In The Know: AG plans plans litigation against natural gas marketers | Treating mental health for incarcerated people | Criminal justice reform | 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

New task force created to recommend criminal justice reforms (Capitol Update): It is a hopeful sign that Governor Kevin Stitt has demonstrated his continued commitment to criminal justice reform by creating a new task force called MODERN (Modernizing Operations through Data and Evidence-based Restoration Now) to work until February 2, 2024. The task force is directed to “study, evaluate, and make recommendations regarding policies and programs and propose legislation” to improve the criminal justice system. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma AG Wants Law Firms To Investigate Winter Storm Natural Gas Costs: Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond on Tuesday promised the “largest lawsuit in state history” if natural gas marketers manipulated the trading market during a massive winter storm that hit the central United States in February 2021. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • ‘Short squeeze:’ Drummond plans Winter Storm Uri litigation against natural gas marketers [NonDoc]
  • An investigation into a ‘staggering’ and ‘unconscionable’ scheme against Oklahomans [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma AG preps legal action on natural gas ‘short squeeze’ from 2021 winter storm [Tulsa World]
  • Potential AG lawsuit targets billions in ‘ill-gotten’ gains from 2021 storm [Journal Record]
  • Oklahoma AG plans ‘most significant lawsuit in state history’ over 2021 winter storm natural gas prices [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma is trying to treat people with severe mental illness in jail, but many still languish in cells waiting for hospital beds: Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado has ordered the end of a program to treat people with severe mental illness at the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center. County officials say the jail can’t handle the needs of people so mentally ill they don’t understand their criminal charges. But a state hospital still has a months-long backlog of people waiting for admission. [The Frontier]

Column: Was ‘winning’ KC-area Panasonic battery plant over Oklahoma really a victory for Kansas?: Kansas’ victory was accomplished through the passage of a bill that allowed the governor and legislative leaders to give Panasonic an $829 million incentive package to land the battery plant, which will cost $4 billion overall and create 4,000 jobs. Since then, Kansas’ total investment in the plant has risen from the original $829 million to about $1.2 billion. [Kansas City Star]

State Government News

New judge takes over Oklahoma County veterans court as diversion programs increase: On Tuesday, Dishman took over the docket, after accepting a sword from Judge Kenneth M. Stoner, who handed over the weapon as a symbolic gesture of handing over leadership. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Why Most Oklahoma Rural Hospitals Haven’t Accepted Congress’ Offer to Save Them: Thirty-three hospitals in Oklahoma have shuttered because of financial strain since 2007. A dozen were in rural communities such as Frederick, Pauls Valley and Clinton, according to state Department of Health data. Since 2021, two Oklahoma facilities have chosen the federal safety net known as a Rural Emergency Hospital license in hopes of staying open. [Oklahoma Watch]

White House: $550 million in student debt to be reduced for more than 11,000 Oklahomans: President Joe Biden’s latest action to cancel a portion of student loan debt will erase nearly $550 million owed by 11,530 Oklahomans, the White House said Tuesday. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Gov. Stitt, city of Tulsa work to limit new tribal reservation ruling: Gov. Kevin Stitt is doubling down on his efforts to limit the expansion of tribal government authority in Oklahoma with a new web page and video. The first target of his “One Oklahoma” campaign, unveiled late Monday, is a recent federal appeals court decision. A panel of three judges concluded Tulsa cannot prosecute Native Americans for violating city laws on the tribal reservations encompassing the city. The case stemmed from a Choctaw man’s speeding ticket appeal. [The Oklahoman]

Tishomingo seat only item on Chickasaw Nation ballot: The Chickasaw Nation general election is set for Tuesday, July 25, and three candidates are running for the Tishomingo District’s third seat on the Tribal Legislature. Eight-time incumbent Tribal Legislator Steven Woods is being challenged by former Chickasaw Lighthorse police officer Dusk Monetathchi and Shane Langford, a substitute teacher and private coach. [NonDoc]

Health News

CDC reports more children are visiting the emergency room related to marijuana use: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released new data uncovering a concerning trend of emergency room visits related to marijuana use among individuals under the age of 25. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Convicted murderer Jemaine Cannon scheduled for execution this week in Oklahoma: Convicted murderer Jemaine Cannon is scheduled for execution Thursday at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. [The Oklahoman]

Trooper denies causing double-fatal crash while video of pursuit shows otherwise: Video appears to show a state trooper using his cruiser to nudge an eluding pickup truck into a violent roll — ultimately killing two passengers — but the trooper told his agency’s investigators he didn’t cause the crash. [Tulsa World]

New judge takes over Oklahoma County veterans court as diversion programs increase: The new judge presiding over Oklahoma County’s veterans treatment court promised his fellow servicemembers Tuesday he wouldn’t make them do physical training in the courtroom. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Home foreclosures in Oklahoma increase by 7 percent, as rates climb nationally: Attom’s Mid-Year 2023 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report shows that there were more than 185,000 properties with foreclosure filings. The number of filings from this report compared to last year’s shows that figure is up 13%. Foreclosure filings can include default notices, schedule auctions or bank repossessions. [KOSU]

Education News

Oklahoma schools allocate more than $224 million in Title 1 Part A funding: The numbers are out for state funding in Title 1 Part A grants for schools in Oklahoma. State Superintendent Ryan Walters says the money is given to schools based on the population of those students who come from low-income families. [KFOR Oklahoma City]

General News

$2B theme park, similar to Disneyland, planned for Vinita: A $2 billion theme park and resort similar to Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom is planned for Vinita, officials announced Wednesday. The American Heartland Theme Park and Resort will be “a can’t-miss destination for families around the world,” a development official announcing the massive project said. The development will be built in phases starting with a large-scale RV park with cabins scheduled to open phase one in spring 2025. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Improvements coming to three northeast Oklahoma City parks [KOSU]
  • Norman mayor takes on city’s shopping cart nuisance [Journal Record]
  • OKC strategy to eliminate traffic fatalities gets green light [Journal Record]

Quote of the Day

“Several companies reaped billions of dollars at the expense of Oklahoma families and businesses. The magnitude of this scheme is staggering and unconscionable. The conduct in question is well outside the parameters and boundaries of ordinary capitalism.”

– Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond announcing he is prepared to file the largest lawsuit in state history to recoup billions of dollars in natural gas costs from a 2021 winter storm, which left Oklahoma ratepayers with significantly higher utility bills. [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Number of Oklahomans who voted by mail in the 2022 General Election. Only nine states had a lower rate of particpation by mail, with the national average being 31.9%. [U.S. Election Administration] | [Full Report]

Policy Note

Mail voting is still pretty popular, even without the pressure of the pandemic: The COVID-19 pandemic, so far, has had some lasting effects on how people cast ballots in the U.S. According to a new report from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, mail voting rates in the U.S. “remained higher than pre-pandemic levels” during last year’s midterm elections, when more than 35 million mail ballots were cast and counted. [NPR]

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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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