In this episode of Capitol Insider, KGOU's Dick Pryor and eCapitol's Shawn Ashley discuss a last minute effort to repeal Oklahoma's newest gun law and more.
Dick Pryor: This is Capitol Insider, your weekly look inside Oklahoma politics and policy. I'm Dick Pryor with eCapitol News Director Shawn Ashley. Shawn, a new group has been formed to seek a statewide vote on the permitless carry bill that was passed by the legislature this year and was the first bill signed into law by Gov. Stitt. Now, this group supports repeal of the law, but they face an uphill battle to get it on the ballot in 2020.
Shawn Ashley: They only have until Aug. 29 to collect about 60,000 signatures to get this veto referendum on the 2020 ballot. And that sounds unusual, and it sort of is. Under the Oklahoma Constitution and Oklahoma state statute thereis a 90 day window from when the legislature adjourns sine die at the end of May to sometime in late August during which these veto referendums can be circulated and signatures gathered. That's why, generally speaking, most bills cannot take effect until 90 days after the legislature adjourns, to give people time to do this. But, in this case, the group waited until August in order to begin the process. Constitutional carry or permitless carry doesn't take effect until Nov. 1, but those constitutional provisions still limit them to that 90 day window, which closes Aug. 29.
Pryor: Remind us. What is permitless carry or what some call constitutional carry, and what is going to be allowed under this law beginning Nov. 1?
Ashley: Anyone 21 years of age or older would be able to carry a weapon without first obtaining a permit. Now, in order to obtain a permit you have to go through a background check and training, and, in fact, you will still be able to do that if you wanted to. But, for the most part, individuals who simply want to carry a weapon concealed or unconcealed won't have to do that.
Pryor: 21 or older...
Ashley: ...21 years old.
Pryor: With some exceptions...
Ashley: ...with a few exceptions. Yes.
Pryor: The health care working group that Speaker of the House Charles McCall first told us about in April has had its initial meeting. What are they doing?
Ashley: Well this 20 member panel, which includes 18 legislators and two representatives from the governor's office, is working toward legislation designed to improve health care access in Oklahoma.
Pryor: Why was this group formed?
Ashley: Well they were a number of reasons that were addressed during its first meeting. A big issue is Oklahomans' poor health rankings, whether it be obesity or the high number of smokers, or issues such as that. One of those issues, too, is the high rate of uninsured individuals in the state of Oklahoma.
Pryor: Gov. Kevin Stitt says he is working on a plan that would look to incorporate ideas that work in other states, but he does not include Medicaid expansion in that. So is that an option for this working grou?
Ashley: The working group indicates that it will look at all alternatives, but it has sort of shown a bias, admittedly, against Medicaid expansion. House Speaker Charles McCall, who put the group together, was rather emphatic when we spoke to him in April in saying that he opposed Medicaid expansion because of the costs that it might impose upon the state. But, indeed, Medicaid expansion is probably one of the issues that they will talk about, along with a long list of others.
Pryor: About two thirds of the states have adopted Medicaid expansion, but Oklahoma has not been one of them.
Ashley: That's correct. And what we're seeing more and more from the federal government is that if you are going to look at Medicaid expansion you can't do it in bits and pieces. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority pointed this out during the first meeting. It's becoming an all or nothing proposition for states.
Pryor: This is budget season for state agencies, when they must prepare their budgets for the next fiscal year, which begins next July 2020. How do they go about developing a budget 10 months out?
Ashley: Yeah. This is an interesting question because the FY 2020 fiscal year began on July 1 of this year, and we're just two months in. It's an ongoing process for state agencies to identify what their needs are, and by October 1st they have to communicate those to the Office of Management and Enterprise Services and the legislature, which can then begin analyzing them for the governor and for lawmakers.
Ashley: All right, Shawn, thanks. You're very welcome.
Pryor: That's Capitol Insider. If you have questions e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us on Twitter at @kgounews. You can also find us online at kgou.org and ecapitol.net, on Apple podcasts and Spotify. Until next time, with Shawn Ashley, I'm Dick Pryor.