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StateImpact Oklahoma’s reporters examine the future of health, education, and environment in 2022

StateImpact Oklahoma’s reporters examine the future of health, education, and environment in 2022

StateImpact Oklahoma celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2021. Logan Layden is the managing editor of StateImpact Oklahoma. He spoke with reporters to discuss what readers can expect in the new year.


LAYDEN We are all glad to meet you. Catherine Sweeney, our health reporter, will be focusing on the impact of the pandemic and Medicaid expansion. Did you think you’d still be covered for COVID two-years later when you joined StateImpact?

SWEENEY – I certainly didn’t. I came in last summer [2020]Right as the hospitalizations were about to spike, We felt like we were stepping off the gas, and things were improving a little bit as soon as the spring vaccines were available. Then, delta arrived. The spike took place. It then went back down. It was all right. We were safe until we found another variant. Then, omicron appeared.

LAYDEN : Oklahoma will face other health challenges in the coming year. Please tell me a little bit about what you’ll be looking at in the coming months.

SWEENEY, Oklahoma expanded Medicaid is one of the greatest stories. I want to see how that has improved access to health care. It is also interesting because Governor Kevin Stitt’s top priority is partially privatizing Medicaid. Naturally, I will be covering the legislative session that begins in February. There is a lot of controversy about federal vaccine mandates. They did consider a special session, but they kinda reneged on that. They resorted to the 10-million-dollars that they gave to the attorney General to file a series of legal battles against the various vaccine mandates coming down the Biden Administration. I’m sure I’ll be seeing a lot more of that during the regular legislative sessions.


KORTH: Yeah, Logan. I think we will have to pay attention to the same trends you brought up. School funding is going be a big deal. Oklahoma schools have received over one-point-five trillion dollars from the federal relief plans for COVID-19. The vast majority of that money has yet to be spent so we will have to monitor that. You can see many bills that have been filed in the legislature related to social studies. They also address how we talk about race, gender, and class.

LAYDEN: In 2022, we have a gubernatorial race. Governor Kevin Stitt and Joy Hofmeister, the superintendent for schools, will be facing them. You’ve had some success with Joy Hofmeister.

KORTH: Facetime with. If I were a gambler, I would bet that education will be the main focus of this race.

LAYDEN: Yes, and Catherine also

SWEENEY. Another major issue in health is abortion. Oklahoma has a lot of bills that could be banned if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court. We don’t know much more about Joy Hofmeister’s position.

LAYDEN: What kind Democrat is she?


See Also

LAYDEN : We are also returning to StateImpacts roots this year. This includes natural resources, science, and the environment. I am now introducing Beth Wallis, StateImpact’s new reporter. First, Beth.

WALLIS: We are grateful.

LAYDEN: Oklahoma’s environment, climate change, natural resources, water, and pollution will never be out of your reach. What are some of your favorite topics so far that you can expect to hear more about in the coming months from our listeners?

WALLIS McGirt This ruling extends. It raised questions about mineral rights after the tribal boundaries were reaffirmed. Who has the right to coal? Who owns the rights to natural gas residing on these tribal lands and who has the right to it? Then water compacts. The following could affect water compacts: McGirt Also, you can rule.

LAYDEN: A very exciting year ahead. This is Beth Wallis, Catherine Sweeney and Robby Korth, science and environmental reporter. Logan Layden, managing editor of StateImpact, wishes you a very happy new year and invites you to follow StateImpact’s efforts in 2022.

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