In The Know: Federal funds provide summer cooling help

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Federal funds provide summer cooling help: The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has about $18 million in federal funding to help low-income Oklahomans pay energy costs to cool their homes. DHS will begin taking applications Tuesday July 7 and will continue until all federal funds are depleted [Fox 23]. State funding for the program has been eliminated this year [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma wants federal help for more counties: Gov. Fallin added 26 more counties to the list of those seeking FEMA individual assistance as the result of tornadoes and flooding that began May 5. FEMA has already approved Individual Assistance for 24 counties, which makes federal funds available for housing repairs or temporary housing, low-interest loans, disaster unemployment assistance and grants for serious needs and disaster expenses [Tulsa World].

Inhofe seeks to boost federal highway spending: Oklahoma would get nearly $4.2 billion in federal money for roads and bridges over the next six years under bipartisan legislation unveiled by Sen. Jim Inhofe. The bill as written would cost $90 billion more than the highway trust fund is expected to collect from gas taxes. Inhofe said it was up to other congressional committees to figure out how to make up the shortfall [NewsOK].

Clemency hearing granted woman who was given much longer sentence than her abuser: The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 4 to 1 grant Tondalo Hall a hearing for a commutation of her sentence. Hall was sentenced to 30 years in prison for failing to protect her children from a violent abuser. Meanwhile, the man who actually harmed her children and was abusing Hall as well got just 2 years [Buzzfeed].

Another inmate death: The Oklahoma Corrections Department is investigating the death of 26-year-old Justin England, who was found hanging in his cell at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester [McAlester News-Capital]. It’s the latest in a pattern of deaths, serious injuries, and assaults happening in severely overcrowded and understaffed Oklahoma prisons [OK Policy Blog].

Will Oklahoma Democrats open primaries to independents? A proposal to allow independents to vote in Oklahoma Democratic Party primaries will be considered when the state party convention reconvenes on July 25. Oklahoma has traditionally had a closed-primary system, but registered independents are fastest growing voter group in the state [Woodward News].

OU sought big donation from Harold Hamm while developing quake position: University of Oklahoma officials were seeking a $25 million donation from billionaire oilman Harold Hamm while scientists at the school were deciding the state’s position on oil drilling and earthquakes. At the time, OU researchers would not confirm connections between earthquakes and the oil industry, but they later reversed that position. The school did not get the $25 million to build “The Continental Resources Center for Energy Research and Technology.” [EENews]

Group collects enough signatures to investigate Tulsa sheriff: County election board officials have verified 6,647 signatures requesting a grand jury investigation of the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, well over the 5,000 signatures needed.  District Judge Rebecca Nightingale now has 30 days to accept the signatures and move the process of a grand jury investigation forward [The Frontier].

Oklahoma flew Confederate flag at Capitol until 1988: The Confederate flag flew for 22 years at the state Capitol as part of a display of 14 flags that at one time or another flew over the territory that eventually would become Oklahoma. Workers removed the flags during a renovation in 1988. When the flags returned, the Confederate flag was absent [NewsOK]. 

Tulsa woman who won Supreme Court headscarf case meets President Obama: Tulsan Samantha Elauf was invited to sit at President Obama’s table during a Muslim Ramadan Iftar dinner in the White House. Elauf recently won a U.S. Supreme Court case against Abercrombie & Fitch after the store denied her a job because she wears a headscarf [Tulsa World].

How well do you know the Oklahoma Legislature? Test your knowledge of the demographics and voting patterns of the Oklahoma Legislature with this quiz [Oklahoma Watch]. Answers can be found in Oklahoma Watch’s new interactive graphic on the Legislature.

Quote of the Day

“The lowering and removal of this objectionable reminder of those dark days will symbolize also the lowering of those barriers allowing a person to be judged not by color, but by the content of their character. That has become a symbol of the (Ku Klux) Klan and every other right-wing group. If that offends one of us, it ought to offend all of us.”

-Rep. Don Ross, D-Tulsa, protesting the Confederate flag that used to fly on Oklahoma Capitol grounds. It was taken down in 1988 and never returned (Source).

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma children living with both their married, biological parents, the 8th lowest in the nation.

Source: American Community Survey via the New York Times

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The perils of enrolling in for-profit colleges: Students at some for-profit schools are graduating with tens of thousands in student loan debt and a degree not worth the paper it’s printed on. Schools have come under scrutiny from federal and state regulators and faced numerous lawsuits over misleading recruitment and admissions tactics [The Hechinger Report].

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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