In The Know: Epic Charter investigation | Fact-checking candidate debates | Early voting begins Thursday

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.

Oklahoma News

Enrollment irregularities, unapproved bonuses: the latest Epic Charter investigation: The State Superintendent is recommending Epic Charter Schools be placed on probation for violating state law following an investigation into the state’s largest online school. The latest probe found serious problems, including student attendance patterns that skirted state law; large, unapproved bonuses for staff; and violations of laws on competitive bidding requirements and the Open Meetings Act. [Oklahoma Watch

  • With Bart Banfield bonuses among new Epic concerns, Hofmeister to seek probation [NonDoc
  • New report accuses Epic Charter Schools of miscounting attendance, unapproved bonuses [The Oklahoman
  • Oklahoma State Department of Education accuses Epic of miscounting enrollment, other issues [KGOU

Early voting begins Thursday: Early voting for the June Primary begins Thursday in their county. Registered voters can vote in-person absentee from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, as well as 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at their election board. Voting at the polls will be 7 a.m to 7 p.m. June 28. [Stillwater News Press]

Voting Resources: Find early polling locations and more election information at

State Government News

Oklahoma getting refund in Medicaid fraud case: Oklahoma is getting back $3.8 million in Medicaid fraud money recovered under a federal investigation into prescription drug prices, as several states begin to look more closely at how managed care administrators bill for pharmaceuticals. The company was found to have inflated prescription drug prices from 2013 to 2020 by circumventing Medicaid rules designed to curb steep price increases. [The Journal Record

Federal Government News

Senators say agreement on gun violence compromise at hand: U.S. senators have moved to the brink of an agreement on a bipartisan gun violence bill, Democrats’ lead negotiator said Tuesday, potentially teeing up votes this week on an incremental but notable package that would stand as Congress’ response to mass shootings in Texas and New York that shook the nation. [AP via The Journal Record

US Supreme Court decision blocks Oklahoma cities from ticketing traffic-blocking trains: The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected Oklahoma’s effort to revive a state law setting strict time limits on trains blocking city streets. [The Oklahoman] Without explanation, the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would not hear the state’s request to reconsider a 10th Circuit court ruling earlier this year that invalidated Oklahoma’s law on the grounds that the federal Surface Transportation Board has jurisdiction over train operations, not state lawmakers or the corporation commissioners. [CNHI via The Norman Transcript]

Tribal Nations News

Abortion havens on tribal lands are unlikely: The speculation began last month, after a leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion suggested the court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that guaranteed the right to an abortion nationwide. Lorenzo and other Indigenous abortion rights advocates say the questions have mostly come from non-Native people. [High Country News]

MCN authorizes Principal Chief to submit NABDI Grant: A Muscogee (Creek) Nation National Council Business, Finance and Justice Committee meeting was held in person and via teleconference on June 9 at the Mound Building. All legislation will go before the full Council during the regular session. [Mvskoke Media]

Voting and Election News

Republican primary voters fed red meat in CD 2 debate: With promises to kick President Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi in the teeth, differing views on the McGirt vs. Oklahoma decision and boundless adulation for former President Donald Trump, 10 of the 14 candidates vying for the Republican nomination in Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District took part in a two-hour debate Monday night presented by NonDoc and News on 6 at the Bartlesville Community Center. [NonDoc

School choice supporters mount campaign attacks on Republican lawmakers in Oklahoma: A handful of state lawmakers seeking reelection are facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in political attacks from groups pushing for greater school choice in Oklahoma. [The Oklahoman

Republicans in House District 66 will choose from four hopefuls on Tuesday: Registered Republicans in House District 66 will cast their ballots Tuesday for one of four candidates hoping to succeed state Rep. Jadine Nollan, R-Sand Springs, who is term-limited and leaving the Legislature after holding the seat for 12 years. [Sand Springs Leader]

Two new Oklahoma City-area state legislative seats up for grabs in primary election: Local voters will weigh in on representatives for two legislative districts new to the Oklahoma City metro area in next week’s primary elections. A shift in population confirmed in the 2020 Census prompted the move of two legislative seats from eastern Oklahoma to the metro area. [The Oklahoman]

Fact check: Attorney general debate featured criticisms and accusations: Attorney General John O’Connor faced off with challenger Gentner Drummond on issues ranging from criminal prosecution to utility rates during a debate Thursday. O’Connor and Drummond will compete in the Oklahoma Republican primary on June 28. [NonDoc

State superintendent candidates differ on paying, keeping teachers: Republican candidates for the state’s elected superintendent for public instruction disagreed on how to bring more quality teachers into the Oklahoma education system and solve the state’s longtime teacher recruitment and retention issue. [Enid News & Eagle]

Oklahoma Auditor Cindy Byrd fights back as PAC attacks her as ‘liberal’ in new mailer: State Auditor Cindy Bird picked up Gov. Kevin Stitt’s endorsement Tuesday as she sought to counter two PACs that already have spent more than $500,000 in support of her opponent. Byrd faces a political newcomer, Steve McQuillen, in the Republican primary election Tuesday. [The Oklahoman

Roberts, Swinton challenge Osborn in labor commissioner primary: The Republican primary election for Oklahoma commissioner of labor will have three candidates on the ballot, which itself made headlines after a hearing with the Oklahoma State Election Board regarding one candidate’s requested nickname. [NonDoc

Stitt continues raking in campaign cash as primary approaches: Gov. Kevin Stitt’s reelection campaign rolled through the spring like a financial juggernaut, according to pre-primary reports filed with the Oklahoma State Ethics Commission this week. [Tulsa World

  • Kevin Stitt, Joy Hofmeister lead in Oklahoma governor’s race fundraising [The Oklahoman]

Governor Stitt calls special election in 2023 to fill Oklahoma County clerk vacancy: Gov. Kevin Stitt has called a special election next year to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of former Oklahoma County Clerk David B. Hooten. Stitt issued an executive proclamation Tuesday, calling a special primary for Feb. 14, 2023, with a special general election to be held April 4, 2023. [The Oklahoman

  • Commissioner Blumert says she was also target of Hooten’s harassment [OKC Free Press]

Health News

Anxiety & depression rates rise among Oklahomans: Anxiety and depression rates are rising since the start of the pandemic, it has been discovered that Oklahomans are struggling with anxiety and depression at alarming rates. The pandemic has changed many things for people and along the way has taken a toll on mental health. [KSWO]

Criminal Justice News

The case for and against a new Oklahoma County jail: We’re six days away from the June 28 primary election date. For Oklahoma County voters, one of the most notable items on the ballot is a $260 million bond proposal to fund construction of a new county jail. There’s little disagreement about the jail’s state. It consistently ranks among the nation’s deadliest jails. [Oklahoma Watch] Community activists who’ve hosted a series of town hall meetings on why residents should vote ‘no.’ [KOCO

Economic Opportunity

The Hot Seat: Eviction filings: News 9 political analyst Scott Mitchell was joined in The Hot Seat by the Executive Director of Oklahoma Access to Justice Foundation Katie Dilks to discuss the rise in eviction filings. [News 9

OK Policy: Oklahoma should work towards true housing equity

Education News

OU regents stop proposed in-state tuition increase, grant Harroz $150K bonus: The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents returned from more than eight hours of executive session today to amend a proposed tuition increase and keep in-state tuition flat for next year. [NonDoc] Tuition for out-of-state students at the University of Oklahoma will be going up in the fall. The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents unanimously approved the 3% increase for nonresident undergraduate students and graduate students. [The Oklahoman

Moore City Council makes provisions for more resource officers in schools: The 33 item agenda for the Moore City Council Monday mainly nominated and appointed members of the Council to City committees and boards, and also included some routine contract renewals for City services. [OKC Free Press]

General News

Ozone Alert in place with above-average heat expected to continue through Sunday: The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality issued its first Ozone Alert of the year for Tulsa on Wednesday. The Ozone Alert means conditions are favorable for the buildup of ozone near the ground, to an unhealthy level. [Tulsa World

Right-wing media are pushing for vigilantism against trans people and drag queens. Fascists are answering the call: Over the last several months, the right-wing media has raised its anti-trans rhetoric to new heights, often calling for direct action against trans and gender-nonconforming individuals, communities, and those standing in solidarity with them. [Media Matters]

Oklahoma Local News

Viable DNA found in two sets of remains found at Oaklawn Cemetery, Tulsa Race Massacre researchers say: Two sets of remains found last year at Oaklawn Cemetery could be one step closer to being identified, researchers told the Public Oversight Committee for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Graves investigation in a virtual meeting on Tuesday night. [Tulsa World

Edmond to Norman commuter rail in running for $100 million grant: A potential commuter rail link between Edmond, Oklahoma City and Norman is in the running for a $100 million federal grant as plans proceed for creation of a regional transit system. [The Oklahoman

Quote of the Day

“Eviction filings are up all across the state back to pre-pandemic levels, at which point we were actually double the national average. Oklahoma County and Tulsa County are actually about three times the national average for our eviction filing rate. Oklahoma County set a record with 1,600 eviction filings in April.”

– Katie Dilks, Executive Director of Oklahoma Access to Justice Foundation [News 9]

OK Policy: Oklahoma should work towards true housing equity

Number of the Day

4.1 million

The 2021 federal CTC expansion will lift an estimated 4.1 million children, including 1.2 million Black and 1.7 million Latino children, above the federal poverty line.

[Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

Policy Note

Biden wants a gas tax holiday. Some economists say that’s a bad idea: President Biden is set to announce on Wednesday that he wants Congress to give consumers a break on the federal gas tax for the summer months. That would mean the government would stop collecting the tax — 18 cents per gallon on gas and 24 cents per gallon on diesel — until the end of September, the peak driving period for people heading out on summer vacations. But economists say the move might not make that big a difference to drivers — and could actually backfire on the economy. [NPR]

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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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