In The Know: Lawmakers convene in redistricting special session | Julius Jones’ family seeks meeting with Gov. | Capitol Update

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.

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Five Republican House members urge Stitt to grant clemency for Julius Jones (Capitol Update): It looks as though Gov. Stitt will need to decide this week about whether to follow the recommendation of the Pardon and Parole Board and grant clemency to Julius Jones who was convicted of murder in Oklahoma County and sentenced to death. Seldom does one person have the ability, purely as a matter of forbearance, to spare the life of another human being. This may be one of those things Stitt never anticipated when he decided he wanted to be governor. Unless he chooses to say — and perhaps even if he does say something — no one may ever know the true basis for his decision. Executive clemency is solely his call. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

Lawmakers convene special session on redistricting: Lawmakers returned Monday to the Capitol for a special session on redistricting. They are expected to finish their business by Friday. They are redrawing congressional and legislative boundaries. Legislative boundaries were preliminarily redrawn in the regular session based on population estimates because figures from the U.S. Census Bureau were late. [Tulsa World] Business was brief, with the House meeting for less than 15 minutes and the Senate meeting for less than 10 to go over session rules and have formal first readings of bills. [Public Radio Tulsa] Lawmakers are expected to wrap up their work by the end of the week. The new maps typically are approved during the regular session, which ends in May, but a special session was required this year because of a delay in the release of the latest U.S. Census data. [AP News]

Julius Jones’ mother, supporters seek meeting with governor: Supporters of death row inmate Julius Jones, including Jones’ mother Madeline Davis-Jones, visited the state Capitol on Monday with hopes of meeting with Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt. Davis-Jones met briefly with several House Democrats before walking to Stitt’s office. An official with the Republican governor’s office said Stitt wasn’t available and asked Davis-Jones to fill out a form for visitors. [AP News] With just days remaining for Stitt to choose whether he will grant the convicted murderer clemency before Thursday’s execution, pressure has been mounting for the governor to make a decision. [The Oklahoman] After two recommendations for life with the possibility of parole from the state’s Pardon and Parole Board, Gov. Stitt has so far refused to make a decision on whether to stop Julius Jones’ execution, scheduled for Thursday, November 18. [The Black Wall Street Times] Attorneys for Jones said in an email Monday they met with Stitt last week. They did not elaborate further. Stitt also has reportedly met with the family of Howell and the prosecutors. [CNHI via Enid News & Eagle]

  • Conservative lawmakers, groups call for Julius Jones’ clemency ahead of execution [The Norman Transcript]

Health News

Legal battle continues between State of Oklahoma, Ascension St. John over vaccinations: After a flurry of court filings Friday and early Monday, Ascension St. John Health System’s COVID-19 vaccination employee requirement remained sidelined while a judge determines whether it is legal. But which judge, or which court for that matter, will decide the case remains undetermined. [Tulsa World]

  • Pentagon: Oklahoma National Guard must comply with vaccine mandate [KOSU] | [The Oklahoman]

Editorial: Release city-level COVID-19 data to help people make decisions: The Oklahoma State Department of Health’s abrupt end of publicly releasing city- and ZIP code-level COVID-19 data ought to be reversed. City leaders were caught unaware of this change last week, taking away critical information when making policies and recommendations for public health. It’s frustrated physicians and health care workers needing the data when speaking to patients about the virus and vaccine. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

What does the infrastructure bill mean for Oklahoma?: The historic federal infrastructure bill that was passed earlier this month is expected to be signed into law by President Biden at the White House on Monday. So what does it mean for Oklahoma? [KFOR]

Tribal Nations News

Biden pushes to expand tribes’ jurisdiction over non-Native American offenders: President Joe Biden pledged Monday to make Indian Country safer and ordered his top officials to address the national crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous people. The president signed an executive order that gives federal officials eight months to come up with a detailed strategy to prevent and address the high rates of violence that many Native communities face. [The Oklahoman] President Joe Biden on Monday ordered several Cabinet departments to work together to combat human trafficking and crime on Native American lands, where violent crime rates are more than double the national average. [Tulsa World]

Cherokee Nation plans to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025: Cherokee Nation leaders on Monday announced plans to increase the minimum wage for tribal employees to $15 per hour by October 2025. “That will be a major investment in the Cherokee Nation workforce and a major investment in the Cherokee people,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Reports on ‘disturbing’ Oklahoma County Jail contradict improvement claims: As a variety of elected and appointed leaders are considering the longterm future for the Oklahoma County Detention Center, two reports from state and federal agencies cast doubts on claims that conditions at the current jail facility are improving. [NonDoc

  • Jail Trust criticized by activists, approves contract and budget [OKC Free Press]

Former judge says he was fair in murder case despite past ‘sexual conduct’ with prosecutor: Former Oklahoma County District Judge Tim Henderson has admitted in a written statement to “sexual conduct” with a prosecutor in his office, in her apartment and in hotel rooms. He denied, though, that their involvement, which ended in 2018, influenced his rulings in a murder case that went to jury trial this year. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Corporate money keeps university ag schools ‘relevant,’ and makes them targets of donor criticism: Across the Midwest, corporations have become critical, aggressively pursued sources of money for agricultural colleges as tax dollars become increasingly elusive. But that money can put the same schools in awkward positions, vulnerable to criticism from those private donors entangled in public controversies. [KOSU]

Tulsa Public Schools COVID protocols to start changing after Thanksgiving break: When Tulsa Public Schools staff and students come back from Thanksgiving break on Nov. 29, there will be some adjustments to the district’s COVID-19 protocols. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“We know that the impact on the economy of the COVID pandemic has hit our minimum wage workers even more severely than many of the rest of us. Those that are earning the minimum wage are those we ought to be lifting up.”

-Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., announcing plans to increase the minimum wage for tribal employees to $15 per hour by October 2025 [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Average court fines and fees assessed in Oklahoma’s predominantly rural counties, compared with an average of $1,305.59 for the state’s predominantly urban counties [Open Justice Oklahoma]

Policy Note

Step One to an Antiracist State Revenue Policy: Eliminate Criminal Justice Fees and Reform Fines: Criminal fees fall heavily on the lowest-income people in the country and disproportionately on Black, Indigenous, and Latinx people, who already face severe barriers imposed by systemic racism, discrimination, and bias. The damage these excessive fees and fines do in low-income communities and communities of color is hard to overstate: they are intertwined with racial profiling and can lead to violence and murder by police, ongoing harassment by predatory collection agencies, imprisonment for being poor, and various other forms of dysfunctional, state-sanctioned injustice. [CBPP]

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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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