In The Know: 29th anniversary of OKC bombing | Controversial anti-immigrant bill advances from House | Law to change graduation requirements nearing final approval

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

OKC bombing, 29 years later: Oklahomans share their memories of resilience, compassion amid a painful moment in history. [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Controversial Oklahoma immigration bill heads to the Senate: The Oklahoma House on Thursday passed a controversial illegal immigration bill which is expected to draw a legal challenge. The bill would create a new crime called “impermissible occupation” for willfully entering the state without legal authorization to be in the United States. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Republicans in Oklahoma House pass bill to allow state arrest of undocumented migrants [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma’s anti-immigration bill inches closer to becoming law; legal challenges expected [KOSU]
  • Undocumented workers would face prison time if bill passes [Journal Record]
  • Oklahoma House passes Texas-style illegal immigration bill [Tulsa World]
  • ‘Scares me to death’: OK House passes bill criminalizing illegal immigrants [KFOR]
  • ‘Politics and not policy’: ACLU of OK reacts to bill cracking down on illegal immigration [Fox 25]
  • House Republicans Vote to Criminalize Undocumented Oklahomans [The Black Wall Street Times]
  • Politicians’ talk of a border ‘invasion’ is speech that experts say has gotten people killed [Oklahoma Voice]

‘It’s a scary time right now’: Oklahoma Senate passes AI child pornography ban: On Wednesday, the Oklahoma Senate passed a ban on child pornography derived from artificial intelligence. [Fox 25]

Oklahoma House advances new requirements for initiative petition process: Ahead of next week’s legislative deadline, a bill that would increase the barriers for voter-led initiatives to get on the ballot is headed to the Governor’s desk. [KGOU]

This Week in Oklahoma Politics: Immigration legislation, House budget proposal, Superintendent Ryan Walters and more (audio): The panel discusses a new immigration bill unveiled by legislative leadership earlier this week, the State House releasing a budget proposal to include a tax cut already rejected by the Senate and lawmakers in the House rejecting a measure to eliminate the Judicial Nominating Commission. [KOSU]

Tribal Nations News

‘We need a massive paradigm shift’ | Overdose Rates for Native Americans Up 15%, New CDC Data Shows: Thousands of Native people have lost a loved one to the overdose crisis. Amid a nationwide scourge of fentanyl and other illicit opioids, drug overdoses continue to rise in Indian Country at a faster rate than any other racial group. That’s according to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) last month. [Native News Online]

Tribes celebrate economic efforts with Tulsa Regional Chamber: In a year that “Killers of the Flower Moon” created such buzz for the Osage Nation, the tribe’s chief says “food sustainability is No. 1 on the list” of its economic development efforts. Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear spoke Thursday during the first State of the Tribal Nations event hosted by the Tulsa Regional Chamber. [Tulsa World]

Alfre Woodard, Greenwood Cultural Center honor Osage Nation with Legacy Award: Actress Alfre Woodard said the murders depicted in the film “Killers of the Flower Moon” are an essential part of the Osage Nation’s history but that those “terrible injustices should not be what the Osage are known for.” Woodard made that point Thursday night at the Greenwood Cultural Center’s 2024 Legacy Award Dinner, where she presented the center’s Legacy Award to the Osage Nation. [Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

Election Board keeps HD 37, HD 66 challengers on ballot: Two Oklahoma House members will have to campaign to keep their seats after the State Election Board ruled unanimously Thursday that their challengers can stay on the ballot. [NonDoc]

Health News

April is Minority Health Month: April is recognized as Minority Health Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about the ongoing health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities, including American Indian and Alaska Native communities. [Native News Online]

Criminal Justice News

Opinion: Hiring individuals returning from incarceration can address the ongoing labor shortage: Oklahoma has been a leader in innovative solutions that can help individuals who have served their time get back on their feet, re-enter the workforce, find stable housing and strengthen their communities ― and reaped the benefits. [Tricia Everest / The Oklahoman]

Housing & Economic Opportunity News

Opinion: Making sense of the ‘wage gap’ for American women: What’s behind the wage gap between men and women? It has narrowed recently. In 2023, women’s median weekly wages of $1,005 equaled 84% of men’s $1,202 in weekly wages. That’s an all-time high, and a distinct uptick from a fairly steady 80% to 82% between 2004 and 2020. [Rachel Greszler / Tulsa World]

Education News

Law to change graduation requirements in Oklahoma schools nearing final approval: A former classroom teacher in Yukon Public Schools, Republican state Rep. Rhonda Baker received a daunting task two years ago — leading a rewrite of Oklahoma’s high school graduation standards, which figures to be one of the state’s most impactful pieces of education legislation in a generation. [The Oklahoman]

‘Never back down to a woke mob!’ Upset audience brings Ryan Walters speaking event to abrupt end: A town hall event with State Superintendent Ryan Walters, hosted on OSU’s campus by a campus conservative organization, only lasted about 15 minutes Wednesday after some in the audience incessantly shouted at Walters. Walters began the event telling the audience to “never back down to a woke mob.” 12 minutes later, organizers ushered Walters out of the room. [KFOR]

Opinion: Glad to put the state testing behind me, forever: This past week marked a household milestone deserving of a celebratory happy dance: My kids will never have to endure Oklahoma’s state testing again. The last child took the last mandated test. Good riddance. [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World]

Local Headlines

  • City of Piedmont cancels citizen pothole filling event following public outcry [Fox 25]
  • Arkansas River levee work in Tulsa assured in state budget plans [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa Mayor: Swan Lake fountain to be operational by end of year [Tulsa World]
  • Cleveland County develops economic initiatives [Journal Record]

Quote of the Day

“It’s going to be something that could affect everyone. It’s not just immigrants. I’m a U.S. citizen. I have children. My boys could get affected. My grandchildren. I have nephews and nieces. They could also be targeted. It’s not a fair thing because how can you distinguish one from the other?”

-Oklahoma City resident Irma Palacios, talking about a proposed anti-immigrant bill that would establish state-level criminal charges for undocumented immigrants in Oklahoma. [KFOR]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Americans who say that increasing the number of immigration judges and staff so that asylum applications can be decided more quickly. This was was the policy solution that the most responders, regardless of political affiliation, said would improve the situation at the U.S. border with Mexico. [Pew Research Center

Policy Note

Beyond A Border Solution: How to Build a Humanitarian Protection System That Won’t Break: Presidential administrations of both parties have failed to meet immigration challenges. Instead of an orderly, humane, and consistent approach to humanitarian protection and border management, we have been left with a dysfunctional system that serves the needs of no one: not the government, border communities, or asylum seekers themselves. Restoring our humanitarian protection systems and breaking the cycle of crises and crackdowns is not only possible, but within reach. However, to do so, we need a major shift in thinking and policymaking. Politicians must abandon a fantasy of short-term solutionism and acknowledge that only sustained investment over a period of time can realistically address these 21st century challenges. Therefore, short-term action must focus on establishing a viable path towards a better system. In the long term, with significant investment, we can create a flexible, orderly, and safe asylum process. [American Immigration Council

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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.