In The Know: Protecting Medicaid expansion | Uptick in hospital admission rate | Delta variant confirmed in NE Oklahoma

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

Campaign manager for Medicaid expansion ballot measure: ‘We have to protect this victory’: The campaign manager for the ballot measure to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma said the work is not over even though benefits went into effect last Thursday. Yes on 802’s Amber England said last week advocates must now keep tabs on officials who can affect the program. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • OHCA offering additional dental benefits to SoonerCare members [KSWO]
  • Over 125k Oklahomans approved for benefits as new Medicaid expansion goes into effect [KFOR]

Amid uptick in cases, Oklahoma sees high hospital admission rate for COVID-19 patients: Oklahoma is seeing a high rate of hospital admissions for COVID-19 patients amid rising case numbers in the state, according to an expert. Across the state, nearly 28% of people who have had a positive COVID-19 test in the last two weeks were admitted to hospitals, said Dr. David Kendrick, founder and CEO of MyHealth Access Network, a statewide health information exchange. [The Oklahoman]

  • ‘Preying on the unvaccinated’: Delta variant responsible for cluster outbreaks, sicker patients, officials say [Tulsa World]
  • Delta variant confirmed in northeast Oklahoma, cases jump in Tulsa County [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Health officials propose change to vaccine vials for better distribution [CNHI via The Ada News]
  • ‘Political divide’ hampers vaccination in Oklahoma as cases rise [CNHI via Enid News & Eagle]

State Government News

Director: ODOT looking at recommendations watchdog made for county road and bridge program: The state’s top transportation official said the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is already making progress on recommendations a legislative watchdog made last month. The Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency looked at ODOT’s County Improvements for Roads and Bridges Program, which gives local governments state funding to make road and bridge repairs. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Suit seeks to remove Hiett from Corporation Commission: A lawsuit filed in the Oklahoma Supreme Court seeks to have Corporation Commissioner Todd Hiett removed from his post. The suit, filed June 30, alleges that his service violates the Oklahoma Constitution because he also serves on the board of SpiritBank, which it claims is a conflict of interest. [Tulsa World]

Opinion: The problem with HB 1775: I’ve written before about my experiences as a father of black children. As a white male, I’m certainly not qualified to truly speak to the experiences of marginalized communities. But my experiences, as removed as they may be, might help illuminate others who, like myself, have not directly experienced discrimination and oppression. Being a witness to the experiences of my children, and my non-white and non-male friends, is exactly why I believe House Bill 1775 is harmful to our students and ultimately our state. [Opinion / OSSBA]

Federal Government News

Inhofe wants Congress to spend $58M on work along Arkansas River Navigation System: Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe has requested $58 million in congressional earmarks for the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, which runs from the Tulsa Port of Catoosa to the Mississippi River. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Sen. Lankford responds to ‘unheard of’ lack of neutrality from state GOP chairman: In addition to challengers in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate next year, incumbent Sen. James Lankford said he is contending with opposition from a high-ranking member of his own party. [Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

Oklahoma’s strategy to fight McGirt cases draws tribal criticism: Approaching the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court affirming the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s reservation, state prosecutors have become much more aggressive in challenging the scope of the decision on criminal cases in eastern Oklahoma. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Woodward County officials told inmates being moved from Key: Woodward County commissioners discussed the looming closure of William S. Key Correctional Center in Fort Supply, as well as what the future might hold for the facility during their meeting Tuesday. Commissioners talked about a June 29 hearing at the state Capitol on the closure of Key with Dr. Tom Lucas and District Attorney Christopher M. Boring, who both attended the hearing in Oklahoma City. [Woodward News]

Fatal shootings streak ‘alarming’ to OHP commanders, but formal review leaves policies unchanged: An Oklahoma Highway Patrol memo noted that an “alarming increase” of troopers shooting people and into cars had raised several red flags among commanders, none of which was addressed later in a formal review board’s report. Seven commanders gathered in January 2020 to review a specific deadly trooper shooting, with a “lengthy discussion” identifying broader concerns from that case and unspecified others [Tulsa World]

  • Tulsa World investigates: Oklahoma Highway Patrol fatality pursuits, deadly shootings: Stolen property or traffic infractions prompted all but one of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol vehicular pursuits that killed 18 people the past five years despite policy requiring troopers to weigh if the benefits of apprehension are worth a chase’s risks. At least eight individuals killed weren’t the eluding drivers. Five were uninvolved motorists, at least two were passengers in fleeing vehicles, and one was a Highway Patrol lieutenant on foot struck by another trooper’s cruiser at high speed. [Tulsa World]

New CLEET director Brandon Clabes talks police training: Brandon Clabes served as Midwest City’s police chief for more than 20 years. Now, after retiring from the department earlier this year, he is taking on a new role as executive director of the state’s Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training, better known as CLEET. [NonDoc]

‘They remove all doubt’: Body cameras approved for Oklahoma County sheriff’s deputies: Oklahoma County commissioners offered unanimous support Tuesday of the sheriff’s request to buy body cameras. Once purchased and equipped, it will mark the first time Oklahoma County deputies have worn body cameras. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma City Council approves outside lawyers for officers charged in Stavian Rodriguez shooting: The Oklahoma City Council on Tuesday approved the hiring of lawyers for five police officers alleged in a lawsuit to have acted recklessly in the killing of 15-year-old Stavian Rodriguez. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

Lawmaker hopes to reverse ‘neighborhood blight’ in state: An Oklahoma lawmaker has suggested a study of causes of “neighborhood blight” in hopes of reversing decay and reviving investment in communities. State Rep. Monroe Nichols, a Democrat from Tulsa, said blight has affected both urban and rural communities across Oklahoma, harming business profitability, home values and more. [The Journal Record]

Economy & Business News

Economic Growth Strong In Oklahoma’s 9-State Region, According To Survey: A leading business survey indicates strong growth continuing for the next several months and an economy returning to pre-pandemic levels in 2022. The Mid-America Business Conditions Index ticked up from 72.3 in May to 73.5 in June. Numbers above 50 on the zero to 100 scale indicate growth. The index hit a record 73.9 in April. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Education News

Superintendents: Counselor Corps doesn’t address rural schools’ needs: A new state initiative aims to increase support for struggling students. But administrators from some of Oklahoma’s small, rural districts said the effort doesn’t address their community’s needs. District officials said even if they received the funding, a shortage of mental health professionals in rural parts of the state would make it nearly impossible to find qualified candidates. [Oklahoma Watch]

April Grace, John Cox are early candidates for state superintendent of public instruction: Shawnee Public Schools Superintendent April Grace formally announced today that she will be running for state superintendent of public instruction in 2022 as a Republican. Grace registered her campaign committee with the state Ethics Commission in January. John Cox, the superintendent of Peggs Public Schools, registered his campaign committee in late April. Peggs is a 199-student pre-K through eighth grade district between Tahlequah and Locust Grove in Cherokee County. [NonDoc] Current Republican Superintendent Joy Hofmeister can’t run for the seat again because of term limits. [AP News] In 2014’s general election, Hofmeister defeated Cox with 55.8% of the votes to his 44.2%, and in 2018, her victory margin increased to 58.5% of the vote to 33.8% for Cox. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Fate of land near Hafer Park to be handed off to Edmond voters [The Oklahoman]
  • Cathy Cummings to challenge Kevin Calvey for OK County Commissioner [OKC Free Press]
  • TPS launches summer school for 11,000 students [Tulsa World]
  • ‘Unsafe environment’: Illegal activities force The Nature Conservancy to close one of northeastern Oklahoma’s most scenic spots [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“The ballot measure process is under attack, and we need to protect that. We need to make certain that Oklahomans can decide issues for themselves when the legislature or the governor will fail to do it for them.”

-Amber England, campaign manager for SQ 802 [Public Radio Tulsa

Number of the Day


Number of evictions filed by the 53 most frequent plaintiffs in Tulsa County, 2019-2020. These landlords accounted for over 2 out of every 5 eviction filings during the period

[Source: Open Justice Oklahoma]

Policy Note

High-Volume Tulsa Eviction Filers: This research brief examines the most frequent filers of small claims eviction cases in Tulsa County in 2019 and 2020. Data collected by Open Justice Oklahoma show that a small number of the most frequent plaintiffs account for a large portion of filings in this time period. [Open Justice Oklahoma]

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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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