In The Know: Vaccine rollout continues | Community leaders call for special session | Oklahomans deserve state leadership

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

Oklahomans deserve state leadership: During the second weekend in December, Oklahoma crossed a grim milestone as the COVID-19 death toll reached more than 2,000. We are losing nurses, teachers, grandparents, children, friends, family members, and loved ones to preventable deaths. State leaders, however, can drastically change these outcomes and save hundreds or thousands of Oklahomans. We can still ease the burden on hospitals and save countless lives by de-politicizing things like masks and gathering restrictions, listening to experts, and providing targeted relief to those most impacted. [Emma Morris / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Coronavirus vaccine rollout continues in Oklahoma, as initial doses are distributed across the state: They arrived in small vials packed into seemingly insignificant white cardboard boxes, but officials and health care workers say they represent a new ray of hope amid the pandemic. More than 33,100 coronavirus vaccines are anticipated to be delivered to sites across Oklahoma this week, with tens of thousands more expected by the end of the year, officials have said. [The Frontier] On Tuesday, Tulsa health care workers were among the first people in the area to receive the much-anticipated COVID-19 vaccine. [Tulsa World]

  • Hospital official expects demand to grow among Oklahoma hospital staff for COVID-19 vaccine [The Oklahoman] | [Public Radio Tulsa] | [AP News] | [KTUL]
  • Arrival of COVID-19 vaccine in Tulsa renews health care workers’ hope, but officials say the virus remains a threat to others [Tulsa World]
  • Elected officials could receive COVID-19 vaccines as early as January [Tulsa World]
  • Survey reveals opinions of educators about vaccine [The Journal Record]
  • Cherokee Nation Begins Vaccinating Its Health Care Workers [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • OKC VA Center begins vaccinations [Lawton Constitution]
  • 5 things to know about Oklahoma’s COVID-19 vaccine plan [The Oklahoman]
  • CVS and Walgreens share vaccine distribution plans [KTUL]
  • COVID-19: 14 more deaths reported Tuesday; 1,741 Oklahomans hospitalized [Tulsa World] | [The Frontier]

Community leaders call for special session to amend the Open Meetings Act: Nearly 200 local elected officials and non-profit leaders signed an open letter to the Oklahoma Legislature and Governor Kevin Stitt asking them to call a special session. [Fox 25] OK Policy: A special session is needed to address the Open Meetings Act and other essential needs prior to the regular session.

  • Column: OICA seeks transparency during 2021 Legislature even if COVID keeps Capitol off-limits to citizens [Duncan Banner]

OKC police officers who killed Bennie Edwards not trained in crisis intervention: Master Sgt. Keith Duroy and Sgt. Clifford Holman are the Oklahoma City police officers who shot and killed Bennie Edwards, Friday. Oklahoma City Police Department spokesperson Capt. Daniel Stewart confirmed neither officer has crisis intervention training – a voluntary 40-hour training regimen that teaches officers how to respond to people suffering a mental health crisis. Only 14% of Oklahoma City police officers have taken it. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

OK Policy: Census data, new Kids Count report show Oklahoma families facing ‘unimaginable choices’ during pandemic: The COVID-19 pandemic is having an “outsized” impact on children and communities of color, with a new report indicating that roughly 1 in 3 Oklahoma households with children expressed some belief in October that they would experience an eviction or foreclosure within the next two months. The report from KIDS COUNT, a program of the Annie E. Casey Foundation that focuses on the well-being of children, also found that about 40% of Oklahoma adults living in homes with children said they’ve had difficulty paying for usual childhood expenses. [Tulsa World] Visit to read the new report, view OK Policy’s analysis, or access the KIDS COUNT data center.

State Government News

Seminole Nation’s attempt to tax oil companies prompts swift response from Hunter, Stitt: The Seminole Nation recently began telling oil and gas companies that they are subject to taxes in the tribe’s “jurisdictional area,” a move that Gov. Kevin Stitt called “reckless and unauthorized.” Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter asked the tribe last week to stop sending notices to oil and gas companies and suggested that it was trying to intimidate them. [The Oklahoman]

State general revenue continues to beat expectations: COVID-19 and a global oversupply of oil and natural gas continue to weigh down Oklahoma’s state general revenue receipts but not quite as heavily as budgetmakers expected, according to figures released Tuesday by the Office of Management and Enterprise Services. [Tulsa World]

From seed to lab to sale: Medical marijuana program slated for changes in 2021: Dr. Charles Bogie was among a handful of industry participants who took part in a medical marijuana policy meeting led Monday by House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols (R-OKC) and Rep. Scott Fetgatter (R-Okmulgee) at the State Capitol. The 2021 legislative session, which starts Feb. 1, is expected to produce some tweaks to the industry in the coming year. [NonDoc]

Town hall meetings coming up for redistricting: The Norman League of Women Voters is asking voters to remember that the redistricting process is approaching, and that Oklahoma legislators are looking to hear voter feedback on the issue. [Norman Transcript]

Federal Government News

Cherokee Nation takes steps to move forward on McGirt issues: In one of several steps to address the U.S. Supreme Court McGirt ruling, the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council passed legislation Monday to update its criminal code to be made consistent with existing Oklahoma laws. [Tahlequah Daily Press]

Economic Opportunity

Oklahoma town’s housing authority discriminated against Blacks, feds say: The U.S. Justice Department is accusing the Lone Wolf Housing Authority of racial discrimination. Lone Wolf is a small town in southwestern Oklahoma. The housing authority was accused of turning down a homeless woman and her then-5-year-old daughter in 2015 after finding out from an application they are Black. [The Oklahoman] Federal prosecutors allege authority officials told a white applicant they had units available, but changed their story for a black applicant. [AP News]

Grant applications open to bring grocery stores to low-income areas: The Oklahoma Health Food Financing Program is now accepting applications for grants to create or improve a retail food location in low-income areas. The Oklahoma Healthy Food Financing Program is able to fund projects located in an underserved community that primarily serve low or moderate income communities. [KFOR]

Education News

Stillwater Schools adopt alternating schedule for beginning of spring semester: The Stillwater Board of Education met again Tuesday to approve a set of safety protocols for the beginning of the spring semester. From Jan. 4-Feb. 12, Stillwater students will attend school on an alternating or A/B schedule, unless the COVID-19 alert level drops to Green or Yellow for at least two consecutive weeks or increases to Red, which triggers distance learning. [Stillwater News Press]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Edmond City Council posts draw candidates; one mayoral candidate withdraws [The Oklahoman]
  • Sand Springs taps Police Chief Mike Carter as next city manager [Tulsa World]
  • Enid City Commissioner Mason resigns due to moving out of Ward 6 [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Hulbert police chief suspended after allegations [Tahlequah Daily Press]
  • Revisions to mask ordinance stricken, but council approves tax payment agreement for Central Mall [Lawton Constitution]

Quote of the Day

“Oklahomans rely on the work of public bodies and non-profit organizations. Right now, we cannot do that work safely because of the restrictions of the Open Meetings Act. We need state leaders to do their job so that we can do ours.”

-Oklahoma County Commissioner Carrie Blumert speaking about the need for a special legislative session to allow public bodies to meet virtually [Fox 25

Number of the Day


Number of daily virus cases Oklahoma could experience if the state takes no additional action to restrain COVID-19 spread

[Source: White House Coronavirus Task Force via Tulsa World

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Dying in a Leadership Vacuum: COVID-19 has created a crisis throughout the world. This crisis has produced a test of leadership. With no good options to combat a novel pathogen, countries were forced to make hard choices about how to respond. Here in the United States, our leaders have failed that test. They have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy. The response of our nation’s leaders has been consistently inadequate. The federal government has largely abandoned disease control to the states. Governors have varied in their responses, not so much by party as by competence. But whatever their competence, governors do not have the tools that Washington controls. Instead of using those tools, the federal government has undermined them. [New England Journal of Medicine

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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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