In The Know: Redistricting special session set for Monday | School board meetings get more contentious | Executive order on birth certificates

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

Redistricting in Oklahoma (Guest Post): We commend the legislature for their openness with several in-person and virtual town halls that featured the redistricting process. They also allowed citizens to submit district maps. A lack of openness, though, presented itself recently with the legislature’s slowness in releasing their proposed maps. The timeframe from the release of the maps to the special legislative session on November 15 has given little time to mobilize for organizations like ours. [Jan Largent, LWVOK / Guest Post]

Policy Matters: Social safety net serves veterans, too: The social safety net – the shared service programs that assist low-income Americans – provides essential support, but some may be surprised by the number of veterans requiring such services. A look at the numbers spotlight the real struggle some veterans encounter to put food on their table or a roof over their head after their military service has ended. [Ahniwake Rose / Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

Mask mandates, politics dial up intensity at Oklahoma school board meetings: As discourse rages nationwide over a lack of civility in school board meetings, Oklahoma school board members say the criticism they face has been noticeably more intense since the COVID-19 pandemic. And though no board members The Oklahoman and StateImpact Oklahoma interviewed recall any threats to their physical safety, unlike in other parts of the country, they reported more contentious and less constructive dialogue in their public proceedings. [The Oklahoman and StateImpact Oklahoma]

They Don’t Vote, But They Do Count: How the Incarcerated Skew Political Representation in Oklahoma: Nearly a quarter of Holdenville’s population is made up of people incarcerated at the Davis Correctional Facility, a medium-security private prison owned and operated by CoreCivic. When the state legislature convenes for a special redistricting session on Monday, the prisoners will be counted the same as those who reside, work, shop and dine in Holdenville and Hughes County. [Oklahoma Watch]

State Government News

Stitt issues executive order on amending birth certificates: Gov. Kevin Stitt issued an executive order Monday directing the Oklahoma State Department of Health to adhere to existing state statute when it comes to amending birth certificates. The order comes in response to a settlement agreement in a federal lawsuit, which authorized the agency to amend birth certificates to reflect nonbinary sex designation in response to a court order. [NonDoc] The first-term Republican said in his order that his administration never reviewed or approved the settlement agreement, which requires the Oklahoma State Department of Health to amend birth certificates in a manner not permitted under Oklahoma law. [AP News] Stitt also called on the Oklahoma Legislature to pass legislation next year on state-issued birth certificates that indicates “a designation of non-binary is contrary to Oklahoma Law.” [The Oklahoman]

State adjutant general says he was relieved of his duties by Gov. Stitt: Maj. Gen. Michael Thompson said Thursday that he was relieved of his duties as state adjutant general by Gov. Kevin Stitt. The outgoing adjutant general said Stitt had previously asked him to resign. Thompson said he asked Stitt if he could stay until Jan. 15 and that the governor agreed and that he had submitted a resignation letter. [Tulsa World] Gov. Kevin Stitt on Thursday named Brig. Gen. Thomas H. Mancino as state adjutant general and commander of the Oklahoma Army and Air National Guard. [Tulsa World]

The Core Legal Strategy Against Opioid Companies May Be Faltering: Two recent rulings rejected the “public nuisance” argument being used in thousands of cases against the industry, with more trials and settlement talks underway. [New York Times]

Opioid lawsuit ruling, Biden vaccine challenge, OKCPS teacher firings and more (podcast): This Week in Oklahoma Politics discusses the State Supreme Court overturning a $465M award against opioid manufacturers and the State of Oklahoma challenging the Biden Administration’s order mandating vaccines or testing for private businesses with more than 100 employees, federal agencies and organizations with federal contracts including several Oklahoma universities. [KOSU]

Federal Government News

LGBTQ veterans discharged under ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ now eligible for upgraded benefits: Adopted during the 1990s, “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” often short-handed as DADT, allowed for discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer service members if their behavior differed from heterosexual norms. The policy forced LGBTQ veterans to hide in plain sight, or face being investigated and dishonorably discharged. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

‘Making History’: OKC’s First Americans Museum seeks to build a database of tribal veterans: The “Making History” event offers veterans and service members an opportunity to be added to an interactive database in the museum’s Tribal Nations Gallery. During the event, tribally enrolled veterans, service members and their families may bring documentation of military service, awards and photographs to be professionally scanned by archivists. [The Oklahoman]

For Muscogee Tulsa district, Leonard Gouge challenges Lucian Tiger III: Lucian Tiger III is seeking his third term as a Muscogee National Council representative of the Tulsa District, but not without controversy. [NonDoc]

Promised Land: Tax tiff brews, amicus briefs roil tribes: With the abundance of news following the July 2020 ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma, it can be difficult to pin down the impact and potential implications of the landmark Supreme Court decision. NonDoc’s Promised Land page includes coverage and related coverage from collaborators within the Oklahoma Media Center to learn more about tribal affairs and ongoing negotiations and court battles related to reservations. [NonDoc]

Criminal Justice News

5 GOP lawmakers urge governor to spare Julius Jones’ life: Five Republican Oklahoma lawmakers urged GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt on Thursday to grant clemency to death row inmate Julius Jones, who is scheduled to be executed next week. [AP News] Two of the five, Reps. Garry Mize and Preston Stinson, represent parts of Edmond, where the 1999 murder of Paul Howell, whom Jones was convicted of killing, occurred. [Tulsa World] On November 1, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-1 to recommend Jones’ sentence be commuted to life in prison with the possibility of parole, citing doubts about Jones’ guilt and inequities in sentencing. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Ousted Oklahoma County District Judge Kendra Coleman accused of campaign violations: The Oklahoma Ethics Commission is seeking tens of thousands of dollars on behalf of the state from an ousted Oklahoma County district judge. Kendra Coleman, 45, of Oklahoma City, was removed from office last year on misconduct grounds. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Thousands of Oklahomans still eligible for health care through Medicaid expansion: The recent Medicaid expansion continues to help keep Oklahomans safe and healthy, with an additional 80,000 citizens now eligible for health care. This number is in addition to the 200,000 Oklahomans who have already started receiving the health benefits. [The Black Wall Street Times]

7 questions answered about COVID vaccines for kids 5-11, including where to get them in OKC: While some parents have jumped at the chance to get their kids vaccinated against COVID-19, others are still looking for more information. OU Health experts — pediatric specialists and moms themselves — broke down questions from parents on a panel about vaccinations for kids in the newly eligible 5 to 11 age group. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

New round of rental help to benefit thousands: Up to $15.5 million in additional federal rental assistance is now available for Oklahoma City tenants facing the threat of eviction. The Oklahoma City Council approved a contract this week with Communities Foundation of Oklahoma to administer the new funds through Community Cares Partners, the program that has distributed previous relief funds to eligible renters and their landlords. The contract amount is not to exceed $926,396. [The Journal Record]

Economy & Business News

Inside the Rise — and Surprising Crackdown — of the Country’s Hottest Weed Market: Shortly after sunrise on July 22, a dozen or so police officers from across Oklahoma descended on a property about 15 miles north of the Texas border. They moved past the fence with the “No Trespassing” signs and the pink building with the aluminum roof toward a collection of hoop houses. [Politico]

Report offers insight into state of economy: Unemployment is low across Oklahoma, but some sectors, such as manufacturing, are still struggling to recover from the pandemic, according to the Oklahoma Economic Outlook report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City on Wednesday. [The Journal Record]

Woman not done fighting Transource project: ‘You start imagining everything you could lose’: When Transource Energy announced the final route recently for the Sooner-Wekiwa Project, a new $100 million, 76-mile electric transmission line in Oklahoma, the company said public input had been “essential to siting transmission lines.” [Tulsa World]

Education News

Staffing issues force Eliot Elementary School to distance learning; TPS to revisit mask protocol: Another Tulsa Public Schools campus will be in distance learning Friday due to staff shortages. Eliot Elementary School has suspended in-person classes for Friday. [Tulsa World]

Free school lunch program sows confusion for Oklahoma schools, parents: In school districts throughout Oklahoma, an unexpected boost in assistance to help pay for school lunches may have ended up in unintended mailboxes while missing some worthy recipients. [The Oklahoman]

OSU offers Oklahoma’s first American Sign Language major: Taylor Woodall-Greene wants more Oklahomans fluent in sign language, and she’s worked for years to make that happen. The American Sign Language professor at Oklahoma State University is spearheading a new ASL major that the university began offering this fall. [KOSU]

General News

Kisling: Mexican consulate news big for Oklahoma: On Oct. 25, Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard announced Oklahoma City would be getting a Mexican consulate in 2022. The item received some news coverage, but probably not as much as the occasion deserved, said Brent Kisling, executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. [The Journal Record]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Nov. 9 election results: Hospital project fails, 4 of 6 school bonds pass [NonDoc]
  • Oklahoma City Council rejects ward redistricting resolutions [The Oklahoman]
  • Eastside community to look at maintaining cultural, historic ties with redevelopment [The Oklahoman]
  • City of Moore voters pass bond propositions with clear majority [OKC Free Press]

Quote of the Day

“It’s a way, for the most part, to show overpopulation in rural and less urban parts of the state. Then they get more representation.”

-Michael Crespin, director of the University of Oklahoma’s Carl Albert Center, said the pool of eligible voters in districts with large prisons is considerably reduced, giving constituents in those areas more say in state government [Oklahoma Watch]

Number of the Day


Percentage of the state’s prison population (about 26,300 out of 27,602 incarcerated individuals) would be located in Oklahoma House districts currently held by Republicans in the proposed redistricting map that lawmakers will vote on during the special session that starts Monday, Nov. 15 [Oklahoma Watch]

Policy Note

Gerrymandering Explained: The current redistricting cycle will be the first since the Supreme Court’s 2019 ruling that gerrymandering for party advantage cannot be challenged in federal court, which has set the stage for perhaps the most ominous round of map drawing in the country’s history. Here are six things to know about partisan gerrymandering and how it impacts our democracy. [Brennan Center for Justice]

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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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