The Weekly Wonk: Health care working group meets; partial Medicaid expansion is rejected, & 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

This week, the Oklahoma legislature’s bipartisan and bicameral health care working group met for the first time to get an overview of health care problems in Oklahoma. The working group was formed in response to a move to place health care expansion on the ballot next year with State Question 802. You can find information and resources on SQ 802 on our website.

On our policy blog, a guest post notes that the Administration’s rejection of partial Medicaid expansion in Utah should spur states like Oklahoma to move forward with full expansion instead of harmful alternatives that leave people without coverage. Jessica Schubel, a Senior Policy Analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, explains that although the Administration rejected the partial expansion for the wrong reason, states should pursue full expansion rather than harmful alternatives that may never be approved.

In his weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt discusses the troubles affecting Epic Charter School and concludes that when schools are operated as profit-making ventures, the interest of students won’t come first. In last week’s column, while the Weekly Week was on break, Blatt argued the need to defend the principle that all Americans, regardless of race, religion, or background, are equal members of one nation, in light of President Trump’s recent Twitter rant against four members of Congress. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update discusses standardized tests and how they are failing our schools, teachers, and students.

In this week’s edition of Meet OK Policy, we are featuring Damion Shade, our Criminal Justice Policy Analyst. You can meet more members of our staff here.

OK Policy in the News

Policy Director Carly Putnam was named to Tulsa Leadership’s Tulsa Class 62. Governing quoted Blatt in an article about raising revenue for education funding.

Weekly What’s That

Veto referendum, what’s that?

Under the Oklahoma Constitution, citizens have the power to repeal legislation via veto referendum. Article V, Section 3 states:

“Referendum petitions shall be filed with the Secretary of State not more than ninety (90) days after the final adjournment of the session of the Legislature which passed the bill on which the referendum is demanded.”

To put a veto referendum on the ballot requires signatures equal to 5 percent of voters in the last Gubernatorial election. Currently (2019), a veto referendum would require 59,320 signatures to get on the ballot. After a veto referendum is drafted, it goes through a lengthy process which can include various legal challenges. Click here to read more about veto referendums.

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

Quote of the Week

“How many women is enough? Our Legislature has been predominantly white men for the history of the state and nobody’s called the question of how many men is enough.”

– Sen. Carrie Hicks (D-Oklahoma City) on the pushback after the influx of new women legislators following the 2018 elections [The Oklahoman]

Editorial of the Week

Tulsa World editorial: Stitt pushes toward a $2 billion reserve in a state that can’t provide adequate government services

“…the business of state government isn’t building a bigger reserve. The job is meeting the state’s legitimate needs for basic government service. Until we meet that standard, the governor should keep his desire for more savings in perspective.  [Tulsa World]

Numbers of the Day

  • 178,000 – The number of petition signatures required to get Medicaid expansion (SQ 802) on the ballot in 2020. This is 15 percent of the total number of votes cast in the last gubernatorial election.
  • 3,038 – The number of approved emergency teacher certifications in Oklahoma for school year 2018-2019.
  • 168,575 – Number of licenses approved by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority for medical marijuana patients as of July 13, 2019.
  • 92 – The number of Oklahoma school districts on a 4 day school week as of July 2019.
  • 76 billion – Number of opioid pills distributed in the United States from 2006-2012, approximately 245 per American.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Reefer Madness or Pot Paradise? The surprising legacy of the place where legal weed began [New York Times]
  • The gap between rich and poor Americans’ health is widening [NPR]
  • The citizenship question isn’t the only threat to the census. Here’s what’s at stake [Washington Post]
  • Las Vegas program bridges digital divide in public housing [Review Journal]
  • An Unanswered SOS: An alarming number of school children are in crisis. So is the school counseling system that’s supposed to support them [Governing]


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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