In The Know: Minimum wage petition opponents ask court for pause, rehearing | Feds examine OSDE grant spending | Preliminary hearings underway in charter school embezzlement case

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.

Oklahoma News

Opponents of a minimum wage ballot measure ask Oklahoma’s high court to revisit ruling: The State Chamber and Farm Bureau Legal Foundation in November asked the court to toss out the petition on the grounds that it unconstitutionally delegated legislative power to a federal agency. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • State Chamber, Farm Bureau ask court for rehearing on minimum wage petition [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Why the future of Oklahoma’s car tag compact with the Cherokee Nation is in dispute: The leader of Oklahoma’s largest tribal nation wants to renew his tribe’s car tag compact with the state without any major changes. But Gov. Kevin Stitt doesn’t appear to be buying in to the proposal promoted by Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. [The Oklahoman]

  • Cherokee Nation chief presses Oklahoma educators to pressure state leaders to act on car compact [Oklahoma Voice]

Illegal Immigration: Oklahoma AG Seeks to Mimic Texas: Lawmakers in Oklahoma are scrambling to advance their bills as the legislation session nears the halfway mark. Efforts from Congress have reached a standstill on attempts to secure the US-Mexico border. Now, southern states are attempting to take the matter of illegal immigration into their own hands. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Commissioner renews call for audit of 2021 winter storm costs after two agencies report having none: Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony is renewing his call for a full-scale audit of the $3 billion in bonds issued after Winter Storm Uri. He said he was told by both the state treasurer’s office and the Oklahoma Development Finance Authority that neither agency has an audit from the storm. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Dismantling current system for nominating judges also removes voice of Oklahoma voters: Oklahomans should be proud that we have a system of choosing our highest-ranking judges that is regarded as one of the best in the nation to help us make sure we get it right: the Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission. [Miles Pringle / The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Oklahoma leaders want to address bullying. But they fail to change the culture that fosters it: From the very founding of our state, all the way to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s State of the State last month, the message is clear that in order to belong in Oklahoma, we as members of marginalized communities must live a fractional life. [Taylor Raye / The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

U.S. officials reported to be looking at how OSDE spent grant money for substitute teachers: The U.S. Department of Education is examining the way the Oklahoma State Department of Education spent federal grant money on substitute teachers, an Oklahoma City television station reported Tuesday. [The Oklahoman]

  • U.S. Dept. of Ed. investigating whether OSDE is misusing federal money for substitute teaching program [KFOR]

Voting and Election News

TPS District 5: Incumbent John Croisant faces challenge from Teresa Peña: Midtown residents in Tulsa Public School Board District 5 face a choice between keeping current representative John Croisant in office or replacing him with retired TPS administrator Teresa Peña during an April 2 election. [NonDoc]

Norman Ward 2: Peacock declines to debate Rice, both focus on housing: [T]he two men are squaring off in Norman’s latest hyper-local litmus test of local representation: An architect incumbent running in a new ward vs. a union electrician whose experience volunteering with the homeless motivated him to seek office. [NonDoc]

Opinion: Oklahoma voters deserve increased primary access, but a top-two system isn’t the solution: Groups and individuals seeking to copy California’s top-two jungle primary system are marketing it as an open primary, without mentioning that it’s not the only way to have an open primary, and indeed, isn’t even the most common. [Chris Powell / Oklahoma Voice]

Health News

Oklahoma embryos could become victims of battery, assault under new legislation: A bill that would allow Oklahomans to be charged with battery against an unborn child passed another legislative hurdle Tuesday. Opponents of the bill expressed concerns that the bill’s impacts could extend to fertility treatments. [StateImpact Oklahoma / KGOU]

Criminal Justice News

This Oklahoma death row inmate had a novel reason for asking for an execution stay. He still lost: 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. [The Oklahoman]

Housing & Economic Opportunity News

Opinion: Oklahoma laws provide little protection to renters. HB 2109 could fix that.: Housing is the foundation on which strong communities are built. Everybody needs a home. But right now, our community faces a housing crisis unlike any we have had before. [Sen. Julia Kirt / The Oklahoman]

Education News

Epic embezzlement case: ‘Learning fund’ examined in preliminary hearing: After two days of a potential week-long preliminary hearing for former Epic Charter Schools co-founders David Chaney and Ben Harris, five witnesses have testified on behalf of the state, with many questions probing whether certain monies used by the district were public or private. [NonDoc]

  • Epic Charter School head of finance reports irregularities under co-founders [Oklahoma Voice]
  • Epic Charter Schools finance official testifies about payment concerns [Tulsa World]

Tulsa coalition pushing back against state limits on teaching race, gender: A group trying to rally support against state leaders’ efforts to limit the teaching of race and gender in schools says the time is long overdue for those directly affected to start sharing their stories of personal impact. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Senate advances educational reforms for trade experts and religious degrees: The Oklahoma Senate tackled a handful of education initiatives on Tuesday. They zeroed in on scholarships, career techs, and religious degrees. [KOKH Fox 25]

Disputes between McDaniel and OKCPS shouldn’t throw off search for new superintendent, board leader says: The disconnect between the Oklahoma City Public Schools board of education and its current superintendent, Sean McDaniel – which he said led to his unexpected resignation last month – shouldn’t affect the district’s search for his replacement, the board chair said Tuesday. [The Oklahoman]

Maxine Horner: The quiet state senator who helped send thousands of children to college: A Democrat from Tulsa, the late state Sen. Maxine Horner was elected to the Oklahoma Senate in 1986. Horner, along with then-state Sen. Vicki Miles-LaGrange, was one of the first two Black women elected to the state Legislature. [The Oklahoman]

Community News

Poison hemlock, kudzu could be added to an Oklahoma plant hit list: Under the law, landowners must treat, control or eradicate certain invasive plants on their property to prevent them from spreading. Currently, the musk, Canada and Scotch thistles are the only plants listed in the statute. But House Bill 3186 would add kudzu and poison hemlock. [KOSU]

Local Headlines

  • Baltimore bridge collapse brings back memories of Oklahoma’s I-40 bridge disaster [The Oklahoman]
  • How Norman Public Schools, Regional Food Bank are installing solar at no cost to them [The Oklahoman]
  • Council defers vote that would declare damaged OKC apartments ‘abandoned,’ delaying fixes [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“For the many Oklahomans who rent, it isn’t just cost that’s a barrier to being well-housed. Our laws provide little protection to renters when they request remediation to critical health issues like mold or when they experience a financial emergency and can’t make rent on time.”

– Sen. Julia Kirt, D-OKC, writing in an opinion piece about Oklahoma’s housing shortage and the multiple policy solutions needed to tackle it. One such solution, HB 2109, would shield renters from landlord retaliation when they report health and safety violations. [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


The data show that poverty is especially concentrated for Oklahoma’s children with 19.5 percent, or almost 1 in 5 children, living at or below the federal poverty level. For a family of three, this means the child lived in a household that earned around $23,000 or less in 2022. While Oklahoma was one of 11 states that saw a decrease in child poverty, Oklahoma had the nation’s 8th highest rate of children living in poverty during 2022. [U.S. Census Bureau via OK Policy]

Policy Note

Families slip back into poverty after pandemic-era child tax credit expires (Video): During the pandemic, lawmakers dramatically, but temporarily, expanded the social safety net, including more money for families with children. The impacts of those changes are still being felt and debated to this day. Amna Nawaz and producer Sam Lane report on that for our series, America’s Safety Net. [PBS News Hour]

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Annie Taylor joined OK Policy as a Digital Communications Associate/Storybanker in April 2022. She studied journalism and mass communication at the University of Oklahoma, and was a member of the Native American Journalists Association. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communications from the University of Central Oklahoma. While pursuing her degree, she worked in restaurant and retail management, as well as freelance copywriting and digital content production. Annie is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation, and holds a deep reverence for storytelling in the digital age. She was born and raised in southeast Oklahoma, and now lives in Oklahoma City with her dog, Melvin.