In The Know: Schools still wrestling with virus plans | Analysis shows justice reform measures yield positive change | Installment loans trap borrowers

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

Installment loans not the answer to financial hardship: Changes taking effect this month in Oklahoma will offer higher dollar loans, but at a significant long-term cost. Starting August 1, 2020, payday loans (short term loans of $500 or less) can no longer be issued. Instead, these lenders can now offer longer-term loans in higher dollar amounts — up to $1,500 with terms of up to 12 months. Oklahoma consumers should be aware of the potential dangers of these new installment loans. Just like the payday loans they replace, they are designed to trap borrowers in long-term debt. [Courtney Cullison / OK Policy]

Burglary reclassification is another measurable win for criminal justice reform: SB 786 reduced sentencing guidelines for many second-degree burglary charges by creating a less severe third-degree burglary category. Our analysis suggests that this reform resulted in a substantive decrease in second-degree burglary charges and fewer prison sentences in the months following its November 2018 implementation. As Oklahoma continues efforts to reduce our prison population, this analysis reinforces how legislative reform can create swift and durable change. [Emily Mee / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Broken Arrow Public Schools announces 33 employees tested positive for COVID-19 last week: Thirty-three employees at Broken Arrow Public Schools, which remains on track to start the 2020-21 school year in person, tested positive for COVID-19 last week. Broken Arrow Superintendent Janet Vinson announced the cases during a board meeting Monday night and said that 98 employees currently are on leave in relation to COVID-19. The other 65 absences reportedly are staff members who came in contact with the infected employees. [Tulsa World]

  • Scattershot school reopen plans a ‘concern,’ says Tulsa state representative [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Watch: State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister On Concerns As Students Return To School [News9]
  • Mustang High School adopts blended A/B schedule [The Oklahoman]
  • Durant schools delaying start date, requiring masks [KXII]
  • Woodward Board hears funding report, approves distance learning plan [Woodward News]
  • Educators adjust to teaching music amid pandemic [The Oklahoman]

Enrollment already up 77% across Oklahoma’s six virtual charter schools amid COVID-19 pandemic: Parents looking to forgo any in-school instruction for 2020-21 have already sent student enrollment in Oklahoma’s statewide online public schools sky high, according to new information from a state education agency. [Tulsa World]

COVID-19: State reports 13 additional deaths, 765 new cases: The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 765 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, along with 13 additional deaths from the virus. Three of those deaths were identified in the last 24 hours. Updated hospitalization numbers showed a drop from 594 reported hospitalized Friday to 530 as of Tuesday. [Tulsa World]

  • Oklahoma governor donates plasma after coronavirus recovery [AP News]
  • 3 jail inmates tested positive for COVID-19 in Cleveland County Jail [Norman Transcript]

Oklahoma in bottom 10 states for Census participation: Oklahoma is in the bottom 10 in another category — U.S. Census participation. If more Oklahomans don’t participate by the end of September, state leaders fear this Bottom 10 ranking will impact nonprofits, tribes, schools, and state and federal government for the next decade. Only 58 percent of Oklahoma households have completed their census, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. [CNHI via The Woodward News]

Health News

Opioid scandal haunts drug companies as they respond to pandemic: As drug firms race to position themselves as key players in the coronavirus fight, the industry faces a renewed wave of civil lawsuits stemming from its role in the nation’s deadly opioid epidemic. [KGOU]

State Government News

Governor seeks rehearing in state Supreme Court tribal gaming case: Attorneys for Gov. Kevin Stitt have filed a request for rehearing with the Oklahoma Supreme Court regarding the court’s recent decision in a tribal gaming compact case involving the Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribe. [The Oklahoman] Wichita and Affiliated Tribes are asking an Oklahoma City federal judge to go beyond his July ruling that the state’s 15-year gaming compacts automatically renewed New Year’s Day and rule their tribal group is no longer legally required to pay the state exclusivity fees. [The Oklahoman]

Federal, state, municipal and tribal officials present unified front at McGirt press conference: At a Tuesday press conference at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in downtown Tulsa, federal, state, municipal and tribal officials said they are all effectively working together to ensure public safety is not negatively impacted as jurisdictional questions are resolved following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • US attorney experiencing ‘tidal wave’ of cases after ruling [AP News]
  • Surge of federal criminal cases expected in wake of Supreme Court ruling [Tulsa World]

Gov. Stitt touts Oklahoma’s COVID-19 relief for small businesses in visits to Owasso, Broken Arrow: Gov. Kevin Stitt spent Tuesday listening to the coronavirus tribulations and occasional triumphs of small business operators in Broken Arrow and Owasso while also promoting his administration’s handling of the epidemic. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma lawmaker to conduct study to examine diabetes care: An Oklahoma lawmaker has received approval for an interim study regarding diabetes care in the Sooner State. Oklahoma Sen. Carri Hicks has received approval for a study to examine standards of care for diabetes and the needed insurance coverage to prevent negative health outcomes. [KFOR]

Agriculture Committee plans look at poultry farm issues Wednesday: A group of northeast Oklahoma residents threw some “word spaghetti” at the state Legislature this summer and it found a spot to stick. Green Country Guardians, a group concerned about poultry industry impacts, requested an interim study on the subject in June and House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee Chairman Dell Kerbs, R-Dale, accepted and sponsored the request along with Rep. Meloyde Blancett, D-Tulsa. [Tulsa World]

Governor ceremonially signs Sanders’ DUI victims’ impact, dyslexia bills: HB 2877 strengthens the role of victims’ impact panels in helping to stop driving under the influence (DUI) offenses in Oklahoma and will help reduce the number of repeat offenders. HB 2804 requires dyslexia screening for kindergarten through third-grade students not reading on grade level beginning in the 2022-23 school year. [Ponca City Now]

Federal Government News

Oklahoma receives $15.4 million to keep residents housed during COVID-19: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson announced $472 million in CARES Act funding to help low-income families during the Coronavirus pandemic. [FOX25]

Criminal Justice News

One violent or unlawful act among protesters is enough cause to tear gas all involved, Tulsa Police explain: A few people — or even just one — acting violently or unlawfully during a protest can subject the entire assembly to the use of chemical irritants, Tulsa police said Tuesday during a meeting. Two Tulsa Police Department supervisors gave a presentation at the Mayor’s Police and Community Coalition that touched on general strategies about how the department handled recent local demonstrations, but neither would discuss specifics of the officers’ use of tear gas against protesters. [Tulsa World]

Keep focus, Holt advises policing task force: Mayor David Holt on Tuesday urged members of his law enforcement task force to concentrate on the experiences, values and desires that bind them together. Holt purposely named a diverse and inclusive array of community leaders to the task force, ranging from northeast-side pastors to city council members, Black Lives Matter activists to police union leaders. [The Oklahoman]

  • Police, local church leaders address community’s concerns during town hall meeting [KFOR]

Oklahoma County Court Clerk resolution would curb protests: A new resolution on the Oklahoma County County Commissioners’ agenda for Wednesday would contain and limit the manner and location of protests on any county property. The resolution was requested by Court Clerk Rick Warren. [OKC Free Press]

OK Justice Circle urges commutation of Julius Jones’ death sentence: A metro coalition of faith leaders and social justice advocates is among the latest organizations and individuals advocating for Oklahoma inmate Julius Jones. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

Expanded broadband would advance Oklahoma: Tens of thousands of Oklahomans have gained access to high-speed internet in recent years, but the state still lags behind others across the country in increasing connectivity, data shows. [The Journal Record] OK Policy: Broadband is more important than ever — here is how Oklahoma can respond

Parents juggling jobs, education of children in pandemic: Days away from the start of school, Amy Davis is still struggling to figure out how she’ll balance her full-time job and her children’s education. [CNHI via The Ada News]

Economy & Business News

U.S., state data illustrate energy industry’s pain: Crude oil production in the U.S. fell by about 2 million barrels per day in May, data published by the U.S. Energy Information this month reports. Agency officials say that’s the largest drop that has been observed in a single month since January 1980. May’s decline, the report continues, marks a sixth consecutive monthly decrease in crude oil production in the United States. [The Oklahoman]

Cannabis sales through June nearly eclipses all of 2019: Oklahoma cannabis users are on pace to spend twice as much this year compared to 2019. As of June, Oklahomans spent more than $385,000 this year on medical marijuana. That’s nearly the entire amount spent during 12 months last year, according to an analysis of data from the Oklahoma Tax Commission. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma railroad traffic slows with economy: Like cars in a parking lot, dozens of idled locomotives are sitting in a railroad yard along Interstate 235 in Oklahoma City, waiting for the day when they’ll once again haul loads of freight from coast to coast. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • A ‘snake in the grass’? City Councilor Cass Fahler apologizes for reference to Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum [Tulsa World]
  • Norman residents will recommend city council replacement [The Oklahoman]
  • Postponing auditor, mayor forms Ward 5 committee [Norman Transcript]
  • Norman mayor to meet with owners over masks [The Oklahoman]
  • Former Norman City Council member Alex Scott speaks to KFOR about arrest, police budget, and neighbor’s rape [KFOR]
  • Rogers County deputy fatally shoots man after brief chase [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Anonymous mail sent to councilor prompts second police probe [Muskogee Phoenix]
  • Temporary workers, inmates helping maintain cemeteries [McAlester News-Capital]

Quote of the Day

“It’s a lot of panicking, and I worry about the fact that my kids, and all kids are going to be so far behind.”

-Amy Davis, a widower with 13- and 10-year-old children enrolled in Deer Creek Public Schools, speaking about concerns for her children’s schooling with their partially online classroom schedule. [CNHI via The Ada News]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s maximum annual percentage rate (APR) allowed for a $500, six-month installment loan, the nation’s second highest maximum APR for such loans behind Mississippi’s 305 percent APR. The national median APR for this loan is 38.5%.

[Source: National Consumer Law Center]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Payday lenders have embraced installment loans to evade regulations – but they may be even worse: Installment loans seem like a kinder, gentler version of their “predatory” cousin, the payday loan. But for consumers, they may be even more harmful. Use of the installment loan, in which a consumer borrows a lump sum and pays back the principal and interest in a series of regular payments, has grown dramatically since 2013 as regulators began to rein in payday lending. In fact, payday lenders appear to have developed installment loans primarily to evade this increased scrutiny. A closer look at the differences between the two types of loans shows why we believe the growth in installment loans is worrying – and needs the same regulatory attention as payday loans. [The Conversation]

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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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