In The Know: Political reactions to Hofmeister party switch | Two cannabis petitions filed | Health officials hopeful on virus trend

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

Oklahoma Republican leaders mostly mum on Hofmeister switch: Oklahoma’s top Republicans didn’t have much to say Thursday about State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister’s unprecedented decision to switch to the Democratic Party and challenge GOP incumbent Kevin Stitt for the governorship. State party Chairman John Bennett did not respond to a request for his reaction. Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, had no comment, and House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, was traveling and “not readily available,” according to his office. [Tulsa World] Oklahoma Democrats are divided on the state schools superintendent switching parties to run for governor. Local Democrats are taking sides after Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, formerly a Republican, flipped her political affiliation Thursday to run for governor as a Democrat — becoming the most high-profile candidate to challenge Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt thus far. [The Oklahoman]

  • Joy Hofmeister jumps to Democratic Party, as some Republicans believe GOP left them behind [CNHI via Ada News]

Will recreational marijuana sales happen in Oklahoma? Group wants vote on statewide ballot: Recreational marijuana sales could be in Oklahoma’s future. An advocacy group filed two initiative petitions Thursday, one of which creates the framework to allow cannabis sales without a doctor’s recommendation. The other makes changes to current medical marijuana laws. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Health officials hope downward COVID-19 death trend signals worst of delta variant behind Oklahoma: The state has continued to see an encouraging decline in COVID-19 cases, numbers and hospitalizations this week, Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye said Thursday during a virtual news conference. [Tulsa World]

Initiative seeks to unite healthcare providers in more effective treatment of veterans: A new initiative is focusing on reducing suicide and improving treatment for veterans. Aaron Ashworth is the mental health and suicide prevention programs administrator for the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs. Speaking to healthcare providers Thursday through a new OSU ECHO program, Ashworth said veterans need to feel connected and need to feel like there is hope, and it’s important to remember key aspects of military culture when treating them. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Tribal Nations News

Quapaw Tribe awaits action on bill to settle environmental damages: Members of the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma are awaiting action on legislation that would authorize $137.5 million in payments to conclude a 17-year dispute over the federal government’s mismanagement of tribal assets. Each of the tribe’s 5,290 citizens could potentially receive a lump-sum payment of $25,990 as settlement for damage done to Quapaw lands from lead and zinc mining that started in the late 1800s. [NonDoc]

Criminal Justice News

Advocates want to make expungement in Oklahoma much more effective: Rep. John Talley (R-Stillwater) was one of the many representatives who participated in an Aug. 31 interim study on expungement hosted by Rep. Nicole Miller (R-Edmond). Talley, who has been involved in prison ministry, said took special interest in the study. He was unable to attend in person, but did watch the study online. One of Talley’s areas of concern was how people are treated upon release from incarceration. [CNHI via Stillwater News Press]

Oklahoma court reject’s death row inmate’s McGirt appeal: The appeal of a death row inmate convicted of killing his girlfriend and her two young daughters was rejected Thursday by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. Shaun Bosse, 38, argued that the state did not have jurisdiction in his case under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in what’s known as the McGirt decision because the victims were Native American and the crimes occurred on tribal lands. [AP News]

Stay issued in case of The Village police officer who fatally shot a man in 2020: The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has issued a temporary halt in the district court case of a police officer who fatally shot a man holding a baseball bat. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Continued unemployment claims’ four-week average in state declines for 10th consecutive week: Initial unemployment claims in the state, as well as continued claims and the initial claims’ four-week moving average, all declined in the most recent reporting week, and the continued claims’ four-week moving average declined for the 10th consecutive week, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission said Thursday. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Editorial: Bring up school test scores by giving support, not micromanaging or criticizing: No one is surprised Oklahoma’s school test scores fell during the pandemic; it follows national trends and commonsense expectations. The scores ought to inform, not shame, districts on how to proceed. Youth are remarkably resilient and able to catch up with the right supports. Teachers know how best to teach their students. District leaders remain on high alert to keep the COVID-19 virus from buildings or from spreading. It’s the only way to keep the schools open. That should be the takeaway: Do whatever is necessary to support educators to keep schools safe and with bolstered academic resources. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

General News

How housing code enforcement works in three cities: Last month, when members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives met to examine the state’s landlord-tenant laws, one topic came up again and again: the Vista Shadow Mountain Apartments. spoke with renters, code enforcement workers, legal aid attorneys and tenant advocates in three cities about how their local governments deal with housing code violations in rental properties. [BigIfTrue]

B’nai Emunah synagogue to partner in refugee resettlement, receive 50 Afghan refugees: Tulsa’s Congregation B’nai Emunah has received federal approval to serve as a refugee resettlement agency and will begin preparing to receive 50 Afghan refugees in the coming weeks, synagogue officials said. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

Quote of the Day

“We see welcoming refugees as a way to make our city a stronger, more vibrant and better place.”

-Rabbi Dan Kaiman of Tulsa’s Congregation B’nai Emunah, speaking about its efforts to help Afghan refugees [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


The health care coverage gap between white and Latino adults shrank by 10.1 percentage points in Medicaid expansion states between 2013 and 2019 versus 7.5 percentage points in non-expansion states. The coverage gap between white and Black adults shrank by 5.1 percentage points in expansion states versus 4.6 percentage points in non-expansion states. [CBPP]

Policy Note

Closing Coverage Gap a Crucial Step for Health Equity in Rural Communities of Color: Policymakers should permanently close the Medicaid coverage gap as part of economic recovery legislation, in order to make affordable health coverage accessible to over 2 million low-income people who now lack this access because their state has refused to expand Medicaid. People in rural communities, especially people of color, are among those who would most benefit, we explain in a new paper. That’s because closing the coverage gap would provide a pathway not just to affordable coverage, but to greater availability of services in rural areas in non-expansion states, where some health facilities have curtailed them. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

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David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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