The Weekly Wonk: Celebrating trailblazing Oklahoma women; Medicaid expansion can decrease likelihood of medical debt; and 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. 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

In recognition of Women’s History Month, Executive Director Ahniwake Rose wrote about Oklahoma women who have made a difference in their communities and the state, noting the state has a long way to go before women are fully represented. Leticia Calvillo, a data analysis intern for Open Justice Oklahoma from Brown University, explored how Medicaid expansion can help decrease the likelihood of financially crippling medical debt

In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis wrote about the Governor’s alternative health care proposal, which is causing statewide confusion and political anxieties. Former OK Policy Intern Lily DeFrank and Education Analyst Rebecca Fine highlighted the need for Oklahoma to fund the School Counselor Corps in order to help students fully meet student well-being. 

Upcoming Opportunities

Now taking applications for the 2020 Oklahoma Summer Policy Institute: The Institute offers participants a unique opportunity to become better informed about the most important Oklahoma policy issues, network with fellow students and leaders, and prepare for their future studies and work in policy-related fields. The deadline to apply is May 25.

Weekly What’s That

Striking Title

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.

The Oklahoma Constitution requires that every bill contain a concise statement  at the beginning of the bill accurately expressing the bill’s subject. If a legislator offers an amendment to “strike the title,” the amendment deletes this introductory definition and causes the bill or joint resolution to be out of compliance with the Constitution. This means the measure will have to be returned to that chamber and amended again, including having its title restored, before it can become law. 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. This can allow some lawmakers to cast a provisional vote in favor of a bill that they have concerns about. 

Titles are most often stricken in committee by unanimous consent based on a request by the bill’s author or the committee chair. Title can also be struck during floor debate on a bill.

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

Quote of the Week

“If the goal is confusion, it has been attained.”

-Former House Speaker Steve Lewis, writing about the state submitting the Governor’s health care proposal to federal officials prior to a statewide vote on SQ 802

[Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

Editorial of the Week

Tulsa World editorial: Finding themselves in a financial hole, Oklahoma legislators call for more shovels

Here’s the outrageous thing about taxes in Oklahoma: It takes a supermajority to raise them, but only one vote over 50 percent to cut them. That’s like having a financial suicide pact built into the state Constitution.

If SB1619 is a good idea that the state is compelled to pass, do so with a three-quarters majority and pair it with some other tax increase to help solve the state’s financial problems.

Otherwise, it’s financial malfeasance.

[Tulsa World Editorial]

Numbers of the Day

  • $1,800 per person – Amount in federal funding Oklahoma could lose per year for each person not counted in the Census. By these measures, an undercount of just 2 percent could cost the state up to $1.8 billion over a decade. 
  • $9.3 billion – Amount in federal funding Oklahoma has received through 55 federal programs guided by 2010 census data.
  • 0–5 – The age group that is undercounted in the Census at a higher rate than any other age group. By estimates, young children under 5 make up 7 percent of Oklahoma’s population.
  • 3 in 4 – The number of Oklahomans that participated in the 2010 Census. As a result, the number of Oklahoma residents was undercounted, and this potentially cost Oklahoma billions of federal funding during the past decade.
  • $1.8 billion – Amount of federal funding Oklahoma could lose over the next decade with a Census undercount of just 2 percent.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Native Americans fight to be counted as census looms [NBS News]
  • If you care about your federal student loans, take the census [Teen Vogue]
  • Early childhood educators have an important role to play in the 2020 Census [Count All Kids]
  • For the 2020 Census, these organizers are trying to ensure the count is accurate and fair [Teen Vogue]
  • Census 2020: How community leaders in Oklahoma are working to prevent an undercount [WNCY Studios]

Note: Throughout the week, we highlighted policy notes and numbers about the importance of the 2020 Census, which began mailing out notifications to households started this week. Together Oklahoma, OK Policy’s advocacy program, has been actively involved in promoting the Census especially for hard to count communities in Oklahoma. To learn more, visit Together OK’s website for resources about the Census.  


David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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