In The Know: Early voting begins for primary | Housing interim study requests | Upholding the Oklahoma standard

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: Upholding Oklahoma standard may take courage: Ask any Oklahoman, and they’ll know what “the Oklahoma standard” means. It’s evident in the aftermath of any natural disaster, loss, or tragedy – Oklahomans show up for their neighbors. As folks nationwide celebrate June as Pride Month to support our LQBTQ+ communities, it can be difficult to find instances where elected officials and lawmakers are demonstrating the underlying spirit of the Oklahoma standard – that is, leading with compassion – to support our LQBTQ+ friends and family. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record

Oklahoma News

Early in-person voting begins Thursday for next week’s primary elections: A busy 2022 election season gets underway Thursday with three days of early in-person primary voting for federal, state and county offices. Voters are required to provide an unexpired government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, visa, passport or tribal identification. [Tulsa World

  • Stitt-backed newcomer challenges incumbent in Senate District 22 [NonDoc
  • Curriculum under scrutiny in House District 13 primary [NonDoc
  • Four Republicans seek House District 66 seat; nominee to face Democratic candidate in November [Tulsa World
  • Three Republicans seek House District 79 seat, hope to replace incumbent [Tulsa World
  • Incumbent, challenger vying for House District 76 seat [Tulsa World
  • 2022 Primary Election Voter’s Guide [Sequoyah County Times
  • To find your polling place and view a sample ballot for your precinct, use the Oklahoma Election Board’s OK Voter Portal.

Swadley’s Bar-B-Q countersuit claims collusion by Oklahoma tourism department: Swadley’s Bar-B-Q has countersued the state, claiming the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation worked closely with the company and knew all of the details of a lucrative deal to operate restaurants on state-owned property. [The Oklahoman] When the cost of remodeling six state park restaurants became a political hot potato for Gov. Kevin Stitt, his administration decided to pass the buck on to Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen, according to a counter lawsuit filed in Oklahoma County District Court. [Tulsa World

‘So expensive and very complicated’: Urban League event to remove barriers to expungement: Tiffany Mason’s eyes fill with tears as a huge smile breaks across her face when you ask her what having a criminal record expunged means. “My felony is over 20 years old — 20 — and yet people look at me like I did it yesterday,” she said. Mason and others like her are the reason the Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City will host its second annual Expungement Expo on Saturday. [The Oklahoman

Recently from OK Policy: This legislative session also saw lawmakers overwhelmingly approve automatic expungement, also known as Clean Slate. The passage of HB 3316 is a historic step forward for economic justice and criminal legal reform in Oklahoma. The law goes into effect on Nov. 1, but will take a few years before the system is in place to begin sealing records automatically. [OK Policy]

State Government News

State lawmaker files 2 interim study requests on Oklahoma housing crisis: Corporations are buying up houses and renting them out to Oklahomans, inflating the value of the homes and rent, making it more difficult for Oklahomans to purchase a home. Rep. Mickey Dollens has requested two interim studies be done on the issue. He wants to bring in local experts to come up with a solution. [KFOR

Some states are changing the laws that govern community libraries: At a time when public school libraries have increasingly become targets in the culture wars, some red states are going further, proposing legislation aimed at libraries serving the community as a whole.  In Oklahoma, a bill was signed into law requiring public libraries to install filters on digital databases to prevent children from seeing obscene material. Anyone who deliberately flouts the law would face legal liability. [KOSU

Voting and Election News

Minus Markwayne Mullin, GOP Senate hopefuls talk issues at chamber meeting in Oklahoma City: In another U.S. Senate debate missing the frontrunner, four Republicans hoping to succeed U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe talked immigration, inflation, gun rights and bipartisanship on Wednesday before state business leaders meeting in Oklahoma City. [The Oklahoman

Another election cycle shows ‘party switching’ in Oklahoma holds little sway: Every recent election cycle brings speculation that frustrated Democrats (or independents) in large numbers are migrating to the Republican Party in order to influence the GOP primary. With every election cycle comes scant evidence that that has happened. [Tulsa World

Criminal Justice News

The Effort to Build a New Oklahoma County Jail is a Decade in the Making: Oklahoma County voters are being asked to approve a $260 million bond issue to fund the construction of a new detention center. While Oklahoma County commissioners have floated the idea of building a new jail facility for more than a decade, this marks the first time the issue has advanced to the ballot. [Oklahoma Watch

Editorial: LOFT report on state prisons reveals risks to public safety: A recent report from the state Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency noted several problems within the state Department of Corrections, some of which could lead to more dangerous conditions in Oklahoma’s prisons. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Economic Opportunity

Holt urges more investment in minority businesses: Oklahoma City is making intentional investments to ensure minority-owned small businesses have the resources they need to grow and thrive, but there still is much work to do. Ongoing racial and geographic disparities and generational poverty continue to limit access for people of color to business credit, investment capital and mentorship, Mayor David Holt wrote in a recent opinion piece in The Hill, co-authored by Levar Stoney, mayor of Richmond, Virginia. [The Journal Record

Education News

Oklahoma colleges, universities say inflation hitting their bottom line: With inflation squeezing their wallets, 18 state colleges and universities said Wednesday that they need to raise tuition and fees an average of 2% this coming academic year despite additional legislative appropriation. Presidents of nine institutions, meanwhile, said they plan to keep tuition and fees flat for in-state resident students, though one — the University of Oklahoma — is seeking to increase its rate by 3% for out-of-state residents. [CNHI via Muskogee Phoenix]

ACT Scores for Oklahoma Public Schools: Among Oklahoma’s 457 public high schools, 54 exceeded the national average ACT score of 20.6 in 2020. The school with the top ACT score that year was Classen School of Advanced Studies in Oklahoma City, where students averaged 24.54 on the exam. The magnet school is part of the Oklahoma City Public Schools district. [Oklahoma Watch

  • (Audio) Long Story Short: Assessing Oklahoma’s ACT Scores and Education Relief Spending [Oklahoma Watch

Quote of the Day

“I think Oklahoma has been smart in some progressive reforms and criminal justice reforms. But what good is it to do that if one can’t still get a job because their record’s holding them back or they can’t get housing?”

-Jabar Shumate, Vice President for Community Convening and Social Justice at the Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City, speaking about a recent expungement expo. [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Number of Oklahoma families who received their final expanded Advanced Child Tax Credit payment in December. [OK Policy]

Policy Note

Stimulus Payments, Child Tax Credit Expansion Were Critical Parts of Successful COVID-19 Policy Response: When COVID-19 began to spread rapidly across the United States in March 2020, the economy quickly shed more than 20 million jobs. Amid intense fear and hardship, federal policymakers responded, enacting five bills in 2020 that provided an estimated $3.3 trillion of relief and the American Rescue Plan in 2021, which added another $1.8 trillion. This robust response helped make the COVID-19 recession the shortest on record and helped fuel an economic recovery that brought the unemployment rate, which peaked at 14.8 percent in April 2020, down to below 4 percent. One measure of annual poverty declined by the most on record in 2020, in data back to 1967, and available data suggest that poverty levels in 2021 were similar to 2020. Two critical components of the fiscal response were Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) and the expanded Child Tax Credit, which quickly delivered much-needed income to families struggling to pay their bills. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

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Kristin Wells served as the Communications and Operations Fellow for OK Policy from October 2021 to July 2022. She previously worked as a digital content producer for News On 6. A native Kansas Citian, Kristin graduated with a B.A. in Media Studies and a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Tulsa in 2020. While there, she was accepted into the Global Scholars program, spurring her interests in policy, social movements, global identities, and the importance of education and advocacy. She hopes to use her skills to continue to learn and create a more equitable future for Oklahomans. An avid sports fan, Kristin lives in Tulsa with her rescue dog and is passionate about college basketball, documentaries, and coffee.

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