In The Know: Work requirements hurt poorest mothers; frank conversation on criminal justice…

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

Analysis Finds Oklahoma’s Proposed Medicaid Work Requirements Would Mostly Affect Poorest Mothers: More than three-fourths of the nearly 6,200 people that would be subject to Oklahoma’s proposed Medicaid work requirements are mothers. The state is asking the federal government to approve a waiver requiring people to work, volunteer or participate in job training 20 hours a week unless they qualify for an exemption [Public Radio Tulsa]. Oklahoma has one of the highest uninsured rates for children in the nation, and the state will likely make matters worse if it goes through with a plan to impose more red tape requirements on poor parents [OKPolicy]. In a statement to The Associated Press, Gov. Fallin said assertions that the policy’s goal is “to kick people off of public assistance” are not true [Associated Press]. Here’s what you can do to speak out about this proposal [OKPolicy].

OKPolicyCast 35: A Frank Conversation About Criminal Justice (With D’Marria Monday, Jill Webb, Erik Grayless, and Kris Steele) Last week, Oklahoma Policy Institute hosted our annual Summer Policy Institute for about 60 college students from all over Oklahoma. The 4-day event featured speakers and panels on a wide range of topics. For this episode of the OKPolicyCast, we’re sharing the live recording of one of those panels — an interesting, frank, contentious discussion of Oklahoma’s criminal justice system [OKPolicy].

OK Policy Celebrating 10th Anniversary with Gala Dinner: For ten years, Oklahoma Policy Institute has advanced effective public policies through research-based education and advocacy. The organization will celebrate this 10th anniversary with a gala dinner on September 13 at the Farmers Public Market in Oklahoma City, honoring Kris Steele and Sandy Garrett, and featuring New Yorker humorist Ian Frazier as the keynote speaker [OKPolicy].

Gov. Mary Fallin Seeks Another Real Id Extension: Gov. Mary Fallin on Tuesday said she asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to expand the state’s REAL ID extension until Oct. 10, 2019. The state has been granted several extensions. If approved, the federal government will continue to recognize Oklahoma driver’s licenses and ID cards until that time. Oklahoma’s current REAL ID extension expires on Oct. 10, 2018 [Tulsa World].

OSBI to Enforce Laws Prohibiting Weapons for Marijuana Users: Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation officials said Tuesday they plan to enforce any existing state and federal laws that prohibit marijuana users from possessing firearms or ammunition. The enforcement decision, meanwhile, may create a thorny problem and a tough choice for gun owners who also want to possess a medical marijuana license [Enid News & Eagle]. Gov. Mary Fallin signed new rules for Oklahoma’s medical marijuana market on Monday, but significant questions remain less than three weeks before patients can apply for licenses [NewsOK]. Lawsuits over medical marijuana emergency rules are moving forward despite approved amendments, attorneys confirm [KFOR].

Recreational marijuana: What’s next now that supporters don’t have enough signatures?: After a surprise announcement Tuesday, it does not appear that Green the Vote will have enough signatures to place a constitutional question for recreational marijuana on a ballot. Activists still plan to deliver petitions to the Capitol on the Wednesday deadline, but it’s still unclear what will happen with the group and its mission to legalize recreational cannabis after the final signature count is released [Tulsa World].

Differing Visions of Economic Development Divide Voters in Southeastern Oklahoma: In Southeastern Oklahoma, where unemployment rates are higher than the rest of the state, residents were more likely to list jobs and the economy as a top political concern in a statewide survey commissioned by public radio stations for the Oklahoma Engaged project. Oil and gas development isn’t booming in the region, but there is a flurry of economic activity in McAlester. But the idea of McAlester as a regional hub isn’t appealing to everyone in Southeastern Oklahoma [KGOU]. 

Coalition to End Poverty to Meet, Discuss Strategies to Fight Homelessness: Sarah Roberts, of Inasmuch Foundation, will address strategies for working with private foundations at the next Coalition to End Poverty meeting at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at WestTown Campus, 1729 NW 3 … Inasmuch Foundation has placed emphasis on forging public/private partnerships to provide and fund quality care and education for Oklahoma City’s most at-risk, youngest residents [NewsOK].

Officials: Number of Smokers Seeking Help Kicking the Habit Skyrockets After Tax Increase: Officials say that it appears as if more Oklahoma smokers are trying to kick the habit after a tax increase on cigarettes went into effect. Under House Bill 1010XX, the legislature approved a $1 per pack tax increase on cigarettes. When the increase went into effect in July, it caught some smokers off guard. According to preliminary numbers from the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, the number of Oklahomans who called in July of this year grew by 85%, compared to July of last year [KFOR].

With 21 Days Until Municipal Elections, Tulsa City Workers Can Campaign After Governor Signs Charter Change: Gov. Mary Fallin has signed the final two city charter change amendments approved by Tulsa voters last year, city officials said Tuesday. Tulsans approved seven city charter amendments in November, two of which the governor had yet to sign. Under the state constitution, the governor is required to sign all municipal charter amendments, but no deadline exists for the governor to do so [Tulsa World].

City of Tulsa pays female worker $90,000 to settle unequal pay claim: The city of Tulsa has agreed to a court settlement that calls for it to pay one of its female employees $90,000 and give her a salary raise after she claimed she was underpaid in comparison with her male counterparts. The jointly-agreed judgment filed Aug. 1 in Tulsa federal court comes after a judge ruled that Jackie Stice’s Equal Pay Act claim could go forward to a jury trial. Stice works as a senior utilities analyst in the city Finance Department [Tulsa World].

School Chiefs: Education on Upswing in Oklahoma: A few local area superintendents recently discussed the state of education in Oklahoma in advance of the new school year. “I would classify the state of education in Oklahoma right now as upbeat, obviously, because of the historic legislative action that is going to ensure the revenue is there for the significant pay raises of both certified employees and support employees,” Enid Public Schools Superintendent Darrell Floyd said [Enid News & Eagle].

Statewide student proficiency rates remain low in second year of higher academic standards: Oklahoma student proficiency rates are down slightly in almost every grade and subject after a second year of higher academic standards, new state test results show. The only exception was an unchanged rate of student proficiency on the seventh-grade math test. Just 33 percent of third-graders and 28 percent of seventh-graders are now considered proficient or better in English/language arts, compared to 39 percent and 34 percent, respectively, in 2017. And sixth-grade math proficiency fell seven points to 28 percent [Tulsa World].

OKCPS Teams up with AAA, Police to Keep Roads Safe for Kids: Oklahoma City Public Schools are working with AAA and Oklahoma City police to keep roads safe for students back in school. There are some cars that aren’t as cautious driving through school zones, even with Oklahoma City Public Schools back in session. There are several ways to avoid a car accident in a school zone, which is where AAA’s safety program comes in [OKCFOX].

No Action on Lee Name Change: The Tulsa School Board hears from patrons and supporters of the Robert E. Lee Elementary School. The board was told, by some patrons, that the school’s name should not be changed to Council Oak. Others supported the change. With his ties to slavery and the Civil War, the Lee name has become offensive to some in the community. A committee selected the name Council Oak to honor the nearby tree where the Creek Nation first met after its relocation to Oklahoma in the Trail of Tears [Public Radio Tulsa].

Councilor Anna America to Become Next Parks Director: Anna America has served as the District 7 Tulsa City Councilor for the past four years and served as the immediate past Chair for the City Council. During her time as councilor and during her entire career, she has been a strong advocate for Tulsa’s park system and building a better life for children [Public Radio Tulsa].

Quote of the Day

“She’s stuck in a position where if she says OK to that extra shift, even if she only works 86 hours that month, then she’s going to be considered too wealthy and would lose her health care coverage.”

-Variety Care Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nathan Valentine, speaking about the Catch-22 created by Oklahoma stingy Medicaid income eligibility and the proposal to kick parents off the program if they don’t meet strict job and reporting requirements [Public Radio Tulsa]

Number of the Day


Average annual income of child care workers in Oklahoma.

[Child Care Aware]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The Social Determinants Speak: Medicaid Work Requirements Will Worsen Health: In summary, CMS’s attempt to use new social determinants of health research to bolster its claim of the health benefits of a Medicaid work requirement seems seriously flawed. The causal relationship between employment and health is murky at best, people will lose coverage (worsening their health), and the working poor with Medicaid may be trapped in their harmful, low-income jobs [Health Affairs].

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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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