In The Know: OU’s ‘historic’ change to address nursing shortage | Criminal justice bills and key deadline | Economic supports for Oklahoma families

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 families need economic support following the ending of the expanded Child Tax Credit: For far too long, corporations across the state have enjoyed tax breaks and cuts while 1 in 5 of our state’s children grow up in poverty. Rather than increasing tax benefits for corporations and wealthy Oklahomans, state lawmakers should use the 2022 session to commit to providing economic supports to our children who need it the most. Legislation like House Bill 3353, which strengthens the Sales Tax Relief Credit, is an excellent start at getting working families their hard-earned tax dollars back, while also not depleting funds from our state budget. By investing directly in our people, we’ll be making an important difference in Oklahomans’ lives now and in the future. [Gabrielle Jacobi / OK Policy

Oklahoma News

Nursing shortage spurs OU to make ‘historic’ change to accept all qualified applicants: University of Oklahoma officials announced plans on Tuesday to dramatically increase enrollment at the school’s College of Nursing to reduce a shortage of nurses across the state. [Tulsa World] OU President Joseph Harroz announced Tuesday the College of Nursing class this year will increase by 50% in an attempt to address the state’s nursing shortage. [The Oklahoman] With just 712 nurses for every 100,000 residents, Oklahoma ranks 46th in the nation in nurses per capita, according to the Oklahoma Nurses Association. [The Journal Record] Experts say the state’s aging nursing workforce and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have only worsened the situation. [CNHI via The Norman Transcript]

Where criminal justice legislation stands following key deadline: Last Thursday was the deadline for bills to pass out of committee in their chamber of origin. Thousands of bills, including a proposal to lower the Department of Corrections’ minimum hiring age from 20 to 18, didn’t make the cut to be heard in committee hearings.  Other bills narrowly passed through committees and could face opposition in the full House or Senate. [Oklahoma Watch

Recently from OK Policy: The 2022 session brings a rare opportunity for significant progress in our criminal justice system: Even after progress, Oklahoma still ranks third in overall incarceration. Oklahoma lawmakers can use this session to reduce the prison population, build on past efforts and empower individuals to lead successful, healthy lives after incarceration.

State Government News

‘As technology evolves, we must evolve with it,’ OK bill allowing public meetings to be permanently streamed online moves forward: The full Senate gave its approval to a bill that would make virtual public meetings a permanent feature. Authored by Senator Brent Howard, R-Altus and Speaker of the House Charles McCall, R-Atoka, Senate Bill 1547 would require school boards, local municipalities, state agencies and other public bodies with websites and high-speed internet connection to stream and post their meetings online. [KFOR

House blocks amendment barring Norman turnpike construction: The Oklahoma House of Representatives blocked an amendment Monday that would have barred construction of turnpikes in Norman. The amendment to House Bill 4088, proposed by Merleyn Bell, D-Norman, would have restricted the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s ability to construct a turnpike to connect Moore and Norman to Oklahoma City and another that would extend the Kickapoo Turnpike through the eastern half of Norman. [The Norman Transcript]

  • Norman Mayor takes on turnpike authority, pledges to fight “reprehensible” rollout of new toll roads [The Norman Transcript]

Committee returns HB 3008 to the Oklahoma House: After receiving a vote recommending approval from committee, a bill that would allow Oklahoma’s Native governments to offer in-person sportsbook wagering at casino sites is likely to receive a vote on the floor of the state House of Representatives. [Cherokee Phoenix]

Bill proposes stronger trade ties between state, Asia: If passed into law, House Bill 3166 would set the stage for a Southeast Asia Economic Trade Office in Taiwan. The office would help coordinate business and business development not only involving Oklahoma and Taiwan but also involving the Sooner State and other countries in the region. [The Journal Record

Federal Government News

Biden bans Russian oil imports as pump prices climb: President Joe Biden announced Tuesday the U.S. will ban all Russian oil imports and warned that Americans will see rising prices, particularly at the gas pump. [The Journal Record] The executive order signed by the president bans all oil, liquified natural gas and coal imports from Russia. [The Black Wall Street Times

Tribal Nations News

Former state health commissioner named first surgeon general of Muscogee Nation: In conjunction with its expanding investment in health care, the Muscogee Nation has named its first-ever surgeon general. Filling the newly created post will be Col. Lance Frye, senior medical officer for the Oklahoma Air National Guard and the state’s former health commissioner, tribal officials announced at a news conference Tuesday. [Tulsa World] Frye, a citizen of the Choctaw Nation, led the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic before abruptly resigning as state health commissioner in October. [AP

City of Tulsa says McGirt ruling makes tribal members second-class citizens when it comes to obtaining justice: Native American crime victims have been treated like second-class citizens as many criminal cases involving them have gone unprosecuted since the landmark McGirt ruling, the city of Tulsa said in a U.S. Supreme Court filing. The Supreme Court on Jan. 21 rejected the state’s argument that the McGirt ruling should be overturned. [Tulsa World

Voting and Election News

State and federal elections could be held on different days under state House bill: Federal and state elections might be held on different days under legislation approved Tuesday by the Oklahoma House of Representatives. House Bill 3232, by Rep. Denise Crosswhite Hader, R-Piedmont, allows for separate election dates should federal election laws ever conflict with state law. [Tulsa World

Health News

Texas abortion ban forcing thousands to cross state lines for procedure – study: The states that many Texas residents sought abortions from include Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Nearly three out of four Texans, or 45%, who traveled out of state during those months seeking the procedure obtained abortion care in Oklahoma, which just has four facilities that offer abortion services. [The Guardian]

Economic Opportunity

Norman Starbucks baristas petition for union election — second in Oklahoma: Baristas at the Norman Highway 9 and Classen Store are now the second Starbucks crew in Oklahoma to sign cards asking the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to start the process for a union election. [Free Press OKC]

Education News

‘I love who I am when I’m with my students’: Rebecka Peterson named Teacher of the Year: Educators and their supporters gathered at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum last week to watch Rebecka Peterson, a math teacher from Union High School, be named the 2022 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year. [NonDoc

General News

Ukraine conflict reinforces need for international news coverage: The crisis in Ukraine is a vivid reminder of the importance of reliable news and information and the dedication and courage of journalists who face danger to deliver that news to the world. [KGOU

Oklahoma Local News

Cleveland County appropriates $17M of ARPA money: Cleveland County now has nearly $17 million of American Rescue Plan Act money ready to spend on services. County commissioners voted Monday to claim $10 million of loss revenue from ARPA for a service plan to direct dollars toward infrastructure, broadband, community service, behavioral health and public health initiatives. [The Norman Transcript]

Title IX questions are unanswered at Mount St. Mary in OKC: Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in schools — including sexual harassment and sexual assault — mandates that schools receiving federal funding have in place personnel and procedures to ensure a thorough and fair hearing for both the accuser and the accused. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“Whenever you need to use reserves, you use them during a crisis, so it’s the idea of pouring more dollars into that to meet this crisis. You don’t save money for a rainy day and then when it rains, not use them. And right now, this crisis is epidemic.”

– OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. speaking about the university’s ‘historic’ investment to temporarily expand OU’s nursing school capacity [CNHI via The Norman Transcript]

Number of the Day


Number of Oklahoma families who received their final expanded Advanced Child Tax Credit payment in December

[Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute]

New from OK Policy: Now that the ACTC has ended, state action on tax credits for working families, like a stronger Sales Tax Relief Credit, is needed more than ever to ensure all Oklahoma families have the resources they need to thrive. 

Policy Note

The COVID-19 Pandemic Underscored the Child Tax Credit’s Power to Alleviate Family Poverty: Research shows monthly CTC payments made since July provided substantial relief to families during the pandemic. The first monthly CTC payments reduced food hardship by 25 percent among households with low incomes with children, and other research shows the share of families who had trouble meeting their weekly expenses declined after the first CTC payment was distributed. Survey data also demonstrate that the CTC reduces financial stress among families with children. Reviving the monthly expanded CTC could help combat the economic hardship created by the current COVID-19 surge. [Urban Institute]

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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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