In The Know: Addressing labor force shortage | Tribal gaming fees reach record | ‘Fate of public schools is on the ballot’ in November

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.

State Government News

Left out of the labor force: Oklahoma working on obstacles to employment: Oklahoma is in an employment boom. More people are working in the state than at any other time in its history, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Labor Department. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma tribal gaming fees reach record in August as industry continues to grow: Oklahoma received almost $17.9 million in tribal gaming exclusivity fees in August, the most the industry has ever paid to the state in a single month. [The Oklahoman]

For Stitt, climate change is less threat and more business opportunity: Speaking to more than 100 state government officials from across the western United States, Gov. Kevin Stitt listed off the ways Oklahoma had embraced renewable energies and a “greener” future. [The Oklahoman]

State Supreme Court to decide if bonds can be sold for contested turnpike expansion: The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority will present its case Tuesday to the Oklahoma Supreme Court to validate $500 million in bonds to build new toll roads being contested by the City of Norman and residents who may lose their homes to the expansion. [The Oklahoman]

Gov. Keating Guest Column: When I was governor, Republicans and Democrats worked together: For years, both party leaders and I met, socialized and debated. Knowing and respecting your adversary is a good way to move forward. We are all in government together. If the USS Oklahoma sinks, we all go down together. The last people left laughing will be the Texans. [Gov. Frank Keating Guest Column / The Oklahoman

Tribal Nations News

Guest Column: Record Budget Will Keep Northeast Oklahoma Safer, More Secure: The largest, most comprehensive budget in the history of the Cherokee Nation will improve lives both for Cherokees and non-Cherokees across our 7,000-square-mile reservation in northeast Oklahoma. In the coming fiscal year, we will distribute more than $3.5 billion into more and better services for Cherokee citizens. [Chuck Hoskin Jr / Native News Online]

Voting and Election News

Political notebook: Stitt, Hofmeister agree to debate: Gov. Kevin Stitt and Democratic challenger Joy Hofmeister have reportedly agreed to an Oct. 19 debate in Oklahoma City. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Election Preview: State Treasurer Race: This week, take a look into the state treasurer’s race, where three candidates are vying to replace outgoing Republican incumbent Randy McDaniel. [Oklahoma Watch]

Health News

Rollout of 988 is ‘tying a bow’ on efforts toward comprehensive crisis care: In its first two months, 988 received about 5,000 calls from Oklahomans, 30% of which were spurred by suicidal ideation, according to data provided by the Department of Mental Health. [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Plaintiff in ‘Baby Shark’ torture case dies Sunday at Oklahoma County jail: An Oklahoma County jail inmate who was a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the county accusing employees of torturing him and other inmates with a loop of the “Baby Shark” song died Sunday at the jail, the 14th death at the troubled facility this year. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Thousands of Oklahoma high schoolers concurrently enroll in college: In the past academic year alone, more than 14,600 teens took college courses while still in high school, earning more than 141,300 total credit hours, according to state higher education officials. Since they’re allowed to enroll in and take certain college courses tuition-free, they also saved a considerable amount of money. [The Journal Record]

Bob Doucette: This November, the fate of public schools is on the ballot: The ongoing stresses caused by the pandemic, has left educators, parents and students on edge as Oklahoma school districts desperately try to get kids back on track to graduate and ready for college or the workplace. This is a system in trouble. What it needs are state leaders willing to come alongside educators to help. [Bob Doucette Column / Tulsa World]

Ginnie Graham Column: Books targeted for banning reflect cultural discomfort of that moment: Next week (Sept. 18-24) is national Banned Books Week. The fight against censorship has taken on a new meaning as extremist movements are being successful at removing titles from shelves, especially those around themes of races and sexual identity. [Ginnie Graham Column / Tulsa World]

‘We’re a little scared’: Rural school teacher speaks out on challenges of HB1775: Teachers are speaking out about their struggles in the classroom with HB1775, which they say requires educators to tip-toe around certain topics on race and sex. [KTUL]

Quote of the Day

“We talk to employers about the possibility that their rules around justice-involved individuals could be dated and maybe it’s worth taking another look, given the shortage that we are all in, whether or not some of those rules still have to be in place.”

-Don Morris, Executive Director of Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development, said increasing the labor force participation rate is a top priority for the state [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Shortage of rental homes affordable and available for extremely low income renters in Oklahoma. More than 1 in 4 renter households in the state are identified as extremely low income, which is a maximum income of $26,200 for a 4-person household. [National Low Income Housing Coalition]

Policy Note

Housing Underproduction in the U.S. 2022: As people migrate in search of jobs, education, and economic opportunities, the demand for housing in our most economically productive regions far exceeds the production of new homes. With 3.8 million homes short of meeting housing needs, double the number from 2012, the nation is in an extreme state of Housing Underproduction [Up For Growth] | Housing Market Affordability Indicators Dashboard

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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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