The Weekly Wonk: Job licensing reform; the wrong way to reduce the uninsured; a better way to support teachers; & 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

Nearly 30 percent of the American workforce needs a license to do their job, but many licensing rules include “blanket ban” provisions that automatically disqualify the justice-involved — even when a crime has no direct connection to the occupation. Economic Opportunity Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison explained why Oklahoma should reform occupational licensing in Oklahoma and support both HB 2134 and HB 1373.

With nearly 1 in every 7 Oklahomans uninsured, our state has the second-highest uninsured rate in the country. While improving access to health care is vital to improving this statistic, some legislators are pushing to advance the wrong solution by allowing more insurance products without basic consumer protections. Health Policy Intern Daniel Huff examined these short-term insurance and association health plans (AHPs) and warned these plans often leave patients without the care they need when disaster strikes.

In his weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt noted that while the goal behind a teaching supplies tax credit bill is worthy, a better way to support teachers is to invest that money directly into classrooms instead of using the tax code to create added confusion and bureaucracy.

OK Policy in the News

The Ardmoreite published the first of a two-part series on Together Oklahoma’s criminal justice discussion in Ardmore. You can view the panel discussion on Together OK’s Facebook page. The Tulsa World and KTUL covered Together Oklahoma’s forum on the need for health care coverage in Oklahoma. The Oklahoman Editorial Board thanked Blatt for this “professionalism, civility and good humor” after the announcement of his stepping down as Executive Director by the end of the year. The Oklahoman also cited OK Policy’s support for criminal justice reform as evidence that “there is no left-right divide” on this issue.

Upcoming Opportunities

Hustle for Health Care in Norman: Join Together Oklahoma advocates for a phone banking and texting event to push for health care expansion in Oklahoma. The event will take place on April 8 at 5:30 pm at Interurban. You can RSVP here and see the Facebook event here

Health Care Forum in Oklahoma City: Join Together Oklahoma for a forum to examine the state of health care in Oklahoma and discuss possible policy solutions. The event will take place on April 11 at 6:30 pm at Fairview Missionary Baptist Church. You can RSVP here and see the Facebook event here

Health Care Forum in Norman: Join Together Oklahoma for a forum with state legislators and community leaders on health coverage in Oklahoma. The event will take place on April 14 at 3:00 pm at Norman Public Library Central. You can RSVP here and see the Facebook event here

Rally for Coverage at the Capitol: Join us at the Capitol on April 24th to tell legislators: It’s time to expand health coverage in Oklahoma! You can RSVP and sign up for a ride to OKC here and view the Facebook event here. You can learn more and send a letter to your legislators at

Weekly What’s That

JCAB, what’s that?

The Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget (JCAB) is a committee governed by separate rules from most legislative committees. It is typically used as a way for House and Senate leadership to introduce and approve new bills in the final weeks of the legislative session. Click here to read more about JCAB.

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

Quote of the Week

“They can’t be on Medicaid before pregnancy or between pregnancy so any kind of health conditions they may have, they’re not able to access health care at those times. Ensuring a woman is healthy when she’s pregnant then that can improve the outcomes, not only for her, but for her baby, their entire lifespan.”

-Barbara O’Brien, director of the Oklahoma Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative, on why she is calling for expansion of Medicaid during Women’s Health Day at the Capitol [Source: Fox 25]

Editorial of the Week

Oklahoma children can gain from prison reform

We write frequently about how Oklahoma’s highest-in-the-nation incarceration rate impacts the prison system — its aging and badly overcrowded buildings, its outnumbered correctional officers — and on the growing financial toll to the state fisc. Its impact on Oklahoma families shouldn’t be forgotten.When a man or woman is sent to prison, the effect ripples through the offender’s family, be it their mother, father, spouse or, most importantly, their children. [Source: The Oklahoman Editorial Board].

Numbers of the Day

  • 891,519 – The number of payday loans Oklahomans took out in 2017.
  • 15,951 – Number of substantiated reports of child abuse and neglect in Oklahoma in FY 2018, a 62 percent increase since FY 2012.
  • 65.2% – Share of students in Oklahoma City Public Schools enrolled in SoonerCare (Medicaid), 2012-2016
  • 88.8% – Percentage of all school children in Oklahoma who were enrolled in public school in 2017, 6th most out of all 50 states.
  • 12.4% to 13.5% – Percentage that Oklahoma hospitals’ Medicaid revenues could fall if the state’s proposed Medicaid work requirement is approved and implemented, a loss of between $1.6 million and $1.7 million per hospital.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • How this GOP lawmaker realized Kansas should expand Medicaid. [Rep. Tom Cox / Kansas City Star]
  • A new explanation for the stubborn persistence of the racial wealth gap. [Washington Post]
  • Schools find a new way to combat student absences: washing machines. [New York Times]
  • Food stamp changes would mainly hurt those living in extreme poverty. [NBC News]
  • How federal disaster money favors the rich. [NPR]


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.

One thought on “The Weekly Wonk: Job licensing reform; the wrong way to reduce the uninsured; a better way to support teachers; & more…

  1. Additional numbers of the day:

    The length of time since Oklahoma’s retired teachers and other state retirees last received a cost-of-living increase: Twelve years.

    Number of articles published in 2019 about this subject: None.

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