Legislation to allow creation of “hazard mitigation districts” was filed last week by Rep. Lonnie Sims, R-Jenks, whose district was heavily affected by last spring’s Arkansas River Valley flooding.

House Bill 2776 would allow voters to establish special county-level natural disaster assessment districts to mitigate against floods and other hazards. The districts would be funded with a property tax of up to 2 mils, or $2 for every $1,000 in taxable assessed value.

That money would be used to qualify for federal matching grants.

“Oklahoma ranks third in the U.S. in Federal Disaster Declarations and is the only state in the top seven that does not border an ocean or Gulf of Mexico,” Sims said in a press release.

“From generation to generation, one natural disaster after another, it’s hard not to become complacent to the tradition of tragedy that comes with living in Oklahoma,” Sims said. “We can no longer accept that more than half of Oklahoma communities have no access to flood insurance or even the basic resources for hazard mitigation, planning, disaster recovery and most disheartening, local matching dollars to qualify for millions in additional federal aid that victims so desperately need to recover.”

Medicaid: Pew Charitable Trusts reported the share of Oklahoma’s state government spending devoted to Medicaid rose from 6.6% to 14% from 2010 to 2017, the ninth-largest increase in the nation.

The study measured only state-generated revenue and did not include federal matching funds.

Oklahoma was one of 13 states to reach new highs in Medicaid spending as a share of state revenue. Eight of those 13 expanded Medicaid during the period studied, five did not.

Candidates and campaigns: The ante in Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District race went up last week when some of Oklahoma’s wealthiest men — oilman Harold Hamm, Hobby Lobby President David Green and First National Bank President Patrick Rooney — announced they will be leading the campaign of David Hill, another Oklahoma City businessman with very deep pockets.

Also joining Hill’s leadership team is Suzanne Reynolds, an Oklahoma City civic leader and physician.

Hill is the former chief executive officer of Kimray, an Oklahoma City oil and gas equipment manufacturing company. He now manufactures parts for classic cars.

Hill is up against several Republicans, including state Sen. Stephanie Bice and businesswoman Terry Neese. The ultimate goal is ousting Democratic incumbent Kendra Horn, who scored an upset victory in 2018.

Democrat Carly Hotvedt officially kicked off her campaign for state Senate District 35. Hotvedt is one of at least three Democrats and two Republicans vying for the seat, which will be open because of term limits.

Meetings and events: The Tulsa County Democratic Party is having a combination sign-making and presidential debate watch party at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the party headquarters, 3930 E. 31st St.

Nathaniel Batchelder, director of Peace House Oklahoma City, will speak at Creek County Democrats at 6 p.m., Thursday, at Freddie’s in Sapulpa, 1425 New Sapulpa Road.

School board candidates will speak to the Tulsa County Democrats’ Third Tuesday Dinner at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 21, at Chuy’s, 10808 E. 71st St.

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Randy has been with the Tulsa World since 1979. He is a native of Hinton, Okla., and graduate of Oklahoma State University. Krehbiel primarily covers government and politics. Phone: 918-581-8365

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