In The Know: Real ID sent to Oklahoma governor’s desk

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.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including the Legislative Primer and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

Real ID sent to Oklahoma governor’s desk: Gov. Mary Fallin now has the chance to sign a bill creating a federally compliant Oklahoma identification card. The measure would bring Oklahoma ID cards and driver’s licenses into compliance with the Real ID Act, which requires certain security measures designed to protect against counterfeit IDs [NewsOK].

Lawmakers pass bill out of committee to spend millions on more screenings for Medicaid and SNAP recipients: The Welfare Reform Act of 2017 would dramatically increase how people are screened to receive Medicaid and SNAP benefits. The author of the bill told the Rules Committee on Tuesday that this is a preventative measure to make people don’t abuse the system. But opponents say it’s an expensive solution looking for a problem [KFOR]. HB 1270 would require the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and Department of Human Services to create redundant administrative burdens for SoonerCare (Medicaid) and SNAP (food stamps) [OK Policy].

Oklahoma lawmaker says she won’t hear equal pay for women bill in committee after voting for it last year: A band of Oklahoma lawmakers have signed on to help shrink the pay gap between men and women, but one lawmaker is holding it up. Every woman in the House of Representatives has signed on as a coauthor, except for one. Rep. Elise Hall is the chair of the committee and refuses to hear the bill, despite voting for it last year. Oklahoma women make 73 cents for every dollar paid to men [KFOR]. The gender wage gap amounts to thousands of dollars that Oklahoma families don’t have to spend on food, rent, transportation, and other necessities, [OK Policy].

OK PolicyCast 25: How the criminal justice system really works: On this episode we speak with Jill Webb, an attorney with the Tulsa County Public Defender’s office. She gives us a tour of how the real criminal justice system is different from popular ideas about police and the courts, embodied by shows like Law and Order [OK Policy]. Tens of thousands of Oklahomans enter the justice system each year and come out with thousands of dollars in legal financial obligations [OK Policy].

Oklahoma’s budget crisis requires new revenue: In the last several weeks, a lot of eyes have been focused on Oklahoma’s $900 million budget shortfall and the effect it may have on our state. We have heard a lot of talk about revolving funds, off-the-top spending, structural imbalances and dozens of other terms capitol insiders use to describe the current budget crunch. All of that sounds complicated, but if you break down its major components, the state budget is not unlike the personal budgets that families manage. Simply put, you need your income to be greater than your expenses. If it isn’t, you are in trouble [Joe Dorman / Tahlequah Daily Press]. 

Point of View: Oklahoma can’t afford not to increase tobacco tax: So many people have asked, so I will try to answer: How does a $1.50 cigarette tax prop up health care in Oklahoma? As CEO of one of the state’s largest hospital systems, I know how imperative it is that our state legislators pass House Bill 1841. We must stabilize our state’s Medicaid program, and the cigarette tax is the only measure on the table addressing Oklahoma’s health care funding crisis. It’s not hyperbole [Charles Spicer / NewsOK].

Former Oklahoma State Senator to Run for Governor in 2018: A former state senator from Oklahoma City who is the now vice-chair of the state Democratic Party says she plans to run for governor in 2018. Democrat Connie Johnson told The Associated Press on Tuesday she represents a progressive voice that the people of Oklahoma are ready to support. The 64-year-old Johnson is the first candidate to officially confirm plans to run for governor [US News & World Report].

Teacher survey: See the top reasons Tulsa Public Schools teachers say they’re leaving: The No. 1 reason teachers are leaving their jobs at Tulsa Public Schools is low pay, according to recently released information from the district. TPS conducted two surveys to get a handle on the various reasons employees are resigning. One was conducted last summer of teachers who left, and another was a survey of current staff. Of those who are no longer employees, 52 percent cited a need for a higher salary as the top reason for leaving [Tulsa World].

Langston reacts to DeVos comments about HBCUs: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is making headlines again after calling historically black colleges “pioneers in school choice.” But for local HBCU Langston University, choice was not why the school opened in 1897 [KJRH].

Local bill aimed at protesters could hit home for some Oklahoma environmentalists: As environmental activists continue to look at ways to spread their message, an Oklahoma lawmaker hopes to put punishments in place for trespassers who try to impede or damage energy sites. In recent weeks, activists have become increasingly concerned about the environment following recent decisions by the Trump administration [KFOR].

Oklahoma lawmakers target rule used to strike down anti-abortion laws: Anti-abortion advocates have been stymied by a single sentence in the Oklahoma Constitution that has nothing to do with abortion, but a lawmaker hopes to prevent future challenges by changing it. The section of law forces new laws to meet the single-subject rule. It’s an effort to prevent logrolling, or the practice of putting different proposals into the same bill [NewsOK].

Advocate: This legislation isn’t good for blind Oklahomans: A bill going before the House Appropriations and Budget Committee on Wednesday would require the state Department of Rehabilitation Services to transfer state and federal funding for its Visual Services older blind program to an unnamed community nonprofit organization. This bill isn’t good for blind Oklahomans [Joe Fallin / NewsOK].

Bill would reduce med-mal statute of limitations: The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed a medical malpractice bill Tuesday morning that attorneys said is unconstitutional and won’t hold up in court. State Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, introduced the measure, which would tighten the statute of limitations on medical malpractice cases. Under current law, minors can file a lawsuit against a doctor until they turn 19 [Journal Record].

Affordable Care Act repeal could hurt tribes: A complete repeal of the nation’s health care reform could have devastating effects on tribal citizens in Oklahoma. Tribal leaders in Oklahoma said they’re worried some policymakers don’t realize how much money Native Americans stand to lose if the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – known as Obamacare – were obliterated. President Donald Trump campaigned on repealing in full the 2010 health care overhaul. Observers expected him to mention his plan Tuesday evening in his first address to Congress [Journal Record]. Plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act could bring chaos to Oklahomans’ health care [OK Policy].

Oklahoma seeking Obamacare innovation waiver despite ACA uncertainty: While the exact future of the Affordable Care Act remains in doubt, bureaucrats in even the nation’s most conservative states are pushing forward policy initiatives under the health law of the land. During her statements at an Associated Press forum before the 2017 legislative session started, Gov. Mary Fallin said Oklahoma will be submitting what is called a 1332 waiver to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services [NonDoc]. If approved, waivers authorize states to use federal funds for purposes not explicitly permitted by federal regulations [OK Policy].

Release of further Oklahoma AG records blocked: The Oklahoma Supreme Court’s chief justice agreed Tuesday that the new attorney general does not have to release any further records to a left-leaning watchdog group for the time being. Chief Justice Douglas Combs issued — without explanation — an emergency stay of an Oklahoma County judge’s order about the records [NewsOK].

State responds to Woody Guthrie image projected onto Oklahoma Capitol: The Oklahoma Capitol wasn’t made for you and me to use as a canvas, at least not without permission. The agency in charge of state property management responded to a large art piece of Oklahoma folk hero Woody Guthrie that was projected onto one side of the Capitol on Monday night [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“With revenue being difficult to raise, the Legislature often turns to cuts. Some lawmakers say that’s a good thing. Oklahoma families must control their spending; why shouldn’t the state? That’s a fair point, but here is the truth of the matter: our state government is not like a family that has bought a Ferrari and now must return it. We are like a family living in a house with a leaky roof and no heat, driving our kids around in a car that is about to break down. The solution to that problem is not less spending; it is investment with proper revenue.”

– Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy Executive Director Joe Dorman, calling on lawmakers to raise revenues (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of bookings into the Oklahoma County Jail solely for failure to pay or failure to appear in 2015

Source: Vera Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Extracting Lessons for State Finances: What Other States Should Learn from Energy-Producing States’ Revenue Woes: Every state confronts unexpected revenue declines that lead to budget problems; states that rely heavily on revenues from oil, natural gas, and other fossil fuels know this particularly well. The fiscal actions that energy-producing states took — and things they didn’t do — provide lessons for lawmakers on preserving money for schools, health care, roads, and much more in bad times and good. Today, despite the improving economy, many states are facing fiscal stress. In half the states revenue collections are below the amount expected to be collected when budgets were adopted [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities].

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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