In The Know: Lawmakers planning Monday return to capitol; prisons report handful of virus cases; and more

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. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

(Capitol Update) Current economic situation creates uncharted territory for state budget process: It seems a new conflict develops weekly now between the Governor and legislative leaders. This week the conflict again relates to the budget. Previously, the Governor had refused to sign a stopgap appropriations bill using money from the Rainy Day Fund to finish the remainder of the FY 2020 budget, which ends June 30. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

Lawmakers expected to return to Capitol on Monday: Lawmakers are expected to return to the Capitol next Monday. “May 4 is officially the target date to return, and discussions are underway about the safeguards necessary to get the Capitol reopened in a manner deemed safe by public health officials and both legislative chambers,” said House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma prison agency reports a handful of COVID-19 infections as other state prisons see a surge: Prisons in multiple states are finding more positive cases of COVID-19 as they ramp up testing. According to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, 549 COVID-19 tests had been conducted across the state prison system as of last week. Only two Oklahoma prisoners have confirmed positive tests as well as nine employees. The results for 83 other tests haven’t been released yet. [StateImpact Oklahoma] OK Policy and other organizations have urge elected officials and state officials to take action to manage the serious threat of a COVID-19 outbreak in Oklahoma corrections facilities

COVID-19: 2 more Oklahomans die from COVID-19, 27 more cases confirmed: Two more Oklahomans have died due to COVID-19. There have been a total of 197 deaths from the disease, according to Oklahoma State Department of Health data. The first death was reported March 19. [Tulsa World]

Health News

Health researchers: Oklahoma, neighboring states may worsen each others’ outbreaks: Oklahoma has already begun reopening following a plan by Gov. Kevin Stitt, but a team of health researchers estimate that the state is still more than 50 days away from the earliest date when it would be safe to ease restrictions intended to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Contact tracers find an average of 36 potential exposures per COVID-19 case in Tulsa County: Tulsa County’s contact tracing efforts average about 36 potential exposures per positive COVID-19 case, according to the Tulsa Health Department. [Tulsa World]

Routine dental care set to resume across Oklahoma on Friday: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s phased-in reopening plan allows for routine restorative and preventative care to resume May 1. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

State cancels PPE buy from company under FBI scrutiny: State health officials had been going ahead with a $9.5 million purchase of personal protective equipment from a new company despite being told it was under investigation by the FBI. [The Oklahoman]

Gov. Stitt asks Trump to declare virus ‘act of God’ to help oil producers: Gov. Kevin Stitt is requesting that President Donald Trump assist the oil and gas industry in Oklahoma by declaring the COVID-19 pandemic a “force majeure” or “act of God.” Trump’s declaration would protect producers from lease cancellations caused by production decreases. [The Journal Record] Stitt said over-production of oil continues to threaten the economy, and could lead to difficult decisions for producers with no place to store their product and no one to buy it. [CNHI via Enid News & Eagle]

David Ostrowe: ‘This is state government being nimble’: As Oklahoma’s first secretary of digital transformation and administration, David Ostrowe has been tasked with overseeing the digitization of state services — a pet initiative of Gov. Kevin Stitt. [NonDoc]

Federal Government News

Lankford worried federal coronavirus unemployment payments may be too generous: In a webinar hosted by the Tulsa Regional Chamber on Monday, U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) said he fears that the amount of money paid out to Americans as federal unemployment benefits under new coronavirus legislation may be overly generous and bad economic policy. [Public Radio Tulsa] U.S. Sen. James Lankford also answered questions from people in the McAlester area during a virtual town hall meeting with Mayor John Browne as the moderator. [McAlester News-Capital]

Economy & Business News

Virus-caused demand drop sends oil value negative: Producers of crude oil in Oklahoma and across the nation experienced the unthinkable April 20 when futures prices on contracts for the May delivery of crude oil plunged nearly $40 a barrel during the final minutes of trading that day. [The Oklahoman]

COVID-19: Employer obligations to customers and employees: While Oklahoma is among the first states to reopen most nonessential businesses – including gyms, spas, movie theaters and sporting venues – on May 1, there is no guarantee that consumer confidence will be high enough that customers will show up. [The Journal Record]

Casinos consider ‘cautious start’ to reopening: Casino operators in Oklahoma are considering how and when to safely reopen their doors even as other entertainment venues may welcome customers back beginning May 1. [The Journal Record]

Education News

Oklahoma still a leading state for pre-K, but COVID-19 challenges lie ahead: Oklahoma remains one of the leading states for pre-K in a new annual report. According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, 76% of Oklahoma 4-year-olds are enrolled in preschool, a number that’s been relatively stable for the past decade but still third-best in the U.S. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Stimulus funds for private school tuition? (Podcast): The Frontier explores Gov. Kevin Stitt’s suggestion that some COVID-19 emergency education funds be used for program that offers private school tuition through tax credits. [The Frontier]

General News

Homeless Alliance carries on despite numerous challenges: Monday was just another day serving a couple hundred folks out of a makeshift pickup window next to an empty dog kennel during a global pandemic at the Homeless Alliance. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

Quote of the Day

“Computer programs are not a real substitute for preschool any more than the wooden puppet Pinocchio was a real boy. Young children learn best through hands-on activities engaged with adults and other children.”

-Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research [Public Radio Tulsa]

Number of the Day


The percentage of Oklahoma child care programs that have parents who cannot pay fees or child care subsidy copays.

[Source: NAEYC COVID-19 Survey Data by State]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Will child care be there when states reopen? Child care centers, home daycares and after-school programs nationwide are struggling to stay open as families stay home to avoid spreading the coronavirus. As some governors prepare to lift stay-at-home orders, child care advocates warn that if child care businesses cannot survive, it’ll be harder for parents to return to work. National child care advocates want state leaders to use $3.5 billion in emergency child care block grants approved by Congress last month to help licensed businesses cover their operating expenses. The grants typically are used to help low-income families pay for care, but Congress also is allowing states to spend the emergency funds to help businesses open or reopen. [Stateline via Pew Charitable Trusts]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.