In The Know: Tribal health care could lessen State’s financial costs under Medicaid, Tondalo Hall’s commutation now in hands of Governor, Former addicts helping others find hope in rehabilitation

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

Tribal health care could lessen State’s financial costs under Medicaid: Some citizens in Oklahoma have advocated for Medicaid expansion, run by the state as the SoonerCare Program. However, those limited funds assist the disabled, children and elderly. With the state’s refusal to widen its parameters, the federal government redirected Oklahoma taxpayer dollars to other states by upwards of $2 billion a year. [Shawnee News-StarWith the second-highest uninsured rate in the nation, there are no good reasons for Oklahoma not to expand Medicaid.

Tondalo Hall’s commutation now in hands of Kevin Stitt: Tondalo Hall, an Oklahoma City woman serving 30 years in prison for permitting child abuse, had her application for commutation advanced to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk today by a 5-0 vote of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. Hall, a domestic abuse survivor, has served 15 years of her sentence for permitting child abuse committed by her boyfriend and father of two of her three children, Robert Braxton Jr, who was released after two years time-served. [NonDoc]

Editorial: Criminal justice reform on the right path in Oklahoma: In 2016, the voters of Oklahoma overwhelmingly approved State Questions 780 and 781. These questions reduced certain nonviolent offenses from felonies to misdemeanors, with simple drug possession and low-level theft being the principal changes. [The OklahomanProgress was made last session, but there’s still room to improve our justice system.

Former addicts helping others find hope in rehabilitation: By almost any measure, Jack Werner, owner of A to Z Inspections of Oklahoma City, is a successful business owner. But, when Werner speaks in public, whether it’s about his business or his charitable efforts with Rotary International, he begins with a simple, and to some, shocking, message: “I am an alcoholic.” [Journal RecordMedicaid expansion would allow thousands more Oklahomans to receive treatment for substance abuse disorders.

Investing in the EV revolution: Lawmakers told state must plan for more electric vehicles: In her presentation to lawmakers, Adriane Jaynes noted that, while sales of EVs in Oklahoma still account for less than 1% of total sales nationwide, the state led the nation in year-over-year sales increases for two years in a row between 2016 and 2018. [Journal Record ????]

Survey: Ticketing drivers going around school buses might not have huge impact: Oklahoma law is about to change to allow law enforcement to use video from a school bus to ticket drivers who pass illegally, but a similar program elsewhere shows ticketing drivers is not having much of an impact. [FOX25]

Oklahoma County Jail Trust – Outside counsel engaged, hiring scheduled, Calvey mistrusted: The Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority (Jail Trust) met Monday for the first time in a month. They voted to engage services from independent contractors and made a plan for reviewing Jail Administrator applications. [Free Press OKC]

Muskogee voters back $110 million school bond package: Muskogee Public Schools administrators, teachers and patrons erupted in cheers Tuesday night upon hearing the $110 million bond package won the approval of the district’s voters. [Muskogee Phoenix]

Voters reject Konawa school bond issue: Patrons of the Konawa school district decisively rejected the district’s plan to issue $8.16 million in bonds for various projects. [CNHI]

Oklahoma City refutes lawsuit claims, says Shadid doesn’t like politics of MAPS: Oklahoma City’s new proposal for tax-funded projects doesn’t violate the state’s constitutional prohibition against multiple subjects in legislation and the city isn’t bound by that provision in any case, the city told the Oklahoma Supreme Court. [The Oklahoman]

How OKC is consuming rural Oklahoma: Residents remember a Tuttle entirely untouched by the effects of urbanization and the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. Tuttle City Manager Tim Young has experienced the growth of his and other neighboring small towns at a rate that feels overwhelming. [O’Colly]

Levee study draft released, public comment sought ahead of tonight’s meeting: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Tulsa District released its 161-page draft study on the Tulsa County levees Tuesday, four months after high water threatened Sand Springs and west Tulsa neighborhoods. [Tulsa World]

Pawhuskans vote to keep their councilors in recall vote: Pawhuska residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of retaining their city councilors Tuesday. [Tulsa World]

Consumer confidence key to robust economy: Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City President Esther George said that based on financial numbers, the national economy is now in its 11th year of expansion. “It is one of the longest, continuous periods of growth in the United States that we have seen,” she said. [Tahlequah Daily PressToo many Oklahomans have been left behind by the economic recovery, and are still facing joblessness and financial insecurity.

Oklahoma included in $152 million USDA rural broadband investment: Rural America lags behind the rest of the nation in internet access and speed, but a $152 million investment by U.S. Department of Agriculture is the latest large-scale effort to narrow the divide. [CHNI]

Half of OK’s congressional delegation criticizes Trump’s Syria withdrawal plan: Oklahoma’s senior senator and the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee broke ranks with President Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria. [NonDoc]

Governor Anoatubby says state of the Chickasaw Nation is the strongest it’s ever been: During his annual State of the Nation address, Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby said that advances in economic development, cultural preservation and community services have enhanced the lives of the Chickasaw people. [Chickasaw Nation]

James Floyd: Despite election problems, Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s governmental institutions are resilient: Last week, all three branches of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation government successfully traversed an election protection question, which provided swift and unambiguous direction for its citizens. [James Floyd / Tulsa World]

Tulsa Race Massacre graves search: Scientists start ‘do-over’ at Oaklawn Cemetery: After a restart and a bit of retooling, scientists enjoyed an uneventful and productive day surveying areas of Oaklawn Cemetery for unmarked burial sites from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“The effort has been very effective, and as of Nov. 1, hundreds of Oklahomans incarcerated for offenses that are misdemeanors will be eligible to return home to their families. These changes are a first step in meeting the governor’s commitment to make Oklahoma a Top 10 state. Recognizing that this is just the beginning of needed changes in the criminal justice system, it is a major step forward.”

– Gene Rainbolt, board member of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, on last session’s legislation to make State Question 780 retroactive [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Percentage of LGBTQ+ Oklahomans who are uninsured, compared to 16% of non-LGBTQ+ Oklahomans #LGBTQHistoryMonth

[Source: Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Flagships fail on financial equity: Only the relatively wealthiest students can afford to attend most public flagship institutions, according to a new report released last week by the Institute for Higher Education Policy. The report found that only six of 50 state flagships meet an affordability benchmark for low-income students. [Inside Higher Ed]

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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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