In The Know: OKC life expectancy varies by zip code; spotlight on jail conditions; no help for state retirees this year…

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

Together Oklahoma health care forum slated for Sunday: More than 100,000 Oklahomans stand to benefit directly should the state legislature opt to expand health care coverage during this session, according to Deborah Hill of Together Oklahoma. Thousands more would benefit indirectly from expanded health insurance because doctors and hospitals, especially in rural areas, would be compensated for medical care rather than providing it for free when uninsured Oklahomans come to emergency rooms and can’t pay, Hill said. [Norman Transcript] Join advocates in Norman for a health care forum on Sunday, April 14 at 3 PM.

In The News

Depending on your OKC zip code, you could live 18 years longer or less than others: The Oklahoma City-County Health Department is putting billboards across the city to remind Oklahoma residents that where you live could affect how long you live. “It’s a shocking statistic,” said Oklahoma City-County Health Department executive director Gary Cox. The gap is 18 years. [KFOR]

Sheriff revolt over county jail conditions shines spotlight on low funding: Barnett made national headlines when she resigned her position as county sheriff because she refused to lock prisoners inside a 107-year-old jail she says is dangerous. At least two people have tried to hang themselves in the rural jail in the last two years. State law requires that counties pay for their own jail or access to someone else’s. Barnett says it was extremely difficult to run Nowata’s jail because the county’s commissioners didn’t give her office enough money. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Non-jury trial to decide Oklahoma’s lawsuit against opioid manufacturers: A judge ruled Thursday that he, rather than a jury, will decide the outcome of Oklahoma’s public nuisance case against opioid manufacturers. Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman sided with attorneys for the state who argued he should decide the case. Attorneys for the drug companies were split on the issue. [NewsOK]

No hike for state retirees this year: Senate committee does not approve cost of living increase: The Senate Committee on Retirement and Insurance voted to send a proposed 2 percent cost of living adjustment to an actuary for analysis. The vote was 7-1, with Sen. Michael Brooks, D-Oklahoma City, casting the lone dissenting vote. [Tulsa World] The move means HB 2304 by Rep. Avery Frix, R-Muskogee, is dead for the legislative session. [NewsOK]

State House Committee passes bill for 5-day school week that includes pay increase: A bill that would require most school districts to operate on a five-day week passes in a House committee. More than 200 schools in Oklahoma now have four-day school weeks. It’s an incentive to attract teachers. But one that might be short lived. [News9]

Senate Rules Committee puts trains bill back on track: A bill attempting to address numerous communities’ problems with stopped trains is rolling down the tracks once again. A committee substitute for House Bill 2472, authored by House Speaker Charles McCall and state Sen. Frank Simpson, R-Springer, passed the Senate Rules Committee 10-to-1 Thursday morning. [NewsOK]

Bill allowing minors in liquor stores passes Oklahoma Senate committee: Legislation allowing accompanied minors in liquor stores is moving forward in the Oklahoma Legislature after advancing a Senate committee on Thursday. House Bill 2325, presented by Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City, would allow minors under 21 in liquor stores if they were accompanied by a parent or legal guardian of age. [KFOR]

Stitt signs bill allowing golf course beer sales: Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill Wednesday that will make beer and wine available for golfers on the go. Golf course clubhouses will soon be able to sell beer and wine meant for drinking on the course. Sales will begin as soon as the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement (ABLE) Commission adopts rules for a special off-premises permit and golf courses obtain such a permit. [NewsOK]

Oklahoma Corporation Commission backs electric cooperative in dispute over a large power agreement: The Oklahoma Corporation Commission on Tuesday short-circuited ONEOK’s hopes to have Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. supply power to a pump station near Binger on a pipeline it is building. [NewsOK]

Tulsa World editorial: If Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma is good for some, why not everyone? Unable to get “Obamacare” Medicaid expansion approved for all Oklahomans, the Oklahoma House has approved a peculiar and creative plan to get it for little bits of the state. Last week, on a 91-3 vote, the House OK’d House Bill 1750, offered by Speaker Charles McCall, to create local hospital districts that could use local sales or property tax money to apply separately for Medicaid expansion. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]

Wayne Greene: How does the state turn $15.3 billion (give or take) into $5,854,386,815: There’s a fascinating flow chart on page 11 of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2020. It shows — sometimes very precisely but other times in broad conceptual estimates — just how much tax money gets pushed through the state government machine every year and how much of its gets diverted into different causes before the Legislature starts writing what is commonly referred to as “the budget.” [Wayne Greene / Tulsa World]

Prosecutors say Oklahoma justice reform talks overlook victims: At a ceremony Wednesday, prosecutors complained legislators are forgetting crime victims in their efforts to address prison overcrowding. Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said elected officials give only “lip service” to victims and are not allowing them to have input in “justice reform” conversations. [NewsOK] Research has found that by a more than 2-to-1 margin, crime victims want the justice system to focus more on rehabilitation than punishment, and even most survivors of serious violent crime prefer a system that deals shorter prison sentences and invests more in prevention and rehabilitation.

Deputy Chief Paco Balderrama becomes first Hispanic promoted to the Oklahoma City police rank: An El Paso native who was an Oklahoma County jailer before becoming a police officer has become the first Hispanic to be promoted to the rank of deputy chief in Oklahoma City. Deputy Chief Paco Balderrama, 42, said he had a lot of help from other law officers along the way. [NewsOK]

Citizens group calls for more transparency, accessibility in public hearings on Equality Indicators: A group of concerned citizens calling itself Demanding a Just Tulsa has sent a letter to city councilors and Mayor G.T. Bynum calling for more transparency, more accessibility and more accountability in the City Council’s upcoming public hearings on the 2018 Equality Indicators Report. [Tulsa World]

Norman case: Is a city ward Facebook page a protected public forum? A case that has broad ramifications for how government officials use social media and what constitutes public data is underway in a Norman court. Tuesday, Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman heard arguments in a lawsuit brought by Casey Holcomb against the City of Norman and Councilman Bill Hickman alleging the official censored posts critical of the councilman on the Norman Ward 4 Facebook page. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma farms are fewer but bigger: The number of farms continues to shrink in Oklahoma while the average farm size increases, according to the latest Census of Agriculture. Over the same five-year period, 2012-2017, the average age of Oklahoma ag producers increased from 55.3 years old to 57, and the number of female producers grew by 28.7%, data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows. [Journal Record ????]

Cherokee language technology specialist to be on team of advisers: Cherokee Nation language technology specialist Wade Blevins has been appointed to an Oklahoma State Department of Education language advisory team. Blevins is joining the World Languages Other Than English Advisory Team. [Tahlequah Daily Press]

Kendra Horn still worries about her student loans. She’s not the only one: Kendra Horn is the new lawmaker no one saw coming. An upset victory in Oklahoma sent her to Washington, but she’s actually been here before. Back in 2004, between stints as a lawyer and a nonprofit executive, the Democrat briefly served as press secretary for Rep. Brad Carson. [Roll Call]

Educational TV network, foundation settle funding dispute: A nonprofit foundation established to support the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority network has agreed to dissolve and hand over millions in assets to a replacement organization. OETA and OETA Foundation, Inc. announced the agreement in a joint statement Wednesday. [AP News]

Quote of the Day

“If Medicaid expansion is a good idea for parts of the state, why not the whole state? Don’t all working poor Oklahomans deserve the same health care coverage?”

-Tulsa World editorial on a bill by House Speaker Charles McCall that would make Oklahoma counties individually apply for Medicaid expansion and pay for the state share with local sales or property taxes [Source: Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


The number of Oklahoma inmates suspected of having Hepatitis C.

[Source: Department of Corrections]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Medicaid work rules harm hospitals, study finds: A recent study by the Commonwealth Fund estimates that hospitals in the state could lose 15 percent of their Medicaid revenue. Other states like Kentucky could lose more — up to 22 percent — because their work requirements apply to more people. [Wisconsin Public Radio]

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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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