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Capital City: Stitt hires policy director, gets settled in office

Oklahoma Gov Kevin Stitt, center, and his wife, Sarah Stitt, left, sing during the inaugural prayer service at First Baptist Church in Moore, Okla., Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma Gov Kevin Stitt, center, and his wife, Sarah Stitt, left, sing during the inaugural prayer service at First Baptist Church in Moore, Okla., Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Good Wednesday morning. 

Gov. Kevin Stittspent his first full day in office attending events, receiving staff briefings and getting settled into his Capitol office, while his new acting director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services began evaluating the agency's performance.

At a Tuesday morning prayer service, Stitt said he wanted to work with non profits and churches to help tackle some of the state's biggest problems. He and his wife, Sarah, also addressed the crowd, which you can watch here

Following the service, Stitt said he intended to keep his promise to approach any anti-abortion legislation that comes his way. 

"I will sign every piece of pro-life legislation that hits my desk," Stitt said

Stitt aslo recalled his first night in the governor's mansion and walking down the stairs for breakfast. 

"I walk down (the stairs) and the staff was down there cooking breakfast and I had my long johns on and I asked, 'am I allowed to have my long johns on,' and they said ,'we've seen every governor in their underwear, sir, you're fine.'"

Stitt's policy director: Stitt's office also includes his newly hired policy director, Samantha Davidson, a former lobbyist for Oklahoma-based GlobalHealth who also previously worked as a policy adviser for the state Senate Republican caucus.

Thousands could lose Medicaid coverage ... Thousands of Oklahomans could lose Medicaid coverage if the state is allowed to implement work requirements for the public health insurance program, according to a study from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

The study found anywhere from 4,000 to 13,000 adults could lose coverage. Whether losses are on the high or low end, and whether Oklahoma's work requirement is approved at all, will depend on decisions by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Last year, then-Gov. Mary Fallin directed the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to ask CMS for permission to require adults to work or volunteer 20 hours a week if they receive health coverage through Medicaid, which is funded by states and the federal government.

Food assistant benefits to arrive Sunday ... People who receive federal food assistance in Oklahoma will get their February funds by Sunday, but the Oklahoma Department of Human Services asked them not to spend it all immediately.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture came up with the early distribution to keep food assistance flowing through February. The last agreement to fund the government expired on Dec. 21, but it gave agencies the right to keep paying some bills for up to 30 days. That 30-day window expires on Monday, so USDA urged states to file their paperwork early.

Inhofe called for more military spending ...On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe criticized the decades-long reduction in number of combat aircraft and artillery units and said adversaries of the United States are modernizing their fighting forces more quickly.

“China and Russia have increased all during the years that we have decreased,” said Inhofe, R-Tulsa. “And in some cases, they've passed us.”

OKC adopt 'home-share' rules ... The Oklahoma City Council on Tuesday agreed to require licenses for residential property converted for overnight rentals, commonly known as "Airbnbs."

The vote followed months of debate that began well before the ordinance first was introduced last July.

"I think what we've gotten here is a good balance of property rights versus use, safety versus expansion, preservation versus moving forward with the times," said Ward 3 Councilman Larry McAtee.

Thanks for reading. Got questions, suggestions or complaints? Email me at bfelder@oklahoman.com. 

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Ben Felder

Ben Felder is an investigative reporter for The Oklahoman. A native of Kansas City, Ben has lived in Oklahoma City since 2010 and covered politics, education and local government for the Oklahoma Gazette before joining The Oklahoman in 2016.... Read more ›