In The Know: Lawmakers request bipartisan investigation of state superintendent | Women’s Bill of Rights’ goes to Stitt after heated debate | Oklahoma task force on Tribal reservation safety lacked Tribal input | Bill to allow students to get off-site religious instruction goes to Gov. Stitt | Steps to improve budget transparency next session

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: Steps to improve budget transparency next session: This legislative session, lawmakers placed great emphasis on budget transparency. It’s been revealing to watch the process unfold, but there are steps lawmakers can take to build on this progress for next year. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

House Democrats seek bipartisan probe into State Superintendent: Oklahoma House Democrats have filed House Resolution 1052 to establish a bipartisan committee to investigate State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters. The move follows multiple calls for accountability regarding public funds spent on education. [The Journal Record]

  • ‘Bull in a China shop’: OK House Democrats file formal requests for bipartisan committee, investigative audit of OSDE [KFOR]
  • House Democrats target Walters for investigation [Broken Arrow Sentinel]
  • Oklahoma Democrats demand again for an investigation of Superintendent Ryan Walters [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma House Democrats renew call for investigation of State Superintendent Ryan Walters [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma lawmakers advance ‘Women’s Bill of Rights’ measure that attempts to define biological sex: House lawmakers on Wednesday fought over whether the government should be taking steps to define what constitutes a woman as Republicans pressed forward with legislation creating a “Women’s Bill of Rights.” [Oklahoma Voice]

  • ‘Women’s Bill of Rights’ goes to Stitt after heated debate by nonbinary Oklahoma lawmaker [Tulsa World]
  • Women’s Bill of Rights tops contentious Oklahoma House measures [Journal Record]

State Government News

Legislature approves bill allowing religious instruction during Oklahoma school day: An Oklahoma bill permitting students to leave school for up to three class periods a week for religious instruction is on its way to the governor’s desk. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Bill to allow students to get off-site religious instruction goes to Gov. Stitt [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma lawmakers advance district-level business courts: Oklahoma lawmakers are opening the door for a new business court system by 2026. The measure they’ve advanced is one of four concessions lawmakers made to ensure Gov. Kevin Stitt won’t veto their budget proposal. [KOSU]

Senate approves 143 of governor’s 149 executive appointments; Stitt remains ‘concerned’ by process: The Oklahoma Senate has confirmed 143 of the 149 people nominated by Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt for various posts in state government this year − but the governor still isn’t happy. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Indian Citizenship Act to be commemorated at First Americans Museum: June 2 marks the 100th anniversary of the Indian Citizenship Act. The law granted Indigenous Americans citizenship — and consequently — the right to vote. [KOSU]

Muscogee Nation Supreme Court To Decide Fate Of Creek Freedmen: When Creek Freedmen plaintiffs Rhonda Grayson and Jeff Kennedy won their civil case for citizenship in Muscogee Creek Nation (MSN) on Sept. 27, 2023, they thought it would end the years-long legal battle for full recognition in the tribal nation of their ancestors. It didn’t. [Oklahoma Eagle]

One Oklahoma Task Force offers public safety recommendations post-McGirt: The task force recommends representatives of states, tribes, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs amend the existing deputation agreements. [KOSU]

  • One Oklahoma Task Force report calls for data sharing, tribal jurisdiction training [NonDoc]
  • Oklahoma task force on tribal reservation safety lacked tribal input. Here’s how it went [The Oklahoman]

Wichita and Affiliated Tribes reacquire historic lands in Kansas: A giant snake is slithering in the tall grasses of Rice County, Kansas — 75 miles northwest of Wichita. Now, once more, it belongs to the Wichita tribe, who purchased it in an auction last Friday. [KOSU]

Yuchi Immersion School Preserves Endangered Language: The Yuchi people believe that fewer than 100 individuals worldwide can speak the language conversationally, with even fewer speaking it as their first language. The immersion school is working to change that trend. [News on 6]

Opinion: The Indian Citizenship Act is 100 years old. What lessons have we learned?: Whether we’re celebrating a major historical event or we’re choosing local officials, I show my pride by researching candidates and voting. [Gary Batton / The Oklahoman]

Voting and Election News

Lawmaker hit with $35,000 in payments for violation of Oklahoma ethics rules: Rep. Ajay Pittman has agreed to pay the Oklahoma Ethics Commission $35,000 following a settlement agreement for ethics rules violations. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Rep. Ajay Pittman agrees to pay $35,000 to settle campaign violations [NonDoc]

Health News

Oklahoma’s transition to managed Medicaid brings new benefits, challenges: Proponents say the change incentivizes preventative care, and its rollout has been going well. But, it has caused problems for some Oklahomans on Medicaid and smaller providers. [KGOU]

States need to keep PFAS ’forever chemicals’ out of the water. It won’t be cheap: 11 states have set limits for PFAS in drinking water. Oklahoma has not. [Oklahoma Voice]

Housing & Economic Opportunity News

Oklahoma City teacher celebrates new Habitat home: Although he’s probably more comfortable on a football field than when speaking to reporters, Capitol Hill High School teacher/coach Michael Hill deftly led a TV crew on a recent tour of his family’s new Habitat home in southwest Oklahoma City, according to a news release. [Journal Record]

Economy & Business News

A mega oil and gas industry deal has significant Oklahoma ties: ConocoPhillips announced it’s buying Marathon Oil in what Forbes calls one of the 10 largest corporate deals of the year. Both companies have ties to Oklahoma. [KOSU]

Dollar Tree closes Marietta distribution center, assesses options after tornado: A Dollar Tree distribution center in southern Oklahoma will close — at least temporarily — a company spokesperson said in an email. [KOSU]

  • Assistance offered for Oklahomans impacted by storms who cannot work [News9]

Education News

Legislature could nix mandate that struggling Oklahoma readers repeat 3rd grade: Oklahoma third graders would no longer be required to repeat a grade if they struggle with reading, but students would have to take at least three literacy screenings a year from kindergarten through third grade under a series of proposed changes to the state’s Reading Sufficiency Act. [Oklahoma Voice]

Oklahoma House Democrats address $12 billion HBCU funding gap: Oklahoma House Democrats came together to discuss the underfunding of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). Rep. Jason Lowe, D-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa, focused on a report released by the United States Department of Education that confirmed HBCUs were underfunded by $12 billion. [FOX25]

Opinion: Systemic racism, poverty to blame for state of OKCPS, not unruly kids: Systemic racism and poverty are to blame for the state of Oklahoma City Public Schools, not “unruly students.” People not accustomed to teaching in the inner cities will mainly see this as a generational issue with kids. [James Stallings / The Oklahoman]

Local Headlines

  • Property owner to host public meeting on city bond issue, historic subgrants [Enid News & Eagle]

Quote of the Day

“Voting for this bill is a direct attack on my existence. But (previous such attempts) have failed to wipe us out, because two spirit transgender and gender-nonconforming people have always been here, and we will always be here, right here in Oklahoma. You can attack us with words and policy, but that won’t change the fact that your attempts are wrong.”

-Non-binary Rep. Mauree Turner said during a heated final House Floor debate of HB1449 that defines a female as an individual who “naturally has, had, will have, or would have, but for a developmental or genetic anomaly or historical accident, the reproductive system that at some point produces, transports, and utilizes eggs for fertilization. The bill is headed to the governor for signature. [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Percentage decrease in Oklahoma’s tax revenue collected for calendar year 2023 versus calendar year 2022. [Urban Institute]

Policy Note

State Tax and Economic Review, 2023 Quarter 4: Preliminary data for the first quarter of 2024 suggest ongoing sluggishness in overall state tax revenue collections nationwide, primarily due to continued weakness in personal income tax revenues. Total state tax revenues increased 1.9 percent in nominal terms in the first quarter of 2024 compared with the same period in 2023, with the median state growth at 1.3 percent. [Urban Institute]

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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.