In The Know: Oil prices create budget uncertainty, AG: gaming fees can’t be escrowed, 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

(Capitol Update) Governor’s alternative health care proposal creates confusion, political anxieties: If the goal is confusion, it has been attained. Shortly after taking office, Gov. Stitt announced that he is working with a wide range of Oklahomans to develop an Oklahoma plan for better health care. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

Now taking applications for the 2020 Oklahoma Summer Policy Institute: The Institute offers participants a unique opportunity to become better informed about the most important Oklahoma policy issues, network with fellow students and leaders, and prepare for their future studies and work in policy-related fields. The deadline to apply is May 25. [OK Policy]

In The News

‘Double whammy’: Global oil market creates jitters in Oklahoma: While Oklahoma’s economy is more diversified than it was during previous oil busts, about 25 percent is still dependent on robust energy prices. The drop could have a profound impact on the state’s budget down the road. [NonDoc] The drop is due to several global factors including a general weakening in demand, and exacerbated by coronavirus-related demand drops in China as well as last week’s collapse of the OPEC-Russia alliance. [The Oklahoman] OK Policy: Continuing sensible policies to protect and grow the revenue base is the best way to ensure our state thrives in difficult circumstances.

Tribal gaming fees can’t be put in escrow, countering Gov. Stitt’s proposal, attorney general says: Gov. Kevin Stitt cannot put funds received from tribal gaming into an escrow account while a federal lawsuit continues, according to an opinion released Monday by Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter. Some of the state’s tribes sued Stitt on Dec. 31, asking for a declaration that their gaming compacts automatically renewed Jan. 1. [Tulsa World]

Red state Oklahoma closer to Medicaid expansion: Oklahoma is inching closer to expanding Medicaid coverage to tens of thousands of residents under a plan to be submitted to the federal government. Even as Oklahoma’s governor proposes his plan, which could include Medicaid work requirements and other potential eligibility rules for the state’s poor, supporters of a ballot measure are forging ahead to expand coverage as well. [Forbes] OK Policy: We are disappointed that the state moves forward with the Governor’s health care proposal versus the vetted, proven, and citizen-backed strategy of full Medicaid expansion.

‘It will be intense’: Board prepares for clemency requests following execution restart: Oklahoma’s Pardon and Parole Board, which has been largely remade by first-term Gov. Kevin Stitt and has shown an increased willingness to approve commutation and parole requests, is preparing to receive new death row clemency petitions after state leaders recently announced they will restart executions. [The Frontier]

Point of View: Oklahoma needs State Question 805: Life without parole. That was the future I faced when I was arrested on drug-related charges in 1995. Due to two previous drug possession charges on my record, I became the first woman in Oklahoma to receive life without parole under the old “three strikes” law. [Damita Price / The Oklahoman]

Stitt names Hannema as communications chief: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Monday said he has named Charlie Hannema to be his chief of communications. Hannema had served as director of public relations for Broken Arrow Public Schools since 2017. [Tulsa World]

Virtual charter reform bill gets passing grade from Oklahoma House: A sweeping reform of regulations governing the state’s virtual charter schools received high marks Monday from the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which passed the measure without discussion, debate or dissent. House Bill 2905, by Rep. Sheila Dills, R-Tulsa, tightens rules related to virtual charters’ attendance and transfer policies. [Tulsa World]

Bill providing relief for student loan debt passes House: Oklahomans might be more inclined to pursue careers in education under legislation approved Monday by the House of Representatives. House Bill 3382, authored by state Rep. John Waldron, D-Tulsa, proposes up to $20,000 worth of student loan debt relief for teachers who dedicate themselves to long-term careers in Oklahoma. The House passed the measure in an 85-3 vote and the bill is due to be taken up in the Senate. [The Journal Record]

Oklahoma House rejects bill to restrict marriage involving minors: The Oklahoma House on Monday scrapped legislation, HB 3873, to limit minors from getting married. Previous research shows Oklahoma has one of the highest rates of teen marriages. In Oklahoma, teenagers ages 16 and older can get married with consent from a parent or legal guardian or consent from a court. Those younger than 16 can only get married if a court approves. [The Oklahoman]

Legislators want to stop cities from banning natural gas use: Oklahoma is one of five states where legislators have proposed a prohibition of cities from banning natural gas as an energy source in new buildings. While some cities in California and the Northeast have banned natural gas, contending it contributes to global warming, Oklahoma Rep. Terry O’Donnell, a Republican from Catoosa, wants to make sure it doesn’t happen in his state. [OK Energy Today]

Tornado safety bill passes Oklahoma House: Travelers who stay in Oklahoma hotels and motels might soon find tornado precaution information posted in their rooms. The Oklahoma House of Representatives has voted in support of a bill to require new hotels and motels to post tornado safety information in every room and common area. [OK Energy Today]

Lawsuit awaits bill prohibiting state contracts with companies boycotting Israel: If a bill preventing the state from contracting with companies boycotting goods or services from Israel passes through the Legislature, lawmakers can expect a legal challenge. House Bill 3967 passed through the Oklahoma House last week and has now moved to the Senate. [The Oklahoman]

Marijuana entrepreneurs flocking to the Bible Belt for low taxes: The has been a green rush into the Bible Belt that no one anticipated when Oklahoma voters approved medical marijuana less than two years ago. Since then, a combination of factors — including a remarkably open-ended law and a red state’s aversion to government regulation — have created such ideal conditions for the cannabis industry that entrepreneurs are pouring in from states where legal weed has been established for years. [AP News / Public Radio Tulsa]

A new direction: Johnson elected governor, moving tribe into different business ventures: John Johnson has high hopes the Absentee Shawnee Tribe can expand its economic base with new commercial projects, government contracts and a move into the aerospace industry. Johnson, of Norman, was elected in 2019 as the tribal governor and he’s more than happy to take on the leadership role. [The Norman Transcript] Read Governor Johnson’s latest column in the tribe’s March newsletter. [The Absentee Shawnee News]

Missing funds prompt investigation of Canton Police Department: The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has opened a criminal investigation into the Canton Police Department after a state audit revealed cash seized from two drug suspects was missing from the police department’s evidence room. [The Oklahoman]

Councilors consider whether data can boost trust in Tulsa Police: Tulsa city councilors continue to discuss what they can do to increase trust in the police department. After several meetings following a series of public hearings on the Equality Indicators report, they generally agree any lack of trust comes down to a perceived lack of transparency and accountability. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Vanessa Hall-Harper: Breaking chains in North Tulsa: District 1 City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper is a councilor who is loved by her community and people from afar. She has become known nationally as the “Dollar Store Lady” and “Unbought and Bossed.” [Tulsa Star]

Greenwood Rising History Center building should be in place by 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre centennial: The Greenwood Rising History Center building is expected to be completed in time for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre centennial commemoration next May but won’t be operational until June 2021, the project’s director said Monday. [Tulsa World]

People with Disabilities Awareness Day goes mobile: Oklahoma’s first mobile People with Disabilities Awareness Day is set for March 10, marking the first time Oklahomans with disabilities, their families and supporters can take part in the event from work, home or wherever they are. [CNHI / The Duncan Banner]

Quote of the Day

“If the goal is confusion, it has been attained.”

-Former House Speaker Steve Lewis, writing about the state submitting the Governor’s health care proposal to federal officials prior to a statewide vote on SQ 802

Number of the Day

3 in 4

The number of Oklahomans that participated in the 2010 Census. As a result, the number of Oklahoma residents was undercounted, and this potentially cost Oklahoma billions of federal funding during the past decade. 

[Source: Oklahoma Senate]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

For the 2020 Census, these organizers are trying to ensure the count is accurate and fair: In communities where there’s reasonable mistrust of the government, organizers hope the census count can still be accurate. Kelly Percival of the Brennan Center for Justice says they’re trying to spread the word: “One of our primary messages is that it’s safe to fill out the census. None of your personally identifiable information can be shared outside of the four walls of the Census Bureau. The census is really not about law enforcement at all.” [Teen Vogue]

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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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