In The Know: Debunking the myth that unhoused folks are from out of town | Questions Oklahomans should ask lawmakers about new anti-immigrant bill | Where House, Senate stand on budget

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

Debunking a myth: Most of Tulsa’s homeless are not from out of town. They’re from here: Out of over 850 respondents on a recent survey, 73% indicated that they first became homeless in Tulsa County. The survey was part of the annual Point in Time count effort, which is conducted every January to provide a snapshot of the homelessness situation in the area. For the local organizations that serve the homeless, that result is not big news. [Tulsa World]

As Oklahoma’s controversial immigration bill advances, Stitt won’t commit to signing it into law: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt says he has not decided if he will sign a controversial piece of immigration legislation if it reaches his desk next week. First, he says, he’s seeking advice from a trusted foreign diplomat from Mexico. [KOSU]

Opinion: There are three questions Oklahomans should ask legislators about the new anti-immigration bill: It’s understandable why the federal government and border states with a large number of undocumented immigrants are addressing this issue. But just how big of a problem is it for Oklahoma? According to the American Immigration Council, there are 217,967 immigrants in Oklahoma, of which 68,869 are undocumented. With so many pressing issues the state is currently facing — education, workforce development, housing and an already overcrowded and underfunded correctional system, should targeting 1.7% of the population be a priority? [Erika Lucas / The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Stitt may veto budget if his proposed tax cut is left out: A veto could be in store for any state budget plan advanced to the governor by the Legislature if it includes no provision for a cut to personal income taxes paid by Oklahomans. [Tulsa World]

The Oklahoma House and Senate’s budgets are wildly different — to the tune of about $1 billion: Republican leaders in the Oklahoma House of Representatives revealed their budget plan recently — a proposal that’s about $1 billion different from the plan released earlier by the Oklahoma Senate. [The Oklahoman]

  • Capitol Insider: Budget talks moving forward again [KGOU]

‘We don’t have to be disagreeable,’ governor says as Legislature takes up tough issues: During Gov. Kevin Stitt’s news conference Friday at the state Capitol, he highlighted the “Oklahoma Standard” that was born out of the Oklahoma City bombing 29 years ago, encouraging acts of service, honor and kindness. However, discussion quickly shifted to unresolved legislative issues over which debate is likely to be contentious, if not disagreeable. [The Oklahoman]

UCO Study: Oklahoma cities and towns paid millions extra because of state’s anti-ESG law: Oklahoma municipalities were forced to pay more than $180 million in expenses because of a state law written to protect the oil and gas industry, a new study shows. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Oklahoma politics launched with constitutional chaos: Of course, if the Oklahoma Legislature looks like chaos — well, that’s how our state got started at the turn of the last century. [William W. Savage, Jr. / NonDoc]

Opinion: It’s time to put partisanship aside when it comes to the future of Oklahoma public schools: Over the coming days, lawmakers will be tasked with taking a series of pivotal votes that will help define the path for our public schools. They’ll be faced with determining whether to adopt nearly 20 proposed administrative rules submitted by state Superintendent Ryan Walters and his Department of Education that could shake up the very foundation of our schools. [Janelle Stecklein / Oklahoma Voice]

Federal Government News

Sell or ban: House approves anti-TikTok measure attached to foreign aid proposal: TikTok’s days may be numbered after the House approved legislation Saturday that would ban the popular social media app nationwide unless its Chinese owners sell. Under the measure, which passed on a bipartisan 360-to-58 vote, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance has up to a year to divest before the prohibition begins. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Tribes talk leading state economy at first Regional Chamber event: The Tulsa Regional Chamber hosted leaders of the Cherokee, Muscogee and Osage Nations Thursday at the first State of the Tribal Nations Conference. The event gave tribal governments and business leaders the opportunity to discuss the future of economic developments in their nations. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Inter-Tribal Council Passes Resolution Urging FCC to Establish Specific Event Code for Missing and Endangered Persons: The Inter-Tribal Council (ITC) of the Five Civilized Tribes passed a resolution urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish a specific event code for missing and endangered persons at their quarterly meeting April 19 at WinStar World Casino and Resort. [Native News Online]

Voting and Election News

Rundown of eight Republican primaries in Oklahoma set for June: In Oklahoma state politics, the most consequential elections are often Republican primaries. Even when an office goes to a general election in November, the ultimate outcome is, more times than not, determined by GOP voters in June’s closed primaries or August’s runoffs. [Tulsa World]

Health News

We fact-checked claims about abortion pills: As Oklahoma lawmakers and anti-abortion groups seek to restrict access, The Frontier found false and exaggerated claims of the dangers of medical abortion. [The Frontier]

Opinion: Criminalizing people did not work to stop HIV transmission, and it will not decrease STIs: Criminalizing people did not work to stop HIV transmission, and it will not work if we expand it to STIs. As experts in public health and HIV, we call on Oklahoma lawmakers to learn from the data and the history of criminalizing STIs. House Bill 3098 will likely increase transmissions and decrease testing — exactly the opposite of the bill’s intent. [Taryn Norman and Nathan Cisneros / The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Cleveland County jail inmate dies following medical emergency, officials say: A Cleveland County jail inmate died at a local hospital Friday following a medical episode, according to jail officials. According to a news release issued by the jail, 36-year-old William Kenneth Moore died at Norman Regional Hospital shortly before midnight. [The Oklahoman]

Who are ‘God’s Misfits’? Oklahoma homicide draws heat to S. Carolina ministry with same name: The investigation into two women killed in the Oklahoma Panhandle has drawn attention to the four suspects’ membership in “God’s Misfits,” an anti-government religious group, police say. But a preacher with a ministry of the same name has been caught up in the case after news spread online of the organization mentioned in court documents. [The Oklahoman]

Experienced attorney turned federal judge aims to keep cases moving efficiently: Since being sworn in Jan. 6, U.S. District Judge John D. Russell has already held one criminal trial and presided over numerous criminal and civil hearings in the Tulsa-based U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma.  [Tulsa World]

‘Archaic way’ to keep Oklahoma County jail information about to become extinct: Oklahoma County’s jail operations are undergoing a generational transformation. Over the next few months, its jailers will stop using pen and paper to log pod site checks, detainee interactions and reports about incidents inside the building and instead use smartphones equipped with appropriate software to do all that, and more. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Vinita theme park update: Project investment may now be up to $2.5 billion: The timeline for a more than $2 billion planned Disney-like theme park here remains in limbo for now, but principals said the project remains on track as they make design adjustments. [Tulsa World]

Mercy Hospital OKC Communities selects Bennett Geister as president: Mercy has named Bennett Geister president of Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City Communities. Geister will lead operations and strategy for Mercy’s hospitals and clinics across the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, beginning June 3. [Journal Record]

Education News

DEI is Imperative to Protecting the Path for Black Male Educators: As a Black male educator, a first-generation graduate, and someone who grew up within the University of North Carolina’s (UNC) system. My journey has been one of resilience, fueled by the belief that education can break barriers and transform lives. [The Black Wall Street Times]

OU is expanding its top-ranked aviation school with nine new aircraft, which just arrived: With music from the movie “Top Gun” blaring and its president decked out in aviator sunglasses and an “OU Aviation” T-shirt, nine airplanes bought by the University of Oklahoma for its top-ranked School of Aviation flew into Max Westheimer Airport on Friday morning. [The Oklahoman]

  • OU aviation school lands nine $398,000 single-engine Pipers for training [Journal Record]

Opinion: We are asking educators to do more than teach. They need our support: All children have the ability to learn. That is a fact. But, creating an environment where all children arrive at school each day ready to learn and equipped with the tools they need to be successful is about equity. Generational poverty plays a huge role in access to resources, and expecting schools to fill all the gaps on their own is a huge and impossible order. [Mary Mélon-Tully / The Oklahoman]

Community News

Stitt, Holt condemn hate in OKC bombing remembrance event: ‘We must each be ambassadors of kindness’: The 29th Annual Remembrance Ceremony on Friday morning at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum included family and friends of the victims, local, state and national politicians, and others in the community. The ceremony began with a 168-second moment of silence, a second for each victim. [The Oklahoman]

  • Remembering the Oklahoma City Bombing: A Tragic Chapter [The Black Wall Street Times]
  • OKC never forgets, reflects on April 19, 1995 during annual memorial [Journal Record]
  • Waco, OKC bombing and Columbine shooting: How the April tragedies are (and aren’t) related [The Oklahoman]

After altercation, grand jury clears Del City police officer in football game shooting: Days after an altercation disrupted its proceedings, an Oklahoma County grand jury recommended no charges be filed against a Del City police officer in connection with an August shooting at a Choctaw High School football game. [NonDoc]

  • Oklahoma County grand jury clears Del City police officer in shooting last year [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“I think it’s some part of our human psychology to not want to believe that this can happen to people that we know in our community… Unfortunately, we deny I think some of the struggles that our friends and family and neighbors are experiencing. I think it is also a way of trying to maybe release culpability that we have as a community to do something about it.”

-Mark Smith, CEO of Housing Solutions in Tulsa, speaking about the myth that homelessness is increasing because individuals are coming here from elsewhere, drawn by word of the city’s range and quality of services. [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Percentage of unhoused individuals in Tulsa’s emergency shelters, safe havens, transitional housing, and street outreach who were experiencing homelessness for the first time. [Housing Solutions

Policy Note

Criminalizing Homelessness Won’t Make It Go Away (video): Amid an affordable housing crisis, where 70 percent of all extremely low-income families today pay more than half their income on rent, becoming homeless is easier than we’d like to think. Every homeless person’s path is complicated, and in this video, we haven’t remotely captured anyone’s whole story. Yes, some are addicts, some are mentally ill, some have made unwise choices, and some are simply unlucky. Some are many of those things. But all of them argue that in the hardest moment of their lives, they have been largely abandoned, and even punished, by the rest of us. So we hope you’ll do more than dismiss, or judge, the people in this video, and instead listen to them. [New York Times Opinion]

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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.