In The Know: State among worst for child well-being | Changing eviction policies | June 30 Countdown to Care event

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

OK Policy to host June 30 event to celebrate Medicaid expansion, provide resources for Oklahomans: Thanks to voter-approved Medicaid expansion, more than 100,000 Oklahomans will finally have health care coverage starting on July 1. To celebrate this historic milestone, Oklahoma Policy Institute is hosting a June 30 event to reflect on the journey to this point and how it will positively impact our state moving forward. [Miguel Rios / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma stays among 10 worst states in child well-being: Oklahoma ranks 42nd for child well-being according to the 2021 KIDS COUNT report, up from 45th last year. The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual report ranks states on economic well-being, family and community context, education, and health. Oklahoma dropped one spot to 41st in family and community context indicators. The state moved up seven spots to 42nd in health and three spots to 45th in education. Oklahoma kept its 33rd-place ranking in the economic well-being category, but Oklahoma Policy Institute KIDS COUNT Data Coordinator Gabrielle Jacobi said those indicators still aren’t promising. One in five Oklahoma kids lives in poverty, and Jacobi said that’s a problem that must be addressed. [Public Radio Tulsa] Education is a particular low point for Oklahoma’s young people. The state continues to struggle supporting students, with 75% of fourth graders scoring below proficiency in reading, while 75% of eighth graders are not proficient in math. [The Black Wall Street Times] OK Policy: Smart policy decisions can help improve Oklahoma’s dismal child well-being outcomes.

Report: Oklahoma’s eviction policies need change: The Oklahoma Residential Landlord Tenant Act harms both landlords and tenants as well as the broader community, according to a new report calling for legislative changes. “ORLTA creates a rental landscape characterized by high eviction rates, a lack of safe and affordable housing stock, reliance on eviction as a profit-making mechanism, and exploitation of Oklahoma’s lax rental laws by out-of-state businesses,” it states. [The Journal Record] OK Policy and its Open Justice Oklahoma program have been tracking evictions in Oklahoma and noted that policymakers must do more to prevent evictions and foreclosures during and after the COVID-19 crisis.

  • Nonprofit overseeing emergency assistance program reports more than $4M distributed since April [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • City grant will allow Tulsa Day Center to reimburse landlords for people who can’t pay rent [Tulsa World]

Health News

OSDH asking medical providers, laboratories for virus samples to identify variants: Officials from the Oklahoma State Department of Health say they’re asking all medical providers and laboratories across the state to send positive COVID-19 samples to the public health lab in Stillwater for variant sequencing. [Public Radio Tulsa]

State Government News

Watchdog report questions TSET spending, Oklahoma’s tobacco cessation efforts: A new report from a legislative watchdog office questions the effectiveness of Oklahoma’s Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust in reducing tobacco use and improving health outcomes. The Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency’s draft report issued Monday said the outcomes of some TSET programs cannot be measured and suggested there is no clear correlation between TSET’s tobacco cessation spending and decreased smoking prevalence. [The Oklahoman] Voters in 2000 approved constitutional protections for how the state would spend millions from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with tobacco companies. TSET spends the earnings from the $1.6 billion trust fund for health programs, including tobacco cessation. Earnings are between $50 million and $60 million a year. [Tulsa World]

Legislator requests study of jobs initiative: A state lawmaker has requested approval for an interim legislative study focused on providing avenues of assistance to income-insecure Oklahomans. Rep. Mickey Dollens, D-Oklahoma City, submitted a request for a study to examine different ways the state could facilitate and promote public benefit work opportunities to assist income-insecure individuals with instant financial stability and flexible work scheduling to help them maintain housing and transition back into permanent employment. [Southwest Ledger]

Capitol Insider: All Bills Considered: In this week’s Capitol Insider, KGOU’s Dick Pryor and eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley review the close of the 2021 legislative session as Governor Kevin Stitt completed action on the final bills sent to his desk. [KGOU]

Ex-Attorney General Mike Hunter to face lawsuit: The dismissal of a bribery charge against a member of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s cabinet didn’t put an end to former Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter’s political fallout. Secretary of Digital Transformation David Ostrowe announced that he is preparing to sue the former attorney general for abuse of process, libel, slander and a potential civil rights violation. [News 9]

Help us learn more about gun violence in Oklahoma: Oklahoma is a Top 10 state in rates of gun deaths and gun injuries. Oklahoma is also a state of high gun ownership, with more than half of all adults living in a household with a firearm. Gun policies in Oklahoma typically center on expanding firearm access and allowing more adults to legally carry a gun. But the state’s high rates of homicide, domestic violence and suicide are partly a product of wide access to guns, according to many health and law enforcement officials. The Frontier is launching a new investigation into gun violence across Oklahoma. [The Frontier]

Federal Government News

Oklahoma Turnpike PikePass system fails Congressional mandate for national system: The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, which pioneered the use of electronic passes 30 years ago, is preparing to take a long-awaited first step toward cashless tolls but has yet to comply with a 2016 deadline to integrate the PikePass system with tolling authorities across the country. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Push to ban Native American mascots accelerates amid year of racial reckoning: A vote by Colorado lawmakers this month to ban public schools from using Native American mascots embodies the acceleration of a decades-long campaign. Lawmakers in Washington and Nevada adopted similar bans this spring. Connecticut and Massachusetts could be next. [The Oklahoman]

Two challenge longtime Citizen Potawatomi Nation chairman: John “Rocky” Barrett has been tribal chairman of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation for 36 years and is running for re-election against two challengers: Lisa Kraft, a 12-year tribal legislator, and Steve Castaneda, who unsuccessfully challenged Barrett in 2017. [NonDoc]

Fort Sill Apache Tribe announces COVID-19 state of recovery plan: The Fort Sill Apache Tribe has announced a state of recovery plan. The layout calls for an orderly transition from the current state of emergency that has been in place for all tribal entities since March 17, 2020, to June 17, 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new plan went into full effect June 17. [The Lawton Constitution]

Criminal Justice News

Jail Trust reconvenes with new leadership, new civility, new jail contracts: For the first time in months, the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority (Jail Trust) met fully in person Monday and in a surprisingly civil and productive session. The meeting was gavelled in by the newly elected Chair of the Trust, Jim Couch. The newly elected Vice-Chair, Senator Ben Brown, was seated next to Couch. [OKC Free Press]

Five charged with murder in hostage-taking incident at Oklahoma County jail: Two inmates have been charged with first-degree murder in the hostage-taking incident at the Oklahoma County jail March 27. Three more were charged with second-degree murder. They are accused of causing the death of a fellow inmate, rape defendant Curtis Montrell Williams, by their actions after a detention officer was taken hostage. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Airport Trust OKs $300K to get Breeze Airways off the ground: Breeze Airways could benefit from $300,000 or more in marketing incentives and operations credits approved by the Oklahoma City Airport Trust. Breeze announced May 21 it would begin nonstop air service this summer from Will Rogers World Airport to Tampa, New Orleans and San Antonio. [The Oklahoman]

General News

Black Wall Street hosts largest Juneteenth in the nation: The Black Wall Street Chamber of Commerce, led by president Sherry Gamble-Smith, hosted the nation’s largest celebration commemorating the end of institutional slavery in the United States on June 19, 1865. According to Tulsa Juneteenth organizers, this weekend’s event attracted over 53,500 visitors from around the country. [The Black Wall Street Times]

‘Our love must be long, radically inclusive’: Tulsa faith leaders bless Progress Pride, Black Lives Matter flags ahead of Tulsa Pride Festival: A symbol of intersectionality, inclusion and love with no boundaries, the Progress Pride flag was honored with a blessing by Tulsa’s interfaith leaders Monday. Leaders from across many faiths gathered at John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park for an interfaith service to honor the LGBTQ+ community and to bless the Progress Pride, Black Lives Matter, Tulsa, Muscogee Nation and United States flags ahead of the Tulsa Pride Festival, which runs Friday through Sunday. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Developer of mixed-use project at former Crowne Plaza hotel wants City Council vote delayed [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Because even if they go to a great school for eight hours of a day, if a child is still coming home and is worried about maybe not having enough to eat or whether the lights will be on or not having a parent at home because they’re working, that overall will impact a student’s educational attainment and their future outcomes.”

-Gabrielle Jacobi, OK Policy’s Child Well-Being Policy Analyst and KIDS COUNT data coordinator [Public Radio Tulsa]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Black children in Oklahoma who live in poverty, more than 2.5 times the rate for white children (14%). The poverty rate for Latinx children (27%) and American Indian children (23%) also exceed the state average of 20%. 

[Source: 2021 KIDS COUNT Data Book]

Policy Note

New child tax credit could slash poverty now and boost social mobility later: Looking at the supplemental poverty measure (SPM), the expansion of the child tax credit is projected to reduce child poverty from nearly 14 percent to 7 and a half percent—a 45 percent reduction—according to researchers at Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy. The payments are projected to drastically cut child poverty across racial groups, but with particularly large reductions for Black, Hispanic, and Native American children. Similar reductions are expected for the number of children living in deep poverty. [Brookings]

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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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