In The Know: A look at governor’s term | Lawmakers have yet to follow through on SQ781 funding | Captiol Update

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

Interim studies address issues of lack of housing, childcare facilities (Capitol Update): Legislators continued their work last week with interim studies to look at issues they may want to address when session begins in February. Two important studies that caught my attention have to do with lack: Lack of affordable housing and lack of childcare facilities. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Our State Under Stitt: Government at the Speed of Business: Businessman Kevin Stitt campaigned on a simple theme in 2018: Hire me as the state’s CEO and let me show you how to transform state government. But a multitude of purchasing scandals and revelations of misspending during the coronavirus pandemic has exposed the hazards of running government at the speed of business. Friction with fellow Republicans in the Legislature highlighted other management blind spots. Stitt the CEO morphed into Stitt the governor. [Oklahoma Watch]

Stitt signs new attorneys to get lawsuit tossed; Cherokee chief cites ‘legal actions against tribes’: Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. on Monday tweeted a response to a report that the state of Oklahoma is hiring new outside legal counsel in its fight with the tribes over gaming compacts. [Tulsa World]

Six years since Oklahoma voters approved SQ781 and lawmakers haven’t funded rehab efforts: Oklahoma lawmakers are putting a spotlight on criminal justice reform. At an interim study on Monday, state leaders and advocates from both sides of the political spectrum came together to tackle a major funding issue. [OKC Fox 25]

State Government News

Interim study examines ethics and accountability for Oklahoma’s elected officials: Interim study examines ethics and accountability for Oklahoma’s elected officials. Sen. Julia Kirt, D-Oklahoma City, said the goal for the study was to better understand the “ethics guardrails that could be put in place to improve public trust” while understanding how to strengthen Oklahoma laws and improve enforcement. [KFOR]

Accused pot attorney paid $300 an hour during pandemic to be Health Department consultant: The politically connected attorney charged last week with drug trafficking was hired by the state during the pandemic to be a consultant, records show. He did almost 700 more hours of work under the contract through October 2021, according to records his attorney provided that detailed the services. Those records reflect he was due another $204,600. The Oklahoman has not determined yet if that also was paid. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Chickasaw Nation chooses cloud-based system provider: The Chickasaw Nation has contracted with a New York company, Infor, to help it consolidate key business processes in a cloud-based system. [Journal Record]

Voting and Election News

What is in the public’s best interest? Notes about political debates: Last week, the rest of the country (sort of) learned that I have been organizing and co-moderating political debates in Oklahoma for the past three election cycles. As will happen when national media boil a 90-minute gubernatorial debate down to a 30-second clip, a bit of chaos ensued. [NonDoc]

Decline in Oklahoma reading and math prompts accusations by governor candidates: When a national report card revealed steep declines in Oklahoma student test scores Monday, the results elicited more finger pointing from Gov. Kevin Stitt at his Democratic gubernatorial opponent, state schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister. [The Oklahoman]

New controversy arises surrounding the race for Oklahoma superintendent: A new controversy has arisen surrounding the race for state superintendent. The Tulsa World reported that if elected, Republican Ryan Walters would have teachers undergo patriotic education offered by a conservative Christian college in Michigan. [KOCO News 5]

State House District 12 incumbent, challenger respond to questions: State Representative Kevin McDugle (R) is being challenged by Crystal LaGrone (D) for the seat McDugle currently occupies. Both candidates responded to questions. [Muskogee Daily Phoenix]

Health News

COVID-19 vaccines won’t be required to go to school in Oklahoma, but CDC advises getting one: A CDC panel has advised that children take the COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC’s advisory is routine and simply means the federal agency recommends kids get the COVID-19 vaccine before attending school. That doesn’t mean it will be required for attendance as misinformation swirls around the ruling. [KGOU]

  • Hofmeister assures families there is no pending COVID vaccine mandate for K-12 students [Woodward News]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma violent crime rate actually declining: Oklahoma’s violent crime rate dropped over 5% in the past year, but still remains higher than the national average, a criminal justice group said Monday. [The Norman Transcript]

Trump supporter from Oklahoma ordered to prison for role in Jan. 6, 2021, riot: Jerry Ryals lost his job, became estranged from his wife and was shunned in his community after being charged for his role in the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. [The Oklahoman]

Column: Want to end the death penalty? Start with calls to your local DA: In June, Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor scheduled 25 executions between August 2022 and December 2024. Though the AG requests execution dates, local district attorneys significantly contribute to capital punishment cases in Oklahoma. Since 1976, Oklahoma has executed over 117 people, and in each case, a district attorney has advocated for the execution. [Randy Bauman Guest columnist / The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

Oklahoma State Bank moving headquarters to OKC, will anchor new downtown offices: One of the state’s oldest banks is one of three tenants moving their operations to a new five-story office building set to be built at the gateway to downtown Oklahoma City. The three tenants, also partners in the development, anticipate they will collectively bring more than 300 employees downtown. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Report: Job market appears to be shrinking: The employment landscape is changing as job openings decline and companies begin freezing positions and laying off workers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent report shows there were 10.1 million job openings in August, 1.1 million fewer than in July. [Journal Record]

Tulsa gas prices drop about 10 cents; diesel holding steady: Tulsa gasoline prices dropped about 10 cents per gallon in the last week, but diesel remains relatively high — both aligned with national trends. [Tulsa World]

Education News

‘Deeply troubling’: Nation’s Report Card shows Oklahoma test scores have steepest decline: Oklahoma’s State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister calls a new national report about steep declines in reading and math scores among fourth and eighth-grade students “deeply troubling,” according to a news release. [KTUL]

Pawhuska schools offer free master’s degree to teachers: Pawhuska Public Schools is offering a free master’s degree in education as an incentive for teachers in an effort to recruit and retain educators. Last year, there were more than 1,000 teaching vacancies across the state, pushing school districts to find new ways to get and keep teachers. [KTUL]

OSU President Kayse Shrum ‘very confident’ in plan to graduate more students debt free: Sitting in her office as campus homecoming festivities gathered steam, President Kayse Shrum pondered how many Oklahoma State University alumni would return someday without the yoke of college debt. [The Oklahoman]

General News

Weekend wildfires burn more than 3,000 acres in northern Oklahoma: Wildfires raged across parts of northern Oklahoma during the weekend, burning thousands of acres of land and threatening homes and farms. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“Oklahoma doesn’t exactly have an incarceration crisis. It’s really more accurate to say we have a mental health crisis that we’ve converted to an incarceration crisis.”

-Damion Shade, Executive Director of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, speaking on how the confluence of excess revenue and public will has given the state a rare opportunity to set up legislation to fully implement State Question 781. [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Growth of rent in Oklahoma City during the past 6 months, which is the nation’s 10th highest rate increase during that period. The median cost for a 1-bedroom rental unit is $908 in Oklahoma City and $912 in Tulsa. Since March 2020, rent in Oklahoma City has increased 27.9% and 27.5% in Tulsa.   

[Apartment List National Rent Report]

Policy Note

Soaring housing costs have renters mulling how they’ll vote in the midterms: For millions of other renters across America, soaring housing costs have them not only reassessing their housing situation but also their political allegiance just weeks before the Nov. 8 midterm election that will determine which party controls Congress and governor’s mansions across the nation. [USA Today]

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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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