In The Know: Tribes sue over two recent gaming compacts | Need for school counselors grows, but funding lags | More

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.

Oklahoma News

Four tribes sue over Oklahoma gambling compacts with 2 others: Four Oklahoma tribes are asking a federal court to void gambling compacts between the state of Oklahoma and two other tribes — agreements that the Oklahoma State Supreme Court recently invalidated. [AP News] The Cherokee Nation, Chickasaw Nation, Choctaw Nation and Citizen Potawatomi Nation are now asking a federal court in Washington D.C. to take similar action. [The Oklahoman] Gov. Kevin Stitt’s attorneys contend his gaming compacts with the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and Kialegee Tribal Town should be legally upheld because they exclude key provisions that the Oklahoma Supreme Court found objectionable when it struck down gaming compacts with two other tribes. [The Oklahoman]

As need grows for school counselors, Oklahoma’s funding lags behind: In Oklahoma, the average ratio for students to school counselors is 421 to 1, far higher than the American School Counselor Association’s recommendation of 250 to 1. Counselors with high caseloads are “putting out fires all day long” as they jump from one student crisis to another, said Sarah Kirk, a member of the ASCA Board of Directors. [The Oklahoman]

COVID-19: 486 more state cases, no new deaths reported Sunday: An additional 486 cases of COVID-19 were reported statewide Sunday, with no additional deaths. According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the state has had 43,566 cases since March, with 36,052 considered recovered. A total of 603 people have died from the disease in Oklahoma. [Tulsa World]

  • As deaths hit 600, hot spots emerge in eastern Oklahoma [Oklahoma Watch]
  • Details still unclear on White House virus expert’s Oklahoma visit [Public Radio Tulsa]

State Government News

Absentee voting surged in the primaries, and one party had an especially big mail-in ‘turnout’: Both major state political parties say absentee voting will be a major focus of their get-out-the-vote efforts for the upcoming general election. And going into the Nov. 3 vote, the Republican Party may be playing catch up with the Democratic Party, if the results of the June primary are any indication. [Tulsa World]

Capitol Insider: OESC races to meet demand for unemployment benefits (audio): Oklahoma’s unemployment rate has more than doubled in the past few months as COVID-19 and weakness in the energy sector have combined to put increasing numbers of workers out of jobs. In just over two months, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission has expedited the claims process and dramatically reduced the pending claim backlog. [KGOU]

Medical marijuana tax revenue in July exceeds $12 million: As the number of licensed medical cannabis patients passed 8% of Oklahoma’s population, the Oklahoma Tax Commission reported taxes levied on sales in July exceeded $12 million. [Tulsa World] The deputy director of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, Kelly Williams, will serve as interim director of the authority, officials announced Friday. [AP News]

Sale of state plane forced Stitt to rely on private, other state aircraft: Since selling the state plane, Gov. Kevin Stitt has relied on other state aircraft and private planes for travel. The state plane sold on March 27, 2019, for $1.27 million, according to the Office of Management and Enterprise Services. Stitt previously said the plane would have sold for $2 million to $3 million. [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Police shoot, kill man after pursuit in east Tulsa; second fatal shooting in 12 hours: Tulsa police officers shot and killed a man Sunday morning following a pursuit in east Tulsa, about 12 hours after officers were involved in another fatal shooting on Saturday. [Tulsa World]

Tulsa County Sheriff gets rapid COVID testing system for jail: The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office now has a rapid COVID testing system for use at the jail. The jail’s medical provider, Turn Key Health, helped acquire the system, which runs antigen tests with results in 15 minutes. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma County officials confident in jury trial safety plan: Jury trials in Oklahoma County resume Aug. 17, and court officials say they are confident in the effectiveness of their COVID-19 safety plans. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

Resources available to cover housing costs during COVID-19 pandemic: A coalition of community leaders on Friday urged Oklahomans to take advantage of the millions of dollars available to those who have struggled financially because of COVID-19 and may face evictions. [The Oklahoman]

City of Tulsa establishes trust fund to help close gap in affordable housing stock: The City of Tulsa has established a major piece of its four-year strategy to address a shortage of affordable housing. It seeded an affordable housing trust fund with $4 million from a downtown revolving loan fund and has set a goal of raising up to $20 million. City Housing Policy Director Becky Gligo said that won’t cover all 4,000 units needed. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Parents juggling jobs, education of children in pandemic: As a growing number of districts implement nontraditional schedules or mandate virtual school, education advocates said some parents are facing the difficult dilemma of how to tackle the unexpected full-time responsibilities of educating their children while continuing to financially support their families. [CNHI via The Claremore Daily Progress]

Economy & Business News

Expert: Employers may need to make reductions permanent: In late March, April and even into May, employers did whatever they could to quickly adjust staffing levels in order to ride out the storm – but the storm has lasted much longer than anyone would have hoped. Now, many employers need to take a hard look at a permanent reduction in force, a local employment attorney said. [The Journal Record]

Agricultural festivals cancelled in Oklahoma, as rural towns anticipate economic hit: COVID-19 is causing organizers of annual agricultural festivals in Oklahoma to be cancelled, and some think it will have an adverse effect on the economies of the rural towns that host them. [KOSU]

Education News

Oklahoma education leaders worry coronavirus relief funds won’t be enough: Oklahoma is continuing to allot its $1.2 billion in federal coronavirus relief funding, but education leaders worry that might not be enough. [KOSU] OK Policy: Gov. Stitt’s GEER plan widens the gap in access to technology and online learning for low-income students and students of color. 

Lessons learned in Oklahoma’s interrupted semester critical to delivering instruction this fall: Because there are  no central safety requirements for schools to open in Oklahoma amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s difficult to determine specifically what classes will look like for many. [KGOU]

  • Broken Arrow Public Schools delays start 2 weeks; District ‘monitoring COVID-19 data’ [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Metro private schools confront back-to-school challenges amid pandemic [The Oklahoman]

$1 billion silver lining: Oklahoma College Savings Plan thriving, state treasurer says: Despite economic conditions that have battered the finances of countless Oklahomans, tens of thousands continue to invest in the future of children through the Oklahoma College Savings Plan, recently driving the asset balance of the plan to above the $1 billion mark. [The Journal Record]

Families seek refund for services colleges didn’t deliver: More than 100 class-action lawsuits have been filed against universities and colleges for the repayment of fees. Many also seek tuition reimbursement, claiming online classes don’t have equal value to in-person classes. While many have offered refunds for services like room and board that were disrupted, institutions across the country have drawn the line at reimbursing tuition payments. [Oklahoma Watch]

General News

Beating of gay man doesn’t fall under Oklahoma’s hate crime prohibitions: LGBTQ advocacy groups are calling for restorative justice and criticizing Oklahoma for a political climate they say emboldens hate crimes. [The Oklahoman]

Local stakeholders scramble to raise awareness about Census: Efforts to ensure a “complete count” for the 2020 Census, derailed by the novel coronavirus in March, could be undermined further by a decision announced this week by the U.S. Census Bureau to cut short its field data collection operations. The Oklahoma Policy Institute said a complete count of residents “is vital for our communities to fully receive the federal dollars that rightfully should be serving Oklahomans.” [Muskogee Phoenix]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Union school board member faces public backlash after email rant to parent [Tulsa World]
  • Blue paint splattered across Tulsa ‘Black Lives Matter’ street painting: ‘An act of a coward’ [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa one of many communities grappling with implications of ‘Black Lives Matter’ street paintings [Tulsa World]
  • Westboro Baptist Church, known for picketing at soldier funerals, wants to paint Tulsa streets [Tulsa World]
  • Masks work for OKC Fire Department [The Oklahoman]
  • Latinxlandia working as guide to showcase the full spectrum of community [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“I think this pandemic has highlighted a lot of the issues in public education that we’ve turned a blind eye to.”

-Sarah Kirk, a school counselor at Kendall-Whittier Elementary, speaking about education needs. [The Oklahoman

Number of the Day


A recent Centers for Disease Control study showed a COVID-19 hospitalization rate for Latinx children of 16.4 per 100,000. The rate for Black children was 10.5 per 100,000, and for white children it was 2.1 per 100,000.

[Centers for Disease Control via AP News]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Masks mandates have major impact, study finds: Masks reduce the spread of COVID-19. But just how much of an effect do they have? A study co-authored by an MIT professor finds that if the U.S. had introduced a uniform national mask mandate for employees of public-facing businesses on April 1, the number of deaths in the U.S. would likely have been 40 percent lower on June 1. [MIT News]

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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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