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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’s edition of The Weekly Wonk was published with contributions from Communications Intern Lilly Strom.

This Week from OK Policy

Weekly What’s That

Special Session

A special session, also known as an extraordinary session, may be called to address issues that are unresolved during regular legislative sessions, which can run only from the first Monday in February through the last Friday in May of the year.  When the Governor calls a special session, it is restricted only to those matters the governor specifies in calling the special session; however, the Governor may amend the call during special session. The Legislature can also call itself into special session by gaining the signatures of two-thirds of the members of both chambers. The Legislature may not prevent the calling of a special session by the governor.

There is no constitutional limit on the length of special sessions. However, a special session called during one Legislature cannot extend past the swearing in of the next Legislature. Regular and special sessions can run concurrently.

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

Quote of the Week

“With Thanksgiving and upcoming holidays, Oklahomans must understand the COVID-19 situation statewide. Serious messaging and action are needed from state leadership; recommending Oklahomans wear masks in public settings communicates the current risk level and actions all Oklahomans need to take.”

White House Coronavirus Task Force Report, Nov. 15

Editorial of the Week

Gov. Stitt, Oklahoma needs a mask mandate now. The state’s health and economic future are at risk.

We were unimpressed with Gov. Kevin Stitt’s COVID-19 executive orders earlier this week.

They are the latest examples of his failure to do necessary things to protect the people of Oklahoma during a deadly pandemic.

Starting Thursday, Stitt ordered bars to close at 11 p.m.; restaurants must do the same except for delivery and drive-through. He ordered tables in bars and restaurants to be at least 6 feet apart.

Stitt also ordered state employees to wear masks when working and in state buildings. State legislative leaders followed Stitt’s order with an announcement that the same rules would be in effect for lawmakers in the Capitol.

And that’s it.

Those are half-steps at best, some of which were already largely in place in our experience.

We’d say the governor’s orders were good so far as they went, but that thought is superseded by this one: They don’t go far enough. Not even close.

Oklahoma needs a mask mandate…

[Read full Tulsa World editorial]

Numbers of the Day

  • 9.4% – Percentage of Oklahomans who identify as American Indian and Alaska Native, which is the state’s third largest racial population after whites (74%) and Latinx (11.1%).
  • 19.2% – Percentage of American Indian households in Oklahoma with incomes below the federal poverty threshold.
  • 5.5 – The shortened life expectancy, in years, for American Indians and Alaska Natives when compared with all racial populations (73.0 years to 78.5 years, respectively).
  • 12.9% – Percentage of Oklahoma jobs generated by American Indian-owned businesses in Oklahoma.
  • $0.60 – Native American women, on average, are paid approximately $0.60 for every dollar earned by White, non-Hispanic men. This gap in pay typically amounts to a loss of $2,055 every month or $24,656 every year, and adds up to $986,240 over a 40-year career.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Sequoyah, the U.S. state that almost existed [National Geographic]
  • Native Americans feel devastated by the virus yet overlooked in the data [New York Times]
  • COVID-19 data on Native Americans is ‘a national disgrace.’ This scientist is fighting to be counted [Science]
  • New project aims to increase COVID-19 testing for Native Americans [Spokane Public Radio]
  • COVID-19 incidence more than triple among Native Americans, new CDC report says [CNN]

Note: November is Native American Heritage Month. During this week, we will be sharing information that recognizes the history, cultures, and contributions of American Indian and Alaska Native people in the state and across the country, as well as the issues they face. 


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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