In The Know: State Supreme Court rules against Catholic charter school | Oklahoma advocates rally at capitol for abortion rights | Gov. approves school rules tying tests to accreditation | Governor’s chief of staff picked to lead the Regional University System of Oklahoma | Dispute over settlement proposal for mental health lawsuit points out incongruities

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

Dispute over settlement proposal for mental health lawsuit points out incongruities (Capitol Update): Pre-trial detainees deemed  dangerous and incompetent to stand trial are experiencing long wait times for ‘restoration of competency’ treatment. In the meantime, people with mental illness who may never be found guilty of a crime are in jail awaiting treatment, and those who should be found guilty, and their victims, await their day of judgment. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma Supreme Court rules against Catholic charter school: The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a state board’s contract with a religious charter school is unconstitutional and must be rescinded. [Tulsa World]

  • Oklahoma Supreme Court rules state board’s contract with Catholic charter school illegal [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma Supreme Court rules publicly funded religious charter school is unconstitutional [AP]
  • Oklahoma Supreme Court rules St. Isidore charter school contract unconstitutional [Fox25]

Stitt approves controversial school rules tying tests to accreditation: Gov. Kevin Stitt has approved a set of highly criticized education department rules, one of which ties a district’s test scores to accreditation. One of the more controversial rules submitted by Superintendent Ryan Walters threatens a district’s accreditation status due to subpar annual test scores. [Journal Record]

  • Gov. Stitt quietly approves Ryan Walters’ administrative rules. Critics warn of dire consequences [The Oklahoman]
  • Gov. Stitt approves all of Walters’ new Education Department rules [Oklahoma Voice]
  • ‘A great day for Oklahoma students’: Walters welcomes education rules, critics sound alarm [Fox25]

State Government News

Governor’s chief of staff appointed as executive director of RUSO: Brandon Tatum will serve as the next executive director of the Regional University System of Oklahoma, or RUSO. The regents of RUSO appointed Tatum to the position with a vote on Friday. Tatum has served as Gov. Kevin Stitt’s chief of staff since November 2022 and will begin the new position Aug. 1. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Stitt staffer named CEO of Regional University System of Oklahoma [Tulsa World]
  • Brandon Tatum, Stitt’s chief of staff, picked to lead the Regional University System of Oklahoma [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma advocates rally at capitol for abortion rights two years after Roe v. Wade fell: Two years ago, Roe v. Wade was overturned, triggering a near-total abortion ban in Oklahoma. Oklahomans and advocacy groups from bordering states gathered outside the state capitol Monday to rally against these restrictions. [KGOU]

  • Marchers advocate for reproductive rights on second anniversary of Roe v. Wade’s demise [Tulsa World]
  • Two years after Dobbs: Demonstrators march for abortion rights at Oklahoma Capitol [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Transgender Oklahoman speaks on birth certificate lawsuit victory: A recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit is a win for the transgender community. The court decided its unconstitutional for Oklahoma to ban changing birth certificates to match a person’s gender identity. [2NEWS]

Opinion: I have a trans daughter. Blocking her care is not conservative: Politicians should stop trying to impose personal beliefs as statewide mandates that harm children and interfere with the private, individualized medical decisions of families. [Sean P. Madden / The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Remember the Removal cyclists finish their memorial journey, arrive home in Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation citizens welcomed home the 2024 Remember the Removal cyclists in Tahlequah on Friday, June 21. The 17 cyclists, 10 Cherokee Nation citizens and seven Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians started in New Echota, Georgia, and biked the 950-mile trail their ancestors were forced to walk through seven states. [KOSU]

River Spirit Casino opens Gridiron Sports Bar with eye on sports betting: Leaders of the Muscogee Nation and River Spirit Casino Resort held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday to celebrate the $17.5 million capital investment that, among other things, is preparing for the day sports betting may become legal in Oklahoma. [Tulsa World]

‘Dark legacy’: Boarding school commission gains ground in US Senate: Congressional efforts to create a Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies got another boost this week, leaving the Senate poised to consider a bill to investigate the history and trauma of Native boarding schools. [ICT]

Voting and Election News

Independent voters multiply in numbers, not influence, in Oklahoma: In terms of percentage growth, new independent voter registrations have outpaced new Republican registrations in Oklahoma in recent years. However, independents haven’t demonstrated much influence on elections in a state that has grown increasingly conservative. [Tulsa World]

If a recount can’t decide a tied sheriff race in Carter County, random chance will: Last week, Oklahomans voted in county sheriff primaries across the state. In Carter County, the two Republican candidates each received 2,569 votes. Since the state doesn’t allow runoffs for races with only two candidates, the Carter County Election Board has to follow unusual procedures to break the tie between current Sheriff Chris Bryant and challenger DJ Long. [KOSU]

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. talks border, marijuana at national sheriffs conference in Oklahoma City: Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. spoke to a gathering of local law enforcement leaders from around the country on Monday on his long shot campaign for the White House, mostly covering border security and steering clear of false, anti-vaccination conspiracies he has pushed. [Oklahoma Voice]

Health News

Heat service calls exceed June average as temperatures soar: Heat-related calls for service and high temperatures are already above where they usually are this time of year, and officials say Tulsans need to take care of themselves. The ambulance service has already responded to 46 heat-related calls in the Tulsa area so far this year. They’ve taken 35 people from these calls to the hospital. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • How is Oklahoma’s heat wave impacting animals? [KOSU]

Criminal Justice News

Alabama man accused of killings in 2 states enters not guilty pleas to Oklahoma murder charges: Stacy Lee Drake, 50 is accused in a string of killings in Oklahoma and Alabama has pleaded not guilty to two Oklahoma killings. Drake is accused of homicides and carjackings in Oklahoma, Arkansas State Police said. They said he’s also wanted on other felony warrants from multiple jurisdictions on charges including aggravated robbery, carjacking and murder. [Tulsa World]

Consent decree vexes Oklahoma Department of Mental Health: The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services’ long-running disagreement with Tulsa County’s top law enforcement officials edged up a notch or two over the past couple of days. In dispute is the treatment of jail inmates judged mentally incompetent to participate in their own cases. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma lawmaker targeted in government imposter scam, warns others: An Oklahoma lawmaker was targeted in a phone call scam. The Attorney General’s office calls it another version of a “government imposter scam.” The local branch of the U.S. district court is warning people about this, saying scammers are posing as law enforcement or court personnel and intimidating victims. [News9]

Housing & Economic Opportunity News

While zoning for single-family homes remain steady, Oklahoma sees 247% increase in has sharpest increase in multi-family home permits: Between April 2024 YTD and April 2023 YTD, 15 states recorded growth in multifamily permits, while 35 states and the District of Columbia recorded a decline. Oklahoma (+247.5%) led the way with a sharp rise in multifamily permits from 335 to 1,164, while Oregon had the biggest decline of 75.4% from 3,394 to 834. [National Association of Home Builders]

Education News

Fun goes with learning at Tulsa summer school: Roughly 7,200 elementary and middle school Tulsa Public Schools students are attending “Ready. Set. Summer!” this year across 24 sites. Although this year’s enrollment is smaller than the 11,000 students who participated in 2021, the first year TPS offered day-camp-style summer programming, it is still more than three times the average annual enrollment from before the pandemic, when TPS’ summer school was in a traditional format. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Educators Hall of Fame inducts 3 more people, but still has no home for portraits: The current chair of the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, the superintendent of Lawton Public Schools and a former vice chair of the Comanche Nation are in the 2024 class for the Oklahoma Educators Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony for Robert Franklin, Kevin Hime and Cornel Pewewardy will be Nov. 1 at Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club in Nichols Hills. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Gives Huge Subsidies To Private School Students: Oklahoma taxpayers have made a significant contribution of $150 million to support the education of private school students, a move that could undermine public education across the state. [The Oklahoma Eagle]

OKCPS board approves central office staff cuts designed to maintain district class sizes: The board approved incoming Superintendent Jamie Polk’s proposal to eliminate 13 leadership positions in the district office – four of those currently considered cabinet-level jobs – reduce another position and add five leadership positions. According to a memo, cost estimates for those moves will be about $2.23 million. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Oklahoma joins states with ‘release time’ laws letting kids leave school for religious lessons: Children in American public schools traditionally learned the three R’s: reading, writing and arithmetic. Today, students in more than half of the U.S. states can study a fourth R: religion. Oklahoma is the most recent state to allow school boards to implement “release time”: off-site classes with religious or moral instruction that K-12 students can attend for part of school days with parental consent. [Charles J. Russo / Oklahoma Voice]

Local Headlines

Quote of the Day

“These are students who already need greater resources and tools to succeed, yet the one-size-fits-all testing doesn’t take those serious challenges into consideration at all.”

-Rep. Meloyde Blancett, D-Tulsa, said in response to Governor Kevin Stitt’s approval of the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s controversial new rules tying accreditation to student test scores. [Journal Record]

Number of the Day

$1.6 trillion

Spending power of immigrant households in the United States during 2022. [Immigration Impact]

Policy Note

Immigration surge projected to boost growth over next decade, CBO says: Increased immigration to the U.S. is expected to drive higher economic growth and labor supply, grow federal revenues and shrink deficits over the next 10 years, according to new Congressional Budget Office estimates. [Axios]

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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.