In The Know: Dose questions surrounding execution | Money and policy traffic stops | COVID-19 declines in state | More

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

Doctors question sedative dose used in Oklahoma execution: While medical experts say it’s unclear why an Oklahoma inmate began convulsing and vomiting after the first of three drugs used to execute him was administered, all agree the dosage was massive compared with what’s standard in surgeries — with one doctor calling it “insane.” The state’s prisons agency is now likely to face new litigation, which may focus on the state’s description of the execution of John Marion Grant for the 1998 slaying of a prison cafeteria worker as “in accordance with” protocols. [AP News]

  • Details of John Grant’s execution were ’embellished,’ Oklahoma corrections chief says [The Oklahoman] | [The Black Wall Street Times]
  • National death penalty org says botched Oklahoma executions grounds for heavy criticism [Gaylord News / The Norman Transcript] | [The Journal Record] | [Slate]
  • Will death penalty protocol be changed because killer threw up during his execution? [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma to continue lethal injections after man vomits during execution [New York Times]
  • (Audio) Capitol Insider: Flawed execution clouds outlook for planned executions in Oklahoma [KGOU
  • Protesters call executions harmful for everyone including victims’ families after State of Oklahoma puts John Grant to death [KFOR]

The Demand for Money Behind Many Police Traffic Stops: Busted taillights, missing plates, tinted windows: Across the U.S., ticket revenue funds towns — and the police responsible for finding violations. Harold Brown’s contribution to the local treasury began as so many others have in Valley Brook, Oklahoma: A police officer saw that the light above his license plate was out. After a trip to jail that night in 2018, hands cuffed and blood running down his face onto his uniform, Mr. Brown eventually arrived at the crux of the matter: Valley Brook wanted $800 in fines and fees. It was a fraction of the roughly $1 million that the town of about 870 people collects each year from traffic cases. [The New York Times]

Oklahoma health officials look to ‘more sustainable’ phase of COVID-19 as cases decline: With declining COVID-19 cases and the resignation of its commissioner, the Oklahoma Health Department is facing a transition. Oklahoma — and the rest of the country — could be entering into a new stage of the pandemic. After a surge in cases in late summer spurred by the fast-spreading delta variant overwhelmed hospitals and pushed the state’s total cases over 600,000, the seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases is now down 71.5% from a late-August peak. [The Oklahoman]

  • Tulsa County among six counties with more than 70% of its eligible population at least partially vaccinated against virus [Tulsa World]
  • OU, OSU announce COVID vaccine mandate for employees [The Oklahoman] | [KOSU] | [AP News] | [The Norman Transcript]
  • ‘A new beginning’: Man works family farm alone after losing five siblings to COVID-19 [The Oklahoman]
  • Virus by the numbers: 9 charts that show how Oklahoma is coping with COVID-19 [Tulsa World]

Health News

Legal Aid offers free help to Oklahomans needing health insurance: This year’s open enrollment period for the online Healthcare Marketplace begins Monday, Nov. 1 and Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma is offering Navigators across the state to help Oklahomans weigh their options. [The Duncan Banner]

State Government News

Reapportionment expert weighs in on gerrymandering: A Norman city councilor who says a committee gerrymandered ward boundaries with partisan and racial bias will have a hard time proving it, a nationally-renowned expert on redistricting says. As previously reported by The Transcript, the Ad Hoc Reapportionment Committee has maintained that it drew ward boundary lines according to 2020 U.S. Census Data and strived to keep district lines as straight as possible to prevent voter confusion. [The Norman Transcript]

Redistricting delays create uncertainty for political candidates anxious to run for office: Delays in Oklahoma’s redistricting process — largely attributable to the U.S. Census Bureau not releasing the latest population data until mid-August — pushed map drawing back, creating uncertainty for some political candidates in the process. With next year’s elections looming, candidates wanting to know if their political ambitions are viable are anxiously waiting for the Oklahoma Legislature to unveil proposed legislative and congressional maps. [The Oklahoman]

New law allowing domestic abuse victims to terminate a lease agreement takes effect: A new law that takes effect Nov. 1 allows victims of domestic or sexual violence to terminate a lease with a court protective order. The law comes as the state has recently seen record highs in domestic abuse cases. A recent report from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation showed a 20-year high in domestic violence reports during the pandemic. [KFOR]

Chronic pain, opioid prescription law changes topic of legislative study streaming online Monday: Oklahoma lawmakers are looking into the results of a 2018 law change that limited how pain patients may receive opioid prescriptions from their providers. Rep. John Talley, R-Stillwater, requested the interim study regarding the effects of the “rapid reduction of opioid prescribing” on pain treatments for Oklahomans. [Tulsa World]

Forum focuses on employment for people with disabilities: A recent forum held at the Oklahoma Capitol featured discussion of efforts made in the state to help people with disabilities achieve success in the work world. The study session, which included input from representatives of education and industry, was proposed by state Rep. Sherrie Conley, a Republican from Newcastle. She said making it easier for people with disabilities to achieve fulfilling employment and self-sufficiency is the right thing to do. [The Journal Record]

Capitol study focuses on ADA compliance in Oklahoma: State lawmakers examined issues related to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act during a study conducted recently at the Capitol. The study was proposed by Norman Democrat Rep. Merleyn Bell, who said she wanted lawmakers to look into current ADA compliance policies and procedures along with ways they might be strengthened. [The Journal Record]

How much is my utility bill going up? Check what your provider is estimating here: Do you know what your electricity or natural gas provider seeks to recover from you to pay what they spent on fuel to keep providing you with service during February’s severe winter storm? Oklahoma law allows regulated utilities to pass through fuel costs associated with delivering natural gas and electricity services to their customers. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Cherokee Nation attorney general disputes state’s claim that McGirt ruling has caused ‘chaos’: Cherokee Nation officials on Friday assailed the state of Oklahoma’s attempts to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark McGirt ruling and defended the tribe’s handling of hundreds of cases that have resulted from the decision. Cherokee Nation Attorney General Sara Hill said the state of Oklahoma has attempted in its pleadings to paint a “false picture of Oklahoma in chaos” in its efforts to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn its own decision. [Tulsa World] The Cherokee Nation responded to the state of Oklahoma’s request that the U.S. Supreme Court reverse its ruling that some tribal reservations were never disestablished. [AP News] The tribe in its brief said Oklahoma never stated a valid reason to revisit the 2020 decision, in which the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Muscogee Nation’s reservations had never been dissolved. [Gaylord News / The Lawton Constitution]

Neil Gorsuch wrote McGirt decision. Will Justice Amy Coney Barrett help overturn it?: Less than two weeks after taking office in 2017, former President Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. Gorsuch, then a judge on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, had “significantly more experience with Indian law cases than any other recent Supreme Court nominee,” according to a letter written by a Native American Rights Fund attorney not long after the nomination. [The Oklahoman]

Quapaw Nation strengthens justice system, as criminal jurisdiction expands: On Thursday, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma met with Quapaw tribal leaders to recognize the tribal nation’s recently reaffirmed reservation status and discuss their relationship moving forward. In anticipation of its expanded criminal jurisdiction, Quapaw Nation officials say they invested $4 million to open a facility called the Ki-ho-ta Center just outside of Miami in Ottawa County. It employs three judges and a court clerk. [KOSU]

Marilyn Vann sees ‘insufficient unity’ in support of tribal Freedmen: In September, Marilyn Vann was appointed to the Cherokee Nation’s Environmental Protection Commission, making her the first Freedman to hold a governmental office in the tribe. Freedmen in Oklahoma, meaning those who are descended from African Americans held as slaves by tribal citizens, have historically been excluded from rights and citizenship in tribal nations. [NonDoc]

Criminal Justice News

Republicans call on Gov. Stitt to commute Julius Jones’ death sentence: Conservatives across Oklahoma and the nation are joining the call for Julius Jones’ death sentence to be vacated. It was nearly fifty days ago that the state’s pardon and parole board recommended the commutation of Jones’ death sentence. Governor Stitt denied that request on claims that he needed to wait for Jones’ clemency hearing to take place. He did not. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Oklahoma County Jail detainee dies from apparent suicide: Another inmate death has been reported at the Oklahoma County jail. According to jail officials, detainee Craig Weeks was discovered attempting suicide in his cell just before 1 p.m. Thursday. [The Oklahoman]

OKC to mark 80th homicide for 2021 with flawed reporting, few insights: The City of Oklahoma City, like much of the country, has seen a remarkably deadly year. With only two months left in 2021, the homicide numbers for the city have already ballooned past the final 12-month total for 2020, and are quickly approaching the complete yearly total for 2019. [OKC Free Press]

Economic Opportunity

Ginnie Graham: It’s the era of the worker: Nearly every industry reports having more jobs than people. Oklahoma ranks No. 12 nationally in the labor shortage, but eighth lowest in the unemployment rate. The situation is so unique and historic that a state Senate interim study was held last month to get a better handle on it. [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Businesses report difficulties filling midlevel, leadership positions: Businesses likely will face tight labor market challenges, especially when it comes to filling senior leadership positions, as the nation continues to recover from the pandemic, according to results of a recent survey commissioned by Oklahoma City-based Express Employment Professionals. [The Journal Record]

Education News

Oklahoma lifts suspension of Ninnekah High School principal: A state suspension of Ninnekah’s high school principal has been lifted, but a teaching license revocation is still possible for the school administrator, who was accused in an explosive federal lawsuit of failing to protect students from sexual abuse. [The Oklahoman]

Mary Melon: OKC Public Schools Foundation adopts new mission statement, logo: Decisions to launch new logos and revise mission statements happen all the time in both the for-profit and nonprofit worlds. The purpose behind them is not always clear without explanation, though generally a lot of thought goes on behind the scenes. [Mary Melon / The Oklahoman]

General News

Refugee welcome teams stay ready to roll, assist arriving Afghans: ‘The 20 minutes you’re with them is just so precious’: Agood welcome doesn’t always require a lot of words. As she’s greeted arriving Afghan refugees over the last few weeks, Karen Pirtle has had that truth reaffirmed for her more than once. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Oklahoma City officials considering changes in ambulance response, dispatch [The Oklahoman]
  • Festival plaza to provide Capitol Hill a gathering spot reflecting growing Hispanic community [The Oklahoman]
  • Greenwood residents invited to share stories ahead of master plan redevelopment in Kirkpatrick Heights [The Black Wall Street Times]

Quote of the Day

“Our brief today demonstrates that the governor’s attacks on tribal sovereignty are inconsistent with the law and factually baseless. We hope the court will see through this blatantly political effort, reject the state’s petition, and put an end to the dangerous uncertainty and instability created by the state’s refusal to work with tribes.”

—Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. in a statement on a friend of the court brief filed by the Cherokee Nation Friday in a contested McGirt case [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day

$12.9 Billion

The total economic impact that tribes made in Oklahoma in 2017. In addition to direct contributions, tribes generate billions in production by companies that support tribes’ business operations.

[Source: Oklahoma Native Impact]

Policy Note

The Economic Impact of Tribal Nations in Oklahoma Fiscal Year 2017: Oklahoma tribes employed 51,674 Oklahoma workers in 2017, paying out wages and benefits of $2.7 billion to Oklahomans. If Oklahoma tribes were an industry, they would rank as the 11th largest by employment. When combining business revenues, government expenditures, and capital expenditures, Oklahoma tribes accounted for $7.7 billion in direct Oklahoma production. If Oklahoma tribes were an industry, they would rank as the 9th largest by production. In cooperation with the federal government, Oklahoma tribes spent significant dollars on health care, education, and transportation which benefitted all Oklahomans. [Oklahoma Native Impact]

Note: November is Native American Heritage Month, or as it is commonly referred to, American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. The month is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people. 

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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.

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