In The Know: Proposed Congressional map released | Board recommends clemency for Julius Jones | Capitol Update

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

Factors could create progress towards treating, rehabilitating criminal offenders (Capitol Update): For years, DOC has advocated for more diversion along with more and better treatment, education, and training programs. That’s not surprising. DOC officials see the back end of the criminal legal system and often have no choice but to carry out expensive sentences of incarceration that add little or nothing to public safety and fail to treat and rehabilitate offenders. There is a convergence of three factors that could lead to real progress. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

Proposed Oklahoma congressional map unveiled: Republican state lawmakers unveiled their new proposed Oklahoma congressional map today, which will shift 180,762 residents of central and southwest Oklahoma City from the state’s 5th Congressional District to its 3rd Congressional District. At the same time, 44,896 residents of Logan County (including the city of Guthrie) and 33,458 people from the largely rural Lincoln County will now be in CD 5. [NonDoc] The proposed new 5th Congressional District map carves out a large chunk of Oklahoma City’s heavily Hispanic south side and Democratic core and places it in the strongly Republican 3rd Congressional District that stretches across western Oklahoma. It also adds rural portions of Lincoln and Logan County to the new 5th District. [AP News] State Rep. Ryan Martinez, R-Edmond, said the maps are intended to be the final product that lawmakers will consider when they convene in special session Nov. 15 to finalize the legislative and congressional redistricting process. [CNHI via The Norman Transcript]

Board recommends clemency for Julius Jones, Stitt to decide his fate: The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 3–1 today to recommend clemency for Julius Jones, who is scheduled to be executed in McAlester on Thursday, Nov. 18. The board’s vote marks its second such recommendation for a change in sentence from death to life in prison with the possibility of parole, and it again puts the ultimate decision in the hands of Gov. Kevin Stitt. [NonDoc] Jones spoke to the board for 20 minutes on Monday. He admitted that he was guilty of small crimes like stealing pagers or necklaces as a teenager in the 1990s, but said he was not present for the 1999 murder of Paul Howell. [The Frontier] “Gov. Stitt is aware of the Pardon and Parole Board’s vote today,” Stitt’s communications director, Carly Atchison, said. “Our office will not offer further comment until the governor has made a final decision.” [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Opioid crackdown had ‘tremendous fallout,’ with more suicides, drug overdoses among patients, lawmakers told: Oklahoma’s legislative efforts to curb opioid addiction have resulted in misery for chronic pain sufferers and may have actually increased overdose deaths from illegal substances, state lawmakers were told Monday. “All of the supply-sided interventions, the trying to limit opioid prescriptions, of course they were done with the absolute best of intentions,” Tamera Stewart, policy director of the advocacy organization P3 Alliance, told the House Alcohol, Tobacco and Controlled Substances Committee. [Tulsa World]

New Oklahoma law capping insulin co-pays goes into effect, advocates say it’s a good start: A new law that caps insulin co-pays goes into effect in Oklahoma today, coincidentally on the first day of diabetes awareness month. House Bill 1019 caps the copay for a 30-day insulin supply at $30 and $90 for a 90-day supply. It gives authority to the Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner to enforce that price cap. [KFOR]

OSMA informing Oklahomans of new law they say will bring transparency to insurance claims process: The Oklahoma State Medical Association wants to make Oklahomans aware of a law that could help you get your health insurance claims approved. Senate Bill 550 was authored by Sen. Joe Newhouse and Rep. Daniel Pae, but one official from the OSMA also played a key role in its passage. [KFOR]

Putting the law on the driver’s side: Iowa is one of three states, along with Oklahoma and Florida, to enact laws this year giving drivers some degree of legal immunity if they use their vehicles to hurt protesters, part of a wave of “hit and kill” bills introduced in 13 other states by Republican legislators since 2017. Most of those proposals came after one of the most sustained periods of demonstrations in US history following Floyd’s murder, and the effort to crack down on protesters has sent a chilling message to activists, who believe it will encourage violence against them. [Boston Globe]

Student Government Association leadership disappointed over ‘non-response response’ to letter from Gov. Stitt: Gov. Kevin Stitt expressed his appreciation toward OU Student Government Association for contacting his office in a less than 100-word response to the association’s 21-page letter detailing its opposition to Senate Bill 658 and Stitt’s Executive Order 2021-16 on Oct. 4. [OU Daily]

Tribal Nations News

Tulsa mayor still mum on Indian Affairs Commission’s request to pull city’s brief supporting McGirt challenge: It’s early, but a tribal affairs commission’s request that the city of Tulsa withdraw its amicus brief in support of the state’s challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt ruling has so far failed to gain any real traction. After saying on Friday that he had not read the Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission’s letter seeking the withdrawal, Mayor G.T Bynum was out of the office Monday and unavailable for comment. [Tulsa World]

Editorial: Resources better spent to adapt to work through McGirt consequences, not against it: The state has two choices regarding the McGirt Supreme Court ruling: adapt to the ruling by working with tribal nations and U.S. attorneys or spend resources for a long-shot at the high court to reverse its decision. The first option would serve Oklahomans best. Right now, the battle against the decision is harming relations with tribal nations and slowing efforts to shore up problems with prosecutions. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma County jail trust gets new face; youthful offenders return from Pawnee County: Monday brought a new month, the appointment of a new member to the Oklahoma County Jail Trust and a change in housing for the county’s juvenile offenders. Francie Ekwerekwu submitted her resignation from the jail trust in October. Oklahoma County Commissioner Carrie Blumert named Loretta Radford to fill the spot ahead of Monday’s meeting. [The Oklahoman] Authorities in Pawnee County say 14 juvenile detainees were being moved to the Oklahoma County Juvenile Detention Center. [KFOR]

Long Story Short: How The Counting of the Incarcerated Influences Oklahoma Politics (podcast): In Episode 9 of Long Story Short (listen below), Oklahoma Watch journalists share findings and insights from their latest stories with executive director Ted Streuli. [Oklahoma Watch]

Economy & Business News

Report ranks Oklahoma fourth among states for oil production: Oklahoma ranks as the fourth-biggest producer of oil in the United States, a country that in 2020 outproduced the likes of Russia and Saudi Arabia and for the first time earned status as a net exporter of oil. That’s according to petroleum industry watcher, which analyzed data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration in preparing a report released recently including stats on such things as total U.S. crude production, trends in production over the past decade and even estimates of consumption of oil by Americans per capita. [The Journal Record]

Regenerative agriculture evaluation gets underway in Texas and Oklahoma: From carbon sequestration to greenhouse gas emissions to cover crops, this fall a team of Texas A&M AgriLife faculty and others will begin evaluating the impacts of regenerative agriculture in semi-arid ecoregions in Texas and Oklahoma. [The Eagle] Oklahoma State University has received more than $2.6 million to research ways to improve agricultural production while reducing environmental impacts. [The City-Sentinel]

Tulsa Tech takes on Sand Springs medical marijuana grow-site applicant: A medical marijuana growing facility proposed for a vacant tract of land south of Tulsa Tech’s Sand Springs campus has drawn a challenge from the school, which argues that too many cannabis-related entities already exist in the area. [Tulsa World]

Holt: OKC stood up to twin challenges: Oklahoma City stands strong today after proving to be durable and resilient through the twin challenges of the pandemic and the pandemic recession, Mayor David Holt said Monday. The mayor addressed a crowd of 1,300 people at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber’s annual State of the City event, the largest plated event yet to be held at the Oklahoma City Convention Center. [The Journal Record]

Education News

State Board of Education member William Flanagan resigns: Claremore Mayor William Flanagan has resigned from his position on the State Board of Education owing to health complications. Gov. Kevin Stitt is charged with appointing Flanagan’s replacement. [NonDoc] Flanagan was the longest-serving appointed member of the Oklahoma State Board of Education. [The Oklahoman]

With no teachers, Tulsa Public Schools’ McClure sixth grade will be no more: Staffing issues have prompted Tulsa Public Schools to adjust the grade configuration at one of its campuses. Without debate or discussion, the school board voted 6-0 Monday night to eliminate the sixth grade at McClure Elementary School and make the campus a prekindergarten through fifth grade site starting Nov. 8. [Tulsa World]

Six school bond propositions, annexation slated for Nov. 9 special election: Six Oklahoma school districts will have bond propositions on the Nov. 9 special election ballot, and the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education will present a proposition to annex the Mangum Public Schools District into the Southwest Technology Center District. [NonDoc]

General News

Nov. 9 election features new hospital, city council races and sewage: Oklahoma voters heading to the polls for the Nov. 9 election will consider an array of local issues that directly impact their communities. Some residents will determine whether the price tag of a new hospital is worth it, while others will decide if a waste water treatment system nearing its 100th birthday has seen its last flush. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Demolition of old Oklahoma City Municipal Courts and Police Headquarters complex to begin Monday [KFOR]
  • How Muskogee’s ‘Depot District’ became a form of downtown renewal [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“If you don’t consider race data, you could perhaps unintentionally divide a community or cut them off.” 

-Andy Moore, head of People Not Politicians, saying lawmakers’ decision to not look at racial or partisan data during redistricting could create potential problems [CNHI via Norman Transcript]

Number of the Day


Percent of people in locally run jails who have been diagnosed with a mental illness [Bureau of Justice Statistics]

Policy Note

Building exits off the highway to mass incarceration: Diversion programs explained: Our nation’s mass incarceration crisis has led to far too many people locked up in jails and prisons. As public outrage grows regarding the unfairness of the criminal justice system, counties and municipalities are adopting a wide range of programs that divert people out of the system before they can be incarcerated, pitching these as solutions to reduce the number of people in confinement. But these programs are not all created equal, and the design and implementation of diversion can be wildly different in its impact on justice-involved people. [Prison Policy Initiative]

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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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