In The Know: State court rules that Osage Reservation was disestablished | What’s driving budget impasse between House, Senate? | Count shows increase of homelessness in Tulsa | Long waitlists for child care

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Oklahoma News

‘We are in a crisis’: Oklahoma parents scramble to find child care amid long waitlists: Many Oklahoma parents are scrambling to find care for their kids after learning waitlist for child care facilities can be up to two years long. The cost of care is also leading to a crisis in Oklahoma, as parents rely on child care to get back to work and provide for their families. [KOCO]

State Government News

What is at the root of the state budget impasse between the Oklahoma House and Senate?: The leader of the Oklahoma Senate says he had a “productive meeting” with his counterpart in the House of Representatives, but added the Senate would continue to hold off on hearing budget bills from the House until House leaders provided the full details of their budget plan. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma House, Senate leaders remain at odds over budget [Tulsa World]
  • ‘Stop the theater’: Oklahoma Senate, House leaders meet to discuss state budget holdup [Fox 25]

Dispute over distribution of Oklahoma teacher pay raises led to legislative dust-up: A discrepancy over teacher pay raise funding has stirred the first public conflict between the Oklahoma House and Senate this session. Senate consideration of House funding bills has come to a halt as lawmakers negotiate how to clarify last year’s legislation that raised teacher salaries. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Budget process stalled by education pay raise dispute [Journal Record]

Bill addresses handling of ‘forever chemicals’ by municipalities: A bill making headway in the Oklahoma Legislature would provide municipalities with a layer of state protection in their handling of water and waste tainted with so-called “forever chemicals.” [Tulsa World]

Jury awards Oklahoma family $2.97 million for loss of home and property to Kickapoo Turnpike: An Oklahoma family has been awarded a huge compensation by a jury after they were forced out of their home to make way for the Kickapoo Turnpike. The family did not believe they were offered a fair deal, and an Oklahoma jury unanimously agreed. [KFOR]

  • ‘We wanted to stay there forever’: $2.9 million awarded in OTA eminent domain case [Fox 25]

Oklahoma considers raising age of consent to 18: Senate bill 615 under review: Oklahoma could soon become one of the states that requires the age of consent to be 18 years of age if Senate Bill 615 is heard and passed in the House. [Fox 25]

This Week in Oklahoma Politics: Catholic charter school, minimum wage state question, Office of School Choice and more (audio): The panel talks about arguments before the State Supreme Court regarding a Catholic virtual charter school, approval for an initiative petition to raise the state’s minimum wage to move forward and a preliminary hearing over Epic Charter Schools’ cofounders. [KOSU]

Tribal Nations News

Court of Criminal Appeals decision backs 2010 federal ruling that Osage Reservation disestablished: The Osage Reservation was disestablished and the state of Oklahoma retains criminal jurisdiction over crimes committed by tribal citizens in Osage County, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ruled today. [NonDoc]

  • Congress terminated Osage reservation in allotment era, Oklahoma court rules [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma appellate court rejects Osage Nation reservation claim [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma court rules ‘McGirt’ does not apply in Osage Nation [KOSU]

Voting and Election News

State officials expecting busy day Friday as election filing deadline approaches: Only a handful of Oklahomans seeking political office filed their paperwork Thursday, Oklahoma State Election Board officials said. Election board records show 206 political hopefuls filed for office. That number, state Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said, is pretty typical for a presidential election year. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma election task force recommends fighting dark money by lifting contribution limits: The mostly Republican task force also said it “would not oppose lifting” the current restrictions against politicians receiving direct monetary contributions from corporations and unions. [The Frontier]

Should school elections be held on a different day from other elections?: A conservative group asking the Oklahoma Legislature to move school board elections so they align with state and federal elections points to low turnout in board elections this week as evidence action needs to be taken. [The Oklahoman]

  • Moms for Liberty pushes for more involvement in education from parents, Oklahoma voters [Tulsa World]

What happens if candidates for a school board seat end up in a tie?: A rarely used tiebreaker enshrined in Oklahoma law will be utilized by the Pottawatomie County Election Board after an election for a seat on the Asher Public Schools Board of Education ended in a deadlock on Tuesday. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Preventive care is not just an option; it’s a necessity for a thriving society: Preventive care is the bedrock of a thriving health care system. It encompasses a range of measures aimed at averting the onset and progression of diseases, ultimately ensuring a healthier population. In Oklahoma, health care providers and payors should be resolutely committed to advancing preventive care, recognizing its pivotal role in shaping a healthier future for Oklahomans. [Sonja Hughes / The Oklahoman]

Health News

Panel kills Oklahoma bill allowing doctors to deny certain medical treatments: Senate committee on Thursday killed a bill that would have allowed health care providers and insurance companies to deny services for non-emergency procedures based on moral or religious grounds. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Oklahoma bill allowing providers to opt out of care if it goes against their beliefs fails committee [KGOU]

Oklahoma bill could broaden how providers treat sexually transmitted infections: A bill moving through the Oklahoma Legislature could allow health care providers to treat a patient’s sexual partner for sexually transmitted infections when the initial patient is diagnosed. This practice would allow sexual partners to receive treatment without being evaluated, and it’s already legal in 46 states. [KGOU]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma executes Michael DeWayne Smith for two murders in 2002: Oklahoma carried out the execution of Michael DeWayne Smith at Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester on Thursday. Smith, 41, was sentenced to death for the 2002 murders of Janet Moore and Sharath Babu Pulluru in Oklahoma County. [The Frontier]

  • Oklahoma executes Michael Dewayne Smith, the first inmate to be put to death in 2024: [Oklahoma Voice]

Housing & Economic Opportunity News

Yearly homeless count in Tulsa soars 26% in what officials believe is most accurate ‘snapshot’ yet: The results of the “Point-in-Time” Count, intended to provide a snapshot of the homelessness situation, were released Thursday, reporting 1,427 homeless individuals in Tulsa, a 26% increase over last year’s total of 1,133. The lack of affordable housing was cited as the top concern in surveys done along with the count. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma nonprofit breaks ground on largest affordable housing development in its history: The largest affordable housing development in an Oklahoma nonprofit’s history broke ground on Tuesday. Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity will build hundreds of homes for limited or middle-income families beginning this spring. [KOCO]

Education News

Ryan Walters’ shadow looms over election losses in three Tulsa School Board races: Ryan Walters has spent much of his tenure as State Superintendent battling with Tulsa schools, but on Tuesday, voters appeared to hand him a stern message. [The Frontier]

How many students might enroll in Catholic online school at center of controversy?: The Oklahoma state government-sponsored Catholic charter school at the center of national controversy drew just 145 student applications — 29% of its initial capacity — by the April 3 deadline it set in case an admissions lottery was needed. Last fall, a divided Statewide Virtual Charter School Board approved a contract with Catholic leaders in Oklahoma to create St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School, which, if opened, would be the nation’s first religious charter school. [Tulsa World]

Education Watch: Millions at Stake in Epic Embezzlement Case: Prosecutors allege Epic co-founders David Chaney and Ben Harris diverted tens of millions of dollars meant for students’ education using shell companies and false invoices, ultimately splitting about $55 million collected from the school between 2013 and 2021. CFO Josh Brock said he received a 10% cut. [Oklahoma Watch]

Editorial: Restore confidence in local elections by beefing up local ethics oversight: Every vote counts, especially in local elections as seen last week with school-related races decided by sometimes a single vote. We appreciate voters who took the time to become informed and went to the polls. Education ranks high among Oklahomans when asked about priorities, but election turnout shows otherwise. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Community News

Opinion: Women constantly seeking balance in an imbalanced life: There is just something about being the mom that kids and other family members gravitate toward. That’s why the idea of a work-family life balance is laughable. At least, that was the sentiment from a recent women’s wellness forum hosted by Grand Mental Health. Several women who are leaders in our community were on a panel discussing how they manage their lives. [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World]

Opinion, Labor Commissioner Leslie Osborn: In wake of Nex Benedict’s death, we should all reconsider the power of words: I’ve been shocked to hear some of the commentary from colleagues in the party about the tragic suicide of Nex Benedict, a gender expansive teenager from Owasso. And I know I’m not alone. This incident has many Oklahomans, including Republicans, reconsidering the power of words to cause harm and what can be done differently to ensure no young person is ever hurt that way again. It’s a conversation that every American should be a part of. [Leslie Osborn / The Oklahoman]

Local Headlines

  • OKC Muslim leader announces run for city council after Nikki Nice files for Senate run [The Oklahoman]
  • Tulsa Sheriff Vic Regalado files paperwork to run for reelection [Tulsa World]
  • New Tulsa Public Schools calendar includes no school for two days for November election [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Housing costs are becoming less and less affordable in Tulsa. It certainly is a challenging situation. A lot of people are struggling with homelessness, struggling to stay and find affordable housing. It’s something to be taken seriously.”

-Mark Smith, CEO of Housing Solutions, speaking about the steep increase of people experiencing homelessness as seen in this year’s “Point-in-Time” count. [Tulsa World

Number of the Day


Percentage increase of people experiencing homelessness in 2024 compared to the previous year. [Housing Solutions]

Policy Note

Lawmakers Should Reverse Course on Irresponsible Tax Cuts and Continue Positive Momentum on Reforming Criminal Legal Fees: States across the country made huge progress last year in reversing course on the use of criminal legal fees — eliminating some, or even all, of the fees that can be applied to people who become ensnared in the criminal legal system. But that momentum is being threatened as lawmakers in many states simultaneously pursue costly and irresponsible tax policies. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

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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.