In The Know: Educators worried about #OKLeg education funding dispute | Transgender youths file lawsuit over health care ban | Policy Matters | 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: Coming together in the people’s house: By design, our state Capitol is intended to be a striking monument for Oklahoma’s possibilities. That grandeur, however, can also intimidate everyday folks from fully taking part in advocacy or even stepping foot inside the center of our state government. On Tuesday, May 9, Together Oklahoma will host its annual Day of Action at the Capitol. We will bring together advocates from around the state to help connect them with lawmakers about the issues that matter most to them. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

House passes school choice tax credit bill, holds it from governor for leverage with Senate: In their first chess move since the Oklahoma State Senate decoupled the Legislature’s education funding package from its proposed private school and homeschool tax credit program, the House of Representatives approved the school choice tax credit bill today but stopped short of sending it to Gov. Kevin Stitt in an effort to create leverage in negotiations over the funding measure. [NonDoc]

  • Teacher pay raises get axed for now due to funding dispute [KFOR]
  • The Oklahoma House is using school tax credits as a bargaining chip. What are the terms? [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma lawmakers race against the legislative clock to come up with education plan [KOKH]
  • Oklahoma Legislature’s education dispute to spill into public forum with Treat, Walters [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma lawmakers disagree about how education plan should be put together [KOCO]
  • Feud in Oklahoma Legislature snarls education funding [Journal Record]
  • “School choice” bill passes OK house [KXII]
  • From OK Policy: Vouchers: Another Wrong Turn for Oklahoma Schools

Educators growing weary of inaction over school funding: Fears are growing that students and teachers will be the ultimate losers as gridlocked Republicans continue to bicker over their inability to advance comprehensive school policy. [CNHI News]

Five transgender youths file suit saying Oklahoma health care ban is unconstitutional: Five Oklahoma transgender youths and their families have sued the state over a ban on gender-affirming health care, alleging the halt of puberty-blocking drugs, surgery and hormone treatments is a violation of their constitutional rights. [The Oklahoman]

  • Lawsuit challenges Oklahoma law banning gender-affirming surgeries, hormone treatments for minors [Tulsa World]

Another Relief Program’s End Returns Some Oklahomans to Food Insecurity: It’s been three years since Melissa Moore turned to food pantries to keep meals on the table. When her food stamp benefits increased to $500 a month during the pandemic, she could feed her family of three without tapping her disability check. Congress halted those emergency pandemic benefits at the end of February, three months ahead of schedule. [Oklahoma Watch]

State Government News

Oklahoma bill protecting birth control access heads to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk: Senate Bill 368 includes protections for contraceptive drugs, surgeries such as tubal ligation, and other treatments provided by authorized healthcare providers. [KOKH]

Oklahoma governor vetoes bills that would ensure access to overdose-reversing drugs: Oklahoma state lawmakers unanimously passed two bills ensuring access to opioid antagonists for at-risk communities. But, they joined Gov. Kevin Stitt’s stack of vetoes. [KOSU]

Lawmaker pursuing protection for potential sexual assault victims: Rep. Scott Fetgatter in 2019 secured passage of a law to protect sexual assault victims from their predators. He’s now pursuing legislation to better protect potential victims. [KOKH]

Minority Leader Munson calls for legislature to override OETA funding bill veto: On Wednesday, Oklahoma House Minority Leader Cyndi Munson (D-Oklahoma City) called for both chambers at the Oklahoma State Capitol to override Gov. Kevin Stitt’s veto of HB 2820. The bill concerns the state’s relationship with the Oklahoma Education Television Authority, a Public Broadcasting Service network. [KOKH]

State begins severing ties with some of nation’s largest financial firms: Oklahoma has formally begun the process of essentially blacklisting some of the nation’s largest financial firms from doing business with the state, Treasurer Todd Russ said Wednesday. Russ released a list of 13 firms he said do not meet the requirements of a 2022 law barring contracts with companies deemed hostile to oil and gas or that do not respond to a set of questions put to them by the treasurer’s office. [Tulsa World]

‘Air this out’: Ryan Walters roils House committee, says unions are ‘terrorist organizations’: Monday’s meeting saw representatives on both sides of the aisle ask numerous questions, and some of Walters’ responses drew strong reactions from members. Walters came out of the gate swinging. In responding to McCall’s opening questions regarding federal grants, the superintendent fired shots in all directions. [NonDoc]

  • OEA responds to State Supt. after he called them a ‘terrorist organization’ [KFOR]

Federal Government News

Oklahoma Congressman inducted into National Service Hall of Fame: Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole was recently honored by being inducted into the National Service Hall of Fame for his long standing support of AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Seniors. [KCCU]

Tribal Nations News

Oklahoma Governor Vetoes Tribal Regalia Bill: Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, vetoed a bill yesterday that would have allowed students to wear tribal regalia at school functions. [Native News Online]

Oklahoma’s only school for Indigenous students to officially close doors: The state Board of Education terminated its contract with Sovereign Community Schools. As they close its doors and end the chapter, school officials said they plan to honor their seniors and celebrate all of their students who’ve supported their mission. [KOCO]

Health News

Mental Health Awareness Month specials airing on KOSU: KOSU will join three national live call-in radio shows to convene a conversation about the state of our nation’s mental health crisis. Are we getting the help we need? Do we know how to access it? Would we take it if we could? [KOSU]

Criminal Justice News

Faith leaders, lawmakers to hold rally for Glossip: The fight to stop Richard Glossip’s execution isn’t over despite being denied clemency again. Thursday morning, lawmakers and faith leaders will rally at the capitol to fight for Glossip, who’s set to be killed in just two weeks. [KJRH]

  • Anti-death penalty advocates restore crosses placed to protest planned executions [KOKH]

Police confirm Jesse McFadden fatally shot six prior to killing himself: An Oklahoma sex offender who was released from prison early shot his wife, her three children and their two friends in the head and then killed himself, authorities confirmed Wednesday as concerns grew about why he was free in the first place. [The Oklahoman]

  • A look at the mom and 5 teenagers killed in rural Oklahoma [AP News]

Selecting site, architect for Oklahoma County’s new jail largely falls to seven people: A seven-member board, appointed by Oklahoma County commissioners, is tasked with finding a site and an architect for a new Oklahoma County jail, which voters approved funding in June 2022. The nearly $300 million project is set to be completed in 2026 or 2027. [NonDoc]

Education News

New law strengthens Student Borrower’s Bill of Rights: Senate Bill 261, authored by state Sen. John Montgomery, R-Lawton, and state Rep. Melissa Provenzano, D-Tulsa, in 2021, directed the attorney general to prepare a written statement including an “Oklahoma Student Borrower’s Bill of Rights,” which contains language prohibiting student loan servicers from engaging in acts that mislead or deceive borrowers. [Journal Record]

OU: OSDE fails to sign contract causing required AP teacher program to be canceled: The University of Oklahoma has canceled their 2023 Advanced Placement Summer Institute, claiming the State Department of Education failed to sign a contract for it in a timely manner. [KFOR]

What it’s Like to Teach Civics Amid Political Polarization, Intense Scrutiny: Overshadowing that teaching today is extreme political polarization and an intense scrutiny of teachers. Oklahoma’s one of at least 36 states that prohibits certain classroom discussions on race or gender, including what are considered “divisive concepts.” [Oklahoma Watch]

Column: Ryan Walters’ language and rhetoric increasingly problematic and dangerous: Since being elected into office, state schools Superintendent Ryan Walters has consistently spewed hateful rhetoric and lies about public school teachers in this state. All of these statements are blatant lies meant to discredit our public school system and the tireless efforts of those in education to give our children a proper education. [Emily Busey-Templeton Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Column: Educating teachers is vital to Oklahoma’s future: As we wrap up the school year and enter Teacher Appreciation Week, May 8-12, there is no better time to recognize Oklahoma’s teachers. [Connie Reilly Guest Column / Journal Record]

Oklahoma Local News

  • OK County looks at former St. Anthony building for mental health facility [NonDoc]
  • Complaints allege unethical dealings on Edmond City Council over downtown developments [KOKH]

Quote of the Day

“In a year when we’ve got historic funding opportunities, now’s the time to increase the funding in such a way that it’s going to make a difference in the teacher shortage, and it’s going to make a difference in what we can do for our support staff… and improve that morale and do everything that we can for kids to make sure they have the opportunity to be successful in the future.”

– Kyle Reynolds, Woodward Public Schools superintendent, expressing his extreme concern that current legislative fights over education funding will leave Oklahoma public schools with nothing. [CNHI News]

Number of the Day

$123 million

Estimated annual cut to Oklahoma’s state aid for schools from FY 2030 and onward if the state were to implement a private school voucher program in the form of a tax credits. Adjusted for inflation, the combination of prior funding cuts and the cost of private school vouchers would leave the state aid allocation 22 percent lower than in 2009 when Oklahoma had 55,000 fewer students than we do today. [OK Policy]

Policy Note

Deep Public Investment Changes Lives, Yet Too Many States Continue to Seek Tax Cuts: When state budgets are strong, lawmakers should put those revenues toward building a stronger and more inclusive society for the long haul. Yet, many state lawmakers have made clear that their top priority is repeatedly cutting taxes for the wealthy. [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy]

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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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