In The Know: Why economic development incentives are secret | Prolific evictor not stopped by pandemic | Virus cases on rise

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

Policy Matters: Investments needed to improve Oklahoma child well-being: For a state that prides itself as family-focused, Oklahoma’s child well-being outcomes sure don’t back that claim. Oklahoma children, on balance, are doing far worse than their national peers in nearly every wellness category. In fact, a new report this week showed Oklahoma remains entrenched in the bottom 10 nationally for our children’s health and well-being. [Ahniwake Rose / Policy Matters]

Oklahoma News

Why Oklahoma’s financial incentives to lure Canoo are secret, for now: We don’t yet know the full extent of incentives offered to Canoo because it’s simply too early for Oklahoma’s open records laws to force their publication. Contracts involving the incentives haven’t been signed. Taxpayer money hasn’t changed hands, and likely won’t for a while. “It actually may be years before some of the dollars change hands because they’re going to go through a construction phase for a couple of years here,” Oklahoma Commerce Department Executive Director Brent Kisling said. [The Oklahoman]

The pandemic hasn’t stopped one of Oklahoma’s most prolific evictors from suing tenants: While data shows that the eviction moratorium put in place since the COVID-19 pandemic first began to sweep into Oklahoma has certainly slowed the number of evictions being filed, it has not stopped them completely. Oklahoma law also lacks critical provisions to protect tenants, allowing many evictions to proceed. [The FrontierOK Policy and its Open Justice Oklahoma program have been tracking evictions in Oklahoma and noted that policymakers must do more to prevent evictions and foreclosures during and after the COVID-19 crisis.

Search for new Oklahoma attorney general ongoing, but ‘time is of the essence,’ Stitt says: Gov. Kevin Stitt has interviewed about a dozen candidates in his search for Oklahoma’s next attorney general. In talking to reporters Monday, Stitt revealed few details about his process for finding a new attorney general to replace Mike Hunter, who resigned June 1 after The Oklahoman was set to report on his extramarital affair. [The Oklahoman]

COVID-19: Oklahoma case count rises 10 percent over previous week: Oklahoma continues to experience a rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases in a week, according to data released Wednesday by the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The agency reported 1,102 new cases for a one-week period that ended Saturday, a 10% jump over the previous week. As of Wednesday, there are 1,505 active documented cases in the state, with 338 in Tulsa County. [Tulsa World]

  • Oklahoma Sees Another Uptick In Coronavirus Cases [KOSU]
  • Oklahoma’s Provisional Death Count stands at 8,584. That’s an increase of eight from the previous day’s report. [KOSU]
  • Tulsa County Now Seeing Substantial Transmission Of COVID-19 [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • OSDH: Garfield County dips back into ‘yellow’ risk level for COVID-19 [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Unvaccinated Missourians fuel COVID: ‘We will be the canary’ [AP News / Enid News & Eagle]
  • Oklahomans We’ve Lost: A championship football coach who sought to elevate those around him [The Frontier]

State Government News

OU students fought for diversity education after a string of racist campus incidents, but a new state law makes it optional: The University of Oklahoma is dropping a requirement for students to take a class on diversity in response to a new state law that seeks to limit what Oklahoma schools teach about race. Angered by a series of racist incidents on campus, more than 100 students occupied an administration building at OU’s Norman campus for three days in February 2020. One of their demands was the creation of a mandatory diversity, equity and inclusion class for all students. [The Frontier]

State expects less in returns as unemployment taxes halted: A decision not to tax billions in unemployment compensation will cost Oklahoma coffers an estimated $64.73 million in income tax returns, state tax officials said. With more than $2.1 billion paid in unemployment compensation in 2020, Oklahoma Tax Commission officials said the majority of that will impact the current fiscal year 2021 budget, and not the upcoming budget year, which starts July 1. [CNHI via The Norman Transcript]

‘All 77 counties’: Authorities say Oklahoma now a source state for black market cannabis: Three years after Oklahoma voters approved a measure to legalize the licensed cultivation, use and possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes, the state is home to a thriving cannabis black market that grows and ships large amounts of marijuana to the east coast and other parts of the country. [The Oklahoman]

Legislating Data Privacy Series: A conversation with Rep. Collin Walke of Oklahoma: In March, Representative Walke put Oklahoma on the privacy law map when he steered the Act through the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Although the bill eventually failed in the Senate, Representative Walke intends to introduce it again next year in the hopes of providing Oklahoma residents with strong privacy rights. [Mondaq]

Chamber hails victories in state Legislature: The Oklahoma State Chamber managed to get legislation passed addressing all of the organization’s stated legislative priorities this year, leaders said at the chamber’s annual meeting on Wednesday. Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., modern politics is making it hard to get anything accomplished other than “posting stupid memes,” said the keynote speaker, syndicated political columnist Jonah Goldberg. [The Journal Record]

Officials: Core city systems affected by ransomware attack will be restored within 2 months: The attack, which forced the city to shut down its computer systems in May, is still affecting city operations, said Michael Dellinger, the city’s chief information officer, in a Wednesday news conference. But core systems should be up and running within two months, he said, and full restoration is scheduled to be completed by the end of October. [Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Federal Court sides with states (including Oklahoma) challenging President Biden’s attempt to disrupt energy industry: A federal judge in Louisiana has sided with a group of states, including Oklahoma, who have challenged President Joe Biden’s attempt to disrupt America’s energy industry through an executive order. [The City Sentinel]

Tribal Nations News

Federal initiative aims to shed light on lasting consequences of Indian boarding schools: On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced an initiative that will examine the policies of Indian Boarding schools and their effects on Indigenous people living today. This comes after the recent discovery of 215 unmarked graves of Indigenous children at a First Nations boarding school in Canada. [KOSU]

Health News

Oklahoma Blood Institute is seeing worst blood shortage in decades, urges donations: Blood supplies are dangerously low in Oklahoma, and donations are urgently needed to address a historic shortage, the Oklahoma Blood Institute said Tuesday. It’s the worst shortage in decades, said Dr. John Armitage, president and CEO of Oklahoma Blood Institute. [The Oklahoman] “In the past month, we’ve seen a dramatic drop in blood donations, an alarming development when we were already facing chronic shortfalls,” said Dr. John Armitage, president and CEO of Oklahoma Blood Institute said during a visit to Lawton on Thursday. [The Lawton Constitution]

Education News

Summer learning a first step in pandemic recovery initiative for students: In May, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister announced a pandemic recovery effort from the State Department of Education, Ready Together Oklahoma, aimed at supporting students throughout the pandemic and beyond, with summer learning at the forefront of the plan. The OSDE will invest $14 million in summer learning opportunities for school districts through 2023. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma schools boost summer offerings to combat negative effects of COVID-19 on learning: Stillwater has opened up its Summer Academy to each grade level and is hosting students at multiple sites. That’s led to more than a tripling in enrollment among elementary students, said Arryn Small, an administrator for Stillwater’s Summer Academy elementary programs. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State approve tuition hikes for students: Students at Oklahoma’s largest universities will see tuition and fee increases when they return to college this year. The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents voted 5-1 on Tuesday to approve a 2.75% increase in tuition and fees for undergraduate and graduate rates. The Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents, which governs Oklahoma State University, voted on Friday to raise tuition and fees by 2.5%. [The Oklahoman]

General News

In Oklahoma, the 1995 bombing offers lessons — and warnings — for today’s fight against extremism: Most years, the flashbacks start in April, images of blood and brick that return Fran Ferrari to the morning when she was nearly killed in the Oklahoma City bombing. This year, however, Ferrari’s memories arrived early when she heard glass shatter during news coverage of the Jan. 6 mob attack on the U.S. Capitol. The noise instantly took her back to the rubble of her downtown office in 1995. The rioters yelling on TV sounded to Ferrari like an alarm bell, a warning that the deadly extremism that upended her life had resurged. [Washington Post]

Oklahoma Local News

  • City of Tulsa planning to begin collecting hotel assessment again Aug. 1 [Tulsa World]
  • City of Tulsa wants community input on what to do with expressway over Black Wall Street [The Black Wall Street Times]
  • You can learn about history of Oklahoma’s 13 Black towns on this motorcycle tour [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“You’re constantly behind. You can pay your rent but you have all of these late fees that just keep getting piled on. Then you can’t really move, because once you have an eviction filing on your record, it’s much harder to rent a property. So you kind of end up being beholden to your current landlord and you get stuck in this cycle.”

-Roni Amit, director of the Terry West Civil Legal Clinic and assistant professor of law at the University of Tulsa College of Law, discussing the trap renters can find themselves in. [The Frontier]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma Black children living in high-poverty areas, more than 2.5 times the state average (10%). For Latinx children, 20% live in high-poverty areas, while the rate for white children is 5%.

[Source: 2021 KIDS COUNT Data Book]

Policy Note

Child Poverty Increased Nationally During COVID, Especially Among Latino and Black Children: Child poverty rates have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly among Latino and Black children and among children in female-headed families, according to a new Child Trends analysis of recently released national data from the Current Population Survey. These newly released data provide a first nationally representative look at how the pandemic has changed child poverty. We find that child poverty increased by an average of 1.8 percentage points—from 15.7 percent in 2019 to 17.5 percent in 2020—based on families’ reports in 2020 and 2021. This translates to roughly 12.5 million children living in poverty in 2020, or 1.2 million more than in 2019. [Child Trends]

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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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