In The Know: Oil wells shut after Oklahoma earthquake | OK Policy introduces tribal-state policy advocacy | Local elections nearing

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

Oklahoma Policy Institute now includes tribal-state policy advocacy: Oklahoma’s relationship with tribal nations has always been complex and challenging, never more so than following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020 McGirt ruling that upheld tribal sovereignty. To promote policy reforms and address challenges in tribal-state issues, the Oklahoma Policy Institute is entering into a new role working with tribal partners, state officials, and community leaders. OK Policy’s newly created Tribal-State Policy Analyst role will be pivotal in providing research and analysis on tribal priorities within a state policy context. [Vivian Morris / OK Policy

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma’s oil regulator to shut some disposal wells following large quake: Oklahoma’s oil and gas regulator said on Monday it would shut deep saltwater disposal wells and restrict others near where a large earthquake earlier in the day rattled homes and businesses in the northern part of the state. [Reuters

  • Oklahomans feel first strong quake of 2022 as 4.5M event shakes Medford [The Oklahoman
  • OCC orders disposal wells near quake epicenter to shut down [Enid News & Eagle]
  • 4.5 magnitude earthquake strikes Oklahoma, rattling residents in 2 states [CNN]

Health News

Free N95 masks available at several dozen Tulsa pharmacies through state health partnership: As cloth masks are considered less effective to reduce COVID-19 spread, the Oklahoma State Department of Health has committed to distributing half a million N95 masks free through local pharmacies. [Tulsa World

State Government News

Despite ‘extraordinary stress and strain,’ Oklahoma’s foster-care system continues to improve, monitors say: While the COVID pandemic has affected Oklahoma’s foster-care system, the state has continued to make significant progress toward most long-term goals to keep children safe and place them in permanent homes more quickly, officials said Monday. [Tulsa World

Lawmaker files bill to provide $300 million in reparations to Massacre survivors, descendants: Though the White mob that burned down Greenwood was deputized and supported by local officials and the State of Oklahoma, neither has provided financial restitution to survivors and descendants of the Massacre. A century and change later, one lawmaker hopes to change that. [The Black Wall Street Times

State Lawmaker Hopes To Change Way Some Oklahoma Lawmakers Are Elected: Democrat Andy Fugate, who represents Oklahoma’s 94th district in Del City, has filed House Bill 3059. The bill would allow voters to decide whether to retain an incumbent legislator who is not facing a challenger in that election. [News On 6

Editorial: Open records bill would call out Legislature on lack of transparency: It’s refreshing to see a legislator willing to introduce a bill that would increase transparency in the Legislature. Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman, is introducing a bill that would amend the Oklahoma Open Records and Open Meeting acts to subject the state Legislature, its members and its staff to the open records and meetings act. [Editorial / Enid News & Eagle

Tribal Nations News

Oklahoma lawmakers seek $308 million for tribal justice, say McGirt ‘bankrupting’ tribes: Members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation are seeking $308 million in federal money to help tribes in the state meet the law enforcement and judiciary obligations resulting from the affirmation of their reservations. [The Oklahoman

FireLake Foods now offers convenience to state SNAP recipients: In 2021, Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s FireLake Discount Foods joined a group of Oklahoma grocers that began accepting online purchases through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The Oklahoma Policy Institute reports that 28 percent of Pottawatomie County residents receive food benefits, ranking 22nd among the state’s 77 counties. [Shawnee News-Star]

Voting and Election News

Gov. Kevin Stitt leads in fundraising, but Joy Hofmeister gets help from tribes, educators: The incumbent Republican seeking a second term raised $1.19 million — or more than double Democrat Joy Hofmeister’s fundraising haul — in the last quarter of 2021. Although Hofmeister’s fundraising lags Stitt, she received numerous contributions from Oklahoma educators, Native American tribes and tribal leaders. [The Oklahoman

Capitol Watch: Keeping Track of Oklahoma’s Key 2022 Election Dates and Deadlines: Oklahoma voters will go the polls in just over a week. The Feb. 8 elections will feature municipal races, including some high-profile mayoral contests, bond propositions and school board primaries for much of the state. This is only the beginning of a busy election year for the state. [Oklahoma Watch

  • Cheat Sheet: Five candidates on ballot for Edmond Public Schools District 2 [NonDoc
  • Cheat Sheet: Longtime Norman Schools Board District 2 incumbent faces challengers [NonDoc

OKC mayoral candidates discuss top issues: One month ahead of the Feb. 8 mayoral election, The Journal Record asked the four candidates on the ballot to share their top concerns for Oklahoma City and what they would bring to the job. [The Journal Record

  • Conservative businesswoman Carol Hefner running for mayor as government outsider [The Oklahoman
  • Jimmy Lawson vies for mayor’s office, prioritizing homelessness and empowerment of youth [The Oklahoman
  • How Frank Urbanic went from lockdown lawsuits to mayoral aspiration [The Oklahoman

Criminal Justice News

(Audio) Lack of transparency from Oklahoma Department of Corrections reflects capital punishment issues in other states: As executions march grimly forward in Oklahoma after a more than five year lull, the Department of Corrections has changed several of its procedures without explanation. [Public Radio Tulsa

Economic Opportunity

Hispanic homebuyers are increasing. But with that comes challenges in Oklahoma City: Many Hispanic people, especially those who don’t speak English, need help when buying a home to keep from being wronged, said Chavez, president of the Oklahoma City chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals. [The Oklahoman

Economy & Business News

Thousands of OKC jobs at risk of automation: Oklahoma City ranked 19th on a list of U.S. cities with the highest number of jobs at risk of automation. found that 42.1% of jobs in the Oklahoma City metro area – an estimated 180,940 jobs – are at high risk for automation in the near future. [The Journal Record

The air in rural areas may be just as toxic as the pollution in cities: Traditionally, air quality has been measured by the size of pollution particles or, more scientifically, particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less. Considered that way, urban air tends to be more polluted than rural air because the size of pollution particles is generally larger. [KOSU]

Education News

OEA poll shows Oklahoma educators and schools are stressed amid omicron surge: Amid a raft of closures and pivots to distance learning, teachers reported stress levels so far unseen during the pandemic, according to a survey of Oklahoma Education Association members. [KOSU

School transfers as easy as ever, but is new law as transformational as promised?: In March, Gov. Kevin Stitt enacted the Open Transfer Act that took a monthlong open transfer window that occurred in the summer and stretched it to the entire calendar year. Although the law worked for Reyes’ family, the Open Transfer Act has yet to make waves that match its transformational billing.  [The Oklahoman

Oklahoma Local News

  • Forecasters: Dangerous winter storm to hit area Wednesday, Thursday with ice, sleet and snow [Tulsa World]
  • Local governments prep for winter storm [OKC Free Press] | [The Lawton Constitution]
  • Mount St. Mary High School students plan walkout to protest alleged culture of sexual abuse [The Oklahoman]
  • After Mashburn declines to charge Councilman Kelly Lynn, women speak out [NonDoc

Quote of the Day

“Now is the time to offer support and help, not criticize and blame. Our students need everyone working together to give them the best school year possible, even in these challenging times.”

– Katherine Bishop, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, in a statement about a poll conducted by OEA in mid-January which reveals that stress levels are rising in schools amid the omicron surge [KOSU]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Black male medical students in 2019. Without the contribution of historically Black medical schools, just 2.4% would be Black men.

[Source: STAT]

Policy Note

Black Health and Wellness: The Association for the Study of African American Life and History has named Black Health and Wellness as its theme for this year’s Black History Month. This theme acknowledges the legacy of not only Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also other ways of knowing (e.g., birthworkers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, etc.) throughout the African Diaspora. [ASALH] [Other Resources]

NOTE: February is National Black History Month, a time to honor the contributions and sacrifices of African Americans who have helped shape the nation, and celebrate the rich cultural heritage, triumphs and adversities that are an indelible part of our country’s history.

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Kristin Wells served as the Communications and Operations Fellow for OK Policy from October 2021 to July 2022. She previously worked as a digital content producer for News On 6. A native Kansas Citian, Kristin graduated with a B.A. in Media Studies and a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Tulsa in 2020. While there, she was accepted into the Global Scholars program, spurring her interests in policy, social movements, global identities, and the importance of education and advocacy. She hopes to use her skills to continue to learn and create a more equitable future for Oklahomans. An avid sports fan, Kristin lives in Tulsa with her rescue dog and is passionate about college basketball, documentaries, and coffee.

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