In The Know: Gov. announces gaming compacts that AG says aren’t authorized; officials eye reopening plans; and 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. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma AG Mike Hunter says Gov. Stitt’s new tribal gaming compacts ‘not authorized’ by state law: Gov. Kevin Stitt and Attorney General Mike Hunter tangled Tuesday over tribal gaming compacts, signed in an elaborate ceremony earlier in the day, that authorize the Comanche and Otoe-Missouria tribal governments to begin sports betting and banked table games such as true blackjack. [Tulsa World] “The governor has the authority to negotiate compacts with the tribes on behalf of the state. However, only gaming activities authorized by the act may be the subject of a tribal gaming compact. Sports betting is not a prescribed ‘covered game’ under the act.” Hunter said in a prepared statement. [The Oklahoman] New off-reservation casino locations were among a series of sweeping changes made under the renegotiated agreements, which were signed Tuesday and still need federal approval. [CNHI / The Norman Transcript] In late March, Stitt’s legal team sent new gaming compact offers to more than half a dozen tribes. [NonDoc]

As Stitt eyes reopening businesses, new cases and deaths spike higher: As Gov. Kevin Stitt continued to plan for a phased reopening of Oklahoma businesses early next month, cases of COVID-19 and deaths rose more sharply on Tuesday than recent trends suggested. [The Oklahoman] As closures wear on and protests increase, a University of Tulsa history professor notes it’s not unlike sentiments when the 1918 flu pandemic had businesses and schools shuttered or when Typhoid Mary fought in the courts over her quarantine. [Tulsa World

COVID-19: State records 21 more deaths: State health officials on Tuesday reported 21 new COVID-19-related deaths, totaling 164 for the state. Across Oklahoma, 2,807 cases have been confirmed since early March, and the 164 deaths have occurred since March 19, according to data provided by the Health Department. [Tulsa World] Visit for the latest COVID-19 numbers in Oklahoma.

Health News

Advocates say Oklahoma’s critical care guidelines discriminate against those with disabilities for COVID-19 care: State and national disability rights advocates have filed a federal civil rights complaint alleging the state’s medical treatment plan, which lays out protocols to respond to COVID-19 — including treatment rationing — discriminates against those with disabilities. The advocates, led by Oklahoma Disability Law Center, argue the state’s plan is riddled with discriminatory protocols and deprioritizes people with disabilities for life-saving treatment and care. [The Frontier] Read the full statement from the Oklahoma Disability Law Center.

Oklahoma pushes for Medicaid premiums, work requirements: Oklahoma officials are pushing forward a Medicaid plan that would charge premiums and impose employment requirements on newly eligible low-income recipients. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority on Monday submitted the state’s Healthy Adult Opportunity waiver application to the federal government. [AP News] OK Policy: Thousands of Oklahomans have spoken out against the Governor’s health care proposal, which could restrict health care access for up to 200,000 Oklahomans.  

All Oklahoma abortions can resume Friday, judge orders: Abortions in Oklahoma can resume fully starting Friday, a federal judge ordered Monday. U.S. District Judge Charles Goodwin granted, in part, a preliminary injunction halting enforcement of the state’s coronavirus-related abortion ban while litigation continues on the issue. [The Oklahoman] Stitt’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but a spokesman for Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said he intends to appeal the decision. [AP News]

Telemedicine shines as an option in age of coronavirus: While the health care sector has been scrambling to address the novel coronavirus pandemic, it has also had to adapt and innovate in order to address the needs of non-COVID-19 patients. [NonDoc]

State Government News

Oklahoma’s recovery may take longer than rest of nation: Oklahoma lawmakers and leaders who grappled Tuesday with stark projections that state revenues will decline by well more than $1 billion in the coming fiscal year also had to deal with a prediction that Oklahoma will lag behind the rest of the nation in recovering from the economic disaster of 2020. [The Journal Record]

The Oklahoman Editorial: Monumental budget challenge for Stitt, lawmakers: Just a year after signing the largest budget in state history, Gov. Kevin Stitt is dealing with budget woes that present a major test for him and the Legislature. [Editorial Board / The Oklahoman] Rep. John Waldron: In the COVID-19 crisis, we learn that government is not the problem after all. [Op-Ed / Tulsa World] OK Policy: While Oklahoma will largely be in reactive mode, it is important to think creatively about using all available resources to inject more money into the state’s economy by supporting the most vulnerable Oklahomans. This is our best path toward a faster recovery.

State Rep. Lundy Kiger asks Gov. Stitt to loan money to help rural hospitals stay open: On Tuesday, State. Rep. Lundy Kiger, R-Poteau, asked Gov. Kevin Stitt to do more for the rural hospitals during this trying time. [FOX25]

Candidate challenges: McDugle stays on ballot, Luttrell re-elected: Rep. Kevin McDugle will stay on the ballot despite a challenge alleging he didn’t live in House District 12. The Oklahoma State Election Board on Tuesday heard contests of candidacy. [Tulsa World] Republican Justin Dine filed to run against McDugle and challenged the retired Marine’s eligibility to serve House District 12. [NonDoc

State Water Board approves controversial long-term groundwater permits for two Delaware County poultry operations: The Oklahoma Water Resources Board approved two Delaware County poultry operations’ applications for long-term groundwater permits on Tuesday, over protests of residents who live near the poultry farms concerned that the farms would pollute ground and stream water. [The Frontier]

Criminal Justice News

Senate panel advances Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director’s nomination: An Oklahoma Senate panel advanced on Tuesday the nomination of Department of Corrections Director Scott Crow to hold the job on a permanent basis. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Economic Opportunity

Unemployment pre-application open for gig workers in Oklahoma: The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission is now accepting pre-applications from gig workers and others unable to work during the COVID-19 pandemic who don’t qualify for traditional unemployment benefits. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Economy & Business News

Oil market turmoil likely to have economic repercussions on both state and local levels: Former Tulsa mayor Dewey F. Bartlett Jr. has seen a lot over his decades in the oil and gas industry, but he said he’s never seen anything like this week’s market turmoil, and never thought he would. [Public Radio Tulsa] Q&A: Oil prices hit new lows as economic pain deepens [AP via Tulsa World]

Oil price rout to hit U.S. regional economies: Tumbling oil prices will have broad regional impacts on the U.S. economy. Wyoming, Alaska, Oklahoma, North Dakota, and West Virginia could be hurt more than Texas, which has diversified. [Wall Street Journal] U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn wants $3 billion for Strategic Petroleum Reserve [The Oklahoman]

Pandemic and oil glut could cost Oklahoma 10,000 energy sector jobs: Oklahomans are feeling widespread pain because of the nation’s economic shutdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic and a resulting glut in the demand for oil. Economic recovery in the state will be slow through this summer and into the winter, according to economists at Oklahoma State University, who predict that as many as 10,000 jobs could be lost in the energy sector alone. [OSU News & Information]

A ‘grave situation’: Economists say Oklahoma’s oil industry faces ‘worst-case scenario’: The U.S. oil futures market for May recovered some Tuesday after a day of unprecedented lows, but Monday’s price plunge has economists giving more credence to a “worst-case scenario” version of already grim forecasts for the oil and gas industry. [The Journal Record]

Hamm calls for investigation: Harold Hamm, founder and executive chairman of Continental Resources Inc., is requesting an investigation of crude oil futures for possible market manipulation, failed systems or computer programming failures and oil futures contracts. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

House Democrats urge Stitt to aid public schools: Oklahoma House Democrats have urged Gov. Kevin Stitt to support public schools with a $40 million federal education grant, though the governor suggested using some of the funds for scholarships to private schools. [The Oklahoman] His comments drew the ire of state school leaders after floating an idea to use $40 million in block grants from the federal CARES Act to pay for private school scholarships. [KOSU] OK Policy: Despite their name, these tax-subsidized scholarships to private schools do not promote equal educational opportunity.

Long plagued by budget cuts, Oklahoma educators bracing for more: With Oklahoma’s state budget facing billions of dollars in shortfalls over the next two years, education cuts are likely. Governor Kevin Stitt said Monday that if the state’s education system is held harmless, it will exacerbate cuts for other agencies statewide. [KOSU]

Oklahoma higher ed chancellor to lead 16-state task force on COVID-19 pandemic recovery: Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education Chancellor Glen Johnson will lead a new 16-state task force on how to address the challenges facing colleges, universities and their students during the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery. [Tulsa World]

General News

Tulsa charities face a COVID-19 ‘paradox’ as needs increase while donations fall: With Tulsa’s economy hit hard by the COVID-19 shutdown, food pantries are handing out donations to people who only a few weeks ago were making donations, a group of executives from Tulsa-area nonprofit organizations said Tuesday. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Norman council discusses ‘reboot’ [The Oklahoman]
  • Four more COVID-19 deaths reported in Wagoner County [Muskogee Phoenix]
  • Muskogee city, county officials look past pandemic [Muskogee Phoenix]
  • Enid Commissioners discuss whether to relax COVID-19 restrictions [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Payne County approves disaster agreement [Stillwater News Press]
  • Garvin County adds one case to its total [Pauls Valley Daily]
  • Rise in Stephens County numbers anticipated, antibody testing coming [Duncan Banner]
  • National Guard helps with COVID-19 tests in Madill [KTEN]
  • Grove, Oklahoma, climbs to nine deaths due to COVID-19, ranking #4 in the state [KSN]
  • 2020 ‘State of the Air’ Report: Oklahoma City’s air quality worsened for ozone, particle pollution [KFOR]

Quote of the Day

“Rationing human life is not only illegal and immoral, it is simply unacceptable. While we recognize that our health care system is under unprecedented pressure, no one should face discrimination in accessing life-saving treatment and care.”

-Melissa Sublett, executive director of Oklahoma Disability Law Center, speaking about a federal civil rights complaint alleging the state’s medical treatment plan discriminates against those with disabilities [The Frontier]

Number of the Day


New and continuing unemployment claims in Oklahoma as a percent of the workforce, ranking the state 39th most affected by COVID-19 layoffs as of April 11, 2020.

[Source: Tax Foundation]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

‘Never seen anything like it’: Cars line up for miles at food banks: At exactly the moment that more Americans find themselves turning to food charities, the charities are facing shortages of their own. They rely on a volunteer labor force, one that skews heavily toward retirees. Across the country, older volunteers are sheltering at home for their own health and safety — sometimes by choice, and sometimes at the government’s direction. Perhaps more alarmingly, many of the organizations that typically donate large volumes of food have themselves shut down. [New York Times]

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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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