In The Know: Manslaughter charges for miscarriage | COVID again straining state hospitals | Gross state revenue breaks record | 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.

New from OK Policy

2022 State Budget Summit: With less than a month to go until the next Legislative session starts, Oklahomans are already starting to focus on next year’s state budget. We are, too! That’s why we want you to join us for OK Policy’s 2022 State Budget Summit, which will shine a light on the state’s fiscal outlook for the coming year. Now in its eighth year, OK Policy’s State Budget Summit brings together state and local officials, tribal leaders, community leaders, and engaged citizens to examine the state’s current fiscal circumstances, what we might expect during this year’s legislative session, and where we can improve our state’s budget and tax system. Click here to learn more and register for the 2022 State Budget Summit.

Oklahoma News

She was charged with manslaughter after a miscarriage. Cases like hers are becoming more common in Oklahoma: In Oklahoma, a growing number of women are facing criminal charges for using substances during pregnancy, as more babies have been born exposed to drugs in recent years, an investigation by The Frontier has found. Prosecutors have been aided by a 2020 Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ruling that held women can be charged with child neglect for using drugs during pregnancy — a felony that can carry up to a life sentence. Courts in Alabama and South Carolina have handed down similar decisions. Women can be prosecuted even if their babies are born healthy. [The Frontier]

Oklahoma hospitals sounding alarms again as capacity strained by omicron, rise in flu cases: Some hallways are again being used to house patients at Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa as long waits return to the emergency room amid rising hospitalizations brought on by the omicron variant. Statewide, the top concern for hospitals is having health care workers available to staff beds and give care — not just for COVID-19 but for all reasons a person ends up in a hospital. Intensive-care units are strained, with beds refilled as soon as they open. [Tulsa World]

  • Monoclonal antibody treatments are in short supply in Oklahoma as COVID-19 surges [The Oklahoman]
  • COVID-19 in Oklahoma: New cases climb to near record amid omicron spread [Tulsa World]
  • When to test, why you should upgrade from a cloth mask and other COVID questions answered [StateImpact Oklahoma]

State Government News

Gross state revenue breaks record, Oklahoma’s treasurer says: Driven by a huge jump in retail sales, gross state tax revenue hit a record $1.4 billion in December, state Treasurer Randy McDaniel said Thursday. The $15.2 billion collected in calendar year 2022 is also an all-time high, McDaniel said. [Tulsa World] Compared to a year ago, McDaniel said December collections jumped 22% and revenues for the year were 15% higher than those recorded in 2020. [The Journal Record]

First-time jobless claims in state decline 19%: First-time jobless claims in the state declined 19% last week compared to the previous seven-day period, according to a government report. The U.S. Department of Labor reported 1,427 initial claims were filed for unemployment benefits the week ending Saturday. The prior week, an upwardly revised 1,762 first-time claims were logged. [Tulsa World]

State reclaiming welcome centers it once leased for free: The state of Oklahoma is in the process of ending contracts that leased the operations of six travel welcome centers to municipalities and corporate subsidiaries of tribal nations between 1997 and 2017. All of the welcome centers were leased without compensation, although one contract with a Chickasaw company included reimbursement for utility costs. [NonDoc]

Campaigns heat up, plots thicken at Oklahoma Capitol: With looming legislative and legal battles, an election year, and what are sure to be some surprises, it is shaping up to be another eventful year in Oklahoma politics. [The Journal Record]

State Rep. Terry O’Donnell resigns leadership post because of indictment: State Rep. Terry O’Donnell, R-Catoosa, said late Thursday he is resigning his No. 2 leadership position but intends to stay in the Oklahoma House of Representatives and fight corruption charges brought last month by an Oklahoma County grand jury. [Tulsa World]

  • Catoosa state lawmaker and wife turn themselves in following felony indictments [Public Radio Tulsa]

(Audio) Oklahoma’s $10B budget, Rep. O’Donnell charges, National Guard vaccines and more: This Week in Oklahoma Politics discusses the Tax Commission estimating the state will have more than $10B in the 2023 fiscal year budget, a grand jury indicting House Speaker Pro Tem Terry O’Donnell of writing a law to allow his wife to become a tag agent and a judge denying the state’s challenge against vaccine mandates for the National Guard. [KOSU]

Second petition filed to legalize recreational cannabis in Oklahoma: Oklahomans could see on the ballot this year competing state questions to legalize recreational marijuana. A second initiative petition to legalize recreational marijuana use in Oklahoma for anyone 21 years or older was filed Tuesday with the secretary of state’s office. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

A year after Jan. 6 insurrection, election lies, misinformation persist for some in Oklahoma GOP: Hours before a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 in a stunning and brazen display that left five dead and widespread destruction, hundreds of Oklahomans gathered outside of the State Capitol in a protest seeking to overturn the presidential election. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • One year after the insurrection, Oklahoma’s House delegation isn’t answering questions about their vote to overturn the election [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Oklahomans gather to reflect on anniversary of Jan. 6 insurrection [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma lawmaker under fire for U.S. Capitol attack statement [KTUL]
  • One year later: A black man’s perspective on the capitol attack [Editorial / The Black Wall Street Times

Tribal Nations News

Supreme Court to decide whether to reconsider its ‘McGirt v. Oklahoma’ decision: Eighteen months after a landmark ruling said the state of Oklahoma doesn’t have jurisdiction on tribal reservations in Oklahoma, the nation’s high court will decide if they want to reconsider the decision. Justices have received a barrage of petitions from the state to overturn the McGirt v. Oklahoma decision or at least allow it to have the ability to prosecute non-native citizens when they commit crimes inside tribal boundaries. [KOSU]

  • Muscogee Principal Chief David Hill: Oklahoma Governor’s attack on judicial precedent should not prevail [Muscogee Nation]

Criminal Justice News

As jails suspend in-person visitation, expensive video and phone calls fill the void: To limit the spread of covid, some jails and prisons are suspending in-person visits, leaving inmates and their families to communicate through video and phone calls that can cost more than $1 per minute. The most expensive calls can cost more than $20 per 15 minutes, the study found. In Arkansas, jails in Arkansas, Baxter and Mississippi counties each charged $24.82 for a 15-minute call—an average of $1.65 per minute. In Oklahoma, a 15-minute call from Cherokee and Jackson county jails cost $18.87. [Big If True]

Economic Opportunity

Chasing records and personal stories led to a deep dive on how Oklahoma City hospitals discharge patients with no place to go: A lack of resources means many people are sent back to the street or to shelters that can’t handle their medical needs. Here’s how I wrote the story. [The Frontier]

Economy & Business News

COVID-19 surge leaves small businesses on edge: The new surge in COVID-19 cases nationwide raises concerns about the survival of small businesses. As the omicron variant causes infections and hospitalizations to soar, President Joe Biden and a number of governors and mayors have vowed to avoid another shutdown [The Journal Record]

$1 billion boost slated for meat industry: Oklahoma, as the second-largest beef-cow producing state, stands to make good use of a sizable share of a $1 billion plan to bolster the meat industry announced by the Biden administration on Monday. [The Journal Record]

Education News

StateImpact is again tracking school closures amid the coronavirus pandemic: Students and teachers came back to school across Oklahoma in early January. But so did the coronavirus. Omicron is hitting schools hard as many have started this week. Tulsa Union Public Schools is pivoting to virtual learning for a day. District numbers reveal 19 classrooms don’t have available teachers there. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

  • Absences force OKC schools Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary, F.D. Moon Middle into virtual learning [The Oklahoman]
  • Some Tulsa area schools implementing distance learning [AP News]

Lawmaker introduces two bills to help address Oklahoma teacher shortage: An Oklahoma lawmaker is looking for new ways to fill empty classrooms. As the state grapples with a growing teacher shortage, Sen. Jessica Garvin is introducing a pair of bills that would make it easier for adjuncts and substitutes to fill the gaps. [Fox 25]

Oklahoma Local News

  • ‘Returning this place to a healthier condition’: planned Tar Creek restorative efforts seek to chip away at devastation [Public Radio Tulsa]

Quote of the Day

“Decades of experience demonstrates that we serve our communities best when we work together in a spirit of common cause and intergovernmental respect. Our goal is to continue working collaboratively to protect public safety, preserve justice and maintain law and order.”

— Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby, speaking on working with the state after the McGirt ruling [KOSU]

Number of the Day

1 in 7

Number of Oklahomans who participated in the SNAP anti-hunger program pre-pandemic (2019).

[Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

Policy Note

A Quick Guide to SNAP Eligibility and Benefits: Most families and individuals who meet the program’s income guidelines are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program). The size of a family’s SNAP benefit is based on its income and certain expenses. This paper provides a short summary of SNAP eligibility and benefit calculation rules that are in effect for federal fiscal year 2022, which began in October 2021. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

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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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