In The Know: Oklahoma’s nursing home staffing shortage | Plans for a new governor’s mansion? | Super PACs, dark money in governor’s race

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.

Oklahoma News

Nursing Home Worker Shortage Puts Aging Oklahomans at Risk: Daily nasal swabs and layers of gloves, masks and other protective equipment became the norm for nursing home staff at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. For some, these demands remain a reality and are part of what’s driving workers out of the industry leaving aging Oklahomans without proper care. [Oklahoma Watch]

Stitt’s secret plan to build a new Governor’s mansion: The Governor’s office confirms the first family moved into the historic Governor’s mansion in August of 2019. The first family didn’t stay. Instead, the Stitts purchased a $2.7 million dollar estate at Oak Tree Golf and Country Club, twenty miles away from the State Capitol. Last year, the state completed a $2 million renovation of the historic mansion, including a new roof, new windows, new geothermal heating system, new kitchen and repairs for the electrical, plumbing and structural issues. According to the Office of Management Enterprise Services, the state poured $2,090,580 in taxpayer money into a home where our governor does not live. [KFOR]

Outside groups are outspending candidates in the Oklahoma governor’s race: Super PACs and dark money groups have poured more than $12.5 million into television ads attacking Gov. Kevin Stitt and boosting his Democratic opponent Joy Hofmeister before the November election. The outside groups have so far spent more than the Stitt and Hofmeister campaigns combined, data from advertising analysis firm AdImpact shows. [The Frontier]

Oklahoma tribal leaders endorse Hofmeister, respond to dark money allegations: Leaders of Oklahoma’s Five Tribes made a rare joint political endorsement on Tuesday to back Democrat Joy Hofmeister’s gubernatorial campaign. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

$141M in grants awarded to five Oklahoma tribes to expand wireless technology: Grants totaling more than $141.5 million have been awarded from the Internet for All initiative to five tribes in Oklahoma, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has announced. [Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

Five key policy differences between Hofmeister and Stitt in Oklahoma governor’s election: With the election for governor less than a month away, Gov. Kevin Stitt and Joy Hofmeister continue to try and separate themselves, highlighting their differences and what issues are most important to them. [The Oklahoman]

  • The future of SoonerCare is on Oklahoma’s November ballot [KOSU]

Are you ready for the general election? What to know before Nov. 8 voting in Oklahoma: Election Day is less than month away when Oklahoma voters will cast ballots for candidates in the general election. From registration to absentee ballots and everything between, we’ve gathered the information you need to prepare to vote on Nov. 8. [The Oklahoman]

Watch Oklahoma County DA candidates Vicki Behenna and Kevin Calvey debate: Oklahoma County District Attorney candidates Vicki Behenna and Kevin Calvey participate in a debate on Oct. 11 [NonDoc / YouTube]

Editorial: Gubernatorial debate should be of interest to all voters: In this day and age when candidates are reaching out to constituents more through their own websites and branding efforts than by actually engaging one another to articulate their platforms, it’s good to see that there still is room for good old-fashioned televised debate. [Enid News & Eagle]

Health News

New doctors to begin practices in rural Oklahoma towns: Some small towns with big needs for doctors got good news this week when the state’s Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust and Oklahoma Health Care Workforce Training Commission announced that nine new doctors had been placed in towns through the Physician Loan Repayment Program. [The Journal Record]

Editorial: Listen and act on what the Suicide Moms are saying: Five years ago a trio of women were strangers as they went through a similar tragedy within the same month. Today, they are arm-in-arm asking Oklahoma to advocate for health care improvements and work to break down the stigma about mental health disorders. They do this to prevent the Suicide Moms group from getting bigger. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

$9.5 million grant to help expand OSU Center for Health Sciences childhood trauma research: An OSU Center for Health Sciences-based program that supports research into childhood trauma has been awarded a five-year $9.5 million federal grant to expand its work. [Tulsa World]

Updating zoning codes could transform OKC: Oklahoma City is 621 square miles of zoned land that offers little flexibility to develop properties to fit the character of the district where they lie, short of a variance or special-use permit. That’s why the city is updating its zoning and development codes to reflects the goals set forth in “planokc,” the comprehensive plan adopted in 2015. They include integrated residential types and sizes, more open spaces, connectivity and improved design standards. [The Journal Record]

The cost of power: 7 visuals illustrating the price of electricity in Oklahoma: Charts illustrate the cost of electricity in Oklahoma, which is among the cheapest in the nation. [The Oklahoman]

General News

OKC residents: Love the city; hate the streets: Residents of Oklahoma City think it’s a great place to live and work, but want to see improvement in areas like street conditions and the public transit system. [The Oklahoman]

Edmond scales back, but doesn’t end, bus service to and from Oklahoma City: Edmond City Council members voiced concerns about eliminating the city’s bus service to and from Oklahoma City before voting to reduce the route’s operation rather than eliminating it. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“The closer doctors are to the people they serve, the more likely they can prevent and reduce serious medical conditions from developing.”

– Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) Executive Director Julie Bisbee speaking about working with the Oklahoma Health Care Workforce Training Commission to place new doctors in rural Oklahoma towns through the Physician Loan Repayment Program. [Journal Record]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s national rank for employed Registered Nurses to population ratio, which was 7.96 Registered Nurses per 1,000 residents. The national average was 9.19 employed Registered Nurses per 1,000 reisdents. [Nurse Journal]

Policy Note

Voting Laws Roundup: October 2022: As voters cast ballots in the 2022 midterms, they face significant changes in the voting rights landscape since 2020. 2021 was a record-breaking year for legislative activity around voting rights, and many of the same trends have continued into 2022. Oklahoma enacted a relatively unique law that will make it more difficult for voters without traditional addresses — such as voters living on tribal lands and homeless voters — to register to vote and cast a ballot. [Brennan Center For Justice]

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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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