In The Know: Lawmakers hear about pandemic-caused learning loss | COVID-19 will become ‘endemic’ | New marijuana initiative petitions

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

Lawmakers hear about pandemic-caused learning loss: The COVID-19 pandemic has and continues to hinder student learning, education leaders and policy experts agreed Tuesday while offering differing views on the extent of the setbacks. “We all knew the disruptions and trauma associated with the pandemic would exact a toll, and indeed they have,” State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister told a joint legislative hearing. [Tulsa World]

  • Study examines school support jobs, pay: State lawmakers met with public school educators and school advocates this week to explore ways to potentially boost the pay of people like bus drivers and clerical workers considered critical to education in Oklahoma. A study held at the state Capitol was proposed by two Republican lawmakers, Reps. Ronny Johns of Ada and John Talley of Stillwater. [The Journal Record]

Health News

Experts say COVID-19 will be ‘endemic’ one day. Oklahoma experts explain what that means: Even as the delta wave of COVID-19 appears to be subsiding, experts expect that COVID-19 will be with us — in some form or another — for a long time. The disease will likely become “endemic,” experts say, as opposed to a pandemic or epidemic. What’s the difference? A pandemic is when a disease spreads across multiple countries or even across the world and affects many people, like COVID-19 has. An epidemic is a sudden increase in cases of a disease, like when COVID-19 was first identified and began spreading in Wuhan, China. [The Oklahoman]

  • COVID trending down in Oklahoma [KOSU]
  • Health experts: Don’t gargle with iodine [The Journal Record]
  • COVID-19 takes toll on Oklahoma City neighborhood fundraising efforts [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma hits last year’s flu season peak: Oklahoma Public health officials are keeping an eye on the percent of tests coming back positive for flu. Dr. David Kendrick is the CEO of MyHealth Access Network, a health information sharing network in the state. Kendrick said in 2019 the peak of flu season saw about 25% test positivity, but last year with infection protection measures in place the peak was much lower. [Public Radio Tulsa]

State Government News

Marijuana petition organizer: ‘We have severe grass roots strength’ across Oklahoma: The leader of a group seeking to legalize recreational marijuana and revamp the state’s medical marijuana program says it is a grassroots effort. Jed Green, director of Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis, sat down with reporters on Tuesday to discuss the group’s two initiative petitions dealing with marijuana. [Tulsa World]

  • ‘Here to provide an option’: Organizer says of Oklahoma medical, recreational marijuana petitions [The Oklahoman]

State’s general revenue receipts far exceed September projections by nearly 20%: Allocations to Oklahoma’s general revenue fund continued to run far ahead of projections in September as the state’s economy continues to fight through the lingering effects of COVID-19. [Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Child tax credit: Here’s when next payment is coming: The next advance child tax credit payments are due out later this week. Through Sept. 15, the U.S. Treasury Department said it has made over 106 million payments over the three rounds of monthly payments so far, totaling $46 billion. The advance child tax credit payments have been made to the families of over 60 million qualifying children, and the department said the results are already showing: Food insecurity among families with children dropped 24% after the distribution of the first payments in July, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. [KFOR]

Cowboys, Lawmakers Discuss Market Reforms During House Ag Committee Hearing: Fifth-generation Oklahoma rancher Scott Blubaugh, representing the Oklahoma Farmer’s Union, said Congress must pass a long-term reauthorization of mandatory price reporting “with reforms to improve price discovery.” He also encouraged federal and state governments to invest and support more competition in both marketing and processing. [Ag Web]

Criminal Justice News

Corrections Department sued over alleged Open Records Act violations related to executions: The Oklahoma Department of Corrections has been sued for alleged violations of the state’s Open Records Act regarding executions. The suit was filed Tuesday by Fred Hodara in Oklahoma County District Court. “Plaintiff submitted multiple written requests to Defendant under the Oklahoma Open Records Act requesting copies of public records relating to the state’s lethal injection execution plans,” according to the lawsuit. “In response to those requests, Defendant cursorily denied that any responsive records exist. In light of the scope and nature of the requests, the assertation defies belief.” [Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

With investment from governor, Adair County business looks to add jobs: Oklahoma’s governor has invested $500,000 from a discretionary business recruitment account to help a fledgling manufacturing facility bolster production and increase employment opportunities for residents living in one of the state’s poorest counties. Gov. Kevin Stitt awarded the funds from the state’s Quick Action Closing Fund to a plastic pellet manufacturer that last year purchased a shuttered 59,000-square-foot plant and some of the remaining machinery inside. [CNHI via Enid News & Eagle]

Real estate boom continues; inventory remains short: Some places people are calling home today have changed in response to market challenges. “We’re seeing a lot of changes in what people are buying and renting … because of the lack of inventory,” residential real estate investor Angelena Harris said during a recent JR/Now webinar. [The Journal Record]

Oklahoma expected to top others in home improvement spending: Oklahoma topped all other states in projections for growth in professional spending on home improvements to be carried out in coming years, according to a recent report by the Home Improvement Research Institute. [The Journal Record]

Education News

‘A long time coming’: Western Heights resolves 2-year impasse with teachers: After an extraordinary two years of impasse, Western Heights Public Schools finally reached a contract agreement with its unionized teachers and staff, offering pay raises and stipends to employees. [The Oklahoman]

TikTok ‘challenges’ involving student vandalism and assault are challenging area schools: Leaders at several area schools, including Jenks, Oologah-Talala, Skiatook and Tahlequah have written to parents in recent weeks, laying out the potential consequences of their students’ participation in a series of challenges meant to be carried out on school property with videos posted to the platform. [Tulsa World]

Massive four-day school week study shows effects of the practice are mixed: Four-day school weeks were a political lightning rod pre-pandemic. As Oklahoma has debated the strengths and weaknesses of four-day school weeks in rural districts, there hasn’t been much actual research supporting or discouraging the practice. [KOSU]

Oklahoma Local News

  • OKC City Council tables loyalty oath resolution, considers futsal future [Free Press OKC]
  • Park it: Edmond voters approve sales tax, land purchase [NonDoc] | [The Oklahoman]
  • City encourages sheltering in place, does not offer public storm shelters [The Norman Transcript]
  • City of Broken Arrow finalizes purchase of 90 acres for Innovation District [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Roundtable planned for medical cannabis ordinance proposal [Muskogee Phoenix]

Quote of the Day

“(Paraprofessionals) are taking care of children’s medical needs, teaching, taking care of children’s safety. If it wasn’t for them, the schools wouldn’t run.”

-Lyndsay Cathy, a special education teacher from Lone Grove, said her classroom would not function without paraprofessionals who take on tasks that might include things like feeding children and changing diapers [Journal Record]

Number of the Day


Percent of Hispanic children (of any race) in Oklahoma without health insurance in 2019, behind only American Indian children at 18%. [KIDS COUNT]

Policy Note

Facing the facts: Latino and Hispanic communities continue to be marginalized in film: A report released last month by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that Latino and Hispanic characters accounted for only 5% of speaking roles in 1,300 popular films. This number was despite the Hispanic and Latino population accounting for almost 20% of the U.S. population. However, authentic representation is necessary because films are a powerful medium to shift culture. [USC Annenberg Media

NOTE: National Hispanic Heritage Month is Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. Each week, OK Policy will share policy notes and numbers to recognize this commemoration.

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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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