In The Know: Oklahoma maintains low national ranking in annual child well-being study | Stitt calls Senate special session | Oklahoma State Department of Education announces new teacher signing bonus

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

Court ruling on cabinet secretaries provides lesson in unintended consequences (Capitol Update) :The ruling of Oklahoma County District Judge Richard Ogden in a case filed by Gov. Kevin Stitt against Attorney General Gentner Drummond provides an interesting lesson in unintended consequences. [OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma maintains low national ranking in annual child well-being study: Oklahoma has been ranked 46th in the nation in overall child well-being. The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual Kids Count report ranks all 50 states with four categories: economic well-being, family and community, education and health. This report used data collected in 2022. Oklahoma’s lowest ranking, coming in at 49th, was in education. The state was ranked 45th for health, 40th for family and community and 39th in economic well-being. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Oklahoma ranks 46th in overall child well-being, 49th in education [Tulsa World]

Teeing up Mike Holder for OSU Board of Regents, Stitt calls Senate special session: Underscoring his continued frustration with the upper chamber of the Oklahoma Legislature, Gov. Kevin Stitt filed an executive order this morning calling the State Senate into a special session Wednesday for the sole purpose of considering a new appointment to the Board of Regents for the Oklahoma Agricultural & Mechanical Colleges: Mike Holder, who retired after 16 years as Oklahoma State University’s athletic director in 2021. [NonDoc]

  • Stitt calls Oklahoma Senate into special session to consider a new higher ed appointment: [Oklahoma Voice]
  • Update: Stitt, Treat at odds over special session to approve Mike Holder nomination to OSU regents [Tulsa World]
  • Tensions rise as Stitt calls Senate special session: ‘We are not on the governor’s timeline’ [The Oklahoman]
  • Gov. Stitt brings back the Senate to confirm his latest regents nomination in special session [KOSU]

State Government News

Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs continues search for executive director: The Oklahoma Veterans Commission is continuing to search for a new executive director to lead the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs. Commission Chairman Robert Allen said he hopes the governing board will announce its selection June 20. [Oklahoma Voice]

Walters announces signing bonuses for rural Oklahoma teachers, despite past controversy: The Oklahoma State Department of Education announced it will offer another round of signing bonuses to attract teachers to rural schools. Meanwhile, the agency is reportedly negotiating a settlement agreement with two teachers it paid previous bonuses to in error. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Oklahoma State Department of Education announces new teacher signing bonus [Tulsa World]
  • Supt. Walters announces new signing bonus for rural schools after previous controversy [KFOR]

Federal Government News

Cole, Bondar headline 8-way fight for Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District seat: Normally, the campaigns for Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District draw several hopefuls but offer few fireworks. U.S. Rep Tom Cole, a Republican from Moore, has held the seat since 2003. But this year, the race for Cole’s seat — as described by the congressman, himself — is a bar fight. Along with the four Republicans challenging Cole in the upcoming primary election, the winner in June will face an independent candidate and the winner of the Democratic primary. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Shawnee leaders travel from Oklahoma to Ohio to celebrate state park preserving their history: After two years of construction, Great Council State Park in Ohio opened to the public, aiming to share the accurate story of the Shawnee people. [KOSU]

USNS Cherokee Nation christened in ceremony: The Cherokee Nation and the U.S. Navy christened the USNS Cherokee Nation (T-ATS 7) on Saturday at the Bollinger shipyard in Houma, Louisiana. This new towing and rescue ship honors Cherokee citizens who have served in the Navy and Marine Corps. The T-ATS 7, the second ship in its class, will be operated by the Navy’s Military Sealift Command. [Journal Record]

Voting and Election News

Cheat Sheet: 3 seek House District 88 Democratic nod: Oklahoma House District 88 will have a new representative after incumbent Rep. Mauree Turner (D-OKC) opted out of running for reelection, citing health concerns. Turner was first elected to HD 88 in 2020 and became the nation’s first nonbinary legislator. [NonDoc]

Few surprises in first day of filing for city of Tulsa municipal races: The races for mayor, city auditor and City Council got real Monday with the start of the three-day candidate filing period. Mayor G.T. Bynum has announced that he will not seek a third term, and all nine City Council seats as well as the city auditor’s job are on the ballot. The nonpartisan general election is Aug. 27, with runoff elections, if necessary, on Nov. 5. [Tulsa World]

House District 23 will get new legislator after 12 years: For the first time in 12 years, voters will choose someone new to represent House District 23, as Republican Terry O’Donnell was term-limited after serving four terms since 2012. Republicans will cast ballots on June 18 for either Derrick Hildebrant of Catoosa or Connor Whitham of Tulsa. [Tulsa World]

Replacing Rep. Rhonda Baker, GOP primary to decide House District 60: Four Republicans are vying to succeed House Common Education Committee Chairwoman Rhonda Baker, and the winner of the June 18 GOP primary will capture the Oklahoma House District 60 seat. [NonDoc]

Senate District 37 incumbent draws challenger in GOP primary June 18: Two Republicans, both with lengthy local histories and roots in the business community, are running to represent Senate District 37, which includes much of the west Tulsa metro area and Sand Springs. Cody Rogers, who owns a paving contracting business, is the incumbent. He recently completed his first term in the Oklahoma Senate. Aaron Reinhardt is challenging Rogers on the primary ballot June 18 for the opportunity to face independent candidate Andrew Nutter in the November general election. [Tulsa World]

Health News

Marijuana product recall issued in first weeks of new testing rules: In the first weeks after new emergency rules for marijuana testing went into effect, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority has issued a recall on specific cannabis products for pesticide concerns. [Tulsa World]

Norman Regional opens new Behavioral Health Center to meet growing need: A new behavioral health hospital allows Norman Regional Health System to care for more Cleveland County residents needing inpatient mental health treatment. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma hot streak persists, as carbon dioxide levels surge: For most of the last year, Oklahoma’s monthly temperatures have hovered above average. Now that it’s summer, Oklahomans are feeling the heat. [KOSU]

Criminal Justice News

Hundreds get chance at clean slate in Oklahoma City warrant clearing: On Saturday, people of all ages started lining up outside the Oklahoma City nonprofit Diversion Hub as early as 7:30 a.m., in anticipation of an opportunity to clear their warrants. This is the fifth time the nonprofit has hosted an event to help residents clear their misdemeanor and local warrants. These kinds of warrants can be issued for probation violations, failure to pay fines, traffic violations, and other misdemeanors. [KOSU]

Oklahoma County Commissioners vote to purchase 1901 East Grand Blvd for jail site: The Oklahoma County Commissioners voted in a special meeting Monday to amend and approve a contract to purchase property located at 1901 East Grand Blvd for a new county jail after fierce opposition from citizens. [The Black Wall Street Times]

  • Oklahoma County commissioners purchase land for new jail amid claims of collusion [The Oklahoman]

Death penalty in the US: How do Oklahoma’s last meal rules compare nationally?: Oklahoma is one of 19 states where capital punishment is legal and practiced, and one of 12 that allow special last meals. So, what can inmates on Oklahoma’s death row? [The Oklahoman]

Housing & Economic Opportunity News

Editorial: Tulsa City Council needs to end the ongoing appeal over code enforcement violations: For too long, the Tulsa City Council has put off making a decision on what ought to be a straight-forward appeal of nuisance citations on several boarded-up properties owned by one developer. Instead, some councilors conflate that decision with the challenges of homelessness. [Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Gas prices drop by 12.9¢ per gallon: Average gasoline prices in Oklahoma City have dropped by 12.9 cents per gallon over the past week, now averaging $2.81 per gallon, according to a GasBuddy survey of 669 stations. This marks a decrease of 19.6 cents from last month and 30.8 cents from last year. The national average for diesel also fell by 6.7 cents to $3.75 per gallon. [Journal Record]

Opinion: Advice for graduates entering the workforce: For those of you who will be joining me in the workforce, I’d like to share some thoughts on what the younger members of the workforce are currently doing well and what they should strive for. [Jennifer Sharpe / Journal Record]

Education News

Editorial: Lawmakers should be given an ‘F’ for ducking critical Oklahoma educational rule debate and vote: If Oklahoma lawmakers were being graded the way they just decided our public schools should be assessed, they would be deemed deficient. They’d either be given an incomplete for not finishing their work or a big fat “F.” Instead of giving 20 new education rules the full public debates the people of our state deserve, they sent them to the governor without having to take a stand. [Janelle Stecklein / Oklahoma Voice]

Local Headlines

  • TU’s Switchyard publication wins James Beard award [Tulsa World]
  • 19-year-old Oklahoman recovering after shark bite in Galveston: ‘I started punching it’ [The Oklahoman]
  • Hollywood producer kicking off first movie in Norman [Journal Record]

Quote of the Day

“We’ve got to see this commitment. I certainly don’t feel that commitment was there this legislative session to support children and families. We need lawmakers who will take this seriously.”

-Joe Dorman, a former Oklahoma state representative and current CEO of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, said responding to Oklahoma’s ranking of 46th nationally for child well-being by the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual Kids Count report. [Oklahoma Voice]

Number of the Day

1 in 5

Ratio of Oklahoma children who live in poverty, which is about 185,000 children. Oklahoma was ranked 43rd among all states for this metric. The federal poverty level for a family of two adults and two children was below $29,678 in 2022.[KIDS COUNT]

Policy Note

The social safety net looks different in every state: The U.S. social safety net is a collection of programs designed to support families experiencing financial hardship. The design of some of the programs is largely determined by the states, while others have structures and benefits largely determined at the federal level. State and federal policies interact to determine benefit levels—for example, state-directed cash transfers reduce eligibility for federally-directed food assistance. As a result, similar families are eligible for substantially different benefit packages depending on where they live. [Brookings]

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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.