In 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.
Note: During the pandemic, OK Policy began publishing In The Know on Saturdays and Sundays in order to keep our subscribers up to date on the latest information going on in the state and the nation. As Oklahoma has moved into reopening and the Legislative session has wound down, we will resume our Monday through Friday publishing schedule. See Saturday, May 16 edition.
New from OK Policy
Rebuilding Oklahoma: Policy recommendations to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen our state for the long term: The Oklahoma Policy Institute has evaluated legislative and administrative actions — both state and federal — that will best prepare the state for a long-term recovery that benefits the health and well-being of all Oklahomans. [OK Policy]
Legislature takes action to fund Medicaid expansion (Capitol Update): With the Governor’s health care proposal scheduled to begin July 1, the Legislature was tasked with funding it during this session. To accomplish that, last week legislators passed Senate Bill 1046 and SB 1935. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]
Coronavirus in Oklahoma daily update: 73 new cases; no new deaths: Oklahoma’s number of positive COVID-19 cases now stands at 5,310, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The Health Department reported no additional deaths on Sunday. [The Oklahoman] On Saturday, state health officials reported that three more people died in Oklahoma after contracting the coronavirus, bringing the state’s death toll to 288. [AP News] Visit coronavirus.health.ok.gov for the latest COVID-19 numbers in Oklahoma.
State Government News
Greg Treat and Kevin Stitt ‘had an airing of grievances’: The day after the Oklahoma Legislature overrode his four vetoes of state budget bills, Gov. Kevin Stitt stood before media, announced he had “no hard feelings” and said the historic rebuke was “kind of in the past for me.” [NonDoc]
‘Anti-red flag’ law could be first in the nation: Legislation to preempt Oklahoma localities from implementing so-called “red flag” gun policies is on Gov. Stitt’s desk for signature. The bill from Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, and Rep. Jay Steagall, R-Yukon, prevents Oklahoma cities and towns from enacting policies that would allow a court or other entity to restrict gun access to people deemed to be an imminent danger. A spokeswoman for Gov. Kevin Stitt said he has not signed Senate Bill 1081. [The Oklahoman]
OK House passes rail resolution: A resolution supporting the extension of passenger rail service from Oklahoma City to Newton, KS, was adopted unanimously by the House of Representatives this week. [Ponca City News]
Chief Sergeant-at-Arms Bob Craig honored for 50 years of service in Oklahoma Senate: For five decades, Chief Sergeant-at-Arms Bob Craig has defended the traditions, history and decorum of the upper chamber. [The Oklahoman]
Federal Government News
Oklahoma lawmakers unite against relief package, split on proxy voting: Oklahoma lawmakers united against a $3 trillion relief package on Friday night, but U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn sided with her party on a separate measure to allow House members to hold hearings and even vote without being in Washington, D.C. [The Oklahoman]
Florida company allegedly involved in drug trafficking among businesses Oklahoma made coronavirus purchases from: A Florida company that federal investigators said was involved in international drug trafficking is among dozens of businesses and individuals the state sought to make millions of dollars in protective equipment purchases from, records obtained by The Frontier show. [The Frontier]
How did salesman deep in debt get PPE deals?: At issue in the deals is whether health officials checked out Anthony Todd Catania’s background beforehand. The Health Department did not answer a question about whether Catania was vetted. The Health Department did defend the deals. [The Oklahoman]
State PPE czar lashes out at critics: In an email defending his pandemic buying decisions, Oklahoma’s PPE czar, Gino DeMarco, wrote he is more worried about people dying than about “officials” who might criticize a move. [The Oklahoman]
State’s COVID-19 ‘insurance policy’ is constructed but empty as officials patiently wait to purchase equipment: Construction on Oklahoma’s COVID-19 “insurance policy” is complete, but without a surge the renovated hospital rooms remain empty as officials evaluate what equipment to purchase and await lower costs in oversupply markets. [Tulsa World]
Coronavirus fears causing some people to avoid needed medical care, hospital leaders say: Oklahomans worried about coming in contact with the coronavirus have been avoiding hospital emergency rooms and other health care facilities, sometimes even after suffering heart attacks and strokes, local hospital leaders said. [The Oklahoman]
Criminal Justice News
Oklahoma Supreme Court hears sentencing reform advocates’ request to accept petition signatures: The Yes on 805 campaign on Friday presented its case to the Oklahoma Supreme Court in a request to force the Secretary of State’s office to accept signatures to put a sentencing reform state question on the ballot. [Public Radio Tulsa]
Oklahoma may launch marijuana breathalyzer pilot program: Oklahoma could launch a pilot program to conduct marijuana breathalyzer tests to determine if people are driving under the influence. Oklahoma’s Legislature passed legislation last week to require the Department of Public Safety use $300,000 to pay for a medical marijuana pilot program to test out marijuana breathalyzer. [The Oklahoman]
Valley Brook loses court fight over traffic stops: For years, police officers in this small town best known for its strip clubs have been making traffic stops on streets that are in Oklahoma City. They have relied on a 1992 opinion by a now dead Oklahoma County district judge that they have jurisdiction under the law on SE 59 Street because it forms the town’s northern boundary line. [The Oklahoman]
Money missing from Oklahoma City Police property room: The property room of the Oklahoma City Police Department is missing $27,000 in cash, a city auditor’s report shows. The report went up on the City of Oklahoma City’s website Tuesday concluding an involved investigation of property room procedures at OCPD. [Free Press OKC]
Muskogee County Commissioners mull future of juvenile detention center: Muskogee County commissioners began mulling the possibility of closing a regional juvenile detention facility due to the anticipated loss of state funding. [Muskogee Phoenix]
Michael Overall: As poverty spreads, Tulsa needs a better kind of revitalization: A neighborhood can sink into poverty easier than it can climb out. And that’s because individual families are more likely to sink than climb, says Courtney Cullison, an analyst focusing on the issues of economic opportunity and financial security at the Oklahoma Policy Institute. “Once you slip under the poverty threshold,” she says, “you get caught in the cycle.” [Tulsa World]
Economy & Business News
Hamm commends move to prevent manipulation of oil prices: Continental Resources Executive Chairman Harold Hamm is commending a regulatory advisory recommending that those involved in oil commodity markets execute risk controls to keep values positive. [The Journal Record]
‘This is a heavy lift’: With 2019-20 behind them, district superintendents now must try to prepare for the possibility of more distance learning next school year: As the unprecedented and distasteful final chapter of the 2019-20 school year comes to a close, district leaders now must turn their attention to what school will look like in August. [Tulsa World]
2019 flood: Repairs, upgrades still in the works for Tulsa’s ‘antiquated’ levee system: The flood event of 2019 was well underway by May 18, 2019, but the only Tulsa-area agency talking about sandbags and evacuations at that point was Tulsa Levee District 12 — managers of what some called an antiquated levee system viewed as the area’s weakest link with the river. [The Oklahoman]
Black deliveryman says he was blocked and interrogated by white driver in OKC: Travis Miller Sr. said he was trying to leave a gated neighborhood in Oklahoma City after a delivery when a vehicle blocked his path. [New York Times] Miller, who delivers home appliances and furniture, captured the incident Monday in a Facebook Live video that has gone viral. Miller and many people who posted comments about the video felt the encounter was racially motivated. [AP News]
‘I won’t allow them to stop us’: OCU students speak out after racist, anti-Semitic graduation hack: The graduation, celebrating 475 undergraduates and 276 graduate students, made national news as the latest online gathering interrupted by Zoom hackers. The next day, about 50 people held or posted signs of love in response along a street near the school campus. [The Oklahoman]
Quote of the Day
“We are definitely not out of the woods with this. We have finished up the school year, but from everything I’ve heard, COVID’s not going anywhere between now and August. So we have to be responsible and proactive and do as much as we can to study the issue and make decisions for the start of school.”
-Bixby Superintendent Rob Miller [Tulsa World]
Number of the Day
The approximate number of retired teachers, police officers, firefighters, and state employees who would receive the first cost of living adjustment in 12 years under HB 3350, which was passed by the legislature and awaits action from Gov. Stitt.
[Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute]
Measuring the economic impact of pension expenditures: Expenditures made by retirees of state and local government provide a steady economic stimulus to Oklahoma communities and the state economy. In 2016, 122,516 residents of Oklahoma received a total of $2.5 billion in pension benefits from state and local pension plans. [National Institute on Retirement Security]
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