In The Know: Health officials still urging vaccination | Redistricting special session | A call for civility

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

Policy Matters: A Call for Civility: Teddy Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech often gets cited by those seeking elected office. It celebrates those who are “actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.” Unfortunately, too many public meetings these days feel like they’re devolving into the kind of chaos where bloody confrontation is possible. Like earlier this month when a fight broke out at a Lindsay city council meeting, or the many city council and school board meetings statewide that have turned into shouting matches where unruly participants had to be forcefully removed. [Ahniwake Rose / The Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

State is past COVID delta surge but still has work to do vaccinating more Oklahomans: If another variant doesn’t usurp delta as the dominant variant, COVID-19 cases should continue to drop during the next couple of months, Dr. Dale Bratzler said Wednesday during his weekly press briefing. Bratzler, the University of Oklahoma’s chief COVID officer, said he thinks the state is now beyond the delta surge. He noted that case counts and hospitalizations are still declining, though hospitalizations are doing so more slowly than new cases. [Tulsa World] “The wildcard would be if we saw a variant come into the United States and into Oklahoma that started spreading rapidly, like we did with Delta, but at this point in time, there are no variants that seem to be taking over,” Bratzler said. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • ‘That’s the tragedy of this’: Sick people not getting optimum care while COVID ravages Oklahoma hospitals [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma COVID-19 cases trend downward, but hospitals remain strained [The Frontier]
  • Schools With No Masking 3.5 Times More Likely To Experience COVID Outbreak [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • White House COVID-19 response adviser talks COVID-19 boosters with StateImpact Oklahoma [StateImpact Oklahoma
  • Your Guide To COVID-19 Vaccine Information For Parents, Young Adults [KOSU]
  • Oklahoma City VA system to begin offering Pfizer booster [The Lawton Constitution]

Health News

A salmonella outbreak in the US has hit Oklahoma with 51 confirmed cases. Here’s what we know: A nationwide outbreak of salmonella has brought 51 confirmed cases to Oklahoma, with health officials working across several states to figure out the source. As of Monday, Oklahoma was the second-highest state with confirmed cases of the outbreak strain Salmonella Oranienburg, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Texas was the top state, at 81. [The Oklahoman

State & Local Government News

As Lawmakers Prepare for Redistricting Special Session, What You Need to Know: Lawmakers will be returning to the State Capitol this fall for a special session to carry out the once-a-decade task of redrawing legislative and congressional boundaries. Gov. Kevin Stitt announced last week that he is calling lawmakers into a special session on Nov. 15 to solely focus on redistricting work that must be completed this year. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • Council to decide redistricting response to OKC population boom [The Oklahoman]

Lawmakers study potentials of public work program partnership: A forum held at the Oklahoma Capitol this week focused on possibilities for a potential partnership of government, private industry and nonprofit organizations that might create work opportunities for unemployed and underemployed Oklahomans. [The Journal Record]

Holt: The rule of law holds us together: The pandemic shone a light on how necessary – and how fragile – is the very concept of the “rule of law,” Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt told those gathered at the Oklahoma County Bar Association’s Law Day Luncheon on Tuesday, held at the Skirvin Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City. Policy makers, lawyers and citizens must be made aware of how their individual actions may either uphold the rule of law, or lead to the destruction of our American way of life, Holt cautioned. [The Journal Record]

Lt. Governor joins Tullahassee’s Reparations Advisory Commission: Joining a group of U.S. mayors in pursuing a path to reparations, Oklahoma’s historically all-Black town of Tullahassee has enlisted Lieutenant Governor Matt Pinnell to join its advisory commission. A few months ago, City Manager Cymone Davis organized a community cleanup to revitalize Tullahassee, Oklahoma’s oldest surviving all-Black town. She didn’t know what to expect. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Federal Government News

Oklahoma Welcomes Hundreds Of Afghan Refugees — Despite The State GOP’s Objections: Catholic Charities is the sole refugee resettlement agency in Oklahoma, and they’re gearing up for the arrival of around 1,800 Afghans in the days and weeks to come. That’s the third most in the country, after only California (5,255) and Texas (4,481). Tulsa alone is set to take in 850, more than most states. Preparing for the refugees’ arrival has fallen largely on the shoulders of the city’s faith leaders. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • Six things you should know about the Afghan refugees and the resettlement program in Oklahoma [The Oklahoman]
  • Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum Speaks With KWGS About Welcoming Afghan Refugees [Public Radio Tulsa]

Tribal Nations News

As two challenge results, Muscogee Nation reports ‘abundance’ of late absentee ballots: After “extremely slow mail delivery” caused an “abundance” of absentee ballots in the recent Muscogee Nation primary election to arrive after the Sept. 18 deadline, the tribe’s election board is considering what actions, if any, can be taken to remedy the situation, according to a statement posted to Facebook on Monday. [NonDoc]

Cherokee Nation announces it now has 400,000 tribal citizens: The Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation said Wednesday that it has reached 400,000 tribal citizens and expects to become the most populous indigenous tribe in the United States again. In March, the Arizona-based Navajo Nation announced that it had become the nation’s most populous tribe when it reached a population of nearly 400,000 to surpass the Cherokee Nation, which then had about 392,000 citizens. [AP News]

Panel recommends 5 new federal judgeships for Oklahoma: A judicial panel has recommended the creation of five additional federal judgeships in Oklahoma because of an increased caseload due to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding crimes committed on tribal lands. [AP News]

  • Tulsa U.S. Attorney’s Office adds 24 prosecutors to help with surge in cases due to McGirt ruling [Tulsa World]

‘Well overdue’: Remembrance service is set for Native American boarding school youths: An Oklahoma child psychologist remembers hearing the oral histories about Native American children separated from their families and sent to boarding schools where they were surrounded by strangers and immersed in a strange culture. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma County grand jury requested for jail trust, Pardon and Parole Board: Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater today asked a judge to impanel a grand jury to examine — at a minimum — the operation of the Oklahoma County Jail and the state’s Pardon and Parole Board, which controversially recommended the early release of a man who subsequently confessed to murdering a woman and cooking her heart with potatoes. [NonDoc] Oklahoma County’s presiding judge, Ray C. Elliott, agreed Wednesday to convene the grand jury at the request of District Attorney David Prater. The Oklahoma County grand jury was given the power to issue subpoenas, investigate and charge by indictment, and make accusations for removal. Jury selection was set for Oct. 18. [The Oklahoman]

How much did crime change in 2020? The numbers are in: A world-stopping pandemic, a chaotic political spell and a crashing stock market weren’t the only characteristics to mark 2020 in the United States: Certain violent crimes jumped, as well. Homicides in the U.S. increased 29% over 2019 — the largest one-year jump since the FBI began keeping records — and Tulsa followed that trend. [Tulsa World]

Economic Opportunity

Mobile showers restore confidence and dignity for Tulsa homeless: Operating a homeless outreach program since last fall, Evan Dougoud kept asking people what kind of help they needed. That’s why he calls his nonprofit effort the BeHeard Movement. He wants to give homeless people an opportunity to speak for themselves. [Tulsa World]

General News

Joint church service aims to ‘break down the walls of racism’: Racial segregation legally ended in the United States nearly 60 years ago, but the Rev. W.R. Casey will tell you there is still one hour every week where it remains largely in effect. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Oklahoma City Council signs off on several upcoming celebrations [The Oklahoman]
  • City’s top designation for flood-mitigation efforts boosts flood insurance discounts for Tulsans [Tulsa World]
  • Superintendent Gist’s contract extended by Tulsa school board [Tulsa World]
  • Services set Saturday for former Tulsa superintendent Keith Ballard [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“What it showed is that mask requirements are 3.5 times more likely to reduce an outbreak in schools. So we actually have pretty good data now for mask effectiveness in schools.”

-Ashley Weedn, a pediatrician at OU Health [Public Radio Tulsa]

Number of the Day

$10 billion

An automatic expungement system is estimated to help reduce unemployment for justice-involved Oklahomans. This increase in employment could increase Oklahoma’s GDP by up to $10 billion annually

[Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute]

Policy Note

Dozens of new expungement laws already enacted in 2021: This year is turning out to be another remarkable year for new record relief enactments. In just the first six months of 2021, 25 states enacted no fewer than 51 laws authorizing sealing or expungement of criminal records, with another 5 states enrolling 11 bills that await a governor’s signature. Three of these states authorized sealing of convictions for the first time, seven states passed laws (or enrolled bills) providing authority for automatic sealing, and a number of additional states substantially expanded the reach of their existing expungement laws. [Collateral Consequences Resource Center]

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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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