In The Know: Extreme weather challenges in Oklahoma | $76k in student lunch debt the target of new statewide fundraising campaign | State sees drastic drop in criminal marijuana grows | 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.

Oklahoma News

Report: Oklahoma faces extreme winter weather challenges: Oklahomans could face rolling blackouts if extreme weather rolls in this winter, a new report found. The North American Electric Reliability Corp.’s 2023 report listed Oklahoma and the central U.S. region’s power reliability at an elevated threat level if the extreme cold weather hits the region. [Journal Record]

  • Great Plains weather experts want to talk about climate change, but they face pushback and threats [KOSU]

State Government News

Oklahoma governor hosts event to honor Native American heritage, families: Attendees said the event at the Oklahoma Governor’s Mansion was a fitting way to commemorate the end of Native American Heritage Month, but also served as a way for them to share some of their cultural and tribal beliefs with the Republican governor who has recently been at odds with many tribal leaders. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • ‘We should be working together’: Governor Stitt hosts Native American Family Day celebration [KOKH]

Collaboration intended to enhance workforce development in Oklahoma: The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, in collaboration with the Oklahoma State Department of Education, has engaged with a company to provide work-based learning and job alignment services to enhance workforce development in the state. [Journal Record]

Federal Government News

Federal judges say no take backs on Wynnewood Refinery’s exemption from renewable fuel requirements: A federal court has sided with a refinery in Southern Oklahoma over the Environmental Protection Agency, saying the EPA couldn’t go back on an exemption it had issued for renewable fuel requirements. [KOSU]

Voting and Election News

HD 39 Republicans: Six answer questions ahead of Dec. 12 election: Republican candidates seeking central Edmond’s open House District 39 seat answered questions regarding their motivations to seek legislative office, tax cuts, initiatives to improve educational outcomes in the state and what they believe are the biggest issues facing the district. [NonDoc]

HD 39 Democrats: Regan Raff, Paul Timmons talk education and taxation: Both Regan Raff and Paul Timmons, the Democratic candidates for Edmond’s open House District 39 seat, agree the state of Oklahoma should cut some portion of its sales tax on groceries, but they have differing focuses for improving educational outcomes. [NonDoc]

Health News

Ransomware attacks force Oklahoma hospitals to divert emergency room patients: Oklahoma is among six states experiencing a temporary disruption to some hospital services after a ransomware attack against Ardent Health Services, a health care company based in Nashville. [KGOU]

Criminal Justice News

‘Let’s reform the system and get it right’: Execution reform on the mind as inmate scheduled to be killed in 2 days: Governor Stitt has less than 48 hours to decide whether or not he will grant clemency to death row inmate Phillip Hancock. The Governor hasn’t granted clemency since Julius Jones in 2021, and that news came just minutes before Jones was set to be executed. [News 9]

Oklahoma sees ‘drastic reduction’ in number of criminal marijuana grows: The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics (OBN) and Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) came together Tuesday to share their success on shutting down hundreds of illegal marijuana operations across the state. [KFOR]

  • Oklahoma no longer the ‘wild west of weed,’ state oversight agencies say [Tulsa World]

OKC police officer arrested a second time on domestic abuse complaints: Sgt. Kristopher Gellenbeck, 41, is accused of felony domestic assault and battery by strangulation, misdemeanor domestic assault and battery in the presence of a child and misdemeanor interfering with an emergency telephone call. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Study finds high worker burnout in Oklahoma: According to a new study, Oklahomans suffer burnout more than people do in most other states[.] Being overworked and suffering from job burnout isn’t just a work-life balance issue. It can be detrimental to workers’ health and to bottom lines of businesses. [Journal Record]

Gas prices dip lower in time for holiday spending: The average gas price in Oklahoma City has fallen by about 8 cents over the past week to $2.68 per gallon, according to a GasBuddy survey of 669 stations in the OKC metro. Prices in the city currently stand about 36 cents below where they were a month ago. [Journal Record]

Education News

Oklahoma fundraising campaign hopes to wipe out over $76,000 in school lunch debt: A fundraiser aims to relieve more than $76,000 in lunch debt for Oklahoma students, as struggles with outstanding meal fees continue in schools. That total would cover overdue cafeteria bills from seven school districts across the state. [Oklahoma Voice]

TPS hitting goals, but major challenges persist: Even though Tulsa Public Schools said it’s on track to meet English proficiency goals for multilingual students, problems of teacher vacancies and lack of student attendance were still front-and-center at a board of education meeting Monday night. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Long Story Short: What the new report card data says about student achievement (audio): In Oklahoma public schools, academic achievement declined slightly in English and science but improved slightly in math in 2023, compared to 2022. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Opinion: Keeping one’s head with ‘everything before us’: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” So begins A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens’ novel about London and Paris during the French Revolution. Today, it aptly describes the conflicts so many students face as they prepare for higher education – upheaval, minus the guillotines. [Jennifer Sharpe / Journal Record]

Opinion: Oklahoma Joe: In defense of books, rising pushback against bans: Those intent on banning books are seeing their uncompromising efforts backfire. The most recent examples came nationally during the November elections and during public comments at a school board meeting in Tulsa. [Joe Hight / Journal Record]

General News

  • Oklahoma Insurance Department warns against fake holiday shipping insurance scams [KOKH]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Why officials will consider using Oklahoma County buildings as collateral for a $30M bond issue [The Oklahoman]
  • Deadline looms as Oklahoma County commissioners discuss new jail site [KOCO]

Quote of the Day

“With that relief that we had during COVID and coming back from that, once that’s been gone it’s thrown everybody into a tailspin. With this initiative, our goal is to just be able to be a helping hand to those families that are struggling.”

– Erika Wright, a leader of The Oklahoma Rural Schools Coalition, one of the groups raising funds to pay off student lunch debt across Oklahoma, an issue she hopes the Oklahoma Legislature will focus on next session. [Oklahoma Voice]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahomans age 18 to 24 who are not presently enrolled in school, not currently working, and have no degree beyond a high school diploma or GED. Oklahoma is ranked 40th for this metric, and the national average is 13%. [KIDS COUNT]

Policy Note

Policies that reduce intergenerational poverty: Roughly one-third of children who grow up poor in the United States will also experience poverty as adults. Intergenerational poverty is a weight on the backs of millions of Americans, keeping many from achieving their full potential, for their own benefit and that of society.  Understanding the causes of intergenerational poverty, and implementing programs and policies to reduce it, would have important benefits for children and for the entire nation. [Brookings]

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Annie Taylor joined OK Policy as a Digital Communications Associate/Storybanker in April 2022. She studied journalism and mass communication at the University of Oklahoma, and was a member of the Native American Journalists Association. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communications from the University of Central Oklahoma. While pursuing her degree, she worked in restaurant and retail management, as well as freelance copywriting and digital content production. Annie is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation, and holds a deep reverence for storytelling in the digital age. She was born and raised in southeast Oklahoma, and now lives in Oklahoma City with her dog, Melvin.