In The Know: Winter weather forces temporary vaccine changes | Legislators seek order to speed up licenses, Real IDs | 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

Oklahoma COVID-19 vaccines: Cold prompts temporary changes; state scraps mega-POD plan; Oklahoma County launches portal: More people were eligible to receive their coronavirus vaccine dose Tuesday as winter weather made travel difficult. The Oklahoma State Department of Health told local officials to evaluate their needs and adjust priority groups on a case-by-case basis. The decision is a one-time exception due to inclement weather, the Health Department said, and only affected IMMY Diagnostics, a testing lab and vaccine provider based in Norman. [The Oklahoman] Tulsa Health Department early this morning canceled vaccination clinics for the day due to inclement weather. [Tulsa World]

  • Mass COVID vaccination sites in partnership with FEMA on hold [Public Radio Tulsa] | [KOSU] | [Tulsa World]
  • COVID Update: Statewide hospitalizations drop below 1,000, 7-day average under 2,000 [Public Radio Tulsa] | [AP News]
  • COVID-19: 53 more deaths reported in Oklahoma with 1,070 new cases [Tulsa World]
  • Infectious disease specialist discusses broad range of health issues involving COVID-19 ‘long-haulers’ [Tulsa World]
  • OU doctors see possible link between COVID-19 and pediatric diabetes [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Despite being prioritized, meatpackers face months-long wait for COVID-19 vaccines [KOSU]

State Government News

Legislators send letter to Gov. Stitt asking for order to speed up licenses, Real IDs: A bunch of House Republicans and some Democrats, too, asked Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday to do something about the long waits for driver’s licenses and driver’s tests their constituents are enduring. [Tulsa World]

House Elections Committee approves bill on State Question recounts, rejects several on voter access: The Oklahoma House Elections and Ethics Committee advanced a bill to require recounts on State Questions in certain situations. House Democrats had little success with a slate of bills aimed at expanding voting access or making the process easier. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma House Speaker wants legislative input on federal stimulus spending: Oklahoma’s House Speaker wants the state Legislature to have a say in how state government entities spend some federal stimulus funds. Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, filed legislation to prevent state agencies, boards, commissions or entities within the executive branch from spending federal stimulus funds on long-term or recurring costs without legislative approval. [The Oklahoman]

Bill addressing missing and murdered Indigenous people advances: The Oklahoma House Public Safety Committee advanced HB 1790, otherwise known as the Kasey Alert Act, during a meeting today. The bill is meant to tackle the problem of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People in Oklahoma. [KOSU]

Editorial: Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is tearing down its toll booths … but you still get to pay: The toll booths on Oklahoma’s turnpikes are coming down, but the road isn’t free. The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is adopting an all-electronic toll collection system starting this summer. Legislation to authorize collections on the new system are pending before the Oklahoma Legislature. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Lankford, Inhofe vote against Senate trial of Trump: Oklahoma Sens. Jim Inhofe and James Lankford, both Republicans, voted against allowing the Senate to hold the trial of Trump. Democrats have said they want to ensure Trump cannot run for another term, but Lankford said a person couldn’t be constitutionally disqualified from running until he or she was removed from office. [The Oklahoman]

U.S. attorneys in Oklahoma resign as Biden moves to shape Justice Department: U.S. attorneys for the western and northern districts of Oklahoma announced their resignations on Tuesday, as the Biden administration moves to put its stamp on the Justice Department. [The Oklahoman] U.S. Attorneys Tim Downing in the Western District and Trent Shores in the Northern District both said statements that they had submitted letters of resignation to President Joe Biden. Both were appointed by former President Donald Trump. [AP News] A DOJ release noted that nearly all of the U.S. attorneys appointed under President Donald Trump’s administration had offered to resign after Biden won, but were requested to remain temporarily in office. [Tulsa World]

Health News

Oklahoma selects 4 private payers to manage Medicaid for $2B, faces legal suit: Oklahoma maintains the switch will improve costs while maintaining access, but the move to cede Medicaid control to for-profit entities is highly controversial among state legislators and medical groups. The Oklahoma State Medical Association said Saturday it plans to file a motion opposing the change. [Health Care Dive]

Point of View: Managed Medicaid: Bad for rural hospitals… bad for Oklahoma: The core arguments behind this change have been cost savings and improved health outcomes. Both points are incorrect and based on unrealistic assumptions. The managed care plan proposes to ration care to Medicaid patients by reducing inpatient and outpatient services by 40% and behavioral health services by 20% in the first year. That means less care for Medicaid patients and more profit for insurance companies. [Steve Hartgraves Op-Ed / The Oklahoman

Office Visit: Rethink managed care: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” I feel like we are living out that quote right now with Gov. Kevin Stitt and his quest for a managed care model in Oklahoma. I don’t see him across the table from state legislators working on valid improvement options. I see no one across the table talking to legislators right now. Stitt and Oklahoma Health Care Authority CEO Kevin Corbett instead are driving a bus past the Legislature and avoiding communication efforts to accomplish what is best for Oklahoma. [David Holden Op-Ed / Journal Record]

Economic Opportunity

Coalition urges Tulsans to help look after their unhoused neighbors during cold snap: With several days of below freezing temperatures ahead, outreach teams are asking Tulsans for help caring for people experiencing homelessness. Outreach teams representing multiple organizations are working day and night to transport people in need of shelter. For unhoused people choosing to shelter in place, they’re distributing life-saving supplies. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Economy & Business News

Not every sector lost jobs during the pandemic. Some grew: Almost a year ago, Oklahoma’s economy felt the shock of a worldwide pandemic that shuttered businesses, sent workers home and changed the landscape of what it means to be an employee in the workforce. [The Oklahoman]

Chesapeake Energy clears bankruptcy, officially: After years of trying to tame its crushing debt, after laying off thousands of employees and after wiping out the investments of its common shareholders, Chesapeake Energy on Tuesday emerged from bankruptcy. [The Oklahoman]

Furloughs could impact 400 American Airlines workers at carrier’s Tulsa maintenance base: About 400 employees at American Airlines maintenance base in Tulsa could be furloughed as a result of the airline’s declining bottom line, a company spokesperson said Tuesday. [Tulsa World]

Education News

Opinion: Call off the state tests! Standardized testing only enriches the test companies and has no place in a pandemic year: One might predict that after nearly two decades of effort and billions of dollars spent on more rigorous academic standards and better assessments, our country would have captured the elusive woozles of higher test scores, lowered achievement gaps and elevated college readiness percentages by now. Nope. No woozles. Like Pooh and Piglet, we have been walking in circles, going nowhere in particular. [Rob Miller Op-Ed / Tulsa World

General News

Latest effort to list Greenwood District on National Register of Historic Places falls short: The nearly two-decade effort to list the Greenwood District on the National Register of Historic Places has encountered another setback. The National Park Service has returned the latest revised nomination to the applicant for more work, citing “procedural and substantive issues associated with the nomination and its processing.” [Tulsa World]

Two Black Oklahoma Women defined activism through courage, resilience, and teaching: Oklahoma adopted the Territorial School Code in 1897, a law that mandated segregated schools. In 1907 when Oklahoma approved the state’s constitution, this law upheld the practice of segregation; thus, the first law in Oklahoma was that of segregation. [Black Wall Street Times]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Jake Merrick, Molly Ooten advance for SD 22 special general election [NonDoc] | [The Oklahoman]
  • OKC City Council: Stone re-elected in Ward 4, runoffs set in western OKC’s Wards 1 and 3 [The Oklahoman] | [NonDoc]
  • OKC begins fiscal ’22 budget process [The Journal Record] | [OKC Free Press]
  • Election for OKCPS Board of Education chairperson heads to runoff [NonDoc] | [The Oklahoman] | [OKC Free Press]
  • Judith Barba wins Tulsa school board seat; John Fothergill leads in Tulsa County treasurer’s race [Tulsa World]
  • Judith Barba makes history as first, first-generation immigrant elected to office in Tulsa Public Schools [Black Wall Street Times]
  • Edmond City Council election results yield April 6 runoffs [NonDoc]
  • Norman election results: 3 newcomers will join council, incumbent heads to runoff [NonDoc]
  • Turnout increases for Norman municipal elections [Norman Transcript]
  • New Enid city commissioners elected; icy weather has varying effects on turnout [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Lawton voters overwhelming support new hotel-motel tax [Lawton Constitution]

Quote of the Day

“Hospitals are typically the largest employers in most rural communities. Managed care threatens to squeeze this segment of the health care industry out of business, which could lead to mass unemployment and migration of these professionals to other states, taking with them any state income, sales and property taxes. Simply put, ruining rural economies in the state is no way to achieve ‘Top 10’ status.”

-Steve Hartgraves, President/CEO of Jackson County Memorial Hospital in Altus [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day

$2.5 billion

Estimated new statewide revenue in Oklahoma as a result of Medicaid expansion.

[Source: National Center for Rural Health Works]

Policy Note

Medicaid: What to Watch in 2021: As the Biden Administration takes office, the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic and related economic downturn are the key issues that will substantially shape Medicaid coverage and financing policy in the year ahead. Other issues to watch in 2021 include efforts to maintain and expand Medicaid coverage, potential changes in Medicaid demonstration waiver policy, issues around state budgets and Medicaid financing, initiatives to strengthen long-term services and supports and efforts to address social determinants of health. [KFF]

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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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