In The Know: Bill allowing public funding for religious schools heads to governor’s desk | Vouchers are another wrong turn for Oklahoma Schools | 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

Vouchers: Another Wrong Turn for Oklahoma Schools: Oklahoma legislators are considering several unpredictable, expensive, and dangerous proposals to drastically change our state education policy. A school system long defined by equal access and shared responsibility could be hurt by a voucher program. Proposals being considered this session would use everyone’s tax dollars to fund private education for fewer than 1 in 10 Oklahoma children and take funding from public schools. [Paul Shinn / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

5 years after the teacher walkouts, Oklahoma’s GOP has changed its tune: Five years ago, thousands of Oklahoma teachers joined a nationwide movement when they walked out of their classrooms to protest for better pay and more school funding. Throngs of educators and their allies marched around the statehouse, making their case to lawmakers. They were energized and hopeful – but that hope was short-lived. [NPR]

Religious freedom bill sparks worries about funding religious schools: Oklahoma lawmakers have adopted legislation that some claim would create a legal framework to eventually allow public funding of religious schools. On paper, it appears a simple law. The bill makes it more difficult, if not impossible, for state government to deny any person or entity from receiving governmental funds if that denial is based “solely on the religious character or affiliation of the person or entity.” [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma House sends governor bill giving religious organizations greater access to state support [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act heading to governor’s desk [KTUL]

Oklahoma City private school pays $354,000 to settle false billing claims: A Catholic school serving children with autism in Oklahoma City has paid $354,000 to settle claims that it falsely billed a U.S. military health care program for services for more than three years. [The Oklahoman]

McCurtain County journalist “worried” about safety after racist leak: More than a week after journalists in Southeastern Oklahoma released recordings that depicted top McCurtain County officials plotting about killing them and lynching Black people, Chris Willingham of the McCurtain Gazette-News continues to worry about the safety of his family. [Black Wall Street Times]

  • Federal lawsuits portray McCurtain County sheriff’s office as cruel, callous [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

For Tenants Behind On Rent, Anti-Retaliation Proposal Wouldn’t Help: Two Lawton-based Republican lawmakers introduced HB2109, which would protect some tenants from retaliation if they file complaints or lawsuits against landlords. No more surprise rent hikes, neglected repairs, or threats of eviction just for submitting maintenance requests. [Oklahoma Watch]

Civil rights bill draws ire of black state senators: The measure, House Bill 1397, passed by a vote of 35-9, with Sen. Joe Newhouse, R-Tulsa, joining Democrats in voting against the measure. The measure now goes to Gov. Kevin Stitt for consideration. [Tulsa World]

Divided Oklahoma Supreme Court rules for guardian couple over wishes of mother: A closely divided Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a couple could adopt a child without the mother’s consent — and against her wishes ― because it was in the best interests of the child. [The Oklahoman]

‘Caring for Caregivers Act’ passes Oklahoma Senate: Caregivers in Oklahoma might be eligible for a tax break if a piece of legislation continues moving forward. HB 1368 aims to provide support and relief to individuals caring for an eligible family member who is 62 or older. [KFOR]

Federal Government News

White House OKs Stitt’s disaster relief request: The White House on Monday approved Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s request for federal disaster relief as the tornado-ravaged Shawnee community struggled to recover from last week’s devastation. [Journal Record]

Tribal Nations News

Oklahoma lawmakers vote to stop school bans on tribal regalia at graduation: Oklahoma is poised to become the latest state to protect the rights of Native students to wear tribal regalia at graduation. House lawmakers passed the proposal this week in a near-unanimous vote. It is now on to Gov. Kevin Stitt for final consideration. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Walmart To Expand Health Clinics Into Oklahoma, Adding To 2024 Expansion: Walmart will expand its doctor-staffed “Walmart Health” centers it operates with four new health sites in the Oklahoma City area next year, the retailer said Wednesday. [Forbes]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma attorney general asks for clemency for death row inmate: Attorney General Gentner Drummond, who took office in January, wrote a letter this week to the board, asking that they grant clemency to Richard Glossip, 60, whose clemency hearing is scheduled for Wednesday morning in Oklahoma City. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma legislator asks state board to grant Richard Glossip clemency [Fox 23]

A shocked Rose State grieves after deadly shooting: One student is dead and a suspect is in custody after Midwest City police arrived to a college-turned-crime-scene Monday afternoon. [Journal Record]

  • Police identify suspect, victim in fatal Rose State College shooting Monday [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

Vital signs: Oklahoma’s health care industry growing, providing thousands of jobs: Health care is a growing industry for Oklahoma, with the number of jobs increasing right alongside investment in the system. Significant expansions are coming for some of the state’s largest hospital systems, while other initiatives are in place to combat a workforce shortage. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

‘Bearer of good news’: Tulsa teacher Rebecka Peterson honored as national Teacher of the Year: National Teacher of the Year winner Rebecka Peterson — a high school math instructor in Tulsa — championed a unifying message of hope as her profession faces a stifling staffing shortage. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Council members criticize $21.5 million TIF request for downtown OKC apartment tower [The Oklahoman]
  • Century-old Tulsa church on Route 66 being converted into concert venue, studio [Tulsa World]
  • Amid EMSA struggles, Edmond City Council approves RFP for medical transport service provider [NonDoc]
  • Norman task force seeks collaboration, vision for future [Journal Record]

Quote of the Day

“I think it’s a balanced approach that we’re taking, incorporating both the landlord’s perspective and the tenant’s perspective and making sure it’s a fair process and a transparent process.”

– Rep. Daniel Pae, R-Lawton, on HB 2109, which would prevent retaliation from landlords, like eviction and rent hikes, when tenants ask for repairs or raise health and safety concerns. [Oklahoma Watch]

Number of the Day


Of the nation’s K-12 students who do not attend public schools, 80% enroll at private religious schools. [Georgetown Law Journal Online]

Policy Note

Tax Benefits and Fairness in K–12 Education: Federal and state policies, including tax policy, have been nudging families away from public schools, encouraging families to retreat into their polarized corners, an alarming trend for American democracy. [Georgetown Law Journal Online]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


Annie Taylor joined OK Policy as a Digital Communications Associate/Storybanker in April 2022. She studied journalism and mass communication at the University of Oklahoma, and was a member of the Native American Journalists Association. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communications from the University of Central Oklahoma. While pursuing her degree, she worked in restaurant and retail management, as well as freelance copywriting and digital content production. Annie is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation, and holds a deep reverence for storytelling in the digital age. She was born and raised in southeast Oklahoma, and now lives in Oklahoma City with her dog, Melvin.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.