The Weekly Wonk: As the current session winds down, issues remain that need addressing

What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.

This Week from OK Policy

Weekly What’s That

Sine Die

Sine die is a term for the adjournment of an assembly for an indefinite period, from the Latin “without day”. In March 1989, Oklahoma voters approved State Question 620,  which provided that regular legislative sessions begin on the first Monday in February and adjourn sine die not later than 5:00 pm on the last Friday in May. Special sessions are also adjourned sine die but there is no set date for their adjournment.

Look up more key terms to understand Oklahoma politics and government here.

Quote of the Week

“Let’s get past who was in the room, who was locked out of the room, who was right, who was lying, who was wrong. The people of Oklahoma deserve better than that. It is the democratic process, but if I were someone who was watching I would say, ‘God, I just wish they would get it together.’”

House Minority Leader Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, speaking about the budget disagreements between Gov. Stitt and the Legislature [NonDoc]

Editorial of the Week

The word ‘hoax’ has no meaning with virus

The COVID-19 pandemic is serious, indeed, so it’s difficult to understand how anyone could deny its existence or cover over the fact that many have died. Were it not grounded in reality, officials of all political stripes would be decrying it. It’s true that politicians have different responses to it, and some think the damage to the economy through widespread business closures will be worse than the effect on public health. The same is true for the public. But even though President Trump initially called the virus a “hoax” – inaccurately – he’s singing a different tune now that some in his administration have contracted it.

Social media is a bastion of ignorance and self-serving lies, and it has encouraged a number of naive people – and those not well-read in terms of science and other matters – to accept an unlimited string of conspiracy theories as fact. Yes, some conspiracy theories do turn out to be rooted in some facts, albeit ones that have been warped and exaggerated beyond measure.

[Tahlequah Daily Press]

Numbers of the Day

  • 17% – Oklahoma state employees make an average of 17 percent less than their private counterparts, which makes retirement and other benefits are thus often a vital tool to recruit and retain highly-skilled employees.
  • 1,777 – Eviction cases filed in Oklahoma courts since March 15, when Oklahoma entered a state of emergency, as of May 14, 2020.
  • 15% – Estimated percentage decrease in college enrollment nationwide in fall 2020 due to COVID-19, which could lead to a substantial loss of revenue for institutions of higher education.
  • 44% – The percentage of child care programs that have lost income because they are reimbursed using attendance rates rather than enrollment for child care subsidy. Child care providers have asked DHS to reimburse based on enrollment rather than attendance during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • 30 – The number of people (including jail staff and incarcerated individuals) diagnosed as infected with COVID-19 at the Comanche County Detention Center in Lawton since the outbreak began. The state health department is now testing all jail staff and 345 people incarcerated there.
  • 1,622 – Eviction cases filed in Oklahoma courts since March 15, when Oklahoma entered a state of emergency (as of May 11, 2020)
  • 68,237 – Number of new unemployment claims filed in Oklahoma the week ending May 2, a 30 percent increase in new filings from the previous week. Part of the reason for the jump in new claims was the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission opening up its site for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance funds.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • ‘Truly the last safe haven’: Libraries serve vulnerable communities during the pandemic [PBS]
  • Cancel the rent [The New Yorker]
  • The class divide: Remote learning at two schools, private and public [New York Times]
  • A state-by-state look at coronavirus in prisons [The Marshall Project
  • In the middle of a pandemic, Oklahoma pursues a Medicaid funding cap [Health Affairs]
  • The $600 unemployment booster shot, state by state  [New York Times]
  • How COVID-19 conspiracy theorists are exploiting YouTube culture [MIT Technology Review]


David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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