In The Know: Lawmakers urge aid talks resume | Rural schools begin opening in person | Most Oklahoma maternal deaths preventable

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

Providing legal representation could begin to fix Oklahoma’s broken eviction process: Even before the pandemic, Tulsa and Oklahoma City already had some of the highest eviction rates in the nation. While we cannot legislate away the pandemic, we can better structure and operate our justice system to ensure that every tenant knows their rights and understands the process. [Frederick Drummond / OK Policy]

Much to consider in reform movements for criminal justice and police (Capitol Update): There are two movements going on today that are related but not the same thing. One could generically be called police reform, and the other is criminal justice reform. There is much to be considered in both police reform and criminal justice reform. Both are worthy of a fair hearing and action by policymakers. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

In wake of Trump orders, Oklahoma lawmakers say congressional aid package talks should resume: Rep. Tom Cole on Monday questioned the constitutionality and wisdom of President Donald Trump’s executive orders to provide pandemic relief, while he and Sen. James Lankford urged congressional leaders to compromise on a coronavirus aid package. [The Oklahoman] Oklahoma officials say they don’t know the impact to the state after President Donald Trump’s executive action that includes providing up to $400 in weekly unemployment benefits. “The State of Oklahoma is reviewing the details of President Trump’s memorandum on unemployment benefits,” Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s communications director Baylee Lakey said in an email to the Tulsa World. [Tulsa World]

Rural Oklahoma school districts are back to school – in person: Many rural school districts across Oklahoma are back in school. And unlike the growing number of urban and suburban schools coming back this fall – these smaller districts are coming back in person. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

  • Two days into in-person start, Oklahoma school district goes virtual due to virus exposure [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Broken Arrow Superintendent says 98 employees already out for COVID-related reasons [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Tulsa Union students will start fall semester in classrooms Aug. 24, with online option available, board decides [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa Union school board member under fire for bizarre email to concerned parents [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Keys calendar adjusted; school officials continue honing schedule [Tahlequah Daily Press]
  • Enid families facing uncertain plans for school year ahead in pandemic [Enid News & Eagle]
  • McAlester postpones start of school due to COVID-19 concerns [McAlester News-Capital]
  • OKCPS adopts new student, teacher policies for virtual school realities [OKC Free Press]
  • High school football practice opens with teams balancing preparations, precautions [Tulsa World]

Most of Oklahoma’s maternal deaths preventable, state review finds: Seven of eight maternal deaths in Oklahoma could potentially have been prevented with proper and timelier medical intervention, a review by a state committee found. The state Maternal Mortality Review Committee presented the findings in a draft of its first-ever report during a meeting last month, which was obtained by The Frontier through an open records request. [The Frontier]

132 Oklahoma prisoners infected with COVID-19: The Oklahoma Department of Corrections reports 132 of its prisoners are infected with COVID-19. The latest outbreak was at Cimarron Correctional Facility, a private prison in Cushing. The outbreak was discovered after a prisoner with symptoms tested positive for COVID at the end of last month. Shortly after multiple prisoners tested positive. [KOSU]

  • COVID-19: 397 new cases, 2 more deaths reported in Oklahoma [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma’s 7-day average of new COVID cases holds steady as state nears 44,000 total [Public Radio Tulsa]

Health News

Experts discuss telemedicine, staff shortages on JR/NOW: Health care industry professionals discussed the past and future of telemedicine and touched on topics ranging from hospital finances and Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma to shortages of medical professionals in a fast-moving, wide-ranging JR Now webinar conducted Friday. [The Journal Record]

Telemedicine expected to long outlast pandemic: When Dr. George Monks consults with a patient these days, it’s quite likely that their meeting will occur virtually via FaceTime or some other online platform rather than in person – or at least it’s more likely than it was a year ago. [The Journal Record]

As rest of community moves forward, facilities seek support for nursing home residents: While most of the community has returned to normal routines, residents of area nursing homes remain essentially locked down due to COVID-19 concerns, cut off from in-person visits and in a state of isolation some health experts worry is having a negative effect on seniors’ mental health. [Enid News & Eagle]

State Government News

Parole board member shoots down ‘flowery’ resolution for outgoing chief: Pardon and Parole Board member Allen McCall on Monday shot down a “flowery” resolution thanking outgoing agency chief Steve Bickley for his service. Bickley resigned effective Friday after receiving alleged threats from McCall. [Tulsa World] McCall threatened Bickley with a grand jury investigation, and he followed that up by telling the board last month he knew of issues agency staff had with Bickley. McCall publicly specified Monday those were instances of derogatory language directed at staff. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Question of independent redistricting in Oklahoma could land on 2022 ballot: Supporters of independent redistricting tweaked and refiled Monday an initiative petition seeking to take redistricting power away from Oklahoma’s GOP-controlled Legislature. [The Oklahoman] Once the initiative petition is reviewed, the group will have 90 days to gather about 178,000 signatures from registered voters to qualify the question for the ballot. [AP News] The group wants to create a nine-member citizen panel comprised of three people from the state’s largest political party, three from the next largest and three who are affiliated with neither party. [CNHI via The Ada News]

Hundreds staff state call center tracing spreading of coronavirus: In a cubicle farm in nondescript office space about four miles from the state Capitol, the Oklahoma State Health Department calls thousands of Oklahomans a day, with many getting some unwelcome news. [The Oklahoman]

Gov. Stitt visits Enid business leaders, hears feedback on state COVID aid: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt visited Enid business owners Friday, to hear feedback on state and federal aid offered to help businesses through the COVID-19 crisis. [Enid News & Eagle]

Input on child abuse prevention sought: The Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Office of Child Abuse Prevention is seeking input from private and public agencies, organizations, citizens, and consumers to monitor and enhance development of a statewide comprehensive prevention plan. [OSDH / Cherokee Phoenix] OCAP is asking for input from individuals by having them complete an online survey that is available in both English and Spanish. [FOX25]

Federal Government News

Native panelists discuss implications of McGirt ruling in virtual presentation: Northeastern State University hosted a virtual discussion on the implications of the McGirt v. Oklahoma Supreme Court decision Thursday, with four experts in Native affairs offering their thoughts on the ruling. [Tahlequah Daily Press]

Economy & Business News

Despite pressures, OKC’s commercial market stays strong: Oklahoma City’s commercial real estate market has held its own for the first half of 2020 despite the extraordinary pressures exerted by COVID-19 and the volatility in the energy sector. [The Journal Record]

Oklahoma railroad traffic slows with economy: Like cars in a parking lot, dozens of idled locomotives are sitting in a railroad yard along Interstate 235 in Oklahoma City, waiting for the day when they’ll once again haul loads of freight from coast to coast. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

OU staff protest in-person return, plead for job security: Staff at the University of Oklahoma demanded 100% online classes and protections from layoffs during a protest Monday afternoon. University officials, though, said furloughs and layoffs are unavoidable unless OU reopens for in-person instruction. [The Oklahoman]

General News

Final U.S. Census response deadline set for Sept. 30: Individuals have until Sept. 30 to respond to the 2020 U.S. Census. A request to extend the deadline to respond to the U.S. Census to Oct. 31 has been denied. The COVID-19 pandemic previously shut down follow-up efforts from enumerators going door to door. [Enid News & Eagle] OK Policy statement: Shortening Census timeline will haunt Oklahoma.

Oklahoma Local News

  • Tulsa police identify both men fatally shot by officers this weekend [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa’s Arts Commission supports keeping ‘Black Lives Matter’ mural, saying it’s a work of public art [Tulsa World]
  • ‘Black Wall Street 100’: Tulsa author-historian reviews century of ‘grappling’ with lingering ‘wound’ of 1921 race massacre [Tulsa World]
  • Latest protest downtown dodges gun-toting counter-protesters [OKC Free Press]
  • July marks highest grossing month for local dispensaries [The Norman Transcript]

Quote of the Day

“How much does tuition cost per student? Is that worth my life?”

-University of Oklahoma Spanish instructor Sarah Warmker about her fall schedule to teach two in-person Spanish courses without online instruction options available. If she declines to teach, she could lose her health insurance. But, Warmker said she has only one kidney and worries about severe health consequences if she contracts COVID-19. [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


The share of federal tax dollars that goes to Social Security, Medicare and other health insurance programs.

[Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Perspectives from Main Street: The Impact of COVID-19 on Low- to Moderate-Income Communities and the Entities Serving Them: The spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the many efforts to slow it are impacting communities across the nation. In order to best respond to this crisis, information is needed about the scope and scale of challenges in various communities. This report offers findings of a survey designed to collect information on the effects of COVID-19 on communities and people in low- to moderate income households and the entities serving them. [U.S. Federal Reserve

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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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