In The Know: Senate confirmations get political | Lawmakers give energy industry $50 Million gift | Budget agreement adds funds to public education | New law could help domestic violence victims | Governor, Tribes negotiate tolls, compacts

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.

New from OK Policy

Efforts to reclassify state’s criminal code maybe getting traction (Capitol Update): Providing more realistic guidelines for sentencing, which is lacking in Oklahoma, should provide a meaningful, measurable effect on Oklahoma’s overuse of incarceration. HB 1792, if it passes, could mark a starting point. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

Senate confirmations get political: House leaders’ relatives, others await fate: With the two chambers of the Oklahoma Legislature reaching a budget deal Wednesday, hot political posturing and lingering animosity has transferred to remaining questions for a session set to end May 31: What will be done with policy bills and executive nominations? [NonDoc]

  • Oklahoma Senate reluctant to approve some gubernatorial appointments [Oklahoma Voice]
  • Stitt pushes for 6 of his executive nominations to be considered by the Oklahoma Senate [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Capitol Insider: Budget deal in place, legislators race toward end of session: It took until the final two weeks of the session, but the governor and legislative leaders reached agreement on the fiscal year 2025 budget. Now, it’s crunch time. [KGOU]

Governor Stitt defends Oklahoma’s controversial immigration law amid federal pushback: Governor Stitt is defending a state illegal immigration ban, as the federal government looks to poke holes in the argument. What the Department of Justice is calling unconstitutional, and an interference with immigration and foreign relations is also a policy the Governor strongly supports. [Fox 25]

Lawmakers give energy industry $50 Million in budget agreement: It could be Christmas in July for the Oklahoma oil and gas industry as it secured $50 million under a tax rebate program for methane-reduction equipment upgrades in a budget agreement struck last week by Republican legislative leaders. [Oklahoma Watch]

Lawmakers quietly fix problems with health information exchange law; suit dismissed: A bill, which moved quietly through both Houses of the Oklahoma Legislature this year, eliminated a controversial state law that required health care providers to supply patient information to the Health Information Exchange. The measure sparked the dismissal of a lawsuit that had challenged the constitutionality of the law. [The Oklahoman]

New grant program could help Oklahomans make their homes more weather-resistant: Oklahomans pay the most for homeowners insurance in the country — almost $6,000 a year. However, a new program created by the Strengthen Oklahoma Homes Act will help eligible property owners build or modify their homes to be safer from hazards like wind and hail. [KOSU]

Why a judges’ group opposes Gov. Kevin Stitt’s plan for pay raises: Though it was a big part of the last-minute budget deal between the governor and Republican leaders in the Oklahoma Legislature, a planned pay raise for some members of the judiciary isn’t going over so well with those who would get the increase. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: ‘Show me your papers’ law sparks federal challenge: When it comes to Oklahoma’s new “show me your papers” law, statehouse leaders got exactly what they wanted: a federal legal challenge that provides a continuing platform to attack Joe Biden over border security. To them, it almost doesn’t matter whether the U.S. Justice Department successfully blocks the law scheduled to take effect July 1. What counts is they stood up to the big, bad federal gummint, by golly! [Arnold Hamilton / Journal Record]

Federal Government News

 Can a state stop abortion travel?: Two years after the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, some states have moved to limit abortions while others become sanctuaries. The figures tell the story: In 2023, according to the Guttmacher Institute, patients traveling across state lines accounted for 41% of abortions in Illinois, 69% in Kansas and 71% in New Mexico. Each of those states borders tighter jurisdictions. [Wall Street Journal via Tulsa World]

New rules protect pregnant workers, but red states, like Oklahoma, sue over abortion provisions: Oklahoma’s attorney general is among 19 that have sued the Biden administration over the interpretation of a anti-discrimination pregnancy law. [Oklahoma Voice]

Tribal Nations News

Ojibwe costume designer for ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ sues Apple Studios following racial discrimination complaint: On the heels of a previous dispute over racial discrimination, Kristi Marie Hoffman says she is not receiving proper recognition for her work as First Assistant Costume Designer on Killers of the Flower Moon. [KOSU]

Oklahoma governor to tribal leaders: Let’s make a deal on license plates: Gov. Kevin Stitt told 35 tribal leaders Thursday he would immediately sign license plate compacts with them if they agreed to clear up his top concerns about tribal plates. Under one of his proposed key terms, tribes would share drivers’ personal information with the state “to ensure public safety and resolve outstanding turnpike toll concerns.” The Oklahoman was provided a copy of Stitt’s letter by a tribal official. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma Turnpike Authority urges tribal citizens to remit unpaid tolls totaling $11 million [Tulsa World]

Constitutional convention question for Cherokee Nation: Leaders urge voters to say no: Voters will decide June 15 whether to reframe the Cherokee Nation Constitution. All but one of the 16 Cherokee Nation Tribal Council members have encouraged citizens to vote no. [Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

Deadline approaching for absentee ballot applications: Deadline is 5 p.m. June 3 to submit mail-in absentee ballot requests for the June 18 Oklahoma primary elections. [Tulsa World]

Two well-known candidates square off in decisive primary to Tulsa Senate seat: Two familiar names and faces are contending for a north Tulsa state Senate seat. Current state Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa, and former City Councilor Joe Williams are both well-known in Senate District 11, which encompasses northwest Tulsa from downtown to as far as 66th Street North. [Tulsa World]

Health News

Harm reduction vending machine opens in rural Oklahoma: Rural northeast Oklahoma is trying a new way to prevent overdoses and sexually transmitted infections. Delaware County’s GRAND Mental Health clinic has a new vending machine on its porch with Narcan, HIV tests, pregnancy tests, wound care kits and blood alcohol tests. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Opinion: Oklahoma physicians have been overburdened with prior authorization for patient care. New law changes that: Prior authorization is a cumbersome process that requires physicians to obtain pre-approval for treatments or tests before providing care to patients. HB 3190 is a new law that will bring more consistency and transparency to the prior authorization process, reduce administrative burdens on physicians, and ultimately provide more timely access to care for patients. [Kari Webber / The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

‘A beacon of hope’: Newly signed bill moves the needle on helping victims of domestic violence: Advocates for victims of domestic abuse say the state has taken a big step forward with passage of Senate Bill 1835, the Oklahoma Survivors’ Act. The new law requires judges to add domestic violence to the list of mitigating factors that are often considered in criminal trials, possibly making a defendant eligible for lighter sentencing. Physical, sexual and psychological abuse were already included on the list. [The Oklahoman]

Civil rights lawsuit claims residents at Tulsa juvenile justice center were sexually assaulted: Twenty people detained at the Tulsa County Family Center for Juvenile Justice over a seven-month period have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit, each alleging that they were “sexually assaulted, harassed, and/or raped by detention officers or other staff.” [Tulsa World]

Del City opponents want detailed look at Oklahoma County’s jail plans: Opponents of Oklahoma County’s plans to build a jail at 1901 E Grand Blvd. are escalating their efforts to get the project stopped. [The Oklahoman]

Gov. Kevin Stitt signs bill to move investigative office after allegations of abuse at Enid center: Oklahoma Human Services will no longer operate an office that investigates mistreatment of people in state care. Lawmakers sent the bill to Stitt’s desk after reports of repeated abuse at a center for people with developmental disabilities. [The Frontier]

Education News

Oklahoma budget agreement adds funds to public schools, colleges, CareerTech: The Oklahoma Legislature plans to boost funding for K-12 classrooms, college facilities and CareerTech programs in an education budget agreement nearing $5.6 billion. The chief driver of public school funding, the education funding formula, would go up by $25 million in Fiscal Year 2025, should the agreement be signed into law. This is expected to be the second consecutive increase to Oklahoma public school funding. Last year, lawmakers added $500 million to the funding formula, including $286 million in teacher pay raises, along with other multi-million-dollar initiatives.  [Oklahoma Voice]

Oklahoma Board of Education meeting debuts randomized public comment procedures, votes for more teacher suspensions: Thursday’s State Board of Education meeting featured a new public comment process, a sizable number of teaching certificates suspended and new supports announced for the state’s largest school district. [KGOU]

Community News

Historic All-Black Town Tour To Commemorate Juneteenth: In observance of Juneteenth, the Tulsa City-County Library’s African American Resource Center (AARC) and the Tulsa Library Trust are sponsoring the 25th Annual Historic All-Black Town Tour on June 1. [Oklahoma Eagle]

Opinion: This Memorial Day, we should recognize a different top 1% – those who serve and sacrifice: In the civilian world, “the 1%” refers to those Americans with the largest concentration of wealth and influence. Over the past two years, I have been exposed to a different top 1% – those Americans who volunteer to serve in the armed forces. On this Memorial Day weekend, this 1% deserves our admiration and utmost respect. [Peter Beshar / The Oklahoman]

Local Headlines

  • Dennis Larsen to become Tulsa’s next police chief [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa’s next police chief named [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • State commits $50 million for levee work in Tulsa County [Tulsa World]
  • Multiple Tulsa school sites facing leadership changes [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that Oklahoma has a lot of the worst outcomes for women and the highest incarceration rates for women. It’s high time that we start to produce legislation like this that helps get them even on equal footing in our communities.”

-Angela Beatty, vice president of the YWCA of Oklahoma, talking about the needs for legislation like the newly signed Oklahoma Survivors Act, which requires judges to add domestic violence to the list of mitigating factors that are often considered in sentencing for criminal trials. [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


More than 3 in 4 (75.5%) of Oklahomans in jail are being detained awaiting trial. [R Street]

Policy Note

Bail clampdowns don’t match what research says about suspects, experts say: Crime is shaping up as a potent election issue, and one of the key points of debate is over bail: Which suspects should be jailed before trial, and which ones should be released on bond — and for how much money? Some conservatives argue that lenient bail policies put suspects who are likely to commit crimes before their upcoming court hearings, or who might skip bail altogether, back on the street. But some progressives say research does not support that contention. They argue that detaining defendants because they can’t afford financial bonds is unfair, and note that such defendants are disproportionately Black, Latino and low income. [Stateline]

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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.