In The Know: DACA is essential for Oklahoma | SQ 781 funding overdue | Are school vouchers on horizon?

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.

New from OK Policy

DACA is essential to Oklahoma: In October, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy was not legally adopted, leaving the future of more than half a million young people up in the air. In our state, 5,800 young Oklahomans now face the greatest level of uncertainty since the DACA program was created a decade ago. [Gabriela Ramirez-Perez / OK Policy]

Column: Time for lawmakers to follow through on SQ 781 for community well-being: Despite voters in 2016 resoundingly approving State Question 781 calling for investments in community-based mental health and treatment services, Oklahoma lawmakers have yet to invest a dime into the fund that could save lives and transform futures. [David Gateley / Tulsa World]

Oklahoma News

Do Kevin Stitt, Ryan Walters victories open door to private school vouchers in Oklahoma?: Emboldened by a resounding election win, Oklahoma’s next schools chief says he and the governor will fight once again to expand private school vouchers, one of the most controversial education bills that emerged — and failed — at the state Capitol this year. [The Oklahoman]

  • Gov. Kevin Stitt’s new chief of staff signals a push for ‘innovative’ education solutions [The Oklahoman]
  • Analysis: How Stitt, Walters Victories Could Impact Education [Oklahoma Watch]

A Lawmaker Seeks to Make Oklahoma Top-10 State For Women, Omits Abortion From Study: Making Oklahoma a top-10 state in areas such as education, job growth and criminal justice reform was a central part of Kevin Stitt’s first campaign for governor. State Sen. Jessica Garvin recently made another top-10 proposition: What would it take to make the state more welcoming, equitable and safe for women? [Oklahoma Watch]

State Government News

‘Giving all parties their day in court’: There are new developments related to a lawsuit against the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority for planned construction in its Access Oklahoma project, the projected $5 billion, 15-year-long-range turnpike expansion project announced in February of this year. [KFOR]

OHCA seeks proposals to improve Medicaid outcomes, predictability: The Oklahoma Health Care Authority is seeking proposals to implement a comprehensive medical delivery system for the agency’s new health care model, SoonerSelect. [Journal Record]

  • Oklahoma Health Care Authority Releases SoonerSelect Medical and Children’s Specialty Plan Request for Proposals [Okemah News Leader]

Tribal Nations News

After 187 years, U.S. House to consider seating Cherokee delegate: After a three-year wait for Kimberly Teehee — and a 187-year one for the Cherokee Nation — the U.S. House of Representatives’ Rules Committee on Wednesday will take up the matter of seating a nonvoting delegate of the tribe. [Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

Interactive: Gubernatorial Precinct Map Shows Rural, Suburban Dominance For GOP: Oklahoma voters turned out in rural and suburban areas for Gov. Kevin Stitt in this year’s general election, with pockets of blue evident in the state’s largest cities, according to a map of precinct-level results. [Oklahoma Watch]

More than 40% of Oklahoma ballots marked ‘straight party’: More than four out of 10 Oklahoma voters submitted a “straight party” ballot, meaning with one mark they selected all the candidates for a specific party, rather than voting on each individual race. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma voter turnout dips in this year’s elections [Tulsa World]
  • Many in state choose ‘straight party’ voting option [Journal Record]

Post-Election 2022: Where Voter Turnout Rose and Fell: Only five counties statewide had a higher turnout in last week’s governor’s race than the 2018 contest, according to unofficial results from the Oklahoma State Election Board. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • Oklahoma’s three residential polling places are vital for rural voters [The Frontier]

Podcast: Capitol Insider: Republican dominance continues in Oklahoma elections: Capitol Insider podcast discusses politics, policy, government and elections in Oklahoma. [KGOU]

  • Gov. Kevin Stitt’s decisive win underscores Democrats’ struggle in Oklahoma [The Oklahoman]

Column: Voters are tired of medical misinformation. This election season proved that: Another Oklahoma Election Day has come and gone. While some may be pleased with the final results and others disappointed, there is one positive outcome that benefits all Oklahomans: In the vast majority of races on the ballot, pro-science candidates prevailed. [Wes Glinsmann Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Health News

Oklahoma among worst states for medical debt: The state ranks among the worst in the country for unpaid medical bills, which are especially hard on the most vulnerable populations. [Tulsa World]

COVID, flu and RSV in Oklahoma: We asked the experts about outlook for winter viruses: COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have soared the past two winters, stoking concerns about a third winter surge as temperatures drop again this year. And an early, intense surge of RSV coupled with rising flu cases has some experts concerned that Oklahoma could face a flare-up of all three viruses at once that will strain the health care system. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

Column: To prevent poverty, there must be early safety nets for life’s catastrophes: I have a standard anchoring message when beginning this conversation, regardless of the audience: “Aggressively addressing poverty is the greatest single opportunity for our society; however, because of the scale and complexity of the challenge, a solution can feel completely out of reach.” [Justin Brown Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Coming soon to Tulsa: Tiny home villages for the formerly homeless: Mayor G.T. Bynum recently pledged that the city of Tulsa would begin taking a more active role in addressing Tulsa’s homelessness crisis. [Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Does Sylvester Stallone’s ‘Tulsa King’ make Oklahoma’s new film incentive a success?: Passed by the state Legislature and inked by Stitt last May, the Filmed in Oklahoma Act of 2021 was designed to create a more robust film program for the state — and it spurred quick, dramatic growth in the already burgeoning industry. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

New research reveals barriers to success for Indigenous students: Sarah EchoHawk, Native American advocate and citizen of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, recently helped lead an effort to produce the first national study on college affordability for Indigenous students. The research, which was a collaboration among four Native scholarship providers, found that affordability was the primary obstacle to college completion for Native students and often resulted in attrition. [RED Magazine]

The culture wars are pushing some teachers to leave the classroom: In the spring of 2020, James Whitfield had just become the first African American to be named principal at Colleyville Heritage High School, located in a predominantly white Dallas-Fort Worth suburb. [NPR via KGOU]

Applications for student loan forgiveness no longer accepted: The Biden administration is no longer accepting applications for student loan forgiveness after a second federal court shut down the program. [Associated Press]

General News

Tulsa native, activist Cornel West helps Oklahoma faith coalition welcome new name, era: An Oklahoma faith coalition ushered in a new era and a new name with activist and Tulsa native Cornel West on hand to provide inspiration for the rewards and challenges ahead. [The Oklahoman]

Excavation continues in search for massacre victims: As excavation and lab analysis work continued Friday at Oaklawn Cemetery, forensic anthropologist Dr. Phoebe Stubblefield discovered that one of the three sets of remains exhumed last week contained one victim with a gunshot wound. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Quote of the Day

“Where we see its impact is not so much on the front end but after they own a home and are paying a mortgage. Our families are on such a tight financial budget that they are often one major life event away from being completely knocked off the rails. It’s no fault of the homeowners themselves. It’s not a misallocation of funding. It’s simply a lack of excess funding.”

– Cameron Walker, president and CEO of Green Country Habitat for Humanity, speaking on how medical debt is a common concern for many Oklahomans [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day

$343.6 million

Oklahoma’s estimated annual loss of GDP if DACA program is ended [Center for American Progress]

Policy Note

After 10 years, Dreamers are still in ‘survival mode.’ We shouldn’t be: Oklahoma is home to over 6,000 DACA recipients, many of whom come from mixed status households.  As we continue to defend DACA, the lack of access to initial applications leaves thousands of young people out of the opportunities and relief it could provide. These attacks aren’t just on a program; they’re attacks on millions of people who deserve and need permanent solutions, people who need to feel at home, who miss home and whose home is already here. [Cynthia Garcia Op-Ed / The Oklahoman]

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Hana Saad joined OK Policy in August 2022 as the Communications and Operations Fellow. She graduated from the University of Tulsa with degrees in Media Studies and English and is part of Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society. At TU, Hana regularly wrote for The Collegian and was the Co-Editor of the Stylus Journal of Art and Writing. She also serves on the team at Puppy Haven Rescue to help in their mission of saving rescue dogs across Oklahoma. Hana is eager to learn more about public policy in Oklahoma and use her skills to support the OKP work to build a more equitable state. In her free time, she loves to read fiction and poetry, walk her dog, and make copious cups of tea.

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