In The Know: Medicaid expansion now covering more than 200,000 Oklahomans | Children vaccinations about to begin | Redistricting deja vu

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

Policy Matters: Déjà vu all over again: When gathering my thoughts about the upcoming Nov. 15 special legislative session on redistricting, I was torn whether to lead with something biblical (Ecclesiastes 1:9: “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”) or something slightly more contemporary from the Talking Heads (“Same as it ever was.”). Regardless, when it comes to redistricting, I get the feeling that we’ve seen this movie before. [Ahniwake Rose / Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

Over 200,000 Oklahomans now have health coverage through Medicaid expansion: Over 200,000 Oklahomans have now enrolled in SoonerCare through Medicaid expansion, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority announced Wednesday. Of those, more than 118,000 are new applicants, while the rest were transitioned into SoonerCare from a more limited benefits program, or people who had older applications reprocessed. Another 80,000 people still may be eligible for benefits through Medicaid expansion, the Health Care Authority said. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Oklahoma preparing to begin COVID vaccinations for children: Oklahoma health officials said Wednesday they are prepared to begin COVID-19 vaccinations to children aged 5-11 as soon as the vaccines arrive. Child-sized doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine cleared two final hurdles Tuesday — a recommendation from Centers for Disease Control advisers and approval by CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. [AP News]

  • With OK from CDC on COVID-19 shots for kids 5-11, here’s what’s next for doses in Oklahoma [The Oklahoman]
  • Kid-size doses of COVID-19 vaccine should arrive next week, Tulsa Health Department says [Tulsa World]
  • Experts promote COVID-19 vaccine for kids [The Journal Record]

Oklahoma governor wants Department of Defense to suspend vaccine requirement for National Guard troops: Oklahoma’s governor has asked the U.S. Secretary of Defense to suspend COVID-19 vaccine mandates for Oklahoma National Guard troops after 10% of the state’s personnel said they either have not or do not plan to get vaccinated. [CNHI via Norman Transcript]

Fear of nonbinary, intersex people ignores established medical science: When Gov. Kevin Stitt learned that his Oklahoma State Department of Health had settled a lawsuit by establishing a process for people to amend their birth certificates to show nonbinary sex designation, he released a flawed statement: “I believe that people are created by God to be male or female. Period. There is no such thing as non-binary sex.” [Anna Puhl / NonDoc]

State Government News

Oklahoma Republican officials respond to gerrymandering accusations: Oklahoma lawmakers released their final updated map of the state’s congressional districts on Monday, a few weeks ahead of a special session on redistricting. Critics noted that the update further segmented Oklahoma City’s urban core, which elected the delegation’s lone Democrat to the 5th District for one term in 2018. The new lines also removed the predominantly Latino southwestern portion of the city from the 5th district, moving it to the predominantly rural District 3, which spans all the way through the panhandle. Critics also noted that the state’s other most populous city and county, Tulsa, sit in one district. [KOSU]

Ida’s Law: The Promise, Limitations of Oklahoma’s Pursuit of Justice for Indigenous People: A new law that goes into effect this week aims to give the state’s Native American families like Beard’s a more coordinated pursuit of justice. Ida’s Law, named for the mother of four who was 29 years old when she went missing, prompted changes within the state’s top law enforcement agency. An agent now tracks and investigates cases of missing and murdered indigenous Oklahomans. A victim advocate now supports their families. But progress will be slow due to a lack of funding. [Oklahoma Watch]

Oklahoma revenue down slightly in September but tops 2020: Oklahoma revenue collections in October were down slightly from September but 16% higher than one year ago, state Treasurer Randy McDaniel said Wednesday. The state collected $1.27 billion in October, compared to $1.38 billion the previous month, according to data from the treasurer’s office. October collections were $175.8 million more than October 2020. [AP News]

Service veterans share perspective on medical marijuana during interim study in Oklahoma House: When retired Army Maj. Ed Pulido met Mike Harryman, a fellow veteran injured in combat, one thing was obvious, he said: Doctors had given him too many pills. “We got him on the medical marijuana — I will tell you his life has improved; he looks better,” Pulido said. [Tulsa World]

Editorial: Lawmakers need to revisit law protecting drivers who hit protesters in Oklahoma: A federal judge’s action and recent facts unearthed by journalists regarding protesters struck by vehicles give state lawmakers reasons to take another look at House Bill 1674. The bill, passed by the Legislature and signed into law following a summer of Black Lives Matter protests across the country, protects drivers who strike street rioters and fines organizations participating in riots. [Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Inhofe seeks suspension of military COVID-19 vaccine mandate: Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, renewed his call on Wednesday for the Defense Department to suspend the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for military personnel, and he complained that the Pentagon had ignored his request for detailed information about the mandate’s impacts. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Tulsa County to help fund Muscogee Nation’s monoclonal antibody COVID treatment clinic: Tulsa County will contribute $500,000 toward operational costs at the Muscogee Nation’s COVID-19 treatment center, officials announced Wednesday. “This facility treats both Native and non-Native patients right here in Tulsa County, helping prevent our hospitals from being overrun,” said County Commission Chairman Stan Sallee. [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Legislative Black Caucus asks Stitt to grant Julius Jones clemency: The Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus on Wednesday urged Gov. Kevin Stitt to grant clemency to Oklahoma County convicted killer Julius Jones. The Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-1 on Monday to recommend clemency and commute the sentence from death to life with the possibility of parole. Jones is scheduled to die by lethal injection at Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester on Nov. 18. [Tulsa World] Black Caucus members of the state Legislature confirmed they’d gotten to meet with Julius Jones in recent months and expressed support for his release. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Jailers forced inmates to listen to ‘Baby Shark’ on a loop. Now there’s a federal lawsuit: Three former inmates are suing for actual and punitive damages two years after being forced to listen to “Baby Shark” over and over at high volumes in the Oklahoma County jail. Their attorneys described the discipline tactics as “torture events.” [The Oklahoman]

Two Oklahoma police officers charged with hiding shooting: Two Tulsa police officers have been charged with helping conceal evidence of a shooting involving the brother of the boyfriend of a former officer who pleaded guilty earlier this year to illegally purchasing a gun for her boyfriend. [AP News]

Economic Opportunity

Why eviction hits older adults harder, making them vulnerable to homelessness: An unexpected financial emergency could leave low-income older adults at risk of eviction. Aging people in Oklahoma have dealt with extreme weather and extended power outages since last year, which forced them to make difficult decisions about how to spend limited resources, said Meghan Mueller, associate executive director of the Homeless Alliance in Oklahoma City. For instance, a lengthy power outage may force older adults to choose between paying next month’s rent and replacing the spoiled food in their fridge. [Big If True]

Education News

Oklahoma’s cafeterias have been hit hard by the coronavirus: The pandemic has changed everything about lunchtime at Oklahoma schools. Strong says there was a massive statewide effort to feed kids when schools shut down in 2020. Now, there are issues with various options. In October, Edmond Public announced it would only serve one meal option each day at sites. It’s been tough to serve some things like hamburgers at Putnam City Schools. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

6 Oklahoma City teachers fired for refusing to wear masks: Six teachers who refused to wear masks have been fired from Oklahoma City Public Schools. The district Board of Education voted to terminate their employment after hearing testimony and asking questions during a hearing Wednesday evening. The board voted unanimously after hearing hours of testimony. The six board members present deliberated for almost two hours in executive session. [The Oklahoman]

Edmond school superintendent responds to ‘negative and sometimes false’ comments from parents: After parents and local residents accused Edmond Public Schools of implementing mask mandates for money, teaching fourth graders about serial killer Ted Bundy and indoctrinating students with Marxist views, the district’s superintendent responded Tuesday to “negative and sometimes false comments” some have made in public meetings. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Tulsa City Council votes to eliminate EMSA’s paramedic requirement [Tulsa World]
  • City Council tables decision on Feb. 8 date for public vote on new PSO franchise fee agreement [Tulsa World]
  • Portion of U.S. 169 dedicated to TPD sergeant killed in line of duty [Tulsa World]
  • Incentive plan in the works to bring professional college grads to Enid [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Redistricting commission selects new boundary map for council wards [The Lawton Constitution] | [Southwest Ledger]

Quote of the Day

“I think just being on a fixed income, it has people precariously balanced on a really fine edge, and it doesn’t take much to push people over the edge into some really difficult situations.” 

-Meghan Mueller, associate executive director of the Homeless Alliance in Oklahoma City, speaking about how an unexpected financial emergency could leave low-income older adults at risk of eviction. [BigIfTrue]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma children under age 17 who lack health insurance. This represents about 70,000 children in the state. [KIDS COUNT]  

Policy Note

Why is Medicaid/CHIP Continuous Eligibility So Important for Kids?: The number of uninsured kids was going down for many years, but during the Trump administration starting going back up – rising to 5.7 percent child uninsured rate in 2019. While children are insured at higher rates than non-elderly adults, they still lag considerably behind seniors – who with Medicare happily on the scene – are covered at around 99 percent. But when you hear that 94 percent of kids have coverage, don’t get complacent. The situation is not that good. The condition of being uninsured is not a static question. While families with higher incomes tend to have more steady coverage, low and moderate income families experienced more coverage churn and periods of uninsurance. [Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center for Children and Families]

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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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