In The Know: Gov. signs HB 1775 | Managed care fight still brewing in Legislature | A push for education funding | 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

Budget, managed care remain major items as session winds down (Capitol Update): Time is closing in on legislators. The constitutional deadline for sine die adjournment is the last Friday in May, which this year May 28. But in the past few years the Legislature has recessed before the deadline to give itself the opportunity to return and override gubernatorial vetoes. Bills sent to the Governor must be signed or vetoed by the Governor within five days or they become law without his signature. But if the legislature adjourns before the five days passes, the governor has 15 days after adjournment to sign or veto the bill. Last year, the Legislature overrode several vetoes, including the state budget. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

Stitt signs controversial bill limiting race, gender curriculum in schools: Despite significant opposition to legislation that would prevent Oklahoma teachers from making students feel discomfort or guilt based on their race or gender, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the controversial bill into law Friday. Stitt signed House Bill 1775 that would prohibit public schoolteachers from teaching that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another,” and that “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive.” [The Oklahoman] The GOP-backed bill prohibits teaching of so-called “critical race theory.” [AP News] The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission issued a statement Friday after Stitt signed the bill, calling it “diametrically opposed” to their work. [Public Radio Tulsa] Black leaders across the state slammed the bill for what they consider to be prohibiting the clear, honest teaching of U.S. History especially when it comes to slavery and its impact on Black students. [OKC Free Press]

Medicaid proposal meant to rival Gov. Stitt’s plan for managed care faces uncertain future: Questions loom at the Oklahoma state Capitol about whether the state Senate will challenge Gov. Kevin Stitt’s proposed Medicaid overhaul by voting on an alternative plan. As the Stitt administration continues to move ahead with efforts to outsource care management for most Medicaid recipients to four insurance giants, the Oklahoma House has other plans. [The Oklahoman] OK Policy: Managed care is a bad investment for Oklahoma, but could be especially harmful for patients, providers, and Indigenous communities. See this complete roundup of OK Policy analysis about the impacts of managed care in Oklahoma.

Advocates say Stitt’s end Of COVID emergency declaration means drop in SNAP benefits for thousands: Food security advocates said Thursday that Gov. Kevin Stitt’s ending of Oklahoma’s declared state of emergency amid the COVID-19 pandemic means as many as 168,000 Oklahomans could soon see an abrupt drop-off in nutrition benefit payments. “The Biden administration has enabled SNAP emergency allotments, which would be an additional benefit to Oklahomans who earn under 115% of the federal poverty level,” said Bailey Perkins, state advocacy and public policy director at Oklahoma Food Banks, referring to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. [Public Radio Tulsa]

With Legislature negotiating budget, House Republicans push for $135M education funding boost: Oklahoma House Republicans are calling for a common education funding increase next fiscal year that would make up for cuts this year driven by the COVID-19 pandemic — and then some. “I think we are a top-10 state in how we’ve managed our money and are able to actually put as much money back into education this year. The House’s position is to put around $140 million back into common ed. So, I think that is just a tremendous feat,” House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Education Chair Mark McBride (R-Moore) said in a video the caucus posted to its Facebook page. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Health News

COVID-19 exposed health disparities in Oklahoma and around the nation. How do we end them?: Phillip and Robert Berryhill Sr. are among the hundreds of Native Americans in Oklahoma who have died of COVID-19. Both were members of the Muscogee Nation. Kyle and his uncle dually enrolled with the Thlopthlocco Tribal Town, headquartered just east of Okemah. More than a year in, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected Native Americans as well as other racial and ethnic minorities at disproportionate rates, revealing longtime disparities in Oklahoma and across the nation’s health care systems. [The Oklahoman]

  • ‘Life there is so hard’: Oklahoma engineer worries for family as COVID-19 crisis devastates India [The Oklahoman]
  • What COVID-19 had to do with an especially mild flu season in Oklahoma [The Oklahoman]
  • Editorial: Oklahoma’s vaccination rate is slow; We can do better [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]

New deal with BlueCross BlueShield derailed by unexpected last-minute changes, Saint Francis president says: Headed toward a possible breakup after failing to agree on a new contract, two of the state’s biggest names in health care continued to disagree Friday, this time over which side is mostly to blame. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Capitol Insider: Transgender sports bill, voting, and redistricting: At least 35 bills have been introduced nationally that would limit or prohibit transgender women from competing in women’s sports events. One of those bills is under consideration in Oklahoma. The issue is especially relevant in states vying for NCAA championship events because the NCAA has indicated it may take the legislation into consideration when selecting sites. Oklahoma City has been the long-time host of the Women’s College World Series, which is scheduled to begin this year on June 3 at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City. [KGOU]

Oklahoma to return hydroxychloroquine supply, get refund: Oklahoma’s purchase of $2.6 million worth of a much-hyped drug to treat COVID-19 will end where it started: back at the California drug wholesaler who sold the shipment a year ago at the outset of the pandemic. [Oklahoma Watch] Attorney General Mike Hunter said the state the state will receive the refund under an agreement with FFF Enterprises, a California-based medical supply wholesaler. [AP News] Under a deal announced Friday, the state will — eventually — get all its money back. [The Oklahoman] The Oklahoma State Department of Health purchased the drug at the onset of COVID-19 after the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for it as a treatment for the virus. [Tulsa World] Despite controversy at the time, Oklahoma health officials bought $2 million worth of doses and built a stockpile. The FDA soon revoked the approval; regulators found the drug to be not only ineffective but in some cases dangerous. [KGOU]

Wayne Greene: Every Republican isn’t a racist, and every Democrat isn’t a socialist, and most Oklahomans already know that: Some liberal friends won’t want to hear this, but every Trump voter isn’t a racist. Every Republican isn’t a woman-hater who delights in putting children in cages. Some conservative friends don’t want to hear this but most Democrats aren’t socialists, and those who are socialists usually have Holland in mind, not East Germany. They don’t want to take away your hamburger or you grandchild’s Dr. Seuss books. [Wayne Greene Column / Tulsa World]

Ginnie Graham: Almost all Americans like breakfast, Christmas and paid family leave: Of all the things where Americans find agreement, it’s paid parental leave. A recent YouGov poll from earlier this year found 82% of Americans believe companies should provide paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child. Of that, 68% think that ought to extend to men and women. [Ginnie Graham Column / Tulsa World]

Here’s what you can buy at the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s first-ever surplus property auction: It’s the first time for the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to sell surplus property by auction rather than by sealed bid, spokesman Jack Damrill said. The auction will allow more people a chance to acquire a parcel, he said. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Oklahoma lawmakers list road improvements, medical research in earmark requests: Three Oklahoma members of the U.S. House have requested projects for their districts as Congress revives the earmark system abandoned amid controversies more than a decade ago. Reps. Stephanie Bice, Tom Cole and Frank Lucas submitted funding requests for road improvements, medical research and community development projects. [The Oklahoman]

Hern publicly joins call for Cheney’s ouster from House GOP leadership: First District Congressman Kevin Hern on Friday called for Wyoming’s Liz Cheney to resign as chair of the House Republican Conference, the House’s third-ranking GOP leadership post. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma AG Mike Hunter urges U.S. Supreme Court to allow abortion ban after 15 weeks: Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to take a Mississippi case that could allow states to ban abortions after 15 weeks, one of at least four abortion cases in the court’s current term in which Hunter’s office has backed state regulations. [The Oklahoman]

Limiting tax-free exchanges could ‘freeze’ commercial real estate investment, critics say: Real estate investment would go stagnant, commercial property go unimproved, and construction jobs go away if President Joe Biden succeeds in chopping the popular tax accounting regulation known as a 1031 tax-free exchange, some real estate specialists say. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

NAACP Legal Defense Fund calls for an end to over-policing of Black communities in Tulsa: Today, less than one month before the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) released “We Are Not Lesser,” a report examining the pronounced disparities in Tulsa’s policing practices, including its arrests of Black youth, Black adults, and uses of force against Black Tulsans. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Sheriff’s refusal to email public records upheld by appeals court: An appeals court has ruled citizens are not entitled under Oklahoma’s Open Records Act to receive public records, even routine police reports, by email. State law requires public officials to “do nothing more” than to make records available, Judge E. Bay Mitchell wrote in an opinion issued April 30. The dispute arose when Custer County’s sheriff told a Wisconsin journalism professor his students would have to come to Arapaho, a 1,900-mile round trip, if they wanted to see New Year’s holiday incident reports. [The Oklahoman]

These YouTubers recorded a confrontation with OKC police. Now they are charged: For years, YouTuber Floyd Wallace Jr. of Omaha, Nebraska, has been traveling across the Midwest recording run-ins with police. He and others like him describe themselves as First Amendment auditors or activists. Now, he and two other YouTubers face a misdemeanor charge accusing them of falsely reporting a crime to instigate a confrontation with Oklahoma City police April 29. [The Oklahoman]

A late VHS tape should not be a felony: Oklahoma’s felony statutes have changed significantly in recent years, but many people are still dealing with the negative effects of those laws. Last month, we read about Caron McBride, of Texas, who discovered during a routine trip to adjust the name on her driver’s license that there was an outstanding felony warrant for her from Cleveland County owing to a VHS tape of Sabrina the Teenage Witch that wasn’t returned to Movie Place, in Norman, more than 20 years ago. Her story became national news, eliciting jokes like “Be kind, rewind, or go to jail,” but the implications of a felony can be very serious. [Marilyn Davidson / NonDoc]

Economic Opportunity

Oklahoma could face sudden spike in evictions: Oklahoma could see a big jump in evictions next month. The nationwide eviction moratorium in place for the past 14 months has been ruled unlawful by a federal court judge. The moratorium will stay in place until a hearing in the next two weeks. Meanwhile, Oklahoma still has more than $200 million in emergency rental assistance available to people who are struggling financially due to COVID-19, said Ginny Bass Carl, director of Community CARES Partners. [The Journal Record]

  • As legal challenges continue nationwide, is Tulsa ready for the eviction moratorium to end? [Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Economic index for 9-state region hits all-time high: A leading indicator for the economy across a nine-state region that includes Oklahoma hit a 30-year high in April. Creighton University’s Mid-America Business Conditions Index climbed five points last month to 73.9. Numbers above 50 on the manufacturing survey’s zero to 100 scale indicate economic growth. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Want to support Oklahoma City restaurants? There’s an app for that: With the rise in food delivery services, spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic, many restaurants began offering food to be delivered through apps like Uber Eats, Postmates and DoorDash. But restaurants are charged a percentage of each order to use these services, forcing owners to cut into their profits or pass those costs on to consumers. This was a problem recognized by both entrepreneurs and restaurateurs in Oklahoma City alike, and led to the birth of the ELO delivery app. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Grand Jury: Epic Charter School ‘system ripe for fraud’: The state’s multicounty grand jury delivered a message to the public this week: demand more transparency and accountability of Epic Charter Schools, the state’s largest online charter school system. The grand jury’s investigation of Epic began in October and isn’t completed yet. But on Thursday it issued a 25-page interim report to inform the public, parents, and policymakers detailing “concerning trends emerging in the investigation.” The grand jury wanted to make the information public before Epic receives its funding allocation for the 2021-22 school year. [Oklahoma Watch]

2 Oklahoma boys pulled from class for ‘Black Lives Matter’ t-shirts: Two brothers, 8 and 5, were removed from their Oklahoma elementary school classrooms this past week and made to wait out the school day in a front office for wearing T-shirts that read “Black Lives Matter,” according to the boys’ mother. [New York Times] [Daily Ardmoreite]

Oklahoma Local News

Quote of the Day

“No matter how poorly written, the intention of the bill clearly aims to limit teaching the racial implications of America’s history. The bill serves no purpose than to fuel the racism and denial that afflicts our communities and our nation. It is a sad day and a stain on Oklahoma.”

-Statement from the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission regarding signing of HB 1775, which limits teaching about race-related issues. The commission noted the signing as the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre will be recognized later this month. [The Oklahoman

Number of the Day


The number of states, including Oklahoma, where the legislature has not yet introduced a budget

[Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute. Note: North Carolina has introduced a budget since the original source was first published.]

Policy Note

Budget Transparency Toolkit: The principle of budget transparency – including the clarity, comprehensiveness, reliability, timeliness and accessibility of public reporting on public finances – is now widely accepted around the world. There are various definitions of budget transparency and fiscal transparency, but they can all be summarized in one core concept: budget transparency. [OECD]

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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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