In The Know: Gov. sues AG over opinion about cabinet posts | Oklahoma ranked as worst state for women | Capitol Update

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

Senate’s efforts on budget transparency continue, but final budget will still rely on end-of-session negotiations (Capitol Update): It is a noble effort to try to make the appropriations process more transparent and open to all senators. However, the state budget is almost always going to depend on other revenue and spending policy decisions made earlier in the session. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

27 years and counting: The long road to e-filing in Oklahoma courts: After decades of discussion and development, Oklahoma’s glacial journey to e-filing in state court appears nearly ready to bear some fruit. While the ability to file case documents electronically has been available since 2002 in federal courts, state courts across Oklahoma’s 77 counties still require paper filings submitted in person or by mail 27 years after the Legislature first authorized e-filing in 1997. [NonDoc]

Protesters far outnumber Westboro demonstrators in Owasso: Scores of protesters showed up in force outside Owasso High School Wednesday afternoon to protest a demonstration by Westboro Baptist Church. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma ranked worst state for women in recent study: Oklahoma was ranked the worst state for women in the U.S. in a study released earlier this week. The study from WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 25 key indicators of living standards for women, ranging from median earnings for female workers to women’s health care to the female homicide rate. [The Oklahoman]

  • Here are 10 notable Oklahoma women you should know about during Women’s History Month [The Oklahoman]
  • International Women’s Day 2024: What to know, how to celebrate Women’s History Month [The Oklahoman]
  • Opinion: Women in the Bible show us more about discipleship than the men do [Rev. Lori Walke / The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Oklahoma governor sues attorney general over cabinet appointment flap: Gov. Kevin Stitt and three of his cabinet members on Thursday filed suit against Attorney General Gentner Drummond, challenging his interpretation of state law. Drummond recently issued an opinion that said cabinet secretaries could not hold dual offices, resulting in the immediate resignation of two. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • After Drummond opinion, Stitt asks court to decide rights, obligations on dual office-holding [NonDoc]
  • Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt files lawsuit seeking cabinet clarity [KOSU]
  • Attorney general sued by Oklahoma governor over opinion that forced Cabinet resignation [Tulsa World]
  • After two Cabinet secretaries resign over AG opinion, Gov. Stitt files suit and Senate approves exemption bill [Tulsa World]

Senate ahead of schedule in budget process, Pro Tem says: The Oklahoma Senate’s new budget process ramped up this week as the chamber’s leadership works to deliver increased transparency. The Oklahoma Senate Appropriations Committee meeting took all of Wednesday to vet proposed budgets for 55 agencies, none of which were rejected. The committee continued to look at policy proposals Thursday. [Journal Record]

Senate leader clarifies intent of school tax credits: It was never the intent of the Oklahoma Legislature for taxpayer money extended to people in the form of Parental Choice Tax Credits to be used to cover back taxes or other debts owed by recipients of the credits, Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat said on Thursday. [Tulsa World]

Controversial marijuana prepackaging bill passed by Oklahoma House: Legislation that raised such a ruckus within the medical marijuana sector that its author spiked two other bills as a “lesson” passed the full House of Representatives on Thursday with minimal muss and fuss. [Tulsa World]

  • Oklahoma lawmakers push for tighter regulations on kratom herbal products [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma ban on state business with ‘woke’ banks could topple, or it could expand: A court will consider overturning Oklahoma’s Energy Discrimination Elimination Act, while the state legislature contemplates extending its scope. [KOSU]

‘Gladiator arena filled with prisoners’: OK House approves $8.3M for prison rodeo: The House of Representatives approved an $8.3 million prison rodeo revival fund that would go towards building a new arena in McAlester. The last rodeo was held in 2009. Now that the authors of HB3749 want to bring it back, it’s sparked heated debate in the legislature. [KFOR]

Long Story Short: Governor’s cabinet; federal lawsuit filed in the death of Shannon Hanchett (audio): Paul Monies talks about the latest on Gov. Kevin Stitt’s cabinet moves after the attorney general questioned some of his appointments. Keaton Ross discusses a federal lawsuit that claims the Cleveland County Detention Center is culpable in the death of Shannon Hanchett. [Oklahoma Watch]

This Week in Oklahoma Politics: Super Tuesday, Deer Creek fundraiser, minimum wage state question and more (audio):  The panel discusses Super Tuesday results in the state’s Presidential Primaries, controversy over a fundraiser at Deer Creek Schools when a viral video showed kids licking peanut butter off the toes of other kids and a bill to keep Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur in her position. The trio also discusses a decision by the State Supreme Court to approve an initiative petition to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2029. [KOSU]

Tribal Nations News

Wyandotte Nation reservation’s existence affirmed by Oklahoma appellate court: An Oklahoma appellate court on Thursday affirmed a lower court ruling that acknowledged the continued existence of the Wyandotte Nation Reservation in northeastern Oklahoma. [Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

One woman’s journey to a director’s job in OKC: Oklahoma City’s new public works director/city engineer is the first person to step into the role wearing high heels. Debbie Miller was promoted to the position last month after serving as assistant city engineer since 2011 and assistant public works director since 2016. [Journal Record]

As stores shutter around us, can rural Oklahoma solve food deserts? Co-op gives us hope: My hometown of Laverne has one small grocery store, three restaurants, two convenience stores, and all of Harper County has only one additional restaurant. Even though our largest industry is agriculture, food availability in our area is extremely limited. [Kensli Shaffer / The Oklahoman]

Education News

Ryan Walters’ administration exodus continues with departure of top accreditation official: Another high-ranking official at the Oklahoma State Department of Education – the leader of its team that determines accreditation for the state’s public schools – has joined the agency’s top attorney in resigning. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma Education Department top lawyer leaving Ryan Walters’ administration [The Oklahoman]

PragerU is a conservative video giant. Here’s why it’s trying to get into schools: Despite the suggestive sound of its name, PragerU is not a university. It’s a content creator. The conservative media nonprofit makes short, well-produced videos crafted to appeal to college students and young people. Educators have voiced alarms about the tone and accuracy of some of PragerU’s videos, such as one that features an animated Christopher Columbus saying: “Being taken as a slave is better than being killed, no? I don’t see the problem.” [NPR via KOSU]

Finalists for Oklahoma Teacher of the Year announced: The Oklahoma State Department of Education announced on Thursday the finalists for the state’s top teacher award. All 10 educators have won teacher of the year at their school and district. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • 10 finalists — 2 fewer than usual — named for 2024 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year award [The Oklahoman]

Lawsuit reveals new details about walkout leader’s sexting case: Within three years, Alberto Morejon went from one of the most well-known and celebrated teachers in Oklahoma for his instrumental role in the teacher walkout to inmate number 877723, incarcerated for sexting one of his students beginning when she was 14. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • Education Watch: Should schools prohibit private messages between staff and students? [Oklahoma Watch]

Opinion: Root causes of chronic absenteeism often beyond control of students and families: Chronic absenteeism isn’t as simple as kids cutting class or parents not caring enough to get their kids to school. Most of the problems are beyond the control of families and schools, requiring a different approach to upping school attendance. [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World]

Opinion: ‘Keep doing the work’: OKC schools lost two leaders whose legacies frame our future: Oklahoma City Public Schools experienced loss last week. Superintendent Sean McDaniel submitted his resignation after six years in his role as district leader, and Christina Rehkop, director of community relations for Devon Energy and a district supporter, unexpectedly passed away at the age of 46. [Mary Mélon-Tully / The Oklahoman]

Community News

Opinion: Oklahoma leaders claim to follow Christian principles, but their actions say otherwise: I shake my head as I absorb the shocking news, time and again, that our state leaders claim to be guided by Christian principles, yet I see few actions that any deity would judge as grounded in love and acceptance. [Jeary Smart Seikel / The Oklahoman]

Local Headlines

  • Postal Service proposal to relocate Tulsa mail processing to Oklahoma City draws public ire [Tulsa World]
  • Plan for new townhomes in Tulsa’s Highland Park sunk by resident complaints [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Norman, OG&E face uncertain future after franchise defeat [Journal Record]
  • Former employee in Payne County Sheriff’s Office charged with embezzlement [The Oklahoman]
  • Wagoner County voters decline all eight tax propositions by wide margins [Tulsa World]
  • Council, mayor not eye-to-eye on proposed raises for Tulsa elected officials [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“A Tribal Nation’s jurisdictional authority over its lands is a bedrock principle of our inherent sovereignty.”

-Wyandotte Nation Chief Billy Friend, said in a statement following an Oklahoma appellate court ruling that affirmed a lower court ruling that acknowledged the continued existence of the Wyandotte Nation Reservation in northeastern Oklahoma. [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Percentage of women in the Oklahoma Legislature (House & Senate), which represents about 1 in 5 members. This is the nation’s 6th lowest rate. [Center for American Women in Politics]

Policy Note

For Women’s History Month, a look at gender gains – and gaps – in the U.S.: For American women, job opportunities look much different than they did 50 years ago. Women have made gains in labor force participation and wages, and they’ve increased their presence in the highest-paying jobs. Some of that progress has stalled in recent years, however, and large gender gaps persist at the top levels of government and business leadership. [Pew Research Center]

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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.