In The Know: More legislators become lobbyists; controversial ed board appointees advance; feud over state employee raises…

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

What you need to know about coverage expansion: Although time is running out, legislators could still advance a bill this session – or they may punt to a summer working group, putting the issue on a collision course with an initiative petition that could put Medicaid expansion on the ballot for voters to decide in 2020. Regardless, this is a complex issue that inevitably raises a lot of questions. Some of the most common questions, and their answers, are below. [OK Policy]

Health care expansion saved my life: Steve Schaben’s family is from Oklahoma, but he was living in Colorado when doctors discovered that he had a large brain tumor. Because Colorado is one of the 36 states that have accepted a 9-to-1 federal match to expand health coverage for their people, Schaben was able to get life-saving treatment. [OK Policy / NonDoc] Watch the video to hear Steve’s story, and then tell your lawmakers to bring our federal tax dollars back home to Oklahoma. Legislators and Governor Stitt still have time to do the right thing this session.

In The News

More legislators become lobbyists: Five former legislators who left office last year are now lobbying their former colleagues. In February, Oklahoma Watch reported that three lawmakers – Reps. Pat Ownbey, Josh Cockroft and Bobby Cleveland, who all Republicans who served in last year’s legislative class – registered as lobbyists within weeks or a few months of finishing their terms in mid-November. [Oklahoma Watch]

Despite opposition, ed board appointees advance: A Senate panel on Tuesday advanced Gov. Kevin Stitt’s remaining appointees to the state Board of Education despite opposition from Senate Democrats. The Senate Education Committee advanced the nominations of four people to the board, including the two nominations Sen. Carri Hicks declined to carry because of what she cited as philosophical differences on the future of education. [NewsOK]

Oklahoma lawmakers feud over state employee raises: As state lawmakers continues to squabble over the budget, News 9 takes a closer look at the figures provided by the governor and the House of Representatives. Under the plan, the governor and House agree on, the majority of the state’s $8 billion in spending goes to education, with an additional $200 million spent on teacher raises and classroom spending next year. But lawmakers are at odds over raises for other state employees. [News9]

Legislature approves change in online sales tax collections: A bill that would update Oklahoma tax law regarding Internet sales has passed in the Legislature and is on its way to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office for his consideration. Under Senate Bill 513, authored by state Rep. Chad Caldwell, R-Enid, and state Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City, remote sellers meeting an annual Oklahoma “sales threshold” would be required to collect, report and remit taxes on all state sales.. [Journal Record 🔒]

Alcohol distribution set for another shakeup: Less than eight months after drastic changes to Oklahoma’s system of alcohol distribution, the system is about to undergo more change. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed Senate Bill 608 on Monday, which requires the top 25 brands of wine and spirits be sold to all wholesalers in the state. [NewsOK 🔒]

Stitt: Oklahoma focused on boosting aerospace investments: During a visit to Boeing’s Oklahoma City office Tuesday, Gov. Kevin Stitt discussed efforts by the state and the company to increase aerospace investments. Stitt met with Boeing leadership and toured the company’s Advanced Visualizations & Immersive Development Center, where he flew a 747 cockpit simulator. [Journal Record]

Okmulgee lawmaker says ‘hot mic’ conversation that referenced allegation against House reps not what it sounds like: A conversation picked up by a microphone prior to a Capitol news conference was not an admission he witnessed wrongdoing, state Rep. Scott Fetgatter, R-Okmulgee, said Tuesday. “My comments have been taken out of context and were only in response to a question directed toward me,” Fetgatter said in a written statement. [Tulsa World]

Dr. Blaine M. Sayre: We have 34 examples of how to do health care better; when will we fix it? A few weeks ago my wife and I attended a meeting on Medicaid expansion at the Eastern Oklahoma Food Bank. It was a wonderful, well-conducted meeting and clearly it was a classic “no brainer” regarding the option. It was like advising someone to look both ways before crossing the street. If that needs further explanation, it is hard to know where to start. [Dr. Blaine M. Sayre / Tulsa World] Take Action: Tell your lawmakers why you support expanding health care to more than 100,000 uninsured Oklahomans.

Students say failure of ‘Lauren’s Law,’ inadequate sex education in high schools contribute to sexual assault: Lauren Atkins stood on the steps of the Oklahoma Capitol building with her friends and advocates, cloaked in darkness, breathing in the midnight air, wondering, “What just happened?” On March 13, Oklahoma House Bill 1007 — “Lauren’s Law” — failed, becoming part of the third legislative session in a row to vote against preventative consent education in Oklahoma public schools. [OU Daily]

SDH promotes maternal mental health and awareness of maternal mood disorders: In recognition of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has produced the first video in a series, which shines a light on resilient women in Oklahoma who have experienced a diagnosis of postpartum depression and/or postpartum anxiety. [Shawnee News-Star]

Regional ag income slips ahead of tariff issues: Farm income declined across the region as a deteriorating trend in credit conditions continued in the first quarter of the year, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Farm spending declined at a pace similar to last year across the seven-state 10th District except for Oklahoma, according to the Fed’s latest quarterly Agricultural Credit Survey by economists Nathan Kauffman and Ty Kreitman. Bankers were less pessimistic for the Sooner State, they wrote. [Journal Record 🔒] Read the report here.

Oklahoma City ranks last on nation wide physical fitness study: A new study by the American fitness index has Oklahoma City ranked dead last out of the 100 largest cities in America, for overall fitness and health. The fitness index reflects poorly on Oklahoma City according to the local parks and recreation department, it isn’t for lack of trying. [FOX25]

NE OKC ready to party: Urban renewal efforts across the nation have often led to local residents being pushed out of their neighborhoods, with pricey condos and modern restaurants replacing historic housing and mom-and-pop diners. But community leaders in the predominantly black area of northeast Oklahoma City say their side of town can sustain a turnaround and maintain its cultural uniqueness. [NewsOK]

Final Improve Our Tulsa town hall focuses on streets, north Tulsa economic development: The first round of town hall meetings on the city’s proposed $597 million Improve Our Tulsa renewal package ended Tuesday night where it began — with question after question about city streets. [Tulsa World]

Interim president likely when Gallogly retirement becomes official: The Board of Regents for the University of Oklahoma will likely appoint an interim president as part of the transition from retiring President James Gallogly. Gallogly, who took office officially in July of last year, announced on Sunday that he would retire once the regents have a transition plan in place. [Norman Transcript] As OU Board of Regents meetings nears, a look back at OU’s 7 interim presidents to date. [OU Daily]

Senators reject Eastern Oklahoma State College regent: A nominee of Gov. Kevin Stitt to the Eastern Oklahoma State College Board of Regents failed in the Senate Education Committee this morning on a 5-8 vote. Tulsa attorney Cheryl Baber, a former Republican House candidate who said she is considering a 2020 State Senate candidacy, said afterward she was surprised by the result. [NonDoc]

Internships pave way for new grads’ employment: Only 37% of college graduates nationwide have jobs lined up, while 55% have negative employment outlooks. That’s according to a news release Tuesday from Olathe, Kansas-based MidAmerica Nazarene University, which surveyed roughly 2,000 seniors and recent college graduates across the country. [NewsOK]

Quote of the Day

“I often hear that this type of thing should be happening in the home and the parent should be educating their child on these issues. My response to that is, well generations of people in Oklahoma never got that themselves — how on Earth can they teach the next generation when they were never taught these things?”

– Stacey Wright, an advocate for requiring consent education in Oklahoma public schools, after a bill to do so failed for a third year [OU Daily]

Number of the Day

2,644

Number of reported internet based crimes in Oklahoma in 2018

[Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Since 2008, only high-income people have seen their housing costs drop: In other words, those with more to spend on housing are having to spend a lot less than they were a decade ago, and vice versa. Almost everywhere. “In the top 100 largest metros in the U.S.—in each one of them—housing costs have grown more for the bottom half in income distribution than the top half,” said Igor Popov, Apartment List’s chief economist. [CityLab]

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy from Oklahoma City University as a Clara Luper Scholar. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked as an Inbound and Digital Marketing Specialist for an OKC based firm. She is an alumnus of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a Board Member for Dream Action Oklahoma.

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