In The Know: Epic co-founders arrested | Protecting Oklahoma’s economy requires labor force-oriented solutions | Primary races on ballot

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

Protecting Oklahoma’s economy requires labor force-oriented solutions: To protect the long-term health of our economy, Oklahoma’s lawmakers should enact policies that will strengthen Oklahoma’s labor force participation, which has been declining for more than a decade. Policies that invest in our workforce — such as guaranteeing paid family and medical leave, increasing access to child care, investing in mental health care/substance abuse treatment, and bolstering the state Earned Income Tax Credit — will provide Oklahomans the support they need to reenter the workforce, creating a healthier, more prosperous economy for everyone. [Josie Phillips / OK Policy

Oklahoma News

Epic charges: Ben Harris, David Chaney, Josh Brock arrested for ‘complicated criminal enterprise’: Along with former chief financial officer Josh Brock, Epic Charter Schools co-founders Ben Harris and David Chaney have been arrested on racketeering, embezzlement and conspiracy charges related to their use of public money under the school management company Epic Youth Services. [NonDoc

  • Epic Co-Founders, Former CFO Arrested on Embezzlement, Racketeering Charges [Oklahoma Watch
  • Epic Charter Schools co-founders arrested on charges of financial crimes [The Oklahoman
  • Epic Charter Schools co-founders, former CFO charged in elaborate scheme to defraud and embezzle from taxpayers [Tulsa World

O’Connor kept campaign donation from attorney under criminal investigation, records show: Attorney General John O’Connor accepted a maximum campaign donation from a politically connected attorney as O’Connor’s assistants aided a criminal investigation of the attorney’s work for medical marijuana growers, according to campaign records and multiple law enforcement sources. [The Oklahoman

COVID-19 vaccines now available to Oklahoma kids over 6 months old. Here’s what to know: Kids as young as 6 months old can now receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The first doses for the newest age group started being given Thursday in Oklahoma, and more doses are on the way to the state, according to the state Health Department. [The Oklahoman] Parents may now seek COVID-19 vaccinations for children 6 months and older through Tulsa Health Department, the agency said a week after FDA approval. [Tulsa World

State Government News

After Uvalde shooting, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt issues executive order on school safety: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Wednesday issued an executive order aimed at boosting school safety by ensuring state law enforcement officers have active shooter training and teachers have threat assessment training. [The Oklahoman] The new executive order hoped to make schools safer would increase active-shooter response training opportunities while renewing some previous statewide initiatives. [Tulsa World

Tulsa Public Schools violated state law on race, gender, history, State Education Department says: A professional development session provided by Tulsa Public Schools was in violation of a state law meant to limit instruction on race, gender and history, an attorney with the Oklahoma State Department of Education announced Thursday. [Tulsa World

Federal Government News

Supreme Court rules against lawsuits that cite violation of Miranda rights: In a recent ruling, the Supreme Court blocked the ability for a person to file a civil rights lawsuit against police simply because their Miranda Rights were not provided at the time of arrest. The ruling came in the case of Vega v. Tekoh, where a patient at a Los Angeles hospital said they had been sexually assaulted by a hospital worker, Terrence Tokah. [The Black Wall Street Times

Supreme Court expands gun rights, with nation divided: In a major expansion of gun rights after a series of mass shootings, the Supreme Court said Thursday that Americans have a right to carry firearms in public for self-defense, a ruling likely to lead to more people legally armed. The decision came out as Congress and states debate gun-control legislation. [AP via The Journal Record

Voting and Election News

We fact-checked Oklahoma 2nd Congressional District candidates:  Ten of the 13 Republican candidates competing for Oklahoma’s open 2nd Congressional seat met for a debate on Monday in Bartlesville hosted by NonDoc and News on 6. The Frontier found no shortage of exaggerations, half-truths, and outright falsehoods to fact-check as the discussion jumped from abortion law on tribal land to allegations of Ukrainian money laundering. [The Frontier

Oklahoma primary: Previewing down-ballot state offices including auditor and inspector: Come election time, most of the attention — and money — is lavished on the so-called top-of-the-ticket offices. These are statewide offices, which this year includes governor and both U.S. senators. But other statewide offices are contested just as fiercely, usually with less money and more difficult explanations of what it is they do. [Tulsa World

  • Oklahoma primary election 2022: Everything you need to know about early voting [The Oklahoman

Markwayne Mullin is latest frontrunner to skip debates. Here’s why it’s a common strategy: The Republican frontrunners in both of Oklahoma’s races for U.S. Senate seats have skipped or declined primary debates this year, leaving voters with no chance to see them engage on issues with their rivals. [The Oklahoman]

High stakes define Oklahoma County jail bond election: There is no shortage of opinions on what should be done about the Oklahoma County Jail. Advocates for building a new jail have touted the safety and efficiency benefits of such a project, while those in opposition believe the money will be wasted if the same people remain in charge of the troubled facility. [NonDoc

Hofmeister, Johnson believe a Democrat can be Oklahoma’s next governor: Oklahoma’s Democratic voters face a stark choice in their upcoming gubernatorial primary as they decide whether to cast a ballot for State Superintendent of Public Education Joy Hofmeister, a newly minted Democrat who bills herself as “aggressively moderate,” or former Sen. Connie Johnson, a longtime party member with a history of championing progressive causes. [NonDoc

GOP state superintendent candidates mix personal stories with rhetoric in debate: The candidates — Peggs Public Schools Superintendent John Cox, Union City resident William Crozier, Shawnee Public Schools Superintendent April Grace and Secretary of Education Ryan Walters — faced an array of questions covering the teacher shortage, transgender student policies and individualized inquires about their records during the the evening’s debate. [NonDoc]

Health News

For years before the Saint Francis shooting, health workers have experienced on-the-job violence at alarming rates: Earlier this month, a man walked into a Saint Francis health care facility in Tulsa and shot four people before turning the gun on himself. A note explained he was targeting his doctor. Then, over the past few weeks, several people have been arrested for threatening to shoot more hospital workers. This problem — the threat of violence — isn’t new for those working in health care. [State Impact Oklahoma

Criminal Justice News

Ninth detainee death of 2022 reported by Oklahoma County jail administrators: An Oklahoma County jail detainee died at the hospital Wednesday after attempting suicide in his cell, according to jail officials. Melvin Loveless, 44, was found by a detention officer who was performing site checks about 7:16 p.m., according to the jail. [The Oklahoman

Economic Opportunity

After more than 20 years, a scholarship to help students harmed by the Tulsa Race Massacre has new funding: State lawmakers wanted scholarships for the descendants of Tulsa’s Greenwood District, but funding has been scant and students with ties to the 1921 massacre still don’t have priority for awards. The new funding will create more opportunities for Tulsa students, said Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa, who requested the money. [The Frontier

Quote of the Day

“Harris, Chaney and Brock came up with a ‘get rich quick scheme’ that lined their pockets with tax dollars that were to be spent for the benefit of Oklahoma students. The OSBI criminal investigation unraveled the intricate scheme layer by layer, in spite of a lack of cooperation, legal obstacles and delay tactics.”

-OSBI director Ricky Adams speaking about the arrest of Epic Schools co-founders and former chief financial officer [NonDoc]

Number of the Day

1 in 4

Proportion of civilian workers with access to paid family leave [U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics]

Policy Note

Called to Care: A Racially Just Recovery Demands Paid Family and Medical Leave: Too often in our country’s history, the ability to take time to care for yourself and others while maintaining your economic security has been predominantly reserved for the white and wealthy few. Yet, it is through providing care for one another that we knit together the bonds of our families and communities. [National Partnership for Women & Families]

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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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