The Weekly Wonk: Regulating virtual charters; what’s at stake with coverage expansion; & 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

With this week’s deadline passed, the work of most standing committees has ended (though the House Appropriations and Budget Committee has one more week to review Senate bills). Attention now moves to the full chambers, where bills need to pass by April 25th. Check out this week’s Bill Watch for an update on bills we’ve been tracking closely.

In the latest episode of the OK PolicyCast, Communications and Strategy Director Gene Perry spoke with Angela Monson about the campaign to expand health coverage in Oklahoma. They discussed what it means to leave so many Oklahomans without access to health care – including in their own families. After you listen, you can go to to write to your legislators and urge them to expand coverage in Oklahoma.

Over the past seven years, virtual charter schools have seen skyrocketing student growth and received a growing share of state funding, raising concerns about around how these public dollars are used. Education Policy Analyst Rebecca Fine examined the state of virtual charter schools in Oklahoma and the legislation designed to address these concerns.

In his weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt praised the positive developments of the first administrative parole docket. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update noted that this year’s budget decisions will confront numerous unmet needs for Oklahomans.

OK Policy in the News

The Norman Transcript published a story on Together Oklahoma’s upcoming health care forum in Norman. KOSU and Journal Record published pieces on Oklahoma City’s health care forum. OK Policy’s work on a coalition to promote awareness of the US Census was mentioned in the City-Sentinel.

Upcoming Opportunities

The Death Penalty: Facts and Fictions with David R. Dow: Join Magic City Books for a compelling evening with David Dow, a best-selling author and the founder of the Texas Innocence Network, in conversation with Lyn Entzroth, Dean of the College of Law at the University of Tulsa, herself an expert in the field of capital punishment and federal habeas corpus litigation. The event takes place Tuesday, April 16, 7 PM at Congregation B’nai Emunah.

Health Care Forums in Norman, Ardmore, and Lawton: Join Together Oklahoma advocates in Norman, Ardmore, and Lawton to examine the state of health care in Oklahoma and discuss possible policy solutions. The forums will take place April 14 in Norman and April 18 in Ardmore and Lawton. You can find more details and view more events on or on the TOK Facebook page.

Hustle for Health Care in Oklahoma City and Tulsa: Join Together Oklahoma advocates in Oklahoma City and Lawton for a phone banking and texting event to push for health care expansion in Oklahoma. The events will take place April 16 in Lawton and April 17 in Tulsa. You can find more details and view other upcoming events at or on their Facebook page.

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

2019 Summer Internships at OK Policy: We are currently seeking interns for the summer 2019 semester. This summer we have internship opportunities in two areas: Public Policy Internship and Open Justice Oklahoma Data Internship. Summer internships are paid, and can be full-time or part-time. The deadline to apply is Sunday, April 21st. Click here to learn more and to apply.

2019 Summer Policy Institute: The Institute is open to any undergraduate or graduate student at an Oklahoma college or university, or graduate from an Oklahoma high school, who has completed a minimum of 24 hours of college credit or graduated December 2018 or later. The application deadline is May 27th, 2019. Click here to learn more and to apply.

Weekly What’s That

Coverage crater, what’s that?

This term refers to people in states that have chosen not to expand Medicaid who earn too much for traditional Medicaid but not enough to qualify for subsidies on the online health insurance marketplaces. As of March 2019, 14 states have chosen not to, leaving people who would have been covered by Medicaid expansion without access to health insurance, including some 100,000 in Oklahoma. This group constitutes the ‘coverage crater.’ Click here to read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“If Medicaid expansion is a good idea for parts of the state, why not the whole state? Don’t all working poor Oklahomans deserve the same health care coverage?”

– Tulsa World editorial on a bill by House Speaker Charles McCall that would make Oklahoma counties individually apply for Medicaid expansion and pay for the state share with local sales or property taxes [Source: Tulsa World]

Editorial of the Week

Too fast or too slow? Criminal justice reform 50 years in making

To understand the scope of the crisis Oklahoma faces because we lead the nation — and the world — in incarceration, consider this: If Oklahoma released half of our people behind bars today, we would only drop to the national average while still locking up more people than any other country in the world. That’s a shocking statistic that should compel action. We must get out of No. 1 in incarceration and stop prison growth now. [Source: NonDoc]

Numbers of the Day

  • 2,623 – The number of 501(c)(3) non-profits in Oklahoma (2017).
  • $1.57 billion – Total requested Department of Corrections appropriation for FY 2020, a more than $1 billion increase.
  • $3,692 – Amount that Oklahoma has cut per student higher education spending since 2008, adjusted for inflation.
  • 68.3% – 2018 homeownership rate for the Tulsa metro, 11th highest out of the 75 largest metro areas. Oklahoma City ranked 34th with a homeownership rate of 64.6%.
  • 3,107 – The number of Oklahoma inmates suspected of having Hepatitis C.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Louisiana adopts ‘Netflix’ model to pay for hepatitis C drugs. [Washington Post]
  • How poor Americans get exploited by their landlords. [CityLab]
  • To help mental health patients, hospitals open a new kind of ER. [Governing]
  • Report: SNAP work requirements cause job losses, not gains. [Public News Service]
  • Medicaid work rules harm hospitals, study finds. [Wisconsin Public Radio]


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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