In The Know: ‘Guardrails’ on managed care | Economic impact of Tribes | Tulsa Race Massacre survivors testify | A first look at FY 2022 budget

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

A welcome budget turnaround, but not a long-term recovery plan: A first look at Oklahoma’s new state budget: The $8.3 billion budget represents a modest increase from last year’s pandemic low. It makes some key investments in core services, such as fully funding Medicaid expansion and restoring the refundability of Oklahoma’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). However, rather than trying to change Oklahoma’s overall trajectory through smart spending choices, lawmakers enacted tax cuts that will largely benefit out-of-state corporations, high-income households, and special interests. Addressing issues that would help everyday Oklahomans will take bold investments rather than short-sighted tax cuts. [Emma Morris / OK Policy]

Policy Matters: Stopping pandemic unemployment benefits is short-sighted: Gov. Stitt this week ceremoniously announced Oklahoma would prematurely stop distributing the federally funded, $300-per-month pandemic unemployment assistance to out-of-work Oklahomans. As with a lot of state decisions we’ve seen lately, this move is short-sighted, unnecessary and harms the very people who need assistance most. [Ahniwake Rose / Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma lawmakers seek to put ‘guardrails’ on privatized Medicaid expansion: Gov. Kevin Stitt has been pushing for privatized Medicaid expansion for months and it looks like he will get his wish. It looks like legislators have given up their fight to keep the expansion, voted for by Oklahomans last year, in the hands of the state, but that doesn’t mean they are done with the issue. [KFOR]On Wednesday, the state Senate approved a bill hoping to regulate that system. That policy would set up some guardrails on Stitt’s plan to bring in private companies to manage Oklahoma’s Medicaid program. It would take some of the terms of their agreements with the state and put those in state law. State Rep. Marcus McEntire had gotten a bill through the House that would have blocked the governor’s privatization plan. He said he’s reluctantly supportive of this version. [KOCO] OK Policy: Managed care is a bad investment for Oklahoma, but could be especially harmful for patients, providers, and Indigenous communities. See complete roundup of OK Policy analysis about the impacts of managed care in Oklahoma.

Study: Tribes generate major economic impact: Native American tribes generated an economic impact of $12.9 billion in Oklahoma during 2017, according to a study released by Oklahoma City University. The tribes represent one the state’s largest employers, support critical services and state infrastructure, and save the state millions of dollars in health care costs. [The Journal Record]

Tulsa Race Massacre survivors ask Congress for justice: Survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre described on Wednesday how the violence tore their lives and community apart 100 years ago, and they urged a U.S. House subcommittee to help secure justice and financial compensation. “I will never forget the violence of the white mob when we left our house,” Viola Fletcher, a 107-year-old survivor of the 1921 massacre, testified. [The Oklahoman] Fletcher, her 100-year-old brother, Hughes “Uncle Red” Van Ellis, and a third survivor, 106-year-old Lessie Benningfield Randle, appeared before the subcommittee to push for reparations for one of the worst episodes of racial violence in U.S. history. [The Washington Post] The three known survivors, who were all children in 1921, offered their firsthand accounts of the race massacre at a hearing in Washington. [New York Times] The survivors and their advocates in Washington Wednesday called on Congress to help massacre survivors, victims and their descendants get meaningful compensation for ongoing harm caused by the massacre, which historians note was an act of state-sanctioned violence. [Public Radio Tulsa] Fletcher said the Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties had “the power to lead us down a better path.” [The Oklahoman]

Health News

State starts tracking COVID-19 variants: Oklahoma is recognizing the need to track COVID-19 variants. Dr. Jennifer Clark of Oklahoma State University’s ECHO Project pointed to new data on variants released by the Oklahoma State Department of Health in early May, but says this information isn’t where it needs to be yet. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • Tulsa Health Department contacting 1,150 people for revaccinations [Tulsa World] | [The Oklahoman] | [KTUL]
  • COVID Update: State Drops Below 1,000 New Cases For The Prior Week With 200 In Tulsa County [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Oklahoma County COVID-19 vaccine tracker: 37% of people fully vaccinated [The Oklahoman]
  • Enid children get their first COVID vaccine shots at EHS clinic [Enid News & Eagle]
  • University of Oklahoma lifts face mask mandate for vaccinated campus community members [KFOR]

State & Local Government News

Public school advocates voice concerns after ‘voucher’ school funding bill passes Oklahoma Senate, heads to House: A large school funding bill overwhelming passed in the Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday but has another hurdle to make before it becomes law. [KFOR]

Lawmakers push for override of veto on pharmacy bill: The author of a measure aimed at improving pharmacy access and making prescription drug pricing more transparent said he’d love to have the opportunity to attempt to override Gov. Kevin Stitt’s recent veto in the final weeks of session. But even though state Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada, the bill’s author, said he’s requested a veto override vote, Senate leadership will make the ultimate decision about the fate of Senate Bill 821. [CNHI via McAlester News-Capital]

City Hall hacking: Police body camera, records systems down temporarily: Residents might notice one thing missing from Tulsa police officer’s uniforms following the cyber attack on City Hall: Body cameras. The department’s online records management and body camera systems are temporarily down following damage assessments made by the city’s Information Technology team, police announced Wednesday. [Tulsa World]

Senate passes Trump highway bill after suspending rules: A bill that would name state roadways after former President Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe cleared a roadblock in the Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday. The revised Senate Bill 624, by Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, now heads to the House for consideration. [Tulsa World]

‘Patience, wisdom and strategy’: Former Sen. Bob Cullison remembered: Former Senate President Pro Tempore Bob Cullison, who served as a Democrat in the Oklahoma Legislature from 1973 to 1995, died Tuesday at age 84. Cullison, who was born in Turley, north of Tulsa, was first elected to the Oklahoma House in 1972 and then to the Oklahoma State Senate six years later, representing District 34 in the Skiatook area. [NonDoc]

Federal Government News

U.S. House clears Oklahoma Rep. Frank Lucas’ bill on expanding rural STEM education: The U.S. House approved a bill by Rep. Frank Lucas on Tuesday aimed at expanding participation in science, math and technology education in rural schools. The bill, which offers opportunities for students and teachers, was approved easily as part of a package of non-controversial measures on a variety of topics. [The Oklahoman]

Majority of Oklahoma’s delegation supports anti-AAPI hate crime bill: The United States House of Representatives followed the Senate in passing the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act in bipartisan fashion, with all but one of Oklahoma’s delegates voting for the bill. After more than a year of hate crimes against members of the national Asian American and Pacific Islander community increasing significantly, Congress came together to pass a bill that focuses on addressing these crimes directly. [The Norman Transcript]

Midship Pipeline builder fails to comply with federally-ordered deadline to fix property damages: Property damage and financial hardship befell numerous Oklahoma land owners when Cheniere Energy installed a natural gas pipeline from Kingfisher to Bennington, and the company has failed to meet yet another federally-imposed deadline to fix the ongoing issues. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

The push for living wage gains momentum post pandemic: The pandemic has been a year of waiting, fear, and financial uncertainty for many Americans, but as we begin to ease out of that, some businesses say that jobs are sitting vacant. The claim is that people do not want to go back to work. Proponents of increasing the minimum wage say businesses and legislators should be looking at why some people might not want to return to certain kinds of work. [FOX25] Resource: Check out MIT’s Living Wage Calculator to see what a living wage would be in your community

Economy & Business News

Proposal would use COVID relief funds for business incubator serving marginalized entrepreneurs: A new proposal would see the City of Tulsa repurpose $4 million in COVID-19 relief funds for a program to help historically marginalized entrepreneurs. District 1 City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper said while the pandemic affects everyone, communities of color suffered even more. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Permits foretell housing boom in OKC: Development in Oklahoma City continued to grow in fiscal year 2021 despite COVID-19, with the residential sector leading the way. Construction permits were up 24% from FY19 – the last year unaffected by the pandemic – while subdivision and zoning applications increased by almost 58%, according to the city’s Development Services Department. [The Journal Record]

Project to increase capacity, life span of wind farm: A major “repowering” to begin soon at an Oklahoma wind farm will increase the facility’s capacity for producing energy and also its life span. EDP Renewables North America will begin the project at the Blue Canyon II Wind Farm in Caddo and Kiowa counties in June, the company said in a release. [The Journal Record]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Entrepreneur sets up shop on Black Wall Street [Tulsa World]
  • 3% stormwater rate increase on the table for City Of Tulsa residents [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Full-size grocery store, apartments, urban greenhouse farm set for OKC’s Automobile Alley [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“People in positions of power, many just like you, have told us to wait. Others have told us it’s too late. It seems that justice in America is always so slow, or not possible for Black people. And we are made to feel crazy just for asking for things to be made right.”

-Lessie Benningfield Randle, a 106-year-old Tulsa Race Massacre survivor, during her Congressional testimony [New York Times]

Number of the Day


Number of anti-protest bills still pending in Oklahoma Legislature this session. 

[Source: International Center for Not-for-Profit Law]

Policy Note

G.O.P. Bills Target Protesters (and Absolve Motorists Who Hit Them): As the nation reacts to the guilty verdict a jury handed to Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd, Republican-led states are introducing punitive new measures governing protests. [New York Times]

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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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