In The Know: #OKLeg passes controversial Texas-style immigration bill | Audit questions millions in COVID spending, AG calls for agency head’s resignation | Gov. vetoes ‘Survivors Act’ for domestic violence victims

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

‘Grave disservice to taxpayers’: Audit criticizes Oklahoma’s handling of federal funds, OESC contract: In a blistering review of how Oklahoma agencies spent pandemic-era federal funds, State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd sharply criticized the Office of Management and Enterprise Services for failing to seek bids on a series of state contracts. [NonDoc]

  • Audit questions millions in Oklahoma COVID spending. Drummond calls for agency head to resign. [Oklahoma Voice]
  • Audit finds Oklahoma is ‘becoming a no-bid state’ amid mismanagement by state agency [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Oklahoma Secretary of Tourism Denies Auditor’s Claim of Conflict of interest [News 9]
  • ‘There was no conflict of interest’: Secretary Zumwalt claims no wrongdoing as AG calls for resignation [KOCO]

Controversial Oklahoma immigration bill sent to governor: The Senate on Tuesday sent Gov. Kevin Stitt a controversial immigration bill. The measure passed the Senate by a vote of 39-8. House Bill 4156 would create a new crime called “impermissible occupation” for willfully entering the state without legal authorization to be in the United States. [Oklahoma Voice]

State Government News

Governor vetoes ‘Survivors Act’ for domestic violence victims: Governor Kevin Stitt has vetoed a bill known as the Oklahoma Survivors’ Act. Senate Bill 1470 passed by wide margins in both the House and the Senate this legislative session. The Oklahoma Survivors’ Act would allow for more lenient sentencing for domestic violence victims, convicted of crimes against their perpetrators. [KFOR]

‘Criminalization is never an answer’: OK bill fining, incarcerating homeless people on state-owned land heads to Governor: The proposal states tents, shelters and bedding would not be allowed on any state-owned property including parks, highways and underpasses. First-time violators would be issued a warning and offered assistance such as a drive to a nearby food pantry or homeless shelter. If the individual refuses the offer or removal, they’ll either face a $50 fine, up to 15 days in jail, or both. [KFOR]

‘Women’s Bill of Rights’ passes Oklahoma Senate; bathroom ‘gender police’ a concern, opponents say: The Oklahoma Senate advanced legislation Republicans call a “Women’s Bill of Rights” for public spaces but is described by opponents as a “bathroom bill” that would make ordinary Oklahomans out to be “gender police.” [Tulsa World]

  • Oklahoma Senate debates female definition in contentious Women’s Bill of Rights [Fox 25]

Pay raise, new judicial evaluation program await their legislative verdicts: As state leaders await a bevy of pending state Supreme Court decisions and watch for potential resurrection of a controversial attempt to reform how judges are nominated, the Oklahoma Legislature has another pair of major court decisions left on its docket this session: whether to create a new judicial evaluation program that stalled last year and whether to authorize a proposed pay raise for those on the bench. [NonDoc]

Senate passes bill to ban corporal punishment for Oklahoma students with disabilities: House Bill 1028 passed by a vote of 31-11 and returns to the House for consideration. The adopted floor substitute defines corporal punishment as hitting, slapping, paddling or any other means of inflicting physical pain. [Oklahoma Voice]

Drummond asks court to stay ClassWallet lawsuit, pending ruling by Oklahoma Supreme Court: Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond filed new documents in court this week in the two-year-long battle between his office, Gov. Kevin Stitt and ClassWallet, a self-described purchasing and reimbursement platform for public funds. [The Oklahoman]

Long Story Short: House Rejects Resolution to Change Oklahoma’s Judicial Selection Process (Audio): Keaton Ross reports on a legislative attempt to eliminate the state’s Judicial Nominating Committee and a lawsuit brought by state prisoners who were locked in a shower stall instead of a cell. Paul Monies talks about teacher confusion over certification tests. [Oklahoma Watch]

Oklahoma Natural Gas seeks rate hike: The bump would add nearly $32 million to ONG’s base rate revenue, which they say would offset business costs and infrastructure investments. The Corporation Commission last approved a rate increase for ONG in November 2022. [KOSU]

Legislature sends governor year-round Daylight Saving Time bill: The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed and sent to the governor on Tuesday legislation to end the state’s annual spring forward and fall back routine. There’s just one catch — and it’s a pretty big one. Congress must act for Senate Bill 1200 to take effect. [Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Supreme Court will consider when doctors can provide emergency abortions in states with bans: The Supreme Court will consider Wednesday when doctors can provide abortions during medical emergencies in states with bans enacted after the high court’s sweeping decision overturning Roe v. Wade. [AP via Tulsa World]

Congressman Tom Cole dwells on role as first Native American to lead House Appropriations Committee: History was made when Republican Congressman Tom Cole became not only the first Oklahoman to chair the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, but also the first Native American to do so. [KOSU]

Criminal Justice News

OK County hundreds of millions short of what’s needed to build new jail: While elected county commissioners told voters in 2022 a new jail could be built for $260 million, Tuesday’s estimates put its cost today at anywhere from $610 million for a jail with 1,800 beds to $677 million for one with 2,248 beds. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma County grand jury relocated after fight; emails shed light on DA’s apology to AG: The Oklahoma County grand jury will no longer hear testimony at the state attorney general’s office because of an altercation in the parking lot April 16. The altercation came as the Oklahoma County grand jury looked into a fatal shooting in August during a football game at Choctaw High School. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Everything Is Not OK in Oklahoma Public Schools: Ryan Walters, Oklahoma’s superintendent of public instruction, faces national backlash as he continues to inject his extremist ideology into public school classrooms. [Southern Poverty Law Center]

Teach Not Punish Celebrates 8 Years of Legacy in Tulsa: This April marked a significant milestone for Teach Not Punish (TNP), celebrating eight years of dedicated service to the community. TNP has been a steadfast provider of educational and family resources, making a tangible difference in the lives of many. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Local Headlines

  • Certain fees you pay to the city of Oklahoma City might be increasing. Here’s where the money will be spent [The Oklahoman]
  • St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral officially approved as cold-weather shelter in OKC [The Oklahoman]
  • Sand Springs moves forward with $1m community plaza plan [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • City goes to court over butane transloading facility near BMX property in Tulsa [Tulsa World]
  • GolfSuites Tulsa faces eviction from Riverwalk Crossing over lease agreement breach [KTUL]

Quote of the Day

“And we’re going to try to put those folks in jail because of why? The way they look. You can deny that all you want, that is the thing that’s going to occur – that is the thing that’s going to happen.”

– Sen. George Young (D-OKC) on newly passed anti-immigration legislation, HB 4156, which creates a new crime called “impermissible occupation” for willfully entering the state without legal authorization to be in the United States. [Journal Record]

Number of the Day


Number of U.S. citizen children in Oklahoma who live with at least one undocumented parent. [American Immigration Council]

Policy Note

Remembering Ellis Island’s Busiest Day: How Has Immigration Changed Since 1907?: Then, as now, immigration was a highly controversial topic. Aspiring Americans didn’t need much in 1907—there were no visas or papers. Opponents of immigration raised pointed questions about how new immigrants would fit into America, claimed they would take jobs away from Americans, and fanned the flames of xenophobia. Today, we know these fears about non-assimilation were entirely unfounded. The descendants of those 1907 arrivals are unquestionably American. Yet, the same myths and fears persist. [New American Economy]

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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.