In The Know: Childcare accessibility a major workforce issue | Treasurer’s office claiming investment exemptions | The history of Thanksgiving from a Native American perspective

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

Updated youth justice campus in Tecumseh provides opportunities for Oklahoma kids (Capitol Update):Auditors recently gave updated Central Oklahoma Juvenile Center in Tecumseh near perfect compliance scores. It’s now a place where kids can have their best chance to overcome their troubled past. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

Child care accessibility sticks out as major workforce issue, study says: Affordability and quality of child care in Oklahoma are better than or equal to the national average, but the state is deficient in accessibility, according to a recent study. Heartland Forward, an Arkansas-based nonprofit released a study in September examining how states stack up as it pertains to affordable, accessible and high-quality child care. Oklahoma ranked 20th out of 51. [Journal Record]

State Government News

Treasurer Criticizes Pension System For Taking Exemption His Office Exercised: Oklahoma Treasurer Todd Russ has publicly criticized one of the state’s largest pension funds for taking an exemption to a new law forbidding state pension funds from doing business with financial companies perceived to be hostile to the oil and gas industry. But Russ has quietly taken an exemption to the law when it comes to investments managed by his own office. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • Retired state worker says bank blacklist harms his pension in lawsuit [The Oklahoman]

Corporation Commission revisits PSO rate decision, enacts 2.5% cap: The Oklahoma Corporation Commission agreed Tuesday to a 2.5% cap on Public Service Company of Oklahoma residential rate increases but rejected broader revisions proposed by the Attorney General’s Office. For PSO customers, Tuesday’s decision means residential electric bills will increase a maximum of $3.57 per month instead of $5.35. [Tulsa World]

‘An end to frustration’: New bill promises more agency autonomy: Some of the first bills of the 2024 legislative session have been filed. One bill, sponsored by Senator Paul Rosino (R-OKC), is aiming to give state agencies more internal controls and save state money. [News9]

Federal Government News

Lucas: ‘It’s an intense world we live in right now’: New U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., sent everyone home early for Thanksgiving after tensions rose as the House passed short-term legislation to stave off a government shutdown. Back in Oklahoma on Monday, Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas said he is cautiously optimistic about Johnson’s ability to govern in the current climate as Congress faces a new deadline to fund the government and is considering aid for Ukraine and Israel. [Journal Record]

OKC’s airport is applying for $4.3 million in federal grant funding: An ongoing project to replace aging infrastructure at Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City officially entered its second phase Tuesday after city councilmembers voted to allow officials to apply for federal funding. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Luttrell Takes Leadership Role in National Caucus of Native American State Legislators: The National Caucus of Native American State Legislators recently elected Rep. Ken Luttrell, R-Ponca City, to their national executive committee. Luttrell will serve as the peacekeeper on the executive committee and vice chair of the economic development and telecommunications policy committee. [Journal Record]

Offshoot of ‘Reservation Dogs’ television show repays communities through animal care: Rez Dog Resources is an animal welfare advocacy collective/fund with a mission of connecting Oklahoma tribal communities to animal resources and to support animal rescue efforts across the state. [Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

Oklahoma State Chamber, Farm Bureau challenge effort to raise minimum wage: The State Chamber of Oklahoma and Oklahoma Farm Bureau Legal Foundation asked the state’s high court on Monday to find the proposal unconstitutional for delegating state lawmakers’ power to officials at a federal agency. [Oklahoma Voice]

Health News

Oklahoma AG clarifies exceptions for abortion patients and medical providers: Oklahoma’s attorney general said Tuesday that although state law prohibits most abortions, pregnant women cannot be punished for seeking out the procedure. [Oklahoma Voice]

Virus transmission ramps up with RSV peak yet to come, Saint Francis doc says: With respiratory virus transmission ticking up, Saint Francis Health System is hoping Tulsans take preventive measures heading into the holidays. [Tulsa World]

Local legislators announce Red Rock as Cleveland County’s primary mental health provider: Norman legislators announced Red Rock Behavioral Health Services as Cleveland County’s primary mental health provider in a meeting Tuesday evening. Red Rock Behavioral Health Services is an Oklahoma-based nonprofit mental health organization, which provides services such as group therapy, psychiatric care, HIV prevention education and crisis intervention. [Norman Transcript]

Opinion: Decisions about medical care are often the hardest decisions, but they’re women’s to make: Decisions about medical care are often the hardest decisions we make in our lifetimes. Those decisions should be ours to make, with advice from our loved ones and from caring, competent medical professionals. Those decisions should not be made — or complicated or restricted — by state legislators. [Marva Cummings-Wertz / The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Viewing food as medicine holds great potential for Oklahoma health: The science on “food is medicine” can be reduced to one simple takeaway: When three-fourths of the plate is filled with fiber-rich foods (vegetables, fruits, nuts/seeds, beans and whole grains), the natural regulatory mechanisms of the body for controlling weight, appetite, blood pressure, blood sugar and protecting against certain cancers all begin to normalize. [Marianna Wetherill/Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma County officials ‘extremely worried’ as they try to find site for new jail: Oklahoma County still hopes to build a new jail near Will Rogers World Airport. But county officials are once again actively exploring where else they might locate the jail as an end-of-2024 deadline approaches to spend $40 million in federal funds to also build a mental health center as part of the project. [The Oklahoman]

Authorities seize tens of thousands of illegal pot plants: Six medical marijuana grow operations in Pottawatomie County were shut down recently after authorities discovered more than 77,000 pot plants being cultivated illegally. [Journal Record]

Economy & Business News

Opinion: Keep small businesses top of mind this season: Nationwide, initiatives like Small Business Saturday and Shop Local remind us of the value and power of supporting businesses in our own communities and understanding the amplified impact of $1 spent with a local business. [Kian Kamas / Tulsa World]

Education News

OU works to preserve, develop DEI programs despite legislative attacks: As OU attempts to reconcile and grow from racist incidents that plague its past, the university is now at a crossroads as possible state legislation and inquiries surrounding funding threaten the shape and scope of DEI and some liberal arts programs. [OU Daily]

State audit shows Talihina superintendent charged personal expenses on district credit card: The superintendent of the Talihina Public Schools district in Le Flore County failed to provide receipts for nearly $12,000 in expenses and charged more than $2,000 of personal expenses on a district credit card during a two-year period, according to an audit of the district by the Oklahoma State Auditor’s office. [The Oklahoman]

Attorneys for Oklahoma virtual charter school say St. Isidore should be allowed to open next year: Attorneys representing the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School said the St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual Charter School should be allowed to open next year. This comes even though Attorney General Gentner Drummond disagrees. [KOCO]

Opinion: Each of them credited OKC Public Schools, their teachers for the foundation to success: Individuals who were recently inducted into the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation’s Wall of Fame made an indelible mark in their professional lives and the success of Oklahoma City Public Schools. [Mary Melon-Tully/The Oklahoman]

Opinion, Rep. John Waldron: Lawmakers, school districts have chance to eliminate school lunch debt for thousands of Oklahomans: I believe we could expand lunch provisions to, say 250% of the federal poverty level, for about $20 million to $30 million and end school lunch debt. This modest investment would yield enormous gains in food security, test score and child well-being. We could do this for just a few dollars per meal served. [Rep. John Waldron/Tulsa World]

General News

Oklahoma places to visit to celebrate Native American Heritage Month and more: November is Native American Heritage Month, a time to pay tribute to the contributions Indigenous people have made to the United States. Plus, the Friday following Thanksgiving Day has been designated as Native American Heritage Day, which is Nov. 24 this year. Here are more than 15 sites scattered across Oklahoma where people can honor, recognize and learn about the contributions Indigenous people. [The Oklahoman]

How OKC culinary students stepped up to create a Thanksgiving dinner with the Homeless Alliance: Francis Tuttle’s Culinary Arts program has been preparing perfectly cooked turkeys for the better part of a decade as a way to help City Rescue Mission improve the quality of the turkeys being served to those experiencing homelessness. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: We know how to solve food insecurity but need scalable resources and reach of governments: More than 49% of Oklahoma households reported they struggled to pay regular household expenses between Sept. 20 to Oct. 2. Additionally, one in five Oklahoma children and one in seven Oklahoma households are food insecure. [Chris Bernard / Tulsa World]

Opinion: Shifting perspective about food surplus to solve hunger: In a world where millions go to bed hungry each night, the paradox of food waste presents itself as a potential solution rather than a problem. [Kevin Harper / Tulsa World]

Opinion: Everyone can learn how to reduce food waste in their homes: Of all the statistics related to hunger, the one about how much food is thrown away by Americans stands out as astonishing. Nearly 40% of all food in the country is wasted. Food waste is a term referring to perfectly good, high-quality food going into trash. It’s lost in the production, processing and distribution stages. [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World]

Editorial: Create ways so no Oklahoman will go to bed hungry: In Oklahoma, where poverty acutely strikes some pockets of the state, the overall food insecurity rate is worse at 15.6% in the state, compared to 12.8% nationally. That means 1 in 7 Oklahomans are not getting enough to eat. There must be a better way to feed our fellow Americans. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Enid tables motion to censure commissioner for ties white nationalism [KFOR]

Quote of the Day

“The average wage for a child care worker is $11.40, and most child care businesses do not have the ability to provide health insurance, retirement benefits or anything like that. Most child care is of course a small business, so you’re looking at low pay and no ability to provide health care benefits and retirement benefits. So it’s not a very attractive position in a really tight labor market.”

– Rep. Suzanne Schreiber, who authored House Bill 2451, which would have made employers that help employees with child care expenses eligible for a tax credit. She intends to run a different tax credit bill for child care workers this session. [Journal Record]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Native American children in Oklahoma who have experienced two or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Latine children had the highest rate at 30%, while white children had the lowest rate at 19%. [KIDS COUNT]

Policy Note

The History of Thanksgiving from the Native American PerspectiveThere are always two sides to a story. Unfortunately, when it comes to the history of Thanksgiving, generations of Americans have been taught a one-sided history in homes and schools. The dominant cultural and historical story has been told from the perspective of the European colonialists who landed near Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts in 1620. In this version o]f the Thanksgiving story, the holiday commemorates the peaceful, friendly meeting of English settlers and the Wampanoag tribe for three days of feasting and Thanksgiving in 1621. Every year, news outlets and social media are a-buzz with Thanksgiving themes. There is little coverage of the fact that November is Native American Heritage Month or that the day after Thanksgiving, known to most as Black Friday, is Native American Heritage Day. [Native Hope]

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Kandis West is a communications professional with more than 15 years of experience. Most recently, she served as the Communications Director for the Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus. She spent nine years in the Olympia/Tacoma area of Washington organizing compensation campaigns for teachers for the Washington Education Association. Kandis has a proven track record of increasing community engagement, public awareness and media exposure around the most pressing issues that impact citizens. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism.

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