In The Know: State drops bar, restaurant curfews after judge’s ruling | Expanding hospital bed capacity | Protecting our state Capitol

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: Protecting, securing our state Capitol: The physical security of the Oklahoma Capitol seems to be at risk on two fronts – as part of a reported nationwide threat of armed protesters stirred by a months-long systematic misinformation campaign about the presidential election results, as well as the continued infiltration of the COVID-19 virus. Oklahoma’s leadership should take both threats seriously and address them via preventive measures. [Ahniwake Rose / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

After judge hobbles Oklahoma’s COVID curfew for bars, Gov. Stitt drops the restriction: Gov. Kevin Stitt walked back restrictions on bars and restaurants Wednesday, one day after a judge hammered the state in a written order for a lack of evidence that the restrictions effectively slowed the spread of COVID-19 in the first place. [The Oklahoman]

  • Antibody testing indicates one-third of Oklahomans have been infected with COVID-19, says Project ECHO expert [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma’s COVID-19 vaccine supply could double in coming weeks [The Oklahoman] | [Tulsa World] | [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Choctaw Nation aids with COVID vaccinations in southeast Oklahoma [KOSU]
  • Older Oklahomans without email directed to LIFE Senior Services for vaccination registration [Tulsa World]
  • Watch Now: ‘This is a very big moment:’ Tulsa Public Schools employees receive first COVID-19 vaccinations [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma hospitals could look to nursing homes for possible patient transfers: Thanks to a temporary waiver from a federal agency, Oklahoma hospitals can transfer patients to care facilities like nursing homes with less red tape. “This is just something that we need to do to create more capacity as our COVID numbers keep expanding,” said Patti Davis, president of the Oklahoma Hospital Association. [News9]

  • COVID-19: 44 more deaths reported; Oklahoma averages 4,250 new infections daily [Tulsa World]
  • Hospital exec runs all the way from Bartlesville to Tulsa to honor COVID-19 nurses [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma legislators advised to avoid the Capitol this weekend due to possible protests: State legislators and state employees have been advised to steer clear of the Oklahoma state Capitol building this weekend after law enforcement officials warned local protests could be possible across the country. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Push still slow for hospital license: Even though the process of trying to get Pauls Valley’s hospital back open seems to be moving in slow motion one top official remains confident it’s only a matter of time. [Pauls Valley Daily]

Federal Government News

Oklahoma’s five House members vote against impeachment: Oklahoma’s five members of the U.S. House voted Wednesday against impeaching President Donald Trump for inciting insurrection, with freshman Rep. Stephanie Bice saying it was a waste of time “to impeach a man who will no longer be in office.” [The Oklahoman] Rules Committee Ranking Member Rep. Tom Cole laid out his arguments against it earlier in the day as the House weighed rules for Wednesday afternoon’s debate. [Public Radio Tulsa] For the most part, the five said impeaching Trump a week before his term ends is pointless and would further divide the country a week after rioters aligned with Trump invaded the Capitol. [Tulsa World]

  • Lankford takes no responsibility for attack; not ruling out voting for Trump impeachment [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Full Interview: Lankford speaks with KWGS about insurrection and impeachment [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Black leaders want Sen. Lankford exiled from Tulsa Race Massacre Commission after Electoral College challenge [Tulsa World]
  • Senator James Lankford is considering resigning from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission [Oklahoma Eagle]
  • After Capitol siege, pro-Trump legislators in Oklahoma stand by election challenge [Oklahoma Watch]

Criminal Justice News

Pardon and Parole Board readies for tie votes after member’s resignation: The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board is down to four members for the time being. Board Chair Robert Gilliland resigned in mid-December due to health reasons. He was appointed in February 2019. His absence raises the possibility of tie votes, which, according to board procedures, are considered denials. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Six months in, Oklahoma County’s jail trust is a chaotic mixed bag: Public meetings are often tedious, sparsely attended affairs, but this past year the meetings of the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority, which oversees the county jail, have become one of the hottest tickets in town. [NonDoc]

Economy & Business News

API ready to work with Biden, Congress: In its 101 years of existence, the American Petroleum Institute has worked with every configuration of political power: Democrat and Republican majorities in Congress, and presidents from both parties. The events of Jan. 6, 2021, however, present a challenge leaders in oil and gas have not before confronted in working with members of Congress to advance the industry. [The Journal Record]

Keeping the show going: Dance studios, other in-person businesses struggle, adapt during pandemic: Businesses that rely on in-person customers have struggled in the past year as the COVID-19 pandemic forced business closures, forbade close-quarter activities and sowed fear about contagion and infection. [The Journal Record]

Midwest hemp is still getting its footing, but growers aren’t giving up yet: The most recent Farm Bill legalized hemp production nationwide, but left individual states in charge of the oversight. As the crop continues to roll out across the Midwest, some states are seeing more success than others. But farmers generally remain optimistic about hemp’s future. [KOSU]

Education News

Oklahoma educators push back on governor’s virus waiver: The state school superintendent is among Oklahoma educators who oppose Gov. Kevin Stitt’s waiver of a mandatory quarantine for public school students, teachers and staff who have been exposed to the coronavirus. Under the waiver Stitt announced Tuesday, if the exposed person shows no symptoms and attends a school where masks are required, no quarantine is necessary. [AP News]

Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction says funding increase ask won’t be enough: Oklahoma’s State Board of Education is asking for a funding increase for the state’s schools in this year’s legislative session. After COVID-caused budget cuts, the state’s education department has asked the legislature for a $190 million dollar funding increase. But state schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister says even that ask, totalling $3.2 billion, will not meet the needs of Oklahoma’s 700,000 schoolchildren. [StateImpact Oklahoma / KGOU]

WahZhaZhe, Tsalagi, Español. No matter the language, Covid creates challenges for immersion learning in Oklahoma: Located in Pawhuska, Daposka Ahnkodapi is the Osage Nation’s immersion school. It runs through fourth grade and has about 40 students enrolled. The small private school started the year with in-person instruction, but like other schools around Oklahoma, had to pivot to distance learning more than once during the fall semester thanks to Covid-19. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Tulsa city councilors extend mask mandate through April [Tulsa World] | [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Tulsa International Airport opens COVID-19 testing venue to travelers [Tulsa World]
  • Meeting addresses questions, takes feedback ahead of redistricting [The Duncan Banner]
  • Oklahoma lawmakers hold redistricting town hall [KTEN]

Quote of the Day

“As soon as a (hospital) bed opens up, it’s filled almost immediately. Not just from people in this region, but we’re taking transfers from all over the state.”

-Dr. Sam Ratermann, a family medicine physician at Integris Grove Hospital, who said they had to transfer patients to the Kansas City and St. Louis areas recently because of a lack of hospital beds nearby. [News 9

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahomans whose blood was tested Jan. 1-7 and were positive for the virus’ antibodies [Project ECHO via Tulsa World]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

A year ago, women outnumbered men in the U.S. workforce, now they account for 100% of jobs lost in December: For the first time in eight months, the economy saw a dip in job growth with 140,000 jobs lost in December. All of these jobs, according to an analysis from the National Women’s Law Center, belonged to women, emphasizing the disastrous impact the coronavirus pandemic is continuing to have on women in the workforce. In December, women lost a total of 156,000 jobs, while men gained 16,000 jobs, according to NWLC. Of the net 9.8 million jobs lost since February, women have accounted for 55% of them. [CNBC]

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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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