[In The Know] AG opinion: Ed. Dept. rules on libraries, transgender students are void | Walters still awaiting Senate confirmation on cabinet post | Tuesday election results

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 opinion: New OSDE rules on libraries, parental rights invalid: Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond issued an opinion today that the State Department of Education can only promulgate administrative rules in situations where they are instructed or authorized to do so by the Legislature. Functionally, the opinion means accreditation rules approved March 23 by the State Board of Education concerning library books, sex education and student gender and sexual identities are “invalid and may not be enforced.” [NonDoc]

  • New Oklahoma rules on school library books, transgender students are void, AG says [The Oklahoman]
  • Not so fast, Oklahoma AG says after superintendent’s push for new rules spurs controversy [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma Attorney General rules State Board of Education can’t make rules without legislative direction [KGOU]

Senate’s delay in Ryan Walters’ confirmation highlights ongoing political conflict: Four months ago, Gov. Kevin Stitt appointed state schools Superintendent Ryan Walters to a second term in the Cabinet as education secretary, a position that requires Senate confirmation. Walters is still waiting, and it there has been little or no work done to shepherd his nomination through the Senate, even though his previous term expired on Jan. 9. [The Oklahoman]

Lawmakers divided on education decisions: Even as pressure increases on state leaders to pass new policies that will improve student outcomes, there remains considerable division among state leaders about the best way to achieve that. [CNHI Oklahoma via Claremore Daily Progress]

State Government News

Oklahoma to pilot program to defeat SNAP benefit thieves: Oklahoma has been selected as one of five states to test “digital wallet” technology to try to defeat thieves who target Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits that millions of people depend upon to make ends meet. SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamp benefits, help low-income families supplement budgets. [Journal Record]

Tribal Nations News

Two descendants of Muscogee Freedmen are fighting for tribal citizenship in court. Here’s what you need to know: Two Muscogee Freedmen descendants — Rhonda Grayson and Jeff Kennedy — are in tribal court for a three-day trial over whether they qualify for citizenship in the tribal nation. Allison Herrera spoke with Muscogee Nation citizen Angel Ellis, who is the director of the Mvskoke Media and has been covering this case. [KOSU]

Voting and Election News

Tuesday’s voting roundup:

  • Unofficial results, all races [Oklahoma Election Board]
  • Oklahoma County election results: How candidates fared in the April 4 special elections, runoffs [The Oklahoman]
  • Maressa Treat narrowly wins Oklahoma County clerk post over Derrick Scobey [NonDoc]
  • Maressa Treat narrowly defeats Derrick Scobey in race to fill Oklahoma County Clerk seat [The Oklahoman]
  • Matt Hinkle notches razor-thin win in OKC Ward 5 race [NonDoc]
  • South Oklahoma City has new city councilor after Tuesday election [The Oklahoman]
  • Michael Nash ousts Rarchar Tortorello in Norman Ward 5 City Council rematch [NonDoc]
  • Edmond Mayor Darrell Davis reelected, Tom Robins and Barry Moore win council races [NonDoc]
  • Edmond election: Voters select mayor, two city councilors Tuesday [The Oklahoman]
  • Tulsa school board president defeats challenger, while in suburbs, three incumbents are defeated [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

After scathing grand jury report, interim OK County jail CEO says changes are being made: The interim CEO of Oklahoma County’s jail reported Monday she is addressing an allegation made by a multicounty grand jury that her operation employs criminal gang members as detention officers. The grand jury, which issued a scathing report just weeks ago, called for returning control of the facility to the sheriff. [The Oklahoman]

  • Who is interested in designing Oklahoma County’s new jail? Here’s what we know [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

Oklahoma City says it can reduce unsheltered homelessness by 75% in two years: Oklahoma City wants to spend $12.5 million over the next two years to significantly reduce the number of people living on the streets and in homeless encampments, taking a page from Houston’s playbook. Under the “Key to Home” encampment rehousing initiative, the city hopes to reduce the number of unsheltered homeless people by 75% by 2025. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Tulsa Public School board authorizes lawyers to investigate litigation options: After an hour-long executive session, Tulsa Public Schools’ Board of Education voted unanimously late Monday night to authorize its attorneys to investigate civil litigation options against the district’s former talent management director. Devin Fletcher resigned from the district in June after the internal discovery of $20,000 in irregularities with a vendor contract, including payments to TPS employees. [Tulsa World]

General News

An Oklahoma Man’s Disability Propels Him to Advocate For Others: Andre Wilson, 45, suffered a car accident in 2006 that left him in a coma and induced prolonged brain damage. The resident of Cache, a small town west of Lawton, has trouble concentrating and struggles with his eyesight, short-term memory and regulating emotions. Frustrated with Lawton’s lack of accommodation, the stay-at-home dad advocates for himself and others with disabilities. [Oklahoma Watch]

Oklahoma Local News

  • New park part of $180M investment in affordable housing in Tulsa [Journal Record]

Quote of the Day

“Whether I agree or disagree with any particular rule in question is irrelevant if the board does not have the proper authority to issue those rules. The Legislature is vested with policymaking authority. I will not allow any state agency, board or commission to usurp the Legislature’s rightful role, even if they have the best of intentions.”

– Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond, who issued an opinion that the State Department of Education can only promulgate administrative rules in situations where they are instructed or authorized to do so by the Legislature. [NonDoc]

Number of the Day


An estimated 4.6 million Americans — or about 2 % of the voting-age population — are excluded from voting due to laws that ban people with felony convictions from voting. [The Sentencing Project

Policy Note

More States Allow Residents With Felony Convictions to Vote: New Mexico, along with Minnesota, are the most recent states to follow 21 others in allowing people previously convicted of felonies to vote upon leaving prison. Most of those states have done so in the past two decades. By denying the vote to people with felony convictions and adding waiting periods or requiring that all fines be paid, states are denying people their rights as citizens, advocates say. [Stateline]

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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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