In The Know: State budget deadline looms as talks between leaders stall | Holiday weekend brings massive spike in eviction filings | New OKC jail site denied

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

Weekend Could See Mass Evictions: Memorial Day weekend could see more people than usual packing up their homes in a hurry after being evicted. Thursday, Judge Trent Pipes will handle more than 380 eviction cases in small claims court, more than double the usual number of cases heard in a single day. [Oklahoma Watch]

State Government News

With barely a week left, little movement has been made on a new budget for Oklahoma: Delegations from Oklahoma’s Senate and House of Representatives launched their week with another budget “summit” in an effort to finalize a state budget for the 2025 fiscal year. The week did not start well. [The Oklahoman]

  • State Budget Discussions Stall Tuesday As Deadline [News 9]

Lawmakers have found a disconnect between OSDE’s rising funding requests and number of employees: Discussion over a $4.7 million budget request from the Oklahoma State Department of Education to fund rising costs of student assessments has resulted in legislators asking why the agency needs the extra money, given the number of employee departures in recent months. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma officials on DOJ’s lawsuit threat over immigration law: Let’s go: Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration says it will sue Oklahoma if it tries to enforce the state’s new “impermissible occupation” law targeting illegal immigrants. Oklahoma’s Republican leadership is daring it to try. [Tulsa World]

  • Feds sue Oklahoma over new immigration law, calling it constitutional violation [The Oklahoman]

Former wildlife director’s severance agreement subject of Oklahoma open records lawsuit: Oklahoma Voice has filed suit against the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission seeking the release of the severance agreement associated with the departure of its former director. [Oklahoma Voice]

Federal Government News

U.S. Senate Dems tie state abortion bans, including Oklahoma’s, to fewer beginning physicians: Bans or severe restrictions on abortion access enacted by Republican state lawmakers have led to a downturn in medical students seeking to practice in those states, and a handful of Democratic U.S. senators said Tuesday those laws must be reversed. [Oklahoma Voice]

Mullin, Brecheen visit Turks and Caicos to intervene in Oklahoma man’s detention: A congressional delegation led by U.S. Sen. Markwayne Mullin did not win the immediate release of five Americans held in the Turks and Caicos Islands, but a series of upcoming hearings may be a better indicator of the mission’s impact. [Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

Proposed hotel tax increase in OKC is now heading to voter ballots: As a result of the unanimous city council vote, residents will be asked on Aug. 27 to approve changing Oklahoma City’s hotel tax from 5.5% to 9.25%, an increase of 26% over the current total charges. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Oklahoma Teen Birth Rate Declines, Moves to 5th Place Nationally: Recently released data shows that the Oklahoma teen birth rate improved its ranking, dropping from 4th highest in the nation to 5th highest, according to the CDC State Birth Rate Rankings for 2022. [The Black Wall Street Times]

New law creates timeline for health insurance prior-authorizations: The bill, which passed both chambers without a no vote, requires that prior-authorization procedures must be published on websites available to patients and providers. [Journal Record]

Criminal Justice News

Criminal Injustice: A domestic abuse survivor imprisoned for life for the murder of her abuser: According to a recent study, 66 percent of incarcerated women in Oklahoma, experience domestic violence in the year leading up to their criminal charges. Some women, like April Wilkens, are serving a life sentence for fighting back. [KFOR]

Back to the drawing board? OKC Council denies new county jail site: The long saga of efforts to replace the troubled Oklahoma County Jail with a new facility has hit yet another snag, as the OKC City Council denied a proposal today to locate the new jail at 1901 E. Grand Blvd. [NonDoc]

  • OKC City Council denies zoning for proposed site for new Oklahoma County jail [KOCO]
  • Why OKC City Council rejected proposed jail site [Journal Record]
  • Oklahoma City Council denies proposed jail site near Del City, future uncertain [KGOU]
  • Opinion: OKC uses Ward 4 as a dumping ground. Here’s a 180° mitigation concept for the new Oklahoma County jail [Larry Hopper / The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma sets execution date for death row inmate Richard Rojem: The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals set a date for the state’s second execution of 2024, late last week. Richard Norman Rojem Jr., 66, is scheduled to be executed on June 27. [KOSU]

Economy & Business News

Chesapeake Energy Corp. lays off employees as merger proceeds: The natural gas giant told The Oklahoman on Tuesday that it laid off 80 employees, or about 10% of its workforce, because it sold off its crude oil holdings last year in a previously announced planned divestment. [The Oklahoman]

  • Chesapeake Energy Corp. cuts workforce 10% after oil asset sale [Journal Record]

Education News

Under Ryan Walters, Oklahoma lost federal funding to help schools respond to tragedies: State education grant writers said they quit in frustration after a lack of support. Walters has vowed in the past not to pursue grants that don’t align with “Oklahoma values.” [The Frontier]

Plaintiffs again question federal judge about slow movement on critical race theory lawsuit: For a second time since they filed their lawsuit more than 2½ years ago, plaintiffs in a case challenging an Oklahoma law against the teaching of “critical race theory” have asked a federal judge to move along the proceedings. [Tulsa World]

The Satanic Temple wants to provide chaplains in schools under proposed bill. Lawmakers say it doesn’t qualify: It may be cliche to say the devil is in the details, but it’s a fair assessment when it comes to a chaplains bill making its way through the Oklahoma Legislature. [The Oklahoman]

Tulsa school board approves hires for superintendent’s Cabinet: Two more roles in Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Ebony Johnson’s Cabinet have been filled. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“For those who do know to seek Legal Aid, the docket size will put efficiency as the paramount goal and increase pressure to hurry and afford little time to get facts and prepare.”

– Michael Figgins, Legal Aid Services Executive Director, speculating about what he will see at the Oklahoma County District Court this Thursday, which has 387 eviction cases on its docket ahead of Memorial Day weekend. Legal Aid Services Oklahoma will have its entire team of housing attorneys present offering free representation for tenants. [Oklahoma Watch]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s rank for teacher pay in 2022-23, down five spots from 38th in 2021-22. While teacher pay in Oklahoma increased by 1.3% during that period, it was the nation’s third lowest increase behind North Dakota and Colorado. [National Education Association]

Policy Note

Better Tax Codes Help Boost Teacher Pay: Do you want teachers to be paid well? Access to quality education is a core value in every state, and the educators providing that service deserve satisfactory wages. Supporting progressive taxes in your state could make that happen. It’s no surprise that these states with more progressive tax systems are succeeding in paying higher wages to educators. [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy]

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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.