In The Know: Gov. rescinds COVID-19 state of emergency | Tulsa Race Massacre Commission asks Gov. to veto HB 1775 | 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.

New from OK Policy

Are Medicaid patients overusing the ER? As part of a larger pattern of demonizing the social safety net, critics of the Medicaid program frequently claim that patients overuse emergency rooms for non-emergency care and that the state must address this problem to contain Medicaid spending. However, there is little evidence to support this claim. In reality, Oklahoma’s SoonerCare enrollees use the emergency room at rates comparable to the general population, and emergency services represent a small fraction of total SoonerCare expenditures. Legislators concerned about rising health care costs should worry less about the health care practices of individual SoonerCare members and more about how we can most effectively provide health care for all Oklahomans through the SoonerCare program. [Emma Morris / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Gov. Kevin Stitt rescinds Oklahoma’s COVID-19 state of emergency, effective Tuesday: Oklahoma’s COVID-19 state of emergency that has been in effect for more than a year will be lifted Tuesday. Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Monday that he signed an executive order to lift the state of emergency he put in place in mid-March 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a news release, Stitt’s office noted that new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations have dramatically decreased as vaccines have rolled out across the country this year. [The Oklahoman] Stitt said in a video message that his decision was based in part on Oklahoma’s seven-day average of new cases going down 94% from its peak and now being among the lowest in the country, as well as on data that show COVID-related hospitalizations are down over 90%. [Tulsa World]

Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission asks Stitt to veto bill on ‘critical race theory’: The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission has asked Gov. Kevin Stitt to veto House Bill 1775. The measure would, among other things, prohibit teachers from requiring students to participate in a course with concepts that would make them feel “discomfort, guilt or anguish” because of their race or gender. [Tulsa World]

  • House holds do-over vote on critical race theory ban over ‘voting anomaly’ [Public Radio Tulsa]

COVID-19 deaths have plunged as more Oklahomans get vaccinated: Deaths from COVID-19 have slowed dramatically in recent months and health officials now hope to boost vaccination rates among younger Oklahomans to help the state reach herd immunity. State Epidemiologist Joli Stone told The Frontier that while it’s too early to credit vaccines for the decrease, “it does look like there’s an impact there.” [The Frontier]

Oklahoma investing $14 million in summer learning to recover from disruption of pandemic: With sights on recovery from a disruptive pandemic, Oklahoma will dedicate millions to summer learning and youth programs. The Oklahoma State Department of Education will invest a minimum of $14 million in federal stimulus funds for summer enrichment through 2023. Individual school districts are leveraging their own federal aid to expand student learning opportunities after the school year ends this month. [The Oklahoman] Non-profit organization leaders, urban and rural superintendents flanked Hofmeister during her announcement at Cesar Chavez Elementary School in South Oklahoma City. And how they’ll lead the recovery in their communities will look different. [KOSU

Health News

Oklahoma resumes nursing home inspections; 6 in 10 behind on surveys: Abuse and neglect complaints filed with the state’s long-term care ombudsman’s office increased nearly 59% during the first 14 months of the COVID-19 pandemic — the period that the state halted federally-mandated inspections that are supposed to flag issues with staffing and quality of care. [Enid News & Eagle]

Rural medical center returns to life: The emergency room is 40 miles nearer for Garvin County residents following a rare occurrence last week – the reopening of a shuttered rural hospital. Pauls Valley General Hospital was one of seven rural Oklahoma hospitals that ceased operations in the past five years. Its abrupt closure in October 2018 left more than 26,000 people without nearby critical health services. [The Journal Record]

Report: Oklahoma sees more children die in hot cars per capita than any other state: It’s a heartbreaking statistic; Oklahoma has seen more children die in hot cars per capita than any other state. In 2020, 24 kids died in hot cars in the United States. Four of them were in Oklahoma. [KFOR]

State Government News

Commissioner questions Gov. Kevin Stitt’s transportation secretary over delayed road project: Commissioner T.W. Shannon on Monday grilled Gov. Kevin Stitt’s Transportation Secretary Tim Gatz about a delayed road improvement that was a partnership between the Chickasaw Nation and the state. Gatz said the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is evaluating a proposed interchange improvement at Oklahoma 9 and Interstate 35, which serves the Norman area. The improvement would alleviate congestion in the area that houses the Riverwind Casino, owned by the Chickasaw Nation. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma House Democrats select Munson as next leader: Oklahoma House Democrats voted Monday to select Rep. Cyndi Munson of Oklahoma City to be their next minority leader. Munson will lead the group after the 2022 elections, succeeding current House Minority Leader Rep. Emily Virgin of Norman. Virgin is in her final two-year term in the Legislature. [AP News] Munson, D-Oklahoma City, is believed to be the first Asian-American woman to hold the title of minority leader and to guide the 19-member Democratic caucus. [The Oklahoman] | [Public Radio Tulsa]

Suicide training for schools, law on domestic violence/assault victims and measure on nonprofit properties enacted. Senator Kay Floyd, sponsor of the measures, thanks colleagues and governor: A range of bipartisan measures introduced this session by Senate Democratic Leader Kay Floyd, aimed at topics from suicide prevention to better assisting victims of domestic violence, have been signed into law. Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, thanked her colleagues and the governor for their support on the legislation. [The City-Sentinel]

In light of slower population growth, young people talk about plans for family: According to Census data released last week, Oklahoma has experienced the slowest population growth since 1990. People are having fewer children. So Public Radio Tulsa asked students at the University of Tulsa what their plans are for family. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma County Jail Trust subcommittee organizes for action – solutions: On Monday afternoon, members of the Detention Center Action Committee (DCAC) heard from their legal counsel about the Open Meeting Act, and how it applies to their body. The Committee also created three subcommittees so the group can move forward on researching and finding answers for serious issues facing the Jail. [OKC Free Press]

Economic Opportunity

Tulsa Transit studies bus access for homeless: Tulsa Transit Authority says they are trying to improve access to public transportation for the homeless. Staff at Tulsa Transit studied how the bus is working for the homeless by assessing routes from places like shelters and encampments to medical facilities. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Economy & Business News

U.S. pork processor seeks to delay court decision limiting slaughter speeds: U.S. pork processor Seaboard Foods wants to pursue a 10-1/2-month delay to a federal court decision that would force it to slow the speed of hog slaughtering at a massive Oklahoma pork plant, according to court documents. [Reuters]

Education News

Seven school districts have bond proposals for May 11 special election: Seven Oklahoma school districts will have bond issues on the ballot for the May 11 special election, including Edmond, Moore, Covington-Douglas, Plainview, Bishop, South Coffeyville and South Rock Creek Public Schools. Funding from school bond issues must specifically be spent on improvements to the school district, such as construction, repairs, technology, transportation and acquiring various furniture and equipment. Bonds issuances provide funding for districts via loans that are paid back over time with local property tax revenues. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Advisory committees agree with need for OKC convention center wheelchair ramps [The Oklahoman]
  • As summer approaches, Oklahoma County revs up big road projects [OKC Free Press]
  • New Enid commissioners are sworn in as city budget talks begin [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Former Garfield County sheriff appointed secretary for election board [Enid News & Eagle]

Quote of the Day

“HB 1775 would not only interfere with the teaching of Black history, but the entire history of the United States. If teachers are unable to help students process the implications of our Nation’s history without discomfort how can we teach about the Trail of Tears? How can we teach about Women’s Suffrage? How can we teach about the Civil War?”

-Phil Armstrong, project director for the Centennial Commission’s Greenwood Rising History Center, in a letter to Gov. Stitt asking him to veto HB 1775 [Tulsa World

Number of the Day


The number of Oklahoma driver’s license suspensions issued for Failure to Pay / Failure to Appear in 2018

[Source: Free to Drive]

Policy Note

Report Sheds Light On The Pattern Of Over-policing That Led Cops To Pull Over Daunte Wright: According to a report from the ACLU released today, Daunte Wright’s experience is more than just common; the policing of minor infractions, including nonpayment of fines or fees, is considered a significant source of revenue for local governments. The criminal legal system, the authors write, “relies heavily on collecting money from the very people targeted by the system,” in the process incentivizing police to punish as many people as possible. For the victims of such police activity, however, the fines and fees extracted from these kinds of stops themselves can create an unmanageable burden, and the failure to pay often results in a cycle of increased fees or warrants. [The Appeal]

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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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