In The Know: Medicaid expansion on the ballot; 91,000 voters purged; OK County jail takeover…

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

Substance use disorders are a public health crisis in Oklahoma. Expanding health care coverage will help: Oklahoma has a substance abuse problem. Drug overdose deaths have been on the rise over the last decade and now nearly 1,000 Oklahomans die each year from an overdose. Medicaid plays a significant role in providing treatment for substance use disorders. [OK Policy]

Local organizations host public forum to discuss health care in OK: Together Oklahoma and the League of Women Voters hosted a public forum to inform the audience, and answer questions about health care issues across Oklahoma. Together Oklahoma says that nationally, Oklahoma ranks near the bottom in overall health care, and patients with insurance. [KSWO]

Deadline to apply for OK Policy’s 2019 Summer Internships almost here: We are currently seeking interns for the summer 2019 semester. This summer we have internship opportunities in two areas: Public Policy Internship and Open Justice Oklahoma Data Internship. Summer internships are paid, and can be full-time or part-time. The deadline to apply is Sunday, April 21st. Click here to learn more and to apply.

In The News

Medicaid expansion may become ballot initiative, according to policy group, lawmaker: Oklahomans likely will get to vote on Medicaid expansion should lawmakers fail to act, a state lawmaker and the head of a policy group said Thursday. “I know there is a move afoot,” said David Blatt, Oklahoma Policy Institute executive director. “I know there is an intention to file a petition.” Blatt said his organization has been involved in some of the conversations, but is not leading the effort. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Election Board purges 91,000 from voter rolls: The Oklahoma Election Board has removed more than 91,000 names from the state’s list of registered voters. Board spokeswoman Misha Mohr said Thursday that the list includes more than 88,000 “inactive” voters who have failed since 2015 to confirm their addresses or vote in any election through the 2018 election cycle. [AP News]

Troubled Oklahoma County jail could be operated by private company under plan being considered: Control of the state’s largest county jail could be placed under the authority of a public-private trust according to a plan considered Thursday by an Oklahoma County advisory group. [StateImpact Oklahoma] The final decision will be made by Oklahoma County commissioners, who could take up the issue as early as next week. [NewsOK ????]

Still waiting: Oklahoma’s juvenile life without parole prisoners struggle to get attorneys, new hearings: The courts say dozens of Oklahoma prisoners serving life without parole for crimes they committed as teenagers have the right to new sentences, but many are still waiting for a second chance. [The Frontier] Although the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that life without parole should be reserved only for the worst juvenile offenders who are beyond rehabilitation, Oklahoma prosecutors are seeking life without parole again in six of the eight pending juvenile cases that have been granted new sentencing hearings, according to a review of court records by The Frontier. [The Frontier]

Mike Hunter: Son’s job at OSU health center ‘a coincidence’: Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter says “it’s a coincidence” that his son is employed at OSU’s Center for Health Sciences, the overarching entity that houses an addiction treatment center slated to receive millions of dollars from his controversial settlement with Purdue Pharma. [NonDoc]

Turnpike speed limit increase among new laws signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt; several still await his signature: Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed 35 Senate Bills into law, as well as 43 House Bills from the 2019 legislative session. On Tuesday, Stitt signed a bill into law that will increase the speed limit on Oklahoma turnpikes from 75 to 80 miles per hour and on certain state highways from 70 to 75 miles per hour. [Tulsa World] 80 mph on Turner Turnpike? Not anytime soon, as speed limit hikes require study. [Tulsa World]

Two medical marijuana bills regarding disposal and business foreclosure procedures pass muster in the House: Two bills dealing with the disposal of medical marijuana and medical marijuana businesses survived floor votes in the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Thursday but still must make another tour of the Senate before reaching Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk. [Tulsa World]

Bill that would allow school districts to record drivers passing stopped buses with flashing sign headed to governor’s desk: A bill aiming to keep children safe at the bus stop is headed to desk of Governor Kevin Stitt. House Bill 1926, by Sen. Ron Sharp, R-District 17, and Rep. Dell Kerbs, R-District 26, would allow school districts to install cameras on buses and record drivers who illegally pass when the stop sign is flashing. [KFOR]

Political tensions between Republican leaders continue at state Capitol: Lawmakers left early Thursday for the Easter holiday weekend, but insiders say tension remains high between Republican leaders. Budget discussions continue, News 9 was told, behind closed doors. But one of the biggest obstacles seems to be Republicans fighting with Republicans. [News9]

Political activist Mike Workman charged with violating protective order: A maverick political activist and embattled member of the Tulsa County Democratic Party was arrested Saturday in what he claims is an ongoing political dispute with party leadership. [Tulsa World]

Family of Tulsa girl killed by alleged domestic violence wants legislative change: The family of a woman and unborn child who died this week after she was allegedly beaten for months wants to see systemic change with how domestic violence is treated. [FOX23]

Wayne Greene: If Oklahoma could get its incarceration rate down to the national average, we’d have $100 million a year do things other than mass incarceration: What if Oklahoma were normal? Right now, the state has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Higher than Louisiana, Mississippi, Iran, Cuba or China. We’re No. 1. Whee! What if that weren’t the case? What if we were just average? [Wayne Greene / Tulsa World]

Hamilton: Senators kick COLA increase can down the road: State retirees know what it means to live on a fixed income. Theirs has been fixed for more than a decade. This year’s Legislature dangled early session hope it would boost retirement income for ex-teachers, firefighters, police and other state pensioners. [Arnold Hamilton / Journal Record]

Oklahoma’s newest cash crop: Medical marijuana prices falling: Oklahoma implemented medical marijuana faster than any other state. Forty five days after voters said “yes” to State Question 788, a new home-grown industry was born. Those behind the state question purposely crafted the measure with fewer restrictions. [News9]

‘More people need to be reached’: Tulsa Community WorkAdvance unveils workforce programs for north Tulsans, young adults: Darryl Brown found out about Tulsa Community WorkAdvance while in a parole office. Now a graduate of the training program, he has spent about four years working at Sofidel America Corp., a company that specializes in tissue paper production. [Tulsa World]

Man shows shocking health care cost of his attempted suicide: An attempt at suicide could cost you more than your life: An Oklahoma man shared an image to Twitter of his one-week, $93,000 hospital bill after an attempt to take his own life. [NY Post]

Cherokee Nation fights opioid misuse through education, prevention programs: Cherokee Nation Behavioral Health is making an impact on Cherokee families with programs that focus on education, prevention and medication-assisted recovery to end opioid misuse in Indian Country. [Claremore Daily Progress]

Ex-EPA chief Pruitt registers as energy lobbyist in Indiana: Scott Pruitt, the scandal-ridden former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, registered as an energy lobbyist in Indiana on Thursday as fossil-fuels interests there are fighting to block the proposed closure of several coal-fired power plants. [AP News]

Quote of the Day

“The state of Kansas is incarcerating at the rate of 590 per 100,000 population, slightly below the national average. In 2016, Kansas had an average household income that was $5,750 a year higher than Oklahoma’s. The state spent $3,300 per student more on its public schools. The violent crime rate was 12 percent lower. Mass incarceration doesn’t make us safer. Just poorer.”

Tulsa World Editorial Editor Wayne Greene

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma households that reported falling behind on bills in the last 12 months, compared to 13.2% of households nationally.

[Source: Prosperity Now Scorecard]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Medicaid expansion boosted cancer screenings, study says: Ray looks after 5,000 hogs on a farm in Calhoun, Kentucky, and he doesn’t like doctors. But one day while accompanying his wife to an appointment at the hospital 30 minutes from his home, he spotted an inflatable colon in the lobby, part of an outreach campaign. His wife told him he needed to check it out. He did. And because Ray is one of the more than 400,000 adults who have Medicaid because of the federal Affordable Care Act, his screening and subsequent colonoscopy were covered. [Associated Press]

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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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