In The Know: Unemployment claims | Half of Oklahoma virus cases confirmed in June | Medicaid expansion funding

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.

Note: In The Know will be off tomorrow, Friday, July 3rd, and resume Monday morning.

New from OK Policy

Policy Matters: Passing SQ 802 – next step to a stronger Oklahoma: Oklahomans made the right choice on Tuesday by passing State Question 802, which will provide life-changing health care coverage for more than 200,000 Oklahomans. More than the impact it will have on our neighbors who previously lacked coverage, it is poised to create a stronger Oklahoma. In order for our state to be a place where all residents have the opportunity to thrive, residents must first be healthy. It’s a cornerstone to our future success. [Ahniwake Rose / The Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

With workers facing long lines and waits, state employment agency seeks to increase in-person unemployment claims processing: More than three months after the novel coronavirus pandemic caused a surge in Oklahoma’s unemployment, thousands of Oklahoma workers continue to wait for unemployment assistance, prompting the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission to expand its efforts to offer in-person assistance. [The Frontier] Hundreds showed up Wednesday seeking help, enduring high temperatures in long lines outside. At least one woman passed out while waiting and required medical attention. [The Oklahoman] Fraudulent unemployment claims battle continues [The Oklahoman]

Over half of Oklahoma’s COVID-19 cases confirmed in June, according to OSDH data: More than half the overall COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma were recorded in the month of June, according to data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health. [Enid News & Eagle]

  • Oklahoma COVID-19 Hospitalizations Reach New High [KOSU]
  • OKC Mayor David Holt issues new COVID-19 directives [NonDoc]
  • OKC reinstating some restrictions in response to spike [The Oklahoman]
  • Masks now required on elevators in Oklahoma County facilities [The Oklahoman]
  • 14 OU Football Players, Two Staff Members Test Positive For COVID-19 [KOSU]
  • Norman council to consider mask policy but not business closures [The Oklahoman]
  • Tulsa County’s cumulative cases could reach 10K-15K in next six weeks, according to health department data [Tulsa World]
  • Two Tulsa County residents die from the disease as state exceeds 14,000 cases [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma lawmakers have a year to figure out how to pay for Medicaid expansion: Roughly $200 million will be needed to implement the Medicaid expansion constitutional amendment voters narrowly approved on Tuesday. Lawmakers have exactly one year to find it. Legislative leaders say several options are on the table. None are likely to be painless — especially at a time when state tax revenue is contracting because of the COVID-19 crisis. [Tulsa World] OK Policy: Oklahomans made the right choice Tuesday by passing SQ 802, which will provide life-changing health care coverage for more than 200,000 Oklahomans and create a significant economic stimulus when implemented. [OK Policy]

  • Health Policy Minute Episode 38: Oklahoma Expands Medicaid (feat. Oklahoma Policy Institute) [Community Catalyst]
  • Voters Extended Health Insurance to 215,000 Oklahomans. Meet Three of Them [Oklahoma Watch]
  • How Oklahoma Voted on Medicaid Expansion [Oklahoma Watch]
  • Republican Leaders Want to End Obamacare. Their Voters Are Expanding It. [The New York Times]
  • Oklahomans Just Embarrassed Trump a Second Time [The Atlantic]
  • Voters in deep-red Oklahoma approve Medicaid expansion [The Washington Post]

Black Lives Matter protest over criminal charges planned in OKC: Hundreds are expected Thursday morning at a protest in Oklahoma City over the filing of terrorism and other felony charges against those involved in demonstrations in May after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. [The Oklahoman]

  • Facing charges from street painting incident, activists turn themselves in [Free Press OKC]
  • Oklahoma County commissioners discuss possible Black Lives Matter mural [The Oklahoman]
  • Lankford proposes to replace Columbus Day with Juneteenth [The Oklahoman]

After Oklahomans Vote, Four Takeaways From the Primary: Nearly 675,000 Oklahomans cast their ballot Tuesday in an election that will not only have deep ramifications for November’s general election, but also the state’s future. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • House warming: Oklahoma primaries bring new faces [NonDoc]
  • Urban-rural divide on display in Oklahoma’s primary election [AP News]
  • Horn launches first ad, as Republicans prepare for runoff [The Oklahoman]
  • Progressive candidate unseats Democratic incumbent for OKC House seat [The Oklahoman]
  • Johns, McCortney win primaries as county votes to expand Medicaid [The Ada News]
  • Sen. Dist. 43 goes to runoff [The Duncan Banner]
  • Payne County voters back Medicaid expansion; give Talley a second term [Stillwater News Press]
  • White wins commission race; Dobrinski, Patzkowsky earn seats in legislature [Woodward News]
  • Republican candidates for Oklahoma County sheriff head to runoff, commissioner wins primary [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Governor’s attorney: Oklahoma Supreme Court lacks authority to invalidate gaming compacts: The Oklahoma Supreme Court has no authority to void state gaming compacts that were approved under federal law, an attorney for Gov. Kevin Stitt argued Wednesday in an appearance before a Supreme Court referee. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma legislators warn of ‘spread of anarchy’ due to lacking support for law enforcement: Amid widespread calls for police reform, 12 Oklahoma legislators offered their support for law enforcement Wednesday, warning “the spread of anarchy is quite likely” due to changes in public opinion on police. [The OKlahoman]

State agencies working to increase Oklahoma speed limits: Last November, Oklahomans voted to increase speeds on our highways from 75 to 80 mph, but it hasn’t happened yet. State agencies are working on speed studies to make sure it’s safe. [KTUL]

Federal Government News

Lankford proposes to replace Columbus Day with Juneteenth: Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford is cosponsoring an amendment that would replace Columbus Day with Juneteenth, though the sponsors said it should not be a paid federal holiday that costs money and affects businesses. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Two Oklahoma officers charged with second-degree murder after allegedly stunning man more than 50 times: Two police officers from Wilson, a small town about 20 miles west of Ardmore, were charged with second-degree murder on Wednesday in connection with an in-custody death where they allegedly used a stun gun against a man more than 50 times. [The Frontier] Court records state that the man’s cause of death was determined to have been “complications of myocardial infarction (clinical) in the setting of cardiomegaly and critical coronary atherosclerosis and law enforcement use of electrical weapon and restraint.” [The Oklahoman]

Death row inmates eligible for commutation hearings, AG Hunter says: Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said Tuesday death row inmates are eligible for commutation hearings through the state’s Pardon and Parole Board. In a letter to the board, Hunter said former Attorney General Scott Pruitt previously issued an opinion that would allow the board to hear proceedings and recommend any inmate for commutation through the governor. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma judge seeks delay in disciplinary proceedings: An Oklahoma County district judge accused of not paying taxes requested a delay in disciplinary proceedings against her in a separate case that charges her with inappropriate behavior in the courthouse. [AP News]

‘He taught me how to cop’: Tulsa mourns fallen officer as another improves in hospital: Tulsa police gave a full escort to fallen Sgt. Craig Johnson on Wednesday evening as his body was taken from Saint Francis Hospital to the Medical Examiner’s Office. Officer Aurash Zarkeshan, who remains hospitalized after both he and Johnson were shot Monday morning, is improving. [Tulsa World] A parked police car becomes a symbol of Tulsa’s support for officers who were shot [Tulsa World]

Economic Opportunity

Oklahoma City’s homeless population increases 24%, largest uptick since 2007: Over 1,500 people were experiencing homelessness during Oklahoma City’s yearly count of its homeless population in January, a 24% increase over last year’s numbers. The 2020 Point-In-Time count, a report released Wednesday by city officials and the Homeless Alliance, shows the largest uptick in the city’s homeless population since 2007. [The Oklahoman]

Pandemic isolates Oklahoma domestic violence victims: The novel coronavirus is a germy wrench stuck in the gears of domestic violence advocacy programs across the state. Measures taken to escape Covid-19 have made it harder for some domestic violence victims to find safety from their abusers. Victim advocates also fear they may experience more severe violence in their isolation. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Economy & Business News

U.S. farmers scramble for help as COVID-19 scuttles immigrant workforce: As combines work their way north from the Southern Plains of Texas and Oklahoma, farmers and harvesting companies are having a hard time finding and keeping workers. Any delays in the harvest could send wheat prices higher and cause a scramble to secure supplies to make bread and pasta. [Reuters]

Tulsa focuses on Route 66 in final push to win Tesla’s new factory; Musk hints at visit: With a decision coming within weeks if not days, Tulsa began making one final argument Wednesday to convince Tesla to build a new “Cybertruck Gigafactory” here instead of in the Texas capital. [Tulsa World]

OU Energy Institute plans webcast discuss energy industry changes: Threats and opportunities in the energy industry will be the topic of the next University of Oklahoma Energy Institute webcast. [The Oklahoman]

Business leaders say area’s economy improving with reopening: Business leaders say the economy has begun to recover as businesses reopened in the past month in nine Midwest and Plains states, but it remains weaker than before the coronavirus outbreak began, according to a monthly survey released Wednesday. [The Journal Record]

Education News

Oklahoma awards $16 million in grants to 150 school districts to mitigate COVID-19 impact on students: Gov. Kevin Stitt and State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister have awarded incentive grants totaling $16 million to 150 school districts needing help to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on student learning. [Tulsa World]

General News

Census door knockers starting in 6 states later this month: Homes in six states across the U.S. — including Oklahoma County, OK — can expect to get knocks on their doors from census takers in two weeks as part of a soft launch of the next phase of the largest head count in U.S. history, Census Bureau officials said Wednesday. [AP News]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Tulsa Library goes ‘Fine Free’ during COVID-19 pandemic [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa County program to offer $30 million to small businesses, nonprofits affected by pandemic [Tulsa World]
  • OSU planning in-person classes in spring 2021 [The Oklahoman]
  • Cherokee Nation invests $476,000 in northeast Oklahoma rural fire departments [Muskogee Phoenix]
  • Rural Oklahoma community split over Nazi, Confederate symbols [CNHI]

Quote of the Day

“I can get insurance. I don’t have to worry about meds. Won’t have to stress about insulin and anything like that.”

–Ryan Gerhard, who worked two jobs and rationed his insulin, speaking on what Medicaid expansion means for him. [Oklahoma Watch]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s score out of 5 on the COVID-19 housing policy scorecard used to rate each state’s pandemic responses to evictions and prevention of homelessness, as of July 2, 2020.

[Source: Eviction Lab]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The Coming Wave of Coronavirus Evictions Will Wipe Out Black Renters: Even as coronavirus case counts continue their ominous rise across the U.S., protections to stall evictions in U.S. states are slipping away. Eviction bans in five states expired on July 1, leaving only a few places with protections that extend beyond the end of the federal eviction moratorium this month. [Bloomberg City Lab]

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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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