In The Know: Medicaid expansion funding discussed, state tobacco policies earn poor grades, 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.

New from OK Policy

Policy Matters: Our retired public servants deserve our support: About 120,000 Oklahomans depend on state retirement systems for their retirement income. These retirees include state employees and all the state’s teachers, firefighters, and police officers. During the past decade, we have repaid our gratitude for their service by not adjusting their retirement income to account for inflation. [Ahniwake Rose / The Journal Record]

In The News

How would state pay for Medicaid expansion? No one knows yet: As lawmakers return to begin this year’s legislative session, the question of whether Oklahoma should add an estimated 200,000 low-income adults to the state’s Medicaid rolls will be front and center. [Oklahoma Watch] OK Policy has provided information and resources to better understand the need for straightforward Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma. 

Oklahoma receives poor grades from American Lung Association on tobacco policies: In its State of Tobacco Control Report issued Wednesday, the organization scored Oklahoma with Ds in four categories and an F in another. JoAnna Strother, senior director of advocacy for the American Lung Association, said Oklahoma is far from the only state with bad scores, and it’s certainly not the first time the organization has sounded the alarm. [Tulsa World]

He begged jail staff for medical attention. They ignored and mocked him. Then he died: For hours, Terral Ellis tried to convince someone — anyone — at the Ottawa County jail to help him. Laying in a solitary cell, he repeatedly shouted “D.O.,” in an attempt to sway detention officers to aid him, videos from jail security cameras show. [The Frontier]

Issues to watch during Oklahoma’s 2020 legislative session: When the legislative session begins Monday, state lawmakers will have more than 4,500 pieces of legislation they can consider. StateImpact reporters have been combing through the bills and have this preview. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Tulsa World Editorial: The 2020 Tulsa World legislative agenda: The 2020 legislative term begins 12:30 p.m. Monday with Gov. Kevin Stitt’s State of the State speech. With a tighter budget situation, legislative elections on the horizon and the ongoing dispute between Stitt and tribes over state’s gambling compacts, it promises to be a more challenging session than last year. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]

More women are holding political office — but not everywhere: Oklahoma has one of the most male-dominated legislatures in the country, but also very recently elected a woman to serve two terms as governor. [FiveThirtyEight]

Lawmaker wants to help find missing kids faster: State Rep. Merleyn Bell, D-Norman, wants to help streamline the process of finding missing kids by allowing law enforcement access to school photos. [KTUL]

Second Oklahoma lawmaker files bill requiring jails comply with ICE detainers: Another Oklahoma lawmaker filed a bill requiring detention facilities to comply with ICE detainers. Whether law enforcement officers are legally able to honor these requests has been hotly debated. [The Oklahoman]

Three states consider bills barring public agencies from requiring donor information from 501(c)s: Iowa, Oklahoma, and Tennessee are considering legislation that would bar public agencies from requiring 501(c) nonprofit entities to provide them with personal information about their donors. [Ballotpedia News]

Oklahoma lawmakers file batch of comp bills: In a batch of reform measures pre-filed in the last week, lawmakers in Oklahoma are considering legislation that would revamp the state’s Second Injury Fund, add clarity to the state’s law when it comes to workers compensation fraud, and clear the red tape in chiropractic care for injured workers. [Business Insurance]

Veteran suicide awareness bill introduced: State Rep. Jacob Rosecrants, D-Norman, has filed legislation designed to bring awareness to veteran suicide. House Bill 2891 would establish “Veterans Suicide Awareness Week” in Oklahoma. [The Lawton Constitution]

New Oklahoma bill would help Native American students wear regalia at graduation: Oklahoma House Bill 3046 would further protect freedom of religion and make it easier for Native American students who want to wear regalia at graduation. [KJRH]

Bill would regulate car sharing in Oklahoma: An Oklahoma lawmaker with a business background in insurance has filed a bill to establish rules for the emerging peer-to-peer vehicle rental industry in the state. [The Journal Record]

Tails wagging: Lawmaker wants to make shelter animals the official state pet: Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore, has filed a bill that would designate shelter animals as the state’s official pet. He hopes House Bill 3971 will encourage people to adopt rescue animals. [Tulsa World]

With Stitt appointees absent, OU regents hold 8-hour executive session: The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents spent more than eight hours in executive session today, discussing personnel matters, real estate situations and 10 lawsuits facing the university. [NonDoc]

Oklahomans at ‘low risk’ of contracting coronavirus: Oklahomans are at “low risk” for the coronavirus, which started in China and has spread around the globe, state health officials said during a Wednesday press conference. [Norman Transcript]

Treatment for problem gambling improved, progress still needed: Wiley Harwell, director of the Oklahoma Association on Problem and Compulsive Gambling, said only 3-4 percent of people will develop some level of a gambling addiction. But only about 10 percent of those individuals will seek help. [The Oklahoman]

‘What happens when there’s no one around?’: Volunteer firefighters discuss declining recruitment: Rural Oklahomans depend on volunteer firefighters for rescue, from burning homes, from brutal wrecks along lonely roadways, but that help is getting harder to find. [Enid News & Eagle]

How Oklahoma City’s homeless census works: By 4 a.m., 16 teams spread across the city to count and survey people of all ages sleeping on the streets. Other volunteers did the same across city shelters, libraries, churches and meal sites throughout the day. [Big If True]

Cannabis tied to OKC real estate growth: The cannabis industry likely has a lot to do with Oklahoma’s recent boost in the industrial and retail real estate markets, said market analysts from national real estate information company CoStar. [The Journal Record ????]

Coalition aimed at reducing missing, murdered indigenous Oklahomans: Partnered with tribal members, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers is proposing legislative reforms aimed at reducing the number of missing and murdered indigenous Oklahomans. [CNHI / Tahlequah Daily Press]

Quote of the Day

“A big thing is a living wage. … We have a low cost of living in Oklahoma, but it’s really not because wages have not increased. We’re not setting up youth for success.”

-Lindsay Cates, Director of Emergency Services for Pivot, speaking about youth experiencing homelessness in Oklahoma [Big If True]

Number of the Day


Number of low-income, working Oklahomans who lost some or all of a tax cut when the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) was made non-refundable in 2016.

[Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Many states taking steps that will improve residents’ health, advance health equity: Many states this year have adopted or are considering budget and policy changes that don’t involve health care programs directly but can measurably improve residents’ health, such as improving their tax codes, raising the minimum wage, and investing in education. Things like access to food, affordable housing, high-quality schools, and economic opportunity significantly affect people’s and communities’ health. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

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.