In The Know: Board recommends 17% judicial pay raise | Ryan Walters testifies in Congressional hearing | Four Okla. schools named National Blue Ribbon 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.

State Government News

Board recommends 17% judicial pay raise to Legislature: The Oklahoma Board on Judicial Compensation held its biannual meeting Tuesday and voted to recommend a 17 percent across-the-board pay raise for judges, which would take effect in 2024 unless modified or rejected by the Oklahoma Legislature next session. [NonDoc]

  • State board recommends 17% pay increase for Oklahoma judges [Oklahoma Voice]
  • Compensation board recommends 17% pay hike for state judges [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Capitol hearing will focus on mothers criminally charged for substance use during pregnancy: Rep. Meloyde Blancett, D-Tulsa, will host an interim study session at the Oklahoma Capitol on Wednesday to examine the state’s legal system and women who face criminal charges in connection with substance use during pregnancy. [The Frontier]

Opinion: Study on child labor law bears watching: Child labor laws often are sources of contention in Oklahoma, where agriculture has been an economic pillar since statehood. For years, it involved balancing the everyday demands of single-family farms and ranches against the demands that each family’s kids get the education they deserve. Now, as corporate farming and ranching proliferates, it’s often a far different equation. [Arnold Hamilton / Journal Record]

Federal Government News

Walters alleges Chinese communist influence in schools during D.C. hearing: Oklahoma’s state superintendent called Chinese influence a “pressing and deeply concerning” issue in American education during a congressional hearing in Washington, D.C. Democrats said the unsubstantiated claim could fuel bias against Asian Americans. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Ryan Walters talks TPS to Congress one day after former employee charged with wire fraud [NonDoc]
  • Walters warns Congress of Chinese infiltration in American classrooms [Tulsa World]
  • Ryan Walters testifies to U.S. House on Chinese government’s influence on American schools [Public Radio Tulsa]

Tribal Nations News

Osage Nation back in court in latest bid to rid mineral estate of wind farm: The place where the sky meets the earth is a sacred place for Osages. Today, it’s being threatened by wind turbine developers. Critics within the Osage Nation say their estate is illegally impeded by the turbines, as their presence damages the prairie and harms the value of the mineral estate. That’s why Osage Nation is fighting a wind farm erected by the Italian company Enel – which is also developing a $1 billion solar farm near Tulsa. The legal fight has been ongoing for almost a decade. [KOSU]

Health News

Opinion: Health Centers save American taxpayers $24 billion a year in health care costs: Community Health Centers are the backbone of our nation’s health care system. Health Centers design innovative, integrated primary care and programs based on communities’ needs. Last year, these unique Health Centers provided access to affordable, quality health care for over 31 million people.  [Leigh Ann Albers / The Oklahoman]

Opinion, Former U.S. Rep. Ernest Istook: Ernest Istook: Health proposals should not leave rural Oklahomans behind: Despite the superficial appeal of “site-neutral” payments, it is comparing apples with pomegranates to expect a rural center to operate with the same overhead as a more-focused clinic. Lowering the payments to rural Oklahoma hospitals could push their strained budgets right over the cliff. [Former U.S. Rep. Ernest Istook / The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma death row inmate Anthony Sanchez scheduled to be executed Thursday: Convicted murderer Anthony Sanchez, 44, is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. [The Oklahoman]

Judge formally dismisses murder case after man spent 48 years in Oklahoma prison: An Oklahoma district judge has dismissed the murder case against a man who served nearly five decades in prison for a murder he maintains he did not commit. Tuesday, Oklahoma County District Judge Amy Palumbo granted District Attorney Vicki Behenna’s request to dismiss the case against Glynn Ray Simmons, who had been convicted of first-degree murder in the 1974 death of Carolyn Sue Rogers. Charges were dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning they can’t be refiled. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

How Prairie Surf is using film to help save Oklahoma City’s last Black cinema: “(The Jewel Theatre) is one of the last standing Black cultural assets that we still have. It’s about to be 100 years old. It survived urban renewal and all the changes and shifts that happened in that community. It is critical that we save it — and we will,” said one of the people working to preserve the historic building. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma lawmakers hope to see state’s industrial hemp market grow — in the ‘right way’: Industrial hemp could be used to expand the economy of rural Oklahoma and as a core ingredient in products such as biofuels, plastics, batteries and cloth, a legislative panel was told this week. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma officials seize thousands of pounds of marijuana, shut down five businesses: The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority announced Tuesday the agency along with law enforcement in Kay County recently shut down five marijuana businesses. This comes after the authority recently increased scrutiny of Oklahoma’s potential to overproduce and export the product, likely fed by illegal grows. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Four Oklahoma schools honored as National Blue Ribbon Schools: Tulsa’s Booker T. Washington High School, Muskogee’s Sadler Arts Academy, Stillwater’s Richmond Elementary School and Cleora School, a dependent district in Delaware County, are among the 2023 honorees. The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes public and private schools where students “achieve very high learning standards or are making notable improvements in closing the achievement gap.” [Tulsa World

General News

‘Focus: Black Oklahoma’: police reforms, PragerU Kids curriculum, Black Tech Street (audio): This episode of Focus: Black Oklahoma features a look at police reform recommendations, the push by State Superintendent Ryan Walters to bring PragerU Kids curriculum into K-12 classrooms and an effort to propel Black professionals in Tulsa to the top of the cybersecurity field. [KOSU]

Southern Baptists expel church as pastor defends blackface and Native caricatures: The Southern Baptist Convention has ousted an Oklahoma church whose pastor defended his blackface performance at one church event and his impersonation of a Native American woman at another. [AP via NPR]

  • Oklahoma church ousted from SBC for racism after pastor wears blackface [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • OKC film incentive projects spend $120M in first year [Journal Record]

Quote of the Day

“Unacceptable funding inequities have forced many of our nation’s distinguished Historically Black Colleges and Universities to operate with inadequate resources and delay critical investments in everything from campus infrastructure to research and development to student support services.”

-U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, taken from his statement about the $12 billion funding disparity for HBCUs, which includes a $418.9 million funding disparity for Oklahoma’s only HBCU — Langston University — when compared to Oklahoma State University, the state’s largest land-grant institution. Cardona and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack sent a letter to 16 governors, including Gov. Stitt, calculating how each state’s land-grant HBCU has been underfunded in state funds from 1987 to 2020. [Oklahoma Voice]

Number of the Day


The poverty rate for females in Oklahoma, compared to 14.2% for males. [U.S. Census via OK Policy

Policy Note

The Basic Facts About Women in Poverty (2020): Women, especially women of color, in the United States are more likely to live in poverty than men, and they need robust, targeted solutions to ensure their long-term economic security. This factsheet presents a snapshot of women in poverty, explain why women experience higher rates of poverty, and explore the policy solutions that can best ensure lasting economic security for women and their families. [Center for American Progress]

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David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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