In The Know: ACA enrollment increases in state, nation

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS.

Download today’s In The Know podcast here or play it in your browser:

Today you should know that nearly 25,000 Oklahomans have chosen health insurance plans on the Affordable Care Act marketplace as of February 1. Nationwide, nearly 3.3 million Americans enrolled in plans. Hundreds of Oklahomans rallied at the state Capitol in support of medical marijuana. Democratic Senator Connie Johnson and former Republican State Rep. Porter Davis announced a new alliance Wednesday to reform marijuana policy in Oklahoma. The unemployment rate rose in 64 of the state’s 77 counties from November to December. 

A state House panel approved HJR 1082 to call a vote of the people on whether to have a state constitutional convention. A Senate panel approved SB 2044 to issue $160 million in bonds to fix the state Capitol. New House Speaker Jeff Hickman said he is open to discussing the idea. Tulsa high school students visited the state Capitol to lobby for a texting-while-driving ban. Oklahoma Transportation Department officials are offering financial incentives as high as $2,500 an hour in hopes of getting the Purcell bridge repaired quickly. Oklahoma lawmakers are questioning Governor Fallin’s deal to let Texas continue pumping water from a station newly found to be on the Oklahoma side of the border.

The OK Policy Blog shared perspectives from several rural experts on how Oklahoma should address rural health and poverty. Oklahoma officials are concerned that the state’s high use of prescription painkillers will become “gateway” drugs leading to heroin use, but the trend has not shown up in state statistics. David Blatt’s Journal Record discussed the legacy of philanthropist and business leader Henry Zarrow, and the young immigrants who may follow in his footsteps.

The Oklahoma Historical Society board of directors voted unanimously to oppose Gov. Mary Fallin’s proposal to consolidate the agency into the Tourism Department. Former legislator Randy Brogdon has dissolved his campaign for governor and may be preparing to run for US Senate. State Senator Al McCaffrey is planning to run for the US House seat being vacated by James Lankford.

The Number of the Day is the percentage of Oklahomans enrolled in health insurance on the Affordable Care Act marketplace who are ages 18-34. In today’s Policy Note, MSNBC reports on how Arkansas has successfully insured nearly 100,000 low-income residents with a private alternative to the Medicaid expansion.

In The News

ACA enrollment increases in state, nation

Just under 25,000 people in Oklahoma have chosen health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, according to federal data released Wednesday. Nationally, enrollment in the federal Health Insurance Marketplace continued to rise in January, with a 53 percent increase in overall enrollment over the prior three month reporting period. Nearly 3.3 million people enrolled in plans under the federal health care law by Feb. 1, with January enrollment accounting for 1.1 million.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Hundreds rally at state Capitol for medical marijuana

Colleen Stice has a 13-month-old son who, at times, suffers hundreds of seizures a day. Her son, Rowan, was diagnosed with a form of epilepsy when he was 6 months old and hasn’t gained a pound since he started taking medication, Stice said. Stice was one of hundreds of people at the Capitol on Wednesday to lobby and rally in support of two bills asking for Oklahoma to loosen its laws on marijuana.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Senator announces new nonpartisan alliance to reform marijuana policy in Oklahoma

Senator Connie Johnson and former State Rep. Porter Davis announced a new alliance Wednesday to reform marijuana policy in Oklahoma. Johnson, a Democrat, and Davis, a Republican, share a common interest in ending marijuana prohibition in the state for medicinal, decriminalization and industrial purposes. This session, Johnson has filed Senate Bill 2116, which would regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Public Safety Committee but the committee chair has told Johnson he will not hear the bill.

Read more from the Norman Transcript.

Unemployment rises in most Oklahoma counties

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission reported Wednesday that the jobless rate rose in 64 of the state’s 77 counties from November to December. The commission report said the highest unemployment rates were in southeastern Oklahoma. Latimer County had a 9.2 percent jobless figure, McCurtain County an 8.2 percent rate and Hughes County was at 8.1 percent. The lowest rates were in northwestern Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Panhandle, where Beaver, Dewey, Ellis and Roger Mills counties each report a 2.8 percent unemployment rate.

Read more from the Associated Press.

Panel passes Okla. Constitutional Convention bill

A state House panel has approved legislation calling for a vote of the people on whether to call a constitutional convention to consider possible changes to Oklahoma’s Constitution. The House Rules Committee voted 6-0 on Wednesday for the measure by Republican Rep. Gary Banz of Midwest City. It now goes to the full House. The measure says the state Constitution requires that voters be asked whether a constitutional convention should be convened every 20 years. But the last proposal calling for a constitutional convention was submitted to a statewide vote in March 1970.

Read more from KSWO.

See also: HJR 1082 on OK Policy Bill Tracker

Senate panel OKs $160 M bond issue to fix state Capitol

An Oklahoma Senate committee has given overwhelming bipartisan approval for a $160 million bond issue to renovate and repair the state Capitol. The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 20-1 on Wednesday to approve the bill, which authorizes the Oklahoma Capitol Improvement Authority to issue the bonds. Former Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon was a vocal critic of a bond issue, but newly elected Speaker Jeff Hickman has said he’s open to discussing the idea with his caucus.

Read more from KSWO.

See also: SB 2044 on OK Policy Bill Tracker

Tulsa students lobby legislators for texting-while-driving ban

Some Tulsa high school students were at the Capitol on Wednesday seeking a ban on texting while driving. Booker T. Washington junior Skylar Yoder, 17, was among a group called Generation TXT seeking to draw attention and support for the issue. Yoder said the group wants texting while driving banned for all ages and said several bills this session deal with the issue. Although the measure in years past failed to gain legislative approval, it is garnering more and more support, she said.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma officials propose hefty incentives for early repair of Purcell bridge

Oklahoma Transportation Department officials are offering financial incentives as high as $2,500 an hour in hopes of getting the Purcell bridge repaired and reopened to passenger car and foot traffic within 45 days, officials said Wednesday. Initial repairs would be aimed at getting the bridge reopened to passenger car and foot traffic, said Terri Angier, department spokeswoman. Contractors are being asked to bid against each other both on completion times and costs in a complicated process, Angier said.

Read more from NewsOK.

Lawmakers question Governor’s deal to let Texas pump water from Oklahoma

When Gov. Mary Fallin and Texas Gov. Rick Perry in January agreed a north Texas water district could take water out of the Red River using a pump station in Oklahoma, they avoided what could’ve been a long legal battle over the exact location of the state’s southern boundary. And why not? Texas had been using the pump for years — with both sides assuming it was in the Lone Star State — until new maps showed the pump station was technically in Oklahoma. But the agreement also left some western and southern Oklahoma lawmakers disappointed and confused.

Read more from StateImpact Oklahoma.

Virtual symposium on rural health and poverty

Some of the highest poverty rates and least access to health care in Oklahoma can be found in the state’s rural counties. Recently, we asked a group of Oklahomans with longstanding expertise on rural issues to respond in 400 words to the following questions : Does Oklahoma need a different approach to fighting poverty in rural areas, compared to urban and suburban parts of the state? What policies might help us address this problem?

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

State officials keeping eye on heroin use

The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has focused attention on rising heroin use among people who previously had been taking prescription painkillers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. In Oklahoma, some state officials are expressing concern that prescription painkillers have become “gateway” drugs leading to heroin use. Oklahoma has one of the highest prescription painkiller abuse rates in the nation. So far, the trend has not shown up in state statistics.

Read more from Oklahoma Watch.

Prosperity Policy: From Henry to Henry

Last month, Oklahoma lost one its greatest citizens with the passing of Henry Zarrow at the age of 97. While he was renowned for his business skills and integrity, Zarrow left his greatest mark through what he gave to others. As the Tulsa World wrote: “In a city known for its philanthropists, his record might never be matched.” His major causes included homelessness, mental health, education, literacy, and the arts. Along with providing major gifts for dozens of organizations and institutions, including the nonprofit research group I head, “Mr. Henry,” as he was fondly known, gave boundlessly to individuals in need.

Read more from The Journal Record.

Oklahoma Historical Society directors voice opposition to Gov. Fallin’s consolidation proposal

With a standing-room-only crowd stretching into the hallway, the Oklahoma Historical Society’s board of directors Wednesday voted unanimously to oppose Gov. Mary Fallin’s proposal to consolidate the agency into the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation. Bob Blackburn, the Historical Society’s executive director, described Gov. Fallin as a “strong ally” of the Historical Society and said Wednesday’s meeting was not a call to action to the society’s 10,000 members.

Read more from NewsOK.

Brogdon dissolves governor’s race corporation

A candidate for Oklahoma governor who once said the state needed a militia to protect itself from the federal government has returned contributions from supporters and dissolved a corporation set up to support his campaign. Randy Brogdon’s campaign website on Wednesday included a reference to “Brogdon for U.S. Senate” but neither the ex-legislator nor his campaign returned messages asking whether the Republican intended to enter a different race.

Read more from the Associated Press.

State Sen. Al McCaffrey will run for US House seat

State Sen. Al McAffrey, D-Oklahoma City, plans to announce his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives seat being vacated by Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City. Lankford announced in January he plans to run for the U.S. Senate seat vacancy created after Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, announced that he will not seek re-election. McAffrey, who has also served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, is a former Oklahoma City police officer and the owner of an Oklahoma City funeral home.

Read more from NewsOK.

Quote of the Day

At some point you have to realize that you have to have revenue; you have to pay for core services that our citizens depend on. You can’t continue to erode the revenue stream.

-State Treasurer Ken Miller (Source:

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahomans enrolled in health insurance on the Affordable Care Act marketplace who are ages 18-34.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

A red state breakthrough on health reform

Obamacare is hardly a word for polite company in Arkansas. Like most folks in the region stretching across the South into Texas, Arkansans generally think of the Affordable Care Act as a hostile federal intrusion into their affairs. Yet this impoverished red state has recently emerged as one of the nation’s best innovators in health care reform. Its approach to Medicaid expansion, known as the “Private Option,” has brought full-service health coverage to nearly 100,000 low-income residents this year and opened the door to 150,000 more.

Read more from MSNBC.

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


Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

3 thoughts on “In The Know: ACA enrollment increases in state, nation

  1. Very great post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I have truly loved surfing around your weblog posts.
    After all I will be subscribing in your feed and I
    am hoping you write once more soon!

    Feel free to visit my web blog google

Leave a Reply

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