In The Know: School choice group opposes teacher candidates; “ill-conceived” Medicaid rule; historic primary runoff…

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.

[There is one week left to submit a public comment to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority on the new Medicaid proposal. To learn about the proposal that threatens health care for thousands of Oklahoma parents, visit our advocacy page. To craft and submit a public comment today, use this survey form.]

In The News

National school choice group opposing teacher candidates, teacher pay raise supporters: A national pro-school choice organization once chaired by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is spending money against Oklahoma teachers running for the state Legislature. The Oklahoma chapter of the American Federation for Children has spent nearly $45,000 over the last week on direct mail pieces in four races ahead of the Aug. 28 runoff election, according to recent campaign finance reports. [NewsOK]

OKC physician: Medicaid work requirement rule is ill-conceived: Like many states, Oklahoma’s health care system is in crisis. As a primary care physician, I witness daily the struggles patients face as they try to balance putting food on their tables and gas in their cars with filling prescriptions and obtaining routine preventative care. [Scott Melson, M.D. / NewsOK] There is no evidence that taking away coverage from a person who is unable to work enough will either increase work or improve health. [OK Policy]

This year, a primary runoff of historic proportions: If there is one thing clear about Tuesday’s primary runoff election, it’s that voters and observers are in for a record level of suspense. Tuesday will feature the largest number of runoffs in at least two decades, and possibly the most in state history. [Oklahoma Watch] Here’s a list of what’s on the ballot tomorrow. [NewsOK] For a list of voting resources and election deadlines, visit our 2018 Oklahoma State Questions and Elections page. [OK Policy]

Candidates debate education funding, priorities ahead of runoff: After a historic teacher pay raise and statewide walkout, education has become one of the most important policy areas in this year’s election. Candidates for some of the state’s highest offices weighed in on some of that area’s most pressing issues just days before the final primary election. [Journal Record

Mick Cornett, Kevin Stitt vie for GOP nod in Tuesday’s election: The GOP gubernatorial race featuring former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and Tulsa businessman Kevin Stitt is entering the final stretch after a hotly contested battle crisscrossing the state. Voters will decide Tuesday who will face Democrat Drew Edmondson, former attorney general, on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. [Tulsa World] Kevin Stitt on campaign trail: ‘I have better ideas.’ [NonDoc] Mick Cornett on the campaign trail: ‘People want more governing.’ [NonDoc

Murphy, Pinnell seek lieutenant governor job: Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy and veteran Republican Party strategist Matt Pinnell have crisscrossed the state for the past year trying to give shape to a job that has few defined duties. Murphy and Pinnell are running for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor and meet in the runoff on Tuesday. The winner will face state Sen. Anastasia Pittman, the Democratic nominee, in the Nov. 6 general election. [NewsOK]

Voters to decide race between AG Mike Hunter, challenger Gentner Drummond in Tuesday’s election: Voters will go to the polls Tuesday to pick favorites in down-ballot races for advancement to the general election. The Republican nomination for attorney general has been one of the more hotly contested and highly financed races. It pits Tulsa attorney and businessman Gentner Drummond against Attorney General Mike Hunter. [Tulsa World] U.S. Sen. James Lankford and Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt on Sunday denounced a new political ad blaming Attorney General Mike Hunter for the slaying of a college student in Iowa. [NewsOK]

Superintendent debate: Hofmeister and Murphy clash: Matters got heated between two state superintendent candidates during a Republican runoff-primary debate Friday. Candidates clashed over testing standards, State Question 801 and last legislative session’s teacher pay raise package. Furthering tensions early in the superintendent debate, Linda Murphy also called into question incumbent Joy Hofmeister‘s attendance at Republican campaign events. [NonDoc] Candidates meet in only forums before superintendent runoff [NewsOK]

Byrd, Prater square off in Republican race for state auditor nomination: Deputy State Auditor Cindy Byrd is touting her vast experience in state auditing while opponent Charlie Prater is campaigning as an “outsider” as Republicans prepare to go to the polls Tuesday to select their nominee for state auditor and inspector. The runoff winner will face Libertarian candidate John Yeutter of Tahlequah in the November general election. [NewsOK]

Rare runoffs to decide 1st Congressional District nominees: Maybe it’s another sign of upheaval in state politics or maybe it’s just a coincidence, but Tuesday’s runoff elections in the 1st Congressional District are unlike any before. Tuesday will be the first time that Republican and Democratic CD 1 runoffs have occurred in the same year. [Tulsa World]

Legislative runoffs highlight OKGOP’s ‘Civil War’: Republicans may currently dominate the Oklahoma Legislature, but a “Civil War” has broken out during the party’s 2018 primary season. “Civil War” was the phrase a self-described “pragmatic” Rep. Josh West (R-Grove) used after a March confrontation with hardline conservative Rep. Mike Ritze (R-Broken Arrow). [NonDoc] Legislative runoffs before voters across the state. [NewsOK] Five things we know about Oklahoma’s 2018 legislative elections – pre-runoff update [OK Policy]

Which parts of Oklahoma have the highest and lowest voter turnout rates? We analyzed the numbers to find out: In far northwestern Oklahoma, Harper County may be one of the sparsest populated areas of the state, but, boy, do its residents take election matters seriously. When the smoke cleared on the June 26 primary election, a Tulsa World analysis of statewide voter participation rates found that nearly 61 percent of Harper County registered voters cast ballots. [Tulsa World]

State senator awarded Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs contract: When the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs outsourced X-ray services for its seven care centers earlier this year, the contract went to a business owned by a sitting state senator, raising questions about whether the contract violates state law. According to bid documents obtained by The Oklahoman, the department determined in May that Sooner Mobile X-Ray, Inc., owned by Sen. Paul Scott, R-Duncan, was the most cost effective among three bidders. [NewsOK ????]

Treasurer credits bull market for $65m tobacco earnings: Oklahoma Treasurer Ken Miller is crediting sound investments and a bull market for nearly $65 million in certified earnings this year from the state’s Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust. Miller announced the earnings on Friday from the endowment, which contained more than $1.2 billion at the end of June. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma Dept of Ed says it didn’t ask for review on federal funds to buy guns: U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is exploring the idea of letting school districts use federal money to purchase guns, with multiple news outlets reporting that Texas and Oklahoma had asked her to review the matter. However, the Oklahoma state Department of Education did not make any such request, according to Steffie Corcoran, a spokeswoman for the department. [NewsOK]

Oklahoma City has fair share of homeless students: A mom walked her child in to school at an Oklahoma City Public School last week and the child candidly shared that they’d slept in their car and that is why he was late. This isn’t a made for television movie or something that only happens in other cities … this really happened and happens quite often in our schools. More than 3,000 Oklahoma City Public Schools students identified as homeless last year. [Mary Mélon / NewsOK]

Muskogee High School starts fining students for being late, missing class: Students in Muskogee are paying a price for skipping class. The high school is now implementing the state law that fines students for being late or not showing up. Principal Kim Fleak said they’ve raised expectations for their students moving forward, but kids and their parents, who are most likely paying the fine, say it’s out of line. [KTUL] There are better options than punitive responses to truancy and homelessness. [OK Policy]

Quote of the Day

“I see hard-working individuals and families every day whose lives will be upended by this policy, which is ill-conceived at best and intentionally punitive at worst. Rather than insulting the dignity of SoonerCare members, the governor and Legislature should be trying to strengthen our education and health care systems, as well as build an economy that works for all Oklahomans.”

-Scott Melson, M.D., in an op-ed voicing his concern with Oklahoma’s proposal to cut Medicaid for parents who don’t meet a work requirement [NewsOK]

Number of the Day


Unemployment rate in McIntosh County, June 2018, highest in Oklahoma

[Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The changing state of recidivism: Fewer people going back to prison: Reducing recidivism improves public safety, reduces taxpayer spending on prisons, and helps formerly incarcerated people successfully resume family and community responsibilities. But a lack of data has complicated efforts to understand the aggregate effects of myriad federal, state, and local efforts to reduce reoffending. This analysis shows that meaningful improvements in recidivism are occurring. [Pew Trusts]

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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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