In The Know: Oklahoma’s budget impasse continues | Outcry over OU’s anti-DEI actions | Oklahoma City’s Police Chief discusses problems with anti-immigration law

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.

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Policy Matters: One step forward is still forward: The governor and legislative leaders today are scheduled to resume public discussions about next year’s budget. However, with only 16 business days before the scheduled end of session, it leaves little time to ensure our tax dollars are spent responsibly. The financial needs of Oklahoma families — especially low- and middle-income families — should be the first item addressed within the budget process. That’s where the Sales Tax Relief Credit helps most. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

Closure of Oklahoma women’s leadership program causes outcry over anti-DEI action: The closure of a popular women’s leadership program has caused uproar among female officials at the state Capitol and across Oklahoma, who say the governor’s executive order against diversity, equity and inclusion is striking down initiatives meant to improve representation. [Oklahoma Voice]

Oklahoma’s budget impasse continues as Senate transparency process slows down agreements on key issues: State budget discussions in the Oklahoma legislature are lagging. As lawmakers discuss the line-item minutiae in their subcommittees and the big-picture priorities alongside the governor, disagreements remain on a handful of key issues and the end of session draws near. [KOSU]

Oklahoma filed two lawsuits against the Biden administration over Title IX changes. What do they say?: In a Monday press release, Attorney General Getner Drummond said the changes ignore the purpose behind Title IX’s creation and “jeopardizes the equal opportunity that has been afforded to female athletes ever since the establishment of the statute.” In his own press release, State Superintendent Ryan Walters said the changes have “set back the cause of civil rights for women by generations.” [KOSU]

State Government News

OG&E customers to receive $25 a month reduction: Hundreds of thousands of OG&E customers will see their bills drop by about $25 a month starting in June due to a reduction in fuel costs. But the utility has asked the Oklahoma Corporation Commission for a rate increase of $332 million, a figure which could change. The $332 million would be a hike of $19 per month for residential customers. [Oklahoma Voice]

Oklahoma DOC halts prison rodeo funding request: Efforts to reestablish a prison rodeo appear to be stalled. Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Steven Harpe on Tuesday told a legislative panel his agency was no longer pursuing an $8.3 million appropriation this session to restart the prison rodeo at Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. [Oklahoma Voice]

‘The state that fossil fuels built’: Lawmaker responds to injunction against anti-ESG law: The Alliance for Prosperity and a Secure Retirement is applauding an injunction issued against the Oklahoma Energy Discrimination Elimination Act. The group argued that retirees who depend on the state’s public pension funds are bearing the brunt of the law, which prohibits government entities from investing with firms that have boycotted the oil and gas industry. [Fox 25]

Federal Government News

USDA offers disaster assistance to Oklahoma farmers, ranchers after tornadoes: The U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering disaster assistance to farmers and ranchers affected by recent tornadoes. The programs are to help restore crop, land, infrastructure and livestock losses and damages. [KOSU]

Opinion: What happened to the Republican war on ‘woke’?: About a decade ago, many on the left embraced the word “woke,” a term with roots in African American culture and activism. It originally meant staying awake — that is, “woke” — to the dangers facing the Black community. But in the hands of the broader, and whiter, academic and journalistic left, it soon became a kind of cool catchall for progressive politics, alongside other buzzwords like “intersectionality.” [Jonah Goldberg / Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

Oklahoma tribal leaders request funding for public safety following ‘McGirt’ decision: Two Oklahoma tribal nation leaders were on Capitol Hill this week to stress the importance of public safety funding almost four years after the McGirt v. Oklahoma ruling. [KOSU]

Cherokee Nation’s Journey Toward Autism Inclusivity: First Lady January Hoskin and I are proud to stand alongside the dedicated members of the Cherokee Nation Autism Task Force as we improve support for individuals with autism and their families across the reservation. This is deeply personal for us, as we have beautiful grandchildren who navigate the world with autism. Their unique perspectives and experiences have inspired me to learn more about autism and enact meaningful change. [Chuck Hoskins Jr. / Native News Online]

Health News

Decades-old law limits access to Wegovy for Medicaid beneficiaries: Wegovy contains the same active ingredient as Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic, a diabetes drug, but Wegovy is specifically approved for obesity and weight loss. Medicaid doesn’t have to cover Wegovy and drugs like it because of a decades-old law excluding medicines that treat anorexia, weight gain and weight loss from required coverage. [KGOU]

Medical residents are starting to avoid states with abortion bans, data shows: According to new statistics from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), for the second year in a row, students graduating from U.S. medical schools were less likely to apply this year for residency positions in states with abortion bans and other significant abortion restrictions. [Kaiser Health News /KOSU]

Service disruptions at Ascension St. John amid investigation of possible cybersecurity breach: One of Tulsa’s largest health care systems is contending with disruptions in service as it investigates a possible cybersecurity breach. Asked to confirm reports from patients that Ascension St. John Health System across the Tulsa area is diverting or transferring patients, a hospital spokeswoman said she was not authorized to respond. An EMSA spokesman did, however, confirm that local ambulances were being diverted away from Ascension St. John facilities. [Tulsa World]

Opinion: We are entering a new world of caregiving: Paid home health care has become wildly expensive for middle- and working-class families. Meanwhile, as the size of families shrink, so do the available pairs of hands to help out. So the job of caring for elders is falling on fewer and apparently younger relatives. Some kids in middle school are now tasked with turning over bed-ridden relatives. [Froma Harrop / Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

OCPD chief says new immigration law will deter victims from reporting crimes: Oklahoma City police Chief Wade Gourley criticized a controversial immigration law that was signed into law last week, expressing concerns about its enforcement and potential for racial profiling. [KOCO5]

Opinion: A fifth ‘Misfit’ is accused of murdering Kansas women. Last year, he declared extremist beliefs: On the afternoon of July 6 last year, Paul Grice went to the county clerk’s office at the Cimarron County Courthouse at Boise City, Oklahoma, and paid $104 to file a peculiar document in an attempt, among other things, to renounce his U.S. citizenship. [Max McCoy / Oklahoma Voice]

Education News

Barnsdall schools face early end to spring semester: Barnsdall students and administrators aren’t sure when they’ll return to finish out the school year, if at all. Barnsdall Superintendent Dr. Sayra Bryant told reporters Wednesday that while school buildings are in good condition, power is still out and students may not be in the right mindset to return to class. [Tulsa Public Radio]

Oklahoma City Public Schools could have a new superintendent as soon as this weekend: There’s a special board meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday at the district’s Clara Luper Center for Educational Services and Board Clerk Craig Cates said it’s expected the new superintendent will be named at that meeting. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma FFA takes over downtown: The country’s sixth-largest state-level chapter of the National FFA Organization, Oklahoma FFA  has 29,213 student members across 366 active chapters statewide. FFA stands for Future Farmers of America. The State FFA Convention moved to Tulsa in 2022 after four decades in Oklahoma City and is slated to be in Tulsa through 2026. [Tulsa World]

OSDE says Mid-Del Schools misspent more than $500K in federal funds, demands money back: The Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) has issued a warning to Mid-Del Public Schools, saying the district misspent federal funds. The agency says during the 2020-2022 school years, Mid-Del claimed $573,588.96 in emergency funds and spent it on “athletic lawn services.” [Fox25]

Local Headlines

  • Curfew in Barnsdall to remain until Friday, 81-year-old still missing in wake of tornado [KOSU]
  • Downtown Owasso unveils new mural symbolizing ‘beauty and new beginnings’ [Owasso Reporter / Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“We’re all very concerned about it, how we’re going to enforce this. The demand it’s going to put on our personnel. How do you do it without racially profiling, especially the way the law is written?”

-Oklahoma City Police Chief Wade Gourley said in regards to House Bill 4156, the controversial anti-immigration law that allows law enforcement to check immigration status when investigating a crime. [KOCO5]

Number of the Day


Twenty states still use the federal minimum wage of $7.25, and half of these states are in the South, including Oklahoma. [Economic Policy Institute]

Policy Note

The evolution of the Southern economic development strategy: Rooted in racism and economic exploitation: The Southern economic development model has failed to create shared prosperity in the region. In fact, this model was deliberately designed to do the opposite—to extract the labor of Black and brown Southerners as cheaply as possible. This report examines the racist roots of the model and provides the necessary context to challenge the enduring racial hierarchy in the South.  [Economic Policy Institute]

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Kandis West is a communications professional with more than 15 years of experience. Most recently, she served as the Communications Director for the Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus. She spent nine years in the Olympia/Tacoma area of Washington organizing compensation campaigns for teachers for the Washington Education Association. Kandis has a proven track record of increasing community engagement, public awareness and media exposure around the most pressing issues that impact citizens. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism.