In The Know: Increasing awareness about new health care coverage | Improving child vaccination rate | Getting child well-being out of bottom 10

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 look at corrections-focused interim studies (Capitol Update): It’s always interesting to see the interim study requests made by legislators. The studies are a good opportunity for legislators to learn more and educate others about issues they care about. The House requests that caught my eye were by Rep. J.J. Humphrey, R-Lane, Chair of the Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee, who requested IS 21-038 to examine areas where he believes change is critically needed in order to improve the efficiency of the Department of Corrections. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

Hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans can now get free health care. Do they know that?: Dr. Daniel Joyce has been giving out a different type of news to patients at Lawton’s Hearts That Care Clinic. Joyce, who runs the non-profit free clinic, has been talking to them to see if they’ll be eligible for free health coverage under the state’s Medicaid expansion that took effect Thursday. Time after time, he’s found many have been shocked — albeit pleasantly so. [Oklahoma WatchOK Policy and the CoverOK Coalition held a webinar Connecting to Health Care: The Ins and Outs of Enrolling for Medicaid Expansion to help explain how Oklahomans can apply for health care coverage through Medicaid expansion.

  • Oklahoma providing additional dental care benefits to SoonerCare members [KFOR] | [FOX 25]
  • Capitol Insider: Medicaid Expansion Proves Popular [KGOU]
  • OK adds 120K new Medicaid enrollees due to Medicaid expansion [HealthPayer Intelligence]

Health officials ‘not satisfied’ with COVID-19 vaccination rates among children: COVID-19 vaccination rates for Oklahoma youth have fallen below health officials’ expectations. With a little over a month left before the next school year, the Oklahoma State Department of Health is “not satisfied” with the number of vaccinated adolescents and teenagers, said Keith Reed, deputy health commissioner. [The Oklahoman]

  • As Delta variant spreads and cases rise, Oklahoma officials urge caution over July Fourth [The Oklahoman] | [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa among 4 Oklahoma counties with 60% of adults at least partially vaccinated [Tulsa World]

Column: Oklahoma needs political will to get child well-being out of the bottom 10: In more than three decades, only once has Oklahoma cracked out of the bottom half of the nation in a state-by-state report on child well-being, and that was in 1992. It’s been a frustrating climb of two steps forward, three steps back. Many Oklahomans appear desensitized to these consistently poor outcomes, shrugging a shoulder as if it’s our fate. [Ginnie Graham Column / Tulsa World] OK Policy: Smart policy decisions can help improve Oklahoma’s dismal child well-being outcomes.

State Government News

Deep-red Oklahoma legalizes needle exchanges: Stop Harm on Tulsa Streets has been working under the radar for three years to distribute fresh syringes, fentanyl test strips, naloxone and other items to prevent overdose deaths and reduce the spread of disease that can occur when drug users share needles. Under a new law that legalizes needle exchange programs in Oklahoma, the group will be able to make its underground operation more public in the hopes of helping more people. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Pride: New book offers sensible solutions to interconnected problems: A new book, Oklahoma Pride: Working Together for the Well-Being of All Oklahomans, edited by Dr. Gary Raskob, dean of the Hudson College of Public Health at the University of Oklahoma, outlines an approach to improving the state that takes into account how factors like poverty, health and education intersect and affect one another. It features contributions from experts in everything from substance abuse to fine arts to offer a clear path to “get us to a future where Oklahomans are both well-off and well.” [NonDoc]

Rep. Mauree Turner: ‘Try to move beyond your lens’: Mauree Turner is a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. They made headlines after being elected last November for being the first Muslim in the Oklahoma Legislature and for being the first nonbinary lawmaker in the U.S. Turner represents House District 88. In a new Oklahoma Watch feature “A Mile In Another’s Shoes,” an initiative to give voice to the voiceless or call attention to the plight of those affected by public policy, Turner describes what their experience has been like as a freshman and minority lawmaker. [Oklahoma Watch]

New Oklahoma GOP chairman challenges some elected Republicans, including James Lankford: As Republicans continue to dominate Oklahoma politics, the state’s new GOP chairman is challenging elected officials within the party. Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman John Bennett is backing a primary challenger to U.S. Sen. James Lankford and has publicly criticized other prominent elected Republicans. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Oklahomans give low marks to state roads as lawmakers debate infrastructure: As Congress and the Biden administration seek common ground on an infrastructure bill, a new poll shows a majority of Oklahoma voters are dissatisfied with the state’s roads and bridges. About 58% of registered voters characterized the state’s roads and bridges as somewhat low or very low quality, while nearly 20% said state roads and bridges were somewhat high or very high quality, according to a poll of 500 registered voters by Amber Integrated, of Oklahoma City. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma lawmakers vote against bill that includes state projects: The Republican Oklahoma House delegation, including three members who submitted large road project requests, voted against a massive infrastructure bill making its way through Congress. Reps. Stephanie Bice, Tom Cole and Frank Lucas, who asked for projects totaling about $55 million, joined with other House Republicans in a mostly party-line vote. [Enid News & Eagle]

Rep. Frank Lucas, others seek release of DOJ cattle industry investigation report: U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK3), along with two other House members, have called on the U.S. Department of Justice to release a final investigative report on disparities in the cattle industry. [Gaylord News / NonDoc]

Tribal Nations News

‘A place of education’: Activists, city leaders work to recontextualize Land Run Monument: The settlers are portrayed as heroic, but a year after a new racial justice reckoning began across the nation, city leaders are acknowledging that the $6.2 million Centennial Land Run Monument fails to include the perspective of the indigenous Americans whose futures were forever altered by this and subsequent land runs. [The Oklahoman]

Preserving a sacred cultural site: Cherokee Nation buys historic Dwight Mission property: Historic property that once was home to a boarding school for Native American youths has been reclaimed by a tribal nation historically tied to the site. The Dwight Mission camp and conference center, a 201-acre property between Vian and Sallisaw, was purchased by the Cherokee Nation in late June. The tribe bought the property from the Presbyterian Church USA-affiliated Dwight Mission Camp Inc. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office seeking purchase approval on body cameras: Oklahoma County Sheriff’s deputies soon may be outfitted with body cameras for the first time. Sheriff Tommie Johnson III is asking county commissioners to approve the purchase of 40 Axon Body 3 cameras for use by deputies. The listed cost is just over $70,400, including cameras and accessories. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma death row inmate dies at hospital two decades after OKC murder: The legal fight over the fate of murderer Jimmy Dean Harris had been waged off and on for years, longer than most of the appeals by his fellow death row inmates. Harris was on death row for fatally shooting his wife’s boss at a transmission shop in Oklahoma City in 1999. [The Oklahoman] Harris, 64, died June 29 at a hospital from long-term health problems, The Oklahoman reported. [AP News]

OKC to consider hiring lawyers for police named in lawsuit over 15-year-old boy’s killing: The Oklahoma City Council will consider on Tuesday requests to retain attorneys for five police officers named in a lawsuit over the killing of 15-year-old Stavian Rodriguez. [The Oklahoman] Rodriguez was shot and killed by OKCPD officers after he had surrendered at the end of a convenience store robbery on the south side November 23, 2020. [OKC Free Press]

Economic Opportunity

With water shutoff looming, Vista Shadow Mountain Apartments tenants searching for answers: Approximately 50 tenants at the south Tulsa apartment complex who were notified June 2 that they needed to relocate by the end of the month because their units were deemed uninhabitable. [Tulsa World] Vista Shadow Mountain got on the city’s radar over an unpaid water bill of more than $108,000. The entire complex could be shut down Thursday over the bill, which management has not paid while collecting utility fees from residents. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Economy & Business News

Economic update: 6 charts that show which direction the economy is trending in Tulsa and Oklahoma: See how unemployment has changed over time, plus how small businesses are doing in our community, and more economic indicators with these regularly updated charts. [Tulsa World]

Education News

Shawnee schools receives $285K Counselor Corps grant: Shawnee Public Schools has received a $285,000 grant from the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) to hire school counselors and school-based mental health professionals. To help Oklahoma schools meet the needs of children in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, OSDE is using $35.7 million in federal relief to fund the grant program called the Oklahoma School Counselor Corps to more than 180 school districts statewide. [The Shawnee News-Star] OK Policy: Oklahoma’s children need funding to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.

  • EPS, other area districts to hire more school counselors from state-awarded funding [Enid News & Eagle]
  • NPS receiving state grant funds for counseling, mental health positions [The Norman Transcript]

Quote of the Day

“Health care is a marathon, it will never be a sprint. There is always going to be more work to get people enrolled.”

-Oklahoma State Medical Association President Dr. Mary Clarke [Oklahoma Watch]

Number of the Day


Despite the CDC moratorium, more than 14,943 evictions have been granted by courts in Oklahoma since March 2020, according to Open Justice Oklahoma, a program of the Oklahoma Policy Institute. A total of 36,353 evictions have been filed in court during that time.

[Source: Open Justice Oklahoma]

Policy Note

EXPLAINER: How Oklahoma evictions might spike after July: Oklahoma did not enact its own moratorium on evictions, so when the CDC’s expires, thousands of renters will lose their protection. Before the CDC moratorium took effect, the Oklahoma Supreme Court required anyone filing an eviction petition to include an affidavit stating whether the tenants were protected from eviction under the federal CARES Act, which had eviction safeguards before the CDC moratorium took effect. [AP News]

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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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