In The Know: Officials respond to announced CARES Act spending report | Evictions continuing despite moratorium | 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.

Oklahoma News

New state watchdog criticizes Oklahoma CARES Act spending: A legislative watchdog has delivered a scathing report on how Gov. Kevin Stitt’s administration spent millions of dollars of federal coronavirus relief on things barely connected to the pandemic, such as technology upgrades for state agencies and a tourism ad campaign. [AP News] LOFT delays hearing report critiquing state’s handling of CARES Act funds [News9]

  • Officials issue scathing rebuttal to report criticizing state’s federal COVID-19 spending [Tulsa World]
  • Stitt administration fires back at critical report of how Oklahoma spent CARES Act money [KFOR]
  • Some of Oklahoma’s CARES Act money went to cleaning windows, welcome centers [KFOR]

Despite federal moratorium, thousands of evictions continue in Oklahoma: Oklahoma landlords are increasingly seeking other routes to get tenants who have failed to pay rent out of their homes, attorneys for both sides say, even when the tenant presents the landlord with a declaration from the CDC to protect them from eviction. The CDC did not completely eliminate eviction filings or evictions granted, according to Open Justice Oklahoma, a program by the Oklahoma Policy Institute which tracks evictions filed in the state. [The Frontier] OK Policy and its Open Justice Oklahoma program have been tracking evictions in Oklahoma and noted that policymakers must do more to prevent evictions and foreclosures during and after the COVID-19 crisis.

Number of Oklahomans vaccinated exceeds number of infections: The number of people vaccinated against the coronavirus in Oklahoma has surpassed the state’s cumulative number of COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, health officials reported Thursday. More than 500,000 Oklahomans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to just under 400,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began in March, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. [AP News]

  • Vaccines reach nearly all Oklahoma long-term care facilities [Oklahoma Watch]
  • Vaccination mega-PODs could serve 6,000 Oklahomans a day [KOSU] | [Public Radio Tulsa] | [Tulsa World]
  • Some Oklahoma pharmacies to get doses of COVID vaccine starting next week [Public Radio Tulsa] | [KOSU]
  • A third coronavirus vaccine is expected in Oklahoma soon [KOSU]
  • OKC mayor counsels vigilance, says his father is recovering from COVID-19 after 11 days in ICU [The Oklahoman]
  • COVID-19: 27 more deaths reported in Oklahoma with 2,782 more cases [Tulsa World]

Health News

Oklahoma Dental Association comes out against managed Medicaid plan: The Oklahoma Dental Association says they are against the governor’s plan for managed Medicaid. They say it will be costly, and they’re worried it’ll be harder for people to get the care they need. [KFOR]

OKC church, health agency partner for virtual Spanish-language COVID seminar: A south Oklahoma City church is partnering with a local health agency to offer a virtual COVID-19 vaccine seminar geared for the Latino community. [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Oklahoma to get $8.9 million in settlement with consulting firm to fight opioid crisis: Oklahoma will get $8.9 million to fight the opioid epidemic from a multi-state settlement with the consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Attorney General Mike Hunter announced the state’s share in a news release Thursday. McKinsey & Company reached a $573 million settlement that includes 47 states for its role in the opioid crisis. [The Oklahoman] In a deal announced Thursday with attorneys general for 47 states, the company agreed to make public documents showing communications with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and three other companies that have been in the opioid business. [Public Radio Tulsa]

State’s gross receipts continue decline in biggest drop since summer months: Gross receipts to the state treasury took their biggest year-over-year drop since last summer in January, Oklahoma Treasurer Randy McDaniel reported Thursday. Receipts were $1.19 billion, down 5.7% from the same month a year ago, as COVID-19 infections and deaths reached record highs. [Tulsa World]

First-time jobless claims in Oklahoma decline from previous week: The number of first-time unemployment claims filed last week was 9% less than the revised number of claims filed the prior week, according to a government report. [Tulsa World]

Revealing censure, Senate Floor Leader Kim David ‘will learn from this moment’: Senate Floor Leader Kim David provided NonDoc with a statement this morning clarifying her remarks from an interview Wednesday and noting that the Senate’s leader censured her for one week following remarks she made at a press conference. [NonDoc]

House bill moves fully automated, cashless turnpike system into fast lane: The last vestiges of toll booths will begin disappearing from Oklahoma’s turnpikes this summer as they begin transitioning to a cashless system. [Tulsa World]

Lawmaker hopes to increase student awareness of mental health issues: A state lawmaker has filed two bills to provide mental health resources and training for students and educators. [The Journal Record]

  • Oklahoma lawmakers file bill to require parents to disclose mental health needs of students [KFOR]

Oklahoma lawmaker introduces medical marijuana bills, could make it easier to get licenses: Oklahoma lawmakers are considering whether or not to make it easier for people outside of Oklahoma to get a medical marijuana license. [KTUL]

Data privacy bills filed in Legislature: Several measures that address concerns about data privacy and data manipulation have been introduced for consideration by state lawmakers this year. [Southwest Ledger]

Cattlemen’s group critical of beef inspection bills: Two legislative measures designed to help Oklahoma’s meat producers will likely create more problems than they solve, according to the state’s Cattlemen’s Association. [Southwest Ledger]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma Highway Patrol wants more funding for training academies: With nearly half of Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers eligible for retirement in the next 18 months, the agency needs enough funding from lawmakers to hold two training academies a year for the next five years just to keep up with retirements and natural attrition, said Trooper Eric Foster, director of recruiting. [CNHI via Enid News & Eagle]

Economy & Business News

Hollywood figures drawn to Oklahoma’s growing film presence: If you want to put a face on a story that the film industry is being drawn to Oklahoma, Richard Janes has face value. [Tulsa World]

Education News

Watch Now: Bynum weighs in on Gov. Stitt, Superintendent Gist’s back-and-forth over in-person school: Walking a fine line Thursday, Mayor G.T. Bynum said he agrees with Gov. Kevin Stitt that Tulsa Public Schools needs a plan to get students back into the classroom. [Tulsa World]

EmbraceOKC meets increased needs in Oklahoma City school district: As students resumed their education at Oklahoma City Public Schools last month, school officials met with more than just the typical back-to-school needs of their student population. In addition to managing the challenges of an online learning experience, studies indicate that the pandemic will have an impact on the mental and emotional health of students. [VeloCity OKC]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Cheat sheet: Meet the candidates for Edmond Ward 4 [NonDoc]
  • Removed Oklahoma County judge resolves tax case [The Oklahoman]
  • Governor calls for special election to fill Caddo County Commissioner vacancy [Lawton Constitution]

Quote of the Day

“What we’re afraid of is these (Center for Disease Control eviction) moratoriums that were protecting people are just going to crumble out from under these families who thought they were protected.”

-Eric Hallett, coordinator for housing advocacy at Legal Aid Oklahoma [The Frontier]

Number of the Day


The year Oklahoma elected its first Black legislator, A.C. Hamlin of Logan County. He was elected in the year of Oklahoma’s statehood and served in Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1908 to 1910. He lost re-election after Oklahoma lawmakers passed a constitutional amendment that effectively limited Black voters through voter registration requirements. The amendment was declared unconstitutional in a 1915 court case, but Hamlin remained Oklahoma’s only Black legislator until 1964. #BlackHistoryMonth

[Source: Tulsa World and Oklahoma Historical Society]

Policy Note

The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and the financial fallout: Research reveals the long-term impact following the destruction of the Greenwood District. Losses were devastating for Greenwood, but there’s little peer-reviewed academic research on the specific economic consequences of the massacre. The three articles featured below are among the few that attempt to analyze some of the economic fallout. They estimate direct property damage from the massacre north of $200 million in today’s dollars; they associate the massacre with stifling Black innovation; and they show that challenges persist when it comes to reconciling the past with the economic imperatives of today. [The Harvard Gazette]

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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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