In The Know: Some seek tax exemptions due to McGirt decision | Charter school funding settlement challenged | 25% of Oklahomans vaccinate

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.

Note: The email version of today’s In The Know misattributed the source of the Quote of the Day, which has been corrected below.

New from OK Policy

How HB 1888 came back from the dead this session (Capitol Update): No idea introduced into the legislative process is ever truly dead until the legislature has adjourned Sine Die. Living proof exists this year in House Bill 1888 by Rep. Danny Williams, R-Seminole, and Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant. HB 1888 says that “no public body shall conduct any form of gender or sexual diversity training or counseling.” Public body is expansively defined to include everything from a department of state or local government to a study group supported by public funds. Absent in the bill, however, is any definition of “gender or sexual diversity training or counseling.” [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

Some Oklahomans seek tax exemptions in light of McGirt decision: Some Oklahoma taxpayers are seeking tax exemptions in light of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that said the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s reservation was never disestablished. Several taxpayers have filed protests with the Oklahoma Tax Commission seeking to be exempted from having to pay certain taxes, top agency officials told The Oklahoman. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma school district sues over charter school settlement: Oklahoma City Public Schools is challenging a settlement that the State Board of Education approved aiming to change how schools are funded in the state. The school district filed a petition Wednesday challenging the board’s authority to settle a 2017 lawsuit allowing charter schools to receive more local tax dollars. [AP News]

Oklahoma hits the 2 million dose mark; 25% of state’s adults are fully vaccinated: Two million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across Oklahoma, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [The Oklahoman]

  • Nearly a third of Oklahomans have received virus vaccination [AP News]
  • Rolling average of COVID deaths rises slightly in Oklahoma [AP News]
  • Listen Frontier: Oklahomans we’ve lost [The Frontier]
  • COVID in Oklahoma tracker: Updates on new cases, deaths, vaccines for April 2021 [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Taking a look at Medicaid expansion issues: “On June 30, 2020, the Oklahoma Medicaid Expansion Initiative, State Question 802, passed by a majority vote (50.49% yes and 49.51% no) to expand Medicaid eligibility to adults age 19-64 whose income is 138% of the federal poverty level. [Woodward News]

Doctors accuse UnitedHealthcare of stifling competition: UnitedHealthcare, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, is being sued in two states by a large group of anesthesiologists who are accusing the company of stifling competition by forcing the doctors out of its network and by using its enormous clout to pressure hospitals and surgeons to stop referring patients to them. [New York Times] Note: UnitedHealthcare is one of the four companies recently awarded managed care contracts by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.   

State Government News

Updates from the state Capitol – Republicans push through education reform, prohibitions on diversity training in schools: Tensions were high at the state Capitol this week as Republicans pushed through education reform and moved to prohibit schools from mandating gender or sexual diversity training. [The Frontier]

Data privacy bill dead, but author vows to continue to fight: Rep. Collin Walke on Thursday accused the Senate Judiciary chairwoman of putting profits over privacy after she declined to hear his bill that would protect the public against unauthorized data collection. [Tulsa World]

Progressive group vows to challenge Oklahoma legislators who limit protests: An Oklahoma progressive advocacy group has vowed to challenge state legislators who change state law to limit protests. Oklahoma Progress Now is asking its supporters to pledge to help unseat up to 17 Republican state lawmakers who introduced 11 bills the group says would challenge the right to protest. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Democrats have won some special elections, but this race may be the toughest yet: Oklahoma Democrats don’t often win elections. But when it comes to special elections, Democrats have some track record of success. In 2017, Oklahoma Democrats flipped four Republican-held legislative seats, two of which have since flipped back in subsequent elections. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Sexual assault allegations at Fort Sill draw Oklahoma lawmakers’ concerns: Oklahoma lawmakers pledged Friday to monitor the investigation of sexual assault allegations made by a soldier at Fort Sill, as a post commander said officials acted quickly to protect the soldier and launch a probe. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Politics, protests and policing: Tulsa’s police chief reflects on topics discussed at FBI institute: As one of many law enforcement leaders gathered from across the country for an exchange of ideas, stories and instruction, Tulsa’s police chief didn’t expect much notice. To his surprise, police executives who had faced the hottest fire of 2020’s civil unrest and taken over departments in cities such as Seattle and Portland found his department’s situation particularly novel. [Tulsa World]

History of violence, poor conditions at Oklahoma County jail puts future of trust in doubt: The call that a riot was breaking out on the second floor of the Oklahoma County jail came in at 11:26 p.m. Feb. 7. “There’s like four people using weapons,” an inmate told the central control employee. “I’m looking on the camera right now,” the employee said. “I don’t see that.” Are you sure, the inmate asked. “Yep,” the employee replied. “But I’ll check with the rover, thank you.” A review of surveillance video, however, shows the employee, Martin Jacobs, “never picked up his radio to notify anyone,” according to an internal investigative report of the altercation on 2B that night. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma City Police Department releases video footage of Oklahoma County Jail hostage situation [KOSU]

Economic Opportunity

Housing advocates say evictions are continuing at ‘full steam,’ despite a federal ban: On March 26, a sheriff’s deputy walked up to a one-story brick home in a suburb of North Tulsa, Oklahoma, and told the woman inside it was time to leave. She called Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma in a panic. Eric Hallett, the attorney on the phone, instructed her to grab important documents and medicine. There was a chance she wouldn’t be allowed to return. [NBC News]

Temporary housing facility for the homeless in east Tulsa draws complaints, concerns: In February, when the snow fell and the temperatures stubbornly stuck below zero, homeless outreach workers were out day and night ushering people off the streets, out of their hidden encampments and into warm, covered quarters. [Tulsa World]

City Care nonprofit to open new low-barrier shelter for Oklahoma City’s homeless community: A new low-barrier shelter is set to open in Oklahoma City, offering much-needed emergency shelter for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. The new City Care Night Shelter is expected to open Tuesday in a former warehouse at 532 N Villa. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Signs abound for an energy rebound: Travel records show U.S. consumers are driving and flying at the highest rate since the pandemic forced stay-at-home orders and lockdowns one year ago, reports. Oklahomans filling their gas tanks on Friday paid an average $2.64 per gallon, up nearly 13 cents from one month ago, according to the AAA Gas Prices website. [The Journal Record]

Immigrants with temporary status have grown deep roots in US: Irma Chavez is a married mother of four who leads a business networking initiative in this small Arkansas city she calls home. It’s a long way from her life as a live-in housekeeper in California years ago, and further still from a childhood working in El Salvador’s coffee fields. [The Oklahoman]

Tulsa World owner Lee Enterprises unveils $5 million stimulus program for local businesses: Tulsa World Media Co. is launching its third local business stimulus program aimed at helping companies succeed in our rapidly evolving economic environment. [Tulsa World]

Education News

What people are saying about next OSU President Kayse Shrum: After a lengthy executive session that lasted well into Friday night, the Board of Regents for the Oklahoma Agricultural & Mechanical Colleges named Dr. Kayse Shrum as Oklahoma State University’s 19th president and its first female president. [NonDoc]

  • Committee recommends Shrum as next Oklahoma State president [AP News]
  • Kayse Shrum ‘humbled’ to be named next Oklahoma State president [Tulsa World]

General News

City of Tulsa sued for Race Massacre-related documents: An attorney who has sued the city of Tulsa for reparations for victims and descendants of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre has filed a lawsuit for the release of records related to the massacre and the coming centennial of the attack. [The Oklahoman]

  • The art of hope: Exhibit brings artists together to examine past, future of Greenwood [Tulsa World]

Crystal Echo Hawk of Pawnee Nation has emerged as a passionate advocate for Native peoples: Crystal Echo Hawk, an enrolled member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, has become a well-known advocate for Native peoples. Born in Provo, Utah, Echo Hawk, 49, founded IllumiNative, which aims to transform public perceptions and stereotypes of Native people. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • City council runoffs set Tuesday in west-side wards [The Oklahoman]
  • Talks on new franchise agreement underway between city, PSO [Tulsa World]
  • Edmond mayoral candidate yet to file campaign reports [NonDoc]

Quote of the Day

“If our solution to a bad zip code is to tell kids they can go to a different zip code, we’re not fixing the bad zip code. And not every kid is going to be able to get out of that district.”

-Rep. Forrest Bennett, D-Oklahoma City, speaking about inequities among the state’s school districts [The Frontier]

Number of the Day

$531 million

Amount of state revenue increases approved by lawmakers in 2018 to support education. Two measures now being considered by Oklahoma lawmakers (HB 2041 and HB 2083) would cut revenue by $540 million, which is $9 million more than the new revenue raised by lawmakers in 2018. [Source: OK Policy]

Policy Note

From the Archive: Nation’s Least-Funded Schools Get What They Pay For: No state has suffered more than Oklahoma when it comes to education funding over the past decade. As it has struggled to balance its budget in the face of declining oil revenue, spending on schools has declined further than anywhere else. Oklahoma now spends $1 billion less on K-12 education than it did a decade ago. [Governing] NOTE: As Oklahoma lawmakers are considering revenue cuts (HB 2041 and HB 2083) that would undo 2018’s new revenue supporting education, we’re revisiting this piece from Governing about the impacts from Oklahoma’s underfunded schools. 

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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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