In The Know: Oklahoma lawmakers close to passing Medicaid work requirements

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.

Today In The News

Oklahoma Lawmakers Close to Passing Medicaid Work Requirements: State lawmakers appear poised to direct the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to come up with Medicaid work requirements matching those for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The Oklahoma Senate passed House Bill 2932 on a 31–11 vote Wednesday, sending it back to the House for final approval [Public Radio Tulsa]. Oklahoma ​should avoid the temptation to pass new medicaid​ restrictions​ [OKPolicy]. Advocacy Alert: Stop Attacks on SoonerCare [OK Policy].

Feds Again Deny State’s Attempt to Use Medicaid Funds to Train Doctors: The state will have to find another way to help fund graduate medical education by July 2019 if it wants to use Medicaid matching funds after the federal government denied the Oklahoma Health Care Authority’s latest bid to fix the program’s funding issues. If a solution can’t be found, the state will have to continue to pick up an estimated $110 million in annual funding for residency programs at medical schools run by the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University [Oklahoma Watch].

Oklahoma House Leaders Expect to Finish Legislative Session Early, with Budget Agreement Close: Leaders in the Oklahoma House expect to end the legislative session by May 4, well ahead of the deadline, they said Wednesday. Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, said plans are for the House session to end by the first week in May. Legislators legally must be done with their work by 5 p.m. May 25 [Tulsa World]. 

As Deadline Passes, Only Key Issues Remain: One of the last legislative deadlines has passed, whittling down the policy bills that will come out of the Oklahoma Legislature this year. Bills had to make it out of committee in their opposite chamber by the end of last week. That’s the third of four major deadlines for regular bills. Budget-related bills get more leeway. The remaining bills, and the ones top lawmakers talk about most, can highlight the most prominent issues of the legislative session. For 2018, those issues seem to be criminal justice, teacher pay raises and wind energy taxation [Journal Record].

Prosperity Policy: What They Accomplished: As teachers go back to school this week, many in their ranks, and in the general public, are questioning what their walkout actually accomplished. Two weeks of a massive presence of teachers and their supporters at the Capitol didn’t add much, if any, additional funding to what the Legislature granted prior to the walkout. Having already approved a major tax increase to pay for a nearly 20-percent teacher pay raise, along with raises for state workers and support staff, and some new funding for school operations, Republican leaders dug in their heels and declared that the education budget was settled. The teachers’ unions acknowledged they lacked a path to extract further concessions and decided to end the walkout, a decision that sparked vocal frustration from many teachers [David Blatt/Journal Record].

‘Growing Pains’: Wind Industry Has Different Views on Tax Proposals: While many in the Oklahoma Legislature seem to have an appetite for pulling state revenue from the wind industry, two separate proposals are receiving separate reactions among wind companies. The result is a difference of opinion within an industry often viewed as monolithic. If the Legislature is adamant about drawing dollars from the wind industry, companies with established projects currently receiving state tax credits have said they would prefer a new “gross production tax” on future wind farms’ electricity production. Conversely, some companies planning future projects say a new production tax would disrupt their business models, but limiting payouts for previously authorized tax credits would not affect future development [NonDoc].

Criminal justice reforms shelved last year moving in Oklahoma legislature: The Oklahoma legislature is advancing a slate of criminal justice reforms it did not take up last year. The seven bills tackle recommendations to reduce Oklahoma’s incarceration rate, like tying tiered property crime punishments to dollar values and distinguishing sentencing enhancements between violent and nonviolent criminal histories [Public Radio Tulsa]. Study Finds Justice Reform Bills Would Bring 14 Percent Prison Growth. Is That a Success? [KGOU]. While even the weakened task force measures represent a significant accomplishment, it’s far from sufficient to confront the deep problems in our justice system. [OKPolicy].

A Reminder of Why Corrections Reform Matters: Joe Allbaugh’s phone rang late one night recently and Allbaugh braced for bad news. It’s the nature of his work as director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. The phone call wasn’t to report a major incident at one of Oklahoma’s prisons, as happened last weekend in South Carolina, but Allbaugh figures it’s a matter of time before his luck runs out [The Oklahoman Editorial Board/NewsOK]. 

Cleveland County Interim Sheriff Creating Community Advisory Board to Keep Jail, County Operations in Check: Members of the Police and Community Trust (PACT) met at the Cleveland County detention center to discuss issues involving violence, mental health, racial bias and more. PACT includes community advocates like the NAACP, Black Lives Matter and End Violence Everywhere. Building trust between the community and law enforcement is no easy task, but it starts with dialogue and transparency, Cleveland County Sheriff Todd Gibson said. That dialogue will continue with the establishment of a Community Advisory Board comprised of county residents [Norman Transcript].

Split between city and county over jail has some inmates spending time in two facilities: Mike Ashley’s daughter, Reanne, had been in David L. Moss for three weeks when he was told she would be released earlier this month. But when he arrived at the county jail, Reanne Ashley wasn’t there. He was told his daughter had not been released, but was instead being held at the county jail awaiting transport to the new Tulsa Municipal Jail because she had several warrants for failure to pay earlier city citations. She was then taken to the city’s municipal jail. Reanne Ashley owed the city about $1,000, but couldn’t afford to pay the fines, Mike Ashley said [The Frontier].

Oklahoma County Judge Finds Governor’s Office and DPS Violated Open Records Act: The governor’s office and the Oklahoma Department of Pubic Safety violated the state Open Records Act by failing to provide prompt and reasonable access to records requested by the Tulsa World, a judge ruled last week. The case stemmed from the April 29, 2014, execution of Clayton Lockett, in which the inmate appeared to writhe and grimace from the lethal injection and died about 40 minutes later [NewsOK].

House Fends off Attempt to Outlaw Parking Under Overpasses During Storms in Oklahoma: After a fierce debate over whether it’s safer to park under an overpass during a hailstorm or along the side of the road, the Oklahoma House of Representatives took a firm stand on behalf of the former Tuesday afternoon. The House defeated Senate Bill 1474, which would have outlawed parking under overpasses, by a count of 37-48, despite the assurances of Rep. Chris Kannady, R-Oklahoma City, that overpasses are more dangerous places to wait out a storm [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma Legislature Clarifies Law on Ballot Selfies: Oklahomans may no longer need to worry they might be breaking the law by posting a selfie with their ballot on Instagram on Election Day.The state Senate has passed House Bill 3035, allowing voters to photograph both in-person and absentee ballots and post them on social media, as long as they don’t break any other laws by doing so. The House of Representatives passed the bill in February. It now heads to Gov. Mary Fallin for her signature [KGOU].

Gavel to Gavel: Efforts to Reduce Prescription Opioid Abuse: Life expectancy in America dipped in 2016, in part, because of the national opioid epidemic. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that drug-overdose deaths surged nationally from 16,848 in 1999 to 63,632 in 2016. In Oklahoma, 85 percent of the 2,500-plus unintentional prescription-drug-related overdose deaths between 2010 and 2014 involved opioids [Samuel Clancy/Journal Record]. We must invest in substance abuse services, and accepting federal funding to expand health coverage is a clear first step [OK Policy].

Getting Pregnant, Getting Fired: Job Discrimination Cases Filed by Women Persist: Days after telling her boss she was pregnant, a 17-year-old fast-food worker in Oklahoma was fired. An accounting employee was let go from an Oklahoma City pipeline inspection company, two days after requesting information about maternity leave. A pregnant waitress in her first trimester said the owner of a Choctaw restaurant told her she was being fired because she was too emotional [Oklahoma Watch]. From the Case Files: Pregnancy discrimination claims [Oklahoma Watch].

Tulsa World Editorial: Remembering the OKC Bombing on This 23rd Anniversary: Unlike 23 years ago, Oklahoma City will be struck with quiet and reverence at 9:02 a.m. Thursday to remember the victims of the worst day in state history. Where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building once stood, now stands the Oklahoma City National Memorial with a reflecting pool and 168 bronze chairs honoring the people who died there that day. The Oklahoma City National Memorial will hold a remembrance ceremony Thursday including 168 seconds of silence, one for each life lost [World’s Editorial Writers/Tulsa World] A common bond forged in fires of OKC bombing [NonDoc].

Senate Advances Bridenstine to Lead Nasa: The Senate on Wednesday narrowly advanced the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine to be the new administrator of NASA after a long, drawn-out roll call in which Sen. Jeff Flake switched his vote. The final tally was 50 to 48 to cut off debate and move forward toward a final confirmation vote. A majority was needed to advance the nomination [Politico]. Trump’s next NASA administrator is a Republican congressman with no background in science [Vox].

How Trump’s NASA Nominee Used a Nonprofit He Ran to Benefit Himself: An investigation and review of public records by the Project On Government Oversight shows that, prior to his time in Congress, Bridenstine led a small non-profit organization into hefty financial losses. Some of the losses involved the use of the non-profit’s resources to benefit a company that Bridenstine simultaneously co-owned and in which he’d invested substantial sums of his own money. The fact that he was using the Museum’s resources to benefit that company has not previously been covered by the press and now raises red flags for tax law experts. [The Daily Beast]

Quote of the Day

“I wish we could pass a bill and inspire people to greatness and inspire people to be what they can be. But we can’t.”

– Sen. AJ Griffin (R-Guthrie), speaking against a bill recently passed in the Senate, House Bill 2932, which would mandate work requirements for SoonerCare patients [Source].

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma households who were middle class in 2016 (earning between two-thirds and twice the state’s median income), down from 52.4% in 2000.

Source: Pew Charitable Trusts

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Putting a price tag on childhood hunger: It’s hard to put a price tag on hunger, but a new report does just that: $2.4 billion. In 2016, that was the cost in Massachusetts alone for additional healthcare, special education, and lost work time related to food insecurity. This validates what I see regularly as a pediatrician. I’m a street doctor in Austin and Central Texas. I care for high-risk and homeless children living in shelters and alleyways, and I see firsthand hunger’s effects on their health and learning. Whether it is a chronic condition like diabetes or a developmental delay affecting success at school, food insecurity has devastating consequences for kids [The Hill].

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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.

One thought on “In The Know: Oklahoma lawmakers close to passing Medicaid work requirements

  1. Regarding the crim just reform bills that may have the impact of crashing the state at 80 mph instead of 120 mph, it’s important to remember that the bills that rely on faithful implementation, such as changes in processes or perspectives, will likely be gamed by opponents responsible for implementing them or ignored by those who’ll get the heat for any problems that could arise from faithful implementation. This even applies to changes in laws regarding felonies to misdemeanors and reductions of mandatory minimums, which can be minimized through creative use of charging and stacking of charges. These predictable and in fact historical ramifications are NEVER considered and worked through when reforms get passed. Which is why even the TX of the world, the Holy Grail of “reform,” is still one of the nation’s and world’s leaders in incarceration. NY and NJ saw more decline in populations from arrest pattern changes and turns in cultural climate from their peak prison periods to get to their status in prison pop decline, and CA put the onus on counties doing the arresting, charging, and implementing, which has made county accountability the proper avenue for reform for everyone else. And even there, DAs and self-appointed victims’ advocates [sic] are pressing for changes in those laws through the next election. IOW, 2-3 years at least will have to pass before OK can even be semi-confident about the claims of prison reduction made in the excellent and rare piece above. IOW, within another 10 years, “reform” will be being proposed yet again.

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