In The Know: Oklahoma evictions hit all-time high | Judge rules OTA violated Open Meetings Act | Medicaid expansion improved access to care for Indigenous Oklahomans

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

Medicaid expansion improved access to care for Indigenous Oklahomans: Leading up to when Oklahoma expanded Medicaid coverage, Oklahoma had a large uninsured population of American Indian and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs). But as a consequence of Medicaid expansion and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority’s (OHCA) inclusion of — and consultation with — Tribes, Oklahoma’s AI/AN uninsured rate has significantly declined, according to estimates from the Oklahoma Policy Institute. The relationship between OHCA and tribal governments emphasizes the importance of tribes’ health care needs and input. It also represents a crucial feature of the state agency that has helped facilitate tribal-federal-state government collaboration in providing access to health care and specialty care in Oklahoma. [Vivian Morris / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Watch: Oklahoma Eviction Rates At All-Time High: In Oklahoma, there has been a 138 percent increase in eviction fillings and a 275 percent increase for judgments since the eviction moratorium ended. Oklahoma County saw 1,799 more filings through July of this year compared to the same period in 2019, according to Oklahoma Policy Institute. [News 9]

Oklahoma County jail administrator Greg Williams expected to resign after troubled tenure: The administrator of the Oklahoma County jail is expected to resign, ending a troubled tenure marked by more than 35 inmate deaths, a hostage situation and failed heath inspections. [The Oklahoman]

Early flu season sends up red flags about hospital capacity, ‘full pediatric wards’: Public health leaders are concerned about local hospital capacity as the flu and other respiratory viruses are driving patients to seek emergency care in numbers not typically seen until later in winter. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Judge: Oklahoma Turnpike Authority violated Open Meeting Act, ACCESS project contracts rendered invalid: The lawsuit filed on behalf of over 200 central Oklahoma residents alleged the OTA willfully violated the state’s Open Meeting Act by using vague language in its Jan. 25 and Feb. 22 public meeting agendas and documents leading up to the announcement of the ACCESS project. [KGOU and StateImpact Oklahoma]

  • Judge rules Oklahoma Turnpike Authority ‘willfully’ violated open meetings law [The Oklahoman]

Impact: A bill would restore oversight on spending after The Frontier’s reporting on the Swadley’s Foggy Bottom scandal: A state lawmaker has introduced legislation to restore the powers of a commission that oversees the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. The bill follows The Frontier’s reporting on a lack of oversight on spending for Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen restaurants at state parks. [The Frontier]

Governor’s appointees file first financial disclosure forms: Financial disclosures were made public this week for Gov. Kevin Stitt’s cabinet secretaries, a requirement the governor opposed earlier this year that shows which of his appointees have an interest in banks, energy companies, consulting firms, and other businesses. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Lawmakers introduce resolution recognizing November as National Native American Heritage Month: On Tuesday Congressional lawmakers from Oklahoma, Ohio, Kansas, and Alaska introduced a resolution to recognize the month of November as National Native American Heritage Month. This resolution recognizes the distinct and important contributions of Native Americans along with the commitment to strengthen the United States’ government-to-government relationship with Native Nations. [KINY Radio]

Mullin skips House votes to campaign for Herschel Walker: U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, who missed candidate debates in the U.S. Senate race in Oklahoma this year because he said he had to cast votes in the House, skipped three votes on Tuesday to campaign for Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker in Georgia. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Organizations geared to benefit Native Americans earn grants: Bank of America this week announced grants in Oklahoma valued at more than $527,000. Among other things, they’re meant to support nonprofits dedicated to community outreach for Native Americans across the state. [Journal Record]

Descendants of Black Muscogee slaves go to court: The descendants of slaves owned by members of the Muscogee Nation went to tribal court Thursday to get their rights reinstated. The tribe’s revised 1979 Constitution took away rights given to slaves at the end of the Civil War. At a Wednesday press conference held at the Greenwood Cultural Center in Tulsa, Attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons quoted the original Treaty of 1866. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • Muscogee Nation judge hears arguments over tribal citizenship and former slaves’ descendants [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Podcast: Long Story Short: One Man’s Execution Vigil: Oklahoma Watch reporter Whitney Bryen introduces Fr. Bryan Brooks, a Broken Arrow priest who has attended 114 executions so far and has a busy, grim year ahead. [Oklahoma Watch]

Recent spate of violent crimes in Oklahoma leaves marijuana business concerned: The threat of burglaries, robberies, raids and shootings has been a reality for business owners at medical marijuana farms and dispensaries ever since the industry was legalized more than four years ago. It’s an industry that’s relatively new, based almost exclusively on cash sales and the growth of a product that is still illegal in several other states. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

As home construction slumps, builders are sweetening incentives for wary buyers: Home building keeps tumbling down, even as builders offer buyers special deals and incentives, as the reset in the housing market and inflation keep taking their toll. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Utility rate hikes steam customers: Utility rates in Oklahoma remain among the lowest in the region – even as a recent financial report by ONG’s parent company, One Gas, estimated a net income of as much as $238 million for 2023, fueled in part by recent rate increases and continued growth in Oklahoma and Texas. [Journal Record]

Firms plan $30M in affordable housing apartments in Yukon: Cornerstone Apartments, consisting of three 3-story buildings including 122 one-, two- and three-bedroom units, will be located at Czech Hall Road and Market Place Road. [Journal Record]

Education News

AG opinion: Statute barring charter school operators from religious affiliation unconstitutional: In a 15-page opinion released today, outgoing Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor advised charter school authorizers that the aspects of the Oklahoma Charter Schools Act requiring school operators to be non-religious and non-sectarian likely violate the free exercise clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and should not be enforced. [NonDoc]

Tulsa school board redistricting won’t be implemented until after April election: With school board district reapportionment still underway for Tulsa Public Schools, board members were advised Thursday of some of the implications of their decision to extend the process into December. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

Oklahoma nonprofit gets record-breaking grant to expand healthy food access in Tulsa and beyond: In November the United States Department of Agriculture announced that nonprofit Hunger Free Oklahoma will receive a record-breaking $14.2 million over four years to expand a program called Double Up Oklahoma that gets produce to low-income communities. [KGOU]

Quote of the Day

“Medicaid expansion has shown how increased funding positively impacts overall population health outcomes, financial security, and economic mobility, while it reduces the costs of uncompensated care for health care providers. Enhanced federal funding for IHS could help further boost the state’s overall health outcomes by ensuring that tribal communities have access to high quality health care services from IHCPs across the state.”

– Vivian Morris, OK Policy’s tribal-state policy analyst, speaking on how Medicaid expansion improved access to care for Indigenous Oklahomans. [Vivian Morris / OK Policy]

Number of the Day


The uninsured rate of American Indians and Alaska Natives in Oklahoma in 2021 after implementation of Medicaid expansion. This was down from the 202 uninsured rate of 39.7%. [KFF]

Policy Note

Health and Health Care for Indigenous People: The U.S. has a responsibility to provide certain rights, protections, and services to AIAN people, including health care. However, the Indian Health Service has historically been underfunded to meet the health care needs of AIAN people and they face other social and economic challenges that contribute to poor health outcomes. [KFF]

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Hana Saad joined OK Policy in August 2022 as the Communications and Operations Fellow. She graduated from the University of Tulsa with degrees in Media Studies and English and is part of Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society. At TU, Hana regularly wrote for The Collegian and was the Co-Editor of the Stylus Journal of Art and Writing. She also serves on the team at Puppy Haven Rescue to help in their mission of saving rescue dogs across Oklahoma. Hana is eager to learn more about public policy in Oklahoma and use her skills to support the OKP work to build a more equitable state. In her free time, she loves to read fiction and poetry, walk her dog, and make copious cups of tea.

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