In The Know: State lags in COVID boosters | Delays in foster care cases | Prioritizing budget expenditures

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

Prioritizing how tax dollars are spent (Capitol Update): It’s too early to make a judgment about whether the budget requests being made by state agencies reflect the reality that, unless the economy does a deep dive, this may be a year of opportunity for state services to begin the long climb toward catching up with other states. So far, only a few agencies have made their budget presentations. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Health News

COVID boosters protect against omicron, but over 60% of eligible Oklahomans haven’t gotten one: More than 60% of fully vaccinated Oklahomans who are currently eligible for a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine have yet to receive one, according to the state Health Department. [The Oklahoman] The state’s seven-day average in new coronavirus cases increased to 1,035 per day. [KOSU]

State Government News

Child welfare advocates say parents’ right to a jury trial prolongs the time children spend in foster care: The Oklahoma Constitution entitles parents to a trial in front of a jury before their rights are terminated and children in foster care can be adopted. Some lawyers and foster parents say this right causes delays in child welfare cases. [The Frontier]

Political notebook: Legislators request more than 3,000 new bills and joint resolutions: Paper work: Legislators requested more than 3,000 bills and joint resolutions for the second session of the 58th Legislature, which begins Feb. 7, the tracking service e-Capitol reports. [Tulsa World]

Lawmakers stay engaged outside of session, they say: With Oklahoma’s legislative session at most five months each year, it could be easy to think that state legislatures only work during those five months, but that is not the case — especially for those in the minority party. [The Norman Transcript]

Illicit marijuana in Oklahoma: ‘You probably don’t even understand the magnitude of it’: For the most part, the state’s marijuana grows seem to be duly licensed by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority. But law enforcement officials and some lawmakers contend that a good deal of the product is being illegally shipped out of state for old-fashioned street sales.[Tulsa World]

Room on the rotunda? Group places Nativity scene at Oklahoma State Capitol for Christmas: Nativity scenes are typically displayed at churches and private Christian schools during the Christmas season, but this year, Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus found accommodations in a new space — the state Capitol. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Federal student loan repayments resume in 2022: Here’s what you need to know: At the beginning of the pandemic, federal student loan repayments were paused to address the financial hardships many Americans were faced with. Since the economy is recovering, the Biden administration is not extending student loan relief any further and borrowers will have to start making payments again after Jan. 31. [KGOU]

Lankford announces Marginal Well Protection Act: U.S. Sens. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Roger Marshall, R-Kan., on Monday announced the introduction of the Marginal Well Protection Act to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from levying “excessive methane emission fees” for wells that produce less than 15 barrels of oil and less than 90 Mcf (90,000 cubic feet) of natural gas per day. [Tulsa World]

As Oklahoma invests in electric vehicles, Sen. James Lankford decries EV tax breaks and other spending initiatives: Sen. James Lankford enumerates his problems with President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan. Speaking on the floor of the Senate last week, Lankford grimly listed groups he said like Build Back Better: wealthy Democrats, unions, environmental groups, local reporters, and people who buy electric vehicles. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Tribal Nations News

State, feds argue surface mining jurisdiction for eastern Oklahoma: Officials from the state of Oklahoma and the U.S. Department of the Interior are awaiting a ruling from a federal district court judge regarding which agency has regulatory authority over surface mining and reclamation operations on affirmed tribal reservation land. [NonDoc]

Cherokees move forward on hunting, fishing plan without new state compact: Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. on Monday signed an executive order asserting the tribe’s treaty rights for its citizens to hunt and fish within the tribe’s reservation. The action comes after Gov. Kevin Stitt and two tribes could not agree on terms of a new compact. [Tulsa World]

Chilocco Indian Agricultural School should remain “site of conscience”: The Bureau of Indian Affairs abandoned the cemetery of Chilocco Indian Agricultural School outside Newkirk in north central Oklahoma when the school closed in 1980 after operating it for nearly 100 years. Jim and Charmain spent years trying to find out the names and tribal affiliations of the people buried in the 67 unmarked graves. Many were just children.[KOSU]

Criminal Justice News

Union files grievance against OKC Police Department amid disagreements on proposed body-cam changes: Oklahoma City’s local police union has filed a grievance against the police department over its alleged implementation of new body-worn camera technology before agreeing upon procedure changes in the collective bargaining agreement. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

The down side to getting paid early: Early wage access programs – which allow workers to access wages they have earned ahead of the regular payday – are booming, according to the National Consumer Law Center. However, these on-demand pay services are rarely used occasionally, NCLC reports. Workers typically fall into a cycle of repeat advances to fill the gap in the prior paycheck. [The Journal Record]

Fruits of a long labor — Oasis Fresh Market grand opening emotional for advocates: The Monday, May 17 event at 1725 N. Peoria Ave. seemed to have it all: a crowd of about 200, chants of “Oasis, Oasis” and a celebrity sighting in the form of “The King,” Barry Switzer. It was equal parts grocery store grand opening and victory lap for a years-long, economic marathon. [Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

(Audio) Capitol Insider: Oklahoma Economy Continues To Show Growth In State Revenue: The latest figures for the State of Oklahoma’s General Revenue Fund indicate a dramatic increase in funding – more than a third higher than estimates – fueled by a strong economy. [KGOU]

OKC’s Convergence Innovation District development to get $13.75 million in assistance: Developers of Convergence, a $178 million mixed-use anchor for the Innovation District, are set to move forward with $13.75 million in tax increment financing and are hoping to win a $10 million MAPS 4 matching grant for construction of a community innovation hall. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma’s unemployment rate remains among lowest in U.S.: Oklahoma’s unemployment rate – currently at 2.5% – has bounced back better than almost every other state’s since the pandemic, according to federal economists. [The Journal Record]

Education News

Lawmaker wants testing opt-out without penalty: An Oklahoma lawmaker wants to ensure public school students can opt out of federal standardized tests without facing any consequences, but one education leader said the issue is complicated because schools risk violating federal and state law if they don’t have enough students participating. [CNHI via Tahlequah Daily Press]

NSU-BA gets $500,000 federal child care grant: Officials with Northeastern State University announced Monday that the school’s Broken Arrow campus will receive more than $500,000 in federal grant funds over the next four years to offer a drop-in child care facility for students’ children. [Tulsa World]

General News

(Audio) “Tulsa Race Massacre” with Jason Collington, Randy Krehbiel and Kendrick Marshall of the Tulsa World: In this episode of Behind the Headlines, Tulsa World news staff share some of the new information learned while covering the anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre this year, along with the many things that remain unknown, and why a search for answers still continues. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • OK County Commissioners allocate CARES funds ahead of deadline [OKC Free Press]
  • Jail Trust held their final meeting of 2021 on Monday afternoon [OKC Free Press]

Quote of the Day

“Some will argue that money isn’t everything, but in most endeavors those who are significantly better funded seem to be the winners.”

-Former Oklahoma House Speaker Steve Lewis [Capitol Update]

Number of the Day


Percentage of fully vaccinated Oklahomans who have received a COVID-19 booster dose, per the CDC. [The Oklahoman]

Policy Note

The Criminal Justice System Has a Debt Problem: Researchers found that many states do not even track data on criminal justice debt. Almost half the country, in fact, does not know how much court debt their local systems generate. These costs most often punish those in the lowest economic brackets, perpetuating many of the factors that contribute to incarceration in the first place. [Interrogating Justice]

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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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