2018 legislative session

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about a two week deadline for lawmakers to come up with funding for pay raises for teachers and state workers or face a walkout by both groups and an announcement by the state Attorney General and Director of the Department of Corrections that Oklahoma will soon be using nitrogen gas to execute people on death row.

A bill that would save Oklahoma $84 million by changing Medicaid income requirements passed out of the state Senate Monday.

The measure would would change parent and caretaker group income requirements from 41 percent of the federal poverty level to 20 percent, a move that would make more than 43,000 currently covered adults ineligible for Medicaid.

Senator Josh Brecheen (R-Coalgate) is one of the bill's authors. He says the adults who lose coverage under his plan could get health care on a sliding scale from a federally qualified health center.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel and sitting in for Neva Hill is former House Speaker Kris Steele. The three discuss the teacher walkout announced for April 2nd, calling on lawmakers to follow through with the 2003 law requiring education budgets to be completed by April 1st and House Republicans reelect Atoka Representative Charles McCall to be Speaker in the next legislative session.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Many Oklahoma educators are fed up with state lawmakers who have promised teacher pay raises for years but have failed to actually deliver. At their wits end, these teachers are now planning to walk out of their classrooms to push legislators to act.

The Superintendent of Bartlesville Public Schools, Chuck McCauley, says the idea for the walkout started in his district in September. Staff that participated in the last Oklahoma teacher strike in 1990 proposed revisiting the tactic at a school board meeting.

State legislators are moving to expand a powerful self defense law to give Oklahomans in places of worship a legal shield, if they kill in self defense.

The law known as Stand Your Ground gives people who kill or seriously wound someone in self defense immunity from prosecution — even if they didn’t try to evade the danger first.

That law could could soon cover churches, synagogues, mosques and any other “building, structure or office space … used for worship services.”

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Gov. Mary Fallin on Monday announced a compromise between district attorneys and Republican lawmakers on six bills they say will reduce Oklahoma’s prison population while maintaining public safety.

One criminal justice reform advocacy group is criticizing the timing of the announcement because the bills’ language still hasn’t been made public.


Flickr / scubabrett22

Supporters of legalizing medical marijuana in Oklahoma are opposing a Senate Bill to regulate it.

Senate Bill 1120 passed out of committee on Monday. The bill, authored by Senator Ervin Yen (R-Oklahoma City), would put tight restrictions on medical marijuana, if voters pass State Question 788 in June.

Flickr / Kevin Dooley

A Senate Committee passed a bill Monday morning that would force schools to display the national motto “In God We Trust” in every classroom.

Senate Bill 1016 requires the placement of the motto, as soon as private funds are available.

Grove Republican Senator Wayne Shaw says he authored the bill because the national motto is on the official currency of United States, so it should be in Oklahoma classrooms.

Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

Drug overdose deaths in Oklahoma increased 91 percent over the last decade and a half, prompting the state to form a task force charged with a daunting goal: Brainstorm a plan to guide the state out of an opioid epidemic that kills three Oklahomans nearly every day.

The Commission on Opioid Abuse released its final report in January.

Flickr / Wesley Fryer

The Oklahoma House approved legislation on Tuesday that reduces sentences for property crimes like larceny and forgery.

Republican Terry O’Donnell of Catoosa authored the bill. He says it will lower the state's overall incarceration rate and the number of women in prison — many of which are convicted for non-violent crimes like writing bad checks.

O'Donnell's office says prison admissions for property crimes grew by almost 30 percent recent years. The average sentence for those convictions has also increased over time.