In The Know: What Oklahoma law says about teaching the Bible in schools | Oklahoma minimum wage campaign reports surpassing signature goal | Oklahoma needs bold leadership to shape our future

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

Policy Matters: Oklahoma needs bold leadership to shape our future: Leadership is more than a title; it is a transformative force capable of shaping communities and the business world. And it’s something that Oklahoma could use more of. [Shiloh Kantz / The Journal Record]

State Government News

Oklahoma Department of Human Services develops 10-year plan to support aging adults: By 2034 Oklahomans older than 60 will outnumber Oklahomans younger than 18, which is why the Oklahoma Department of Human Services has developed a new 10-year plan on aging. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma minimum wage campaign reports surpassing signature goal: A campaign to raise the pay of Oklahoma’s lowest-paid workers is moving closer to the November ballot. Organizers claim they have collected twice the necessary signatures for State Question 832, which proposes the first increase in the minimum wage in nearly fifteen years. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Opinion: Providing nutrition to hungry children is not a political issue: Government funding is a reflection of community value, and this year the state of Oklahoma declined to serve some of our most vulnerable residents when refusing to administer the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer EBT program. [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

‘This is going to kill us’: Oklahoma nursing homes brace for new federal staffing mandate: Oklahoma nursing homes are preparing for staffing rules finalized in April by the Biden administration, meant to improve safety and quality of care in long-term care facilities. [KGOU]

Voting and Election News

Opinion: Tulsa elections ushering in new class of officials, so they need to be ready: In the history of Tulsa city elections perhaps none can compare to what the citizens will decide this year on who will lead the city in the coming years. We will elect a new mayor, city auditor and possibly a new majority of the City Council. In addition to those, we will have a new police chief, economic development director and chief financial officer. Other leadership changes are also likely to be announced this year. [Terry Simonson / Tulsa World]

Health News

FLiRT variant: COVID-19 symptoms, vaccine recommendations in Oklahoma as cases rise: So far this summer, COVID-19 variants are still on the rise in Oklahoma, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns, and updated vaccines are recommended. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Cities Addressing Emergencies with More Mental Health Professionals: In recent years, the Oklahoma City Council, police, and fire departments have collaborated to improve mental health response in the city. [Oklahoma Watch]

Former TSA employee indicted in connection with bomb hoaxes at Tulsa International Airport: A former Transportation Security Administration employee has been charged in connection with two bomb hoaxes at Tulsa International Airport. Sharon Jean Devine, 48, of Tulsa faces a two-count indictment unsealed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma County jail refuses inspection, setting up fight with state Health Department: The Oklahoma County jail has twice refused surprise inspections from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, setting the stage for a potential standoff between the county’s district attorney and the state agency tasked with ensuring county jails are safe. [Oklahoma Voice]

Housing & Economic Opportunity News

A new plan to transform OKC’s oldest public housing complex is in the works. What to know: Housing officials and urban designers are calling for more residential feedback as they develop plans for an ambitious project aimed at rebuilding Oklahoma City’s oldest public housing complex and revitalizing surrounding neighborhoods. [The Oklahoman]

City’s effort to create commission on possible redress for 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre advances: The city is closer to establishing a commission on possible reparations and repairs for those harmed by the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. [Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Study: Oklahoma’s economy ranked as one of the 20 worst in the nation: Oklahoma’s economy is the 18th worst in the country, according to a 2024 study conducted by Wallethub. [The Oklahoman]

Total Wine & More argues Oklahoma liquor store rules are at odds with U.S. Constitution: Mark Hornbeek, with the Phillips Murrah law firm, went before an administrative law judge to argue against the denial of a license for $2.4-billion Total Wine to own and operate a liquor store by the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission, commonly called the ABLE Commission. The judge has 15 days to decide. [The Oklahoman]

PartnerTulsa set to name new executive director: The organization charged with leading the city’s economic development efforts is expected to name a new executive director and CEO later this week. [Tulsa World]

Stardust Power celebrates Nasdaq listing, plans $1.2B lithium refinery in Oklahoma: Less than a year after Stardust Power announced plans to build what could be the country’s largest lithium refinery in Oklahoma, CEO Roshan Pujari will celebrate being publicly traded by ringing the opening bell at MarketSite Thursday morning. [The Journal Record]

State of steak: Can one of Oklahoma’s most historic professions weather modern markets?: This year started with the lowest U.S. cattle inventory since 1951 and the smallest calf crop since 1948, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Markets for cows and calves — and stockers, feeders, even old, worn-out bulls — are on a roll. Oklahoma beef cattle on the hoof were worth about $3.3 billion in January 2022, the most recent estimates, more than hogs and pigs, broilers, hay, winter wheat, cotton, corn and soybeans. [The Oklahoman]

What do Oklahoma grocery shoppers think of buying bananas and bullets in the same trip?: AI-powered ammunition vending machines have recently opened up in Oklahoma, drawing national headlines. The machines are in four locations in the state. [KGOU]

Education News

Oklahoma lottery generating record amounts for education: Oklahoma’s lottery revenue has reached new highs following a decision by lawmakers to increase the prize amounts offered. The Oklahoma Lottery Commission recorded an all-time high of about $380.5 million in sales revenue and about $87.6 million was reinvested in education in fiscal year 2023. [Oklahoma Voice]

We fact-checked what Oklahoma law says about teaching the Bible in schools: Oklahoma Superintendent Ryan Walters says schools must now use the Bible in the classroom. But state law gives school districts the exclusive power to choose curriculum. [The Frontier]

Local Headlines

  • Edmond to study high-injury intersections, bike lanes with $3.6M grant [The Journal Record]
  • These Oklahoma lakes were ranked in top 10 ‘dirtiest’ lakes in the US: See the list [The Oklahoman]
  • Laundry Love helps people with free laundry in Warr Acres [The Oklahoman]
  • Review: New Oklahoma-made movie ‘Twisters’ is a worthy successor to the 1996 blockbuster [The Oklahoman]
  • Composting service expanding across Oklahoma City metro [KOSU]

Quote of the Day

“The Beyond Apology report cites many different options for Tulsans to consider in seeking to move ‘beyond apology’ in support of our neighbors who were harmed by the race massacre. These include educational opportunities, housing support and job creation.”

-Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said this week regarding establishing a commission on possible reparations and repairs for those harmed by the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Bynum has said previously that he does not support reparations in the form of direct cash payments but is open to other ideas to address harms caused by the massacre. [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day

3 in 5

More than 3 in 5 members of families experiencing homelessness are minors, according to Oklahoma City’s annual count of homelessness. [2024 OKC Point in Time Count]

Policy Note

After Supreme Court Allows Penalties for Homelessness, Not Everyone in Law Enforcement Is Applauding: Could the Grants Pass decision lead to more aggressive action by law enforcement? It actually seems least likely in the states with the biggest homeless populations. There’s significant evidence that criminalization can be costly and ineffective, pulling the unhoused away from services that could improve their situation. Criminal records can cost them future opportunities for housing and employment. [Governing]

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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.