In The Know: Hospitals enter new virus surge plan | Medicaid expansion funding back in lawmakers’ hands | State tax collections down

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.

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma hits 1,000 daily coronavirus hospitalizations, hospitals enter new surge plan, state officials continue advocating personal responsibility: For the past several days, Oklahoma’s coronavirus hospitalizations have surpassed 1,000, and its statewide ICU capacity has dropped below 10 percent. [StateImpact Oklahoma] On Thursday, the State Department of Health reported 2,101 new cases and 1,055 hospitalizations, nearly 400 more cases than the previous high in July and surpassing the 1,026 hospitalizations reported Wednesday. [AP News]

  • Trump administration says Oklahomans must ‘act now’ to stem rising tide of COVID hospitalizations [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations push OKC to next tier in surge plan [The Oklahoman] | [The Oklahoman]
  • COVID-19 emergency declared at Tinker AFB [The Oklahoman]
  • COVID-19 outbreak at federal prison turns deadly [The Oklahoman]
  • COVID-19: 1,055 Oklahomans hospitalized as record-breaking November continues [Tulsa World]
  • Health Department to begin providing all communities with hospitalization numbers [Tulsa World]

Congressional District 5, state questions, voter turnout and more (audio): This Week in Oklahoma Politics discusses the race in Congressional District Five where Republican challenger Stephanie Bice beat incumbent Democrat Kendra Horn, and both State Question 805 to end sentence enhancements and SQ 814 to take money from the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust for Medicaid expansion failed to get enough votes to pass. [KOSU]

  • Listen Frontier: Oklahoma votes — What did we learn? (audio) [The Frontier]

Health News

Oklahoma Engaged: Voters rejected State Question 814 and put Medicaid expansion funding on lawmakers: Back in June, Oklahoma voted to expand Medicaid. Now voters have given the state legislature an assignment: Find another way to pay for it. Voters rejected State Question 814 this week. That blocked a move to divert funding away from the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, a public health agency known as TSET. [StateImpact Oklahoma] OK Policy: Lawmakers have several other options that, if all were implemented, would pay for Medicaid expansion four times over.

National: Three healthcare ballot measures rejected by voters, one approved: Oklahoma SQ 814 was rejected by voters. It would have changed the way the state uses tobacco settlement money in order to provide the legislature with additional funding that could be used for the state’s share of the cost of Medicaid expansion, which takes effect next summer in Oklahoma (thanks to another ballot measure that was approved by voters earlier this year). Although the measure did not pass, Emma Morris of the Oklahoma Policy Institute explained earlier this year that there are a variety of other funding options that the legislature can use. [Health Insurance

Opinion: Managed care has already been tried, and it failed: Why is Gov. Kevin Stitt rushing to privatize $7 billion in Medicaid health services when the Oklahoma Health Care Authority provides high-quality care with only 3-4 percent in administrative overhead? [Opinion / NonDoc]

State Government News

State unemployment claims down from previous week; agency touts resolution rate: New state unemployment claims decreased slightly last week from the previous week, state officials said. For the week ending Oct. 31, the advance number of initial claims, unadjusted, totaled 4,255, a decrease of 760 from the previous week’s revised level of 5,015. [Tulsa World]

Slumping energy prices drag down Oklahoma tax collections: Slumping oil and natural gas prices are dragging down overall collections to the state treasury, Oklahoma Treasurer Randy McDaniel reported Thursday. [AP News]

State treasurer reports sharp drop in income tax receipts for Oklahoma: Year-over-year state income tax receipts contracted sharply in October, leading an overall slide in gross receipts to the state treasury, officials said Thursday. [Tulsa World]

Hello 2022: Dr. Ervin Yen forms committee to challenge Gov. Kevin Stitt: Dr. Ervin Yen, a former Oklahoma City state senator who lost his re-election bid in a 2018 primary, has filed a campaign committee with the state Ethics Commission to challenge Gov. Kevin Stitt in the 2022 Republican primary. [NonDoc] Dr. Ervin Yen plans to challenge Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt in the 2022 governor’s race, saying he’s disappointed with the governor’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. [AP News] He said he believes Stitt is getting bad advice or not listening to the advice he is getting on handling COVID-19. [Tulsa World] Yen became the first official candidate for governor this week when he registered with the state Ethics Commission. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

District boundaries could be changing in Oklahoma after the 2020 US Census: The ongoing election is making some Americans experts in the Electoral College and congressional district boundaries. However, due to the 2020 U.S. Census, some of the lines and the math may change. [NewsOn6]

  • Want to learn about Oklahoma’s redistricting process? You can at these meetings [The Oklahoman]

Prosecution rests in retrial of Jimcy McGirt, man at center of landmark Supreme Court decision: Federal prosecutors rested their case Thursday in the retrial of Jimcy McGirt after a woman testified earlier in the day how he allegedly sexually molested her in 1996 at a Broken Arrow home when she was 4 years old. [Tulsa World]

Muscogee (Creek) Nation passes legislation for medical marijuana exemption: Muscogee (Creek) Nation passed legislation that would allow certain exemptions related to medical marijuana within the reservation boundaries. [Enid News & Eagle]

Criminal Justice News

After the failure of SQ 805, focus shifts back to the Legislature for reform: After Oklahoma’s resounding rejection of State Question 805, criminal justice reform advocates say they will now look back to the Legislature to take action to roll back lengthy prison sentences in the state. [The Frontier]

Ginnie Graham: Don’t think criminal justice reform is done just because of one vote: Lawmakers should not interpret the failure of State Question 805 as a sign criminal justice reforms are complete. That is not Oklahoma’s reality. Oklahoma ranks No. 1 in the overall and female incarceration rates, according to an August U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics report. A caveat is that the data is from two years ago. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma County Jail Trust votes to return portion of CARES Act funding: The Oklahoma County Jail Trust voted Monday to send back more than half of the $40 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds allocated to its budget earlier this year. The move comes after months of protests against the relief funds being transferred to the jail. [KGOU]

  • Kevin Calvey cancels OK County budget meeting on CARES Act funds [OKC Free Press]

Economy & Business News

OG&E to recoup costs for upgrades: The recent ice storm was the worst ever for OG&E, a company representative told state regulators on Thursday as they granted the electricity utility a means to recoup costs for system upgrades. [The Journal Record]

Manufacturing ‘game changer’: Oklahoma commerce officials tout portal: An online “supply chain portal” to be launched soon by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce should help manufacturers make connections and possibly land new contracts with others in commerce in the state and around the globe. [The Journal Record]

Education News

Coalition calls for mask mandate in Oklahoma schools: On a record-high day of reported COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma, a new coalition of doctors, teachers and child advocates have called for state leaders to require masks in public schools. [The Oklahoman] The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, Oklahoma Education Association, Oklahoma PTA, the Oklahoma State Medical Association, the Oklahoma Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and two superintendents participated in a virtual news conference on Thursday to announce their joint effort as “Masks Are Saving Kids,” or MASK. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • OKCPS teachers support letter against students’ return to buildings Nov 9 [OKC Free Press]
  • Bixby high-schoolers to transition to distance learning for two weeks as COVID-19 cases surge [Tulsa World]
  • COVID-19 cases reported at Hilldale and Muskogee public schools [Enid News & Eagle]

Oklahoma higher education officials to request $88.8M budget increase: The State Regents for Higher Education will ask lawmakers for more than $859 million next year, an $88.8 million increase over the current fiscal year budget. Regents approved their fiscal year 2022 budget request in a meeting on Thursday. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Mayor G.T. Bynum names new chief of staff [Tulsa World]
  • American Airlines seeks bond sales approval to follow through on major upgrades to Tulsa airport facility [Public Radio Tulsa]

Quote of the Day

“Oklahoma still has an incarceration crisis. Even if SQ 805 had passed, there is so much work that needs to be done. Oklahoma did not get to the world’s highest incarceration rates overnight.”

-Kris Steele, executive director of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, speaking about voters turning down a recent justice reform measure [Tulsa World]

Numbers of the Day

82 & 19 

The number of Republicans and Democrats, respectively, in the Oklahoma House of Representatives following Tuesday’s general election. 

[Source: Tulsa World]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

America’s electoral future: The coming generational transformation: Demographics are not destiny, but steady and predictable changes to the electorate play an important role in defining the landscape of American politics. Just as the country’s population has changed substantially over the last several decades—growing older, more educated, and more racially diverse—we expect those changes to continue over the next several decades. This report explores how demographic changes could shape the next five presidential elections using national and state projections. The demographics we look at are race, age, education, gender, and generation, using a new set of projections for the nation and all 50 states. We focus on what those projections imply for the presidential elections between 2020 and 2036 under different assumptions about future turnout and voter preference patterns by these demographics, with a particularly close look at generational change. [Brookings Institute]

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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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