Tomorrow is primary election day!

by | June 25th, 2018

Tomorrow is the day! It’s the last chance to vote in the primary election.

Advocates made big strides in the push for better funded schools and core services, but our work isn’t done. One of the most important things we can do is vote for people that will continue the work of building a fair and sustainable budget next session.

Polls are open tomorrow from 7am-7pm. You can check your polling location, view a sample ballot, or track an absentee ballot at the Oklahoma Election Board website. Find more information about the election and state question here.

If you are new to voting or just have some questions, you can also view this short video.

Our vote is our voice. Let’s make it count.

You can help protect SoonerCare for thousands of families

by | June 13th, 2018

Everyone should have the security of quality health care in times of need. Oklahomans shouldn’t have to worry if they can afford to see a doctor when they’re ill or get their asthma medication, insulin or other life-saving treatments.

Sadly, that is what’s happening. Lawmakers have ordered Oklahoma’s Medicaid officials to make a plan that could take Soonercare health coverage away from thousands of parents struggling to make ends meet.

The plan would force parents caring for family members or parents with irregular work schedules to work a certain number of hours to keep their coverage without considering their ability. But the plan’s details – what counts as work, how work is reported, the penalties for failure, and more – are still being developed.

That’s where you come in. Act now to tell Governor Fallin that vulnerable Oklahoma families need to be protected. Use this link to send a letter to Governor Fallin. The Oklahoma Standard requires us to be compassionate and understanding with our neighbors. Let’s make sure we’re using the utmost care when crafting this plan to make sure no struggling families fall through the cracks.

The deadline to register for the primary elections is June 1st!

by | May 30th, 2018

This has been a memorable year in Oklahoma politics. In addition to our regular legislative session, we had not one, but two special sessions. We saw tens of thousands of teachers descend on the Capitol in the teacher walkout. For the first time in over a decade, we passed tax increases to give teachers and state employees a pay raise. And if that wasn’t exciting enough, we ended the session with a record number of candidates filing to run for office.

It’s been a year of big changes, but we have more work to do. Although the increased revenue was sorely needed, we still have not come close to funding core services at the level that Oklahomans need.

The next step in is up to us.

The deadline to register to vote in the June primaries is June 1st. If you are not registered to vote,  you can find instructions and an application here. You can also get an application at your county election board, tag agencies, post offices, and public libraries.

Not sure whether you’re registered to vote? Check your status here.

Our state has pressing problems. The new governor and next class of legislators will need to be qualified to address them. Please use your vote to find the best people for these important jobs. We can build on the progress we made last session, but only if we show up at the polls.

Tell Governor Fallin to save SoonerCare

by | May 7th, 2018

SoonerCare was designed to be a safety net program to ensure that low-income families receive medical care. It is how we make sure that people living in poverty have access to a flu-shot, an inhaler or access to life-saving medication. SoonerCare was never designed to be a jobs program.

Unfortunately, the Oklahoma legislature is attempting to undermine this successful program and turn it into something it was never intended to be. HB 2932 would end SoonerCare coverage for low-income parents who fail to complete work requirements. This move would endanger the health of thousands of Oklahomans and put entire families at risk. 

In this five-part series of videos, we examine why SoonerCare work requirements are harmful to Oklahoma families and bad for our state. Please watch and then contact Governor Fallin and ask her to veto HB 2932. 

Ask Gov. Fallin to veto these anti-family bills

by | May 4th, 2018

In the last few days of legislative session, Oklahoma lawmakers pushed through three bills that are harmful to Oklahoma children and families. These bills have now gone to Governor Fallin for her signature or veto. Please call Gov. Fallin today at (405) 521-2342 and ask her to veto these harmful bills:

SB 1221 would make it easier to sentence minors as young as 13 years old to life in prison without parole. This bill is an attempt to get around a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders violates protections against cruel and unusual punishment. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s rulings, dozens of states have moved away from their most punitive juvenile sentencing practices. Four of the states that border Oklahoma – Colorado, Kansas, Arkansas, and Texas – have banned juvenile life without parole altogether. SB 1221 would take Oklahoma in the opposite direction and damage the careful work of criminal justice reformers who are seeking a smarter approach to public safety.

HB 2932 would would end SoonerCare coverage for low-income parents who fail to complete work requirements. This move would endanger the health of thousands of Oklahomans and put entire families at risk. HB 2932 would threaten the health care of many parents who are already working in seasonal jobs or jobs with unpredictable hours. Losing health coverage will only make these parents less healthy and less able to work and support their children. And because Oklahoma hasn’t expanded Medicaid coverage for the vast majority of low-income working adults, most Oklahoma parents who lose their health care because of HB 2932 won’t have other options.

SB 1140 would allow foster care agencies to discriminate against prospective parents based on religion, sexual orientation, or other factors unrelated to whether the parent is able to provide a safe, loving home for their adopted children. Oklahoma has struggled for years to recruit more foster families and provide homes for thousands of Oklahoma kids in state custody, and this bill will only make that harder. The version of SB 1140 given final approval by the Legislature would even allow state funds to go to private foster care groups that discriminate against qualified foster families.

Oklahoma can do better than these anti-child, anti-family bills. Please call Governor Fallin at (405) 521-2342 and ask her to veto SB 1221, HB 2932, and SB 1140. If you’d prefer to contact her online, you can use this form. Governor Fallin can make the decision to sign or veto these bills any time in the next 15 days, so please call today or as soon as you can.

Thank you!

 

The walkout is over. Here’s how teachers and advocates won.

by | April 17th, 2018

Two weeks ago teachers, state employees, and supporters decided that they had had enough. Enough of overcrowded classrooms and the exodus of teachers to neighboring states. Enough of state employees who are overworked and under-paid. Enough of cuts to core services putting our most vulnerable citizens at risk. Enough of refusing to invest in Oklahoma.

Two weeks ago advocates across this state demanded better. Tens of thousands of people showed up at the Capitol to advocate for better funding. Teachers walked to the Capitol from across the state. Citizens lined up to get into the building and talk to their legislators, many for the first time.

Thanks to the overwhelming voices of advocates, a revenue bill was passed to address our most pressing problems, but it wasn’t enough. Our budget is far from being fixed. We have not yet reversed years of devastating cuts to vital state programs and services. This week teachers and students are returning to their classrooms and Oklahomans are returning home asking themselves if it was worth it. If that much effort gets you only a fraction of the way to real solutions, is there any point in fighting?

Here’s the thing about advocacy–it’s hard, it’s tiring, and it takes a lot of time to get anything done. Our system of government was not designed for quick changes. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. Here’s what you accomplished.

The Oklahoma teacher walkout gained national exposure. News outlets across the country highlighted the plight of Oklahoma schools. The rest of the country has seen our tattered books, our broken chairs, and our teachers working multiple jobs just to make ends meet. You helped shine a light on the heart-breaking conditions facing our educators and students.

For the first time in decades, a revenue raising package was passed. Oklahoma requires a 75% legislative supermajority to approve any tax increases–one of the highest hurdles in the country–so this was no easy task. This would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of citizens lobbying their legislators for a change from the status quo.

Seven hundred ninety-four candidates have filed for office. By day two, the Oklahoma State Election Board passed the three-day high for candidate filing since at least 2000. Teachers and citizens are challenging complacent legislators for their seats, and voters across the state will now have a choice in previously uncontested races.

Most importantly, Oklahomans are now engaged in the legislative process like never before. Legislators who tell constituents that they support education will also be expected to support the proper funding. Candidates who tell voters they stand with teachers will also be expected to provide a plan. Oklahomans are wiser these days.

The outcome last week wasn’t as much of a win as we’d hoped for, but it certainly wasn’t a loss. It was a big step in the right direction. How far we can move forward and how quickly we get there depends on each one of us and our continued advocacy both at the Capitol and the ballot box.

SoonerCare work requirements will be harmful to families

by | April 15th, 2018

Multiple bills have been filed this session that would threaten health care coverage for struggling parents. HB 2932 and SB 1179 would end SoonerCare coverage for low-income parents who fail to complete work, training, or volunteer requirements. We have many good options to get people into the workforce, but taking away Oklahomans’ access to health care isn’t one of them.

SoonerCare is how we ensure that very low-income Oklahomans can get a flu shot or see a doctor. It is not a jobs program, and losing access to that health care will only make it more difficult for Oklahomans to stay healthy enough to get or keep a job. Dropping coverage for an inhaler or ADHD medication will only make people less employable.

Work requirements will force Oklahomans to navigate extra bureaucracy to prove they qualify for SoonerCare. Oklahomans who cannot successfully navigate that bureaucracy due to lack of time, education, transportation, or other resources will lose coverage, even when they should legally be qualified. Whole families will suffer as a result.

HB 2932 is on the Senate legislative agenda for TODAY. Please call your state senator and ask them to vote NO to HB 2932.

SB 1179 is waiting to be heard in the full House Appropriations & Budget committee. Please call your state representative and ask them to vote NO to SB 1179.

3,313 parents are counting on their representatives to vote NO to SB 1030 on Tuesday

by | April 2nd, 2018

SB 1030 would slash the income cutoff for low-income parents to be eligible for SoonerCare, ending health coverage for thousands of Oklahomans. Under this bill, a single mother with one child would be too wealthy for SoonerCare if she made more than $275 per month. This new cutoff would be lower than every state in the U.S. except Texas and Alabama.

SB 1030 has been assigned to the House Appropriations and Budget Health Subcommittee and will be voted on Tuesday, April 3rd.  This is how many parents in each subcommittee members district would lose coverage if this bill passes.

Please call the members of the subcommittee and remind them how many parents in their district are depending on them to vote NO to SB 1030:

Rep. Chad Caldwell (Chair): chad.caldwell@okhouse.gov; 405-557-7317
Rep. Dale Derby (Vice Chair): dale.derby@okhouse.gov; 405-557-7377
Rep. Mickey Dollens: mickey.dollens@okhouse.gov; 405-557-7371
Rep. Claudia Griffith: claudia.griffith@okhouse.gov; 405-557-7386
Rep. Glen Mulready: glen.mulready@okhouse.gov; 405-557-7340
Rep. Mike Ritze: mike.ritze@okhouse.gov; 405-557-7338
Rep. Sean Roberts: sean.roberts@okhouse.gov; 405-557-7322
Rep. Michael Rogers: michael.rogers@okhouse.gov; 405-557-7362

Oklahoma has better options to increase working and reduce poverty, but taking away health care from struggling parents will only make our state’s economic future worse.

Taking health care from struggling parents is no way to fix the budget

by | March 28th, 2018

Oklahoma already has one of the strictest standards for Medicaid enrollment in the country. A single parent with one child taking home $625 dollars per month makes too much to be eligible. SB 1030 would cut that threshold even lower. The monthly income limit for a single mother with one child would be just $275 per month. This new cutoff would be lower than every state in the U.S. except Texas and Alabama.

Over 40,000 Oklahoma parents could lose their health care if this bill should pass. That’s a number equal to the number of undergraduate students at OU and OSU combined. Two in three of those who would lose coverage are mothers.

SB 1030 has been assigned to the House Appropriations and Budget Health Subcommittee. Please call the members of the subcommittee and ask them to vote NO to SB 1030:

Rep. Chad Caldwell (Chair): chad.caldwell@okhouse.gov; 405-557-7317
Rep. Dale Derby (Vice Chair): dale.derby@okhouse.gov; 405-557-7377
Rep. Mickey Dollens: mickey.dollens@okhouse.gov; 405-557-7371
Rep. Claudia Griffith: claudia.griffith@okhouse.gov; 405-557-7386
Rep. Glen Mulready: glen.mulready@okhouse.gov; 405-557-7340
Rep. Mike Ritze: mike.ritze@okhouse.gov; 405-557-7338
Rep. Sean Roberts: sean.roberts@okhouse.gov; 405-557-7322
Rep. Michael Rogers: michael.rogers@okhouse.gov; 405-557-7362

Cutting parents off SoonerCare will increase Oklahoma’s already high uninsured rate and put even greater strains on our already-underfunded safety net health centers and hospital emergency rooms. People with disabilities, mental illness, and substance use disorders will lose coverage as a result of this bill. This will leave them with nowhere to go for the care they need and make it even harder for them to maintain the health they need to be productively employed.

Please tell the subcommittee members that Oklahoma has better options to increase working and reduce poverty, but taking away health care from struggling parents will only make our state’s economic future worse.

Learn more about attacks on Oklahomans’ health care here.

Big money interest groups are trying to stop this bill. Don’t let them.

by | March 26th, 2018

Big money interest groups are trying to stop a bill that would repeal the capital gains tax deduction–SB 1086. Oklahoma’s capital gains deduction allows income from the sale of Oklahoma real estate or stock in an Oklahoma-based firm to go fully untaxed. Here are seven reasons why we can’t let them block a repeal of this wasteful tax loophole.

 

Capital gains should be taxed at the same rate as income earned by hard-working Oklahomans. It’s time for this inefficient and unfair use of tax dollars to go. You can find your legislators information herePlease call your state representative today and ask them to vote YES to SB 1086.

For tips on how to boost your influence when advocating with your lawmaker, see our advocacy tipsheets.