In The Know: Gov., AG vow legal action against vaccine mandate | Virus herd immunity remains elusive | Expanding the Child Tax Credit

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

Gov. Stitt vows state would take legal action against Biden’s vaccine mandate: Gov. Kevin Stitt said in a video released Thursday that President Joe Biden’s executive order mandating COVID-19 vaccinations is unconstitutional. Biden in September outlined rules that employers with 100 or more workers must require coronavirus vaccinations for their employees or institute weekly virus testing. [Tulsa World] Attorney General John O’Connor urged state employers to disregard the Biden Administration’s efforts to implement a mandate. “In the event federal emergency rules are issued that place such an unlawful demand upon employers, our office will be joined by other state attorneys general across the country to quickly sue and seek an injunction against any implementation or enforcement” of a mandate, O’Connor said in a statement. [AP News] Stitt and O’Connor are calling on employers that voluntarily institute vaccination requirements to allow religious, medical and personal exemptions. [Public Radio Tulsa

Health News

COVID is trending down in Oklahoma, but herd immunity remains elusive, health officials say: While Oklahoma is making improvements in reducing the spread of COVID-19, the state still has a way to go to reach herd immunity, officials said Thursday. State Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye said trends in COVID-19 cases nationwide and in Oklahoma are continuing to fall. According to data released Thursday, the current seven-day average of new, confirmed cases was 1,181 — 58% lower than the peak number reported on Aug. 30, Frye said. [Tulsa World]

  • State health officials warn Oklahomans to expect adjustment to COVID data [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Oklahoma County COVID-19 vaccine tracker: 56% of people fully vaccinated [The Oklahoman]
  • Did you respond poorly to original COVID-19 vaccine regimen? OMRF seeks volunteers for trial [The Oklahoman]

Abortion supporters ask Oklahoma court to put 3 laws on hold: Reproductive rights supporters have filed an appeal asking the Oklahoma Supreme Court to put three anti-abortion laws on hold, including restrictions on medication-induced abortions. [AP News]

Editorial: Getting to the root of health gaps for Indigenous people: American Indian and Alaska Native people have higher rates of chronic diseases leading to early death. The leading causes of death are heart disease, cancer, diabetes and unintentional injuries, according to the Indian Health Service. Their life expectancy is 5.5 years less than those of other races. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

State Government News

Hofmeister switches parties, tribes strike back against governor, recreational marijuana petition begins and more (podcast): This week in Oklahoma Politics discusses State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister switching her political affiliation to Democrat to challenge Gov. Kevin Stitt in next year’s election, tribal leaders calling out the governor for his stance on the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt v. Oklahoma decision and a new poll showing more Oklahomans don’t agree with the governor that McGirt is the most pressing issue facing the state. [KOSU]

State leaders call IRS banking plan ‘intrusive’ and ‘un-American’: When the New York Times wanted perspective from a community banker, the national newspaper’s reporter turned to Oklahoma’s own Jill Castilla, president and CEO of Citizens Bank of Edmond. The article, which ran Oct. 11, focused on a Biden administration proposal that would have banks report to the IRS financial information on almost every account they hold. The Times shared that Castilla believes the proposal is an overreach, and that several customers have come to her with their concerns over their privacy. Castilla shared similar thoughts with The Journal Record on Thursday. [The Journal Record]

Oklahoma lawmakers to convene Nov. 15 for redistricting: With the finalized 2020 U.S. Census figures in hand, the Oklahoma Legislature will convene a special session on Nov. 15 to redraw the district boundaries for the state Senate and House of Representatives, and for the five U.S. House seats. [Cherokee Phoenix]

Mine Foes Make Conflict-Of-Interest Arguments To State Supreme Court Referee: The Oklahoma Department of Mines put its thumb on the scales of informal hearings for proposed aggregate mining permits when it failed to tell all parties that a hearing officer and an attorney for mining companies used to be married and had a child together, an Oklahoma Supreme Court referee heard Wednesday. [Oklahoma Watch]

Oklahoma lawmaker proposing Daylight Saving Time as official year-round time for state: An Oklahoma senator is proposing “locking the clock” and establishing Daylight Saving Time as the official time year-round for the state. Sen. Blake Stephens, R-Tahlequah, plans to present an interim study analyzing the benefits of “locking the clock” on Tuesday, October 19. [KTUL]

Changes coming to Oklahoma’s guardianship laws in November; here’s how it could affect you: The Oklahoma legislature is making guardianship laws stricter in our state. Attorney Sarah Stewart said these changes will help protect vulnerable Oklahomans moving forward. [KFOR]

Federal Government News

Efforts made to become a more ‘weather ready’ nation: There is a new national effort to become a ‘weather ready’ nation. Today, a hearing was held among national leaders to discuss ways to achieve that – and an Oklahoma lawmaker was there. Representative Frank Lucas is a ranking member of The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. He first pointed at the improvements seen lately, then discussed what still needs to be done. [KOCO]

Tribal Nations News

State court rejects McGirt-based appeal by death-row inmate convicted in Owasso triple murder: A state appellate court on Thursday rejected the appeal of a death-row inmate convicted in a 2005 Owasso triple murder. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed Goode’s third subsequent application for post-conviction relief, finding that it did not qualify for relief under its interpretation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt ruling dealing with state criminal jurisdiction over Native Americans. [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Statutory deadline missed, Judge Ray Elliott recuses from citizens’ grand jury application: Oklahoma County District Court Presiding Judge Ray Elliott recused himself this morning from considering the application for a citizen-called grand jury to investigate District Attorney David Prater. Elliott’s recusal is the first action taken on the application — filed Oct. 6 by five local activists — but it comes two days after state statute says the judge should have approved or denied the request. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma Department of Corrections says it has no records for its lethal injection drugs: Oklahoma has no records for the drugs it’s soon planning to use to execute seven people. That’s what the state told Fred Hodara, a retired New York attorney who’s suing the Department of Corrections after it told him there aren’t any records around Oklahoma’s new lethal injection protocol. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Death row inmate James Coddington to get reprieve: An Oklahoma death row inmate scheduled for execution in March has been allowed back into a federal lawsuit over the lethal injection procedure. The ruling will result in a reprieve for convicted murderer James Allen Coddington. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Widening ‘skills gap’ concerns industry leaders, others in state: If Oklahoma is to maintain a healthy economy in the future, the state will have to find the right balance between creating jobs, creating jobs that pay well and providing education and training to prepare people for them. [The Journal Record]

Some Oklahoma banks cater to marijuana businesses despite difficulty with federal limitations: Despite its legality in Oklahoma, medical marijuana remains a mostly cash-based industry. Some local banks are trying to change that by offering many of the same services that are available to any other kind of business. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Oklahoma ACT participation rate lowest since at least 2012: For Oklahoma’s high school class of 2021, participation in the ACT test was as low as it’s been in at least a decade. The pandemic and cost-saving measures combined to slash the number of students who participated. Only 58 percent of Oklahoma’s class of 2021 took the ACT. [KOSU]

Ginnie Graham: Oklahoma’s rush to the bottom of supporting college students will challenge new higher ed leader: The new chancellor for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education has a tough job ahead with lawmakers. Allison Garrett comes into the position from a background as an executive with Walmart for about a decade before entering higher education administration at smaller universities — Emporia State University in Kansas, Abilene Christian University in Texas and Oklahoma Christian University. [Ginnie Graham Column / Tulsa World]

Ninnekah Public Schools superintendent fights suspension of his teaching license: The superintendent of Ninnekah Public Schools is on the brink of overturning the suspension of his teaching license, but state officials are still seeking to revoke his certification. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Name of Tulsa police sergeant slain in line of duty to be added to national fallen officers memorial in D.C. [Tulsa World]
  • New Women’s Business Center coming to Greenwood, U.S. Small Business Administration announces [The Oklahoma Eagle] | [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“We already voted on a redistricting plan in the spring. We used estimated data. We are probably going to have to make at least some small changes. The problem with the latest numbers is in most of the rural areas. The movement is more than we thought. People are moving to the cities. They are moving to Tulsa, but mainly to Oklahoma City.”

-State Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, R-Muskogee, speaking about the upcoming special session focused on redistricting [Cherokee Phoenix]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma children, under age 6, with all available parents working full-time [KIDS COUNT

Policy Note

Six reasons why an expanded Child Tax Credit or child allowance should be part of the US safety net: The Child Tax Credit has been part of the federal income tax code since 1997. It has been expanded many times, most recently as part of the American Rescue Plan. A consideration of the pros and cons of a nearly universal, unconditional child tax credit or benefit amount raises a host of issues. It is useful to consider these issues within the framework of the optimal design of a social safety net system. Within this broad framework, there are six specific points about the desirability of such a payment. [Brookings]

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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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