Five Oklahoma legislators, four of them from the Tulsa area, attended a meeting in Phoenix last week devoted to planning a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution.
In short, a convention on conventions.
Article V of the U.S. Constitution allows for amendments through conventions of the states. No such convention has ever been called, in large part because of uncertainty about how it would be managed and controlled.
Nevertheless, it's become a popular cause for some conservatives who view it as the only way to rein in federal spending. They propose a convention that would implement fiscal restraints and, possibly, congressional term limits. Among the best-known proponents are former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn.
Opponents, including other conservatives, say there is no guarantee the convention's scope won't expand into other areas.
Oklahoma legislators attending were Sens. Michael Bergstrom, R-Wyandotte; Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow; and Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville; and Reps. Mark Lepak, R-Claremore, and John Bennett, R-Sallisaw.
New census data showed an
uptick in Oklahoma's poverty rate in 2016, according to an analysis by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. The state also continued to see a far higher percentage of its population without health insurance.
Oklahoma's poverty rate moved from 16.1 percent in 2015 to 16.3 percent in 2016, the report said, while the national rate dropped from 14.7 to 14 percent. When antipoverty measures such as food stamps are included, Oklahoma's poverty rate is just under 13 percent.
About 14 percent of Oklahomans do not have health insurance, unchanged from a year ago but significantly lower than in 2008, while nationally the figure is 8.6 percent.
According to Governing, only Texas has a higher uninsured rate than Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma Insurance Department reported loss costs for the state's workers compensation insurers will decrease 16.3 percent in 2018. That means the amount insurers are paying out for claims by injured workers is declining, and translates to lower rates for employers.
The OID says this is the fifth straight year Oklahoma loss costs have declined.
Insurance Commissioner John Doak, business interests and many lawmakers attribute the drop to workers comp reforms enacted in recent years.
Detractors say the decrease simply reflects lower payments and fewer benefits for injured workers.
Doak has ordered Affordable Care Act “navigators” in the state to provide information about how many people they've actually helped buy health insurance on the ACA exchanges.
Doak has long assailed the navigators because they are not licensed insurance agents. In an appearance before Congress last week, Doak called for navigators to be eliminated.
Some of his colleagues from other states, however, disagreed, saying navigators allow medical providers in remote areas to help patients find medical insurance.
Doak said some navigators have received federal grants but signed up very few clients.
“This kind of waste and abuse confirms a fear I've had from the very beginning of the Obamacare debacle,” he said.
Candidates and elections:
Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Fisher told supporters in an email that as governor he “will totally abolish human abortion.”
Meetings and events:
A Tulsa County Republican Party Committee meeting for precinct chairs and co-chairs will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at SpiritLife Church, 5345 S. Peoria Ave.
Oklahoma Observer publisher Arnold Hamilton will speak to the Creek County Democratic Party at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Bristow Community Center, 417 N. Chestnut, Bristow.
State Reps. Lewis Moore, R-Arcadia, and Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville, say they want a “line-by-line” review of state spending during the upcoming special session ... Tulsa County plans to take bids soon on 23 acres at the southwest corner of 66th Street North and Lewis Avenue, across the street from O'Brien Park ... The Office of Management and Enterprise Services is soliciting proposals for redeveloping the WPA-era National Guard Armory in the state Capitol complex. The building has been used as a warehouse since 2010 ... Delaware County Commissioner Doug Smith announced his retirement effective Dec. 15.