In The Know: Power struggle impacts Veterans Affairs Dept. | More election roundup | More women’s representation in government needed

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: More progress needed in women’s representation in government: Even though women’s voting rights have been in effect for more than a century, women still are consistently underrepresented in our local, state, and federal government. While women make up more than half of our country’s population, the majority of elected and appointed government positions are held by men. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

Veterans Affairs power struggle leaves agency with ‘serious problem’ paying its bills: The Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs can’t pay its bills because Gov. Kevin Stitt’s Cabinet secretary won’t sign off on them, the agency’s head said. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma execution: James Coddington gets lethal injection for fatal beating 25 years ago: Oklahoma on Thursday carried out the first of 25 executions scheduled over the next two years. Convicted murderer James Coddington was declared dead at 10:16 a.m. at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. His expressions of deep remorse for his actions 25 years ago brought him widespread support in the end. His backers said he had transformed himself in prison. [The Oklahoman]

Ryan Walters wins GOP runoff, will face Jena Nelson for Oklahoma schools superintendent: A platform opposing “left-wing indoctrination” and promoting school choice carried Ryan Walters, Gov. Kevin Stitt’s education secretary, to victory in the Republican runoff primary for state schools superintendent. [The Oklahoman]

  • Education Watch: Ryan Walters Wins GOP Primary For State Superintendent, Faces Jena Nelson In November [Oklahoma Watch]

Election roundup:

  • A look at the winners (and losers) in runoff primaries for Oklahoma legislative seats [The Oklahoman]
  • Josh Brecheen last candidate standing from 14-Republican field [The Oklahoman]
  • Kevin Calvey wins runoff in Oklahoma County DA race and already facing same criticism [The Oklahoman]
  • Markwayne Mullin won’t commit to debate Kendra Horn or support Mitch McConnell [The Oklahoman]
  • Osborn wins runoff, defeats Stitt’s pick for labor commissioner [The Oklahoman]
  • OK County District 1 runoff winner could face recount request by opponent [The Oklahoman]
  • Legislative runoffs: Jech holds on, four others elected [NonDoc]

State Government News

Gov. Kevin Stitt’s chief of staff Bond Payne to resign: Stitt’s top aide will step down this week after serving two years in state government. Oklahoma City businessman Bond Payne on Friday will depart as the governor’s chief of staff. [The Oklahoman]

Legislative panel advances ARPA funds for Tulsa mental hospital: A proposed 102-bed mental hospital in downtown Tulsa moved closer to a final green light on Wednesday with a legislative panel’s approval of $38 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding for the estimated $70 million project. [Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

More women than ever on state ballots: Tuesday’s election results confirmed that more women than ever before will vie for the top spots in Oklahoma government this November. [Journal Record]

Criminal Justice News

Court dismisses rape and strangulation charges against former Oklahoma City police officer: An Oklahoma County judge has dismissed rape and strangulation charges against a former Oklahoma City police officer who was acquitted of similar charges last November. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Study reflects tough choices faced by renters, prospective homebuyers: High home prices and rising mortgage rates along with increasing rental rates have left people who are looking for new places to live with tough choices these days in Oklahoma and across the country. [Journal Record]

Education News

Oklahoma education board will consider trans bathroom ban rules, re-hearing Tulsa, Mustang accreditation: This is the first time Oklahoma State Board of Education will consider offering the districts a re-hearing after the downgrading of Tulsa’s and Mustang Public Schools’ accreditation. The board will also consider new rules related to Senate Bill 615, which bans transgender students from using the bathroom of their choice. [KOSU]

Teacher quits in protest after being punished for banned books sign: Summer Boismier, a teacher at Norman High School, quit in protest of a new Oklahoma law that restricts teaching about race and gender. [The Washington Post]

What’s a Pell grant? How it affects student loan forgiveness: President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program announced on Wednesday aims to provide $10,000 in student debt cancellation for millions of Americans. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Tulsa City Council passes resolution passed to help secure giant retailer Scheels at Woodland Hills Mall [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“When we have more women in positions of power and influence, we tend to have broader conversations about how (policy) impacts a broader set of people than when you don’t have diversity in those rooms and those decisions are being made for you.”

-Erika Lucas, co-founder of business accelerator StitchCrew and VEST, which supports women entrepreneurs. She also serves on the OK Policy Board of Directors. [Journal Record]

Number of the Day


The average student debt at graduation for Oklahoma college students in 2020. Half of Oklahoma college students graduated with some amount of student debt.
[Institute for College Access & Success, Interactive Map]

Policy Note

Casualties of College Debt: What Data Show and Experts Say About Who Defaults and Why: Each year, about seven million students invest in their futures by taking out federal loans to go to college. However, there are clear and urgent signs of repayment distress for millions of student borrowers. Certain groups of students are particularly likely to struggle with student debt. Low-income students, Black students, and students earning four-year degrees at for-profit colleges are more likely to borrow and to borrow more than their peers. They are also more likely to default. Older borrowers, those who attend part-time and attend non-selective schools, and who leave school without a certificate or degree are more likely default, even though they often have small loans. [Institute for College Access & Success]

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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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