The Weekly Wonk: Money bail; scholarship tax credits; bills that died; & more

What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. The Weekly Wonk was published with contributions from Communications Intern Lindsay Myers. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.

This Week from OK Policy

This week, a new study by Open Justice Oklahoma Director Ryan Gentzler analyzed the impact of money bail on vulnerable communities and how passing Senate Bill 252 could change that. You can read the full report on OJO’s website. Education Policy Analyst Rebecca Fine informed us that increasing the scholarship tax credit hurts public schools. Policy Director Carly Putnam explained why implementation of Medicaid work requirements in Oklahoma is unlikely to happen quickly – and why that’s a good thing. 

In this week’s Bill Watch, we shared important updates on some of the key  bills that have died this session after they failed to pass out of committee. We also shared the second part of our Bill Watch series on the OK PolicyCast, where Criminal Justice Analyst Damion Shade, Education Analyst Rebecca Fine, and Economic Opportunity Analyst Courtney Cullison discussed bills we’re following this year.

In his weekly Capitol Update, Steve Lewis discussed the likelihood of active bills to continue to move forward in the legislature. In Executive Director David Blatt’s Journal Record column, he discusses what Medicaid expansion would mean for Oklahomans.

OK Policy in the News

KTUL and FOX25 published stories on the OJO report showing how Oklahoma’s cash bail system costs local governments millions. You can read the full report on OJO’s website. Policy analyst Damion Shade spoke with AP News on Governor Stitt’s appointment of advocates for changes to Oklahoma’s pardon and parole system. In her Tulsa World column, Ginnie Graham cited OK Policy data on the significant decrease in parole. 

Blatt spoke with The Ada News about a bill that would expand health coverage to uninsured Oklahomans. Putnam spoke to the Tulsa World and AP News regarding a bill that would have eliminated Oklahoma’s  Soon-to-Be-Sooners program providing health care to pregnant moms. The Enid News & Eagle published Rebecca Fine’s piece on the importance of investing in support staff to improve Oklahoma’s schools. 

Upcoming Opportunities

Generation Citizen: The Power of Youth in Politics: Local action is key to creating lasting change. Thanks to our friends at Generation Citizen, thousands of students have the tools to serve as changemakers in their community. Want to learn more? Check out their founder and CEO, Scott Warren‘s new book, Generation Citizen: The Power of Youth in Our Politics, where he dives into the importance of youth voice in politics, and how we all have the power to take charge wherever we are, no matter our age. Warren will be speaking and signing books in Tulsa on Thursday, March 14 and in Oklahoma City on Saturday, March 16. Visit the Facebook event pages for Tulsa and Oklahoma City full details. 

Weekly What’s That

Striking Title, What’s That?

Striking title is a common procedural maneuver in the Oklahoma Legislature. It is used especially on bills that impact the state budget or bills that are considered to be works-in-progress. Striking the title allows the bill to move forward in the legislative process while recognizing that it needs further changes before it gets final approval and can allow some lawmakers to cast a provisional vote in favor of a bill that they have strong concerns about. Read more in our What’s That Glossary.

Look up more key terms to understand Oklahoma politics and government here.

Quote of the Week

“By refusing Medicaid expansion, the Oklahoma Legislature has essentially cut funding for rural hospitals and reduced competition in our state’s insurance market. … The excuse that the money would dry up with a change at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue did not materialize. What sense is there in paying taxes to support expanded health care services nationally and getting zilch in return?”

-Enid News & Eagle Editorial Board [Source: Enid News & Eagle]

Editorial of the Week

Susan Esco: Building a better future through criminal justice reform

Most Oklahomans have heard by now that we incarcerate more men and women than any other state in the country. That means more than 27,000 men and women are sitting behind bars today, or 113 percent of our state’s prison capacity. What is unknown is how many children that has placed in our foster care system, or how many students are sitting at their desks concerned about when they will see their parent again instead of learning how to read. [Source: Susan Esco / Journal Record]

Numbers of the Day

  • 7th – Oklahoma City’s ranking among the 100 largest metros for friendliness to remote workers, based on average Internet speed and median home cost.
  • More than 6,800 – Number of Oklahomans who died from an unintentional overdose (2007-2016).
  • 26.6% – Percentage of Oklahoma women ages 25 and over who have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 24.4% of men.
  • 43.2 years – Life expectancy for Oklahomans with an untreated substance use disorder
  • -8.5% – How much Oklahoma’s Q2 2018 tax revenue remains below the state’s peak revenue quarter in Q4 2008.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Many older Americans are food insecure but less likely to seek help. [PBS]
  • They’re rich and they’re mad about taxes (too low!). [New York Times]
  • The jail health-care crisis. [New Yorker]
  • If the economy is so great, why are car loan defaults at a record high? [City Lab]
  • State of working America wages 2018. [Economic Policy Institute]



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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