In The Know: Proposed legislation would worsen eviction crisis | Bill that would roll back justice reforms clears Senate | 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.

Oklahoma News

Eviction bill called ‘awful’ and ‘predatory’ considered in House: The Oklahoma House of Representatives is scheduled this week to hear House Bill 1564, a measure that would bar the courts from preventing evictions even during a pandemic. The measure was approved by a legislative committee in February and needs a vote from the full state House of Representatives by Thursday’s legislative deadline in order to continue toward becoming law. [Journal Record] Together Oklahoma Advocacy Alert: HB 1564 would worsen Oklahoma’s eviction crisis.

Bill that rolls back State Question 780 clears the Oklahoma Senate, laying out strong opposition to reform impetus: On Tuesday (March 9), the State Senate approved Senate Bill 334. According to a press release from Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform (OCJR), S.B. 334 “would damage the impact of prior criminal justice reforms that safely reduce Oklahoma’s prison population and reinvest in alternatives.” [The City Sentinel] OK Policy: Smart justice reform in Oklahoma would modernize Oklahoma’s sentencing based on national best practices that makes investments in treatment rather than incarceration.

‘Mental wellbeing’: State pens guidelines for restarting nursing home visits: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and state health officials today announced new guidance for nursing homes and long-term care facilities aimed at allowing family visitations, which were prohibited almost one year ago owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. [NonDoc] The governor cited the state’s vigorous COVID-19 vaccine distribution for making the guidance revision feasible. [AP News] Once a hotspot for COVID-19 infections, nursing homes have seen COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths plummet as vaccines have become more widespread. [The Oklahoman] State health officials said resuming in-person visitation will not be mandatory, but they will “strongly encourage” facilities statewide to adopt their new guidelines they say align with existing federal requirements and provide a framework to safely allow contact between residents and loved ones. [CNHI via Muskogee Phoenix]

Health News

Cherokee Nation opens vaccine to public living in 14-county area: The Cherokee Nation has opened its COVID-19 vaccine distribution to anyone, Native American or not, living within its 14-county area, the tribe announced Tuesday. The Cherokee Nation has gone through its three-phase distribution plan, and any member of the public who live within the reservation area is now eligible to receive a vaccine through the Cherokee Nation Health Services. [Tulsa World] The reservation includes all or parts of 14 counties, including Adair, Cherokee, Craig, Delaware, Mayes, McIntosh, Muskogee, Nowata, Ottawa, Rogers, Sequoyah, Tulsa, Wagoner, and Washington. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • COVID-19 devastated many communities. But not Cherokee Nation. [Opinion / New York Times]
  • Tulsa’s Mayor Bynum to get COVID vaccination this week; encourages others to sign up [Tulsa World]
  • COVID-19: Active cases continue decline; Oklahoma releases total confirmed deaths [Tulsa World]
  • COVID Update: Number Of ICU patients drops below 100, state adds 88 deaths from CDC data [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Oklahoma experts weigh in on new CDC COVID guidance for fully vaccinated people [Public Radio Tulsa]

State Government News

Oklahoma House passes bill to protect drivers who hit protesters: In a rare, early-morning vote, Republican lawmakers in the Oklahoma House approved legislation to grant immunity to drivers who hit protesters. On a party-line vote Wednesday, the House passed a bill that grants civil and criminal immunity for drivers who unintentionally injure or kill protesters while “fleeing from a riot.” [The Oklahoman] Lawmakers say they are trying to address instances of violence or extreme disruption, but activists believe lawmakers instead chose to criminalize those who already feel targeted by police. [The Frontier

Bill expanding school apprenticeship program unanimously passes Oklahoma Senate: The Oklahoma State Senate unanimously passed a bill last week that would increase apprenticeship opportunities to more high school students. Senate Bill 619 expands the Apprenticeships, Internships and Mentorships Act of 2016 to include sophomores 16 years of age or older. [KOSU]

Oklahoma House bill would require high schoolers to pass citizenship test: Beginning in the 2022-23 academic year, House Bill 2030 would require high schoolers to pass the civics portion of the United States’ naturalization test in order to graduate. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Bill would allow tax credit for business blood drives: Businesses that host blood drives would qualify for tax incentives if a bill progressing in the Legislature passes into law. [The Journal Record]

Suspension of medical licenses part of bill aimed at restricting legal abortions in Oklahoma: Obtaining a legal abortion in Oklahoma would likely become all but impossible under two bills passed Tuesday by the Republican-led state House of Representatives. [Tulsa World] State lawmakers on Tuesday continued their attempts to implement sweeping new restrictions on abortion. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Bills to make Oklahoma a Second Amendment sanctuary, expand gun rights pass state Senate: A number of bills that would expand Oklahomans’ rights to carry guns into bars, in vehicles and while at work and which would make Oklahoma a “Second Amendment Sanctuary State” passed the Oklahoma Senate on Tuesday. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Republican apologizes for ‘colored’ babies comment: A Republican Oklahoma House member apologized to his colleagues on Tuesday for using a racist term to describe Black babies during a debate on the House floor. [AP News] Rep. Brad Boles, R-Marlow, called the remark a “slip of the tongue,” and apologized hours after making the comment on the House floor. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

State joins in lawsuit over Biden’s orders on climate: Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter has joined a lawsuit to stop the Biden administration from using a calculation of “social costs” of greenhouse gas emissions in enforcing rules affecting farmers and others who live and work in Oklahoma. [The Journal Record] Hunter is one of 12 Republican attorneys general to sign onto the federal lawsuit that argues the president lacks the authority to ask federal agencies to calculate the “social cost” of greenhouse gas emissions to inform future federal regulations. [The Oklahoman]

US officials: Report on oil and gas sale ban due by summer: The Biden administration said Tuesday that it will deliver an interim report on its suspension of oil and gas sales from federal lands and waters by summer, but officials declined to state how long the moratorium could remain in place. [The Journal Record]

Criminal Justice News

Todd Lamb is frequently absent from meetings on Oklahoma County’s troubled jail: Former Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, a member of the trust that oversees the troubled Oklahoma County Detention Center, missed more than half of the body’s meetings in 2020 as the facility dealt with a spate of deaths, maintenance issues and COVID-19. [The Frontier]

Education News

Data: Schools that started the year in-person saw the most transfers to virtual charters: Data from the state Department of Education shows hundreds of virtual charter school transfers came from school districts that began the year with traditional in-person class. [The Frontier]

  • Four days of in-person classes on the table for OKC schools [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • ‘Immense benefits’: Merger to create OU Health as integrated academic health center [NonDoc]
  • ‘We will not concede,’ this Oklahoma man said at US Capitol Jan. 6. Now he, and his boss, faces charges [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“We’re having a bunch of political bills that are going to get headlines, but we are missing the really critical policy changes that will frankly save lives.”

-State Rep. Monroe Nichols speaking about police reform measures and bills filed in response to this summer’s protests in Oklahoma and nationwide [The Frontier]

Number of the Day


Black Tulsans represent 17% of the city’s population but account for 35% of all people arrested. Nearly 40% of all Tulsa Police Department arrests are based on outstanding warrants, including a high percentage of warrants for failure to pay court fees, fines, and costs. Oklahoma’s system of court fines and fees contributes to racial disparities in police use of force, arrests and incarceration.

[Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute]

Policy Note

Many juvenile jails are now almost entirely filled with young people of color: White youths were being released from juvenile detention centers at a far higher rate than their Black peers during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, and young people of color have since been detained for longer than they were before the crisis, according to data gathered by a leading children’s philanthropy. [The Marshall Project]

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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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