In The Know: OHCA board shakeup | Hospitals continue dealing with patient influx | Cherokee chief vows to protect sovereignty

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

TSET asks legislators to revisit definition of tobacco products (Capitol Update): The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) was created by voters in 2000 to manage and invest proceeds and earnings from the national tobacco lawsuit settlement in which former Attorney General Drew Edmondson was a leader with other AGs around the country. Edmondson wisely recommended, and Oklahoma voters agreed, to put the money in trust with a constitutional mandate to support strategies and programs designed to maintain or improve the health of Oklahomans. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma governor removes only physicians from medical board: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt removed the only two physicians from the board that oversees the state’s Medicaid agency, just a week after the board voted 7-1 to delay implementing rules on Stitt’s plan to privatize some Medicaid services. Dr. Jean Hausheer told The Associated Press on Tuesday that both she and Dr. Laura Shamblin, an Oklahoma City pediatrician, were informed on Saturday by a staffer in the governor’s office that they were being removed from the governing board of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. [AP News]

  • Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt under fire for shake-up on state health board [The Oklahoman]
  • Stitt shakes up state Health Care Authority board by dismissing its only two physician-members [Tulsa World] | [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Stitt pitches sportsbook, cans OHCA board members, bids Ostrowe adieu [NonDoc]

Stillwater hospital puts tents in parking lot, brings in Medical Reserve Corps to help with COVID influx: While watching the construction of medical tents outside Stillwater Medical Center’s emergency room, Chief Nursing Officer Liz Michael described the facility’s ER as being “very scary” over the past few days as the numbers of COVID-19 patients housed there continues to rise. “In an ideal world we wouldn’t have to use these at all. We wouldn’t even consider it,” Michael said of the two tents, which can house a maximum of eight patients each. [Tulsa World]

  • COVID overflow at Memorial calls for emergency shelter [The Lawton Constitution]
  • Taxed by COVID-19, McAlester Regional Health Center down to last ventilator with no staff for it [Tulsa World]
  • Hospital Officials Tell Lawmakers Latest COVID Surge Exacerbates Ongoing Oklahoma Nursing Shortage [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • The unvaccinated send hospital budgets, staff into crisis [The Journal Record]
  • Saint Francis: Youth COVID cases climbing, likely to continue [Tulsa World]
  • Almost 9,400 Oklahomans have died of COVID-19 [The Frontier]

Tribal Nations News

Cherokee chief says governor’s challenge of McGirt ruling will be met with ‘determined opposition’ during State of the Nation address: The COVID pandemic once again prompted Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. to deliver his State of the Nation address virtually on Saturday. [Tulsa World] Cherokee Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. emphasized his commitment to achieving “complete sovereignty” in his annual State of the Nation address on Saturday. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Quapaw Tribal Citizens Will Receive Equal Payment In Environmental Damage Settlement: Citizens of the Quapaw Nation will get more of the settlement money disbursed to the Tribe to pay for environmental damage done to Quapaw land by the lead and zinc mines in the Tar Creek area of northeast Oklahoma. [KOSU]

Muscogee citizens voting on Mvskoke Media free-press protections, funding: In the Muscogee Nation primary election Sept. 18, citizens will vote on a ballot question that, if passed, would amend the nation’s constitution to provide permanent press protections for Mvskoke Media, the tribe’s independent media outlet. [NonDoc]

Muscogee National Council: 3 challenge incumbent for Okmulgee District B seat: The race for the Okmulgee District B seat on the Muscogee National Council features longtime incumbent James Jennings and three challengers hoping to unseat him, all with different ideas on how the nation should proceed in the years ahead. [NonDoc]

Criminal Justice News

Timetable to resume executions pushed back by Oklahoma attorney general’s office: The Oklahoma attorney general’s office has pushed back its timetable for resuming executions, telling the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals that the Oct. 7 date requested for death row inmate John Marion Grant is too soon to meet state requirements. [The Oklahoman]

Push for police oversight dropped after new TPD chief makes ‘significant improvements’: Mayor G.T. Bynum no longer plans to pursue the creation of an office of the independent monitor over the Tulsa Police Department due to “significant improvements” under Chief Wendell Franklin, he said. Nearly three years after first proposing that such an idea could come to fruition through a collective bargaining process, Bynum explained the change during a recent Tulsa World Editorial Board meeting. [Tulsa World]

Tulsa police announce results of ongoing effort to curb gang violence: Tulsa police say their violent crime initiative is bearing fruit — to the tune of 61 arrests and 203 gun seizures in its first 30 days. The Tulsa Police Department held a press conference on Tuesday to give the public a peak into the operation, which targets repeat perpetrators of gang-related gun violence. [Tulsa World]

Jail Trust committee takes on supervision, population, classification issues: Each working group of the Detention Center Action Committee (DCAC), a subcommittee of the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority (Jail Trust), provided finished reports Tuesday. Their findings included recommendations to the Jail Trust to improve Jail operations and safety which will go to the full Jail Trust in its September 20 meeting. [OKC Free Press]

Dept. of Corrections investigating inmate killing in Lawton: The Department of Corrections is investigating the killing of an inmate at a private prison in Lawton. [Tulsa World] | [The Lawton Constitution]

Economic Opportunity

During the pandemic, many communities changed their approach to evictions: After a federal ban on certain evictions ended in August, the Biden administration plans to address this housing issue by funding two things – rent assistance and eviction prevention programs. Rent relief has flowed slowly to some renters and landlords, and housing advocates hope that other programs to prevent evictions could become permanent fixtures in their communities. Tulsa, Oklahoma nonprofit Housing Solutions launched two eviction prevention programs during the pandemic. Housing Solutions Executive Director Becky Gligo is optimistic that these new strategies will outlast the pandemic in Tulsa, which Eviction Lab ranked as having the 11th highest eviction rate in the country five years ago. [Big If True]

Economy & Business News

State, local officials tout importance of 36 Degrees North’s business incubator: Mayor G.T. Bynum said he and his staff — with the cooperation of the City Council — have been working for several years to turn the space into a place where the next generation of Tulsa entrepreneurs could come together and build their businesses. That place is the 36 Degrees North business incubator. And Tuesday was its official grand opening in One Technology Center. [Tulsa World]

Experts: OKC poised for big lithium future: Shifts in the transportation industry mean huge changes are coming that ensure a bright future for lithium, experts agree. While change can be scary and disruptive, there are immense opportunities for the Oklahoma economy, panelists told Journal Record Editor Joe Dowd during a recent JR/Now webinar. [The Journal Record]

Fifty Years In, Oklahoma-Based River Corridor Faces Millions In Backlogged Repairs: When countries like China buy soybeans and grain, that journey might start in a port in the land-locked state of Oklahoma. Farmers in states like Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas and Colorado rely on a 445-mile water highway called the McClellan-Kerr Navigation System to ship their crops like soybeans and grain across the world. [KOSU]

Education News

Help wanted: Substitute teachers for Tulsa Public Schools: In a public plea at Tuesday night’s school board meeting, Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Gist repeated her call for more substitute teachers in order to continue offering in-person classes across the district. Since classes started on Aug. 19, three TPS campuses have temporarily switched to distance learning due to staffing shortages, including a lack of substitute teachers. [Tulsa World]

General News

How Oklahoma Is Preparing For Arrival of Afghan Refugees: A Catholic organization responsible for refugee resettlement and leaders of the Oklahoma City Muslim community are preparing for hundreds of displaced Afghan families to arrive in Oklahoma. The questions of when they might arrive, how many are coming and where they will be housed remain unanswered one week after the final U.S. troops and diplomats departed Afghanistan. [Oklahoma Watch]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Oklahoma City’s MAPS 4 implementation plan one step closer to being enacted [The Oklahoman]
  • Hazardous waste discovery a budget-buster for downtown Oklahoma City MAPS park? [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma State Fair Won’t Enforce Masks, But Will Have Vaccination Booth [KOSU]

Quote of the Day

“It’s important you have physicians at that table. I would say a better path forward for this governor, instead of trying to push through a managed care agenda through administrative rules and the Health Care Authority board like he’s doing, … a more successful avenue would be to collaborate (with) leadership from the Legislature, leadership from the Health Care Authority, leadership from those of us who are in health care and understand it.”

-Dr. Jean Hausheer of Lawton, one of two medical doctors removed by Gov. Stitt from the Oklahoma Health Care Authority board on Saturday. The governor hasn’t provided a reason for removing the only two medical doctors from the board, but the removal followed an OHCA board meeting last week in which administrative rules for a managed care proposal were tabled [Tulsa World

Number of the Day


The number of Oklahomans who had drivers licenses suspended for failure to pay court fines and fees in 2018.

[Source: Oklahoma Department of Public Safety]

Policy Note

The Steep Costs of Criminal Justice Fees and Fines: The past decade has seen a troubling and well-documented increase in fees and fines imposed on defendants by criminal courts. Today, many states and localities rely on these fees and fines to fund their court systems or even basic government operations. A wealth of evidence has already shown that this system works against the goal of rehabilitation and creates a major barrier to people reentering society after a conviction. They are often unable to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in accumulated court debt. When debt leads to incarceration or license suspension, it becomes even harder to find a job or housing or to pay child support. There’s also little evidence that imposing onerous fees and fines improves public safety. [Brennan Center

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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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