In The Know: The ‘Medicaid expansion showdown,’ Epic charter schools fined, 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

A Medicaid expansion showdown 10 years in the making: When Marcus McEntire challenged and defeated incumbent GOP Rep. Dennis Johnson in 2016, he had an unusual priority for an Oklahoma Republican legislative candidate: improve access to health care, even if it meant expanding Medicaid. [NonDoc]

State education department fines Epic $530,000: Epic One-on-One virtual charter school has been fined $530,527 for exceeding a legal limit on administrative costs. The Oklahoma State Department of Education will subtract the amount from Epic’s appropriation of state funds. [The Oklahoman]

State Senate panel passes bill to help out-of-state teachers get started in Oklahoma: Senate Bill 1125 would direct the State Board of Education to certify teachers for similar subject areas and grade levels as their valid, out-of-state credential covers. Sen. Brenda Stanley said rather than the current process of taking Oklahoma teaching tests, they’d just have to pass a background check. [Public Radio Tulsa] SB 1125 was endorsed by Gov. Kevin Stitt in his recent State of the State address. [The Journal Record 🔒]

Lawmaker proposed bonus for eligible teachers: Oklahoma State Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, wants to help end the teacher shortage with his bill (SB 1127), The Teacher Retention Act of 2020. It would give teachers with a national certification, a $1,500 bonus. They would also have other requirements. [KTUL]

House passes bill adding to list of violent crimes: The state House passed a measure (HB 3371) Tuesday adding strangulation during a domestic violence incident to the list of violent crimes and would increase the punishment for the offense. [CNHI]

Oklahoma House Committee plans to hear anti-conversion therapy bill: House Bill 3872 prohibits licensed therapists from practicing conversion therapy – a discredited treatment designed to turn gay children straight, but actually causes long-lasting harm. [KOSU]

Rep. Hill passes economic development, tourism bills through committee: State Rep. Brian Hill, R-Mustang, passed three economic development bills through two House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittees this week. [OK Energy Today]

Speaker McCall bill boosts rural transportation projects: Economic growth in rural areas would be given more consideration in the state’s eight-year transportation project plan under a bill (HB 4028) by House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka. [OK Energy Today]

Oklahoma lawmaker pushing for ‘In God We Trust’ to be added to state buildings: House Bill 3817, authored by House Speaker Charles McCall, would add ‘In God We Trust’ to all state buildings. [KFOR]

Anti-abortion, pro-choice rallies at Oklahoma Capitol draw large crowds: A crowd of more than 1,000 gathered at the state Capitol on Tuesday to support a bill abolishing abortion in Oklahoma with no exceptions. [The Oklahoman] Supporters want a hearing on Senate Bill 13, by Sen. Joseph Silk, R-Broken Bow, that seeks to end abortion but has been called “fatally flawed” by Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City. [Tulsa World]

Cannabis petition can collect signatures, but backer jailed for indecency: Oklahoma’s Secretary of State has given the go-ahead for supporters of an initiative petition to decriminalize marijuana to begin collecting signatures Wednesday. But the petition’s backer is being held in the Tulsa County jail for the next eight months, until after the 90-day signature-gathering window closes. [The Oklahoman] Recreational pot petition a sore topic among patient advocates. [Tulsa World]

Economist: Oklahoma economy on brink of ‘mild contraction’: Oklahoma’s economy appears to be taking a slight downturn from which it will likely take another eight or nine months to recover, economist Russell R. Evans told officials at the Oklahoma City Council’s budget workshop on Tuesday. [The Journal Record 🔒]

Judge permits transgender inmate’s federal civil rights lawsuit to proceed against Oklahoma Department of Corrections: A transgender inmate who claims Oklahoma prison officials stopped her hormone therapy because they thought she was faking her gender identity has won the right to continue to pursue her federal lawsuit against the state and prison officials. [Tulsa World]

‘Pump the brakes’: OKC officials plan for leaner budget: While projections for the city’s economy aren’t dire, officials will need to grapple with flat revenue and rising expenses which will necessitate cuts up 2.2 percent across all departments with the exception of police and fire. The police and fire departments are being asked to trim up to .03 percent. [NonDoc] Caution encouraged in Oklahoma City’s annual budget workshop. [Free Press OKC]

Community gives earful to Tulsa Public Schools’ Indian Education Parent Committee over proposed reorganization: Community members on Tuesday evening urged the Tulsa Public Schools Indian Education Parent Committee to stand against the district’s proposed reorganization of its Indian Education Program. [Tulsa World]

Special-needs students get priority at Tahlequah Public Schools: More than 750 students are served by special education programs in Tahlequah Public Schools. That marks a rise from just shy of 600 five years ago. [Tahlequah Daily Press]

OU Gaylord College professor uses racial slur during class in comparison to ‘OK, boomer’ phrase: An OU professor in the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication used a racial slur during a class Tuesday morning, according to multiple students present in the class. [OU Daily] Interim OU President Harroz condemns professor’s use of racial slur; student calls conduct ‘absolutely unacceptable’. [OU Daily]

Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin wants to ease officer concerns about department’s future with articulable, trainable community policing strategy: Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin knows many officers may be apprehensive or anxious about the department’s direction under his leadership, and he wants to help by addressing the unknowns encompassing its push toward community policing. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“My hospital in Pauls Valley closed last year, and this was no doubt a contributing factor. There’s a segment of my district that doesn’t have hospital and emergency room access because of this.”

-Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada, speaking about how Oklahoma’s decision to not expand Medicaid impacted hospitals in the state [NonDoc]

Number of the Day

68%

Percent of U.S. caregivers who report having to make adjustments to their own work schedules because of caregiving.

[Source: AARP]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Parents of newborns aren’t the only caregivers who need paid family leave: According to the AARP and National Caregiver Alliance, approximately 34.2 million Americans provide unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older, and 60 percent of those family caregivers also work outside the home. The majority of those respondents report having suffered work-related difficulties as a result of their caregiving roles. They might switch to a less demanding job, take time off to accommodate their caregiving responsibilities, or quit working altogether. As a result, they lose job-related benefits and suffer lost wages. They need paid leave. [WBUR]

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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