In The Know: Oklahoma leads nation in improving child insurance rates | Audit confirms Oklahoma’s election results | Capitol Update

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

Tax cuts expected to be considered during upcoming session (Capitol Update): Flush with cash and an oil economy producing record revenues, state savings accounts now serve as an excuse for further tax cuts. Although the state is near the bottom metrics on everything from health care to education, the political leadership will likely be unable to resist the tax cut mentality. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

Audit confirms Oklahoma’s election results: A post-election review has confirmed the results of both the primary runoff and general elections in Oklahoma. Of the 31 races, and thousands of ballots re-tabulated, election officials found only two instances where the audit figures differed slightly from the certified results. The audit included results from federal, state, judicial and county elections. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Congressman Lucas Hopeful Over Next Farm Bill’s Impact On Oklahoma: The middle of a lame duck session, with a funding deadline looming, might seem an odd time for a member of Congress to be talking excitedly about getting to work on the next Farm Bill, but perhaps not, if that member is an Oklahoma farmer and rancher Frank Lucas. [News On 6]

Health News

Editorial: Higher insured rates for children will mean better health outcomes: Unfortunately in Oklahoma, it’s easy to point out the shortcomings of our government when it comes to children- and family-friendly policies; however, one bright spot was highlighted last week. Oklahoma experienced the biggest improvement in child uninsured rates during the pandemic period of 2019-20, a national analysis found. While the number of uninsured children dropped nationally, Oklahoma’s rate dropped the most. Overall the rate declined 1.2% from 8.6% to 7.4%. [Enid News & Eagle]

Criminal Justice News

Federal agencies, partners convene in Tulsa for violent crime reduction summit: Hundreds of federal and state partners convened in downtown Tulsa on Monday for a violent crime reduction summit tipped off by the second-highest ranking official of the Department of Justice. [Tulsa World]

Feds, state in fight over killer’s extradition: A few months ago, the state of Oklahoma had two executions scheduled for the month of December; now both executions have been postponed. John Fitzgerald Hanson’s execution, scheduled for Dec. 15, was one in a list of 25 execution dates set between August 2022 and December 2024, as requested by Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor in June 2022. For now, Hanson’s fate is embroiled in a legal battle between the state and the federal Bureau of Prisons. [Journal Record]

Many questions, but few answers for Norman residents after death of city’s ‘Cookie Queen’: Residents are demanding answers following the death of a well-known baker and community advocate at the Cleveland County jail. Shannon Hanchett, 38, was found dead in her cell early Thursday, jail officials said. The circumstances and manner of her death are under investigation by the local sheriff’s office and state agents, but details remain scarce while close friends and civic leaders quickly organized a movement requesting accountability and transparency in her case. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

Oklahoma Companies Looking For Machinists During Shortage: Tulsa Tech instructors say there’s a huge shortage of machinists right now in Green Country. There are more jobs than people to fill them. Teachers say there are several different things you can do with a machining education whether that’s operating machines, making parts, or even sales. [News On 6]

Economy & Business News

OKC-based ZRHD to join with Pennsylvania firm: Larson Design Group, a Williamsport, Pennsylvania-based architecture and engineering firm, has announced plans to join with Oklahoma City-based ZRHD. ZRHD, with a reputation for designing mechanical and electrical systems for federal, commercial, institutional and industrial clients nationwide, will bring a strong team to the partnership, LDG said in a release. [Journal Record]

Redlands recruits British company to benefit film students: A British company has signed on to play a role in the education of students at Redlands Community College pursuing careers in film and TV production. [Journal Record]

Custom packaging provider Oliver Inc. expands Tulsa operations: Custom packaging provider Oliver Inc. has launched an expansion of its operations in Tulsa, in facilities acquired only earlier this year. The company, based in Hauppauge, New York, and with other locations in Ohio, Virginia and Massachusetts, said it acquired an adjacent building to add to its 28,000-square-foot Tulsa facility. New plant operations will cover 61,000 square feet. [Journal Record]

These OKC entrepreneurs plan to launch Latino businesses into 7-figure revenues. Here’s how: Each participant selected for the Latino Accelerator program will receive a $15,000 grant, shared from the Alliance’s allocation of American Rescue Plan Act funding, which the entrepreneur will not be required to pay back. During the 8-week program, participants also will be allowed access to the Thunder Launchpad where they will receive further training and mentorship from local leaders and investors. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

After arrest, Deer Creek Public Schools teacher resigns shortly before board meeting: Just before the Deer Creek Public Schools Board of Education was supposed to meet Monday night, teacher Sarah Hull-Degroat, who had been suspended for allegedly using Google Docs to have a conversation with a student that was sexual in nature, resigned from the district. [NonDoc]

Tulsa school board chooses new redistricting map: After more than three months and 15 different maps, Tulsa Public Schools’ Board of Education has completed the reapportionment process. By a 5-2 vote Monday night with “no” votes from E’Lena Ashley and Jerry Griffin, the board adopted Plan N, which moves four elementary school campuses to new board districts. [Tulsa World]

Embattled Western Heights superintendent resigns in day of ‘hope’ for the school district: For two years, school board meetings in Western Heights Public Schools often concluded in a chorus of jeers or muttered anger, but a meeting Monday night drew celebration from a community that long demanded a change in leadership in the southwest Oklahoma City district. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma City community rises up from blight around redeveloped historic Black high school: At its worst, the abandoned Page Woodson school stood as a monument to blight, sapping the strength of the surrounding John F. Kennedy neighborhood just east of downtown. At its best, the school represents an unprecedented $100 million infusion into the historic Black community. Now, looking forward, developers Ron Bradshaw and Gina Sofola are celebrating a 95% occupancy, building the final phase of housing and looking at a future transition to bringing back retail. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Midwest City mayor proposes residency requirement for comments at council meetings [NonDoc]
  • Center of the Universe final conceptual plans unveiled [Tulsa World]
  • Q&A with David Greenwell as he prepares to say farewell to OKC city council [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“Post-election audits add an additional layer of transparency and security to Oklahoma elections and election officials are thankful that the state Legislature enacted a law to allow them. These post-election audits and recounts are the latest in a long line of evidence confirming the accuracy and reliability of Oklahoma’s paper-based voting system.”

– Paul Ziriax, secretary of the Oklahoma State Election Board. [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day

Number of Oklahoma children enrolled in SoonerCare, Oklahoma’s Medicaid program, in October 2022, compared to about 520,000 in January 2020.  [Oklahoma Health Care Authority]

Policy Note

Lesson from Pandemic: Medicaid Continuous Coverage Works!: This year’s annual report on child health coverage is out after a hiatus last year due to the lack of available Census data. We’re happy to report some good news. The rate of uninsured children declined from 2019 to 2021 from 5.7% to 5.4% — a bright spot for children during the dark days of the pandemic. The decline occurred largely due to a federal law that provided states with additional Medicaid funding to ensure that children, parents and others enrolled in Medicaid had stable coverage during the COVID-19 public health emergency. [Georgetown University Health Policy Institute]

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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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