In The Know: Many rural hospitals financially reeling; unemployment numbers released; lawmakers ask for court’s intervention

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

Statement: We can’t undo the past. But together, we can build a better future: During the past week, Americans have expressed pain and outrage in nationwide protests. The protests were sparked by police brutality against the Black community, but they have deep roots in our nation’s systemic racism that has created stunning inequities and lost lives for all people of color for generations. Oklahoma is not immune to these problems. Data and memory clearly and repeatedly show our state has far to go towards equity in economic opportunity, health care, education, the administration of justice, and much more. To effect long overdue change, Oklahomans of all backgrounds must have access to the power and resources necessary to move forward. [OK Policy]

Ask OK Policy: 2020 Legislative session overview (video): With the 2020 Legislative session having wrapped its work this year, our OK Policy team looked back at one of the most unusual sessions in state history — one that will be forever linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our analysts discuss what lawmakers accomplished this session, what they may have left undone, and also take a look forward to what needs to be address next year in the areas of budget and tax, criminal justice reform, economic opportunity, education, and voting rights. [OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

The only hospital in Mangum was failing. They promised to help but only made it worse: It was the sort of miracle cure that the board of a rural Oklahoma hospital on the verge of closure had dreamed about: A newly formed management company promised access to wealthy investors eager to infuse millions of dollars. But about a month later, hospital board members were summoned to an emergency meeting. [The Frontier]

Unemployment in most metro areas tops 15%, data shows: April’s unemployment rates in three out of four of Oklahoma’s largest metropolitan areas nearly reached or exceeded 15%, according to data the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission released Thursday. [The Oklahoman]

Legislative leaders ask state Supreme Court to intervene in tribal gaming lawsuit: Oklahoma’s top two legislative leaders interjected themselves into the gaming lawsuit between Gov. Kevin Stitt and several tribal governments on Thursday by asking the Oklahoma Supreme Court to assume original jurisdiction over a portion of the proceedings. [Tulsa World] Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, and House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, asked the state Supreme Court on Thursday to settle whether Gov. Kevin Stitt overstepped his authority when he reached deals with two Native American tribes to allow sports gambling. [AP News] In their own filing, they asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to step in and affirm that, though state gaming compacts with federally recognized tribes may be matters of federal concern, specific terms of compacts relating to state law are matters of state concern. [The Journal Record]

Coverage of statewide protests, policing

  • ‘This is worth my life’: Call to action outweighs protesters’ fears of coronavirus [The Frontier]
  • Oklahoma City leaders to reconsider police oversight following protests denouncing racial disparities [StateImpact Oklahoma]
  • TCC virtual forum discusses the problem of black men and policing [Tulsa World]
  • Residents express grievances, concerns in town hall meeting [Enid News & Eagle]
  • ‘Enough is enough’: Dozens watch Floyd memorial service together in OKC [The Oklahoman]
  • Peaceful demonstrators protest racial injustice outside three Tulsa police stations Thursday evening [Tulsa World]
  • Chief Franklin says police not targeting media during protests [Tulsa World]
  • Protesters in Cherokee Nation capital in Oklahoma pull off peaceful event; mayor, police chief part of assembly [Tahlequah Daily Press]
  • Honk in the name of justice, equality held here [Lawton Constitution]
  • Oklahoma City man vows to continue protesting despite arrest [Norman Transcript]
  • Arrest of protester ordered over Capitol graffiti [The Oklahoman]
  • Peaceful protest numbers exceed local social distancing guidelines [Norman Transcript]
  • Battling ‘two pandemics’ with prayer: Crowd gathers near Edmond Police headquarters for faith event [The Oklahoman]

Increase in Oklahoma COVID-19 daily case total holds steady: The pace held steady Thursday in the increase of reported Oklahoma coronavirus infections. State health officials say 102 new cases were reported Thursday of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. [AP News] Visit for the latest COVID-19 numbers in Oklahoma. 

State Government News

Oklahoma can release coronavirus information to first responders, attorney general says: State health officials can release to first responders the names and addresses of people who test positive of COVID-19 or are suspected of having the virus, Oklahoma’s attorney general wrote Thursday. [The Oklahoman]

State outsources computer services with $43.2M contract: A private company is set to take responsibility for desktop and laptop computer maintenance and other services provided for Oklahoma state agencies. Computer acquisition, setup, support and maintenance services previously handled by the Information Services Division of Oklahoma’s Office of Management and Enterprise Services will be taken over by NTT Data after July 1. [The Journal Record]

Governor activates National Guard, Medicaid expansion support, medical marijuana sales & more (audio): This Week in Oklahoma Politics discusses the governor activating the National Guard in response to the protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the State Health Department reverses its course on limiting certain data on COVID-19 and a petition to create an independent redistricting commission gets approval from the state supreme court, but its future remains uncertain. [KOSU]

Federal Government News

Higher education leaders ask Congress to protect them from COVID lawsuits: Emphasizing that the risk of COVID-19 can be minimized but not entirely eliminated, higher education leaders in Oklahoma joined others nationwide Thursday in calling for Congress to protect schools from possible lawsuits. [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Family of Oklahoma death row inmate Julius Jones relies on growing advocacy as case developments: As protests against police brutality continue across the country, Oklahoma City’s Black Lives Matter organization included commutation for Jones on a list of demands presented earlier this week. As of Wednesday, over 3 million individuals had signed an online petition asking for the same. [The Oklahoman] ‘They just want justice for him’: Trae Young, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin request Gov. Stitt to commute sentence of Oklahoma inmate on death row. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

Research: Does broadband access increase rural home values? Recent research did not find a measurable housing price premium for Internet-ready homes in two rural Oklahoma counties. Putting a blanket value on rural Internet access is not as easy as it might seem. [The Daily Yonder]

Economy & Business News

As pandemic concerns remain, state’s economy continues to slide: The coronavirus pandemic continued to make its presence known in May’s Oklahoma Gross Receipts to the Treasury. State Treasurer Randy McDaniel on Thursday released data showing a 14% drop in May revenue collections. Gross receipts for May totaled $923.1 million, down $150.5 million from May of last year. [The Journal Record] Gross receipts fell more than 30% in April, in part because the deadline for paying state income taxes was postponed until July 15. [Tulsa World]

Cherokee Nation starts reopening casinos: Cherokee Nation Businesses announced Thursday that its 10 casinos in northeast Oklahoma would begin a phased reopening this week and into next week. [The Journal Record]

General News

‘This is unprecedented stuff’: Tulsa County Election Board braces for day like none before: A lot of Tulsa County voters are going to be receiving letters from the Tulsa County Election Board in the days and weeks ahead. Some already have. Reading them is highly recommended for those who want to vote in the June 30 primary. [Tulsa World]

Report highlights voting inequities in tribal communities: Native American voting rights advocates are cautioning against states moving to mail-in ballots without opportunities for tribal members to vote safely in person. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma Local News

Quote of the Day

“To go out, I felt like it was part of the statement during COVID-19 knowing the risk. I needed the governor, our mayor, our city council to see this is worth my life.”

-Jae Morrison of Oklahoma City, who attended the weekend protests [The Frontier]

Number of the Day


May’s unemployment rate for Black workers, which represents an increase of one-tenth of a percent compared to the previous month. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for white workers dropped nearly two percentage points in May to 12.4 percent from 14.2 percent the previous month. [Source: U.S. Department of Labor

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Racial disparities and the income tax system: The Internal Revenue Service does not ask for a tax filer’s race or ethnicity on tax forms, but that does not mean the tax system affects people of different races in the same way. Overall, federal income taxes are progressive: people with higher incomes pay a larger share of their income in taxes than those with lower incomes, and this can help close racial income gaps. But some tax policies can also exacerbate income and wealth inequalities stemming from long-standing discrimination in areas such as housing, education, and employment. [Tax Policy Center]

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David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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