In 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
Building Power: Together Oklahoma: Together Oklahoma will host a session on “Building Power” from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, at All Saints Episcopal Church, 352 E. Washington Ave. in McAlester. Join us for brunch and a conversation on how we can build power in our community. [McAlester News-Capital]
Support Working Oklahomans: A Community Conversation. Together Oklahoma and OK Policy will host two community discussions about state policies that can benefit working Oklahomans.
- Lawton: Monday, Feb. 10 | 6:00 p.m. Click here to learn more and RSVP
- Ardmore: Tuesday, Feb. 11 | 6:00 p.m. Click here to learn more and RSVP
In The News
U.S. House condemns Medicaid option embraced by Stitt: The U.S. House on Thursday denounced the new Medicaid initiative embraced by Gov. Kevin Stitt, saying the demonstration program was “illegal” and “cruel.” U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn, D-Oklahoma City, said the plan “would slash and cap Medicaid, hurting the people Medicaid is supposed to help. This scheme would take the funds our state uses for SoonerCare, putting coverage for 500,000 children at risk.” [The Oklahoman] OK Policy has raised concerns about the Governor’s proposed Medicaid plan and noted that straightforward Medicaid expansion is the tried and true path for providing health care coverage to Oklahomans who need it.
State Medicaid plan would start in 2022: Funding for Gov. Kevin Stitt’s Medicaid expansion plan, SoonerCare 2.0, wasn’t included in his proposed budget for the coming fiscal year, but an administration official said that’s because it would take at least two years to set the plan in motion. Budget Secretary Mike Mazzei said the state’s anticipated $100 million-$150 million cost of expanding Medicaid wasn’t necessary to include in the budget for fiscal year 2021, set to begin July. [The Journal Record 🔒]
Anti-gerrymandering group refiles redistricting petition: A group seeking to overhaul Oklahoma’s redistricting process refiled Thursday an initiative petition seeking to create an independent redistricting commission. People Not Politicians rewrote a portion of the petition after the group’s original proposal was struck down Tuesday by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. [The Oklahoman]
Medicaid 2.0, State of the State, redistricting initiative petition & more: This week’s episode discusses the governor’s plan to use federal block grants to expand Medicaid, his State of the State Address focusing on government efficiency, health care and even gaming compacts as well as releasing his executive budget for the coming fiscal year starting on July 1. The trio also discusses a ruling from the state Supreme Court sending an initiative petition on redistricting back to the drawing board and another initiative petition to repeal the permitless carry gun law. [KOSU]
Oklahoma House passes abortion bill that would revoke licenses of doctors performing procedure: In its first meaningful action of the 2020 legislative session, the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Thursday passed and sent to the Senate legislation that would effectively ban almost all abortions in the state by revoking the licenses of doctors performing the procedure, except in situations threatening the life of a woman. [Tulsa World]
HB 2927: Helping homeless youth in Oklahoma: HB 2927 would create the “Unit for Runaway, Homeless and At-Risk Youth” which would be a public-private partnership between the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and organizations working with Oklahoma’s homeless youth. [KOCO]
Rep. Ben Loring proposes amendment to Oklahoma’s Open Meeting Act: Rep. Ben Loring, D-Miami, has authored an amendment to Oklahoma’s Open Meeting Act which would remove the bill’s existing exemption for the State Legislature. If enacted, House Bill 2914 would subject the Oklahoma Legislature to the same rules that govern the meetings of local governments across the state. [O’Colly]
Medical marijuana supporters rally at Oklahoma state Capitol: Hundreds of medical marijuana supporters descended on Oklahoma’s state Capitol on Thursday to warn lawmakers not to infringe on their legal right to grow, consume and sell cannabis. [The Oklahoman] In all, advocates said more than 30 bills filed in the Legislature would impact the fledgling industry or drastically change existing laws. [CNHI / Muskogee Phoenix]
Cherokee Nation lawsuit to become test case in search for global solution to expansive opioid litigation: The Cherokee Nation’s lawsuit against opioid distributors and pharmacies has been sent back to federal court in Muskogee where it is expected to become a bellwether test case in efforts to find a global solution to thousands of lawsuits filed over this nation’s opioid epidemic. [The Oklahoman]
New group launches ad campaign saying state isn’t getting a ‘fair shake’ from tribal casino industry: A recently formed organization will be airing advertisements starting on Friday saying Oklahoma is not getting a “fair shake” from tribal casinos. “Oklahoma families are not getting a fair shake when it comes to our state’s booming casino industry, third largest in the country,” the 30-second ad states. [Tulsa World]
Choctaw Nation had a multi-billion dollar impact on Oklahoma’s economy in 2018: The Choctaw Nation Chief announced Thursday that they have a multi-billion dollar economic impact on Oklahoma’s economy. The gaming compact agreement to operate casinos in the state could change where the tribe’s money is spent in the future. [KXII]
OKC rent is rising, but not as fast as income: Rents are up in several pockets of Oklahoma City – in some markets by more than 8 percent – and there is still room to grow, say market analysts. From 2010 to 2019, median household income rose from $46,000 to about $60,000, while rent has not grown as fast, he said. As a result, the average household now spends about 17 percent of income on rent, instead of 19 percent just a few years ago. [The Journal Record 🔒]
Tulsa World Editorial: Use respect, care of grave sites when excavating for 1921 Race Massacre victims: Tulsa’s next step in searching for unmarked graves from the 1921 Race Massacre ought to be made with care and delicacy. The city’s Mass Graves Investigation Public Oversight Committee announced on Monday that a test excavation at Oaklawn Cemetery will resume in April. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]
How Fallin’s release of 30 inmates paved the way for the mass commutation that followed: Gov. Kevin Stitt’s commutation in November of nearly 500 inmates was historic, but it owes some of its success to a group of 30 people whom then-Gov. Mary Fallin released a year before. [KOCO]
Five things to know about writing to lawmakers: If you follow state politics, the Oklahoma Legislature is bound to consider a bill you care deeply about someday. Say you have studied the bill and want to urge your lawmaker to support or oppose it. You decide to write them a letter, but you need some guidance. [The Ada News]
Friday is deadline to register to vote in Oklahoma presidential primary: Friday is the deadline to register to vote or update existing registrations for the March 3 Oklahoma presidential primary. Registration forms are available at elections.ok.gov and at local election boards, post offices, tag agencies and libraries. Updates, such as changes in party or address, can be made online through the OK Voter Portal on the election board website. [Tulsa World]
Quote of the Day
“(The plan) would slash and cap Medicaid, hurting the people Medicaid is supposed to help. This scheme would take the funds our state uses for SoonerCare, putting coverage for 500,000 children at risk.”
-U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn, D-Oklahoma City, speaking about a proposed new Medicaid initiative embraced by Gov. Stitt [The Oklahoman]
Number of the Day
The approximate number of Oklahomans reporting mental illness.
Is there a way to predict who will become homeless? These UCLA researchers say yes: With the ranks of homeless people growing faster than housing is being built, one of the most popular strategies for reducing homelessness has become to simply keep people in their homes. In theory, a small infusion of cash, counseling or legal aid could be the difference that prevents someone from ending up on the street. But reality isn’t so simple. Of the tens of thousands of people who are on the brink of losing their homes every year in California and across the country, only a tiny fraction do. Most prevention programs don’t take such statistics into account, erring on the side of helping as many people in need as possible. But to be truly effective and cost-effective, a program would have to be able to identify that one person who will become homeless with reasonable accuracy. [Los Angeles Times]
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