In The Know: Medicaid expansion takes effect today | School Counselor Corps funding | Child care funds announced

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

Time for Care: Celebrating Medicaid Expansion in Oklahoma: Tanks to voter-approved Medicaid expansion, more than 120,000 Oklahomans and counting will finally have health care coverage starting on July 1. To celebrate this historic milestone, Oklahoma Policy Institute hosted a June 30 virtual event to reflect on the journey to this point and how it will positively impact our state moving forward. [OK Policy / YouTube

Policy Matters: Making a difference starts locally: When it comes to thinking about politics, the national landscape tends to hog the spotlight. However, for most day-to-day activities, Oklahomans feel decisions made at the local and state level much more acutely. That’s why Oklahomans who want to create change should focus their attention on issues closer to home first. [Ahniwake Rose / Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

‘A very joyful moment’: Medicaid expansion takes effect in Oklahoma: After more than a decade of fierce debate about whether Oklahoma should expand Medicaid, the Sooner State on Thursday became the 37th state to implement Medicaid expansion and offer health benefits to more low-income residents. Medicaid expansion has been one of the most heated political topics in Oklahoma since the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010. [The Oklahoman] Oklahoma Policy Institute has long made the case for Medicaid expansion. Policy Director Carly Putnam and Legislative and Outreach Director Angela Monson said tying health insurance to a job is problematic. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • The Health 202: Oklahoma is the first state to pocket extra new Medicaid dollars [Washington Post]

State Education Department awards $35.7M for school counselors: Almost 200 school districts and charter schools across Oklahoma will be getting relief funds to help address students’ mental health and academic needs. The Oklahoma State Department of Education is awarding $35.7 million in grants to 181 school districts over three years to help launch the Oklahoma School Counselor Corps, the department announced Wednesday. [Tulsa World] OK Policy: Oklahoma’s children need funding to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.

OKDHS announces additional child care sustainability funds: The Oklahoma Department of Human Services announced Tuesday that additional coronavirus relief dollars authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act will be used to provide stabilization grants to the child care industry as well as incentivize quality improvement, access to care and workforce development. This plan will allow families and their child care providers to plan how to allocate resources through the end of 2022. [The Journal Record]

Health News

COVID-19: Latest Oklahoma case count reveals 737 breakthrough infections as state virus totals rise 36%: For the first time, data released Wednesday by the Oklahoma State Department of Health includes information on breakthrough COVID-19 cases. The state agency has thus far documented 737 infections in people who were fully vaccinated or who recovered previously from a COVID-19 infection. [Tulsa World]

  • About Half Of Older Adults Testing Positive For COVID-19 Now Are Being Hospitalized [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • COVID-19 Cases Rising In Young People [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • COVID-19 infections on the rise; caution urged [The Journal Record]
  • Oklahoma County COVID-19 vaccine tracker: 44% of people fully vaccinated [The Oklahoman]
  • Canadian County COVID-19 vaccine tracker: 43% of people fully vaccinated [The Oklahoman]
  • Pottawatomie County COVID-19 vaccine tracker: 33% of people fully vaccinated [The Oklahoman]
  • OSDH: Northwest Oklahoma sees more ‘green’ counties than rest of state [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Oklahomans We’ve Lost: A family man who loved making people smile [The Frontier]

State Government News

Corrections director blames press leak for abrupt prison closure announcement: Noting a steady decline in Oklahoma’s prison population, state corrections officials started formulating a plan to close the dilapidated William S. Key Correctional Center in Fort Supply in mid-May. The governor’s office, facility’s warden and senior corrections administrators were aware of the agency’s decision a month later. But Northwest Oklahoma lawmakers and community leaders, who argue losing the prison will be devastating to Woodward County’s economy, say they were left out of the decision making process and learned of the news through rumors and media reports. [Oklahoma Watch] In a legislative hearing, rural lawmakers said the planned closure of William S. Key Correctional Center in Fort Supply could have a devastating economic impact on local communities. [The Oklahoman]

Bill that would ban teaching aspects of race and gender in Oklahoma schools takes effect Thursday: A controversial law passed last session that would restrict teaching certain aspects of race and gender in schools is among 79 new laws that became effective Thursday. House Bill 1775, by Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore, bans the teaching that one race or gender is superior to another and makes college gender or diversity training voluntary. [Tulsa World]

States are so flush with funds, many are cutting taxes: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt last month signed legislation cutting individual income tax rates by 0.25 percentage point. That reduces the top rate from 5% to 4.75%, the sixth lowest among states that levy income taxes, according to the Tax Foundation. Also, the state’s corporate income tax rate will fall from 6% to 4%, tying it with Missouri’s for the second lowest in the nation, behind North Carolina, among states with corporate income taxes. [KTEN

License plate scanning firm faces securities class action: Headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, Rekor has a partnership with Oklahoma, which uses the company’s technology to scan license plates and identify uninsured vehicles, according to the complaint. Rekor earns a cut of the fines levied upon uninsured drivers identified with its technology. Miller said the company “consistently touted” the value of the Oklahoma partnership and the company’s stock price “ballooned” because of the perception the deal was a “stepping-stone to capturing similar deals with other municipalities.” [Reuters]

High court slams Progressive Insurance in decision: Progressive Insurance drafted its car insurance policies “in a way that ensured its policyholders would not actually get what they paid for,” ruled the Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday. The 5-to-3 split decision showed the justices had different opinions as to whether Progressive’s tactics were misleading enough to constitute a direct violation of Oklahoma law. [The Journal Record]

Federal Government News

Cities’ plea to Biden: Help us lower speed limits: Like dozens of other U.S. cities, Pittsburgh is trying to tame automotive traffic and lower the number of pedestrians struck by vehicles, which average 250 per year for the city. But officials say they are handcuffed by federal guidelines that advise traffic engineers to set speed limits based on how fast drivers are traveling — not how fast they should be going. Oklahoma City and Chattanooga, Tennessee, are among the cities that have objected to the 85th percentile rule, along with the National Association of City Transportation Officials, which represents 86 North American cities and transit agencies. [Reuters]

Tribal Nations News

Assistant chief, councilmember challenge incumbent Seminole Nation chief: Greg P. Chilcoat — the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma’s chief — is running for re-election against two challengers: Lewis Johnson, the tribe’s current assistant chief, and Sena Michelle Yesslith, a representative of the Mekusukey Band. [NonDoc]

Criminal Justice News

‘We should know’: Glossip supporter, Oklahoma lawmaker wants more scrutiny in death row cases: Ten minutes east of Oklahoma State Penitentiary’s white-washed walls, a lunch party converged on Pete’s Place – a famous Italian eatery in Krebs – to discuss the impending execution of Richard Glossip. State Rep. Kevin McDugle (R, Broken Arrow) stood at the front of one of the restaurant’s private dining rooms forgoing a heavy wooden podium. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Three Oklahoma City officers cleared by DA in shootings, including jail hostage incident: The Oklahoma County District Attorney emailed letters to Oklahoma City’s police chief clearing three officers from wrongdoing in two separate shootings, including a hostage incident at the Oklahoma County jail in March. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Work continues on whitewater rafting park officials hope will boost tourism in Oklahoma: A new outdoor attraction in eastern Oklahoma announced last year remains under construction. The WOKA Whitewater Park will sit east of Watts, Oklahoma, at the Arkansas state line near Siloam Springs. It’s a partnership between the Grand River Dam Authority, the city of Siloam Springs and the Walton Family Foundation. Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas and Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma have touted the park as an economic driver. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma Local News

  • OKC Metropolitan Library System to stop overdue fees on most materials [The Oklahoman]
  • Tulsa City employees can check whether personal information made public in ransomware attack [Tulsa World]
  • Norman City Council Approves Ban On Conversion Therapy [Public Radio Tulsa]

Quote of the Day

“Rural areas also have smaller companies that may not offer health plans. So, along with the ACA Marketplace, SoonerCare expansion lets Oklahomans live rural, not have to move to a big city just for a job with health coverage.”

-Steve Goldman, Enrollment Navigator of Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, speaking about Medicaid expansion’s impact in Oklahoma. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s labor force participation rate in May 2021, which is the same rate as in Nov. 2018.

[Source: St. Louis Federal Reserve]

Policy Note

Cutting off unemployment benefits early is not pushing people to find work, data suggests: Job hunting has been muted in 12 states that opted out of federal unemployment programs in recent weeks, suggesting the policy may not be working as planned, according to a new analysis by job site Indeed. [CNBC]

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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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