In The Know: Reactions to death of Oklahoma’s longest-serving U.S. Senator | Out-of-state conservative groups, figures to oversee Oklahoma’s social studies curriculum | Legislative Wrap-up: Criminal Justice

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

Lawmakers must build on criminal justice reforms, not tear them down (Legislative Wrap-Up): While the Oklahoma Legislature passed some important measures in 2024, there were also disconcerting attempts to undo years of improvements. Some of these harmful measures were stopped, but many positive changes also failed to progress. If Oklahoma truly wants an effective criminal justice system, legislators must protect and build on the progress made over the years. [Cole Allen / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

After stroke, former Sen. Jim Inhofe dies at 89: Days after experiencing a stroke, former U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe died at age 89 early this morning in Tulsa. A longtime Oklahoma politician who represented the state in the U.S. Senate from 1994 through 2022, Inhofe’s political career began with a 1966 election to the Oklahoma House of Representatives. [NonDoc]

  • Former U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, a passionate advocate for Oklahoma, dies at 89 [Oklahoma Voice]
  • Jim Inhofe, longtime former U.S. Sen. of Oklahoma, dies at age 89 [The Black Wall Street Times]
  • Former US Sen. Jim Inhofe, defense hawk who called human-caused climate change a ‘hoax,’ dies at 89 [AP/Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Former U.S. Sen. James Inhofe has died at 89, sources close to family say [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma’s longest-serving congressman Jim Inhofe passes away at 89 [Journal Record]
  • Former US Sen. Jim Inhofe has died, funeral services pending [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahomans react to death of former US Sen. Jim Inhofe [The Oklahoman]
  • Washinton colleagues remember former Sen. Jim Inhofe [News 9]
  • Oklahoma politicians react to former Senator Jim Inhofe’s death [KOSU]

State Government News

Stitt holds ceremonial bill signings at Capitol: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday held a ceremonial signing for several measures passed in the 2024 Legislative Session, including bills pertaining to domestic abuse and student safety in schools. [Journal Record]

  • Gov. Kevin Stitt holds ceremony to sign more than a dozen bills [Tulsa World]

Alyssa’s Law requires mobile alert systems in Oklahoma schools: Alyssa’s Law requires all Oklahoma school districts to implement a mobile panic alert system to better transmit 911 calls and improve communication with first responders during an emergency. [Oklahoma Voice]

Oklahoma access to Pornhub may hinge on legal challenges to new age verification law: Pornhub, which has pulled the plug on access in several states that have passed laws requiring people to prove their age before viewing adult content, appears to be waiting to see how legal challenges play out before deciding its future in Oklahoma. [Tulsa World]

Grego interim study to explore state’s vehicle valuation criteria: A state representative wants to know why Service Oklahoma uses two separate statutes to determine the value of each vehicle for tax purposes. [The Southwest Ledger]

Federal Government News

Government seeks $37.7 million in damages in Osage County wind farm trial: The company that built an 84-turbine wind farm in Osage County in 2014 without seeking the proper permit should be ordered to pay at least $37.7 million in damages, the federal government said Tuesday on the final day of a bench trial on the matter. [Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

Freedmen descendants seeking Muscogee citizenship cry foul at special tribal court appointments: Two descendants of enslaved people owned by the Muscogee Nation are accusing the tribe of illegally appointing special justices to its highest court in a bid to rout citizenship claims. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • Muscogee Nation appoints special judge; Black freedmen descendants call it an act of racial discrimination [Tulsa World]

Citizen Potawatomi member Kelli Mosteller named new CEO of OKC’s First Americans Museum: Oklahoma City’s First Americans Museum has named Kelli Mosteller, an enrolled citizen of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, as its new executive director and chief executive officer. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal governments receive first-ever cyber grants: Since the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure law in 2021, states have received hundreds of millions of dollars in grant funding for cybersecurity, out of a pot of $1 billion to be distributed over four years. Now, for the first time, tribal governments are getting a piece of that pie. [Route Fifty]

Voting and Election News

Tulsa Two Step: Mayoral debate set for Aug. 8 at Cain’s: In partnership with 2 News Oklahoma and the Tulsa Regional Chamber, NonDoc is hosting a political debate among candidates seeking the position of mayor of Tulsa at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, at Cain’s Ballroom, 423 N. Main St. [NonDoc]

Criminal Justice News

Tulsa judge tosses rape conviction after man’s three-decade quest to prove his innocence: A judge threw out the conviction on Tuesday of a Tulsa man who served 24 years in prison after being convicted of rape. The Frontier profiled Wiliam Henry Jamerson  last year, reporting on new evidence that cast doubt on his conviction. [The Frontier]

Oklahoma County jail refuses entry to state health inspectors, fails ninth-straight inspection: The Oklahoma County Detention Center failed its ninth-straight inspection by the Oklahoma State Department of Health after jail staff refused to allow inspectors inside Tuesday morning. [KFOR]

Oklahoma colleges and universities offering educational opportunities for incarcerated students: With several Oklahoma institutions offering college courses to incarcerated students, coupled with them now being able to apply for financial aid, a state nonprofit said education can help reduce the number of reoffenders. [News 9]

Housing & Economic Opportunity News

Oklahomans in this county are evicted more than any other in the state: In Oklahoma, 48,278 evictions were filed in 2023. Of those, 17,868 were filed in Oklahoma County, with 8,602 resulting in evictions. These numbers are projected to rise further in Oklahoma City after already increasing for some time. [The Oklahoman]

Long Story Short: How a Supreme Court decision could impact Oklahoma’s homeless (audio): Heather Warlick reports on a US Supreme Court ruling on public camping bans. Jennifer Palmer covers education for Oklahoma Watch, detailing the state superintendent’s extension of a contentious PR contract. Heather also updates you on eviction rights and HUD grants in Oklahoma. [Oklahoma Watch]

Economy & Business News

Devon Energy buys $5 billion of oil wells, land and other assets from Houston-based company: Devon Energy is Oklahoma’s second-biggest oil and gas company, and it just got even bigger. This week, Devon announced it acquired $5 billion worth of assets from Houston-based Grayson Mill Energy, which is owned by private equity firm EnCap. [KOSU]

Education News

Law Center says proposal to teach the Bible in Oklahoma classrooms invalid under state law: A legal firm with a record of success in challenging Ryan Walters has sent a letter to Oklahoma district superintendents saying the state schools superintendent’s recent directive that the Bible be taught in every classroom in the state is “without legal authority and invalid under Oklahoma law.” [The Oklahoman]

Right-wing pundits, out-of-state advocates to help create Oklahoma social studies standards: National conservative media personalities and right-wing policy advocates will develop Oklahoma’s academic standards for social studies, the state’s top education official announced on Tuesday. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Walters taps PragerU, Heritage Foundation leaders for social studies committee [Tulsa World]
  • Walters taps Heritage Foundation president, other conservative figures for social studies committee [KGOU]
  • Oklahoma social studies education to be reformed with help of conservative influencers [The Hill]
  • New social studies standards for schools include teaching the Bible [The Oklahoman]

New Statewide Charter School Board elects Brian Shellem as chairman, discusses St. Isidore: The newly created Statewide Charter School Board held its first meeting Monday and elected a conservative Edmond activist as chairman. The meeting comes as the board and Oklahoma Catholic Church leaders weigh the fallout from a recent state Supreme Court decision that said charter schools cannot have religious affiliation. [NonDoc]

School board nixes proposal to hire adjuncts without teaching certificates: A proposed board policy intended to help fill a litany of vacancies was shot down after a public comment period filled with opposition. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Tulsa Public Schools to Host Hiring Fair for Operations Positions: Tulsa Public Schools is gearing up for an extensive hiring fair aimed at filling a variety of operations roles within the district. The event is scheduled for Wednesday, July 10, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and will be held at the TPS Maintenance Facilities Building located at 1555 N. 77th E. Ave. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Community News

Milk, eggs and now bullets for sale in handful of US grocery stores with ammo vending machines: A company has installed computerized vending machines to sell ammunition in grocery stores in Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas, allowing patrons to pick up bullets along with a gallon of milk. [AP/Public Radio Tulsa]

OG&E crews head to Texas to help restore power after Beryl’s destruction: Millions of people are without power in Texas after Beryl and Oklahomans are heading south to help. A fleet of OG&E crews in Moore started the trip to southern Texas to help restore power Wednesday morning. [Fox 25]

Some communities are expanding their cooling center networks, while places like Oklahoma City don’t have one: Cooling centers are a summer lifeline, but residents often don’t know about them or have trouble accessing them. Here is how some communities are connecting residents to cooling centers. [Streetlight]

Quote of the Day

“It’s not that hard to see that the county is completely negligent, that the United States Department of Justice needs to take this jail over effective immediately.”

– Christopher Johnston, a member of the People’s Council for Justice Reform, urging the U.S. Department of Justice and the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office to take over the Oklahoma County Detention Center after it failed its ninth consecutive inspection this week. [KFOR]

Number of the Day


Percentage increase of people under the jurisdiction of state or federal correctional authorities in Oklahoma from 2021 to 2022. [U.S. Department of Justice]

Policy Note

Incarceration and Crime: A Weak Relationship: Nearly 50 U.S. states have reduced both incarceration rates and crime in the last decade. However, many states are reverting to the failed playbook of the 1990s that dramatically increased incarceration, particularly among Black Americans, with limited benefits to community safety. [The Sentencing Project]

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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.