In The Know: COVID booster shots likely the new normal | Proposed bill would limit teaching about race | Food insecurity in rural Oklahoma

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Oklahoma News

COVID-19: Booster shots should be embraced as likely new normal, THD director says: Many Oklahomans have received three doses of COVID-19 vaccine in the past year, and the Tulsa Health Department’s executive director, Bruce Dart, says the practice of getting repeated shots should be warmly embraced because he expects boosters to become a routine part of life. Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of the first person in Tulsa County to receive the COVID vaccine, a day after the first dose was given in Oklahoma. Since then, more than 5 million COVID-19 shots have been administered in the state, with in excess of 2 million Oklahomans completing their initial vaccine series. [Tulsa World]

  • Obesity connected to COVID-19 case severity in new study [Tulsa World]
  • Sewage surveillance shows rising flu activity in Oklahoma [The Oklahoman]
  • The state’s seven-day average in new coronavirus cases dropped 1,230 per day. [KOSU]
  • Experts warn holiday COVID surge may loom [The Journal Record]
  • St. Francis seeing higher COVID test positivity [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Governor Stitt seems to use taxpayer dollars for anti-vaccine mandate videos [The Black Wall Street Times]

Oklahoma Republican proposes banning 1619 Project from classrooms: An Oklahoma lawmaker is proposing a ban of the 1619 Project curriculum, which centers on Black Americans’ experience before and after slavery in the classroom. Roland Republican Rep. Jim Olsen’s House Bill 2988 would ban teaching the Pulitzer Prize winning 1619 Project by The New York Times that has been turned into a curriculum to better educate students about the experiences of Black people in the United States. [KOSU]

Leader in the fight against hunger in Oklahoma testifies at congressional hearing on food insecurity in rural America: Hunger Free Oklahoma Executive Director Chris Bernard said Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits are vital not only to people in poverty, but also to the rural economies where people will spend those dollars, supporting businesses and jobs. Bernard told the House committee they should work on policies to help people access those benefits, including making permanent a summer electronic benefits program. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Editorial: How much are Oklahomans prepared to pay to fight the feds?: The Oklahoma Legislature passed House Bill 1236 last year authorizing up to $10 million for the attorney general to fight federal mandates that the state might not like. So far, Attorney General John O’Connor has found five lawsuits around vaccine requirements to fund with that money. He was appointed by Gov. Kevin Stitt and is running for election next year, likely making these legal challenges part of his campaign. But $10 million doesn’t seem to be enough for some lawmakers. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]

State Government News

Redistricting prompts changes for candidates: Residents who plan to run for state senator, state representative or county commission in 2022 have until Dec. 31 to meet specific guidelines prompted by the changes in district boundaries, according to the Oklahoma State Election Board. [The Lawton Constitution]

Roadwork ahead: Signage for Trump highway in Oklahoma remains unfunded: After altering rules and overcoming opposition to pass the state’s highway naming bill in May, Oklahoma GOP legislators have yet to provide promised funding for signage along a 20-mile stretch of Panhandle highway designated “President Donald J. Trump Highway.” [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

‘A historic and monumental undertaking’: Oklahomans mobilize for Afghan refugees: On Aug. 9, as U.S. forces withdrew from Afghanistan and the Taliban swept through the city behind them, Oklahoma City art gallery owner Susan McCalmont received a distressing message from a friend in Kabul. [NonDoc]

Tribal Nations News

Muscogee Nation citizens can apply for $2,000 direct assistance starting Dec. 20: The applications open at 11 a.m. Dec. 20 at According to the announcement Tuesday, applications will be processed by citizen roll number. The Osage Nation direct assistance applications have been open online since Aug. 4. [Tulsa World]

Hofmeister disagrees with Stitt on tribal compacts, McGirt issues: Oklahoma State School Superintendent and Democrat gubernatorial candidate Joy Hofmeister says she disagrees with Gov. Kevin Stitt’s decision not to renew the state’s hunting and fishing compacts with the Choctaw and Cherokee tribal governments after the compacts expire Dec. 31. [McAlester News-Capital]

Criminal Justice News

Would-be downtown Oklahoma City bank bomber’s conviction upheld: A federal appeals court has rejected a would-be bomber’s claim that the FBI manipulated him into trying to blow up a bank in downtown Oklahoma City. His attorneys had asked the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the diagnosed schizophrenic’s conviction “due to the government’s outrageous conduct.” [The Oklahoman] The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday rejected claims by the appeal of Jerry Drake Varnell, 27, that he was entrapped by the government. [AP News]

Economy & Business News

MidAmerica Industrial Park to launch quality-of-life initiative for surrounding communities: MidAmerica Industrial Park has approved negotiating up to a $200,000 contract with a Colorado-based company to develop an initiative for improving the quality of life of four communities that surround the park. [Tulsa World]

As electric vehicle usage explodes, Oklahoma considers rules pertaining to charging stations: As electric vehicle usage explodes across the country, Oklahoma regulators are beginning to explore adopting rules to govern the operation of electric vehicle chargers in the state. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Auditor says ‘eye-popping’ amounts misappropriated by former Hulbert school employees: An auditing firm presented findings to the Hulbert Board of Education this week, indicating serious deficiencies in the budget due to apparent misappropriation of funds by former employees. [Tahlequah Daily Press]

Broken Arrow Public Schools names new superintendent: A new leader for Broken Arrow Public Schools was named Tuesday night, just hours after the school board approved a mutual separation agreement with Superintendent Janet Vinson. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

Quote of the Day

“The more of these types of laws are going to be pushed through, the less open dialogue we’ll be able to have with our students and I think we all agree we want to push forward and become a less racist society.”

-Oklahoma teacher Emily Clark, speaking about a proposed bill that would restrict teaching about race in public schools [Fox 25]

Number of the Day


The number of Oklahomans enrolled in, the federally facilitated health insurance exchange/marketplace, during the open enrollment period for 2021 coverage. This was a record high for Oklahoma and more than 8% higher than the previous record high, set in 2020. []

Policy Note

How ACA Marketplace Premiums Are Changing by County in 2022: The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) increased and expanded subsidies temporarily for 2021 and 2022 for low- and middle-income individuals and families to purchase health coverage on the ACA Marketplaces. For 2021, some states automatically applied the increased subsidies whereas other states and for a period required enrollees to re-select a plan to get additional ARPA subsidies. Many enrollees will get the additional ARPA subsidies when filing taxes for 2021. The additional ARPA subsidies will expire at the end of 2022, but Congress is considering extending them through 2025 as part of the Build Back Better Act. [KFF]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.