In The Know: Judge sides with AG on prohibition on dual office holders | Lawsuit fighting Catholic charter school advances | Anti-immigrant laws punish families, children | Capitol Update

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

Anti-immigrant laws punish families and children. Oklahoma lawmakers pass them anyway. (2024 Legislative Wrap-up): Immigration is a complex issue, and gridlock in Congress has resulted in states venturing deeper into a legal area reserved solely for the federal government. In a state like Oklahoma, this means that lawmakers introduce punitive immigration policies meant to deter immigrants from making Oklahoma their home. However, these policies are unconstitutional and unnecessarily punish Oklahoma families. Instead of pushing through anti-immigrant bills that hurt all Oklahomans, lawmakers should pass inclusive policies that positively impact all Oklahomans, including immigrants. [Gabriela Ramirez-Perez / OK Policy]

Criminal justice reform in Oklahoma seems to come in small doses (Capitol Update): Senate Bill 325 by Rep. Collin Duel, R-Guthrie, and Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville, which passed this session, improves the timeline for case completion by amending the Oklahoma Speedy Trial Act. Prior to passage of SB 325, the Act required a felony case to be tried within one year if the defendant is confined in jail. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

‘Before we hit crisis mode’: Oklahoma providers flag payment delays in managed Medicaid transition: Oklahoma Sen. David Bullard (R-Durant) invited health care providers from his hometown and beyond to discuss the state’s transition to managed Medicaid, or SoonerSelect. They said the transition has been a disaster for providers and patients across the state. [KGOU]

State Government News

Oklahoma judge sides with Drummond on dual office holding prohibition: A judge has sided with Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond in a dispute with the governor regarding whether cabinet secretaries can hold dual offices. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Court ruling in dispute with governor goes mostly in Drummond’s favor [Tulsa World]

Could Oklahoma students get credit for Satanic Temple courses? Gov. signs HB 1425:  Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill into law Wednesday that would require local school boards to create guidelines for religious classes during school hours. [The Oklahoman]

  • New law mandates school release for religious classes, including Satanic Teachings [Fox 25]
  • Concerns over future of nation’s first online religious school as legal challenges drag on [KOCO]
  • Oklahoma’s new school framework allows for new Satanic Temple classes [KFOR]

Langston University continually underfunded, House Democrats call for audit: House Democrats are calling for an audit following a federal report showing that Langston University, Oklahoma’s only historically Black college, has been historically underfunded. [KOSU]

A third of Oklahoma families receiving private school tax credit make over $150k a year: About one-third of families receiving a tax credit from the State of Oklahoma for sending their children to private schools make more than $150,000 a year, data News 4 obtained from the Oklahoma Tax Commission revealed. [KFOR]

Service Oklahoma Launches Sweet 16 Guarantee: After months of long lines and appointments for drivers licenses, Service Oklahoma said wait times are drastically decreasing. Plus, a new initiative guarantees a spot for Oklahomans celebrating their sweet 16. [KFOR]

This Week in Oklahoma Politics: 2024 legislative session, Ryan Walters’ adviser and artificial intelligence (audio):  The panel discusses the nearly $12.5B budget passed by lawmakers in the waning days of the 2024 legislative session, as well as an overview of the session itself. They also discuss lawmakers wanting an inquiry by the attorney general of the top adviser for State Superintendent Ryan Walters. [KOSU]

Opinion: Who needs your voice? Not the state legislature!: The next time state legislators swear they’re devoted to protecting your rights, fact-check them. Chances are, they voted this session to curtail your constitutional authority to force change when the statehouse’s Powers-That-Be refuse to act. [Arnold Hamilton / Journal Record]

Editorial: State Superintendent Ryan Walters is no victim; he’s dodging accountability: The outlandish reaction from State Superintendent Ryan Walters when told to stop his unethical spending of taxpayer funds on self-promotion and to force the release of information around a part-time employee would be laughable, if not so dangerous. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

USDA Secretary Vilsack Engages with Tribal Leaders at NCAI, Announces $62M for Indian Country Initiatives: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spent an hour at the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) general assembly on Wednesday, announcing significant new funding and engaging directly with tribal leaders to hear their concerns. [Native News Online]

Tribal Nations News

Supreme Court Backs Tribes in Healthcare Funding Dispute: In a 5-4 decision announced today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Native American tribes receiving reimbursement for healthcare administration costs. The majority ruled in favor of the two tribes — the San Carlos Apache Tribe and Northern Arapaho Tribe —that brought the Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services, et al. v. San Carlos Apache Tribe suit to the high court. [Native News Online]

  • Supreme Court rules in favor of tribal nations administering health care programs [KOSU]
  • Supreme Court sides with Native American tribes in health care funding dispute [AP]

Sulphur, Chickasaw Nation are using a history of healing to help tornado-ravaged town: In just a matter of minutes, the historic city of Sulphur was smashed to pieces by a tornado that took out an estimated 200 buildings, left its museum without a roof and wiped out its downtown. But this is no ordinary city. This is Sulphur, where healing waters and the strength of the Chickasaw Nation have long provided relief to those in pain and hope for recovery. Can the history of Sulphur be saved? Can it be rebuilt, and if so, how? And why is the city, and its history, worth the effort? [The Oklahoman]

Voting and Election News

Oklahoma is not alone. Uncontested races are a growing trend nationwide: Before Oklahoma voters cast their ballots for primaries on June 18, more than a third of the legislative offices are already decided. Uncontested races are a trend nationwide, especially in Republican-led states. Fifty of the 127 seats in the House and Senate have already been won, accounting for 40 percent of legislative elections in Oklahoma this year. [KOSU]

June 18 election previews:

  • Justin Hornback aims to bring ‘fresh perspective’ to Oklahoma Corporation Commission [Oklahoma Voice]
  • Brian Bingman hopes to leverage public, private experience on Oklahoma Corporation Commission [Oklahoma Voice]
  • With Treat term limited, Edmond forum features Senate District 47 hopefuls [NonDoc]
  • Four Republicans vie for southeast Tulsa’s House District 67 [Tulsa World]
  • Lay, Grable vying to be new state representative for west Tulsa and Jenks [Tulsa World]
  • Democratic primary to determine new House District 72 representative [Tulsa World]
  • ‘Kind of baloney’: Candidate faults Pott. Co. GOP over handling of primary [Fox 25]

Criminal Justice News

Mother seeking answers after son’s death in jail: A mother and an advocacy group are calling for change after an inmate died while at the Oklahoma County Jail. Derek Strother’s mother, Debra Stanton, and the People’s Council for Justice Reform, believe there is negligence of employees and Turn Key Health, which is the medical group that serves the jail. [KFOR]

Housing & Economic Opportunity News

Infant Crisis Services celebrates 40 years of helping babies: What started as a Sunday school project in 1984 to help parents struggling to care for their children has become a serious small business that supports families in 29 counties. Infant Crisis Services – a privately funded nonprofit that has assisted nearly 400,000 babies over the first 40 years – is on track to serve 40,000 clients per year by 2030, said Miki Farris, executive director and co-founder. [Journal Record]

Economy & Business News

AARP hosting virtual town hall on potential utility rate hikes: AARP Oklahoma is hosting an interactive town hall to discuss potential utility rate increases at 10 a.m. Thursday on its Facebook page. The focus is AARP’s continued advocacy efforts at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission regarding utility rate hikes for natural gas and electric customers, the organization said. [Tulsa World]

Vinita theme park, resort plan moving forward despite setbacks, developer says: Plans for developing the American Heartland Theme Park and Resort in Vinita have not changed despite the recent failure of state legislation that resulted in a setback, a spokesman for Mansion Entertainment Group LLC said Wednesday. [Tulsa World]

Education News

Oklahoma judge allows most of case against Catholic charter school to move forward: Oklahoma County District Judge Richard Ogden denied defendants’ motions to dismiss on three of four claims and gave the plaintiffs 20 days to amend the remaining claim. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Education Watch: A new board will oversee online charter schools, but it’s short five members: Authority to oversee the state’s online charter schools and some brick and mortar charters moves to a new nine-member board next month. But just four of its members had been selected as of last week, according to the current oversight agency, which dissolves when the new board takes over July 1. Four members isn’t enough for a quorum; five are required for the board to conduct business. [Oklahoma Watch]

Justice Department sues Oklahoma City Schools on behalf of service member: The Justice Department is suing Oklahoma City Public Schools on behalf of Air Force reservist Michael McCullough. In a new lawsuit, the Justice Department alleges OKC Public Schools violated a band teacher’s rights when the district failed to re-employ him after he was called up to serve in the U.S. Air Force Reserves in 2022. [KOSU]

StateImpact Oklahoma wraps up the 2024 legislative session: StateImpact looks at issues that arose during the 2024 legislative session in education and health. [StateImpact via Public Radio Tulsa]

Community News

‘It’s not for sale’: OKC mega site proposal worries, frustrates Canadian County residents: A Canadian County resident is sharing concerns about how Oklahoma City’s annexation proposal would affect her property. [Fox 25]

  • OKC homeowners worried about city annexation project to bring businesses [KOCO]

Opinion: Holocaust lessons cannot be separated from D-Day remembrances: History is never just about the past, and that may be what makes Holocaust education scary for some people. It’s too easy to view the 80-year-old genocide as a long-ago past committed by people somewhere else — as if time and distance excuse parallels in modern life. [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World]

Opinion: Never underestimate how D-Day protected freedoms around the world:  Nearly 9,400 Americans killed in the liberation effort are buried in Normandy. They are among more than 60,000 Americans killed in the two world wars who are buried in France. The numbers are numbing, incomprehensible to younger generations. [Ed Kelley / Tulsa World]

Local Headlines


  • ‘It’s not for sale’: OKC mega site proposal worries, frustrates Canadian County residents [Fox 25]
  • OKC homeowners worried about city annexation project to bring businesses [KOCO]
  • Long stalled Urban Renewal housing project set to restart in 2025 [The Oklahoman]
  • Deal to purchase property for Public Safety Center still not final, Tulsa mayor says [Tulsa World]
  • Broken Arrow police chief to retire after three decades of service [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa City Councilor Jayme Fowler now considering run for reelection [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Do you know any businesses that would stay open for two or three months serving people and not receiving payment and are unsure if they will ever see payment or when it will occur? They close pretty rapidly. The providers in our communities are providers, service providers. We’re not businesses. They are currently providing services for free to people in need and will probably continue until they can’t.”

-Dr. Kinion Whittington, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Durant. He said two months into the transition, he has received about $2,200 in claims. He completed 42 deliveries last month following the state’s transition to third-party organizations to manage the state’s Medicaid programs. [KGOU]

Number of the Day


Share of Oklahoma immigrants who are naturalized U.S. citizens. Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a lawful permanent resident after meeting the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act. [American Immigration Council]

Policy Note

Debunking the Myth of the ‘Migrant Crime Wave’: In the past few months, politicians and certain media outlets have latched on to a narrative that recent immigrants, especially undocumented ones, are causing spikes in crime. Instead of gathering data and examining the issue empirically, they are making this broad assertion based on highly publicized individual incidents of crime by undocumented immigrants. The research does not support the view that immigrants commit crime or are incarcerated at higher rates than native-born Americans. In fact, immigrants might have less law enforcement contact compared to nonimmigrants. Focusing on the facts is imperative, especially given that immigration has become a top issue for voters ahead of the election. [Brennan Center for Justice]

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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.