In The Know: Pediatricians discuss need for vaccinations for children | Special session won’t address vaccine mandates | More

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.

Health News

Does your child age 5-11 really need a COVID-19 vaccine? Pediatricians in Oklahoma say ‘Yes’: “Children are not supposed to pass away,” said Dr. Donna Tyungu, pediatric infectious disease specialist with Oklahoma Children’s Hospital-OU Health. “COVID is now one of the 10 leading causes of death for children in this country — and now it has become a vaccine-preventable illness. [Tulsa World]

  • As COVID-19 shots begin for younger kids, it’s a dose of relief for Oklahoma families [The Oklahoman]
  • Virus update: 9 charts that show how Oklahoma is handling the spread of COVID-19 [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Oklahoma special session won’t address COVID-19 vaccine mandates, a divisive issue for GOP: Vaccine mandates won’t be a topic of discussion when state lawmakers convene this month for a special legislative session, but it’s just a matter of time before the issue comes before the Oklahoma Legislature. House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, said Tuesday he fully expects vaccine legislation will come up in the 2022 legislative session that starts in February. [The Oklahoman]

Despite GOP claims, public did not favor carving up Oklahoma County: The Republican proposal to carve up Oklahoma County among urban and rural congressional districts has drawn fire from some residents who say a diverse but cohesive area would be splintered and its political voice diluted. [The Oklahoman]

  • Editorial: Redistricting plan for Congressional District 5 protects partisanship, not fair representation [Editorial / Tulsa World]

‘In their corner’: New Oklahoma bill provides survivors of sexual assault more rights: Community leaders say a new Oklahoma bill that went into effect Monday gives survivors of sexual assault various new rights. House Bill 2546, which created the Sexual Assault Victims’ Right to Information Act, was signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt in May and went into effect Nov. 1. [Enid News & Eagle]

Bill would nix tax exemption for marijuana growers: A state lawmaker has filed a bill to exclude marijuana growers from a sales tax exemption that benefits producers of agricultural products in Oklahoma. If passed, Senate Bill 1101 would remove the exemption as it has been applied to the growing, harvesting or processing of marijuana. [The Journal Record] The bill’s author, Sen. George Burns, R-Pollard, said the money thus collected by the state could be used to weed out illegal grow operations. [Tulsa World]

One year out: Stitt faces six challengers, AG and superintendent primaries hot: Buckle up for the next 365 days. Oklahomans are exactly one year out from the 2022 general election, when voters will decide who fills national, state level and local offices. While the official filing period for Oklahoma’s 2022 election is not until April 13 through April 15, multiple candidates have already formed campaign committees for statewide and federal offices. [NonDoc]

  • New AG John O’Connor off to fast start in campaign fundraising [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Holt hails bill expected to provide more than $5 billion for Oklahoma: A $1 trillion infrastructure bill headed to President Joe Biden’s desk was blasted by members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation but hailed by Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt as a major step toward long-needed investment in cities. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

McGirt decision spurs fierce debate on Oklahoma tax issues: More than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark McGirt decision that determined the Muscogee Nation reservation was never disestablished, the possibility that thousands more tribal citizens in Oklahoma could be exempt from income and sales taxes if the decision is expanded to civil matters has become a major point of contention. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal law enforcement officials: Public safety systems growing in Indian Country: Oklahoma tribal law enforcement officials say the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma is strengthening momentum for improvements to public safety infrastructure in their police departments. [NonDoc]

Native artists, entrepreneurs help power Oklahoma’s economy: Oklahoma tribal nations are major drivers of the state’s economy, ranking as a top-10 industry, according to Oklahoma Native Impact. Based on its studies, the total economic impact that tribes made in Oklahoma in 2017 was $12.9 billion, not counting the billions in production by companies that support tribes’ business operations. [The Journal Record]

Criminal Justice News

Death row inmates tell federal appeals court Oklahoma execution was “latest debacle”: Julius Jones and three other Oklahoma death row inmates have told a federal appeals court that an execution last week was a debacle that proves corrections officials have not learned a thing in six years. [The Oklahoman]

The Source Podcast: Julius Jones recommended for clemency days after other Oklahoma inmate is executed: Four days after Oklahoma carried out its first execution in six years, the state’s Pardon and Parole Board recommended mercy for death row inmate Julius Jones. Jones’ fate rests in Gov. Kevin Stitt’s hands following the board’s vote in favor of clemency. [The Oklahoman]

  • Ministers pray for Oklahoma governor weighing ‘life or death’ fate of Julius Jones [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Some Oklahomans could see their natural gas bill double this winter. Here’s why: You might find yourself getting hot under the collar as temperatures turn colder this year if you use natural gas to help heat your home. That’s because some residential customers could see their heating bills nearly double compared to what they paid last year, due to rising natural gas prices. [The Oklahoman]

State residency rules up in smoke as cannabis industry grows: Cannabis’ illegality at the federal level has created opportunities for the states to shape the legal landscape and create rules designed to capture the economic benefits of the cannabis industry for themselves while protecting their citizens against potential social harms. However, state residency requirements, used by many states to meet these goals, have been subject to a recent flurry of challenges based on the dormant Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The constitutional battles may change the course of the future of the industry, even after any federal legalization occurs. [Reuters]

Education News

Oklahoma governor criticizes firing of maskless teachers: The Oklahoma City school district violated state law by firing six teachers who refused to wear masks, according to Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt. “This is about a school district not following state law, this isn’t a debate about masks.” Stitt said in a video statement Friday. [AP News] In a video posted to social media, the governor called the school district’s mask requirement illegal. [The Oklahoman]

  • 5 teachers fired after mask refusal sue school district [AP News]

Oklahoma’s higher education governing board asks for increase to restore some of historic cuts: Oklahoma’s Regents for Higher Education are asking the legislature for an $85 million funding increase. An increase of that size would lead to the highest state funding level in Oklahoma since 2015 at $898 million. [KOSU]

Long Story Short: How Oklahoma School Districts Are Spending Millions in Federal Aid (podcast): In Episode 10 of Long Story Short, Oklahoma Watch journalists share findings and insights from their latest stories with executive director Ted Streuli. [Oklahoma Watch]

General News

Balancing Safety, Resettlement As Afghan Refugees Arrive in Oklahoma: Afghan refugees touching down at Will Rogers and Tulsa International airports are arriving scarred. Scarred by death threats from the Taliban, by air raids from Afghan, U.S. and Coalition forces and by car bombings orchestrated by the Islamic State and other militant factions. [Oklahoma Watch]

‘Much larger than one block’: Race Massacre Commission’s ‘final project’ will mark the true extent of historic Greenwood: As early as November 1921, just five months after the Tulsa Race Massacre left 35 square blocks of Greenwood in ruins, residents had begun to rebuild in earnest. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Unite Norman, councilor say committee timeline violates charter; city says it had no choice [The Norman Transcript]
  • OKC City Council to consider ward redistricting and addition of two wards [OKC Free Press]
  • ‘Get to the airport’: Wally Funk encourages young women to pursue aviation in OKC visit [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“It would be really beautiful if everyone would not use Facebook for this and not use TikTok and go and sit down and calmly talk it through with their pediatrician. Get those questions answered by someone you know and trust. That would be the ideal world to be living in during a pandemic.”

-Dr. Donna Tyungu, pediatric infectious disease specialist with Oklahoma Children’s Hospital-OU Health, speaking about COVID-19 vaccinations for children [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Despite being constitutionally required to occur every 10 years, Oklahoma’s first redistricting process occurred in 1964 (57 years after statehood), only after federal courts ordered the state’s electoral districts needed to be roughly equal in population. [Oklahoma Historical Society]

Policy Note

What is Redistricting and Why Should We Care?: Redistricting is the process of drawing the lines of districts from which public officials are elected. When it’s conducted fairly, it accurately reflects population changes and racial diversity, and is used by legislators to equitably allocate representation in Congress and state legislatures. When politicians use redistricting to manipulate the outcome of elections, however, it’s called gerrymandering — a practice that undermines democracy and stifles the voice of voters. Voters should be picking their politicians. Not the other way around. [ACLU]

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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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