In the Know: Early voting starts today | Health official: ‘No end of this peak in sight’ | Managed care bad for patients, providers

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

Managed care will be bad for patients and providers: The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) is currently accepting proposals from corporations, in an effort to privatize Medicaid and outsource the services that OHCA has successfully provided for decades. Managed care has already failed in Oklahoma, with no evidence to suggest the market has changed since the last attempt. This transition would not only be a significant financial risk for the state, but would likely harm both patients and providers. [Emma Morris / OK Policy]

Policy Matters: Voting hits close to home: With so much attention placed on the presidential election these days, it is worth remembering that our state and local races are the ones that most deeply impact our day-to-day lives. In my family, voting was never a matter of ideology. Rather, it was about representation. It was about community. [Ahniwake Rose / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Early voting still on despite unusual Oklahoma weather: Despite Oklahoma’s unusually wacky weather early voting for the Nov. 3 election will begin Thursday. County election officials in Oklahoma, Cleveland and Pottawatomie counties said Wednesday their early voting locations have power and are ready to go for the three-day early voting period that ends Saturday. [The Oklahoman]

  • Early voting is available in the county where you are registered to vote. Early voting will be held 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 29 & 30, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 31 [Oklahoma State Election Board]
  • Early voting locations in Oklahoma, listed by county [Oklahoma State Election Board]
  • With surge of mail-in ballots, election officials unsure what to expect when in-person voting starts Thursday [Tulsa World]

‘No end of this peak in sight’: Public health official concerned for 65-and-older demographic as October becomes worst month for COVID-19 in Oklahoma: Oklahoma has amassed more COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in October than in any other month and is poised to surpass the monthly deaths record before the weekend. Dr. Jennifer Clark offered her data presentation Wednesday morning during the weekly COVID-19 session of Project ECHO, an Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences program that helps serve rural and underserved areas. She pointed to multiple charts that depict ways to view the state’s positive cases, which she said last peaked in mid- to late July. “We’ve definitely blown that out of the water with no end of this peak in sight,” Clark said. [Tulsa World

  • COVID hospitalizations drop below 900 as Oklahoma posts 743 new cases [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Tulsa officials asking for greater virus cooperation from county residents, neighboring city leaders [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Tulsa Heath Department offers guidelines for celebrating Halloween during pandemic [Tulsa World]
  • Making phone calls, finding beds — hospitals working together to match resources with need [Enid News & Eagle]
  • State nursing shortage magnified with COVID outbreak [Southwest Ledger]

Fall ice storm ‘worst nightmare’ for many in Oklahoma: More than 350,000 homes and businesses in Oklahoma were without electricity Wednesday as cleanup continued from an ice storm that ravaged much of the state. Gov. Kevin Stitt declared a state of emergency for 47 of the state’s 77 counties because of severe winter weather. [AP News]

  • COVID-19, ice storms leave homeless scrambling for scarce overnight shelter [The Oklahoman]
  • Ice storm debris could take months to clean up; and costs may not be covered by your insurance [The Oklahoman]
  • Some shelters at capacity, struggle as power lost [OKC Free Press]
  • Emergency blood shortage; donors needed following ice storm [Guthrie News Leader]

Election News

Oklahoma ice storms leave thousands without power on eve of early voting: Hundreds of thousands in Oklahoma are still without power on Wednesday after powerful ice storms downed electrical lines across the state on Monday, creating hazardous conditions the day before in-person early voting is set to begin in the state. The Oklahoma State Election Board said that a lack of electricity would not keep Oklahomans from voting. “Oklahoma has a paper-ballot-based system, which ensures that voting in Oklahoma will go on regardless of whether or not we have power,” said a spokeswoman. [New York Times]

  • Election 2020: Oklahoma sample ballot and other voter resources [Oklahoma Watch]
  • Ready, set, vote! 4 steps to be ready for Nov. 3 [The Oklahoman]
  • Inhofe, Broyles trade barbs in final days of campaign [Tulsa World]
  • Kendra Horn vs. Stephanie Bice: Where the 5th Congressional District candidates stand [The Oklahoman]
  • Small-town strangers compete for southwest Oklahoma’s HD 56 [NonDoc]
  • SD 5 candidates agree on issues, not on politics [NonDoc]
  • Munson seeks another term in north OKC HD-85 against Robinson [OKC Free Press]
  • Oklahoma Senate leader Greg Treat faces Democratic challenger [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma County positions up for grabs during election [The Oklahoman]
  • Tulsa Transit offering free daytime rides Thursday through Saturday in support of early voting [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Two Oklahoma voters discuss the impacts of being unemployed during the pandemic [Oklahoma Engaged via KGOU]

Oklahoma Engaged: How the white evangelical Protestant voting bloc impacts elections in Oklahoma: Over time, Perry says the values of white evangelical Protestants and the Republican party have practically merged together. Pew finds that over the past 25 years, white evangelical Protestants have seen one of the biggest shifts toward the GOP, making them the most solidly and consistently Republican major religious groups in the country. [Oklahoma Engaged via KGOU]

Health News

Should Oklahoma reroute public health funding to pay for Medicaid expansion?: One of two state questions on the general election ballot, State Question 814 would reroute public health funding to Medicaid expansion. Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton with Oklahoma Engaged explains the proposal and where the money would come from. [Oklahoma Engaged via KGOU] OK Policy: Rerouting TSET funds is one of several funding mechanisms available to lawmakers to pay for Medicaid expansion. Additionally, OK Policy has published a non-partisan fact sheet for SQ 814 available at

EMSA to end contract next month with staffing provider it’s suing: As they fight it out in federal court, a contractor providing paramedics for Tulsa and Oklahoma City’s public emergency medical provider threatened to terminate its contract at the end of January, in the middle of a five-year deal. The Emergency Medical Services Authority, however, decided on Wednesday to end its agreement with American Medical Response sooner. [Public Radio Tulsa] The Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) will take over ambulance operations in Oklahoma City and Tulsa from its contractor, American Medical Response, amid a legal battle over $16 million in disputed payments. [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Virtual public meetings to sunset Nov. 15: State lawmakers will require all government bodies to start meeting again in person starting Nov. 16 even as health officials are urging Oklahomans to social distance to slow the spread of COVID-19. Since March, the Legislature has permitted Oklahoma public bodies to meet virtually. This practice allowed appointees, elected officials and the public to participate remotely in a bid to protect participants from COVID-19 until Nov. 15. Because of how they wrote the law, even Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt can’t use an emergency declaration to override its end date. [CNHI via Norman Transcript] Capitol Update: Extending teleconference meeting law before February requires special session

Medical marijuana surplus pays for 794 teachers: Taxes and fees assessed on Oklahoma’s cannabis industry produced enough revenue to pay the salaries of almost 800 teachers, a spokeswoman said. The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) contributed $42 million to the state Department of Education, which included $30 million appropriated by the state Legislature plus $12 million from the OMMA. [Southwest Ledger]

Supreme Court ruling could cost state agency up to $9.5 million: A study of the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that indicates potentially one-third or more of Oklahoma remains Indian reservations shows Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners are bracing for possible loss of regulatory enforcement and revenue. [Southwest Ledger]

Criminal Justice News

Some question the legitimacy of certain Shaken Baby syndrome convictions: Many of the people convicted on shaken baby or abusive head trauma evidence maintain their innocence, but proving it can often be a difficult prospect — the cases and trials rely heavily on expert testimony that can prove expensive for defendants and are based on science that some in the medical field question. [The Frontier] Freedom with a cost: Her shaken-baby conviction was overturned, but she had to plead guilty to stay out of prison [The Frontier]

Tulsa Police union chair dead from COVID-19: Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police Board of Directors Chairman Jerad Lindsey has died from COVID-19. In recent years, Lindsey emerged as a vocal critic of police oversight proposals from Mayor G.T. Bynum. [Public Radio Tulsa] Lindsey started his career with Tulsa Police Department in 2005 and worked as patrol officer. He recently was serving also as Oklahoma Fraternal Order of Police vice president. [Tulsa World

SQ 805 draws praise, criticism: When the Prison Policy Initiative reported that Oklahoma incarcerated 1,079 per 100,000, the state was labeled “the world’s prison capital.” After more than two years, the label has not gone away as incarceration numbers continue to surge. [Southwest Ledger] OK Policy has published a non-partisan fact sheet for SQ 805 available at

Oklahoma Local News

Quote of the Day

“Our health care system is getting overwhelmed. They keep wanting to know why the public is playing Russian roulette with their health and with the health of the health care system.”

-Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa Health Department [Public Radio Tulsa]

Number of the Day


Share of Oklahoma counties (35 of 77) where at least half of residents lack broadband internet access.

[Source: Federal Communications Commission]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Digital Equity for Students and Educators: The fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has made it impossible to ignore the nation’s digital divide, which has exacerbated deep inequities in every community across the United States. For many school districts across the country, reliance on remote (mostly digital) instruction has continued into the fall. But remote learning requires digital technologies—access to broadband internet and one-to-one (1:1) computer devices— that an estimated 13.5 million school-age children (ages 5-17) lack. This digital divide threatens to widen pre-existing inequities and the opportunity to learn; putting the nation’s most underserved school-aged children at risk. [National Education Association]

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David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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