In The Know: Reliable internet in rural Oklahoma | State’s new virus case count among nation’s highest | Human costs of eviction

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

Policy Matters: The human costs of eviction: In coldly analytical terms, an eviction is the expulsion from a residence when a housing contract has expired or otherwise been terminated. However, evictions come with very real human costs. They are life-changing events with often catastrophic consequences for families today and years in the future. Even before the pandemic, Oklahoma’s two largest metropolitan areas were among the nation’s top 20 for eviction rates. The pandemic made this bad situation worse. By mid-May, more than 1 in 3 Oklahomans lived in households facing likely eviction or foreclosure during the previous nine months. [Ahniwake Rose / Policy Matters]

Oklahoma News

Rural Oklahoma is among the hardest hit in the U.S. by a lack of fast, reliable internet: As federal officials debate pouring billions of dollars into broadband access, data suggests many of Oklahoma’s schoolchildren and adults spent the pandemic with sub-par access to high-speed internet, particularly in the state’s poorer counties. Advocates say that “digital divide” across the United States is due largely to two factors: a lack of internet infrastructure in rural areas and the relatively high cost of broadband in urban centers that, for some people, is simply unaffordable. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma lawmakers ask Gov. Kevin Stitt to delay Fort Supply prison closure: Two state lawmakers from northwest Oklahoma are asking Gov. Kevin Stitt to delay the closure of a minimum-security prison located in their districts. Sen. Casey Murdock, R-Felt, and Rep. Carl Newton, R-Cherokee, say they still have questions about the planned closure of the William S. Key Correctional Center. [The Oklahoman]

COVID-19: Hospitalizations rise as state now among national leaders in new cases, positivity rate: Coronavirus hospitalizations in Oklahoma recently reached a high not seen since mid-May, according to Oklahoma State Department of Health data. About 166 COVID-19 patients were recently hospitalized across the state, with 55 patients in ICU beds. Tulsa County hospitals had 75 of those patients, with 25 in ICU, according to OSDH data. Tulsa County hasn’t seen that many COVID-19 hospital patients since March. [Tulsa World]

  • Vaccine may be weaker than previously thought against Delta, risk remains highest in unvaccinated [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • State gains 1,715 COVID-19 cases in past week, more ‘yellow’ counties [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Tulsa school board wants to revisit COVID response plan as Delta variant rises [Public Radio Tulsa]

State & Local Government News

Company awarded contract to run Oklahoma’s new case management system serving those with developmental, intellectual disabilities: Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) awarded a contract to Therap Services, LLC to run the state’s new case management system that will support people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. [KFOR]

Collections to Oklahoma treasury reach record highs: Overall collections to the Oklahoma treasury continue to set record highs fueled largely by an influx of federal funding over the past year, State Treasurer Randy McDaniel said Wednesday. Overall treasury receipts for June and the fiscal year ended June 30 reached record highs, McDaniel said in a statement announcing the latest receipts. [AP News]

Suit seeks removal of Corporation Commissioner in Oklahoma: A lawsuit seeking to remove one of the state’s three Corporation Commissioners alleges that his being on the board violates the Oklahoma Constitution due to a business conflict of interest. [AP News]

Ransomware group Conti likely responsible for city’s cyber attack, experts say: The hackers behind the ransomware attack on the city of Tulsa in late April likely are associated with a group known as Conti, according to cybersecurity experts. The Tulsa World asked multiple cybersecurity firms to review information it has gathered regarding the source of the attack to verify its authenticity. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma lawmakers tour Missouri Army post: Several Oklahoma lawmakers took part in an educational tour recently of Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. [The Journal Record]

Federal Government News

Oklahoma seeks federal aid in fight against illegal marijuana grows: Amid a booming marijuana black market in Oklahoma, the state is seeking federal aid in its effort to shut down illegal grow operations and fight trafficking networks. Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe’s office announced Wednesday a request for $4 million in direct funding to aid the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs in combatting criminal syndicates operating under the guise of legitimate marijuana businesses. [The Oklahoman] Luke Holland, Inhofe’s chief of staff, said Wednesday during a visit to Lawton that he made that announcement earlier in the day during an Oklahoma Sheriffs Association meeting. [The Lawton Constitution] State Rep. John Pfeiffer said no one is trying to restrict access to medical marijuana through the proposed OBN unit, but rural lawmakers like him constantly field complaints about illegal growing operations. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Cole speaks on working with fellow members of Congress during virtual event: Oklahoma U.S. Rep. Tom Cole was among the guests at a think tank’s panel discussion this week on building partnerships in Congress. The virtual panel was hosted by the nonpartisan Aspen Institute as part of their McCloskey Speakers Series. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Tribal Nations News

Meet the candidates in the 2021 Choctaw Nation Tribal Council election: Citizens in three districts of the Choctaw Nation will head to the polls for the 2021 Tribal Council elections Saturday, July 10. [NonDoc]

Seven seek vacant Seminole Nation assistant chief seat: Seven candidates are running for the Seminole Nation assistant chief position being vacated by Lewis Johnson, who is running for chief of the nation. [NonDoc]

Economic Opportunity

Water to stay on at Vista Shadow Mountain Apartments — for now: The remaining tenants at Vista Shadow Mountain Apartments will be able to flush their toilets and take showers for the foreseeable future. The apartment complex near 61st Street and Memorial Drive paid a portion of its $108,582 past due water bill Wednesday, the day before the city was set to shut off service. That solves one problem. But after a weekend of unwanted publicity, Vista Shadow Mountain is facing heightened scrutiny. [Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Staffing crisis cited here, nationally at restaurants: Restaurants once barred from opening their dining rooms due to the coronavirus now face a new crisis – hiring enough staff to serve the returning customers. [The Journal Record]

Education News

What Oklahoma teachers need to know about the state’s so-called Critical Race Theory ban: Few laws took up more debate time this year than House Bill 1775. The measure, which went into effect last week after it was signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt during the spring, received intense backlash and criticism from school boards, activists and in editorials. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Oklahoma Local News

  • City Council hires lawyers for OKCPD Chief, officers in Rodriguez lawsuit [OKC Free Press]
  • Approaching deadline, Western Heights hasn’t removed Superintendent [FOX 25]

Quote of the Day

“We distributed those (wireless) hotspots but still found we had families without access because they can’t even get reliable cell coverage where they’re located.”

-Jones Public Schools Superintendent Carl Johnson talking about internet access disparities in his rural eastern Oklahoma County district. [The Oklahoman]

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. The study found that Black and Latinx renters in general, and women in particular, are disproportionately threatened with eviction and disproportionately evicted from their homes.

[Source: Eviction Lab]

Policy Note

New research finds evictions during pregnancy are tied to adverse birth outcomes: Babies born to people evicted during pregnancy are more likely to have lower birth weights and be born earlier or prematurely than those whose parents were evicted at other times, according to new research. [STAT]

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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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