In The Know: $18 million for students unspent in 2022 | New approaches to housing challenges | Envisioning a better Oklahoma for 2023 | More

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

Policy Matters: Envisioning a better Oklahoma for everyone: I envision an Oklahoma where our state makes meaningful, sustained investments in our children’s futures. This starts with increasing investments – and decreasing discord – surrounding our entire public education system in both rural and urban communities. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

OTA opponents: Chamber members stand to profit from extension: Advocates for the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s Access Oklahoma plan – which include the state’s three largest chambers of commerce – represent several entities that will reap healthy profits from the turnpike extension but none that might be harmed by the project, opponents of the project said this week. [Journal Record]

State Government News

Education Watch: Governor’s $18 Million for Students Unspent in 2022: Gov. Kevin Stitt received those funds in January 2021 as part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. (The first allocation of GEER funds, $40 million, was spent on five programs, and one of those has faced scrutiny because lax oversight allowed families to buy items unrelated to students’ education.) [Oklahoma Watch]

Oklahoma AG announces more opioid settlements: Four new settlements in the state’s opioid litigation were announced Wednesday by Attorney General John O’Connor. With these new settlements, Oklahoma has recovered more than $900 million, according to O’Connor’s office. Oklahoma ranks near the top of all states in total funds recovered on a per capita basis from the companies alleged to bear partial responsibility for the state’s opioid crisis, O’Connor’s office said in a press release. [Tulsa World]

  • Oklahoma announces opioid settlements with Walgreens, CVS, Walmart [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Oklahoma officials express concern about new EPA definition of Clean Water Act’s scope: The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced an updated Waters of the United States rule on Dec. 30, prompting criticism from some Oklahoma officials. The Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule is meant to protect the country’s streams, rivers and lakes from pollution. The rule doesn’t put forth any regulatory requirements itself; it defines which bodies of water are federally regulated under the Clean Water Act of 1972. [KOSU]

Health News

OU Health, Norman Regional plan new cancer center: OU Health and Norman Regional have partnered in plans to build a new cancer care facility on the Norman Regional HealthPlex campus. Construction of the 50,000-square-foot facility near Interstate 35 and Tecumseh Road should be complete in 2025, officials said in a release Wednesday. It’s to be called the OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center at Norman Regional. [Journal Record]

Criminal Justice News

OKC Develops New Approach to Homelessness: Housing Over Criminalizing: As 50 Oklahoma City clergy and community members huddled around tables at the Mayflower Congregational Church in November, they clutched packets that to them represented a looming crisis. The next day’s city council agenda included Councilmember Mark Stonecipher’s proposal to classify the homeless living in encampments as trespassers, subjecting them to citations or jail time. [Oklahoma Watch]

OK County Jail Trust hears ideas for Jail from citizens board: The Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority (Jail Trust) heard several substantial reports but ultimately took little action in open session Tuesday. And, the body plans to wait until its March meeting to choose a replacement for the resigned chair. [Free Press OKC]

Oklahoma Local News

Oklahoma City Council boosts pay for police officers: Oklahoma City Council members authorized what Mayor David Holt called the “largest police raises in modern OKC history” this week when it approved a negotiated agreement between the city and the Fraternal Order of Police. [The Oklahoman]

Councilors, mayor hit the road to plan for city’s latest capital improvements package: In the past 15 years, Tulsans have voted to spend nearly $3 billion on quality-of-life and capital improvement projects. On Wednesday, city councilors and Mayor G.T. Bynum began the process of defining the latest capital improvement proposal — a relatively small one of $115 million — by taking a tour of multiple city facilities in need of upgrades. [Tulsa World]

Two Tulsans, one BA resident face wire fraud charges related to alleged PPP loan schemes: A federal grand jury in Tulsa has named three people in indictments that charge them with Paycheck Protection Program loan fraud. Legreasha Junice Alexander, Edson Vladimir Bellefleur and Malcolm Andre Jones face wire fraud charges related to the alleged schemes. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“A more prosperous Oklahoma is attainable if we align our outcomes to our actions. We can get there by choosing to diversify and strengthen state revenue to fund programs and services that make this happen. We move closer when we invest in ourselves and our quality of life so that more folks want to live and work here.”

– Shiloh Kantz, Excutive Director of OK Policy [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

Number of the Day


The population of people 65 and older in nonmetro areas in the U.S. grew by 22 percent during the 2010-2020 decade.  In 2021, people 65 years and older made up more than 20 percent of the nonmetro population for the first time in U.S. census history, up from 16 percent in 2010. [USDA | Rural America at a Glance, 2022]

Policy Note

A Policy Renaissance Is Needed for Rural America to Thrive: Almost a century ago, federal policy like the Rural Electrification Act, Title V of the Housing Act and other national-scale development programs helped bring rural America into the modern era, and its contributions helped make the American economy the envy of the world. But today’s federal programs were built for a different era. We need a renaissance of rural policy to enable a renaissance of rural America. [Opinion / New York Times]

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Hana Saad joined OK Policy in August 2022 as the Communications and Operations Fellow. She graduated from the University of Tulsa with degrees in Media Studies and English and is part of Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society. At TU, Hana regularly wrote for The Collegian and was the Co-Editor of the Stylus Journal of Art and Writing. She also serves on the team at Puppy Haven Rescue to help in their mission of saving rescue dogs across Oklahoma. Hana is eager to learn more about public policy in Oklahoma and use her skills to support the OKP work to build a more equitable state. In her free time, she loves to read fiction and poetry, walk her dog, and make copious cups of tea.

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