In The Know: Bills targeting transgender care, lewd acts in public advance to Oklahoma Senate | Policy Matters: Oklahoma in radical need of empathy | 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

Policy Matters: Oklahoma in radical need of empathy: It shouldn’t have to happen to you to matter to you. A throughline for recent Oklahoma legislative sessions has been creating limits to bodily autonomy – for women, for transgender residents, and for parents who are seeking medical care to help their children as best they can. Our fellow Oklahomans have stepped forward at great personal and emotional cost to tell their stories. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

Bills targeting transgender care, lewd acts in public advance to Oklahoma Senate: In the Oklahoma Legislature’s continued targeting of Oklahoma’s transgender residents, a Senate panel passed a bill on Wednesday that would ban the use of public money for gender-affirming care for transgender people in the state. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Oklahoma Republican House leadership aims to take power away from State Supt. Ryan Walters: Some Oklahoma lawmakers are voting to take power away from the State Department of Education. The Education Budget Chairman, Rep. Mark McBride, is concerned State Superintendent Ryan Walters is operating unchecked. [KOKH Fox 25]

  • Oklahoma school budget concerns mount; Walters focuses elsewhere [Journal Record]

Gov. Kevin Stitt demands greater transparency of state contracts: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday issued an executive order aimed at increasing transparency of state contracts with outside vendors. [Tulsa World]

Stitt Cabinet secretary to resign for OSU position: Gov. Kevin Stitt’s science and innovation secretary will resign to take a job at Oklahoma State University. Elizabeth Pollard will serve as the next president of Cowboy Technologies, a for-profit business accelerator owned by the OSU Research Foundation. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Senate approves firearms theft bill: A state lawmaker who is a former law enforcement officer has gained support in the Legislature for a bill crafted to curb the theft of firearms in Oklahoma. [Journal Record]

Do Oklahomans favor sports betting? Here’s what to know: Oklahoma voters are evenly split on whether sports betting should be allowed in the state, as Gov. Kevin Stitt and the Legislature have moved cautiously on the issue without reaching a consensus on a path forward. Only 44% of voters said they supported legalizing sports betting in Oklahoma in a poll taken last month by Amber Integrated, of Oklahoma City. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

KOSU’s Allison Herrera to moderate panel on Indigenous women’s reproductive rights: The Oklahoma Center for the Humanities at the University of Tulsa, in collaboration with the Women and Gender Studies Program, will host the symposium “Reproductive Rights and Freedom” on Saturday, March 4 at 101 E. Archer St in Tulsa. [KOSU]

Voting and Election News

What to know about State Question 820 and legalizing recreational marijuana in Oklahoma: Oklahoma voters will decide on March 7 if they want to expand the state’s medical marijuana market to adult recreational users 21 and older. [KGOU]

Health News

Capitol COVID vigil planned for Monday at sunrise. 18,000 Oklahomans have died: A remembrance vigil for Oklahomans who’ve lost loved ones to the COVID-19 pandemic will be held at the Oklahoma state Capitol at sunrise on Monday. The vigil is being organized by state Sen. Paul Rosino, whose son Gregory died of COVID in 2021. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahomans Languish in Jail Awaiting Mental Health Care, Federal Lawsuit Claims: More than 100 Oklahomans are languishing in county jails while awaiting court-ordered mental health treatment, according to a federal class-action lawsuit filed Wednesday against two state mental health officials. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • Lawsuit filed over long wait times to treat detainees deemed incompetent [Tulsa World]

She killed her abuser. An Oklahoma House committee passed a bill that could set her free: House Bill 1639, which was unanimously advanced by a state House committee on Wednesday, could give incarcerated women [who experienced domestic violence] a chance at freedom. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

OKC’s sales, use tax collections outpacing last year: City officials reported this week that recent sales and use tax collections have outpaced projections and collections recorded during the same time frame last year. [Journal Record]

New businesses challenged by inflation: Tulsans Benjamin Thrash, 38, and Jordan Smith, 31, started Smash Renovations nearly two months ago out of necessity because they both had been working in the renovation and construction fields, but they weren’t getting the work, salary or positions they had been promised. [Journal Record]

Education News

Multiple efforts underway in Oklahoma to introduce faith in public schools: The remnants of Ash Wednesday were still visible on Rep. John Waldron’s forehead as he took to the House floor. With the ashes a visible reminder of his Catholic faith, Waldron, D-Tulsa, objected to bills that would sacrifice public funds for students’ private, religious education. The former social studies teacher has been outspoken against attempts to commingle Oklahoma taxpayer funds and public schools with private entities and religious institutions. [The Oklahoman]

She was told she had no options after high school. Now, she’s Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.: Of the 12 finalists for Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, perhaps none had a more unusual path to the classroom than the eventual award winner — Traci Manuel, of Tulsa Public Schools. The Booker T. Washington High School teacher and alumna won the state’s top teaching award for 2023 in a ceremony Wednesday in Oklahoma City. [The Oklahoman]

  • Updated: Traci Manuel of Tulsa named Oklahoma Teacher of the Year 2023 [Tulsa World]

General News

In Oklahoma, neighbors are still blindsided when poultry mega-farms move in: Residents of the Mayes County community of Strang, population 64, were alarmed after a small notice appeared in the weekly newspaper announcing plans for a poultry mega-farm capable of holding hundreds of thousands of birds north of town near the Neosho River. [The Frontier]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Oklahoma foundation seeks improvement in housing, treatment of pigs [The Oklahoman]
  • Anticipation building for new Mexican consulate in OKC [Journal Record]
  • Tulsa City Council passes welcoming-city resolution without emphasis on LGBTQ residents [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“I like to dance. I just hate for someone to subjectively decide I get a felony for the way I dance.”

– Sen. Kevin Matthews, D-Tulsa, on Senate Bill 503, a measure aimed at drag shows that prohibits lewd acts in public, noting it’s vague language also could apply to dancing in public. [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Number of Oklahoma counties that have 10 or fewer lawyers, with 13 counties having only five or fewer lawyers. Landlords, especially those in rural Oklahoma, would benefit from Oklahoma’s eviction summons being written in plain language due to availability of counsel. [Oklahoma Bar Association]

Policy Note

What does a user-centered eviction court summons look like?: If you are sued by your landlord to evict you from your home, how would you like to find out? The papers you get from the court — the Summons to the eviction trial, and the Complaint from your landlord about why they’re suing from you — most often are dense, legalistic documents. These pieces of paper can set the tone for the eviction legal process. [Stanford Legal Design Lab

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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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