In The Know: Vaccine distribution will rely on supply from feds | Legislature elects leaders, shelves COVID rules | 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.

New from OK Policy

Oklahoma Voices: Del City woman unable to work, pay for medications after stroke: Clara Franklin went from being a healthy, independent caregiver to relying on assistance programs to make ends meet after having a stroke. She will be one of the many Oklahomans who will qualify for Medicaid once expansion is implemented. [Miguel Rios / OK Policy]

We’re hiring a CBPP Tribal Policy Fellow at OK Policy: The Oklahoma Policy Institute is seeking applicants for a Tribal Policy Fellow through our partnership with the Center on Budget and Policy and its State Policy Fellowship Program. The Tribal Policy Fellow will focus specifically on tribal state policy, promoting sound fiscal and budget policy recommendations that support Oklahoma’s tribal nations and increase participation of American Indians in the Oklahoma budget process. Learn more and apply online.

Oklahoma News

‘A very difficult process’: More vaccines arriving in Oklahoma as COVID-19 surge persists: As healthcare providers predict Oklahoma’s coronavirus situation will worsen following the holidays, some local health departments are moving into phase two of the state’s vaccine distribution plan and giving doses to seniors. [The Frontier]

  • State says vaccine registration portal will be online Thursday; THD hopeful to use it to schedule appointments [Tulsa World] | [Public Raido Tulsa]
  • Oklahoma County to begin Phase 2 of coronavirus vaccinations [AP News]
  • ‘Where can I get the COVID vaccine?’ and answers to other frequently asked questions [The Oklahoman]
  • Timeline murky for teacher COVID vaccines in Oklahoma [The Oklahoman]
  • If you’ve tested positive for the coronavirus in the past 90 days, it’s best to wait for the vaccine [KOSU]
  • COVID-19: 19 more deaths reported as Oklahoma averages nearly 3,500 new cases daily [Tulsa World]
  • OSDH working with Microsoft on app for COVID-19 vaccine appointments [KOCO]
  • Former State Epidemiologist: Oklahoma COVID outbreak likely worse than case data show [Public Radio Tulsa]

Top leaders re-elected, House Republicans kill COVID rules on organizational day: Oklahoma lawmakers met Tuesday for a constitutionally required organizational day ahead of the session’s official start Feb. 1. Ahead of a joint meeting, the House and Senate met separately to elect leaders. [Public Radio Tulsa] House Democrats tried to amend the chamber’s rules to require lawmakers wear masks as part of the dress code. Unlike state employees and visitors to state buildings, lawmakers are not required to adhere to Stitt’s executive order or the Capitol mask mandate. The House GOP majority overwhelmingly voted to table the proposed amendment and others that sought to impose other COVID-19 protocols, such as allowing lawmakers to vote by proxy. [The Oklahoman]

  • 3 State Senate bills spark clash over individual rights vs. efforts to fight COVID-19 [KFOR]

Health News

‘God, please keep us safe’: Amid COVID, an Oklahoma nursing home faces impossible decisions: Oklahoma has had some of the nation’s highest COVID-19 infection rates, intensifying the struggle nursing home workers face. Long-term care residents and staff account for 3% of the state’s infections and 30% of deaths. [Oklahoma Watch]

State Government News

Legislative leaders outline goals for upcoming session, put improved rural high-speed internet at top: Access to high-speed internet in rural communities will be at the top of the House agenda in the upcoming legislative session, Speaker Charles McCall told his chamber on Tuesday. McCall, R-Atoka, was reelected to the lower chamber’s top post, while Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, was reelected to lead the upper chamber. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Senate to hold townhall explaining redistricting process Wednesday: The Oklahoma Senate will hold a town hall meeting Wednesday at the Capitol at 1:30 p.m. to explain the redistricting process. [FOX25]

Federal Government News

In big break with Trump, Inhofe rejects Electoral College challenge: Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, breaking with his home state colleague and President Donald Trump, said Tuesday he will not join a Republican effort to challenge Electoral College votes this week. [The Oklahoman] Lankford, meanwhile, has signed onto an effort led by Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz to attempt to interfere with Congress’s ministerial duty to certify the results of the Electoral College votes, which Biden won decisively with 306 votes to outgoing President Donald Trump’s 232. [Public Radio Tulsa] In a blunt break with Oklahoma Senator James Lankford and President Donald Trump, Inhofe said that to do anything else would be a “violation of my oath of office.” [OKC Free Press]

Federal eviction moratorium extended, $25 billion dedicated to rental assistance: Renters across the country facing financial hardship because of the pandemic now have eviction protections through the end of January. The federal government’s eviction moratorium, originally set to expire Dec. 31, has been extended to the end of the month as part of the latest congressional spending bill. [The Oklahoman]

Shawnee Tribe lawsuit over CARES Act funds continues: The Shawnee Tribe in northeast Oklahoma scored a major court victory Tuesday, when a D.C. Circuit panel ruled in the tribe’s favor in a lawsuit involving millions of dollars in CARES Act funding. [KOSU]

Trump signs Clara Luper post office bill: President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed legislation to name the downtown Oklahoma City post office after civil rights icon Clara Luper. The bill, authored by former Rep. Kendra Horn, directs that the post office at 305 NW 5 Street be named the Clara Luper Post Office Building. The facility is currently known as the Center City Post Office. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

From ‘Feed the 9 billion’ to ‘Trade not aid’, farmers will likely reinvent themselves again: After harsh and frequent criticism from animal rights activists and environmentalists, many farmers and people who work in agriculture launched an effort to tell their stories to the broader public. A decade on, this effort has worked through several themes. With a new president coming, ag messaging may change again. [KOSU]

Education News

Tulsa Public School official cautiously optimistic teachers, staff could receive first vaccinations this month: A Tulsa Public Schools administrator on Monday said there’s tentative reason to hope teachers and other school staff could begin receiving their first doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of January. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • ‘Like it was the first day of school again’: Enid Public School resumes in-person classes [Enid News & Eagle]

General News

In southeast Oklahoma, the Kiamichi River is a legal and political tinderbox: In Pushmataha County District Court on Sept. 25, 2019, Norman attorney Kevin Kemper presented arguments for his clients — seven Pushmataha County landowners who filed suit in 2017. Their central claim: that the Oklahoma Water Resources Board had failed to provide adequate notice about their permitting process. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Former OKC jail gets a one-year demolition reprieve [The Oklahoman]
  • OKC Council approves winter emergency shelter, defers demolition of old jail [OKC Free Press]
  • Another mask mandate vote, larger venue for Broken Arrow City Council looming [Tulsa World]
  • Norman mayor, city council come under investigation over June meeting [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“By not doing what the governor’s asking Oklahomans to do, to not do what medical experts are asking Oklahomans to do, we are setting a terrible example for the state of Oklahoma today at a time when our state is suffering more than ever from this pandemic.”

-House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, addressing her proposed amendment to make masks part of the dress code while the governor has an emergency order in effect. The amendment was tabled. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Number of the Day


Number of Oklahoma participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program, which supplements monthly food budgets for eligible households and raises nutritional levels of low-income households. [Source: USDA via the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities]

Policy Note

States Are Using Much-Needed Temporary Flexibility in SNAP to Respond to COVID-19 Challenges: The far-reaching health and economic effects of COVID-19 and widespread business closures to limit its spread have made it even more difficult for many low-income households to afford food, and data have shown a sharp increase in the number of families reporting difficulty affording adequate food and other basic needs. SNAP is essential to helping these families put food on the table. [Center for Budget and Policy Priorities]

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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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