In The Know: Court to decide whether AG can intervene in tribal gaming lawsuit | Oklahoma may adopt Texas-style immigration law | Rising rents, evictions linked to premature deaths

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

State Government News

Can Oklahoma’s attorney general boot governor from tribal gaming suit? Court to decide: A federal judge on Monday asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to weigh in for the third time in four years on a series of tribal gaming deals signed by the governor in 2020. The state’s highest court now needs to decide whether Oklahoma’s attorney general can jump into a long-running federal lawsuit tied to the compacts — and boot Gov. Kevin Stitt from the case. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma Supreme Court to decide whether attorney general can intervene in tribal gaming lawsuit [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma may adopt Texas-style illegal immigration enforcement law: State lawmakers may soon consider legislation based on a controversial Texas law — currently on hold in federal court — that would give local and state law enforcement officers the authority to arrest and even arrange to deport people they believe are illegal immigrants. [Tulsa World]

Bill adding rules on how to house Oklahoma’s transgender inmates faces criticism: There’s deep division over a proposed law that would require Oklahoma’s prison system to house people based on their biological gender by regulating bathroom and sleeping areas. [Oklahoma Voice]

Legal roundup: Judicial updates, Supreme Court cases, a suspended attorney and more: From judicial appointments to judicial reform, judges have been a hot topic the past few months in Oklahoma. [NonDoc]

Opinion: A distant hope for budget transparency: Eyes roll anytime legislative leaders pledge more budget-writing transparency. It’s pure reflex. It can’t be helped. It’s ingrained in those who pay even the remotest attention to the annual state-spending horse-trading for one simple reason: it’s long been a hollow pledge. This year, though, there is cautious optimism that budgetary poohbahs actually will be more open about how they prioritize spending about $12 billion of the taxpayers’ treasure. Emphasis on the word “c-a-u-t-i-o-u-s.” [Arnold Hamilton / Journal Record]

Opinion: Oklahoma lawmakers set the Constitution on fire. Now they are trying to extinguish our rights: According to the Oklahoma Constitution, an emergency clause is to be used only in measures “immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health, or safety.” Sadly, rather than the appropriate use of the emergency clause as a tool to keep Oklahomans safe from harm, some legislators are using it as a tool to consolidate their power and take power from the people. [Cindy Alexander / Oklahoma Voice]

Health News

Oklahoma testing clinic opposes bill criminalizing ‘intentional, reckless’ spread of STIs: An Oklahoma House bill seeking to improve sexually transmitted infection rates by charging Oklahomans for intentionally and recklessly spreading them is heading to the Senate Floor after passing committee Thursday. A Tulsa STI testing clinic worries the bill will accomplish the exact opposite. [KGOU]

States want to make it harder for health insurers to deny care, but firms might evade enforcement: To curb health care costs and block unnecessary services, insurers have long required doctors to obtain their approval before they’ll pay for certain drugs, treatments and procedures. Under a prior authorization bill advancing in Oklahoma, insurance company medical directors could be held liable for medical malpractice, opening them up to lawsuits. [Oklahoma Voice]

Criminal Justice News

Attorney fills vacant seat on Oklahoma County’s jail trust after being sworn in Monday: Shelly A. Perkins attended her first meeting as a member of Oklahoma County’s jail trust Monday. Perkins, an attorney and community advocate, will take a seat on the trust previously held by Sue Ann Arnall. [The Oklahoman]

Housing & Economic Opportunity News

Family Member’s Eviction Attempt Ends In Flames: A family member evicted an elderly Oklahoma City couple from their home, and instead of leaving peacefully, the geriatric man living there set himself and the home on fire. [Oklahoma Watch]

Economy & Business News

After a long slog, climate change lawsuits will finally put Big Oil on trial: After years of legal appeals and delays, some oil companies are set to stand trial in lawsuits brought by state and local governments over the damages caused by climate change. Meanwhile, dozens more governments large and small have brought new claims against the fossil fuel industry as those initial cases, filed up to a half-dozen years ago, inch closer to the courtroom. [Oklahoma Voice]

Education News

Reading education legislation kept alive in House committee: The Oklahoma Legislature has tried for decades to teach school children to read. Their latest iteration, which passed through the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Education on Monday morning, puts new and as yet unfunded emphasis on teacher training and catching reading difficulties earlier — as young as kindergarten. [Tulsa World]

Bill would require schools to plan for cardiac emergencies: A Monday rally showed support for a bill that would require schools in the state to develop cardiac emergency response plans. Among other things, the measure would require coaches, nurses and others in schools to maintain training on how to use automated external defibrillator devices. [Tulsa World]

Local Headlines

  • After tense public comment, council adjusts agreement for downtown Edmond brewery [NonDoc]
  • Why is the air quality bad today? ‘Very unhealthy’ air quality in Oklahoma City [The Oklahoman]
  • Norman development back on track after OU ultimatum [Journal Record]

Quote of the Day

“Neither the public peace, health, nor safety are at risk from the current way signatures are validated. This is a flagrant political weaponization of the emergency clause designed to restrict the citizens’ constitutional right to prevent this unnecessary bill from being enacted with the use of a referendum petition.”

-Cindy Alexander, writing in an op-ed about SB 518, which would increase requirements for residents to complete the initiative petition process, and it unnecessarily utilizes the state Constitution’s emergency clause to expedite its enactment. [Cindy Alexander / Oklahoma Voice]

Number of the Day

2 in 5

Two in 5 Oklahomans working a single, full-time job cannot afford a two-bedroom rental. More than half of the state’s most common professions don’t pay enough to afford housing. [Economic Policy Institute via OK Policy]

Policy Note

Rising Rents and Evictions Linked to Premature Death: Housing takes a toll on America’s health. Tenants might have mold in their walls that impacts the air they breathe. Parents might live far from parks where they can go for a run or play with their kids, and families might not be able to find fresh fruits and vegetables within walking distance. But the most pressing issue for many is paying the increasingly unaffordable rent. This is not just an economic hardship. Our research shows that rising rent costs and evictions have important consequences for the risk of premature death. [Eviction Lab]

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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.