In The Know: Gov.’s tribal compacts ruled invalid | OKC first district to rule out in-person classes to start year | President’s new executive order is racist, political distraction

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

OK Policy statement regarding president’s executive order about Census: The Constitution requires that every person living in our nation must be counted through the Census. Today’s executive order undermines this clear directive and runs counter to our nation’s governing document. This order is steeped in racism and merely serves as a political distraction from the important work that must be done to ensure an accurate Census count this year. [Full statement]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma Supreme Court rules two of Stitt’s new compacts invalid: The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled in favor of legislative leaders who sued Gov. Kevin Stitt and argued that he lacked authority to unilaterally approve his new gaming compacts with the Comanche Nation and the Otoe-Missouria Tribe. The decision hinges specifically on Stitt’s inclusion of provisions about house-banked card games and event wagering, which have not been specifically authorized in state law. [NonDoc] The Court said the governor does have the legal authority to negotiate gaming compacts, but that authority has limits. [The Oklahoman] Stitt said the decision highlights an apparent conflict between state and federal law, adding that Oklahoma must address the entire gaming framework so all tribes can legally game. [Tulsa World] Otoe-Missouria Tribe Chairman John R. Shotton said in a statement that the Oklahoma Supreme Court doesn’t have the jurisdiction to invalidate the tribe’s compact. [AP News] In a dissent, Justice John Kane, one of two Stitt appointees on the court, said he would have dismissed the case because the tribes are “indispensable parties” but were not part of the case. [Journal Record]

OKC district to start school online with delayed date: Oklahoma City Public Schools will start the 2020-21 school year online and three weeks later than expected. The district Board of Education voted Tuesday evening to begin the school year Aug. 31 instead of Aug. 10. Schools would have nine weeks of virtual learning before considering a return to face-to-face instruction. Oklahoma City is the first district in the state to rule out a traditional start to the school year. [The Oklahoman] New all-virtual start date, more temporary authority for superintendent. [OKC FreePress]

Officials: State struggling with virus numbers due to old system: The state is struggling to track and report new positive COVID-19 cases because they’re using an antiquated system not designed for a pandemic, Oklahoma health officials said Tuesday. Dr. Lance Frye, the state’s interim commissioner of public health, said his agency “uncovered” a backlog of 820 new positive COVID-19 cases that weren’t identified publicly yet. [CNHI]

  • Health commissioner says hundreds of COVID cases not reported, revises total by more than 1,700 [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • OSDH reports 1,714 new cases, 9 new deaths [The Oklahoman]
  • Long-term care facilities experience delayed COVID-19 testing results [Muskogee Phoenix]

Health News

Stitt says state has upped hospital partners to add beds to COVID surge plan: The State of Oklahoma has expanded the number of hospitals in its COVID-19 surge plan, Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Tuesday. [Public Radio Tulsa] The plan state health and hospital officials unveiled Tuesday would add 340 additional beds across seven hospitals in Oklahoma City and one in Tulsa. [The Oklahoman]

OU researcher: COVID-19 vaccine likely 12-18 months away: William Hildebrand is a professor and a researcher with the University of Oklahoma’s Health Sciences Center who studies vaccines. His laboratory is working on vaccine development for COVID-19. The Oklahoman participated in a live-stream media interview with Hildebrand on Tuesday afternoon to learn more about a possible COVID-19 vaccine. [The Oklahoman]

Health care workers, associations respond to COVID death of Hillcrest nurse practitioner: Oklahoma health care providers and associations are reacting to the reported COVID-19 death of Aimee Williams, a nurse practitioner at Tulsa’s Hillcrest Medical Center. [Public Radio Tulsa]

State Government News

Stitt: No one he was in contact with has come down with COVID-19: Gov. Kevin Stitt said Tuesday that no one he was in contact with in the days before he tested positive for the coronavirus has come down with the virus. [Journal Record] Gov. Stitt says he feels well, misses family after testing positive for COVID-19 last week. [Tulsa World]

New transportation plan provides map for infrastructure, policies: It’s no spellbinding mystery thriller, but Oklahoma’s newly unveiled Long Range Transportation Plan makes for some interesting reading, and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is soliciting reviews. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma Employment Security Commission hires chief operating officer: The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission named Michelle Britten as its new chief operating officer, agency officials announced Tuesday. Britten, who has 30 years of experience in accounting and finance, will join the agency Wednesday. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

With no final say, Trump wants to change who counts for dividing up Congress’ seats: President Trump released a memorandum Tuesday that calls for an unprecedented change to the constitutionally mandated count of every person living in the country — the exclusion of unauthorized immigrants from the numbers used to divide up seats in Congress among the states. But the move by the president, who does not have final authority over the census, is more likely to spur legal challenges and political spectacle in the last months before this year’s presidential election than a transformation of the once-a-decade head count, which has been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. [NPR]

Oklahoma’s congressional delegation pledges legislation to clarify Supreme Court decision will honor tribal sovereignty: Oklahoma’s seven-member congressional delegation said in a joint statement that they are committed to tribal sovereignty as they work toward legislation aimed at clarifying the “many legal questions” that remain following a landmark Supreme Court decision this month. [Tulsa World]

This could be the week we learn about a second coronavirus stimulus package: The COVID-19 crisis has wreaked unprecedented havoc on millions of Americans’ lives, and with cases continuing to surge throughout the country, it’s clear that things could easily get worse before they get better. So far, the only relief that’s been made widely available is the CARES Act, which was signed into law in late March. [The Oklahoman]

House defense bill includes pay raise, more money to improve housing: The U.S. House overwhelmingly passed a $741 billion defense bill on Tuesday, despite a veto threat from the White House whose objections include a provision that military bases named for confederate generals be renamed. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

OKC Council approves police contract: The Oklahoma City Council on Tuesday ratified a new one-year contract with the Fraternal Order of Police, despite objections of members who cited policy shortcomings amid the national upheaval over race and policing. The vote was 6-3. It is the first time in recent memory the council failed to unanimously support the collective bargaining agreement with the police force. [The Oklahoman] Oklahoma City Council approves police union contract, structures biz help. [OKC FreePress]

Tulsa police chief wants community policing evaluation to create overall strategy that all officers can partake in and articulate to the public: Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin hopes a forthcoming evaluation of Tulsa’s community policing efforts leads to a sustainable overall strategic plan that permeates all levels of the Tulsa Police Department and is articulable to the public. [Tulsa World]

Her boyfriend allegedly killed her 2-year-old son, but she’s charged with murder: Oklahoma’s Failure to Protect law treats those who enable child abuse the same as actual abusers. State law also allows those who permit abuse resulting in the death of a child to be charged with first-degree murder. The Cleveland County District Attorney’s office pressed forward with prosecuting Hogue even though a Norman Police Department detective who investigated the case didn’t believe she should be charged with murder, according to a secret audio recording made by her domestic violence advocate.  [The Frontier]

Editorial: Cimarron prison closure must be handled with caution: We have long opposed private prison contracts, believing a for-profit model is not appropriate for the extraordinary governmental authority of holding prisoners. It’s an expensive mechanism that aids mass incarceration. The immediate danger is how much these transfers will put other prisons over capacity, possibly violating federal standards and putting prisoners and staff at risk of a lot of things, including spread of the COVID-19 virus. [Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Oklahoma City adapts relief effort for small firms: Oklahoma City’s plan to help its small businesses survive the pandemic is adapting in an effort to save industries and populations disproportionately affected by COVID-19. [Journal Record]

Economy to take hit due to State Fair shutdown: The coronavirus pandemic has caused economic disruptions at every level of American life, and the cancellation of the Oklahoma State Fair will be having a major effect on the collective wallet of Oklahoma City and the entire state. [OSU Agricultural Communications]

Oklahoma increases aid for meat processors through CARES Act: State leaders aim to fatten up the capabilities of Oklahoma meat processors with a $10 million grant program using CARES Act dollars. [The Oklahoman]

Tulsa mask mandate being received in different ways, business owners say: Small businesses that put a face on the city of Tulsa’s new mask ordinance agree on one thing: How it’s received depends on the patron. [Tulsa World]

Eskimo Joe’s seeks community input following petition denouncing brand: A couple of days after an online petition gained ground against the branding of one of Stillwater’s most popular restaurants, Eskimo Joe’s, the “beloved” burger joint is looking to the community for direction. [Tulsa World] It’s not the first time the name has been questioned. But with a new civil rights movement underway and with offensive stereotypes being removed from how everything from NFL teams to food products are marketed, the issue has come up again. [Stillwater News Press]

Education News

House Democratic caucus pushes back on Stitt’s $10M allocation to private schools: Democratic lawmakers in the Oklahoma House of Representatives are pushing back against Gov. Kevin Stitt’s announcement that he will award $10 million of federal coronavirus education funding to private schools. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Teacher misconduct fallout: Oologah-Talala superintendent tenders resignation for end of 2020-21: Oologah-Talala Superintendent Max Tanner is resigning as of the end of the 2020-21 school year after coming under fire from the state for the school district’s handling of five separate cases of teacher misconduct involving students. [Tulsa World]

OSU to require testing for on-campus residents prior to move-in: Oklahoma State University will require students living on campus to complete a COVID-19 test before checking in to campus housing. The university, in its effort to provide safe housing and move-in procedures, also is implementing a staggered move-in schedule for campus residents. [KOSU

General News

Discovery Tuesday creates some excitement among Oaklawn researchers searching for Race Massacre graves: A pair of shoes recovered more than 10 feet below ground has caused some excitement among researchers at Oaklawn Cemetery, State Archeologist Kary Stackelbeck said Tuesday. [Tulsa World] No remains found, but archaeologists think search for Tulsa Race Massacre graves headed in right direction [Public Radio Tulsa]

Trump’s Tulsa rally drew sparse crowd, but it cost $2.2 million: New campaign filings show that President Trump’s campaign paid more than $2.2 million for the event, which last month had a lower-than-expected turnout that disappointed his campaign. [New York Times] Tulsa officers’ overtime costs $450,000 for work during Trump rally and protests. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“I hope that we see some very deliberate, public planning for our families to be able to do this. I don’t want someone to throw a laptop and a hotspot at me and say, ‘Have at it.’”

-Oklahoma City Public School board member Carrie Coppernoll-Jacobs speaking about the district’s plan to delay its start date and begin school year online [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Percent of Oklahoma teachers surveyed whose school has a full-time nurse for the 2020-2021 school year.

[Source: Oklahoma Education Association]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

To open the schools safely, Uncle Sam will have to pay up: With the Senate’s Labor Day recess fast approaching, time is short for Congress to provide the funding necessary for our nation’s public schools to reopen sensibly and safely this fall. Local officials across the country are wrestling with how to do so, based on their on-the-ground assessments of risks, needs and capacities. What’s not helping is the White House’s wedge political strategy: threatening to withhold federal funds from school districts that don’t reopen for in-person classes. The need for new funding is obvious. [Governing]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.