In The Know: AG: Gov illegally appointed veterans commission members | U.S. Labor Secretary tours Greenwood District | Friday is registration deadline for March 7 special election

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.

Oklahoma News

Attorney general says Stitt illegally appointed members to the veterans commission: Oklahoma’s attorney general accused the governor on Thursday of illegally appointing members to the Oklahoma Veterans Commission, the sharpest rebuke yet between the two emerging political rivals. [The Oklahoman]

  • AG Drummond knocks both sides in veterans’ dispute, leaves it to Legislature [Tulsa World]

Federal official learns ‘important history lesson’ during visit to Greenwood: For Black Wall Street businessman Cleo Harris Jr., whose ancestors were devastated a century ago by the Tulsa Race Massacre, a true Greenwood renaissance must start with a conversation. And a willingness to listen. U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh lent an ear while visiting Harris’ T-shirt and souvenir shop Thursday. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

House Speaker Charles McCall says lawmakers are still out on Oklahoma school vouchers: The viability of school voucher legislation appears increasingly grim in the Oklahoma Legislature, despite calls from the governor to pass it. [The Oklahoman]

Bills move forward listing exceptions to Oklahoma’s abortion laws: An Oklahoma Senate committee advanced two bills Thursday that would clarify what is (and isn’t) a legal abortion in Oklahoma. One was introduced to clarify the Legislature’s intent when it comes to medical procedures that terminate pregnancy. The other stipulates that Oklahoma’s abortion laws shouldn’t limit access to birth control drugs. [The Oklahoman]

  • Abortion-law clarification bill passes Oklahoma Senate committee [Tulsa World]

Legislative leaders say education, taxes, help for Oklahomans are top priorities: Legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle at the Oklahoma State Capitol agree that education reform and lowering inflation costs will be a focus of this upcoming legislative session, which is concluding its first week. Each caucus, however, will have different ideas about how to get there. [Enid News & Eagle]

Turnpike deal gets lawmaker $100K over home appraisal, one year: A Newcastle lawmaker whose house is in the potential pathway of a new toll road was the first to sell her property to the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, was paid $103,460 above the appraised value, was given nearly $26,000 in moving expenses and is now living in that home rent free for up to a year. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Osages seek explanation for former casino CEO’s expenditures: An Osage Nation congressional committee is asking questions about the spending habits of the former head of Osage Casinos. Thursday was the third and final day of hearings conducted by the Osage Nation Congress’ Commerce, Gaming and Land Committee to investigate expenses charged to Osage Casinos by now-former Chief Executive Officer Byron Bighorse. [Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

Election laws, initiative petition rules draw focus at Capitol: With the 2024 presidential election cycle on the horizon, Oklahoma lawmakers introduced more than 90 election and voting bills ahead of the current legislative session.About one-fifth of the proposals are shell bills entitled “Oklahoma Elections Reform Act of 2023.” Lawmakers will be tasked with adding more substantive language before the bills are considered. [Journal Record]

Recreational marijuana is on Oklahoma’s ballot in March. Register to vote by Friday: Friday is the last day Oklahoma residents can register to vote before the statewide referendum on recreational marijuana. State Question 820 will appear on the ballot next month, on March 7. If you’re not registered to vote, the deadline to submit information to the Oklahoma State Election Board is 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

OU Bridging Mental Health Gap In Rural Education With $5.6M Grant: Oklahoma rural schools face a critical need for mental health professionals, and they can be hard to find. A program provided by the University of Oklahoma will pay for the tuition for educators who want to help children on a deeper level. [News 9]

COVID ‘closing in on a low point we haven’t seen in quite a while,’ Oklahoma data analyst says: Active COVID-19 infections, about 6,300 currently, are down nearly 35% in the past month, while the three-day average for COVID-related ICU patients is down about 50%. The seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases reported to state health officials has decreased 36% since the Jan. 12 update. [Tulsa World]

Education News

Walters: New rule could strip district accreditation for having ‘pornographic material’: State Superintendent Ryan Walters is taking aim at school districts with a new proposal that could threaten their accreditation. This week Walters retweeted a post from the account “Libs of TikTok” saying what they call a pornographic book called “Let’s Talk About It” was available to Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) students. The account also claimed the book was available at a Putnam City school as well. Putnam City Public Schools and OKCPS both say the book isn’t available anywhere in their districts. [Fox25]

Criminal Justice News

Call centers in Oklahoma prisons could be back in business after months-long investigation: The next time you get a telemarketing call, it could be an Oklahoma inmate on the other end of the line. The return of call centers inside prisons is being considered following a months-long investigation. [Fox25]

‘When does time finally run out?’ Richard Glossip has maintained his innocence for 26 years on death row. A special counsel is now reviewing his case: At least once a week, Richard Glossip’s defense team connects on the phone – sometimes to catch up, and other times to strategize on how to save the life of the Oklahoma man on death row. Glossip, who’s been behind bars for 26 years on a capital murder conviction. [CNN]

‘A crazy deal’: After brawl, Sen. Tom Woods takes ticket fight to district court: After getting cited for a fight with a local business owner at a festival in August, Sen. Tom Woods is employing two attorneys to fight the town of Westville over his municipal disorderly conduct citation in Adair County District Court. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma Local News

  • OKC Ward 2: Incumbent James Cooper wants strong finish to MAPS 4 [NonDoc]
  • Seeking reelection, Norman Ward 3 Councilman Kelly Lynn faces claim he vacated seat with judicial job [NonDoc]

Quote of the Day

“If you are a parent in the state of Oklahoma this week, you’re probably a disappointed parent. [Bills being moved through committee are] complete health care bans that eliminate all parental authority to make health care decisions for their children with certain medical conditions. This gives the state total control of the health care freedom and decisions regarding medical decisions for the state of Oklahoma.”

– Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd, speaking about legislation banning gender-affirming care or procedures for children. [Enid News & Eagle]

Number of the Day


In the year that followed a disenrollment from Medicaid/CHIP, roughly two-thirds (65%) of people had a period of uninsurance while just 35% were continuously enrolled in coverage. [KFF]

Policy Note

As Pandemic-Era Medicaid Provisions Lapse, Millions Approach a Coverage Cliff: States are preparing to remove millions of people from Medicaid as protections put in place early in the COVID-19 pandemic expire. The upheaval, which begins in April, will put millions of low-income Americans at risk of losing health coverage, threatening their access to care and potentially exposing them to large medical bills. It will also put pressure on the finances of hospitals, doctors, and others relying on payments from Medicaid, a state-federal program that covers lower-income people and people with disabilities. [Kaiser Health News]

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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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