In The Know: New report shows state’s health inequities | Gov. signs redistricting bills | Health dept. restores some data reporting

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.

OK Policy in the News

Together Oklahoma to host virtual, in-person event on building grassroots political power: Oklahoma Policy Institute’s grassroots advocacy arm Together Oklahoma (TOK) will host a virtual and in-person event on Nov. 30 designed to support and empower advocates across the state. “People Have the Power: Preserving Democracy Through Participation” will be live-streamed starting at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 30, via the Together Oklahoma website ( [The Black Wall Street Times] | [Event Information]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma has significant health inequities, but Medicaid expansion could pave way for improvement: A new report found significant racial and ethnic health inequities in Oklahoma, a state that already ranks low in overall health access and outcomes. Black people in Oklahoma had the worst overall health rankings — a combined figure encompassing health outcomes, health care access and health care quality — than any other state with a large Black population, the report from The Commonwealth Fund found. [The Oklahoman]

  • Legislators in talks with Oklahoma Health Care Authority and governor over plan for Medicaid delivery system [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Medicaid enrollment event scheduled Dec. 2 [Woodward News]

Gov. Kevin Stitt signs congressional, legislative redistricting bills: Gov. Kevin Stitt signed six bills related to legislative and congressional redistricting into law Monday afternoon. The bills were passed during a special legislative session last week. Three of the bills reset state House and Senate and U.S. House of Representatives districts for 2022-2032. [Tulsa World] Stitt also approved new Dec. 31 residency requirements for candidates seeking legislative and county commissioner posts in 2022. [CNHI via Enid News & Eagle] Democrats strongly opposed the newly drawn 5th Congressional District that has been competitive in recent years, with Democrats winning the seat as recently as 2018 before Republicans won it back last year. The newly drawn district moves Democratic portions of Oklahoma City’s core and south side into the heavily Republican 3rd Congressional District that stretches across western and northwestern Oklahoma. [AP News]

  • Oklahoma’s Congressional Delegation satisfied with Republican led redistricting [News On 6]

Health News

State Health Department restores most but not all COVID-19 data, prompting mixed reactions: After encountering pushback, the Oklahoma State Department of Health has turned back on most of the COVID-19 data that it had recently removed from its website to mixed reactions. Three experts were grateful for OSDH’s reversal, but two highlighted ongoing shortcomings and weaknesses of the state’s published data — from how often it’s published to how complete it is. [Tulsa World]

  • Health dept. urges Oklahomans to safely celebrate holidays [Examiner-Enterprise]
  • ‘You are a hazard’: Citizen Potawatomi Nation workers are ordered to be vaccinated [KOSU]
  • Oklahoma City Thunder ending COVID requirements for fans [AP News]

Editorial: Local data part of decision-making in schools lifting mask mandates: In the last few weeks, several Tulsa-area school districts have updated policies about mask-wearing, largely due to availability of local data. Jenks schools suspended its requirement. Tulsa Public Schools has a stepped-down approach, likely eliminating masks requirements by the first of the year. Other district administrations and boards constantly review COVID-19 statistics. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Stitt appoints Mark Wood to Oklahoma Tax Commission: Gov. Kevin Stitt has selected former Ernst & Young office managing partner Mark Wood to fill a vacancy on the Oklahoma Tax Commission, a three-member body that governs tax issues in the state and is currently in the midst of a disagreement over whether tribal citizens living and working on affirmed Indian Country reservations owe income taxes to the state. [NonDoc]

Chamber chief warns bill puts target on businesses: Oklahoma lawmakers are gearing up to battle the federal government on vaccine mandates during the legislative session that begins in February. But the head of the State Chamber cautions lawmakers to take careful aim in their efforts so as to avoid wounding Oklahoma businesses. [The Journal Record] Two Republican lawmakers want to require employers to pay at least $1 million in punitive damages if they mandate vaccinations and an employee believes they became ill or suffered an injury as a result. [CNHI via Enid News & Eagle]

Oklahoma senator files bill to stop the use of unmarked police vehicles for traffic enforcement: An Oklahoma state senator has filed a bill to end the use of unmarked police cars for routine traffic enforcement. Sen. Cody Rogers, R-Tulsa, announced on Monday that he has filed Senate Bill 1109 calling for municipal police departments to use clearly marked vehicles. [KFOR]

Federal Government News

It’s been a first year ‘like no other’ for Rep. Stephanie Bice, who opposed much of Biden’s agenda: U.S. Rep. Stephanie Bice’s first year in Congress began with the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol and is coming to a close with the redrawing of her central Oklahoma district. She’s put up strong opposition to much of President Joe Biden’s first-term agenda, including a vote against his signature infrastructure bill earlier this month. [The Frontier]

Criminal Justice News

Governor’s clemency delay “terrorized” Julius Jones’ family, traumatized nation: As millions around the nation reflect on Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt’s last-minute decision to provide partial clemency for Julius Jones, some say the agonizing wait reflects a broken criminal justice system. Others see a system working exactly as intended. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Oklahoma to allow death row inmates a personal spiritual leader in execution chamber: The Oklahoma Corrections Department has agreed that condemned prisoners in the future can have a personal spiritual advisor in the execution chamber. The spiritual advisor will have to pass a background check. Confirmation of the policy change came Monday during a hearing on a death row inmate’s request for an execution stay. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

More attention being paid to ‘optimal’ school start times: Despite local and national research indicating that later school start times lead to better educational experiences for middle and high school students, the schedules of Oklahoma’s 500-plus school districts are far from uniform, with most districts spacing their elementary, middle and high school morning bells somewhere between 7 a.m. and 9:20 a.m. As a practical matter, schools stagger their start times in an attempt to balance multiple bus routes and parental preferences at the local level. [NonDoc]

A giant investment firm paid a university to study one of its biggest assets: farmland: The money aimed to fund a research center, branded with the company’s name, that would explore the financial niche of farmland investment. It’s the fourth largest donation given to the university’s agriculture school in the last 10 years, according to data obtained by Harvest Public Media and Investigate Midwest through the Freedom of Information Act. [KOSU]

Oklahoma Local News

Quote of the Day

“States that have expanded Medicaid … have generally reduced disparities in insurance coverage at least over time. If you look at states that have expanded and haven’t expanded, those inequities have narrowed much more significantly in states that did expand relative to those that didn’t.”

-Sara Collins, vice president for health care coverage and access at the Commonwealth Fund, speaking about a recent report showing health inequities [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


The national rank, including Washington, D.C.,  for Oklahoma’s state health system overall performance for whites, with only Mississippi ranking lower. Oklahoma’s state health care system ranked last (38th of 38 states with reportable data) for overall performance for Blacks, 39th out of 42 for Latinx , and 5th out of 13 for American Indians/Alaska Natives. [Commonwealth Fund]

Policy Note

Achieving Racial and Ethnic Equity in U.S. Health Care: Profound racial and ethnic disparities in health and well-being have long been the norm in the United States. Black and American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) people live fewer years, on average, than white people. They are also more likely to die from treatable conditions; more likely to die during or after pregnancy and to suffer serious pregnancy-related complications; and more likely to lose children in infancy. Black and AIAN people are also at higher risk for many chronic health conditions, from diabetes to hypertension. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made things worse, with average life expectancies for Black, Latinx/Hispanic, and, in all likelihood, AIAN people falling more sharply compared to white people. People’s health also varies markedly across and within states, as does access to health services and overall quality of care. [Commonwealth Fund]

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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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