In The Know: Tougher SNAP Requirements in House Farm Bill Could Affect up to 97,000 Oklahomans

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

Tougher SNAP Requirements in House Farm Bill Could Affect up to 97,000 Oklahomans: Groups fighting hunger are paying attention as the U.S. House and Senate reconcile their different versions of the new farm bill. Hunger Free Oklahoma estimates up to 97,000 Oklahomans could be subject to heightened work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program proposed in the House version [Public Radio Tulsa]. The bipartisan Senate farm bill is a better way forward for families that struggle with food insecurity [OKPolicy].

Medicaid Officials to Continue Studying Work Requirement Mandate:  As Oklahoma officials work to carry out their legislative mandate to implement work requirements on Medicaid, some critics are asking to pump the brakes. Oklahoma is one of several states that are seeking a waiver that would allow supplemental requirements, and it’s one of few that will request one without first expanding Medicaid [Journal Record]. The Medicaid waiver proposal is a threat to health care for thousands of Oklahoma parents and caretakers [OKPolicy].

Wayne Greene: The State Is Ready to Force the Nonexistent Horde of Able-Bodied Adults on Medicaid to Get Jobs … but It Won’t Say It’ll Save a Dime: Earlier this year, the Oklahoma Legislature passed a bill aimed at forcing able-bodied Medicaid clients to go to work. Beyond the red-meat politics of the idea, there is a fundamental flaw in the legislation’s underlying assumptions — that there are vast hordes of lazy Oklahoma adults who could be working, but would rather be on Medicaid, and that threatening to take away their Medicaid will motivate them to get off the couch and find a job. In fact, the vast majority of Oklahoma Medicaid clients aren’t working for a very good reason: They are children [Wayne Green / Tulsa World]. There is no evidence that taking away coverage from a person who is unable to work enough will either increase work or improve health [OKPolicy].

OSBI Investigating Oklahoma Pharmacy Board Executive Director: The executive director of the Oklahoma Pharmacy Board is facing a bribery investigation over her texts about medical marijuana rules. The OSBI is investigating whether Chelsea Church, 46, offered a bribe — a higher paying job — to a Health Department lawyer on July 7 in an attempt to influence the rules. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is acting at the request of Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater [NewsOK].

Medical Marijuana Authors Release Proposed Regulations Days Before Working Group Meets: As lawmakers selected for a working group on medical marijuana prepare for their first meeting, groups behind the legalization of medical cannabis have drafted a proposed statute for consideration. New Health Solutions Oklahoma, which funded the Yes On 788 campaign, has released a roughly 270-page proposal which they have described as a working draft of legislation to implement State Question 788 [KFOR]. Despite increasing public pressure, many lawmakers are hesitant to reconvene in a special session to sort out medical marijuana rules [Enid News & Eagle]. 

State Question 788 Takes Effect This Week. What Do You Need to Know? State Question 788 takes effect Thursday, but with emergency rules providing an extra 30 days for the state to establish the regulatory framework, that date now means only one thing: Most simple marijuana possession crimes will be punishable only by a $400 fine [Tulsa World]. Cleve Wheeler wonders whether a bank like Sooner State in Tuttle can legally service a business loan if the co-signer is growing medical marijuana [Journal Record]. Oklahomans responded with an outcry when the state Department of Health proposed limiting THC in medical marijuana, but there’s little clear evidence on whether a cap would hurt or help patients [NewOK].

Taxes on Cannabis, Gambling Are Unreliable, Study Says: As Oklahoma prepares to collect taxes on marijuana, a new study from the Pew Charitable Trusts urges caution when relying too much on that money. The report released Thursday highlights the history of “sin taxes,” or revenue collected from things like marijuana, gambling, tobacco and alcohol. “Sin taxes can provide short-term revenue boosts, but because of a combination of factors, they may also drive budget challenges in the long term,” said Mary Murphy, project director for Pew’s state fiscal policy division [NewsOK].

Women Advance in Oklahoma’s Most Crowded State Senate Primary: In a state where only seven of 47 state senators are female, two women and seven men entered the District 30 primary. Both women and one man advanced. Historically, few women run for Oklahoma’s Legislature. Those who do are elected at a significantly lower rate than men. But this year, more women ran. And almost as many women as men won in Senate primary races in which there were male and female candidates [NewsOK].

Stitt, Cornett Back Trump on Immigration, Split on Tax Bill: Mick Cornett and Kevin Stitt both backed President Donald Trump on immigration but split on the tax bill for teacher pay hikes, at a GOP gubernatorial forum here Thursday that also touched on gun rights, medical marijuana rules and other issues. Facing off for the first time in the runoff campaign, Cornett and Stitt kept it friendly at a dinner sponsored by the Muskogee County Republican Party [NewsOK].

Rep. Tess Teague Campaign Flier Irks Aeronautics Commission Director: The director of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission sent an email admonishing Rep. Tess Teague (R-Choctaw) for altering his words and distributing them on a campaign mailer boasting his “support” for her campaign. State agency heads generally avoid even appearing to endorse political candidates, something Victor Bird says he explained to Teague in a phone call before agreeing to provide a quote about a piece of legislation she carried [NonDoc].

(Podcast) Capitol Insider Extra: Former Senator AJ Griffin Reflects on Her Time in Office and More: AJ Griffin served as a Republican senator from Guthrie, Oklahoma for six years. She joins KGOU’s Dick Pryor and eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley to discuss why she decided not to seek re-election and more. The three discuss bipartisanship at the state capitol, the unique contributions of women in office, and changing attitudes in Oklahoma around the role of government when it comes to social services [KGOU].

Oklahoma Unemployment Rate Drops: The Oklahoma unemployment rate fell slightly in June. The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission said Friday that the jobless rate fell from 4 percent in May to 3.9 percent in June. The commission reported that the number of people with jobs rose by 5,805 while the number of jobless declined by 1,641 [Public Radio Tulsa].

Bottom Line on Oklahoma Drug Courts: They Work: Members of the Legislature often complain that their spending decisions are made more difficult by a lack of hard data from state agencies. This shouldn’t be an issue as it pertains to the state’s mental health agency and its drug courts. Simply put, these courts work for the vast majority of those chosen to participate, and for the taxpayers [Editorial Board / NewsOK]. Updating drug courts is important, but Oklahoma must invest in all forms of substance abuse treatment [OKPolicy].

Community Meeting Process Surrounding Lee School Renaming Ends, a New Name Is Next, but Some Still Won’t Be Happy: The first Lee School renaming process ended with public officials being accused of perpetuating racism. The second has been filled with claims of broken promises and erasing history. When, and if, the naming process ends on Aug. 6, it will likely have the same effect as the first: one side of the debate won’t be happy [Tulsa World].

Voters Said ‘Yes,’ but Charter Change Amendment Expanding City Employees’ Campaign Rights Remains Unsigned: The leaders of the city’s police and firefighters unions say they are hopeful Gov. Mary Fallin will sign off on a city charter amendment that would give them — and other city employees — more leeway to participate in municipal election campaigns. But the governor would need to sign the amendment soon if city employees are to play a significant role in the Aug. 28 municipal elections [Tulsa World].

Director Says Things Are Improving at Tulsa 911 Center: The leader of Tulsa’s understaffed 911 center says things are improving. Tulsa 911 Director Terry O’Malley said citizen complaints about long waits on the phone and rude dispatchers come down to inadequate staffing. At its worst in 2016, 40 percent of 911 calls were answered within 10 seconds. The national standard is 90 percent. So, the 911 center made some changes [Public Radio Tulsa].

End of Government Training Program Forces Tribe to Halt N2N University: The end of a federal transportation and economic grant program is forcing the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma to close its N2N University. The program appeared to be successful with 93% of the students finding a job in their field upon graduation. But the Federal Transportation Grant program is ending July 31 [OK Energy Today].

Water Fight Heats up in Kingfisher County: A growing fight in the heart of Oklahoma’s oil patch pits local control against state regulators, private property owners against the state’s largest industry and water recycling against fears of spills and liability. One result so far is that the most active oil producer in Kingfisher County is facing delays and millions of dollars in unexpected expenses and is questioning how much to invest in the county next year. Kingfisher County officials, however, say they are acting to protect local landowners from potential environmental damage if water containing salt and chemicals were to spill [NewsOK].

Oklahoma’s Hatchery Program Dates Back More Than 100 Years: Stocking of fish to enhance fishing opportunities and build sports fishing tourism predates the Wildlife Department with the building of the state’s first hatchery, Manning, at Medicine Park, near Lawton in 1915. That’s 10 years before the first “Oklahoma Wildlife Commission” was created. Other hatcheries include Byron, built in 1929, Durant in 1930 and Holdenville in 1935. General state taxes are not used for fisheries. The money comes from fishing licenses sold in Oklahoma and matching dollars from federal excise taxes on boating and fishing equipment [NewsOK]. 

Quote of the Day

“How do you put Medicaid recipients to work? The first thing you do is remove the obstacles that prevent them from working. Raising new obstacles by taking away their health care coverage doesn’t help. That only makes them poorer and sicker … less likely to work … and more likely to show up at Tulsa emergency rooms for uncompensated treatment when their illnesses reaches a crisis.”

-Tulsa World Editor Wayne Greene, writing about Oklahoma’s push to deny health care to parents who don’t complete strict work and reporting requirements [Tulsa World].

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma households receiving SNAP benefits that included at least one worker in the previous 12 months (FY 2016).


See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Expanding Skimpy Health Plans Is the Wrong Solution for Uninsured Farmers and Farm Workers: Skimpier health plan options that fail to provide comprehensive coverage won’t solve health care affordability problems for most people working in agriculture, especially if they face illness or injury. In a survey funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2 out of 3 farmers and ranchers reported having a pre-existing health condition.  Skimpier plans are unlikely to meet the needs of this group.  In some cases, people with pre-existing conditions could be denied coverage under these plans or offered coverage with only very high premiums [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities].

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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.

One thought on “In The Know: Tougher SNAP Requirements in House Farm Bill Could Affect up to 97,000 Oklahomans

  1. “Simply put, these courts work for the vast majority of those chosen to participate, and for the taxpayer.”

    Uh, one more time. OK drug courts only get about half of those “chosen” by prosecutors, then judges through the process. The only data the Mental Health leadership provides are about the courtt completers, not ALL participants who start the program. The failures of noncompleters need to be acknowledged, studied, and understood as well as the successes. Before any editorial rhapsodizes about the wonders of OK drug courts, its writers should have in their hands the results of an independent evaluation by reputable evaluators who aren’t also responsible for promoting drug courts they’re judging to legislators.

    The independent audit a decade ago authorized then deep-sixed by OK legislators (after it showed the state DOC being good value for the scarce resources provided rather than the waste hog justifying private prisons as the legislators wanted) actually did analyze the state drug courts and found them seriously wanting. But, as with most things in policy, reality rarely seeps in once a partisan or editorial board has drunk “fake news” koolaid coming from the DMHSAS leadership. This is one case in which it’s been good for the legislature to ignore “evidence-based” claims about policy. Until the evidence is independently provided or listened to when it already has been, OK taxpayers are better off with the situation as it is.

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