In The Know: Executive order addresses driver’s licence delays | Gov. signs virtual meeting bill | Weather impacts vaccination plans

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

Policy Matters: Breaking the cycle of political inequities: Our lives are shaped by choices made months, years, decades, or even centuries ago, whether it’s our family history or a larger, shared history. As I was reflecting on Oklahoma’s history during this Black History Month, someone shared with me the story of A.C. Hamlin of Guthrie, who was elected our state’s first Black lawmaker in 1907, the year Oklahoma became a state. This progressive milestone was short-lived, as Hamlin served only one term because his fellow Oklahoma lawmakers passed a constitutional amendment that effectively limited Black voters through voter registration requirements. While this amendment was soon declared unconstitutional, the effect was chilling for generations. [The Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

Stitt executive order, bills target driver license delays: One day after 44 members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives sent Gov. Kevin Stitt a letter urging that he sign an executive order to address extensive wait times within the Department of Public Safety’s driver license programs, the governor did exactly that. [NonDoc] The Department of Public Safety and tag agencies are facing a backlog due to COVID-19 and the state’s long-awaited rollout of REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses, for which there is pent-up demand. [The Oklahoman] Stitt’s executive order waives statutory or other restrictions on tag agents to make it easier for people to renew a license, allows Oklahomans to obtain identification if a Real ID is not available and allows Oklahomans to obtain a downgraded license if necessary. It also would allow third parties to administer driver’s license exams. [Tulsa World]

First law signed by Oklahoma governor allows virtual meeting: The first bill signed into law by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt during the current legislative session allows public bodies to continue meeting virtually as a coronavirus safety precaution. [AP News] Senate Bill 1031 by Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat (R-Oklahoma City) and House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols (R-Oklahoma City) temporarily modify the state’s Open Meeting Act to allow public bodies to meet via teleconference or videoconference. [The Oklahoman] The option for public bodies to hold virtual meetings expired Nov. 15, but Stitt, Treat and McCall declined to convene a special session to reinstate it. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Walmart, Sam’s Club to offer COVID-19 vaccines in Oklahoma: More than 40 Walmart and Sam’s Club stores in Oklahoma will begin offering COVID-19 vaccines starting Friday, Feb. 12. State health leaders announced last week that some doses would start to be allocated to local pharmacies in an attempt to vaccinate more Oklahomans. Keith Reed, Oklahoma’s deputy commissioner of health, praised the companies for stepping up to help administer vaccines. [The Oklahoman]

  • Gov. Stitt to announce next steps in Oklahoma’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan [KOCO]
  • Oklahoma’s plan for urban mass coronavirus vaccination sites falls through [StateImpact Oklahoma]
  • Wintry weather closes coronavirus vaccine sites in Oklahoma [AP News]
  • Winter weather affects vaccination clinics through Tulsa Health Department, VA [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart speaks with KWGS about vaccine cancelations, efforts [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Mustang school district hosts vaccination clinic for educators, staff [The Oklahoman]
  • COVID-19: 30 more deaths reported in Oklahoma; average for new cases lowest since Nov. 7 [Tulsa World]

State Government News

State general revenue takes sharp drop in January: State general revenue receipts cratered in January, falling almost 16% below projections and the same month a year ago, the Office of Management and Enterprise Services said late Tuesday. The report comes one week before the state Board of Equalization certifies revenue for the Legislature’s Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma House moves to restrict government actions during emergency: An array of bills to limit the governor — and government in general — during emergencies advanced in the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Wednesday. Republican-led committees approved measures that would ban eviction moratoriums and limits on large gatherings and most businesses, require legislative approval to extend emergency declarations beyond 30 days and reduce the authority of the state emergency management director. [Tulsa World] Among the bills was House Bill 1564 which would prevent courts from halting evictions, even during a health emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Senate panel passes measure making it easier for voters to cast absentee ballots: A Senate panel on Wednesday passed a measure making it easier to cast ballots for people who vote absentee. Senate Bill 440, by state Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, would add three days of in-person absentee voting per election. [Tulsa World]

State Senate bill would establish fund to pay for costs stemming from opioid epidemic: Oklahoma lawmakers took the first step in setting up a fund to pay for ongoing costs of abating Oklahoma’s opioid epidemic. Senate Bill 610 would establish the Opioid Settlement and Judgement Revolving Fund. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Senate bill seeks more scrutiny in enterprise zones: While previous law had the Oklahoma Department of Commerce set up the framework for providing incentives for development in the state’s enterprise zones, legislation currently under consideration would have the Commerce Department administer the program and collect data regarding its effectiveness. [The Journal Record]

Federal Government News

Oklahoma’s U.S. Senators Again Vote Against Proceeding With Trump’s Second Impeachment Trial: Oklahoma Sens. James Lankford and Jim Inhofe were among the 44 Senate Republicans who voted again Tuesday to declare former-President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial unconstitutional. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma farmers relieved after water rule upheld: Oklahoma farmers expressed optimism about the Senate’s recent 51-49 vote to uphold the Trump administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which replaced an Obama-era regulation farmers feared would lead to costly litigation and limit water use on their own land. [NonDoc]

Economic Opportunity

Bitter cold putting homeless shelters, outreach agencies into action to help those in need: With COVID-19 forcing homeless shelters to reduce capacity to allow social distancing, officials spent months making contingency plans for the weeklong bitter cold Tulsa is now facing. [Tulsa World]

Health News

Hard Reset: Why some struggling hospitals missed out on federal COVID aid: Billions of dollars in federal aid were reserved to help hospitals financially survive the pandemic, but in some cases, funds went to the wrong owner or were never spent. We spoke with reporter Brianna Bailey of The Frontier, who recently reported on some of the issues that came up when this aid was rolled out in Oklahoma. [Big If True]

String of domestic slayings points to desperation, experts say, reminding that ‘there is help available’: At least 15 lives — including those of nine children — have been lost to domestic violence in northeastern Oklahoma in the past dozen days, and support experts are urgently expressing one message: Reach out. [Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Report: OKC’s COVID-19 recovery to be slow: A new report on the city’s financial condition shows an increase in negative indicators stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. “COVID slowed down the economy,” Oklahoma City Finance Director Brent Bryant said Wednesday. “The stoppage was quick. The pickup will be slow.” [The Journal Record]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Five (other) takeaways from Oklahoma’s Feb. 9 election [NonDoc]
  • 4 takeaways from Tuesday’s Oklahoma City Council primary elections [The Oklahoman]
  • Stone re-elected to 2nd term in OKC Ward 4 – Two wards need April runoff [OKC Free Press] | [The Oklahoman]
  • Henry leads Lewis into runoff for Oklahoma City school board chair [The Oklahoman]
  • Tulsa Local Elections: Fothergill Wins Tulsa County Treasurer Race, Barba Takes TPS Board Seat [Public Radio Tulsa]

Quote of the Day

“The face of homelessness, or what people consider to be the face of homelessness, looks different now. It’s our neighbors who are struggling to make ends meet, our neighbors who can’t afford to pay the rent and who are losing their homes.”

-Mark Davis of the Mental Health Association [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma adults living in households with children who are very or extremely likely to have to leave this home due to eviction or foreclosure in the next two months in Oklahoma, Nov. 25-Dec. 21, 2020.

[Source: KIDS COUNT]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Medicaid Managed Care: Further Reform Needed to Deliver on Promise: Since beginning in the 1960s, Medicaid managed care has now been adopted in various forms by 48 US states, with private insurers (both nonprofit and for-profit) covering an increasing number of beneficiaries. Despite its widespread adoption, there is limited evidence on the relationships between Medicaid managed care and access, spending, and quality. Value-based payment reform with stronger quality monitoring and alignment among states, plans, and providers will be necessary for Medicaid managed care to enhance value. [American Journal of Managed Care]

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.