In The Know: Oklahoma pauses J&J vaccine | Chickasaw Nation: Gov. exaggerating McGirt claims | Health Dept. sues over pandemic purchase

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 helps fill gaps in tribal health services (Oklahoma Medicaid Stories): Ginger Willhite’s daughter is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, which provides free health care for its citizens. However, when her daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, she required specialty care that was not available through her tribal health care but available through SoonerCare. [OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma health officials pause distribution of J&J vaccine: Oklahoma health officials announced plans Tuesday to halt distribution of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine following reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye said the potential adverse reactions were extremely rare and occurred in less than one in every million recipients, but that the pause was recommended “out of an abundance of caution.” [AP News] | [The Oklahoman] | [Tulsa World] | [KOSU] | [The Lawton Constitution]

  • 109 new cases, 4 deaths on Tuesday due to COVID-19 [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma City mask mandate on track to expire April 30 [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Health Department sues over COVID pandemic purchase: Shortly after the start of the pandemic, the Oklahoma Health Department paid $890,416 upfront for 40 ventilators to prepare for the anticipated surge in hospitalizations. By June, only two had been delivered. Now, health officials want their money back. [The Oklahoman]

Chickasaw Nation says Gov. Kevin Stitt exaggerating impacts of McGirt v Oklahoma: Gov. Kevin Stitt is using “overtly political rhetoric” to exaggerate some of the problems encountered as criminal jurisdiction is reshaped in eastern Oklahoma in the wake of last year’s momentous U.S. Supreme Court decision, the Chickasaw Nation says. [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Insulin: State senate sends bill capping costs to Gov. Kevin Stitt: The Senate on Tuesday sent Gov. Kevin Stitt a measure that would limit insulin costs paid by those with health insurance. House Bill 1019 would limit to $30 what people pay for a 30-day supply of insulin and $90 for a 90-day supply. The measure passed by a vote of 32-15. Sen. Frank Simpson, R-Springer, said the cost of insulin has increased astronomically. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma House narrowly agrees to look at consolidating state law enforcement agencies: Legislation that many interpret as a first step toward consolidating three state law enforcement agencies went to the governor on Tuesday after the narrowest of votes in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. [Tulsa World]

Ida’s Law awaits governor’s signature: With Tuesday’s House passage of Ida’s Law, a stroke of Governor Kevin Stitt’s pen can begin driving federal dollars back into the state to help further the cause of finding answers for the murdered and missing indigenous peoples of Oklahoma. [The Lawton Constitution]

State Senate confirms secretary of state, other appointments by Gov. Stitt: The Oklahoma Senate on Tuesday approved Gov. Kevin Stitt’s nomination of Brian Bingman as secretary of state and secretary of Native American Affairs. Bingman, of Sapulpa, is a former Oklahoma lawmaker. The Senate also approved a number Stitt’s other executive nominations. [Tulsa World]

  • Stitt names Oklahoma City attorney as state college regent [AP News]

State general revenue receipts stay on track in March: Oklahoma state government remained on track for the current budget year in March as higher-than-expected income tax receipts pushed 3.5% higher than projected, the Office of Management and Enterprise Services said Tuesday. [Tulsa World]

Court rules Norman violated FOIA when approving budget: The city of Norman violated the state’s Open Meeting Act when it approved a budget that cut the police budget by $865,000, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Tuesday. The court upheld a circuit judge’s December ruling that a required notice for the June 16 meeting was worded deceptively. The notice said the council would consider adopting the city’s proposed operating and capital budgets, but it did not say an amendment to slash the police budget by 3.6% would be discussed. [AP News]

Proposed legislation could help lower your utility bill following historic winter storm: Oklahoma’s lawmakers are hoping to minimize the impact of February’s severe weather on consumers and prevent exorbitant rate spikes for households. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Oklahoma joins other states in challenge of Census privacy tool: Sixteen other states are backing Alabama’s challenge to a statistical method the U.S. Census Bureau is using for the first time to protect the privacy of people who participated in the 2020 census, the nation’s once-a-decade head count that determines political power and funding. [The Journal Record]

Buttigieg addresses infrastructure issues in Indian Country: Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg told reporters that infrastructure investment in Indian Country is a high priority of the proposed $2.2 trillion American Jobs Plan. [Gaylord News / NonDoc] “What we know is that there are frankly a lot of rural communities and a lot of parts of Indian Country that have been on the short end of inadequate infrastructure investment and maintenance over the years,” Buttigieg said. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Criminal Justice News

OKC policing town hall reveals pain, frustration: About 140 people attended a two-hour town hall about policing in Oklahoma City held via Zoom Monday night by 21 CP Solutions, a firm contracted by the city to consult the Oklahoma City’s Law Enforcement Police Task Force and Working Group. [NonDoc]

Grandmother, 74, sues OKC police, saying they broke her arm after illegally entering her home: In the sanctuary of a north Oklahoma City church Tuesday, a Black grandmother who has accused police of breaking her right arm wiped away tears as she talked about her encounter with officers in the heat of August, and being handcuffed and escorted to a patrol car. [The Oklahoman]

More Oklahoma County jailers charged: Four detention officers went too far during confrontations with inmates at the Oklahoma County jail, the district attorney alleged Tuesday. The misdemeanor assault and battery charges are the latest arising from investigations into inmate mistreatment at the troubled jail just west of downtown Oklahoma City. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Secretary of Health discusses Medicaid Expansion: Oklahoma joined more than 35 other states to expand Medicaid eligibility, but there is a lot of confusion about how and when the expansion will affect Oklahomans. State Secretary of Health Kevin Corbett discusses expansion. [News9]

Economy & Business News

Changes expected to federal labor rule: A federal rule designed to help clarify who is an employee versus who is an independent contractor likely will be tossed by the new administration in Washington. [The Journal Record]

Appeals court: No refund for firm that overpaid: An oil and gas company that overpaid more than $400,000 in production taxes will not be getting a refund, the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals has ruled, because the company waited too long to make its request. [The Journal Record]

Education News

OKCPS requests investigative audit of Santa Fe South charter school: The Oklahoma City Public Schools Board voted unanimously Monday night to request an investigative audit of Santa Fe South Charter Schools, whose superintendent is also in charge of a nonprofit development corporation that supports Santa Fe South and loaned $300,000 to another local charter school. [NonDoc] Oklahoma City Public Schools on Monday called on State Auditor Cindy Byrd to audit Santa Fe South Charter Schools. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

  • Santa Fe South calls audit a ‘personally motivated’ attack [The Oklahoman]

Update: Epic board offers to settle charter termination proceedings; secret Learning Fund to be moved into new school bank accounts: About 12:20 a.m. Wednesday, Epic’s governing board returned after a three-hour executive session and voted unanimously to approve a consent agreement offer to settle the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board’s termination proceedings. The agreement, which was not available immediately after the meeting, is to be delivered by Epic’s attorneys to the statewide virtual board, whose termination proceedings threaten to shutter the Epic One-on-One school over concerns about its handling of public monies. [Tulsa World]

Stitt names Oklahoma City attorney as state college regent: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced the appointment Tuesday of an Oklahoma City attorney to the nine-member body that oversees the state’s 25 public colleges and universities. Stitt said he appointed Courtney Warmington to a nine-year term on the State Regents for Higher Education. [AP News]

General News

From O.W. Gurley to its present-day legacy: Greenwood District land ownership has evolved in the last century: The present-day legacy of Greenwood is that extraordinary pre-Tulsa Race Massacre period when Black people stationed in the mid-South controlled their own cultural and economic destiny underscored by more than 600 businesses at its height. Over time, however, that dominion over Greenwood once exclusively held by African Americans — through migration, small businesses dying out and political interference by way of redlining, desegregation and urban renewal — had slowly eroded that presence to a mere trickle by the 1980s. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • OKC City Council swears in new members and winning incumbents [Free Press OKC]
  • Muskogee City Council creates medical cannabis consumption rules during industry, educational events after new ordinance [Tulsa World]
  • FC Tulsa introduces new “Greenwood Ave.” patch for its 2021 jerseys [Tulsa World] | [Public Radio Tulsa]

Quote of the Day

“Not everyone that lives in an area with high crime activity is doing bad things. That part of the (police) culture needs some work and more thought on how they respond to people in different communities.”

-Lakesha Dunbar of Oklahoma City who spoke during a Monday night town hall about policing. Dunbar, who lives in Oklahoma City’s largely Black northeast side, relayed her experience talking with police officers about the area and described the officers’ comments as negative and offensive. [NonDoc]

Number of the Day

5.7 million

Number of Americans the Earned Income Tax Credit helped lift out of poverty – including about 3 million children — in 2017. [CDC]

Policy Note

How Does the Earned Income Tax Credit Affect Poor Families?: The EITC is the single most effective means tested federal antipoverty program for working-age households—providing additional income and boosting employment for low-income workers. [Tax Policy 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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