In The Know: Race Massacre Commission takes Gov. to task | Negotiating charter school reforms | Vaccines to be available for 12-15-year-olds

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

Examining educational management organizations, charter school reform being negotiated: Following last week’s release of a 25-page multi-county grand jury interim report regarding an ongoing investigation into Epic Charter Schools, members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives are working to finalize language for a charter school reform bill similar to HB 1735, introduced by Rep. Sheila Dills earlier this year. [NonDoc]

Centennial commission scolds governor; legislator says he’s had enough: More fissures opened Tuesday in the already often strained relationships involving Tulsa’s Black, mostly Democratic community, and the state’s entirely white, Republican leadership. Responding to external criticism and internal outrage, the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission lectured Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday, while Stitt himself remained unapologetic for signing the object of that anger, House Bill 1775, and defended his contributions to the 100th anniversary of one of the worst incidents of racial violence in the nation’s history. [Tulsa World] In an ultimatum issued Tuesday, the project manager of the centennial commission urged Stitt to contact members of the board to discuss his signature on House Bill 1775 or face losing his seat on the commission. [The Oklahoman] In a letter signed by Project Director Phil Armstrong, the commission said the new law will intimidate teachers who want to explore the underlying causes of the massacre and is “diametrically opposed” to their mission. [Public Radio Tulsa] Rep. Monroe Nichols has resigned from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, effective immediately. [The Black Wall Street Times] | [News9]

  • OKC school board condemns new law that prohibits critical race theory in schools [KOSU]
  • Millwood Public Schools plans board action on critical race theory ban [OKC Free Press]
  • Your views: On HB 1775 [The Oklahoman]
  • Governor Kevin Stitt’s segregated media policy takes shape ahead of Race Massacre Centennial [The Black Wall Street Times]

Adolescents ages 12 to 15 could begin receiving Pfizer vaccine in Oklahoma as early as Thursday: The Oklahoma State Department of Health expects that adolescents ages 12 to 15 will be able to begin getting vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as Thursday. The FDA granted emergency use authorization Monday to the Pfizer vaccine for individuals as young as 12 years old. State Health Commissioner Keith Reed is hopeful that shots can begin being administered to that age group by the end of the week or even Thursday, he said Tuesday. [Tulsa World] | [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Sen. Jessica Garvin Column: As the 2021 Legislative Session wraps up, I’m finding myself in a very interesting battle regarding the direction we take with Medicaid expansion. Many of you have been calling and emailing my office, asking great questions about the things you have been reading and hearing regarding this issue. Because of all the inquiries, I wanted to take the opportunity to explain the other side of the issue regarding Medicaid expansion. [Column / Duncan Banner

  • Letter to the Editor: If it’s not broken, why fix it?: Medicaid Expansion will be implemented on July 1, and there are efforts underway to privatize the health care that Oklahomans need. Our state ranks 48th in health care rankings, and the managed care model is too risky for Oklahomans. Medicaid is currently being administered by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA), which has one of the lowest administrative rates in the nation at about 4 percent. [Christopher Beshears / Tahlequah Daily Press]

Column: Legislature’s work on mental health comes at the right time: With an unprecedented mental health and addiction crisis raging across the state, the Oklahoma Legislature has had work to do in 2021. The pandemic disrupted routines, social connections and services for so many Oklahomans. Economic downturn left families jobless, homeless, hungry or all of the above. In fact, 40% of Oklahomans experienced anxiety or depression last fall, resulting in new cases of addiction, drug overdoses and suicides. [Rep. Josh West and Sen. Julia Kirk / The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Oklahoma House Democrats release their own budget as Republican talks continue: While Republican leaders in the Oklahoma legislature continue to hash out a budget with adjournment two and a half weeks out, House Democrats released on Tuesday their own $9 billion spending plan. The proposal counters their House Republican counterparts’ push for an additional $135 million for common education with a $200 million boost to the funding formula, along with additional increases to hire school counselors and offer pay incentives. Tulsa Rep. Melissa Provenzano said Republicans have already made changes opposed by educators this session, like basing funding on just the prior year’s attendance. [Public Radio Tulsa] OK Policy: Oklahomans should expect our leaders to introduce a full budget early in the legislative session, hold open discussions and votes, and solicit the input of all their constituents

  • Oklahoma House and Senate differ on education funding increases [KFOR]

Column: State budget and redistricting are issues to watch as legislature nears adjournment: As the Oklahoma legislative session winds down for the year, there are still some policy bills being considered in conference committees, and a few remaining that need some other form of action, including some policies important to the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA). [Joe Dorman / The Duncan Banner]

Oklahoma tax exemption will boost nurse and resident training at OU Health: A new state law that creates a sales tax exemption for the University Hospitals Authority and Trust will grant OU Health funding to train more medical professionals. [The Oklahoman] The timing couldn’t have been better for Senate Bill 79, according to the group of health care providers and lawmakers who came together at the Oklahoma Capitol on Tuesday to applaud the bill’s passage. [The Journal Record]

Editorial: Close Oklahoma state question votes can’t be recounted. HB 2564 fixes that: House Bill 2564 — signed into law Monday by Gov. Kevin Stitt — would provide for recounts of closely contested state question votes. Under previous state law, the state Election Board’s results of any state question become the final count, not matter how close the race may have been. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]

Ready for a robot to deliver your packages? New Oklahoma law allows ground-based drones: Drones aren’t just for flying. “Personal delivery devices,” or drones that crawl along sidewalks, soon could be used to deliver packages after Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a law allowing small autonomous vehicles to operate primarily on sidewalks and crosswalks in Oklahoma. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole introduces first federal bill to address McGirt ruling: U.S. Rep. Tom Cole introduced a bill on Tuesday to allow the Cherokee and Chickasaw nations to make agreements with the state of Oklahoma on prosecuting some crimes involving Native Americans within the tribes’ reservations. Cole, R-Moore, said the legislation would provide “an immediate solution to the urgent issues facing law enforcement, giving them clarity to enforce the law, keep dangerous criminals behind bars and ensure justice is served.” [The Oklahoman]

City of Tulsa, Tulsa County to receive more than $200 million from American Rescue Plan: Tulsa County and the city of Tulsa will receive a combined $214.4 million from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. Tulsa County will receive $126.6 million over two years, and the city will receive $87.8 million over the same time period. [Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

When police shoot tribal citizens on Muscogee Nation land, families ask “who’s held accountable?”: Tribal Nations are being asked to take on more responsibility when it comes to policing, prosecution and when families experience something tragic like one of their loved ones getting shot by police. [The Frontier and KOSU]

Criminal Justice News

Authorities identify man shot and killed by OKC police officer: Authorities have identified a man killed in an officer-involved shooting last weekend. Around 7:54 p.m. Saturday, police were called to the 4000 block of NW 33 on a domestic-related disturbance. Officer Daniel Lopez, a 5-year veteran of the force, saw Daniel Hobbs, 34, standing in the front yard of the residence. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Western Heights Schools board ratifies lawsuit against State Board of Education: After Monday night’s Western Heights Board of Education meeting, at which the board ratified a lawsuit against the State Board of Education, Superintendent Mannix Barnes and other board members received police escorts to their cars after community members attending the meeting erupted in calls for their resignation. The calls for resignation follow multiple complaints from parents and employees about the district’s leadership — a situation that recently led the State Board of Education to place the district on probation. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma Watch sues Epic Charter Schools seeking public records: Oklahoma Watch and reporter Jennifer Palmer on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against Epic Charter Schools asking the court to order the release of emails under the Oklahoma Open Records Act. The news organization first requested the documents on July 26. [Oklahoma Watch]

General News

Training each other: Self-defense classes arm Asian Americans with community: For a year, it was in the air. Then an influx of racism against Asian Americans came to a head in March, when shootings in Atlanta killed six Asian women and videos emerged showing senior Asian Americans being attacked. In Oklahoma City, Asian District Cultural Association president Thuan Nguyen said that the Asian District neighborhood has experienced an uptick in vandalism, with rocks thrown through the windows of several businesses since last year. [Big If True]

  • OKC task force focused on Asian American women won’t ‘shy away from uncomfortable conversations’ [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

Quote of the Day

“I don’t want Oklahomans to go without services or have less access to the care they desperately need so that these companies can continue making millions of dollars at the cost of Oklahoma patient care.”

-Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan, co-author of SB 131, which would require the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to manage the state’s health care system rather than using privatized managed care [Duncan Banner]

Number of the Day


The number of firms and individuals who lobbied on Florida’s state budget. Like most states, Oklahoma does not report lobbyist influence on the budget or other legislation.

[Source: Florida House of Representatives]

Policy Note

Priorities for Spending the American Rescue Plan’s State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds: The American Rescue Plan is not only an extraordinary federal policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its severe attendant hardships, but also a historic opportunity to begin undoing longstanding racial and economic inequities that the pandemic exposed and worsened. States, localities, U.S. territories, and tribal governments will play a central role in realizing this opportunity. That’s partly because the Rescue Plan provides them with $350 billion in Fiscal Recovery Funds and wide latitude around using this aid to address the crisis and build toward a better future. How they choose to spend the Fiscal Recovery Funds — and what complementary policies they put in place for the long term — will make a crucial difference in limiting pandemic-induced hardships, which have been concentrated in Black, Indigenous, and Latinx and other communities of color, and in building a more equitable recovery and communities. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

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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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