In The Know: Signature collection for minimum wage state question on hold | Proposed changes to judicial nomination process would increase politicization | 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.

New from OK Policy

Proposed changes to the judicial nominating process are unnecessary and increase politicization (Capitol Update): The Judicial Nominating Commission assures qualified candidates for appellate judicial offices who are vetted on their merits, their judgment, and their perceived ability to interpret the law and constitution, not their association with a politician or one of his friends or donors. Competence counts. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

Signature collection on state minimum wage petition on hold: The secretary of state on Monday set and then canceled a start date for the collection of signatures on an initiative petition that could set the stage for a vote on whether to raise the minimum wage in Oklahoma. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Oklahoma lawmakers move forward with plan to erect $4.3 million Capitol arch: Lawmakers are moving forward with plans to build an arch and amphitheater on the south Capitol grounds. The Senate Tourism and Wildlife Committee on Monday passed House Bill 4012 by a vote of 8-1. The arch, which would be 30 feet tall and 60 feet wide, would “honor and memorialize the services performed by the Oklahoma National Guard.” [Oklahoma Voice]

Oklahoma Officials Eye New Immigration Laws: Attorney General Gentner Drummond and House Speaker Charles McCall both vowed support last week for a Texas-style immigration law that would allow law enforcement to arrest and detain migrants for illegally crossing the border from Mexico. Critics fear the law could lead to racial profiling and additional hurdles for migrants who have a legitimate asylum claim. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • Texas Republican border maneuvers cause chaos, outrage local officials [Oklahoma Voice]

It’s been a year since Gov. Stitt’s veto threatened funding for OETA. Here’s where its funding is now:  Roughly a year ago the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority — the state’s public television system — was on life support. At that time, Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt was pushing to shut down the statewide network, saying it aired content to “indoctrinate children.” This year, debate and negative rhetoric about OETA is nowhere to be found. [The Oklahoman]

Bill proposes millions for Oklahoma state parks: House Bill 3972  would establish a revolving fund and an eight-year State Parks Emergency Maintenance Plan progressed Monday through the Senate’s Tourism and Wildlife Committee. Next, it must be considered by that chamber’s Appropriations Committee before advancing for a potential vote by the full Senate. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma’s film, music industries shine at Capitol in ‘quite the flex’: For Monday’s state Capitol showcase, more than 50 film- and music-related businesses, school programs and organizations from across the state set up booths, offering specific services, career development opportunities, workforce training, community resources and more. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

As US Supreme Court looks into abortion pill mifepristone, will Oklahomans be affected?:The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments Today in a case that experts say could significantly reduce access to the abortion pill mifepristone and have far-reaching consequences for other medications and the Food and Drug Administration’s authority. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

The melody of cultural roots and creative pursuits with Oklahoma artist and musician Kalyn Fay: Join us as we welcome the multifaceted Kalyn Fay, a musician and assistant curator of Native Art, to share her inspiring story on Beyond the Art. Kalyn opens up about her evolution from a potential career in medicine to one richly woven with her Native American heritage and love for the arts. [KOSU]

Election and Voting News

Process to open up Oklahoma’s primary elections underway: Supporters of opening up Oklahoma’s primaries said they want to do this through a ballot initiative question. [KOCO]

Criminal Justice News

Death row inmate Michael DeWayne Smith denied execution stay: Death row inmate Michael DeWayne Smith on Monday lost his request for a stay of his execution. Smith, 41, asked for the stay because of a proposed moratorium on the death penalty that is before the state Legislature. He is set to be executed by lethal injection April 4 at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma County jail’s health services haven’t been certified in years. It’s taking steps to change that: The CEO of the Oklahoma County jail wants the detention center’s health care services certified by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care. [The Oklahoman]

‘Premeditated, egotistical and maniacal’: Phil Albert sentenced to federal prison: Phil Albert, once a top political donor and member of the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents who was lauded for business acumen while serving on boards of banks and a controversial energy company, was sentenced today to 30 months in prison by a federal judge. [NonDoc]

  • Former OU regent, Claremore businessman sentenced to prison for tax-evasion scheme [Tulsa World]

‘Will only cause lawsuits’: Oklahoma County jail’s new electric gloves spark controversy: Some city leaders and even lawyers say they’re concerned about new technology at the Oklahoma County jail. On Friday, we told you about the electric gloves the jail plans to use. A local attorney says what the jail is doing will only cause lawsuits for misuse and abuse. [Fox 25]

Housing & Economic Opportunity News

Domestic violence survivor may be forced to move near abuser after grant is exhausted: One domestic violence survivor who received free housing from Domestic Violence Intervention Services may be forced to move close to her abuser because funds ran out shortly before the grant’s time period was completed. [KTUL]

How Habit for Humanity plans to build 450 homes in OKC: Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity is ready to begin building its largest affordable housing development to date on 160 acres at NW 150th Street and Morgan Road. [Journal Record]

Economy & Business News

Hydroelectric plant in Southeast Oklahoma is a no-go for now, feds say: A power company is looking to build a hydroelectric power plant on the Kiamichi River near Talihina, but federal regulators have nipped the project in the bud. [KOSU]

Education News

Evidence against Epic Charter School founders outlined in court: Oklahoma prosecutors began to lay out their evidence against the co-founders of Epic Charter School on Monday, the first day of what’s expected to be a weeklong hearing that will decide whether the major embezzlement and racketeering case can advance toward trial. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Preliminary Hearing Starts for Epic Charter Schools Founders [Oklahoma Watch]
  • Use of ‘legal eagles’ shows no criminal intent, defense argues in Epic Charter Schools preliminary hearing [Tulsa World]

Tulsa Public Schools to offer thousands in recruitment bonuses for new teachers: Tulsa is set to offer new teachers extra cash. People who have teaching certificates will be offered $3,000 if they sign with TPS by May 30, 2024. Those without licenses will be offered $1,000 and training at Tulsa Teacher Corp if they sign by April 30, 2024. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Tulsa Public Schools names new acting deputy superintendent: Tulsa Public Schools has a new deputy superintendent, albeit in an acting capacity. As part of Monday night’s consent agenda, the school board voted 6-0 to pay Kathy Dodd an additional monthly stipend to serve as acting deputy superintendent through June 30 in addition to her role as TPS’ chief strategy and innovation officer. [Tulsa World]

Local Headlines

  • How many tornadoes were in Oklahoma in last year? How bad were they? [The Oklahoman]
  • Tulsa Mayoral candidates offer views on tribal relations, city streets [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day


Number of the Day


Black families owned about 24 cents for every $1 of white family wealth, on average. Hispanic families owned about 19 cents for every $1 of white family wealth, on average. [Federal Reserve Bank of St, Louis]

Policy Note

Innovating for Equity: Unlocking Value for Communities and Businesses: Racially and ethnically marginalized communities offer untapped potential for global economic growth. This new insight report takes a fresh look at the issue, focusing on how working with social innovators who are advancing racial and ethnic equity is a smart business decision. [World Economic Forum]

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Kandis West is a communications professional with more than 15 years of experience. Most recently, she served as the Communications Director for the Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus. She spent nine years in the Olympia/Tacoma area of Washington organizing compensation campaigns for teachers for the Washington Education Association. Kandis has a proven track record of increasing community engagement, public awareness and media exposure around the most pressing issues that impact citizens. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism.