In The Know: Managed care proposal meets unexpected opponent | Bill banning teaching critical race theory goes to Gov. | 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. 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

Stitt administration’s partially privatized Medicaid plan finds unexpected opponent: OK House GOP: From Day 1 of this year’s legislative session, the state’s executive branch has been hammering its dedication to usher in SoonerSelect. Under that plan, instead of having Oklahoma’s Medicaid agency pay providers directly for their care, the state would shift about $2 billion in health spending to four private insurance companies, giving them a set amount for every client. Those companies would then coordinate care for nearly a million low-income Oklahomans, who are covered by SoonerCare, the state’s Medicaid program. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

  • We fact checked the debate over privatizing Medicaid in Oklahoma [The Frontier]

Oklahoma House OKs ban on teaching critical race theory: Oklahoma public school teachers would be prohibited from teaching certain concepts of race and racism under a bill given final approval by the state House on Thursday. The GOP-controlled House voted 70-19 for the bill that prohibits teaching of so-called “critical race theory.” “Students are being taught that because they’re a certain race or sex, they’re inherently superior to others or should feel guilty for something that happened in the past,” said Rep. Kevin West, a Moore Republican who sponsored the bill. “We’re trying to set boundaries that we as a state say will not be crossed when we’re teaching these kinds of subjects.” [AP News]

  • Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt to decide on bill to ban teaching of critical race theory [The Oklahoman
  • Oklahoma’s House sends legislation intended to deflect criticism of white males in classrooms to governor [Tulsa World] | [Public Radio Tulsa]

THD’s Bruce Dart describes two key COVID-19 metric thresholds that would raise concerns if crossed as mask mandate sunsets: Bruce Dart on Thursday morning laid out certain data thresholds that if breached would elicit concern from the Tulsa Health Department as society transitions toward a better new normal and the city’s mask mandate expires. The THD executive director discussed those metrics during City Councilor Kara Joy McKee’s first weekly virtual COVID-19 session on her professional Facebook page. [Tulsa World]

Health News

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is back online as Oklahoma health leaders stress its safety: With Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines back online in Oklahoma after a nationwide pause, the next challenge for health officials could be communicating the safety of the one-shot vaccines. [The Oklahoman]

  • Mandatory vaccinations not likely for returning students, OSU’s incoming president says [Tulsa World]

Lt. Gov. Pinnell, child advocates announce new Healthy Kid campaign: Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell is helping to lead a new push to improve the health of the youngest Oklahomans. Pinnell announced the new Healthy Kid campaign Thursday during the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy’s virtual luncheon. [Public Radio Tulsa]

State Government News

Report: 16,300 filed first-time regular jobless claims in the state last week: First-time jobless claims declined slightly last week, the second consecutive week Oklahoma has posted a modest drop in initial filings, according to a government report. In all, 16,300 Oklahoma workers filed initial claims for regular unemployment benefits the week ending Saturday, or 456 fewer than filed the prior week, the U.S. Department of Labor reported. [Tulsa World]

‘The noise of democracy’: GRDA task force gets rowdy, recommends bond increase: After an hour and 40 minutes of tense questions and answers and a soliloquy from Grand River Damn Authority CEO Dan Sullivan criticizing a “false narrative” pushed by for-profit electric companies, Rep. Josh West grabbed a microphone and proclaimed, “I’d like to make a motion that we vote on this today.” Two senators instantaneously shouted, “Second!” [NonDoc]

Signature collecting to begin for referendum on “Hit and Run” law: As Oklahoma City protestors shut down an intersection in the summer of 2020, Young Democrats of America President Joshua Harris-Till stood in front of the crowd as a car came towards them. The driver stopped and Harris-Till walked towards them, trying to reason with the driver to turn around or take an alternate route. [The Black Wall Street Times]

New law will require Oklahoma high school graduates to pass citizenship test: Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill into law late Wednesday that will require high school graduates in Oklahoma to pass a citizenship test before they can receive their diploma. House Bill 2030 requires students to correctly answer 60 out of 100 questions found on the United States naturalization test. [KOSU]

Implementation deadline for state’s marijuana seed-to-sale tracking program pushed to summer amid court battle: The state of Oklahoma’s contract with a Florida-based cannabis “seed-to-sale” tracking company could change after an Okmulgee County judge temporarily stopped enforcement of a requirement that businesses fully integrate with the platform. [Tulsa World]

Bill naming state roadways after Trump, Inhofe stalls in Senate: A bill that would name roadways after former President Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe hit a roadblock in the Oklahoma Senate on Thursday. Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, presented Senate Bill 624, which would name a portion of U.S. 287 in the Oklahoma Panhandle — from Boise City to the Texas state line — for Trump. [Tulsa World]

OKC minister rebukes senator for ‘sexist, racist’ remarks about VP Kamala Harris: An Oklahoma City minister publicly rebuked a state senator Thursday for making what the clergyman described as “‘sexist,” “misogynistic” and “racist” public remarks about Vice Pres. Kamala Harris. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Oklahoma delegation reacts negatively to Biden’s joint session address: Members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation were unified in their opposition to President Joe Biden’s address Wednesday to a joint session of Congress. Biden’s speech called for unity between parties and focused on programs that would invest heavily in infrastructure, the economy, education and social safety nets — things Oklahoma’s all-GOP members of the U.S. House and Senate say are too expensive. [NonDoc]

President Biden’s first 100 days: A review with Dr. David Blatt: Former OK Policy Executive Director David Blatt joined Studio Tulsa to look back on what President Biden has — and hasn’t — accomplished in his first 100 days in the White house. [Public Radio Tulsa]

State appeals court overturns two more death sentences, other cases based on McGirt claims: The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals issued another round of opinions Thursday that overturned inmates’ convictions based on tribal jurisdiction claims, including those of five men convicted of murder. The appellate court overturned eight convictions and stopped a pending prosecution based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020 McGirt ruling and related state court opinions. [Tulsa World] | [The Oklahoman]

  • McGirt ruling cited in federal charges against two men serving life without parole in separate murders [Tulsa World]

Economic Opportunity

Tensions rise as eviction ban stretches on: Renters who are eligible for the CDC ban can’t be evicted for past-due rent, so landlords are increasingly citing other lease violations in court filings. In Tulsa County, Oklahoma, criminal activity is the most common lease violation cited in eviction filings, said Eric Hallett, the statewide coordinator of housing advocacy for Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma. He said those allegations often lack evidence, like a police report or arrest records. [Big If True]

Economy & Business News

Oklahoma housing market reflects nationwide shortage: There is a record lack of homes for sale in the United States and prices are soaring. In Oklahoma it isn’t much different. Statewide there are 50% less homes for sale than last year and the average home price has increased 15%. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Want to move to our town? Here’s $10,000 and a free bike: With offers of cash, housing and a budding talent pool, smaller cities — like Tulsa — and states hope to get in on the ground floor of a new era for remote workers. [New York Times]

Education News

Epic Charter Schools agrees to major reforms: Some major reforms are coming to Epic Charter Schools that will keep the virtual behemoth open, following a settlement agreement between Epic and the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter Board on Monday. Epic’s controversial learning fund will become public, financial reforms will be instituted and new oversight structures will be put in place. [KGOU]

General News

1921 Tulsa Race Massacre: Exhumation of mass grave to begin June 1; DNA analysis to follow: With exhumation of bodies possibly linked to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre set to begin June 1, it’s hard to predict how successful identification will be, a DNA expert told the project oversight committee Thursday. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Until we have a better environment where people are understood and there’s grace and conversation around diversity, those people are going to continue to be discriminated against, hated and threatened. We’re allowing that by putting out bills like this.”

-Rep. Meloyde Blancett, D-Tulsa, speaking against HB 1775, which would ban teaching critical race theory and also prohibits “any form of mandatory gender or sexual diversity training or counseling,” [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Amount of child care relief funding coming to Oklahoma through the American Rescue Plan Act through expanded child care assistance and child care stabilization funds

[Source: CLASP]

Policy Note

Studies Show Dramatic Racial Disparities in Front End of Juvenile Justice System: Two peer-reviewed studies document an alarmingly unequal juvenile justice system, particularly for Black youth. The studies point to systemic responses that result in harsher treatment for youth of color — especially Black youth — than non-Hispanic white youth at the front end of juvenile justice, starting with police encounters before young people even reach high school. Glaring disparities by race and ethnicity persist, according to the studies, and differences in behavior cannot account for the overrepresentation of youth of color in the justice system. [Annie E. Casey Foundation]

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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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