In The Know: Judge sides with tribes on gaming contract renewal | 10 deaths at Claremore Veterans Center | State surpasses 500 virus deaths

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

Federal judge: Gaming compacts automatically renewed: A federal judge has ruled that Oklahoma’s Model Tribal Gaming Compact automatically renewed Jan. 1, a significant blow to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s controversial efforts to renegotiate gaming compacts with the more than 30 federally recognized tribes that operate casinos in Oklahoma. [NonDoc]

  • Judge sides with Oklahoma tribes over gambling compacts [Indian Country Today]
  • Judge rules tribal compacts automatically renew [CNHI]
  • Federal court rules against Stitt in gaming compact case [Journal Record]
  • Federal judge: Gov. Stitt wrong on tribal gaming compacts’ expiration date [Tulsa World]
  • Gov. Stitt loses another tribal gaming lawsuit [The Oklahoman]
  • Gov. Stitt reacts to federal judge’s ruling in tribal gaming lawsuit [The Oklahoman]
  • Editorial: Oklahoma can afford $1.5 million in fees to fight Gov. Kevin Stitt’s gambling dispute with tribes, but it can’t afford to waste that much [Editorial / Tulsa World]
  • Opinion: Gov. Stitt lost big money betting against the state’s tribal gaming compacts [OKC Free Press]

Claremore Veterans Center sees 10 deaths of residents who tested positive for COVID-19: Ten residents at the Claremore Veterans Center have died after testing positive for COVID-19, state officials said Tuesday. Since the first of the month, 62 residents have tested positive for COVID-19. Ten have died, and 18 have either moderate or severe symptoms. In addition, 21 employees at the facility are in isolation at home after testing positive. [Tulsa World] Officials said the Claremore outbreak likely started when an asymptomatic employee unknowingly transmitted the virus to a resident. Oklahoma has seven state veterans centers with more than 1,200 beds. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma surpasses 500 coronavirus deaths: Experts say as people remain ill in intensive care units because of the disease there will likely be more deaths in the coming weeks. There have been fatalities in towns and cities across Oklahoma, from Stillwater, to the panhandle, to the eastern most parts of the state, but the majority of the lives lost were from Tulsa and Oklahoma counties. [The Frontier]

‘Our current system isn’t working’: SQ 805 advocates share data, stories in support of sentencing reform: Hardly a dry eye was pictured on screen Tuesday evening as people formerly incarcerated or relatives of those who were or still are shared their testimonies in support of State Question 805, a sentencing reform initiative that could land on Oklahoma voters’ ballots Nov. 3. “The people of Oklahoma understand that our current system isn’t working,” Sarah Edwards, president of Yes on 805, said during the campaign’s virtual town hall, referencing the more than 200,000 Oklahomans who signed a petition, far exceeding the amount required to get the question on the ballot. [Tulsa World]

Education News

Epic budgets $270 million in revenue, completes internal audit: Epic Charter Schools projects nearly $270 million in revenue this fiscal year as its enrollment skyrockets into the largest public school system in Oklahoma. Its budgets are based on an enrollment of 40,000 total students, a benchmark Epic achieved this week. The virtual charter school system reached 40,631 students on Tuesday, riding a wave of enrollment that began after the July 4 holiday. [The Oklahoman]

Edmond schools to reopen with split schedule: Edmond Public Schools opted Tuesday for a blended learning model instead of reopening traditionally. The Edmond Board of Education voted 4-1 to approve the measure during a virtual meeting. The board also agreed to delay the first day of school to Aug. 20 to give time to prepare for the new schedule. [The Oklahoman]

  • Bixby schools will have half of students in school at a time during first weeks of fall semester [Tulsa World]
  • Enid school board votes to follow state COVID-19 recommendations [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Norman Public Schools releases more back-to-school details, including plans for positive tests [Norman Transcript]
  • Tulsa superintendent recommends TPS schools begin year without in-person instruction [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Distance learning plan wouldn’t prevent Tulsa athletics from continuing — but coronavirus might [Tulsa World]
  • 20 quotes from Oklahoma educators on going back to school during a pandemic [Tulsa World]

Mustang district says Nightrider nickname ‘not reflective of band’s mission’: Mustang Public Schools announced Monday night that it will drop the “Nightrider” nickname from its high school marching band because “it is not reflective of the band’s mission.” Bands of masked men who terrorized Black people during the Jim Crow era were called Nightriders. [The Oklahoman]

‘Emotional time’: OU approves strategic plan amid COVID uncertainty: After two consecutive days of meetings spent almost entirely in executive session, the OU Board of Regents approved the university’s Strategic Plan this afternoon following more than a year of development. University administrators also spoke on the fluidity of OU’s academic and athletic plans two weeks before thousands of students are set to enter on-campus housing, bringing new health and safety risks during the COVID-19 pandemic. [NonDoc]

OSU hosts virtual town hall in attempt to provide students, parents clarity: Oklahoma State University faculty members discussed student COVID-19 testing, the university’s new mask policy, hybrid classes and more in a virtual town hall Tuesday. [The Oklahoman]

Despite COVID-19, fewer students are taking advantage of free tuition at Tulsa Community College: During this period of uncertainty, higher education officials expect more students to stay home and earn an associate degree at their local community college and then transfer to other schools to complete their bachelor’s degree. In Tulsa, fewer students are taking advantage of the Tulsa Achieves program, which provides full tuition and fees for every graduating high school senior in Tulsa County to attend TCC. [Tulsa World]

  • ‘Changing lives’: Bartlesville tech grant provides free tuition, fast track for 375 people in health, other areas [Tulsa World]

Op-Ed: Please take away my senior year of college: For the first time in my collegiate career, I do not want to go back to campus this fall. I am nervous, I am skeptical, and I believe institutions of higher education are vastly underprepared to accommodate students, faculty and staff on campus from where we are positioned today. [Op-Ed / The Oklahoman]

  • ‘Die-in’ shows pandemic concerns on campus (photos) [The Oklahoman]

Health News

As rapid COVID-19 testing heads to nursing homes, lack of public tests threatens its effectiveness: Four months after the coronavirus began sweeping through Oklahoma’s nursing homes, the federal government is preparing to ship thousands of tests to residential care facilities for the elderly and disabled nationwide. But even as single shipments are delivered, public access to the tests is dwindling as a result. [Oklahoma Watch]

Shortage of plasma for COVID-19 treatments is now an emergency, Red Cross says: American Red Cross officials said the agency has an emergency shortage of convalescent plasma, a potentially lifesaving treatment for patients with COVID-19. The Red Cross has seen demand for convalescent plasma more than double over the last month as the number of coronavirus cases increased across the U.S. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Oklahoma’s unemployment system remains riddled with pitfalls: Even as employment rates begin to recover in Oklahoma, thousands of residents with unemployment claims remain trapped on a roller coaster of claim issues that can take weeks or months to resolve. [Gaylord News via KGOU] Q&A: Filing unemployment claims amid virus-related job losses [Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Another coronavirus stimulus check: What we know about the next round of payments: Senate Republicans released a roughly $1 trillion coronavirus relief bill proposal Monday. The Health Care Economic Assistance Liability Protection and Schools or HEALS Act sets off negotiations to reconcile with House Democrats’ $3 trillion proposal. One item that is consistent in both proposals: Economic Impact Payments, commonly known as stimulus checks. [USA Today via The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

OKC police in feud with judges in two counties: Judges in two counties say Oklahoma City police officers take dozens of arrested suspects every year to the wrong jail. In April, they ordered police to stop, immediately. “Due to the global pandemic, the safety of the public, detention personnel and inmates supersedes any convenience of an arresting agency who utilize a practice that does not conform to state law,” judges in Cleveland and Canadian counties said. Police did not comply. [The Oklahoman]

Cleveland County cancels September jury term due to COVID-19: Cleveland County jury trials scheduled for September have been canceled amid ongoing COVID-19 concerns. [The Oklahoman]

OKC activist charged with three misdemeanors: Oklahoma City activist Jess Eddy is facing three misdemeanor counts over a protest May 30 and a sit-in last week. “It is appalling,” Eddy, 30, said Tuesday. “The DA is blatantly retaliating against First Amendment speech.” In a response, District Attorney David Prater said he draws a clear distinction between protected free speech and criminal conduct. [The Oklahoman]

General News

Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief David Hill Op-Ed: The Muscogee (Creek) nation’s ancestors never gave up on our sovereign rights, and neither will I: As Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote, Congress considered eliminating our reservation at the time of Oklahoma statehood but did not. My great-grandfather was part of the Muscogee (Creek) delegation that successfully prevented the passage of such legislation. We won because they never gave up. No matter how intimidating the odds, they never sat down. Truly, this victory is our ancestors’ just as much as it is ours. [Op-Ed / Tulsa World

Attorneys general for Oklahoma, Cherokee Nation discuss Supreme Court’s McGirt ruling on ‘Let’s Talk’: Two attorneys general, one for the state of Oklahoma, the other for the Cherokee Nation, agree on at least a few things resulting from a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that said Congress never disestablished the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s reservation. [Tulsa World]

Opinion: An Open Letter to the Choctaw Nation: ‘McGirt decision, self-determination and the future of the Five Tribes’: A Choctaw Nation citizen and legal scholar calls for Choctaw leaders to engage with all of its citizens and legal scholars to create a future grounded in a holistic approach of rebuilding our systems of justice and sovereignty in the area of criminal and civil jurisdiction in its territory. [Op-Ed / Indian Country Today]

Speed increased on stretches of rural turnpikes: The state Turnpike Authority quenched lawmakers’ need for speed and agreed to hike speed limits along five rural stretches of existing roadway. [CNHI]

Painted BLM message prompts push for ‘Back the Blue’ art from Tulsa Republicans: If someone can paint “Black Lives Matter” on a city street, why not “Back the Blue”? That’s what Tulsa County Republican Party Chairman Bob Jack and other Republicans have asked Tulsa city officials as they seek information on the application process for painting a sign on the street. “A group has approached me with a plan to paint on a city street in large letters “BACK THE BLUE” and “BABY LIVES MATTER,” Jack wrote. “As you are aware, the city did not intervene in the painting of “BLACK LIVE(S) MATTER” on Greenwood, just north of Archer, and the group is requesting the same right to voice their opinion.” [Tulsa World]

Op-Ed: Grandparents are a safety net, we must support them now: I am one of the nearly 44,000 grandparents in Oklahoma responsible for their grandchildren. Under normal circumstances, our role presents a unique set of challenges — and these are not normal circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the existing challenges for grandfamilies while presenting many new difficulties as social distancing measures, overwhelmed health care systems and anxiety for the future take a disproportionate toll on families like mine. [Op-Ed / The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Edmond mask ordinance takes effect Aug. 26 [The Oklahoman]
  • Tulsa Vietnamese restaurant where Gov. Stitt ate reopens after COVID-19 scare [Tulsa World]
  • Woodward County: COVID-19 update, security discussed during county commission meeting [Woodward News]

Quote of the Day

“I am a successful woman because I had a second chance. I needed help; not to spend time in prison.”

-Sonya Pyles, who was formerly incarcerated and now serves as the project coordinator of Tulsa Lawyers for Children [Tulsa World

Number of the Day


Heart disease death rate for Oklahomans, which leads the nation for heart disease mortality rate. (Death rate represents the number of deaths per 100,000 total population.)

[Source: Centers for Disease Control]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Policy Basics: Introduction to Medicaid: Created in 1965, Medicaid is a public insurance program that provides health coverage to low-income families and individuals, including children, parents, pregnant women, seniors, and people with disabilities; it is funded jointly by the federal government and the states. Each state operates its own Medicaid program within federal guidelines. Because the federal guidelines are broad, states have a great deal of flexibility in designing and administering their programs. As a result, Medicaid eligibility and benefits can and often do vary widely from state to state. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

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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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