In The Know: $1B in pandemic relief spending recommended | SQ820 won’t be on November ballot | Finding a light in the darkness

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: A light in the darkness: Last week’s release of new census data showed Oklahoma is still one of the nation’s poorest states. In fact, our state’s poverty rate was the 10th highest in the nation with nearly 1 in 6 of our friends and neighbors living in poverty. That comes as little surprise to those of us who regularly track how state policies serve – or fail to serve – everyday Oklahomans. The data, however, did show a bright spot beginning to emerge. [Shiloh Kantz / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma lawmakers recommend more than $1B in pandemic relief spending: State lawmakers on Tuesday recommended the Oklahoma Legislature spend $1.1 billion in federal stimulus funds by investing in broadband infrastructure, workforce development, water upgrades, and physical and behavioral health needs. [The Oklahoman]

Court denies request to allow SQ 820 on Oklahoma’s November ballot: The Oklahoma Supreme Court unanimously denied a petition that would allow State Question 820, which aims to legalize recreational marijuana, on the ballot for the Nov. 8 general election. [NonDoc]

  • Recreational cannabis question won’t be on the ballot in Oklahoma this November [KOSU]
  • Oklahoma court: Weed question won’t make November ballot [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Recreational marijuana question won’t make Nov. 8 ballot [Tulsa World]
  • Advocates for recreational marijuana in Oklahoma optimistic measure will appear on ballot [Fox 25]

Oklahoma tops list for Medicaid application processing: According to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Oklahoma was the only state to process and conduct 100% of applications in less than 24 hours during the first three months of 2022. [KFOR]

Tribal Nations News

Tribes urge lawmakers to reverse Oklahoma victory on jurisdiction: Tribal leaders, key members of Congress and a top Biden administration official said Tuesday that legislation may be necessary to clarify state, tribal and federal jurisdiction on Indian reservations in the wake of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in an Oklahoma case. [The Oklahoman]

Tulsa keeps ticketing Native Americans. A federal appeal raises new questions: A federal appeal of a Tulsa speeding ticket is the latest stage for the legal debate over state power in Indian Country. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal consortium to release annual economic report: The Oklahoma Tribal Finance Consortium’s most recent statewide impact report includes data from 2019, which found tribal activities supported $15.6 billion in goods and services, $5.4 billion in wages and benefits and 113,442 jobs in Oklahoma. [The Journal Record]

Criminal Justice News

What is ‘rainbow fentanyl’ and how concerned should Oklahomans be about it?: A late-August announcement from the national Drug Enforcement Administration claimed the multi-colored fentanyl pills were being made to look like candy and target young children. [The Oklahoman]

Special prosecutor to decide whether to move forward in ‘Innocent Man’ case: A special prosecutor will decide whether to move forward with charges against one of the defendants in The Innocent Man case after Pontotoc County District Attorney Paul Smith recused himself. [The Frontier]

Duncan technology company, owners settle suit with Department of Justice: A Duncan technology and education company and its founders have reached a settlement deal with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding allegations of fraudulent claims to an assistance program that forced a rural school district to pay the government thousands of dollars. [NonDoc]

Education News

Two decades of Tulsa pre-K research shows widespread positive effects: As part of its 20th year researching Tulsa’s early childhood programs, Georgetown University on Tuesday released reports showing pre-K’s positive effects on college enrollment and earning ability. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma adds 300 counselors to school system to benefit student’s mental health: The School Counselor Corps adds more than 300 counselors and mental health professionals to the Oklahoma public schools in order to improve student stability and mental health. [KOAM News Now]

Ginnie Graham: Brooklyn Library welcomes Oklahomans’ use of QR code as free speech symbol: Oklahomans began sharing the code after Norman High School English teacher Summer Boismier resigned after a parent complaint and disagreement with district officials. [Tulsa World]

Longtime Union High theater teacher gives up teaching certificate amid state inquiry: A former Union High School theater teacher has voluntarily surrendered his teaching certificate after state officials received troubling allegations from nearly two dozen current and former students. [Tulsa World]

As Biden pushes debt forgiveness, Oklahoma young professionals share mixed emotions: While the White House released an estimate Tuesday that nearly 454,300 Oklahomans stand to benefit from the proposed loan forgiveness, opinions among the state’s young, college-educated professionals differ on Biden’s actions, and remain critical of America’s higher education system at large. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“Of course we are disappointed that the court did not grant our request to place SQ 820 on the November 2022 ballot. It is disappointing that a few people with their own political interests were able to use the process to prevent voters from voting on this in November.”

– Michelle Tilley, campaign director for Yes on SQ 820, speaking about delays that kept the state question from being placed on the November general election ballot [Tulsa World

Number of the Day


The number of calendar days that it took for the Secretary of State’s office — using an outside vendor hired for $300,000 — to complete signature verification for 117,000 signatures submitted in support of SQ 820. By comparison, the signature verification process for SQ 802 in 2019 took 21 calendar days for nearly 300,000 signatures without using an outside vendor. [Fox 25]  

Policy Note

Pandemic Prompts More States to Mandate Paid Sick Leave: The importance of paid sick leave became evident early in the pandemic when many low-wage workers in places such as grocery stores and meatpacking plants got sick but went to work anyway, fearing that they’d lose pay or be fired if they stayed home. That helped the virus to spread. Even before the pandemic, an increasing number of cities, counties and states were requiring employers to offer paid sick leave. But COVID-19 illustrated that such laws aren’t just about protecting people’s livelihoods — they can help save lives. [Pew Research]

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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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