In The Know: Together OK petitions Governor for SQ 802 election date; mental health parity sought; 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.

New from OK Policy

Policy Matters: Does Oklahoma really value work?: Oklahomans pride themselves on quality of place. A common refrain that you will hear from business leaders is that Oklahoma is a good place to raise a family because of good jobs, low taxes, and an affordable living. Without much digging, though, you will find that story holds true for far too few Oklahomans. [Ahniwake Rose / Journal Record]

In The News

Supporters of Medicaid expansion pressure Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt to set election date on SQ 802: Pressure is mounting on Gov. Kevin Stitt to set an election date for state voters to consider Medicaid expansion. On Wednesday, Together Oklahoma representatives turned in a petition to Stitt’s office seeking an election date for the Medicaid expansion question. [Tulsa World] During the “Medicaid Day of Action,” Together OK volunteers delivered the petition to the Governor’s office and met with their lawmakers. [Fox25] Thirty-seven states have expanded Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act, and the state question would make Oklahoma do it, too. [KOCO] Supporters of traditional Medicaid expansion have been waiting – and losing patience – for the governor to act. [Journal Record ????] Supporters of State Question 802 turned in a record 313,677 signatures for the proposed constitutional amendment in November. [Public Radio Tulsa] With health care in the spotlight, more attention is being paid to the “Yes on 802” initiative for Medicaid expansion. [KTUL] OK Policy has provided information and resources to better understand the issues around SQ 802.

Oklahoma lawmakers seek mental health parity in insurance coverage: Some Oklahoma lawmakers want health insurance companies to cover mental health and substance use disorders the same way they cover physical ailments. Increased transparency is being sought to ensure mental health and substance use treatment is given the same level of coverage as physical health. [USA Today / The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma legislators seek changes to citizens’ petition process: Some Republican lawmakers are seeking to change the initiative petition process by which Oklahoma voters can try to put issues on the ballot for a statewide vote. Proposed legislation seeks to change the signature-gathering requirements for initiative petitions and increase transparency of the campaigns pushing ballot measures. [The Oklahoman]

House passes stack of education bills that include school employee background checks, reassigning teachers: Among those sent to the Senate were two measures putting added effort into diagnosing dyslexia at an early age, putting the best teachers in the most troubled classrooms and requiring criminal background checks on all public school employees. [Tulsa World] Bill allowing three-year alternative teaching certificate heads to Senate. [Fox 25]

Bill to let voters split state’s two largest school districts will not move forward in Oklahoma Legislature: Sen. Gary Stanislawski on Wednesday said he is not moving forward on a bill opposed by the state’s two largest school districts. Senate Bill 600 would have allowed districts with 30,000 or more students to be divided into two districts. [Tulsa World]

Rural schools in Oklahoma could face cuts: Rural school districts in Oklahoma could be facing some cuts after a recent change to a program. The U.S. Department of Education recently approved more than $1 million of funding be cut to the program in the sooner state. [KSN/KODE] Oklahoma senators criticize $1 million cut in rural school funding [McAlester News]

After two months of increases, gross receipts drop in February: After recording modest increases for two months, total gross receipts to the treasury returned to negative territory in February. State gross receipts were reduced by shrinking sales, gross production, and motor vehicle tax collections. [Journal Record ????]

After call for consolidation, agencies will remain separate: Despite calls to merge two state transportation agencies, lawmakers now plan to keep them separate amid concerns the consolidation could imperil federal funding. The measure now authorizes shared functions between the two agencies, but keeps the Turnpike Authority separate for as long as bonds, notes or other financial obligations remain. [CNHI News]

Oklahoma Lawmakers consider a raise for hundreds of prison employees skipped over last year: Low pay is at the center of Oklahoma’s struggle to keep its prison employees. At least 432 employees were left out of the 2019 raise [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Tulsa Regional Chamber presses ‘One Voice’ agenda at Oklahoma Capitol: About 150 business and community leaders from the Tulsa area were in Oklahoma City on Wednesday to push the state Legislature for Medicaid expansion, more nonstop flights to Tulsa and diversification of municipal funding. [Tulsa World]

Lawmakers push to revise laws for medical marijuana industry: Home delivery of medical marijuana, a shorter dispensary setback from schools and making the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority its own agency are among the proposals that survived last week’s first legislative deadline. [Oklahoma Watch

New petitions seek to decriminalize marijuana, legalize recreational use: Two initiative petitions filed Wednesday seek to legalize recreational marijuana and decriminalize the drug in Oklahoma. The petitions also seek to enshrine in Oklahoma’s constitution many of the medical marijuana protections Oklahoma voters approved when they passed State Question 788 in 2018. [The Oklahoman]

Kay County implements new mental health program: Kay County District Court is much better suited to addressing crimes committed by perpetrators suffering with mental health problems, thanks to a special grant recently received, and is now able offer the defendants needed treatment for their ailments, instead of sending them through the state’s prison system. [Newkirk Herald]

Latest proposal for Tulsa police oversight dies in City Council procedural vote: City councilors put an end Wednesday to the latest attempt to establish an independent police oversight body when they failed to get enough votes to send the proposal to the City Attorney’s Office for review. [Tulsa World] Study: Tulsa Police Department needs to improve use-of-force reporting and review those policies [Tulsa World]

Jerad Lindsey: TPD critics misinterpret incident involving “Live PD”: Once again, it seems some activists want attention more than actual reform. And with yet another tired complaint against the Tulsa Police Department and more demands for transparency and accountability, it seems some critics are paying more attention to themselves — instead of paying attention to the facts. [Jerad Lindsey / Tulsa World Op-Ed]

Attorneys challenge Oklahoma’s proposed return to “risky and incomplete” lethal injection protocol: Attorneys for Oklahoma death row prisoners have filed a Motion to Reopen the prisoners’ lethal injection protocol lawsuit, which was administratively closed in 2015 pursuant to a Joint Stipulation between the prisoners and the state. [City Sentinel]

Oklahoma Senate approves Standby Guardianship Act: More than 1,500 students were stranded for several hours at schools across Mississippi last August after a federal immigration sweep of local businesses led to the arrest of nearly 700 undocumented citizens. To avoid such a possible traumatic incident for Oklahoma students, Oklahoma City Public Schools requested Senate Bill 1711 to create the Oklahoma Standby Guardianship Act. [Journal Record ????]

We will figure it out’: Liquor stores looking ahead to first Sunday of authorized county sales: Now that voters have given them the option, many Tulsa area liquor stores say they plan to be open for business this Sunday. The proposition to end the decades-old blue law passed with 73% in favor. Similar propositions passed Tuesday in Cleveland, Creek, Kingfisher, Muskogee, Oklahoma and Washington counties. [Tulsa World]

History repeating itself: Black contractors fight for equity and inclusion in City of Tulsa contracts: The City of Tulsa supports small businesses through the Small Business Enterprise Program (SBE). However, many are questioning if the SBE’s practices are inclusive and equitable for all of its participants. [Tulsa Star]

Quote of the Day

“We want the governor to understand how imperative this is to the lives of thousands and thousands of Oklahomans. The sooner he acts, the sooner Oklahomans can have access to the care that they need.” 

-Former State Sen. Angela Monson,OKC Chapter Lead for Together Oklahoma, calling on the governor’s office to set an election date for SQ 802 [Fox 25

Number of the Day

$8.6 billion

Additional funding which would be available to Oklahoma over the next decade to fund services if the state fully expanded Medicaid

[Source: Urban Institute]

Policy Note

The opioid epidemic and Medicaid’s role in facilitating access to treatment: As the opioid epidemic continues to devastate many parts of the country, Medicaid plays an important role in efforts to address the crisis. In 2017, nearly two million nonelderly adults had opioid use disorder (OUD)1,2 and there were 47,600 opioid overdose deaths in the United States, more than double the number in 2007. Medicaid has historically filled critical gaps in responding to public health crises, such as the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and the Flint water crisis. [Kaiser Family Foundation]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.