Oklahoma Voters Narrowly Approve Medicaid Expansion that Republican Lawmakers Rejected

Amber England, campaign manager, Yes on 802, addresses supporters via the internet Tuesday, June 30, 2020, in Oklahoma City, as due to Covid-19 concerns, a virtual watch party replaces the normal watch party.

Amber England, campaign manager, Yes on 802, addresses supporters via the internet Tuesday, June 30, 2020, in Oklahoma City, as due to Covid-19 concerns, a virtual watch party replaces the normal watch party. AP Photo

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Oregon voters might decide on psychedelic mushrooms … Kansas City mayor says he received a death threat over mask requirements … Florida’s governor says state is not “going back, closing things.”

Oklahoma voters approved expanding Medicaid in their state Tuesday over the objection of the state’s Republican governor and legislature. The constitutional amendment passed by a narrow margin, winning by just over 6,000 votes. It requires lawmakers to expand the Medicaid health insurance program for lower-income people by next July 1. "In the middle of a pandemic, Oklahomans stepped up and delivered life-saving care for nearly 200,000 of our neighbors, took action to keep our rural hospitals open, and brought our tax dollars home to protect jobs and boost our local economy," said Amber England, who organized the campaign for the measure. But Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican who opposed expanding Medicaid, said it will be hard to find the money to expand, particularly as the state is anticipating a large deficit next year. “You either pay for that by reducing roads and bridge funding, education funding, public safety funding or you raise taxes. As your governor, I’m not raising taxes,” he said. Thirty-six other states have expanded Medicaid to uninsured people under the Affordable Care Act, which includes several states where voters approved expansions when state leaders refused to do so. [The Oklahoman; NPR; New York Times]

PSYCHEDELIC MUSHROOMS | A ballot measure to legalize psychedelic mushrooms when administered in controlled doses by professionals could end up before voters this November. Organizers say they have enough signatures, although they need to be verified. [The Oregonian]

MAYOR THREATENED | The mayor of Kansas City, Missouri said that he received a death threat after announcing a citywide mask requirement. Mayor Quinton Lucas, who is Black, also posted a screenshot to Twitter of text messages calling him the N-word. “Y’all, let’s do better,” he said. [NBC News]

REOPENING | Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Tuesday that the state will not reinstate further restrictions on businesses and people’s movements, despite a rising number of coronavirus cases. "We're not going back, closing things. I don't think that that's really what's driving it, people going to a business is not what's driving it," DeSantis said. [Axios]

PRESS CONFERENCES | Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey held her first coronavirus press conference in 40 days on Tuesday. When reporters asked why it took nearly six weeks to host another public announcement, she said “this disease goes in stages, you know, and once you make an order, you need to wait at least two weeks to see the effect and outcome and see where you are at the end of that time.” [WPMI]

Laura Maggi is the managing editor at Route Fifty and Emma Coleman is the assistant editor. 

NEXT STORY: Hollowed-Out Public Health System Faces More Cuts Amid Virus

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