In The Know: Fallin’s signature puts an end to 2018 budget turmoil

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

Fallin’s signature puts an end to 2018 budget turmoil: Gov. Mary Fallin has signed the final version of this year’s budget, which cuts $44.7 million from state agencies over the next four months. House Bill 1020 closes out work on the fiscal year 2018 budget cycle that ends June 30. Most agencies must cut between 1 percent and 2 percent from their remaining spending plans [NewsOK]. Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special sessions [OK Policy].

Caldwell one of 4 vying to unseat House speaker: Concerned about the path forward, four Republican lawmakers are vying to topple the incumbent speaker in a bid to become the next leader of the state House. The four state representatives — Caldwell, Tommy Hardin, Charles Ortega and Todd Russ — have announced they want to become the next speaker of House and the leader of the state’s at-times fractious Republican House majority starting in 2019 [CNHI].

House takes swipe at ‘accountability’ bill: The Oklahoma House rejected an attempt Tuesday that would have created a new entity, answerable only to legislative leadership, that detractors said would be ripe for patronage. The Office of Accountability would have been a 15-member committee working inside the Legislative Service Bureau to help make sure government spending was fiscally responsible and review other agency rules and regulations, according to an amendment filed by the bill’s author, state Rep. John Montgomery, R-Lawton [NewsOK].

Bill would change school nutrition rules: State Sen. John Sparks, D-Norman, introduced Senate Bill 1007, which would amend the Healthy and Fit Kids Act of 2004. The bill was at the request of a constituent. The changes would require that established healthy and fit advisory committees establish a school wellness policy and submit to the principal. Other proposed changes would ensure nutrition guidelines meet federal rules for meals and snacks, and add health services and health equity to the wellness policy [Journal Record].

Bill would allow more casino games: A bill that would allow tribes to add more games to their casinos has been approved by a Senate committee. The Senate’s Business, Commerce, and Tourism Committee approved Senate Bill 1195. State Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada, authored the bill. It will next be reviewed by the Senate’s Appropriations Committee, which is headed by Kim David, R-Porter, and Eddie Fields, R-Wynona [Journal Record].

Senate committee kills Dahm’s controversial wildlife ownership bill: A dramatic rewrite of a bill that originally gave “Almighty God” ownership of the state’s wildlife wasn’t enough to save it. A 5-to-6 vote in the Senate Agriculture and Wildlife Committee on Tuesday killed Senate Bill 1457, written by Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow. The measure originally said, “All wildlife found in this state is the property of Almighty God,” a change from giving ownership of wildlife to the state [Tulsa World].

Too many Oklahoma families are one emergency away from financial disaster: This week is America Saves Week when many community organizations promote saving money and encourage people to look at the state of their own finances. For many Oklahoma families, this would be a disheartening exercise. Four in ten Oklahomans don’t have the cash, or property that could be sold for cash, to support themselves at the poverty level for three months. For these families, just one small emergency, from an unexpected medical bill to a car repair, could easily mean debt or financial collapse [OK Policy].

Medicaid Changes Require Tens of Millions in Upfront Costs: The addition of work requirements and other sweeping changes to Kentucky’s Medicaid program could cost nearly $187 million in the first six months alone to get up and running. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin projects that the program will eventually yield savings but the changes require an upfront investment in administrative expenses [Roll Call]. Oklahoma ​should avoid the temptation to pass new Medicaid​ restrictions​ [OK Policy].

Corrections facing $14.5 million deficit: The director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections said it’s likely the agency will need at least $12 million in supplemental appropriations to make it through the year. The Board of Corrections met on Tuesday, when Director Joe Allbaugh updated members about the organization’s finances. He said the department is looking at a $14.48 million deficit for fiscal 2018, which ends in June [Journal Record]. The effects of budget cuts on Oklahoma prisons are hidden but dangerous [OK Policy].

Bill expanding guns rights in public schools up for a vote: The Oklahoma House will consider firearm-related bills Wednesday, including a bill expanding the number of people who can carry firearms inside public schools. While state law now lets boards of education choose who can carry a gun if they are a certified armed security guard or reserve police officer, House Bill 3192 would widen those restrictions [NewsOK].

Investigation into tracker found on Oklahoma legislator’s car leads to Texas political consultant: The OSBI has determined a longtime Texas political consultant known as Dr. Dirt hired the private investigators who put a tracker on a legislator’s pickup court records show. The consultant, George C. Shipley, 70, has been subpoenaed to appear next week before the Oklahoma multicounty grand jury “to provide testimony.” [NewsOK]

Regulators bolster protocols to reduce chances of fracking-induced earthquakes shaking Oklahomans: Industry must comply with strengthened fracking protocols in a 12,500-square-mile area of western and south-central Oklahoma to try to reduce earthquakes from oil and natural gas well completion activities, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission announced Tuesday. The protocols target the SCOOP and STACK petroleum basins, which are where the “vast majority” of new oil and gas activity is happening in the state, according to an Oklahoma Corporation Commission news release [Tulsa World].

Wind Catcher dealt blow after judge’s recommendation: Public Service Co. of Oklahoma faced a setback for its Wind Catcher Energy Connection project after an Oklahoma Corporation Commission administrative law judge recommended earlier this month against preapproval of PSO’s request to allow the company to charge ratepayers to help fund the project [Enid News].

Quote of the Day

“This is something to be concerned about. It’s just a continuing saga to try to cut, cut, cut without filling core functions of government. Something has to change.”

– Oklahoma Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh, warning legislators that the agency will need at least $12 million in additional funding before July 2018 (Source)

Number of the Day

16.8 minutes

Average wait time to vote in Oklahoma during the 2016 general election.

Source: MIT Survey of the Performance of American Elections

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Implementing States’ Medicaid Wishes Won’t Be Cheap: After years of having most of their health care requests denied by the Obama administration, conservative states seeking to add eligibility requirements to Medicaid have received a blessing. Last month, the Trump administration opened the door for states to, among other things, make employment a condition for Medicaid, the insurance program for the poor [Governing].

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Ryan Gentzler worked at OK Policy from January 2016 until November 2022. He last served as the organization's Reserach Director and oversaw Open Justice Oklahoma. He began at OK Policy as an analyst focusing on criminal justice issues, including sentencing, incarceration, court fines and fees, and pretrial detention. Open Justice Oklahoma grew out of Ryan’s groundbreaking analysis of court records, which was used to inform critical policy debates. A native Nebraskan, he holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Oklahoma and a BA in Institutions and Policy from William Jewell College. He served as an OK Policy Research Fellow in 2014-2015.

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