In The Know: Top leaders expected to meet in public budget summit today | Jimcy McGirt to be released from prison | Gov’s executive order ends decades-old Oklahoma women’s leadership program at OU

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.

State Government News

Tensions abound as lawmakers, Gov. Stitt plan to meet Monday to discuss budget: Republican leaders in the Oklahoma Legislature have agreed to attend a budget “summit” hosted by Gov. Kevin Stitt on Monday in an attempt to get FY 2025 budget negotiations off high center. The meeting, set for 2 p.m. Monday in the governor’s large conference room at the state Capitol, comes with less than a month remaining in the second session of the 59th Oklahoma Legislature. [The Oklahoman]

Data was missing from a US News and World report on Oklahoma schools. Lawmakers want to know what happened: Leaders of the Oklahoma Legislature and Gov. Kevin Stitt expressed concern this week about media reports that U.S. News and World Report’s annual rankings of Oklahoma high schools were skewed because the Oklahoma State Department of Education failed to provide key data used by the publication to rate schools. [The Oklahoman]

  • Editorial: Oklahoma Education Department’s blaming of Post Office for failing in its job a new low [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Bill increasing age of sexual consent dies in Oklahoma House amid flap over childhood marriage ban: An effort to raise Oklahoma’s age of sexual consent appears dead for the session after lawmakers tried to take it a step further by also banning most childhood marriages. Senate Bill 615 sought to increase the age of consent from 16 to 18. It also contained provisions that would have protected adults who had sex with children 15 or older from prosecution if they were within four years of age. [Oklahoma Voice]

Oklahoma not alone in states taking millions in losses on cashless tolling: Turnpike authorities across the country that have adopted cashless toll collection systems like Oklahoma’s PlatePay have had to write off millions of dollars in uncollected revenues, reports from states and news outlets show. According to Oklahoma Turnpike Authority spokeswoman Lisa Shearer-Salim, a loss of 3% is pretty much standard. [Tulsa World]

Turnpike officials evaluating whether they are subject to new Landowners Bill of Rights: The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority on Friday reported it is evaluating whether it will follow a “Landowner’s Bill of Rights” signed into law this week that was inspired by what critics say is a heavy-handed approach to acquiring property to build new toll roads. [The Oklahoman]

Gov. Stitt signs bill to change Oklahoma car tag process into law: Under the bill, effective in September, motor vehicle license plates will remain with the vehicle to which they were initially registered. The bill repeals a statute authorizing the transfer of a license plate to a different vehicle and requires a public awareness campaign to inform residents of the changes. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma modernizes its vintage regulations for swimming pools: Oklahoma hadn’t updated its regulations for swimming pools since Gerald Ford was president. Now, Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed a bill to bring Oklahoma’s pools into the 21st century. [KOSU]

Roundup: Poll talks Stitt, state favorability; McGirt to be released; Walters answers lawsuit: Things are heating up at the Oklahoma State Capitol, but that doesn’t mean the news cycle is slowing down. In fact, it simply sets our newsroom on a crash course for a hectic six weeks between now and the state’s June 18 primary election. [ NonDoc]

  • Monday Minute Newsletter [NonDoc]

Opinion: Shortfalls continually plague Oklahoma’s budget. So why are we still insisting on income tax cuts?: Based on the lackadaisical attitude that some lawmakers have toward tax cuts right now, you wouldn’t know that six of the past 10 budget cycles have been horribly painful and that our economic success is still intrinsically linked to the fortunes of our oil and gas industry. [Janelle Stecklein / Oklahoma Voice]

Federal Government News

D.C. Digest: Oklahoma lawmakers involved in health care policy: Health care was among the issues addressed by Oklahoma U.S. Sens. James Lankford and Markwayne Mullin upon returning to Washington after surveying storm damage last Sunday and Monday. [Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

An Oklahoma trooper ticketed a driver over her tribal license plate. What happened next?: Six months after an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper ticketed a driver for her tribal tags and sparked a statewide controversy, most prosecutors say they haven’t seen an influx of similar cases — or any at all. [The Oklahoman]

How tribes are reversing years of consolidation within the cattle industry with their own meat processing plants: Today, cattle ranchers across the country have fewer processors to sell to, which many say has deflated their profits. Those who have tried to remain independent often don’t have a small meatpacker nearby to do business with. But the impact of consolidation has been especially jarring in America’s tribal communities, where the rate of plant closures has exceeded the national average. [Investigate Midwest]

Oklahoma Tribal leaders advocate for new FCC code to aid in MMIP crisis: Leaders of the Chickasaw, Cherokee, Choctaw, Muscogee and Seminole nations are urging the FCC to establish a new event code to help locate missing and endangered adults — a crucial tool for tribal nations impacted by the MMIP crisis. [KOSU]

Osage News investigates the mystery of the Million Dollar Elm: Someone vandalized the Million Dollar Elm, a symbolic tree located on the Osage Nation campus. The act left many in the community asking, ‘why?’ [KOSU]

Oklahoman Jim Thorpe receives Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously: ‘Greatest athlete in the world’: President Biden announced Friday one of Oklahoma’s most famous athletes is being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously. Jim Thorpe, who was Sac and Fox, was born in Prague, Oklahoma and in 1912 became the first Native American to win an Olympic gold medal. [The Oklahoman]

Voting and Election News

Oklahoma minimum wage petition signings in full swing: Raise the Wage is conducting petition signing events across Oklahoma for State Question 832. SQ 832 proposes a gradual increase from the state’s minimum wage of $7.25 per hour to at least $15 per hour by 2029. Increases beyond $15 per hour would be based on the federal consumer price index. [The O’Colly]

Stitt Signs Several Election and Voting Bills: With four weeks to go in the 2024 legislative session, Gov. Kevin Stitt has already signed numerous bills affecting Oklahoma voters into law. [Oklahoma Watch]

Political notebook: A way-too-early look at 2026 campaign finances: What do Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, Attorney General Gentner Drummond and House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, have in common? None has an election this year. All have a fair amount of money in their campaign accounts. And all have been mentioned as potential 2026 gubernatorial candidates. [Tulsa World]

Opinion: Oklahoma’s current voting machines are not going to last forever. They will need replacing: For almost four decades, Oklahoma has had a national reputation as a leader in holding free and fair elections ― safe from voter fraud and with every ballot counted accurately and securely. It wasn’t always that way. [Michael Clingman / The Oklahoman]

Health News

Opinion: Talking honestly about abortion is part of getting an initiative petition to Oklahoma voters: In the nearly 50 years women had a national right to choose an abortion, a movement grew in opposition that stigmatized the choice. A consequence was that women shut down, afraid to tell their stories or even let their views be known. It became taboo as the public debate turned combative and divisive. This November, voters in several states will decide whether women will have a right to choose an abortion. Oklahomans are not among them, but members of a loose-knit coalition are watching and taking notes. [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Jimcy McGirt to be released from Oklahoma prison 4 years after pivotal Supreme Court ruling: The Oklahoma man at the center of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case is expected be released from federal prison this month. [The Oklahoman]

  • Release expected soon for inmate who ‘overcame two life sentences’ in McGirt ruling [Tulsa World]

Cleveland County jail inmate dies after ‘medical episode’ Saturday; second death in weeks: A Cleveland County jail inmate died Saturday after a medical episode, jail officials say. According to a news release, 58-year-old Thomas Sanchez Pesina died at Norman Regional Hospital shortly after noon. [The Oklahoman]

Top lawyer at Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation quits over emailed slur about immigrant: The top lawyer at the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has resigned abruptly over an email that used a derogatory term to describe an immigrant lacking permanent legal status. The email was written by Jana Wallace in 2022 while she was a judge. Why it came to light this year is unclear. [The Oklahoman]

Atoka County settles case of man who died of pneumonia in jail: Atoka County agreed to a settlement of $3.2 million after a man died of pneumonia in the county jail.  Authorities jailed Michael James Hoeppner under suspicion of drunk driving in March 2019. He wasn’t intoxicated but suffering from a treatable illness. [The Frontier]

Tulsa County detention officer accused of trafficking teenager in custody: A statewide advocacy group is calling for an investigation into the Tulsa County Family Center for Juvenile Justice after a detention officer was charged for allegedly paying to have sex with a detained teenager. [Public Radio Tulsa

OK Justice Circle to take OKC residents, local police for trip to Washington D.C.: A local justice group is taking several northeast Oklahoma City residents and metro area police officers to the nation’s capital on a trip aimed at enhancing dialogue and establishing relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Mid-Del School Board member: There aren’t resources to support the jail at the proposed site: There are no resources in that area to support the jail or people who will be released from the facility daily. At least one commissioner is wasting valuable time and energy making deals to get this site approved when he should be looking for a location that will not negatively impact the communities around the site. [Gina Standridge / The Oklahoman]

Housing & Economic Opportunity News

Local officials reluctant to draw conclusions from homelessness case before Supreme Court: Local officials say it’s too early to know what effect, if any, a current U.S. Supreme Court case will have on the city’s ability to address homelessness through the adoption and enforcement of city ordinances. [Tulsa World]

Letter to the editor: Remember when you see ‘unhoused’ person that they are someone’s family member: Whoever reads this, please remember Danielle’s story when you see someone on the street who you believe to be just another “unhoused” person. Their family might be looking for them. Danielle was loved beyond words and she also had a home (she had at least 10 homes she could go to). [Candace Young-Richey / The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

36 Degrees North’s new facility reinforcing Tulsa’s tech hub destination: 36 Degrees North — a basecamp for entrepreneurs, innovators and startups — is renovating a downtown warehouse into a 115,000-square-foot central tech hub. The $38-million project will consolidate the nonprofit’s three locations into one building at 12 N. Cheyenne Ave. that is expected to open by the end of the year. [Tulsa World]

Incentives to lure TV, movie projects to Oklahoma are worth it, leaders say: A headline recently in the New York Times tallied state spending on Hollywood film incentive programs and asked “Is it worth it?” In Oklahoma, several leaders say the answer is definitely yes. [Tulsa World]

Education News

Stitt executive order ends decades-old Oklahoma women’s leadership program at OU: A University of Oklahoma program that has trained hundreds of female leaders will shutter because of a gubernatorial executive order that bans diversity, equity and inclusion programs. The National Education for Women’s Leadership program, which started more than 20 years ago, will end because of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s executive order. [Oklahoma Voice]

Next steps for Langston University? New president says school is heading in the right direction: The new university president said she has a special appreciation for Langston’s status as Oklahoma’s only Historically Black College or University (HBCU). Langston also is one of only two land-grant universities in Oklahoma, along with Oklahoma State University. [The Oklahoman]

In new court filing, attorneys for Ryan Walters again blame teachers for bonus issues: Attorneys for state schools Superintendent Ryan Walters and the Oklahoma State Department of Education have asked an Oklahoma County judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by two teachers who each received a $50,000 bonus in error. [The Oklahoman]

University of Oklahoma students hold pro-Palestine rally on Norman campus: As the war in Gaza wages on, OU students joined the growing number of students across the country calling for their universities to cut ties with companies supporting Israel. [Public Radio Tulsa]

New OU-Tulsa chief Susan Bynum accepts spotlight, mission that comes with role: Since January, when she was named vice president of OU-Tulsa, Susan Bynum has been working on strengthening the bond between Tulsa and the University of Oklahoma. The city and school are making plans for what officials hope is a bright future together. [Tulsa World]

Teacher Appreciation Week 2024: Freebies, deals, discounts for educators, plus gift ideas in Oklahoma: All of us have one or more teachers who assisted, inspired or coached us along on our learning path. Need an excuse to show your gratitude? There are opportunities in the days ahead. National Teacher Day is May 7, 2024, and Teacher Appreciation Week runs Monday, May 6, to Friday, May 10. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: It’s not just pulling for Oklahoma students to succeed. It’s everyone pulling together: While almost everyone agrees there are problems, very few admit they are part of the problem. What I find most disturbing is that many adults want to place blame on the kids. If I hear the word “snowflake” one more time, I’m going to have a meltdown. Since when is it OK for adults to call kids names? [K. John Lee / The Oklahoman]

Community News

Report Shows Minimal Progress For Black Tulsans: The City of Tulsa has released its annual Equality Indicators report for 2023 revealing that the needle marking progress in opportunities and well-being for disadvantaged communities has hardly moved during the last six years of reporting. The Oklahoma Eagle, as it has each year, closely examines how racial and community disparities affect North Tulsans. [Oklahoma Eagle]

Holocaust scholar set to speak in Tulsa: ‘I’m on the side to end suffering’: A Chicago-based Holocaust scholar, educator, and writer will be in Tulsa this week as the featured speaker at the 26th annual Yom HaShoah Interfaith Holocaust Commemoration. The event is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, May 9, at Congregation B’nai Emunah. His topic will be “Talking With Ghosts: The Possible Futures of Holocaust Memory.” [Tulsa World]

Second John Hope Franklin Symposium lecture slated for May 31: Historian and author Erica Armstrong Dunbar will present the year’s second John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation Symposium lecture at 7 p.m. May 31 in the University of Tulsa’s Lorton Performance Center. [Tulsa World]

George Kaiser lays out plans for his family foundation’s future: Recently, the George Kaiser Family Foundation had a private gathering for its partners to share updates and hear its founder answer some of my questions from a stage. Because the event centered on Kaiser’s philanthropic ventures, that’s where the conversation stayed — still a challenge to cover it all in 32 minutes. [Tulsa World]

  • Get a glimpse of the fun side of George Kaiser and when he first heard Bob Dylan [Tulsa World]

Oklahomans waiting decades for change celebrate United Methodist vote on same-sex marriage: The United Methodist Church removed anti-LGBTQ+ language from the denomination’s Social Principles guide on Thursday and affirmed same-sex marriage with historic votes applauded by Oklahomans who have been waiting for such change for decades. [The Oklahoman]

Local Headlines

  • OKC looking for input on city budget, community needs in new feedback site [The Oklahoman]
  • Moore tornado 25 years later: Survivors remember devastation, pay forward support to Sulphur [The Oklahoman]
  • Improvements planned for Tulsa’s Center of the Universe bridge next year [Tulsa World]
  • Plans for a brewery in downtown Edmond are back on thanks to a new lease agreement [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“Women bring perspectives and ideas to the table that would otherwise not be heard, something we need more of, not less, in government.”

-Sen. Kay Floyd, speaking about the closing of the National Education for Women’s Leadership program at OU because of Gov. Stitt’s executive order that bans state funds being used for diversity, equity and inclusion programs that give preferential treatment to, or discriminate against, a person based on his or her race, color, sex, ethnicity, or national origin. [Oklahoma Voice]

Number of the Day


Estimated number of Oklahoma senior households who would be expected to benefit from modernizing the state’s Sales Tax Relief Credit, which hasn’t been adjusted since its creation in 1990. [OK Policy]

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. The book’s title pretty much says it all: “The Power To Destroy: How the Anti-Tax Movement Hijacked America.” 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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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.