In The Know: Oklahoma’s Medicaid director to step down, Medicaid expansion advocates start gathering signatures to get State Question 802 on ballot

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

New budget oversight office has LOFTy goals: This Tuesday afternoon will mark the first meeting of the Oversight Committee for the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT). The Committee is a new House and Senate joint committee created with passage of SB 1 last session. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

In The News

Oklahoma’s Medicaid director to step down: Oklahoma’s Medicaid director suddenly announced her retirement Tuesday. Becky Pasternik-Ikard, who is the state’s Medicaid director and CEO of Oklahoma’s Health Care Authority, will retire Oct. 1. Pasternik-Ikard was named the Heath Care Authority’s CEO in 2016, and her retirement comes shortly after Gov. Kevin Stitt, through legislation passed this year, gained the ability to hire and fire the head of the agency. [The Oklahoman]

Medicaid expansion advocates start gathering signatures to get State Question 802 on ballot before deadline: Supporters of an initiative petition seeking to expand Medicaid began gathering signatures on Wednesday. The group Oklahomans Decide Healthcare has been pushing to get the required signatures needed to get State Question 802 on the ballot. Approximately 177,958 signatures must be turned in to the Secretary of State’s Office by Oct. 28, said Amber England, a spokeswoman for Oklahomans Decide Healthcare. [Tulsa WorldLooking for more information about SQ 802? Click here.

As Medicaid expansion looms, bipartisan health care group forms: With the threat of Medicaid expansion looming, Oklahoma lawmakers announced Monday that they’re forming a bipartisan working group to develop their own plan to increase health care and insurance coverage. House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, said in a statement that the health care group would bring everyone together — patients, policy experts, providers, insurers, medical facilities and state officials. [CHNISome legislators were working to build support for expansion last session, but they fell short.

Tulsa World Editorial Board: Oklahomans tired of waiting for a state Capitol solution can join the movement for Medicaid expansion starting Wednesday: A petition to expand Oklahoma’s Medicaid program, protect the finances of the state’s rural hospitals and bring about a billion dollars a year in federal funding to the state has been cleared for circulation starting Wednesday. Organizers of the campaign have until 5 p.m. Oct. 28 to gather the signatures of nearly 178,000 registered voters. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]

Stitt receives names of finalists for Supreme Court vacancy: Gov. Kevin Stitt will select his first Oklahoma Supreme Court justice from three applicants serving as state judges — a member of the state Court of Civil Appeals, a district judge and an associate district judge. The Judicial Nominating Commission sent the three names to the governor last week after paring a list of seven applicants. [The Oklahoman]

Kevin Stitt signs about 30 bills into law, meets those who had hand in creating laws: Gov. Kevin Stitt signed about 30 bills into law during a ceremonial bill signing Tuesday at the state Capitol. The ceremony was for bills that the Oklahoma Legislature passed during its most recent session. [KOCO]

LOFT-y goal: New #okleg entity pursuing agency, financial oversight: State lawmakers, legislative staff, lobbyists, media and other onlookers packed three Oklahoma State Capitol conference rooms this afternoon for the first meeting of LOFT, the Legislature’s new sub-agency dedicated to “fiscal transparency.” [NonDoc]

Study to focus on finding solutions to ‘child care deserts’: Many parents and children in Oklahoma may be lost in “deserts” when it comes to child care, state Sen. Allison Ikley-Freeman believes. That’s why the Tulsa Democrat asked for a study to yield potential solutions to a “child care desert” problem that she said exists not just in the Sooner State but across the nation. [Journal Record ????A recent expansion of federal funding has allowed Oklahoma to improve access to our child care subsidy program.

Making sense of Oklahoma’s alcohol laws: State Question 792 brought sweeping changes to Oklahoma’s alcohol laws, allowing cold beer and wine to be sold in grocery stores. Now, recent legislation has helped clarify some confusion around the sale and consumption of alcohol in Oklahoma. [Journal Record ????]

Former Oklahoma senator ordered to jail for 90 days: A former state senator has been ordered to jail for violating his probation just days after pleading guilty to assaulting an Uber driver. Bryce Marlatt, a Republican from Woodward, will begin his 90-day stay at the Oklahoma County jail Aug. 12. [The Oklahoman]

The Oklahoman Editorial Board: A new escape route for domestic violence victims: The Oklahoman’s Darla Slipke wrote Sunday about a coding academy that will provide Palomar’s clients with an avenue to potential employment as software and web developers. Palomar already offers a range of free services to those who enter its doors at 1140 N Hudson. [The Oklahoman]

Chief Bill John Baker: Tribal governments ensure Oklahoma’s success: In a recent op-ed, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt called for a renegotiation of the highly successful tribal gaming compacts, government-to-government agreements that have fueled our home state, public education and job creation for more than 15 years. He argued that new compacts should reflect “market conditions for the gaming industry,” which he implied would set tribes’ payments to the state at a much higher percentage of revenues. [Chief Bill John Baker / Ada NewsWhat’s That? Tribal Gaming Compacts

New rules for state’s oil and gas industry become effective Aug. 1: A handful of Oklahoma Corporation Commission rule changes affecting the oil and gas industry go into effect Thursday. Revisions to oil and gas conservation rules include the installment of a physical boundary around underground gas storage reservoirs, tightening requirements for operations on land with hydrogen sulfide and requiring oil and gas operators to notify other operations within 1 mile of their activity. [Journal Record]

Emergency Certified teachers in Oklahoma must complete training this fall: Oklahoma broke a record last year with the number of Emergency Certified teachers in the state. This year, with additional funding for teachers and classrooms, State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, is holding school districts and teachers more accountable. [FOX25]

Oklahoma City Council takes action on south-side emergency shelter, Paseo streetscapes: The regular meeting of the City Council of Oklahoma City on July 30 saw a quick handling of business as usual and a general air of cooperation from a sometimes divided body. [Free Press OKC] Oklahoma City Hall is catching up to growth in the medical marijuana industry with new fees and licensing ordinances. [Journal Record ????]

More mental health sites, services, and support comprise MAPS 4 proposal: On July 29, District 1 Oklahoma County Commissioner Carrie Blumert hosted a forum at Northcare to introduce a proposal she and her team have named “MAPS 4 Mental Health.” [Free Press OKC]

‘This is our moment’: OKC public schools completing summer of change: Oklahoma City Public Schools is hurtling toward the finish line of one of the most transformational summers in a generation. [The Oklahoman]

Senate highway bill advances with funding boost for Oklahoma: A highway bill that cleared a U.S. Senate committee on Tuesday would provide a major funding boost for Oklahoma construction, while also addressing freight and workforce development issues, Sen. Jim Inhofe said Tuesday. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“More than 450,000 working-age Oklahomans have no health care coverage. When their medical problems become a crisis, they end up in hospital emergency rooms, adding to the uncompensated medical expenses that are pushing rural hospitals to the brink and driving up the premiums of insured Oklahomans…It’s a solvable problem, and a big part of that solution is taking advantage of available federal funding to make sure Oklahomans have access to health care.”

– Tulsa World Editorial Board [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s national ranking for the percentage of public high schools (98.8%) offering concurrent enrollment in college coursework compared to 75.2% nationally.

[Source: Oklahoma State Department of Education]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Key Florida Republicans Now Say Yes To Clean Needles For Drug Users: Needle exchanges have been legal in many other states for decades, but southern, Republican-led states like Florida have only recently started to adopt this public health intervention. The timing of the statewide legalization of needle exchanges comes as Florida grapples with a huge heroin and fentanyl problem. When people share dirty needles to inject those drugs, it puts them at high risk for spreading bloodborne infections like HIV and hepatitis C. For years, Florida has had America’s highest rates of HIV. [NPR]

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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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