In The Know: Hofmeister announces run for governor as Democrat | State accused of exaggerating McGirt impact | Reversing Native erasure

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: Reversing Native erasure: On Monday, Oklahoma officially acknowledges Native American Day thanks to a 2019 law designating this recognition on the second Monday in October. In typical Oklahoma fashion, it sits alongside rather than replaces Columbus Day, a holiday intended to pay homage to European “discovery” that represents slavery, genocide, and the beginning of the end of our original way of life for Indigenous people. [Ahniwake Rose / Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

Joy Hofmeister to flip parties, challenge Kevin Stitt for governor in 2022: State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister is running for governor — as a Democrat. The 57-year-old lifelong Republican told the Tulsa World in an exclusive interview that she is changing her party registration on Thursday in order to launch a bid to unseat Republican incumbent Kevin Stitt. [Tulsa World] Hofmeister, 57, is still listed in online state election records as a Republican. She cannot run for state superintendent again because she will reach her term limit in 2023. [The Oklahoman] Hofmeister will become the seventh person to file a formal gubernatorial campaign committee with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, joining Stitt, former Sen. Ervin Yen (R-OKC), former Sen. Connie Johnson (D-OKC), Libertarian Natalie Bruno and Republican Dr. Mark Sherwood. Eccentric former Tulsa mayoral candidate Paul Tay has also announced a gubernatorial campaign, but he was arrested in August and charged with rape, kidnapping and assault. [NonDoc]

  • Brad Henry, Oklahoma’s last Democratic governor, feels a kinship with Hofmeister [Tulsa World]

State accused of exaggerating impact of McGirt decision: Since August, Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor has filed more than two dozen petitions asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse its 2020 decision recognizing the Muscogee (Creek) reservation, claiming it has caused “chaos affecting every corner of daily life in Oklahoma.” This week, the Muscogee Nation and defense attorneys responded, telling Supreme Court justices that the state is exaggerating the impacts of the decision and should be taking its complaints to Congress, which has authority over tribal matters, rather than the high court. [The Oklahoman]

More funding hasn’t ended Oklahoma’s 13-year wait for disability services: A consultant the Department of Human Services is paying $8.5 million to help solve the problem isn’t doing work that is substantially different from five previous efforts, the report found. [The Frontier]

Health News

Deaths in Oklahoma still near peak as swift delta variant surge eases: COVID-19 deaths in Oklahoma remain near their peak even as hospitalizations fall and the delta variant surge subsides after a rapid two-month rise that overwhelmed hospitals. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma urgent cares face cutbacks and shutdowns amid ongoing COVID-19 pandemic strain: In a weekly update to state agencies, the Oklahoma State Department of Health warned that strain has led to cutbacks. It reads, in part, “Urgent care centers are reporting decreased hours or are shutting down due to inability to serve patient volume or redirect staff to other facilities to support increase in patients.” [StateImpact Oklahoma]

  • Nursing Homes Limiting Number Of Patient Admissions Due To Staff Shortages [News on 6]

Here’s what happened after one Oklahoma tribe required COVID vaccines for employees: As COVID-19 infections spiked in August, more than 100 employees of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes faced a crucial decision: Either become vaccinated or be placed on unpaid leave until the coronavirus surge waned. About 70 workers opted to become fully vaccinated. The vaccination rate is now 93% among the tribes’ 650 employees. [The Oklahoman]

‘We’ll have another difficult winter’: experts warn flu season will complicate pandemic: COVID-19 cases are dropping but the pandemic is not over. Dr. Jennifer Clark of OSU’s Project ECHO says a mix of COVID and flu will likely cause another winter surge but there’s not a clear picture for that situation. [Public Radio Tulsa] Don’t Bug Me: Annual flu prevention campaign kicks off with now-familiar guidance [Tulsa World]

State Government News

State revenue continues record-setting trend, Oklahoma’s treasurer says: Tax payments to the state treasury continued a record-setting trend in September, state Treasurer Randy McDaniel said Wednesday. Gross receipts were $1.38 billion in September, McDaniel said, with most major revenue sources up double digits from the same month a year ago. [Tulsa World]

Gov. Stitt, 8 other GOP governors receive border crisis security briefing in Texas: Gov. Kevin Stitt and eight other Republican governors received a briefing from Texas officials Wednesday about how the border crisis “has impacted the use, trafficking and distribution of illicit drugs in Oklahoma,” according to a news release from Stitt’s office. [Tulsa World] However, state Rep. Jose Cruz, a Democrat who represents a largely Hispanic district in south Oklahoma City, said immigration is a complex issue. A Stitt visit with other GOP governors is not going to solve any issues, he said, likening Stitt’s visit to a “publicity stunt” to bolster his re-election campaign next year. [CNHI via Norman Transcript]

  • Oklahoma Democratic Party Leader Calls Stitt’s Border Visit ‘100 Percent Political’ [News on 6]

Federal Government News

Republicans seek removal of ‘red flag’ firearm law in defense bill: A brief section in the 1,360-page national defense bill approved by the House last month has angered gun rights advocates and put Rep. Stephanie Bice and many other Republican lawmakers on the spot for backing legislation primarily aimed at funding troops and weapons systems. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

How the U.S. legal system ignores tribal law: Elizabeth Reese, Stanford Law School’s first Native American professor, discusses the intentional marginalization of tribal legal structures. [High Country News]

Voters lower blood quantum requirement for Cheyenne-Arapaho citizenship: In a primary election Tuesday, voters in the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes passed a referendum to amend the sovereign tribal nation’s constitution to decrease the blood quantum requirement for citizenship from one-fourth to one-eighth. [NonDoc]

Marilyn Vann: First Cherokee Freedman to hold government position in tribe: Cherokee Freedman descendant Marilyn Vann has made history. Ms. Vann recently became the first descendant of Cherokee Freedmen to hold a government position within the Nation, joining the Environmental Protection Commission. [Black Wall Street Times]

Criminal Justice News

Citizens seek petition to convene grand jury for investigating Oklahoma County DA: Presiding Oklahoma County District Judge Ray Elliott will be asked to approve a citizen-filed petition seeking to impanel a grand jury to investigate District Attorney David Prater. Elliott will have four days to approve or deny the petition, which would ultimately need to receive 5,000 signatures from registered Oklahoma County voters in a 45-day window to trigger the process. [NonDoc] The activists call in their petition for the grand jury to indict Prater or present accusations for his removal from office “if its findings warrant.” They complain he has illegally violated high-profile death row inmate Julius Jones’ constitutional rights because of race. [The Oklahoman] | [Oklahoma City Free Press] | [Black Wall Street Times]

Consultant report examines Oklahoma County Jail operations: A report by a consultant hired to evaluate operations and practices at the Oklahoma County Jail found problems with staff training, placement of the jail’s medical unit and its booking process. The report, created by David Parker, also provides a series of more than two dozen recommendations he said could improve the jail’s operations. [NonDoc]

Federal grant used to train police who encounter mental health emergencies: The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services received a federal grant to assist with their crisis intervention training programs for law enforcement across the state. Nearly 2,000 officers and deputies have gone through their crisis intervention program across the state. [KTUL]

Young perspective: Reforming legal system will improve Oklahoma’s reputation, fortunes: In 2020, the United States released its 24th decennial census. The study published federal and state demographics such as population, racial percentages and poverty measures, and compared them to the previous decade’s enumeration. Oklahoma’s population growth was highlighted as one of the many positives throughout the state. However, a few issues point to a darker side of largely optimistic prospects for Oklahoma. Simply put, the widespread ineffectiveness of mass incarceration is harming our communities rather than encouraging them to do better. [Op-Ed / The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

Council starts process of adopting zoning change that could spur new housing around downtown Tulsa: A potential way to address some of Tulsa’s affordable housing shortage is now before the city council for adoption, possibly by the end of the month. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Tulsa City Council set to approve resolution welcoming Afghan refugees [Tulsa World]
  • Survey: Oklahoma City is a good place to live, but streets could be better [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“Contrary to Oklahoma’s tale, McGirt has not rendered eastern Oklahoma a criminal dystopia.”

-The Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, in which the Tribe says the state has used hyperbole and unsubstantiated numbers to claim the decision in McGirt v Oklahoma has caused a crisis in public safety [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahomans who reported being American Indian and Alaska Native alone or in combination during the 2020 Census [U.S. Census]

Policy Note

Data Disaggregation: The Asterisk Nation: While American Indians and Alaska Natives are an integral and unique part of US society, we continue to be invisible to most other Americans due to an absence of data, accurate media images, and historical and contemporary awareness about Native peoples in schools, healthcare facilities, professions, military service, and daily life. This invisibility is perpetuated by federal and state agencies and policies that leave American Indians and Alaska Natives out of data collection efforts, data reporting and analysis, and/or public media campaigns. American Indians and Alaska Natives may be described as the “Asterisk Nation” because an asterisk, instead of data point, is often used in data displays when reporting racial and ethnic data due to various data collection and reporting issues, such as small sample size, large margins of errors, or other issues related to the validity and statistical significance of data on American Indians and Alaska Natives. [National Congress of American Indians’ Policy Research Center

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David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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