In The Know: State’s financial recovery could take years | Health department disbands COVID unit | Eviction crisis still looms large

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

CDC eviction moratorium will help, but Oklahoma’s housing crisis still looms large: The economic devastation brought by the COVID-19 emergency has put millions of Americans on the brink of financial ruin and homelessness. In Oklahoma, nearly half of adults believe they are likely to be evicted or foreclosed upon in the next two months. Statewide, nearly 14,000 evictions have been filed, and nearly 6,000 granted, since Gov. Stitt declared a state of emergency on March 15. Data show that eviction filings and orders have accelerated in Oklahoma even after the Centers for Disease Control issued an eviction moratorium that took effect on Sept. 4, and Oklahomans remain at risk for eviction through the end of the year. State and court officials must do more to ensure that people covered by the CDC moratorium are not evicted, but robust federal economic support to families is the only way to avoid a major crisis in the coming months. [Ryan Gentzler / OK Policy]

Battle brewing over managed care in Oklahoma: There is a big battle brewing over Medicaid managed care in Oklahoma that will play out during the next Legislative session. It is no wonder. With what legislators say was little or no consultation, the Oklahoma Healthcare Authority (OHCA), at Gov. Kevin Stitt’s direction, issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to private health care companies to submit bids to manage the state’s Medicaid program. Health care companies have been lobbying the Legislature, without success, for several years to adopt managed care. The Governor moved ahead with the RFP while the Legislature is out of session, and OHCA Director Kevin Corbett said the selection of the managed care contractors will be announced in early February, just as the legislature is returning to session. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

Experts: For many, financial recovery could take years: It may take more than a decade for Oklahomans to recover from the recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the senior budget and tax policy analyst at the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Paul Shinn, who also has held budget and finance positions in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, at the Department of Human Services and for the cities of Oklahoma City and Del City, offered the assessment as part of an interim study on economic policies in the state held by the Appropriations and Budget Committee of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. [The Journal Record]

Health department disbands unit responding to COVID-19: The state Department of Health has disbanded a specialized unit that responds to public health emergencies as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow. In a letter sent to state employees Oct. 5, Dr. Lance Frye, the interim commissioner of health, said the Incident Command Service would be demobilized effective immediately. In a statement, Travis Kirkpatrick, the agency’s deputy commissioner, said as the pandemic response has progressed, the duties assigned to staff when the unit was initially mobilized have become interwoven into the daily functions of Emergency Preparedness and Response Service employees. [CNHI via Tahlequah Daily Press]

  • Oklahoma reports new highs in COVID-19 hospitalizations [The Frontier]
  • State’s active COVID case total hits another new record at more than 14,500 [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • COVID-19: Tulsa County resident is among two whose deaths were reported Monday; statewide toll reaches 1,173 [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma medical group leader renews call for mask mandate [AP News]
  • Duncan hospital president speaks on need for mask ordinance [KSWO]
  • Muskogee city mask mandate gains more support, still fails 5-4 [Muskogee Phoenix]
  • OKC report on COVID-19: “The averages keep going up” [The Oklahoman]

Officials warn of fake texts citing polling place changes: State elections officials have notified law enforcement about text messages that are falsely claiming voters’ polling place locations have moved for the upcoming election. [The Oklahoman] Voters should use the OK Voter Portal on the State Election Board’s website or contact their county election board to find or verify their polling place. [Tulsa World]

Health News

As last resort, Oklahoma quarantine orders rise amid coronavirus pandemic: Since the state’s first recorded instance of coronavirus infection in March, the Oklahoma State Department of Health has issued 49 quarantine orders through September. All but one were for coronavirus. (One was for rabies.) The agency issued one measles-related quarantine order in 2019, and none going back to 2014. [Oklahoma Watch]

COVID-19 patients swamp rural hospitals: In Oklahoma City and the surrounding area, no ICU beds were available last week, according to the University of Oklahoma. The lack of beds required medical professionals in those already understaffed hospitals to spend hours on the phone arranging patient transfers to other Oklahoma hospitals. [Pew Trusts]

OSDH accepting ‘Certified Healthy Oklahoma’ applications through Jan. 15: A public health initiative launched in 2003 has opened applications for the 2020 Certified Healthy Oklahoma Program. [OSDH / The Duncan Banner]

State Government News

Municipal advocate warns sales tax exemptions hurting local budgets during pandemic: Facing a difficult economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, the group representing Oklahoma’s city governments told state lawmakers during an interim study at the state capitol last week that they’re struggling with dozens of sales tax exemptions. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Advocates recommend Oklahoma lawmakers take more steps to help those with dyslexia: Dyslexia experts told Oklahoma lawmakers in an interim study on Monday they’re off to a good start in helping struggling readers, but there’s more work to do. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Federal Government News

Supreme Court: Private company exempt from property taxes on gaming machines it leases to tribe: The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday let stand an earlier state court decision that determined gaming equipment owned by a private company but leased to tribal casinos was exempt from local personal property taxes. [Tulsa World]

Election News

Black Wall Street Times to host community and state town hall on SQ805: Black Wall Street Times has partnered with Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, Oklahoma Policy Institute, Still She Rises – Tulsa, Women in Recovery and Terrence Crutcher Foundation to host an informative town hall on State Question 805 this Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 6 p.m. CST. The forum will be streamed on the organizations’ Facebook pages. [Black Wall Street Times]

Q&A: What to know before voting on Oklahoma City’s charter amendments: Oklahoma City voters will decide on nine charter amendments Nov. 3. Have a look at an official sample ballot and an annotated ballot. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

In loud Jail Trust meeting, ICE motion fails, court video upgrades approved: The Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority, or Jail Trust, held a meeting Monday that took over three hours to discuss the presence of ICE agents in the Jail, as well as to allocate CARES funds for what is being referred to as COVID amelioration in the Jail. [OKC Free Press] Just as it had in September, the OCCJA considered a motion to remove federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers from the Oklahoma County Jail during a bizarre and often disorganized meeting, but the proposal fell one vote shy again. [NonDoc] Five votes were necessary for the prohibitions to go into effect, but only four trustees voted for them. Two others opposed the bans, two abstained from voting and one was not present. [The Oklahoman]

Pandemic strains post-prison life: The challenges of reentry after prison are not new. But the pandemic has made life far more difficult for formerly incarcerated people who were already struggling. Even something as simple as getting a state ID — a vital part of reentry success — has been complicated by closures and limited hours at state motor vehicle offices nationwide. Most offices for the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety (DPS) are booking appointments out about two months from now, spokesperson Sarah Stewart said, adding that the state corrections department and DPS work with inmates to obtain a license before their release. [Big If True]

Economic Opportunity

Email predicted taxpayers would pay price for panhandling crackdown, and they have: An email to a city councilman five years ago warned a crackdown on panhandling could end up costing Oklahoma City taxpayers a lot of money. Five years later, that is exactly what has happened. And the bill could be much higher. [The Oklahoman]

Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s Family Violence Prevention program helps those in need: Oklahoma has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the country — more than 26,000 cases in 2019 alone according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. In Indian Country, the issue is even worse. Indigenous people face some of the highest rates of domestic violence nationwide. [KOSU]

New overlay district would allow small homes: The City Planning Commission has recommended a new zoning category that would allow Lawton Housing Authority and others to create affordable homes for lower-income residents. [The Lawton Constitution]

Economy & Business News

Electrical deregulation puts forth simple question: Should power consumers get to choose where they buy electricity?: Should commercial power customers get to choose who they buy their electricity from? A nonprofit led by a man who helped work on Oklahoma’s plan to deregulate electricity markets two decades ago is aiming once again to get Oklahoma’s approval to implement the concept on a narrower scale. [The Oklahoman]

Along 23rd Street, a ‘Northeast Renaissance’: Along NE 23rd Street in Oklahoma City – an area known as Northeast Renaissance – some minority-owned businesses are thriving during the pandemic by catering to the minds and bodies of their patrons in the community. [The Journal Record]

Education News

‘We’re the biggest restaurant in Oklahoma:’ Curbside meals keep OKCPS students fed: The number of students participating in OKCPS’ program for curbside meals varies by school site, however the district’s director of school nutrition services said the district has an average participation rate of 58 percent. [NonDoc]

  • OKCPS teacher quits over COVID concerns [FOX25]

Tulsa middle, junior high and high school students will remain in distance learning until January, school board decides: Secondary students in Tulsa Public Schools will remain in distance learning until after winter break, the school board decided Monday evening. [Tulsa World] The TPS board on Monday night voted down a proposal to send them back starting on Nov. 30 on a 3–4 vote, then approved the post-winter break return 6–1. [Public Radio Tulsa]

ACT scores continue to decline for Oklahoma students: Oklahoma’s ACT scores are continuing to decline. Recently released numbers from the tester show the state’s average score fell for the second straight year. Oklahoma isn’t alone. Scores on the ACT, the standardized test colleges use as a measuring stick for applicants, are declining across the country. [KOSU]

General News

Tulsa Race Massacre researchers begin uncovering burial sites at Oaklawn Cemetery: An archeological team on Monday afternoon began uncovering suspected burial sites in Oaklawn Cemetery in the belief they hold the remains of as many as 18 Black men killed in Tulsa’s 1921 Race Massacre. [Tulsa World] “I realize we can tell this story the way it needs to be told, now,” said Phoebe Stubblefield, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Florida and a descendant of a survivor of the massacre who is assisting the search, told The Associated Press. [AP News]

Quote of the Day

“Medicaid expansion is the best economic development opportunity that Oklahoma has ever had and likely ever will have.”

-Paul Shinn, Budget and Tax Senior Policy Analyst with OK Policy [The Journal Record]

Number of the Day


Percentage of uninsured children in Oklahoma, which is the nation’s fifth highest rate. The national children’s uninsured average is 5.7%.

[Source: Georgetown University Center for Children and Families]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Children’s Uninsured Rate Rises by Largest Annual Jump in More Than a Decade: For many years, the United States was on a positive trajectory in reducing the number and rate of uninsured children; in 2016, the nation attained a historic low of 3.6 million uninsured children. This progress occurred as a result of expansions of public coverage—primarily Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)—and was accelerated by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) major coverage expansions in 2014. As employer-sponsored insurance became increasingly unaffordable for dependents, public coverage ameliorated the impacts of private coverage losses for children. However, the number of uninsured children began to increase in 2017 as Medicaid enrollment began to decline and reached 4.4 million in 2019. This represents an increase of 726,000 children during this three-year period. The rate of uninsured children rose a full percentage point from 4.7 percent to 5.7 percent. Much of the gain in coverage that children made as a consequence of the ACA’s major coverage expansions has now been eliminated. Moreover, the most recent year of data (2018 to 2019) shows the biggest one-year loss in children’s coverage during this time period, with 320,000 more children becoming uninsured. These coverage losses occurred in a healthy economy with the lowest unemployment rate in decades prior to the economic shocks and job loss associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. [Georgetown University for Children and Families]

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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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