In The Know: More than 150,000 vaccine doses administered, more needed | Ed Dept. requests $3.2B budget | Managed care

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

New GAO report details problems with managed care (Capitol Update): Recently Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, issued a press release expressing his continued opposition to the Medicaid managed care proposal of Gov. Stitt. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) issued a Request for Proposal for insurance companies to bid on becoming a managed care organization (MCO), and contracts for three to five MCOs are expected to be awarded shortly before the legislature goes into session. However, legislation may be needed to fully implement the plan. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update] OK Policy: Managed care is a bad investment for Oklahoma, but could be especially harmful for patients, providers, and Indigenous communities.

Oklahoma News

State reports over 150,000 vaccine doses administered: The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported that over 150,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered statewide as of Monday. In total, 153,460 vaccinations have been administered. 136,271 of those are the first dose and 17,369 are the boost dose, the department said. [The Norman Transcript]

  • Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations keep soaring in Oklahoma [AP News] | [The Norman Transcript]
  • COVID-19: Average of new cases tops 4,000 in Oklahoma; 14 more deaths reported [Tulsa World]
  • OU Health vaccinating less than 50 percent potential daily capacity, Bratzler says [OU Daily]
  • Comanche County officials say outside county vaccinations are no cause for concern [The Lawton Constituton]
  • State congressional delegation mum about pace of vaccine dispersal [CNHI via Muskogee Phoenix]
  • 211 explains ‘misconception’: COVID-19 vaccinations can’t be scheduled through call center [Tulsa World] | [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Got questions about Oklahoma’s COVID vaccine rollout? Let us know [The Oklahoman]
  • Editorial: Anti-mask legislation deserves the condemnation of state leaders [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Education department brings $3.2B budget request to Oklahoma lawmakers: In the year’s first budget hearing, Oklahoma State Department of Education officials presented their $3.2 billion request to state lawmakers. It represents a 6% increase — $191 million — over the current fiscal year appropriation, with most going toward the state funding formula for public schools. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • Oklahoma State Board Of Education says funding increase ask won’t be enough [KOSU]

Security increased at Capitol in wake of reports of planned armed protests: In the wake of reports of possible armed protests at capitols across the nation, Oklahoma has increased security. “We are monitoring the situation and taking appropriate measures,” said Charlie Hannema, a spokesman for Gov. Kevin Stitt. “The governor has consistently supported the right to peaceful demonstration but there is no place for violence or damage to property. We will protect the rights of Oklahomans while maintaining public safety.” [Tulsa World] Hours after protections were stepped up nationwide, the FBI issued bulletins warning of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitols and in Washington ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration. [AP News via The Journal Record]

Health News

Tennessee approved for first Medicaid block grant program: CMS on Friday announced it had approved Tennessee’s waiver to create a Medicaid block grant program in the state. It is set to be the first state to implement the policy long pushed by conservatives. Oklahoma was the first state to apply for a block grant program, but rescinded its application in August without giving a reason. [Healthcare Dive] OK Policy: Tennessee waltzes down the wrong path with Medicaid block grant proposal.

State Government News

Freshmen Republicans prepare for first session in House: The Oklahoma House of Representatives will feature 11 freshmen Republicans for the 2021 legislative session, which is scheduled to start Feb. 1. With 82 Republicans and 19 Democrats in the House, the incoming freshmen Republicans will have a significant supply of seniority upon which to rely. [NonDoc]

  • Capitol Insider: Oklahoma legislators focus on 2021 legislative session [KGOU]

Oklahoma absentee ballot process returns to pre-COVID-19 requirements: A temporary absentee ballot verification option put in place by Oklahoma legislators in 2020 has expired, meaning voters now must have the documents notarized. [The Lawton Constitution

Federal Government News

Sheriff, mayors among Oklahomans in Washington on day of insurrection: At least one sheriff and two mayors were among the Oklahomans present in Washington, D.C., Wednesday for a protest against the rightful results of the 2020 presidential election on the day a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol and left five people dead. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Second round of PPP loans coming this month: The federal Paycheck Protection Program will resume the week of Jan. 11, and PPP2 bears some interesting differences from the first round of business relief funding. Oklahoma Commerce Secretary Sean Kouplen discussed some of those differences during his monthly webinar on Wednesday. [The Journal Record]

U.S. Supreme Court will review case involving Oklahoma oil refinery, corn growers: An appeals court decision that invalidated a decision made by the Trump-led U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to allow a small refiner in Oklahoma and several others to sidestep renewable fuels blending requirements will be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court, it has announced. [The Oklahoman]

Stacy Schusterman: Oklahomans deserve confidence in our elections: U.S. Sen. James Lankford’s and all five of Oklahoma’s U.S. House members’ complaints about the Nov. 3 presidential election are groundless. Although Lankford eventually relented and accepted the Electoral College votes, it should not have taken a riot for the democratic process to proceed. The violent events that took place last week should serve as a powerful wake-up call to all our elected officials that words matter. Now is the time to work to restore confidence in our elections and our democracy, not to sow doubts about the security of our elections in order to undermine the will of the people. [Stacy Schusterman Op-Ed / Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Inmates, corrections staff express reluctance to take the COVID-19 vaccine: Oklahoma inmates are experiencing their own version of pandemic fatigue. The corrections department has limited inmate movement and enforced a mask mandate for staff and prisoners since April. A systemwide lockdown prompted by gang fights at the three male prisons in late November has added an additional layer of restrictions over the past several weeks. [Oklahoma Watch]

Economic Opportunity

As pandemic continues, Tulsans who never needed a charity’s help before need it now: Cars began lining up just after sunrise on a damp January morning. Some turned off their engines to save gas and people huddled under blankets to stay warm, waiting nearly three hours before the line even started to move. All this, to get food. [Tulsa World

Economy & Business News

Feds issue new rules for independent contractors: The economy has shifted in ways that make it more important than ever that businesses clearly determine who is an employee and who is an independent contractor, federal officials said issuing a new rule on the matter on Jan. 6. [The Journal Record]

50 or more WPX employees could be laid off; offices to start closing in March: WPX Energy will begin closing its doors in Tulsa in two months as part of its consolidation with Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy, documents indicate. [Tulsa World]

Education News

Teachers talk U.S. Capitol riot with #oklaed students: Gemma Defee’s AP government class had discussed James Madison’s Federalist No. 10 and his warnings about factions shortly before last week’s breach of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump. [NonDoc]

Tulsa school board receives overview, projected timeline for 2021 school bond issue: Tulsa school board members received an overview Monday of a 2021 bond proposal that, if approved next month, would likely go to voters in a May election. [Tulsa World]

General News

Calls mount for Lankford to resign from Race Massacre Centennial Commission after capitol attack: Calls are mounting for Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, to resign his seat on the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission after his role in sowing doubt about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election and the insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol. [Public Radio Tulsa] “The senator’s continued involvement with the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Commission would be acutely disrespectful to the victims and descendants of the massacre,” said Black Wall Street Times editor-in-chief Nehemiah Frank. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Tulsa City Council to vote on extending mask mandate, other COVID-19 restrictions, for 90 days [Tulsa World]
  • Some Tulsa County District Court proceedings to be held at Cox Business Convention Center [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Bynum not extending furloughs for City Of Tulsa employees [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Mayor G.T. Bynum names Rodrigo Rojas as deputy chief of staff [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma County Commissioners apply for federal rent assistance program for unemployed [OKC Free Press]
  • Legislators hold public redistricting meeting in Lawton Monday [KSWO]

Quote of the Day

“Some people have no idea what’s going on and how much need there is. We’re tying to meet the needs of the people, but it’s difficult. There’s so much need. The cars keep coming and keep coming. They don’t stop.”

-Rita Gallardo, who runs La Cosecha food program at the Tulsa’s Iglesia Hispana Victory Church [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day

412 to 1

Oklahoma public schools’ student to counselor ratio. The recommended student to counselor ratio is 250 to one. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Policy Note

Jobs recovery stalled in December, highlighting importance of further relief and stimulus measures: The Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act, enacted on December 27, provides important but short-term and incomplete economic stimulus and hardship relief. It must be followed by further relief and stimulus legislation to achieve a strong and equitable economic recovery that creates jobs and raises employment and incomes for all — especially for people of color, who have experienced disproportionate hardship in the pandemic and recession, and who historically have waited longest to see the fruits of an economic recovery. [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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