In The Know: Gov.’s sovereignty committee releases report | Epic board approves new financial controls | Requirements for unemployment reinstated

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

Oklahoma virus hospitalizations surpass 900, 1,628 new cases: The number of hospitalizations in Oklahoma due to the coronavirus is at a new record high and surpassed 900 on Thursday while the number of reported cases increased by 1,628, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. [AP News]

  • Oklahoma virus hospitalizations surpass 900, 1,628 new cases [AP News]
  • COVID-19: Oklahoma reports a record 1,628 new cases, 11 more deaths [Tulsa World]
  • COVID-19 surges across U.S. as some hospitals stretched [Reuters]

‘Find a path forward’: Commission on Cooperative Sovereignty releases report: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s Commission on Cooperative Sovereignty released its preliminary report about how to address the civil and criminal legal uncertainties following court decisions that have affirmed about 40 percent of the state is composed of Indian reservations. [NonDoc] Key tribal leaders strongly opposed recommendations made Thursday by the commission appointed by Gov. Kevin Stitt that wants to limit the reach of the historic U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding Indian land in Oklahoma. [The Oklahoman]

Epic school board approves new financial controls: Following scathing reports of poor financial oversight, the board of education for Epic Charter Schools approved its first round of corrective action Wednesday. Board members for Community Strategies Inc., the non-profit that runs Epic, will meet again Nov. 18 to continue discussions on corrective measures. Serving 60,700 students, the virtual charter school is the largest public school system in the state. [The Oklahoman]

  • Multiple Wednesday meetings present discussions of Epic audit [NonDoc]
  • Rose State College considers another charter school as its oversight ability is questioned [Oklahoma Watch]

Cheat Codes: Students search for shortcuts as virtual schooling expands: Schools’ large-scale shift to virtual education amid COVID-19 is challenging the system of determining what students actually know and limiting educators’ ability to ensure academic integrity. [Oklahoma Watch]

State Government News

Search for work, ID proof requirements reinstated as new unemployment claims decline slightly in Oklahoma: As the number of initial unemployment claims continues a slow decline and COVID-19 cases continue to climb, state officials are instituting new requirements for out-of-work Oklahomans seeking unemployment insurance benefits. [Tulsa World]

Lost revenue sparks need for new ODOT debt: The state is moving forward with plans to fund upcoming projects of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation with money raised by issuing bond debt. [The Journal Record]

Progress in diversity, equity and inclusion stressed at chamber State of Inclusion event: Significant strides achieved in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) were spotlighted in the Tulsa Regional Chamber’s annual State of Inclusion event, held virtually Thursday. [Tulsa World]

With new joint venture, CareSource eyes bid for Oklahoma’s Medicaid program: It’s a big move for Ohio’s largest Medicaid managed care organization — one that could expand the Dayton-based company’s footprint into a sixth state. [Dayton Business Journal]

General election, Medicaid privatization, I.C.E. in the Oklahoma County jail and more (audio): This Week in Oklahoma Politics discusses the upcoming General Election and races they are watching, the Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police endorses GOP State Senator Stephanie Bice for Congressional District Five and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Abby Broyles outraises her opponent Incumbent Republican Jim Inhofe. [KOSU]

Federal Government News

Lankford, Inhofe meet with SCOTUS nominee Barrett, support her confirmation: Oklahoma’s U.S. Senators, Republicans James Lankford and Jim Inhofe, met separately this week with Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court. Both men say they support Barrett’s confirmation. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Election News

State Question 805 draws support, opposition from public figures: State Question 805 supporters announced a string of endorsements Thursday morning to combat what they described as misinformation against the reform less than two weeks from the Nov. 3 election. [The Oklahoman] If Oklahoma voters answer “yes” to the question on Nov. 3, it would end “enhanced sentencing” practices that can add years or even decades onto prison terms of defendants in nonviolent criminal cases who have records of previous convictions. [The Journal Record] OK Policy: Addressing misinformation about SQ 805.

  • How 2020 voters could change the criminal justice system, in 6 ballot measures [Vox]

A fight to vote in Oklahoma: 60 Minutes reports from Oklahoma on how thousands of people with disabilities are being systematically denied the right to vote. [60 Minutes / YouTube

Oklahoma County Sheriffs candidates spar over experience: The candidates for Oklahoma County sheriff, Democrat Wayland Cubit and Republican Tommie Johnson, had sometimes-heated exchanges about each other’s records and plans in a debate Thursday evening presented by NonDoc and News 9. [NonDoc] Key takeaways from the Oklahoma County sheriff debate [The Oklahoman] | [OKC Free Press]

Former GOP legislator looks to reclaim OKC seat held by Mickey Dollens: A former Republican legislator is looking to reclaim his old House seat that has since turned blue. [The Oklahoman]

Deadline to request absentee ballots nears: Less than a week remains for registered voters to apply for absentee ballots to be mailed to them for the November 3 General Election, Rogers County Election Board Secretary Julie Dermody said today. [Claremore Daily Progress]

ODOT reminds candidates to obey law and keep campaign signs away from highways: As the Nov. 3 general election approaches, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation reminds political candidates and volunteers to stay safe, save taxpayer money and keep Oklahoma’s highways and interstates free of unsightly, damaging and costly litter by keeping campaign signs out of highway rights-of-way. [ODOT / Enid News & Eagle]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma’s prison crisis (audio): On this week’s episode of The Lost Ogle Show, the hosts chat with Damion Shade, a criminal justice policy analyst at OK Policy. They discussed State Question 805, the question to end sentence enhancements for people convicted of nonviolent crimes. They also talked about the cost of incarceration, how other states have benefitted from similar measures, and Oklahoma’s status as the prison capital of the world. [The Lost Ogle Podcast]

Economic Opportunity

Tulsa Police, 71st Street corridor merchants meet to discuss upsurge in homelessness, panhandling: A group of south Tulsa merchants concerned about an upsurge in homelessness in their area are hopeful that an effort to organize will be the first step toward possible solutions. City Councilor Lori Decter Wright said the increase in homelessness likely ties in with local evictions. [Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Crop report: Drought conditions worsen; small grain progress mixed: Oklahoma saw cooler temperatures last week, with four of the nine districts reporting lows on Oct.16 at or below freezing. The state had virtually no rain was reported last week, averaging 0.02 of an inch. [Southwest Ledger]

Education News

$10 million in COVID-19 relief funds allotted by Gov. Stitt for private schools likely allowable, legal letter says: Gov. Kevin Stitt’s decision to use $10 million in federal COVID-19 relief dollars to help private school students likely satisfies federal requirements, according to a letter sent this week to House Democrats. [Tulsa World]

Cherokee Nation’s Sequoyah High School reopens with aid of new rapid COVID tests: Sequoyah High School in Tahlequah, operated by the Cherokee Nation, reopened for in-person learning Monday after the tribal government received new, rapid test kits from the federal government, allowing school administrators to test all students and staff weekly before they enter the building. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Choctaw Nation updates history textbooks: The Supreme Court’s ruling on the McGirt case is suddenly dating Oklahoma school textbooks. The books say the sovereignty of Oklahoma’s Native American tribes ended more than a century ago. The Choctaw Nation is making sure the truth is told. [KTEN]

General News

Archaeologists uncover additional coffin as researchers close excavation at Oaklawn Cemetery: An 11th coffin has been found in a trench in Oaklawn Cemetery, researchers looking for unmarked burials from Tulsa’s 1921 Race Massacre said Thursday. [Tulsa World] The remains have not been identified or confirmed as massacre victims. But they’re in an area adjacent to two gravestones of victims and located where old funeral home records show both identified and unidentified victims were buried. [AP News] The area in question is within feet from two known 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Black male victims. [Black Wall Street Times]

Quote of the Day

“In the auditing world, this arrangement is a nightmare. There are no checks and balances, no internal controls, endless conflicts of interests, inappropriate related party transactions. It’s ripe to misuse taxpayer dollars.”

-State Auditor Cindy Byrd discussing Epic Charter Schools’ board management processes that came to light from her office’s investigative audit [NonDoc]

Number of the Day


Percent of children under age 3 in Oklahoma living in metro areas. Nationally, 91.6% live in metro areas.

[Source: Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

COVID-19 and student performance, equity, and U.S. education policy: The COVID-19 pandemic is overwhelming the functioning and outcomes of education systems—some of which were already stressed in many respects. This is true across the world and affects all children, though to differing degrees depending on multiple factors—including the country/region where they live, as well as their ages, family backgrounds, and degree of access to some “substitute” educational opportunities during the pandemic. In early spring as the pandemic was hitting its first peak, the virus consigned nearly all of over 55 million U.S. school children under the age of 18 to staying in their homes, with 1.4 billion out of school or child care across the globe. Not only did these children lack daily access to school and the basic supports schools provide for many students, but they also lost out on group activities, team sports, and recreational options such as pools and playgrounds. [Economic Policy Institute]

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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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