In The Know: Possible new timeline for Governor’s Medicaid proposal, criminal justice reform rallies held, 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.

In The News

Exclusive: Stitt’s plan would implement full Medicaid expansion as early as July: Oklahoma could implement traditional Medicaid expansion far earlier than expected. Deputy Secretary of Health and Mental Health Carter Kimble told Oklahoma Watch on Friday that Gov. Kevin Stitt is looking to extend health coverage to a projected 200,000 low-income Oklahomans as early as this summer. After that, he said, the state plans to apply for a federal waiver that would incorporate many of the ideas in Stitt’s SoonerCare 2.0 plan, which he announced last month. That proposal would transform Medicaid into a block-grant program for low-income adults in the expansion group with caps on Medicaid spending. It also would add work requirements and make enrollees pay “modest premiums” for the new enrollees, Kimble said. [Oklahoma Watch] OK Policy has raised concerns about the Governor’s proposed Medicaid plan and noted that straightforward Medicaid expansion is the tried and true path for providing health care coverage to Oklahomans who need it.

Oklahoma lawmakers exchange Valentine’s Day compliments but disagree about Medicaid expansion: There was indeed a certain amount of broad agreement among Republicans and Democrats, but there were also noticeable divides, particularly on details. The sharpest disagreements concerned health care and Gov. Kevin Stitt’s SoonerCare 2.0 proposal, a rough outline of which was introduced this month at a Washington press conference. Stitt is recommending an expansion of Medicaid through a new block grant program favored by the Trump administration. [Tulsa World] Healthcare major theme during Duncan Chamber’s legislative Coffee event. [Duncan Banner]

Rep. Andy Fugate: StittCare riskier than proven Medicaid expansion option: I’m delighted that Gov. Kevin Stitt has embraced Medicaid expansion. It’s about time. In the past decade, Oklahoma sent billions of our federal tax dollars to states that chose Medicaid expansion. But we waited. We hesitated. And sadly, we chose to ignore our neighbors living in poverty. It’s time to use those dollars for Oklahoma’s health care. However, I am absolutely dumbfounded Gov. Stitt would request those dollars through an untested block grant that limits our federal dollars. [Rep. Andy Fugate / The Oklahoman]

Community gathers at rally to support State Question 805: SQ 805 would prohibit the use of prior felony convictions to enhance sentences for nonviolent crimes. It is a continuation of efforts to reconstruct the state’s criminal justice system. [The Oklahoman] The Yes on 805 campaign needs about 178,000 signatures before the end of collection on March 25 to make the Nov. 3 general election ballot. [Tulsa World] OK Policy analysis showed key elements that should be taken into account as Oklahoma takes steps to address its outdated criminal code. 

Five more tribes ask to join lawsuit against state over gaming compact status: Five more tribes have asked to join a federal lawsuit against the state of Oklahoma over their gaming compacts, bringing the total number of tribes suing the state to 11. The Anadarko-based Delaware Nation, the Lawton-based Comanche Nation, the Wewoka-based Seminole Nation, the Red Rock-based Otoe-Missouria Tribe and the Ponca City-based Ponca Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma filed respective motions Thursday and Friday to join the lawsuit, which challenges Gov. Kevin Stitt’s stance on tribal gaming compacts. [Tulsa World]

Layn Phillips selected as mediator in gaming compact dispute between governor and tribes: Former U.S. District Judge Layn R. Phillips has been selected to serve as the mediator in a dispute between Oklahoma’s gaming tribes and Gov. Kevin Stitt over the status of the state’s tribal gaming compacts. [The Oklahoman] Tribes claim Gov. Kevin Stitt unwittingly renewed tribal gaming compacts. [The Oklahoman]

How laws meant to protect children can fail mothers: Elizabeth Crafton got a 20-year sentence for failing to protect her young daughter from abuse. Her boyfriend, who was convicted of abuse in the case, received an 11-year sentence. It’s just one example of how women bear the brunt of a criminal justice system some in Oklahoma feel have gone too far. [The Frontier]

Oklahoman Editorial: New Oklahoma brand only a start: A new tagline, also destined for promotional materials, is “Imagine that.” It’s intended to highlight the state’s unique assets to out-of-staters, but should serve as a guide for policymakers and everyday Oklahomans alike. [Oklahoman / Editorial]

Charles McCall unchallenged for third speakership: Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, appears destined for a third term atop the Oklahoma Legislature’s House of Representatives. McCall was the only member of the House Republican Caucus to file by Friday’s deadline for the internal speaker-designate vote, according to Majority Caucus Chairwoman Tammy West, R-Bethany. [NonDoc]

Native American Caucus selects leaders: The Oklahoma House of Representatives’ Native American Caucus selected state Rep. Ken Luttrell, R-Ponca City, and state Rep. Collin Walke, D-Oklahoma City, as co-chairs. Luttrell previously served on the executive board of the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators. He represents numerous tribes in his district and is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation. [The Journal Record]

Lawmakers talk threats, cursing and social media backlash: Several lawmakers say they’ve received threats, profanities and horrible social media backlash while trying to do their jobs. They note they’ve experienced a decline in one of the nation’s core democratic principles — civic discourse. [CNHI / Tahlequah Daily Press]

State legislators look to legalize needle exchanges in Oklahoma: A bipartisan group of state legislators have proposed legalizing needle exchanges in Oklahoma. Legislators in Oklahoma’s House and Senate see the programs as key to reducing the spread of Hepatitis C and HIV. [The Oklahoman]

Bill reminiscent of ‘stop and frisk’ declared dead: A controversial bill some people feared would have allowed Oklahoma law enforcement to carry out “stop and frisk” type policies is dead for this legislative session. House Bill 3359 by Rep. David Smith, R-McAlester, passed the House Judiciary Committee, but will not advance to the floor of the chamber, House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols said. [The Oklahoman]

House passes bill to allow public safety districts: The Oklahoma House has passed a bill to let voters decide whether they want to help fund public safety services. The bill proposes to let voters decide on a city-by-city basis if they’d like to set up public safety districts, raising their property taxes to go toward public safety services, like fire and police. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma bill would allow GRDA to study possibility of selling water to Missouri: The measure, House Bill 4127, authored by state Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, would amend state law governing GRDA’s operations, allowing it to “conduct a study on the sale of the waters under its control to the state of Missouri.” [Joplin Globe]

No permit required: Bill would allow ‘spotlighting’ coyotes statewide: Senate Bill 1746 by Sen. Casey Murdock, R-Felt, is generally known as a measure that would allow landowners to shoot coyotes at night for the protection of livestock — something that is already allowed with a permit. [Tulsa World]

No more untested cannabis for sale as of April 1: Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority to implement new rule: As of April 1, dispensaries across Oklahoma must carry only products that have been tested by an Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority-licensed laboratory. The testing was mandated in a new law that went into effect Nov. 1. [Tulsa World]

State to resume lethal injections after finding fresh drug supply: On Thursday, Gov. Kevin Stitt, Attorney General Mike Hunter and Department of Corrections Director Scott Crow said the state won’t be repeating its past execution blunders. Hunter says state employees have a new set of rules to follow during executions. [StateImpact Oklahoma] Families of Oklahoma murder victims say justice may be closer. [The Oklahoman]

Sovereign immunity cited in appellate court ruling in Kaw tribal dispute: A Kay County judge exceeded his authority when he issued a temporary injunction prohibiting the then-chair and acting police chief of the Kaw Tribe of Indians from taking certain actions involving the tribe’s housing authority, the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals has ruled. [The Oklahoman]

Historic floodwaters have long since dissipated, but group still helping heal emotional scars for its victims: A group of crisis counselors from Counseling and Recovery Services of Oklahoma has been knocking on 30 to 40 doors a day since December in flood-affected areas as part of a FEMA grant obtained by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. [Tulsa World]

Fights in OKC Public Schools up over last year — 1,959 students involved: Oklahoma City Public Schools reports 1,959 students were involved in fights at school the first semester of this school year, up 438 from the first semester of last school year. The first semester of last school year (2018-2019) 1,521 students were involved in some sort of fight according to the district’s spokespersons. [Free Press OKC]

Online charter school mails recruitment fliers to thousands of students’ homes: The state Education Department is investigating how a startup statewide charter school obtained the home addresses of students across the state. Thousands of Oklahoma students received recruitment fliers in the mail from the Oklahoma Information and Technology School, a new virtual charter school. [Oklahoma Watch]

‘These things add up’: OU students weary of repeated expressions of a racist nature: A professor’s use of a racial slur sparked outrage at the University of Oklahoma, where several incidents of racism have mounted frustration in recent years. “It is definitely tiring,” said Janae Reeves, a broadcast journalism senior. [The Oklahoman]

Next generation of black leaders forcing Tulsa to examine itself along class and racial lines: The next generation of black leaders in Tulsa — the people who will help dictate how the city functions for people who look like them for years to come — have a keen understanding of why their work means so much to so many. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Addiction, substance abuse, the low-level property crime to feed the addiction, that’s a health issue, not a criminal issue. We’re incarcerating people that we’re not really afraid of, we’re just mad at them and we’re putting them in prison for the majority of their productive years for earning a living and stand on their feet.”

-Sarah Edwards, campaign president for Yes on 805 [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day

$3.5 billion

The economic impact of Oklahoma state retirement system benefits. 

[Source: National Institute for Retiree Security]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

40% of Older Workers and Their Spouses Will Experience Downward Mobility: Inadequate retirement accounts will cause 8.5 million middle-class older workers and their spouses – people who earn over twice the official poverty line of $23,340 (if single) or $31,260 (if coupled) – to be downwardly mobile, falling into poverty or near poverty in their old age. [Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis]

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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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