Weekly Wonk: OK Policy expands advocacy team; rural hospitals in crisis, & 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, we announced that we’ve expanded our advocacy team: Nicole Poindexter has joined the organization as a full-time Outreach and Legislative Liaison and Kyle Lawson has been promoted to a new position as Senior Field Organizer.

OK Policy’s advocacy team is led by Outreach and Legislative Director Sabine Brown and includes Jacobi Crowley, who serves as the Southwest Oklahoma field organizer based in Lawton. A field organizer for Northeast Oklahoma will be added soon.

In his weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt pointed to Medicaid expansion as a way to address the rural hospital crisis in Oklahoma. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update discussed the first meeting of the Oklahoma Legislature’s health care working group

In this week’s edition of Meet OK Policy, we are featuring Brittany Hayes, a Mental Health Policy Fellow. You can meet more members of our staff here.

OK Policy in the News

In an editorial for the Tulsa World, the police chief of the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa, Walter Evans, quoted OK Policy on racial disparities in Oklahoma’s incarceration rate. The Daily Ardmoreite cited OK Policy data in a story about drug court participation in Carter County and in a story about local organizations helping students with back-to-school needs. 

Weekly What’s That

Interim study, what’s that?

Interim studies are studies of legislative and policy issues that may be requested by any member of the House or Senate. They often address issues that have been the subject of legislation that failed to pass in previous sessions, or that are deemed worthy of more in-depth consideration. Read more about interim studies.

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

Quote of the Week

“They specifically told me that they violated their parole because they didn’t have insurance. They were outside, their cancer came back and they couldn’t afford to have it treated…That bothers me a lot that somebody would choose to go back to prison just to get treatment for the cancer they otherwise could not get treatment for.”

– Rep. Cynthia Roe (R-Lindsay) [NonDoc]

Editorial of the Week

Prosperity Policy: Life support for rural hospitals (David Blatt, Journal Record)

A new management group recently took over Fairfax Community Hospital in a last-ditch effort to keep it open and the hospital is now back on its feet. Oklahoma voters may have a last-ditch chance to save rural hospitals and rural communities if State Question 802, which would finally expand Medicaid in Oklahoma, makes it to the ballot in 2020. [Source].

Numbers of the Day

  • 424,000 – The number of Oklahoma residents in federally recognized drought areas as of August 13th 2019.
  • 54 – The number of Oklahoma’s 77 counties that contained a food desert in 2017.
  • 2.5% – Share of Oklahoma state tax revenue from corporate income tax. The average state collects 4.7 percent of taxes from this source. Corporate income tax provides a larger share of tax revenue than Oklahoma in 40 of the 45 states collecting this tax.
  • 67 – Number of hours a minimum wage worker would need to work each week to afford a one-bedroom apartment at fair market rent in Oklahoma.
  • 85% – The share of retirement income for low-income Americans that comes from Social Security.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Digital Jail: How electronic monitoring drives defendants into debt [ProPublica]
  • In rural areas, homeless people are harder to find — and to help [NPR]
  • It’s not just paychecks: The surprising society-wide benefits of raising the minimum wage [The Washington Post]
  • Have Cancer, Must Travel: Patients left in lurch after town’s hospital closes [NPR]
  • Voter turnout surged among people with disabilities last year. Activists want to make sure that continues in 2020 [TIME]


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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