In The Know: Help for working families in Oklahoma | Extended J&J shelf-life | 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

Working families got a little of the help they needed this session: Families are the backbone of our society and economy, but too many Oklahoma families cannot keep up. Many Oklahoma jobs pay less than a quarter of what it takes to support a family. Too many workers don’t have access to paid sick leave, paid family and medical leave, health insurance, or retirement accounts. State legislators regularly hail the importance of Oklahoma families, but their words don’t match their actions. Oklahoma families continued to be underserved by their legislature this session. While the basic structural problems of low-income work, including low pay and lack of paid leave, were left unaddressed this session, many working families will benefit from a long-overdue restoration of the state Earned Income Tax Credit. [Paul Shinn / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Shelf-life extension will save 75,000 J&J vaccine doses at risk of expiration in Oklahoma: About 75,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses in Oklahoma that were at risk of expiring at the end of June can now safely be kept longer, after the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday extended the shelf life of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma health officials ‘not giving up’ on getting more shots into arms despite declining interest [Tulsa World] | [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • As COVID-19 vaccinations slow, OKC health officials ask businesses to consider incentives [The Oklahoman]

Bill intended to roll back SQ 780 fails to move forward: Kris Steele, executive director with Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, released the following statement in response to Senate Bill 334 not advancing: “We’re pleased to see that the Oklahoma Legislature made the right decision to not advance Senate Bill 334. In 2016, Oklahoma voters spoke on this issue when they voted to pass State Question 780, and the message was clear: Our state must stop criminalizing addiction, poverty and mental health crises. [Tahlequah Daily Press]

What you need before applying for Oklahoma’s expanded Medicaid: It has been one week since open enrollment began for Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma. Officials say there are about 200,000 Oklahomans that qualify for Medicaid expansion, and thousands have already signed up for healthcare benefits. In fact, almost 100,000 Oklahomans have already signed up for Medicaid. [KFOR] Families USA report: Medicaid expansion is estimated to add $1.3 billion to the state economy and add 26,000 new jobs

State Government News

Oklahoma Supreme Court puts brakes on MCO plan: The Oklahoma State Supreme Court has ruled that the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA, the state’s Medicaid agency, does not have the authority to implement a privatized managed care plan for the state. The plan began on a controversial footing when, without legislative input, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt worked to contract with four insurance companies to outsource patient care for more than 700,000 of Oklahoma Medicaid’s beneficiaries. [HME Business] OK Policy: Managed care isn’t a silver bullet: Improving Oklahoma’s health outcomes requires multi-faceted investments

Report: Over 14,000 filed initial claims for jobless benefits last week in state: Jobless claims increased again last week in Oklahoma and still remain 10 times higher than this time two years ago as the state prepares to end its participation in several pandemic-related federal benefit programs. The U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday that an estimated 14,479 Oklahoma workers filed initial claims last week for regular jobless benefits, a 14% increase compared to revised figures for the prior week. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma expands eligibility for back-to-work cash incentive: The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission announced Thursday that it is expanding the eligibility for cash incentives to those who return to work. Anyone working two part-time jobs totaling 32 or more hours per week will qualify for the $1,200 stipend, the OESC said. The incentive announced in May by Gov. Kevin Stitt was to be available only to those working full-time for 32 or more hours weekly. [AP News]

Oklahoma County approves $105.8 million 2021-22 budget: In a unanimous vote Thursday, the Oklahoma County Budget Board finalized the county’s 2021-22 budget. No one from the public signed up or came forward to speak during the public hearing. The budget represents a 6.1% decrease from last year, according to a news release issued by County Clerk David B. Hooten. [The Oklahoman]

Court reverses decision in Walmart case: The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on June 3 reversed a judgement and sent a case back to the lower court for a more thorough examination of Oklahoma law and legal precedent regarding the responsibility businesses have to provide for the safety of their customers. [The Journal Record]

Federal Government News

Congressional highway bill includes Oklahoma projects: A congressional committee approved a $547 billion transportation bill on Thursday that includes a boost in annual funding for roads and bridges and $55 million in special projects for three congressional districts in Oklahoma. [The Oklahoman]

Rep. Tom Cole Speaks About Fauci, Lab Leak: Congressman Tom Cole speaks in defense of presidential medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci. “Anthony Fauci has spent a lifetime as one of the premier experts of infectious diseases. He’s worked for multiple presidents of both parties. He’s a man of outstanding personal character and distinguished academic and institutional achievement. That’s just true.” [Public Radio Tulsa]

Tribal Nations News

Muscogee Nation to buy former Cancer Treatment Centers of America facility: The Muscogee Nation National Council voted 12-0 Thursday evening to purchase the former Cancer Treatment Centers of America facility in south Tulsa. Addressing the council, Muscogee Nation Secretary of Health Shawn Terry said the property will have both inpatient and outpatient services, with the latter potentially starting as soon as early July. [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma City police detective retracts opinion on fatal shooting of Black man: An Oklahoma City police detective has retracted his sworn statement about the officer-involved fatal shooting of a Black man, throwing into turmoil cases he investigated. The development also has widened the rift between police and Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater. Lying under oath can result in a perjury charge but police already have cleared the detective, Bryn Carter, of wrongdoing after an internal investigation. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

Habitat for Humanity’s first multi-family housing project breaks ground; to build townhome community in north Tulsa: After a long history of building only single-family dwellings, Green Country Habitat for Humanity broke ground Thursday on a long-awaited townhome project that will provide housing for an estimated 80 people in north Tulsa. [Tulsa World] Families making 30–80% of area median income will be able to purchase units through Habitat for Humanity’s homebuyer program, while affiliate and developer Boomtown will help households earning up to 120% of area median income. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Economy & Business News

Commerce leader comments on bills passed to grow Oklahoma’s economy: Legislation passed this year to strengthen Oklahoma’s workforce, to attract remote workers from places like Austin and San Francisco, and to improve prospects for businesses involved in everything from agriculture to aerospace should help to grow the state’s economy, officials at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce say. [The Journal Record]

Another jump in prices tightens squeeze on consumers: From Florida to Oklahoma to Oregon, American consumers absorbed another surge in prices in May – a 0.6% increase over April and 5% over the past year, the biggest 12-month inflation spike since 2008. The May rise in consumer prices that the Labor Department reported Thursday reflected a range of goods and services now in growing demand as people increasingly shop, travel, dine out and attend entertainment events in a rapidly reopening economy. [The Journal Record]

USDA To Begin Making Debt Payoffs To Farmers Of Color: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency will begin debt relief payments to Black and other minority farmers this month, despite some resistance from banks. [KOSU]

Wheat harvest expected to top 105 million bushels: Oklahoma producers are expected to harvest 105.3 million bushels of wheat this year, according to a survey by U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The estimate is based by two surveys done by the USDA’s Southern Plains Regional Office. [Enid News & Eagle]

Education News

NonDoc files lawsuit seeking Jones Day reports from OU: To investigate the misreporting of donor data and allegations of sexual misconduct against former OU President David Boren, the University of Oklahoma paid more than $1 million to the international law firm Jones Day, which produced a pair of reports about the concerning situations. As of this date, OU has released neither report publicly, despite interest among taxpayers and donors and requests from media and an alleged victim of Boren’s unwanted sexual advances. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma Local News

  • OKC bookstore will be site of vigil commemorating Tulsa Race Massacre [The Oklahoman]
  • Tulsa bicycling and pedestrian safety group tests protected intersection design, aims to reduce traffic fatalities [Tulsa World] | [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Water Main Break Leaves Anadarko Without Water [KGOU]
  • Data breach hits Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma [The Lawton Constitution]

Quote of the Day

“Research shows that imposing excessively long sentences for low-level property or drug crimes costs an exorbitant amount of taxpayer dollars with no corresponding public safety benefit. Oklahoma cannot afford to go backwards on criminal justice reform and legislation like SB 334 threatens the progress our state has made in passing common-sense reforms.”

–Kris Steele, executive director with Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, in a statement in response to Senate Bill 334 not advancing at the Oklahoma legislature [Tahlequah Daily Press]

Number of the Day

$1.50 to $2.00

Each dollar refunded through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to families generates between $1.50 to $2.00 for the local economy from purchases that support local businesses and create tax revenue. Legislators next session have the opportunity to continue building on the success of the Oklahoma EITC to help families and local economies in the state.

[Source: National Conference of State Legislatures]

Policy Note

Strengthening Paid Leave Policies Could Yield Positive Work and Health Outcomes: COVID-19 is revealing what occupational health experts have known for a long time: workers facing seemingly identical illnesses and injuries can experience very different health outcomes, leading some to quickly recover and return to work speedily, while others require longer leaves and additional assistance to get back to work. The pandemic has also called attention to large gaps in access to paid family and medical leave to care for an ill loved one or recover from one’s own illness or injury—leave that helps protect people from the financial consequences of a health shock. [Urban Institute]

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


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.

Leave a Reply

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