In The Know: Redistricting maps unveiled | New school funding plan passes House | New law protects drivers who run over protesters

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

Oklahomans demanded Medicaid expansion. We must do it quickly and get it right: When Oklahomans voted to expand Medicaid last year, they voted for increased access to health care, doctors, and medication for 200,000 newly eligible Oklahomans. They also voted for improved health outcomes, increased financial stability, and higher workforce participation for these newly eligible individuals, and they voted for a significant economic investment: 17,000 new jobs and $2.5 billion in new economic activity in the first year alone. However, in order to realize these enormous benefits, the state must ensure that Medicaid expansion is implemented well and that all eligible Oklahomans can enroll in the health program. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) has taken some steps to make this a reality. Now, the agency must commit to developing and implementing a comprehensive outreach and enrollment assistance plan. [Emma Morris / OK Policy]

Policy Matters: SB 2 traumatizes Oklahomans, threatens economic progress: For many Oklahomans, this ranks among the most difficult legislative sessions. Pick your poison for the most troubling events: whether it’s the breathtaking lack of transparency to legislative power plays sucking valuable time and energy from governing to divisive bills that traumatize vulnerable Oklahomans and jeopardize economic development efforts. [Ahniwake Rose / Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

House, Senate unveil proposed legislative redistricting maps: The state’s urban areas will pick up additional seats in the Legislature under new House and Senate redistricting maps unveiled Wednesday. Oklahoma lawmakers said they likely won’t attempt to redraw the state’s congressional maps until fall — after the U.S. Census Bureau is expected to release final numbers from last year’s population count that’s required every decade. [CNHI via Woodward News] Those involved in the process are saying that community feedback significantly affected the results. [NonDoc] The districts were drawn more compactly, and fewer districts will have a mix of urban, suburban and rural areas, said Rep. Ryan Martinez, a Republican from Edmond who chaired the House Redistricting Committee. [AP News] | [Public Radio Tulsa] | [The Journal Record]

  • Oklahoma City metro would gain legislative seats under redistricting proposal [The Oklahoman]
  • Tulsa area would lose two state legislative seats under redistricting proposal [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma school funding boost earns unanimous House support: A bill that would do away with a polarizing charter school settlement and offer new revenue to public schools passed unanimously in the Oklahoma House. The Redbud School Funding Act, or Senate Bill 229, advanced past the House floor on Wednesday. It will return to the Senate for further consideration. [The Oklahoman] Senate Bill 229 repurposed legislation that now would create a $38.5 million equalization fund to distribute among school districts with low property tax bases. That would include brick-and-mortar charter schools, which do not have access to the building funds provided by local ad valorem taxes. [Tulsa World]

  • Groups decry lack of funding, criticism of public education [Tulsa World] | [KFOR]

Oklahoma House challenges Gov. Kevin Stitt by approving rival Medicaid plan: The Oklahoma House passed legislation that seeks to halt Gov. Kevin Stitt’s plan to outsource Medicaid care management to four major insurance companies. On a vote of 73-17, the House late Tuesday evening approved legislation for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which oversees the state’s Medicaid program, to better manage health care in-house. [The Oklahoman] Stitt’s Medicaid plan, called Sooner Select, is an attempt to privatize much of Medicaid by having most people on the program get their health care through private companies called Managed Care Organizations. [KOCO] OK Policy: Managed care will hurt health care delivery while increasing the program’s costs. We have collected fact sheets and issue analysis regarding managed care at

  • Gov. “disappointed” after passage of bill would halt his care plan [FOX25]

Oklahoma governor signs bill to crack down on protesters: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill Wednesday to crack down on protesters by increasing penalties for blocking roadways and granting immunity to motorists who kill or injure rioters. The bill was one of 44 bills signed into law by the Republican governor and one of a series of GOP-backed proposals across the country aimed at cracking down on protesters. [AP News] HB 1674 protects drivers who fear for their safety while “fleeing from a riot” and also updates state law to classify as a misdemeanor the unlawful obstruction of a road or highway. [The Oklahoman] Stitt also signed House Bill 1643 that prohibits the publication of personal identifying information of law enforcement or public officials on social media with the intent to threaten or harass. [Tulsa World]

Health News

Vaccine forms changed to lessen fears among undocumented Tulsans: The Tulsa Health Department is adding the word “optional” next to the social security number field on its vaccine forms. Leadership Tulsa Director of Programs Marcia Bruno-Todd said the change comes at encouragement from Hispanic Leadership Institute students who want more undocumented residents to get vaccinated. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • Tulsa Councilor Not Finding Traction For Proposal To Automatically Reinstitute COVID Mask Mandate [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • City councilor plans to hold weekly COVID-19 briefings with health officials [Tulsa World]
  • Broken Arrow repeals mask resolution [Tulsa World]
  • COVID Update: Virus Transmission Up Almost 30% In Tulsa County From Prior Week [Public Radio Tulsa]

State Government News

Gov. Stitt sent bill requiring vote before local funds redirected: The House passed a measure Tuesday that will assure when local residents vote to increase their taxes for specific purposes — such as police department budgets — those funds are spent as intended. If they are redirected or reduced, this bill will ensure the matter is taken back to a vote of the people. Senate Bill 825 was authored in the House by Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore. [The Lawton Constitution]

State Senate passes bill requiring Oklahoma law enforcement to fully comply with ICE officials: The Oklahoma State Senate passed legislation Wednesday that requires Oklahoma law enforcement officials to comply with federal immigration officials. [KFOR]

Oklahoma Senate passes three controversial bills that would restrict access to abortions: Three bills the state Senate sent Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday would make abortions illegal after a fetal heartbeat is detected; would allow only obstetrician-gynecologists to perform abortions; and would take away the medical license of any doctor who does perform an abortion. [Tulsa World] Governor Stitt previously said that he intends to sign any anti-abortion bill that comes across his desk. If he follows through with these three bills, they will all face difficult, and expensive, court battles. [KGOU]

Criminal Justice News

Family, activists protest ruling in Lawton police shooting: Family, loved ones and activists joined Wednesday to call for murder charges for the Lawton officer who shot Zonterious Johnson the morning of Jan. 17. On Monday, the Comanche County District Attorney ruled the shooting justified and police released the police body camera video of the incident. Through an advocate, the family announced Wednesday it is filing a wrongful death suit. [The Lawton Constitution]

Oklahoma County Jail Trust holds first full meeting since state lawmakers asked for federal help: The Oklahoma County Jail Trust met on Wednesday for the first time since calls from state lawmakers for federal help to address conditions at the jail. Jail Trust officials said the meeting Monday was put on hold due to technical difficulties, but some are upset this happened and don’t buy it. In fact, a group of activists filed a lawsuit against the trust saying what it did was a violation of the Open Meetings Acts. [KOCO]

  • Jail Trust manages to hold cohesive meeting in do-over from Monday [OKC Free Press]

Economy & Business News

Choctaw Nation solar farm in Durant to double in size as OG&E invests more in renewable energy: Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co.’s solar portfolio continues to heat up as it hones its focus on boosting its renewable energy assets. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

How Oklahoma’s only school for children experiencing homelessness fought through the coronavirus pandemic: Susan Agel always knew distance learning wasn’t going to work for her students. She’s President of Positive Tomorrows, Oklahoma’s only school geared toward students experiencing homelessness. And distance learning wasn’t really cutting it. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Epic Charter Schools board accepts final list of demands from Statewide Virtual Charter School Board: A deal apparently has been struck to end contract termination proceedings that have been underway for six months against Epic Charter Schools by the sponsor of its statewide virtual charter school. [Tulsa World] The Community Strategies Inc. Board, the school board governing Epic, agreed Wednesday night to a settlement proposed the day before by the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board. [The Oklahoman

OSSAA: Board tables action on NFHS Network streaming contract: Action on the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association’s streaming contract with the NFHS Network will have to wait until at least June. The OSSAA board tabled the matter Wednesday following discussion that veered from the March 11 incident involving racist slurs directed toward the Norman High girls basketball team, heard over a network telecast, to general dissatisfaction with the streaming service. [Tulsa World]

General News

‘Art should enlighten us’: Quraysh Ali Lansana on the importance of Black art: Quraysh Ali Lansana is a poet, author, teacher and editor who has written multiple poetry collections and children’s books and is the editor of a number of anthologies, including Glencoe/McGraw-Hill’s 2001 African American Literature Reader. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Norman City Council re-approves cut to proposed Norman police budget [NonDoc] | [The Oklahoman] | [KGOU]
  • Bynum presents $799.4M budget proposal to Tulsa City Council [Public Radio Tulsa] | [Tulsa World]
  • Wimpee, Gillespie elected mayor, vice mayor of Broken Arrow [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • 10-Digit dialing required in the 405 beginning Saturday [KOSU]
  • OKC seeks bids to demolish public safety complex [The Journal Record]
  • $152 million estimated price tag for proposed public safety complex just a placeholder, city says [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“This is the same bill (Gov. Stitt) endorsed only last year in Washington under the Trump Administration. Now he’s trying to say that leaving healthcare management up to our state is some kind of socialist plot. This measure protects our state from federal overreach. The governor is playing politics with Oklahoman’s healthcare and taxpayer dollars.”

-Rep. Marcus McEntire, R-Duncan, speaking about SB 131, which would replace the governor’s plan to privatize management of the state health care system [Oklahoma House of Representatives]  

Number of the Day

1 in 3

Portion of eviction filings filed against Black renters in an Eviction Lab study, despite Black renters making up only 1 in 5 renters in their sample

[Source: Eviction Lab]

Policy Note

The conundrum affordable housing poses for the nation: The nation is in the grip of an affordable housing crisis. A severe shortage of homes for working-class and low-income families is pushing up house prices and rents across the country, putting homeownership increasingly out of reach for many Americans and making rents so high that it is all but impossible for renters to save. [Washington Post]

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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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