Health care group to discuss managed care and Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma [KFOR]

Epic’s controversial ‘learning fund’ will change, settlement proposed for SVCSB: In meetings Tuesday that lasted until after midnight, the governing board of Epic Blended and Epic One-on-One charter schools, Community Strategies, approved a motion that will move the school’s controversial learning fund from private account management to public bank accounts. [NonDoc] Only one week earlier, the attorney for Epic’s governing board stood before the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board trying to make a case for dismissing altogether the termination proceedings against Epic over its handling of public monies to date. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma prisons ahead in vaccinations but advocates say earlier access could have saved lives: The chance to see visitors without putting them at risk is a strong incentive for Oklahoma prisoners to take COVID-19 vaccines. The Department of Corrections stopped allowing visitors in its buildings last fall to prevent spreading coronavirus. Earlier this month the agency decided it was safe enough to allow prisoners’ family and friends to come back. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

  • Almost 1 in 4 Oklahomans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 [The Frontier]
  • Indian Health Service pauses Johnson & Johnson vaccine [AP News]
  • COVID-19: Oklahoma, Tulsa County numbers show slight increase in cases [Tulsa World]

Health News

Homelessness, suicide rates worsen for Oklahoma veterans: New data from two federal agencies show homelessness and suicide rates have both increased among Oklahoma veterans. The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Point-In-Time and Housing Inventory Counts were conducted in January 2020. [KOSU]

Oklahoma sues after $890K worth of ventilators never arrived: Oklahoma’s attorney general has filed a lawsuit against a ventilator manufacturer, after it failed to deliver during the outset of the pandemic. Attorney General Mike Hunter’s office announced the lawsuit Tuesday. [KOSU]

State Government News

Oklahoma Legislature OKs bill to crack down on protesters: A Republican-backed bill aimed at cracking down on protests by increasing penalties for blocking roadways and granting immunity to motorists who kill or injure rioters received final legislative approval on Wednesday. The state Senate voted 38-10, mostly along party lines, for the bill that now heads to the governor’s desk. [AP News] | [Tulsa World] The Senate also gave final passage to House Bill 1643, which prohibits publishing identifying information about police or public officials online to threaten, intimidate or harass them — a practice known as doxxing. [Public Radio Tulsa]

House committee shoots down bill targeting state auditor and inspector: Legislation that would have allowed state agencies to circumvent the state auditor and inspector for required audits went down in flames in the House Appropriations and Budget Committee after the House sponsor refused to let Auditor and Inspector Cindy Bird, who was in the room, answer questions. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma House approves Sgt. Craig Johnson Act redefining accessory to murder: Legislation named for slain Tulsa Police Sgt. Craig Johnson and prompted by the prosecution of his murder case passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Wednesday despite some concern that it might be used to overcharge future defendants. [Tulsa World]

House to hold public comment session on redistricting map process: The Oklahoma House of Representatives will hold a public comment session this week to hear from Oklahomans that submitted a statewide redistricting plan for House districts. The House received seven map submissions from the public, and will host a meeting to hear from interested parties at 3 p.m. Thursday, April 15, in room 206 in the state Capitol. [Tahlequah Daily Press]

Oklahoma Senate confirms Dr. Lance Frye as state’s top health official: The Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved Gov. Kevin Stitt’s appointment of Dr. Lance Frye to serve as the state’s commissioner of health. [The Oklahoman]

  • Jake Merrick sworn in as Oklahoma’s newest state senator [The Oklahoman]

‘Quite a lot of work to do’: Questions abound on securitization proposal: If people want to know how the Oklahoma Development Finance Authority will try to protect utility ratepayers from the financial calamity of February’s snowpocalypse by issuing up to $4.5 billion in low-interest bonds, they won’t be able to find it on the powerful but obscure agency’s website. [NonDoc]

Op-Ed: Lawmakers launch sneak attack on female athletes: A sure sign legislators know they are passing harmful, misguided, unpopular laws is when they sneak the language into an unrelated bill at the last minute. That’s what happened last week, when a school finance review bill in the House suddenly had its language stripped and replaced with an attack on transgender athletes. [Rev. Lori Allen Walke Op-Ed / The Oklahoman] OK Policy: Oklahomans should expect crystal-clear transparency from their elected officials, along with plentiful opportunities to engage in lawmaking whether through public hearings or testimony from impacted communities.

Federal Government News

Inhofe defends electoral college vote: Supporters of U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe expected the worst when he took the stage at Saturday’s Oklahoma GOP convention after his popularity had been tested by refusing to vote to challenge the Electoral College decision in January. [KGOU]

Oklahoma ranks near bottom of ‘Greenest States’ report: The state ranks seventh worst in 2021’s Greenest States, according to a report released Wednesday by the personal-financial website WalletHub. Vermont ranked No. 1 overall and in two of the three categories in the study – environmental quality and eco-friendly behaviors. West Virginia came in last overall and in both the environmental quality and climate-change contributions categories. [The Journal Record]

Criminal Justice News

Woman is sixth inmate to die in Oklahoma County jail in 2021: A 65-year-old woman has died in the Oklahoma County jail, becoming the sixth inmate to die at the lockup this year, a jail official said Wednesday. Christa Sullivan suffered undisclosed health issues and was under suicide watch when jail staff saw her arm go limp Tuesday night and called medical personnel, who pronounced her dead, according to jail spokesman Mac Mullings. [AP News] | [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • Oklahoma County jail medical provider staying put [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma jailers under investigation for inmate mistreatment [AP News]

‘Project Trust’ aims to create relationships between youth, law officers: Sitting in a room full of law enforcement officers, the students quietly planned their chance at deceit. This was no interrogation, but an icebreaker game during Project Trust, a weekslong program meant to build relationships and understanding between students and local law enforcement. [Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Chesapeake wants its methane certified as ‘responsibly sourced.’ Here’s what that means: Most often, we hear about “responsibly sourced” products as part of a pitch to buy food or clothes in messaging that informs us the product was produced, grown or made in ways that didn’t have a negative impact on either people or the planet. Could methane join that list? [The Oklahoman]

Fifty years in, Oklahoma-based river corridor faces millions in backlogged repairs: When countries like China buy soybeans and grain, that journey might start in a port in the land-locked state of Oklahoma. Farmers in states like Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas and Colorado rely on a 445-mile water highway called the McClellan-Kerr Navigation System to ship their crops like soybeans and grain across the world. [KOSU]

Tribal Nations News

My ancestors were enslaved—but their freedom came at a price for others: Like most African Americans, I come from a family with a history that includes generations of enslavement. But unlike most, the men and women who held my ancestors in bondage were not white, they were Native American—people who were themselves oppressed by the process that led to my family’s freedom. [Time]

Native news show in growth mode: News organization Indian Country Today has turned upside down the conventional wisdom that holds that modern technology and youth culture are destroying the traditional news model. Working with a limited budget, the organization has managed to extend its reach worldwide and grow its staff by 800% in the last three years – and plans for a lot more growth in the near future. [The Journal Record]

Oklahoma Local News

Quote of the Day

“Ultimately, we would like to reduce emergency room visits and reduce ‘crisis care’ occurrences that can be avoided with care that is appropriately managed on an outpatient basis.”

-Krista Roberts, CEO of St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Enid, speaking about increasing access to outpatient health care through coverage such as Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act [Enid News & Eagle]

Number of the Day


Number of Oklahoma tax returns that filed Earned Income Tax Claims, as of Dec. 2020

[Source: IRS]

Policy Note

The EITC and minimum wage work together to reduce poverty and raise incomes: Both the EITC and the minimum wage have been found to be quite successful at improving the lives of low-income families. The EITC—a refundable tax credit available to low-income families who have income from work—dramatically reduces child poverty, encourages single mothers to participate in the formal economy, and has important positive effects on a range of health, educational, and child developmental outcomes. The minimum wage is more controversial, but the best evidence indicates that it, too, raises incomes and reduces poverty, including child poverty; improves health and public safety; and has little or no negative effect on employment. [Economic Policy Institute]

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.