In The Know: Upcoming special session to be focused on redistricting | State’s tax authority of tribal citizens examined | 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

Special session expected to focus on redistricting: Oklahoma lawmakers and Gov. Kevin Stitt have been quite vocal in their opposition to federal vaccination mandates, but that’s not what they are going to talk about during the upcoming special session that begins Nov. 15. In September, Stitt called for a special session to address redistricting, in keeping with the latest census information. [The Journal Record] House Speaker Charles McCall doesn’t anticipate an amended redistricting special session call to address vaccine mandates, he said Tuesday. [Tulsa World]

State says income tax exemption for tribal citizens on reservations inapplicable despite ‘existing law’: Since the July 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma, more than 5,000 people have filed official challenges of their state income tax obligations by citing a section of state code that says tribal citizens are exempt from income tax if they live and work on their tribe’s Indian Country reservation. None of the tax protests have been approved, according to Oklahoma Tax Commission officials, despite the fact that the exemption is explicitly established under Oklahoma Administrative Code and in a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court case. [NonDoc]

Health News

Kevin Stitt seeks COVID-19 vaccine exemption for Oklahoma National Guard: Saying about 10% of Oklahoma National members have not received the COVID-19 vaccine or don’t intend to get the shots, Gov. Kevin Stitt is asking the federal government to suspend a vaccine requirement for local guardsmen. In a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Stitt said a federal requirement that military troops receive the COVID-19 vaccine “violates the personal freedoms of many Oklahomans.” [The Oklahoman]

Virus is now among top-10 leading causes of death in children; vaccine is approved for kids 5-11: COVID-19 has become one of the top 10 causes of death in children, which a University of Oklahoma pediatric infectious disease specialist says underscores the importance of Tuesday’s emergency use approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5 to 11. Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended on Tuesday that Pfizer’s shots be opened to all 28 million children ages 5 to 11, and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky signed off on the recommendation Tuesday evening. [Tulsa World]

  • Oklahoma health official: State ready for kids’ COVID shots [AP News]
  • OSDH: 780 new COVID-19 cases reported in Oklahoma [KFOR]

OMMA emergency rules in effect as ‘analog’ cannabis products go unregulated: The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority continues to stay busy accommodating new licensed businesses, addressing a growing trend of THC “analogs” on dispensary shelves and adapting to new emergency rules now in effect, agency Director Adria Berry said Tuesday. [The Oklahoman]

State & Local Government News

Oklahoma governor traveling to Mexico amid consulate plans: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt is traveling to Mexico, arriving Tuesday afternoon for what his office says is a visit to strengthen trade and economic ties and discuss plans for a Mexican consulate in the state. Stitt and a delegation that includes Secretary of Commerce and Workforce Development Scott Mueller are to arrive in Mexico City and later travel to Monterrey before returning Thursday. [AP News]

Oklahoma implements new mental health crisis transportation: Oklahoma has taken a significant step to change the way they address the mental health crisis. Beginning Nov. 1, legislation that passed last spring will grant the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) the ability to transport people experiencing a mental health emergency. This new law will allow for alternative transportation options, rather than with law enforcement officers. [FOX 23]

Ida’s Law now in effect: Monday, Senate Bill 172, also known as Ida’s Law, took effect and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) is taking steps to implement the law. Ida’s Law was passed by the Oklahoma Legislature and signed into law by Governor Kevin Stitt in April of this year. [Hugo News]

State of the City: Holt’s address focuses on development, equity and resilience: A tone of triumph and appreciation resonated throughout Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt’s State of the City address on Monday, as he acknowledged the city’s many successes over the past two years while also shedding light on work still to be done. [The Oklahoman]

Stitt raises a half-million dollars in third quarter of 2021: Gov. Kevin Stitt’s reelection campaign raised more than $500,000 during the third quarter and had nearly $1.5 million in cash at the end of the reporting period on Sept. 30, according to Oklahoma Ethics Commission reports filed last week. [Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

The 2020 census likely left out people of color at rates higher than a decade ago: Last year’s approximately $14.2 billion census likely undercounted people of color at higher rates than those of the previous once-a-decade tally, an Urban Institute study involving simulated census results released Tuesday suggests. [NPR] The analysis, done by the Urban Institute and released Tuesday, found that people of color, renters, noncitizens, children and people living in Texas — the state that saw the nation’s largest growth — were most likely to be missed, though by smaller margins than some had projected for a count conducted in the midst of a global pandemic. Still, those shortfalls could affect the drawing of political districts and distribution of federal spending. [AP News]

Tribal Nations News

Bynum tells Indian Affairs Commission he won’t withdraw city’s amicus brief supporting McGirt challenge: The city is not going to withdraw its brief in support of the state’s challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt ruling. Mayor G.T. Bynum conveyed that message Tuesday in a letter to the Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission. The commission had sent a letter to the mayor and City Council on Friday asking that the brief be withdrawn. [Tulsa World]

Tribal law enforcement officials say McGirt strengthening public safety systems in Indian Country: Oklahoma tribal public safety officials say the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt ruling is strengthening momentum for improvements to public safety infrastructure in their police departments. [The Lawton Constitution]

Cherokee Immersion announces second campus: The state’s first tribally operated charter school is getting a second campus. On Tuesday, officials with the Cherokee Nation announced the tribe’s $4 million purchase of Greasy School in southern Adair County. [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Julius Jones’ clemency recommendation elicits applause, outrage, introspection: Everyone gathered was listening intently to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board hearing being played out over the speakers, but for Vollertsen, the proceedings reminded her of a past with which she was all too familiar. She said death row inmate Julius Jones’ high-profile case reminds her of the case of her late brother, Greg Wilhoit, a former death row inmate who was exonerated of the murder of his wife. [The Oklahoman]

Comanche County jail loses juvenile certification: For now, juveniles can’t be kept in the Comanche County Detention Center. The detention center lost its certification to hold juvenile offenders until it can come into compliance with new rules outlined in Oklahoma House Bill 2311. [The Lawton Constitution]

TPD lieutenant, officer accused of helping conceal gang shooting, involvement of former officer: A prominent Tulsa police lieutenant and a Riverside Division patrol officer were arrested Tuesday after charges were filed in a yearlong investigation into their alleged involvement in concealing a gang shootout and a former officer’s involvement. [Tulsa World]

Economic Opportunity

Evictions rise sharply in places with no pandemic protections for renters: Now that the Supreme Court has struck down a federal moratorium on evictions, landlords are filing to evict people who’ve gotten behind on their rent. Now, this is despite the fact that billions of dollars in emergency rental assistance from Congress is finally getting to renters. [KGOU]

Education News

Bixby Schools Closed Wednesday Due To Bus Driver Shortage: Bixby Public Schools announces it will be closed this Wednesday, November 3, due to a shortage of bus drivers. The district says eight drivers are out due to a combination of medical and personal issues. [News on 6]

General News

31 October tornadoes in Oklahoma breaks monthly record: A total of 31 tornadoes last month was a record-high for October in Oklahoma dating to 1950, according to the National Weather Service. The previous high for October, the fifth most active month for tornadoes, was 27 in 1998, according to weather service records. Those records show that March-June are the four most active months for twisters in Oklahoma. [AP News]

‘I was losing hope’: Afghan women with ties to Oklahoma share stories of pain, resilience: An Afghan businesswoman described the day that Kabul fell as the day that her world fell apart. “That day the Taliban came, it was a normal day for all of us. I was at the bank,” Hasina said. Her errand to withdraw money proved impossible, but her efforts to flee the country were successful thanks to several Oklahomans. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • EMSA proposal would eliminate requirement that paramedic respond to every call [Tulsa World]
  • City of OKC police investigate 80th 2021 homicide from weekend [OKC Free Press]
  • What comes first: The chicken or the ordinance? [The Journal Record]
  • Moore City Council Honors Six-term Mayor Glenn Lewis [OKC Free Press]
  • City of Enid leaves 2-hour exec session without action; $37K workers’ comp deal OK’d [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Payne County Budget Board approves amended budget, raises for county officers [Stillwater News Press]

Quote of the Day

“Look at one revenue stream that is a top (priority) for me — which is the gaming revenue, that is put into the state. That’s about $167 million this year. That was a record. The tax cuts last session are (nearly) twice that. Yet, I heard the governor of the state of Oklahoma hollering, with some hysterics, that the tribes ought to be paying more.”

-Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. [NonDoc]

Number of the Day

$1 billion

Oklahoma lawmakers cut the top rate of the individual income tax from seven to five percent between 2004 and 2016, which has cost the state more than $1 billion each year after 2016. [OK Policy]

Policy Note

Taxes and Racial Equity: An Overview of State and Local Policy Impacts: Historic and current injustices, both in public policy and in broader society, have resulted in vast disparities in income and wealth across race and ethnicity. Employment discrimination has denied good job opportunities to people of color. An uneven system of public education funding advantages wealthier white people and produces unequal educational outcomes. Racist policies such as redlining and discrimination in lending practices have denied countless Black families the opportunity to become homeowners or business owners, creating extraordinary differences in intergenerational wealth. These inequities have long-lasting effects that compound over time. [ITEP]

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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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