In The Know: Federal funds coming to Oklahoma for Medicaid expansion | Hostage situation spotlights OKC jail conditions | 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

Congress gives Oklahoma cash infusion for expanding Medicaid: Last year’s vote to expand Oklahoma’s Medicaid program will provide the state with a half-billion-dollar windfall thanks to the recently passed federal stimulus bill. Oklahoma Health Care Authority officials confirmed this week that the state will qualify for a provision in the American Rescue Plan Act that adds a new incentive for the 12 states that have yet to expand their Medicaid programs. [Oklahoma Watch] Oklahoma is expected to get an additional $500 million in federal Medicaid funding over two years as part of an incentive in the American Rescue Plan that seeks to convince 12 holdout states to expand Medicaid. [The Oklahoman]

  • 21 Oklahoma community health centers to get over $63 million in COVID relief funding [The Oklahoman]
  • OK Policy: Increased federal funding will ensure Oklahoma can provide coverage to all who need it [OK Policy]

Company in contract with Oklahoma for managed care being sued in Ohio: A company that Oklahoma has enlisted to help run its managed care program is currently being sued by the Ohio Attorney General for breach of contract. Dave Yost, the Attorney General of Ohio, alleges that managed care giant Centene Corp. conducted an “elaborate scheme” to maximize company profits at the expense of the Ohio Department of Medicaid. [The Norman Transcript]

  • Critic of managed care, Standridge profited from current Medicaid system [The Norman Transcript]
  • Coming to a boil, after the Ides of March (Managed Care of Medicaid Expansion) [Southwest Ledger]

What we know about the Oklahoma County jail hostage situation and conditions for inmates: An Oklahoma County jail inmate was killed following a hostage situation Saturday. Authorities say police and sheriff’s deputies responded and tried to de-escalate the situation, but said the guard was being held in a “hostage position” by the inmate and police shot and killed the suspect. The event was live-streamed on Facebook in a video that has since been removed. In the video, an inmate spoke of poor conditions within the jail, saying “we can’t take showers” and another showed a toilet that he said couldn’t flush. [The Oklahoman] Groups of people gathered outside the Oklahoma County Jail since the hostage situation started to protest the conditions at the jail and the treatment of inmates. [KOCO] There have been reports of numerous human and civil rights violations at the jail,, a nonprofit journalism site, has reported. [New York Times]

  • Protests grow over jail conditions after graphic video details hostage situation [News9]
  • DA: Oklahoma County Jail Trust’s ‘incompetent administration’ made jail dangerous [The Oklahoman]
  • 9 Oklahoma County jail inmates have died since jail trust took over [The Oklahoman]
  • Hostage situation at Oklahoma County Jail results in one death [Free Press OKC]
  • Inmate killed at Oklahoma County jail identified [The Oklahoman]

State epidemiologist offers two separate mea culpas after COVID-19 data controversies, expresses confidence in improving reporting capabilities: In recent weeks, the state epidemiologist has offered two separate mea culpas for unrelated COVID-19 data reporting controversies, but he stands by the state’s efforts and is confident of reporting capabilities as technology upgrades come online. [Tulsa World] The state’s controversial switch to weekly COVID-19 data reports is an attempt to provide a deeper analysis while preventing misinterpretation or selective interpretation of the data, according to State Epidemiologist Jared Taylor. [Tulsa World] The daily reports did not provide a true picture of the virus, epidemiologist Jared Taylor said Friday. [AP News

  • Infection rate drops by 99% in nursing homes since vaccines began in Oklahoma [Tulsa World]
  • Six states are opening vaccination to all adults on Monday, with many residents eager for shots [New York Times]
  • Tribes offering vaccine allotment to all [The Journal Record]
  • Experts: Vaccinations exceeding expectations [The Journal Record]
  • COVID-19 in Oklahoma tracker: Updates on new cases, deaths, vaccines for March 2021 [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Updates from the state Capitol – Committee approves protections for fleeing drivers that hit protesters in roadways: Advocates say there is an aggressive effort to chill protests in Oklahoma and pointed to several bills that were approved this week. On Monday, the Senate Public Safety Committee passed House Bill 1674, which provides legal immunity to fleeing drivers that hit protesters in roadways. That bill now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee. [The Frontier]

Members of state Legislative Black Caucus question House leadership not hearing police reform bills: Members of Oklahoma’s Legislative Black Caucus this week questioned Republican House leaders’ decision not to hear several police reform bills this session. “I know from working with my colleagues and from studying what other states are doing that these reforms have strong bipartisan support,” Rep. Monroe Nichols (D-Tulsa) said at a Wednesday press conference. [Public Radio Tulsa]

‘Unsexiest big deal’ on Legislature’s agenda could be most important state government reform in years: Civil service reform does not lend itself to inspiring Founding Fathers quotes or emotional appeals for truth, justice and the American way. It is not the sort of issue that winds up on many push cards — those stiff, full-color campaign flyers stuffed into mail boxes and front doors before every election. And yet, it touches on every aspect of, in this case, state government — and by extension, every Oklahoman. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Senate changes employment policy after senator employed cousin: The leader of the Oklahoma Senate has updated the chamber’s employment policies after a state senator employed his cousin as his executive assistant. [The Oklahoman]

Pro Tem: Oklahoma legislature will ‘absolutely’ have special session this fall for redistricting: A delay in releasing 2020 Census data means Oklahoma lawmakers will split their redistricting work. The state constitution requires state legislative districts be redrawn before adjournment of the session following a census. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Federal Government News

Indian criminal cases consume state, federal prosecutors: The Oklahoma attorney general’s office has been consumed by cases related to crime on Indian reservations, as inmates file appeals testing the scope of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that Congress never disestablished the Muscogee (Creek) reservation, according to a top state prosecutor. [The Oklahoman]

NASA taps OSU, three Tribal Nations to develop STEM curriculum: Oklahoma State University and the tribal nations of Choctaw Nation, Chickasaw Nation and Cherokee Nation have been chosen by NASA to create a STEM program that includes Native American culture in the curriculum. [KOSU]

Criminal Justice News

Washington County deputy dies after altercation with inmate: A Washington County deputy sheriff has died after an altercation with a jail inmate, the sheriff’s office confirmed on Friday. Cpl. Kyle Davis, 39, a 13-year veteran of the office, died Thursday after the fight inside the jail, said Washington County Undersheriff Jon Copeland. [AP News

Amid sexual misconduct investigation, Judge Tim Henderson suspended: Oklahoma County District Court Judge Tim Henderson has been suspended and is being investigated for sexual assault and misconduct against female prosecutors and defense attorneys, according to District Attorney David Prater. [NonDoc] Jari Askins, the chief administrative officer of the state’s court system, said Oklahoma County Judge Timothy Henderson called her Friday to notify her of his resignation. [AP News]

‘There’s not a day that goes by that it is not on my mind:’ What happened to Ronald Given?: Ronald Given needed treatment at a state facility, but they were all full. He ended up in jail and was dead 10 days later. What happened to him and why won’t officials release the jail footage? [The Frontier]

Economy & Business News

‘People are so ready.’ Is Oklahoma City’s economy about to see another ‘Roaring 20s?’: After a deadly winter, Oklahoma City is in the midst of an economic rebound, defying the pandemic that has wreaked havoc on economies worldwide. And while the hospitality and energy industries are still struggling, the optimism for a return to normalcy and economic recovery has some wondering if Oklahoma is about to experience a second “roaring ’20s.” [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma City’s hospitality market looking at slow recovery from COVID-19 [The Oklahoman]

Education News

How the State Board abruptly settled charter school lawsuit against legal advice: The state Board of Education came to an unexpected resolution in a four-year-old charter school funding lawsuit Thursday in a move the state superintendent and their attorney say sidesteps the Legislature and violates the state constitution. The resolution, approved by a 4-to-3 vote, allows charter schools to tap into several state and local revenue streams previously off limits to charters, including general fund, building fund and county levies. Currently charter schools only receive state appropriated funds. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • (Audio) Capitol Insider: Controversy over charter school lawsuit settlement [KGOU]

Oklahoma universities say no vaccine mandate for students: Several universities in Oklahoma say that for now they will not require their students to get a COVID-19 vaccine before coming back to campus in the fall. [AP News]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Youth homelessness service provider plans expansion of space, services [Free Press OKC]
  • (Video) Asian Americans speak out at ‘Stop Asian Hate’ rally in downtown Tulsa [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“We won’t be able to tell quite as well whether we see hotspots or outbreaks that happen in the state. Perhaps the State Health Department will be able to do that, but we won’t be able to see it because it’s not transparent right now.”

-Dr. Dale Bratzler, OU’s chief COVID officer, commenting on the state’s move from daily to weekly COVID reporting. [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Percentage of U.S. workers without access to paid family and medical leave

[Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics]

Policy Note

Paycheck or caring for family? Without paid leave, people of color often must make the ‘impossible choice’: The consequences of that gap are more critical for Black, Latino, Asian and Indigenous workers, who tend to earn lower wages and experience higher rates of unemployment as well as to be out of work for longer periods of time. [USA Today]

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.