In The Know: State A.G. files winter storm lawsuits | OK Senate cancels committee hearings while it awaits House’s budget numbers | Tribes should have been consulted on sharing tag data

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.

New from OK Policy

Policy Matters: Tribes should have been consulted on sharing tag data. They weren’t.: Oklahoma should work with the 38 federally recognized Tribal nations within its borders as sovereign nations, fully recognizing Tribal rights to negotiate with the state as equals. However, a recent bill heard in the House’s Public Safety Committee shows a continued disconnect in the relations between Tribes and the state. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma Attorney General Files Winter Storm Lawsuits Over Natural Gas Prices: Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond filed a pair of lawsuits Wednesday against natural gas pipeline firms, alleging the companies helped bid up the price of natural gas to the highest levels in history during a winter storm in February 2021. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • Representing GRDA, Drummond files ‘first’ two Winter Storm Uri price manipulation lawsuit [NonDoc]
  • Oklahoma AG Drummond files suits over Winter Storm Uri prices [Oklahoma Voice]
  • Oklahoma attorney general sues two Texas energy companies over high prices during 2021 storm [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma AG files lawsuit alleging inflated natural gas prices during Winter Storm Uri [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Spreadsheet blues: House mulls own budget position as Senate cancels committee: Shortly after 10 a.m. today, Senate Appropriations and Budget Committee Chairman Roger Thompson headed for a conversation with the Senate’s president pro tempore instead of gaveling into the committee meeting that had been scheduled to consider House budget-related bills. [NonDoc]

  • Budget standoff at Oklahoma Legislature drags on for second week [The Oklahoman]
  • Senate Appropriations Committee cancels another meeting while awaiting House budget numbers [Tulsa World]

Stitt or Drummond? Oklahoma Supreme Court will decide who represents state in tribal compacting case: A federal judge thinks the Oklahoma Supreme Court should decide whether the Governor or Attorney General has the authority to represent the state’s interests in federal court. One attorney says the court’s choice could affect more than just the case in question. [KGOU]

Talent drain at Oklahoma State Department of Education: More than 130 staffers have left: At least 65 people have left their jobs with the Oklahoma State Department of Education since July, according to resignation letters and termination forms obtained by The Oklahoman. That raises the total number of employees who have departed the agency since state schools Superintendent Ryan Walters took office to more than 130. [The Oklahoman]

Lawmakers seek to address online bullying: House members on Wednesday junked a Senate bill on assisted suicide and converted it to an anti-bullying measure its sponsors said targets online bullying and harassment of children. [Tulsa World]

Senate bill would allow Oklahomans 18 and over to purchase handguns: An Oklahoma Senate bill addressing age limits for firearm purchases cleared a House committee Wednesday. According to measure language, Senate Bill 1218 would prohibit licensed dealers from denying anyone over the age of 18 from purchasing a firearm based on his or her age unless the customer does not meet state law requirements. [Journal Record]

  • Legislation allowing handgun purchases at 18 termed ‘anti-discrimination bill’ [Tulsa World]

Hemp-derived products could face new regulation in Oklahoma: Legislation intended to give the state a handle on intoxicating hemp-derived products sold in vape shops, gas stations and convenience stores advanced a step at the Capitol on Wednesday. [Tulsa World]

Does the turnpike authority have an unfair advantage over homeowners? This family fought and won: The Brewers won big. But the ordeal they endured is held up as evidence by homeowners now fighting against proposed ACCESS Oklahoma toll roads that the turnpike authority has an unfair advantage. [The Oklahoman]

Voting and Election News

Two incumbent Oklahoma Republican lawmakers withdraw from their legislative races: Two Republican lawmakers have abandoned their reelection efforts. Rep. Kevin McDugle, R-Broken Arrow, and Sen. Chris Kidd, R-Waurika, withdrew this week after initially filing for reelection last week. [Oklahoma Voice]

Health News

First over-the-counter birth control pill offers family planning amid Oklahoma’s abortion ban: Opill, which was approved by the FDA last July, is the nation’s first over-the-counter birth control pill, and it’s hitting pharmacy shelves now. More than 200,000 Oklahomans grapple with limited access to birth control amid the state’s abortion ban, which cost it millions in federal family planning money. [KGOU]

Criminal Justice News

Opinion: Lowering felony threshold for retail crime would end progress to reduce incarceration: House Bill 3694 proposes to lower the felony threshold for larceny from retail establishments from $1,000 to $500. This move directly contradicts data and logic. This proposal ignores the will of the people, undermines evidenced-based treatment and solutions, jeopardizes community safety and reverses the positive trends we’ve seen since the passage of SQ 780. [Kris Steele / The Oklahoman]

Housing & Economic Opportunity News

Tulsa leaders announce ‘Path to Home’ plan to tackle homelessness: Tulsa is looking to further its efforts to address the city’s homelessness problem. Those goals include building more affordable housing, early intervention for Tulsans on the verge of homelessness, and enforcing right-of-way laws to criminalize encampments. [KOSU]

Editorial: Full community fix needed to respond to Tulsa’s 26% homelessness census jump: Tulsans know the causes behind the growing number of people who are homeless. Still, homelessness is getting worse as affordable housing options become more scarce. The plans to avert disaster are not moving fast enough. [Tulsa World Editorial]

Education News

Tulsa Public Schools ups the intensity to prepare for high-stakes testing: The state ordered the district to have half of its students score at a basic level or higher on state reading tests or improve reading scores by at least 5%. District leaders say winter benchmark tests showed they would have to accelerate learning for at least 700 students to meet the demand by spring exams. [Oklahoma Voice]

Oklahoma university reports cyber attack on campus; some data may have been compromised: On Tuesday, East Central University reported it was targeted by a cybercriminal group in February that successfully attacked several campus computers. [The Oklahoman]

Education Watch: Bill Would Revamp Oklahoma’s Graduation Requirements: Rep. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon, wants to update the state’s high school graduation requirements, giving students more flexibility to choose courses that align with their career goals. [Oklahoma Watch]

Community News

The Story Of Greenwood Will Survive Any Court Decision: During the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, Viola Ford Fletcher’s voice didn’t crack while seated before the U.S. House of Representatives, describing the violence of the white mob in her childhood community of Greenwood, the Tulsa, Oklahoma district, known as Black Wall Street. Nearly three years later, on the warm spring afternoon of April 2, 2024, 109-year-old Tulsa massacre survivors Fletcher and Lessie Benningfield Randle, gazed up at the nine justices of the Oklahoma Supreme Court for the first time. [The Oklahoma Eagle]

Local Headlines

Quote of the Day

“We can’t control every factor out there that’s causing homelessness, but we can control what we as a city government do in response to that.”

– Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said in a press conference Tuesday to announce the “Path to Home” project, the latest city initiative to get more homeless individuals off the streets. [KOSU]

Number of the Day

6 in 10
About six-in-ten U.S. adults say they’re bothered a lot by the feeling that some corporations (61%) and some wealthy people (60%) don’t pay their fair share. [Pew Research]

Policy Note

How The Anti-Tax Movement Changed Politics and Government: In his new book, law professor Michael Graetz makes a provocative argument: The modern anti-tax movement is perhaps the most important US political trend of the past half-century. And its power goes far beyond economics. It simultaneously affects and is driven by culture, as well as attitudes about race and government. Graetz argues that anti-tax conservatives not only lowered taxes, especially for high-income households and corporations, but they changed government and politics in profound ways. And that, he says, was their ultimate goal. [Tax Policy Center]

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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.