In The Know: Plan would end health coverage over returned mail; auditors want to send collection agency after unpaid fees; coalition wants clearer standard for drug charges…

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

Oklahoma’s Medicaid agency should withdraw plan to terminate health coverage over returned mail: For many low-income Oklahomans, having a place to call home isn’t something you can take for granted. Many families struggle with high rent, frequent evictions, unstable family environments, and more. Now, the state Medicaid agency, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA), has proposed a new policy to terminate coverage for families who move and don’t update their address quickly enough in agency records. [OK Policy]

Jacobi Crowley with OK Policy Institute discusses State of the State: Jacobi Crowley with the Oklahoma Policy Institute came on Good Morning Texoma Monday morning to discuss the State of the State address held last Monday. [KSWO]

ICYMI: Legislative Primer is your guide to Oklahoma’s 2019 legislative session: Whether you are a veteran advocate, a complete novice to Oklahoma politics, or anyone in between, the 2019 Legislative Primer will provide you invaluable information in a concise, user-friendly format. You are welcome to download, print, and share the Legislative Primer with anyone who may need it to figure out what’s happening at the Capitol. [OK Policy]

In The News

Auditors to Prosecutors: Hire collection agency to recover unpaid fees from defendants: Oklahoma district attorneys have more than $56 million in uncollected fees on their books and are being advised they should hire collection agencies to go after offenders to recover more of the debt. But district attorneys are balking at the recommendation, made by private auditors, because the prospect of collecting a lot of the money is uncertain – and aggressive collections could conflict with criminal justice reform efforts intended to shift their offices and the courts away from depending on fines and fees. [Oklahoma WatchOK Policy’s 2019 criminal justice policy recommendations include reforming cash bail and court fines and fees.

Coalition wants standard definition of possession with intent to distribute: A bipartisan coalition of community leaders wants lawmakers to specifically define the crime of drug possession with intent to distribute to ensure the charge is used consistently across the state. Proposed legislation backed by Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform would require that three of seven criteria be present for a person to be charged with possession with intent to distribute. [NewsOK]

Oklahoma lawmakers trying to flip responsibility for getting prisoners into state custody: State legislators are trying to change a law that requires Oklahoma’s sheriffs to bring inmates on their way to prison to the Department of Corrections. “That actually breaks law, breaks the constitution. The sheriffs departments are then using ad valorem dollars on state business,” said Rep. Zack Taylor. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Safety, security upgrades focus of school bond elections: Voters on Tuesday will consider school bond issues in Edmond and Norman that will pay for new schools, storm shelters and security upgrades if approved. [NewsOK] Norman residents to vote today in next mayor, odd-numbered ward council members and school bond proposal. [Norman Transcript] See a list of all upcoming local elections here.

When it comes to education spending, who’s right? Last year’s teacher walkout brought a renewed focus on Oklahoma’s financial commitment to public schools. And with the 2019 legislative session underway, education leaders are reiterating a push to supply schools with more money. [Oklahoma WatchOK Policy’s 2019 Policy Priorities include increasing PK-12 state aid funding to restore school staffing and programs.

Two lawmakers had same idea for improving government: Better data: State Reps. Trey Caldwell and Toni Hasenbeck must have been reading detective stories. Sherlock Holmes detective stories, to be precise. More than 120 years ago Arthur Conan Doyle, who created detective Sherlock Holmes, wrote that “it is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” [Journal Record]

Doctors’ TV ads don’t stop bill on nurse anesthetists: Despite a wave of opposition television ads from a state doctors’ association, a bill to allow some nurses to administer anesthesia was advanced Monday by a Senate committee. The Oklahoma State Medical Association purchased hundreds of television commercials in the Oklahoma City market over the past few days in opposition to Senate Bill 801, which ends physician supervision of registered nurse anesthetists, who sedate patients for surgery and other procedures. [NewsOK ????] Lawmaker hopes bill will allow certified registered nurse anesthetists to work independently. [KOCO]

Commissioner Calvey terminates lobbying registration: Oklahoma County Commissioner Kevin Calvey filed paperwork Saturday to terminate his lobbyist registration for an anti-abortion advocacy group, a second job that had drawn criticism from Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature. [NonDoc]

Coalition asking lawmakers to tackle health insurance practice of step therapy: More than two dozen organizations are asking Oklahoma lawmakers to take on a health insurance practice called step therapy. Insurers can have patients try drugs on a preferred list other than what their doctor prescribes as a cost-control measure. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Editorial: Medicaid expansion ballot initiative gets GOP’s attention: On the topic of Medicaid expansion, Oklahoma health care advocates have ridden an emotional roller coaster for the past two weeks. Asked by media, Republican legislative leaders have indicated a willingness to pursue some version of a coverage-expansion plan that hospital CEOs, chambers of commerce and leading Democrats have desired for years. [Tres Savage / NonDocOur 2019 Policy Priorities include expanding Medicaid.

Labor Commissioner wants audit to show she’s starting with a clean slate: The Oklahoma Department of Labor has requested a turnover audit from the office of the State Auditor. “Under the new Stitt administration there is an increased call for transparency and effective use of taxpayer dollars”, stated Labor Commissioner Leslie Osborn. [OK Energy Today]

Gainful employment helps combat poverty: Oklahoma has the highest percentage of people working minimum wage jobs or below in the entire country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That plays a part in the state’s 16.6 percent poverty rate, contends writer Phyllis Lewelling. [CHNI]

Multiplier effect: Local economies’ boost from colleges and universities is studied: The state’s colleges are economic engines for small town Oklahoma, a new study shows. The State Chamber Research Foundation has released a study showing the economic effect on local economies sparked by the annual state appropriations to Oklahoma’s 29 universities and colleges. [Tulsa World]

Federal government sues attorney/rancher Gentner Drummond over destruction of 40,000 trees on Corps land: The federal government is suing Tulsa attorney Gentner Drummond, his Drummond Ranch LLC, and two companies hired to apply herbicides to lands near Birch and Skiatook lakes for the loss of more than 40,000 trees on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property near the lakes. [Tulsa World]

Prosecutor allegedly said samples at 0.5% THC or less would end marijuana trafficking case. Defense confused by apparent reversal: A prosecutor in the marijuana trafficking case against four hemp transporters purportedly told defense attorneys the state would dismiss the matter if samples tested at 0.5 percent THC or less — but charges remain in place despite a federal analysis finding just that. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“(The auditors) are saying maybe you need a collection agent to go out there and squeeze the last bit of blood out of that turnip. Yet there’s a constant drumbeat now to perhaps do away with some of those fees. So do you go collect them, or do you let it go?”

-Oklahoma District Attorneys Council executive coordinator Trent Baggett, responding to auditors who called for DAs to hire collections agencies to go after unpaid fees from defendants [Source: Oklahoma Watch]

Number of the Day


Number of inmates the Oklahoma Department of Corrections received in Fiscal Year 2018

[Source: Oklahoma Department of Corrections]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Untangling the evidence on preschool effectiveness: Insights for policymakers: This report adds to the growing consensus that the preponderance of evidence demonstrates that high-quality preschool leaves children better prepared for school, especially in terms of their academic skill development. It includes reviews of rigorous evaluations of 21 public preschool programs, finds that students who attend high-quality preschool programs reap benefits that can last throughout their lives, and are more prepared for school and experience substantial learning gains in comparison to children who do not attend preschool. [Learning Policy Institute]

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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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