In The Know: AG to Ryan Walters: You can’t hold two state offices | Catholic charter school decision explained | Policy Matters | 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: Protecting state question process vital for Oklahoma democracy

When elected officials fail to respect the opinions and wishes of its citizens, they undermine the trust in government required to make our democracy work. In recent years, Oklahoma has seen an increased number of legislative attacks on the state’s direct democratic process, most notably to weaken the state question process and create unnecessary barriers to voting. We have seen a number of bills that would multiply the prohibitive state question process, such as increasing the signature threshold for citizen-led petitions or raising the bar needed to approve them once they’re on the ballot. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

Attorney general told Senate that Ryan Walters can’t hold two offices: A letter from Attorney General Gentner Drummond was apparently the stumbling block for Ryan Walters to be state school superintendent and secretary of education at the same time. Walters held both positions briefly, elected as superintendent and remaining education secretary in Gov. Kevin Stitt’s Cabinet as the governor began his second term in January. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma AG’s letter: Walters cannot be superintendent, education secretary at same time [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma schools must report gender in sports programs as Walters slams Biden rule: In a first step toward rebuffing a proposed Biden administration rule on transgender athletes, the state Department of Education is demanding that all Oklahoma school districts produce a report on all the sports they offer broken down by gender and grade level. [Tulsa World]

  • Ryan Walters Holds Special Meeting Against Title IX Change [News 9]

State Government News

Oklahoma moves closer to banning gender-affirming care for Trans youth: On Wednesday, the Oklahoma House Public Health Committee advanced SB 613, a copy-cat bill pushed around the country by national interest groups to ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth. [Black Wall Street Times]

House committee churns through medical marijuana bills: Eight Senate medical marijuana bills, including one that would limit the THC content of edibles, advanced through an Oklahoma House of Representatives committee on Wednesday. Alcohol, Tobacco and Controlled Substances Committee Chairman T.J. Marti, R-Broken Arrow, carried all but one of the medical marijuana bills, including a couple whose original language he completely stripped and replaced with House bills the Senate had refused to hear. [Tulsa World]

Now that ACCESS Oklahoma turnpike expansion is halted, what’s next for plans, homeowners?: A day after the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority halted work on its controversial ACCESS Oklahoma toll road expansions, the one thing the agency and its opponents agree on is that their battle is far from over. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma health officials say the public health lab needs more money: Oklahoma lawmakers are planning to put more money into the state’s public health laboratory, which could bring total investment up to about $39 million. [KOSU]

AGs file lawsuit over lesser prairie chicken designation: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in recent months designated the southern population of the bird, found primarily in eastern New Mexico and in the southwestern corner of the Texas Panhandle, as endangered. [Journal Record]

Federal Government News

Federal judge blocks expanded EPA water regulations for Oklahoma and other states: A federal court in North Dakota has blocked the implementation of a rule that would broaden the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory authority. [KOSU]

Mullin says business cybersecurity concerns are difficult to address: Americans will have to make some hard business cybersecurity decisions that go to the heart of individual freedom and privacy, U.S. Sen. Markwayne Mullin said at a Tulsa Regional Chamber luncheon on Wednesday. [Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

Oklahoma advocates, experts say system to find missing Indigenous people ‘is a mess’: When an Indigenous person goes missing it’s tough to know who to call. That’s why, a group of grassroots organizers, law enforcement and tribal nation leaders came together this week to talk about the best way to respond in Tulsa. And they were doing so with the full support of the federal government. [KOSU]

Voting and Election News

A city council race in rural Oklahoma was decided by 1 vote: Jason Eidson won the seat for Guymon’s Ward 3 City Council race by a single vote over Shelby Red Corn — 328 votes to 327. The pair had the same early and election day votes, but one absentee ballot cast was the deciding factor. [KOSU]

Economy & Business News

Cheaper gas and food provide some relief from US inflation: U.S. consumer inflation eased in March, with less expensive gas and food providing some relief to households that have struggled under the weight of surging prices. Yet prices are still rising fast enough to keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates at least once more, beginning in May. [Associated Press / The Oklahoman]

Education News

We fact-checked Ryan Walters’ claims about pornography in Oklahoma schools: Some books Walters has called obscene have since been removed from libraries and other titles contain no explicit depictions of sex but do have gay, transgender or nonbinary protagonists. [The Frontier]

  • Tulsa World Opinion podcast: State superintendent ‘is against inclusiveness,’ not pornography, Rep. Waldron says [Tulsa World]

Explaining Oklahoma’s Pivotal Catholic Charter School Decision: A small state education board is considering a proposal to open a Catholic online charter school, a decision that could clear the way for spending public money on religious schooling and have national ramifications. State and federal law prohibit religiously-affiliated public schools. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • Board may reconsider proposed Catholic online charter school [Journal Record]

Column: Education will continue to lag behind if serious investments aren’t made: As a lifelong educator and superintendent of Warner Public Schools, I have seen firsthand how a strong commitment to public education can make a difference in our community and children. [David Vinson Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

General News

Investigators say they’ve sequenced DNA from 6 possible 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre victims: The city’s search for graves of 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre victims takes a step forward. On Wednesday, Mayor G.T. Bynum announced that the remains of six people exhumed at Oaklawn Cemetery have yielded DNA profiles traceable to people currently alive. [KGOU]

Oklahoma Local News

  • City Council considers new rule after lawsuit alleging Open Meeting Act violation [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“He keeps using rhetoric that’s not grounded in reality, that he doesn’t present evidence for… he’s ignoring the very important practical day-to-day operations of the state department of education, the things that are really gonna matter to the 700,000 Oklahoma school children.”

– Rep. John Waldron, D-Tulsa, on State Supt. Ryan Walters’ fixation on LGBTQ+ books in school libraries and lack of concern for his other job responsibilities, like the state’s education budget. [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


A 0.25% across-the-board cut to Oklahoma’s personal income tax would provide $93 back to the middle 20% of Oklahoma earners, while providing $2,381 to the wealthiest 1%. [ITEP analysis via OK Policy]

Policy Note

Deep Public Investment Changes Lives, Yet Too Many States Continue to Seek Tax Cuts: When state budgets are strong, lawmakers should put those revenues toward building a stronger and more inclusive society for the long haul. Yet, many state lawmakers have made clear that their top priority is repeatedly cutting taxes for the wealthy. [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy]

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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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