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Capital City: 'It's not a Medicaid expansion,' but it's a start

Good Tuesday morning. 

Oklahoma lawmakers took their biggest step to date towards Medicaid expansion with the passage of Senate Bill 605 out of a committee on Monday. 

“It’s not a Medicaid expansion,” said Carly Putnam, a health care policy analyst at the Oklahoma Policy Institute. “It’s using the federal dollars intended for Medicaid expansion for a private, Oklahoma plan.”

Sen. Greg McCortney, the author of Senate Bill 605, said his bill would accept Medicaid expansion funds to expand the state's Insure Oklahoma program, which currently helps fund coverage for low-income working adults or Oklahomans who can’t access health insurance through their employer.

The plan would access nearly $1.2 billion from the federal government, with Oklahoma paying around $141 million. You can read more about the bill here

Anti-abortion advocates return to Capitol ... As reported on Saturday, the chairman of a Senate health committee said he won't hear a bill that would criminalize abortion. On Monday, supporters of that bill lined a Capitol hallway to express their frustration. 

About 40 protesters chanted “Senate Bill 13” and “Abolish abortion,” reports the Tulsa World. They carried signs that read “No Sen. Smalley. Abortion is ‘extremely’ unconstitutional.”

Pinnell praises tax credit with TV show coming to OKC ... Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell praised the state's film tax incentive following the announcement that the Oklahoma State Capitol will host “American Ninja Warrior” this spring, reports the Shawnee News-Star. 

“In addition to highlighting Oklahoma to a national television audience, this selection highlights the importance of the Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate Program,” Pinnell said. “This program is vital to our efforts to attract high-profile, quality production opportunities to Oklahoma.”

Pinnell also serves as Secretary of Tourism and Branding. The Oklahoma Film + Music Office is a state agency that serves the mission of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department.

More state stuff ...Tulsa World: A Senate committee last week approved Senate Bill 21, by Sen. Casey Murdock, R-Felt, which makes the ribeye the official state steak. Murdock said he originally introduced the bill “for fun,” but then decided the title could be used to help market Oklahoma beef.

Over in the House, committee approval was swift for House Bill 1292, by Rep. Nicole Miller, R-Edmond. The bill anoints the Rosette Nebula in the constellation Monocerus the official state astronomical object.

City council election turnout ... The Oklahoman's Bill Crum has a rundown of voter turnout in the Oklahoma City wards that held elections last week: 

Ward 2: 40,048 registered voters, 4,590 votes cast, 11.5 percent turnout.

Ward 5: 42,567 registered voters, 2,006 votes cast, 4,7 percent turnout.

Ward 6: 23,673 registered voters, 2,451 votes cast, 10.3 percent turnout.

Ward 8: 59,456 registered voters, 4,106 votes cast, 6.9 percent turnout.

OKC school district moves forward on new headquarters ... After more than a century of being crammed into buildings not designed for offices, the Oklahoma City Public School district has begun renovating and expanding a former bank just west of Midtown.

The school system purchased the former Central National Bank at 615 N Classen Blvd. in 2014 when the district was led by interim superintendent Dave Lopez. Four superintendents later, work has begun to turn the two-block property into both a headquarters and community space designed to show off accomplishments of students and faculty.

In tribute to the late educator and civil rights pioneer, the new headquarters will be named the Clara Luper Center. The $8.9 million project was funded through a sales tax approved by voters as part of MAPS for Kids. 

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

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 ›