In The Know: Former governors urge the governor to cooperate with tribes | Lawmakers examine youth justice issues | Changing electric rate setting | OK Wellness Watch

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

OK Wellness Watch (Video): Together Oklahoma and OK Policy, along with regional community partners, hosted a two-hour, live-stream event to highlight the importance of updating eligibility information and walk viewers through the process so SoonerCare participants can continue to receive high-quality, affordable health care. [Watch Here]

Oklahoma News

Four former Oklahoma governors urge Gov. Kevin Stitt to cooperate with state tribes: Four of Oklahoma’s former governors — two Democrats and two Republicans — spoke about the highs and lows of their terms in office and emphasized Thursday the need for a strong and close relationship between the state and its Native tribes. [The Oklahoman]

  • Former governors talk successes, failures and tribal relations [Tulsa World]

State lawmakers discuss ways to address juvenile justice issues: State lawmakers discussed the issues facing juvenile justice during an interim study at the Capitol Thursday. Representative Amanda Swope, D-Tulsa, led the discussion before the House Children, Youth and Family Services Committee. They heard presentations from juvenile justice programs throughout the state. [News 9]

  • Judge says juveniles lack access to mental health services [Tulsa World]

State Government News

OK legislators examining whether to change the way electricity rates are approved: State lawmakers are poised to take another shot at making major changes to Oklahoma’s public utility rate-making process next year, following a legislative hearing held earlier this week. [The Oklahoman]

Bonds sold, work to resume on Oklahoma turnpike expansion with construction to start in 2024: The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is set to resume work on the ACCESS Oklahoma expansion plan after selling $500 million in bonds on Thursday. The sale ends more than a year of delays in trying to establish funding to start work on the 15-year, $5 billion plan that was launched in February 2022. Transportation officials, however, are warning that original assumptions about what might be included in ACCESS Oklahoma may change due to increasing costs. [The Oklahoman]

You’ll have to wait for changes in the Tax Commission website to apply for private school tax credits: Although the Oklahoma Tax Commission has approved new rules to implement the state’s new school choice tax credit program, much remains unclear. These issues will become clear once the Tax Commission’s website is updated, a spokesperson said. [The Oklahoman]

Mediation unsuccessful in resolving 18-year-old poultry waste lawsuit, leaving solution to federal judge: Attorneys for the state of Oklahoma and the poultry industry were unable to come up with an agreement on their own regarding how to solve problems caused by excessive poultry waste in the Illinois River watershed, setting the stage for a judge to come up with a solution on his own. [Tulsa World]

Domestic violence advocates say Oklahoma gun reforms needed to protect victims: Lawmakers can save countless lives if they’d only strengthen the state’s firearm laws by barring domestic abusers from owning guns, violence prevention advocates said. [Oklahoma Voice]

This Week in Oklahoma Politics: Catholic charter school, PragerU investigation, textbook companies and more: The panel about talk about Attorney General Gentner Drummond suing the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board over a Catholic charter school, Gov. Kevin Stitt’s replacements for the State Board of Education and an investigation of the Oklahoma’s partnership with conservative media nonprofit PragerU.[KOSU]

Tribal Nations News

United Keetoowah Band, Kialegee Tribal Town leaders ‘disappointed’ after Legislature rejects gaming compacts: For leaders of the Kialegee Tribal Town and United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, Wednesday’s meeting of a rarely convened committee of the Oklahoma Legislature felt like another tough draw from a deck of political and bureaucratic cards long stacked against them. [NonDoc]

  • Panel disapproves controversial gaming compacts with Kialegee Tribal Town, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians [Tulsa World]

Health News

Perry hospital to get renovation, new designation: Plans have been announced for a $13 million renovation at Perry Memorial Hospital, a facility that just a few years ago seemed in jeopardy of closing. [Journal Record]

Criminal Justice News

Former Oklahoma prosecutor ‘Vegas G’ sentenced for trading sex, drugs for court favors: This week in Tulsa federal court, a judge sentenced Daniel Thomas Giraldi, a 45-year-old former assistant district attorney for Ottawa and Delaware Counties, to 30 months in prison for using his office to obtain sexual favors in exchange for legal actions such as dismissing charges, eliminating traffic violations and reducing bond amounts. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Michelin stuns Ardmore with announcement of tire factory shutdown, costing 1,400 jobs: Michelin North America said Thursday it is winding down tire production at its factory in Ardmore, the city’s largest employer, eliminating 1,400 jobs plus a number of contractors. Tire production should end by the end of 2025 or sooner, but rubber-mixing operations, which supply other factories, are expected to continue. [The Oklahoman]

  • Michelin to close Ardmore tire plant, about 1,400 jobs will be lost [Tulsa World]
  • Michelin, Ardmore’s largest employer, to shut down production [Journal Record]
  • Ardmore Michelin plant will wind down its tire production operations [KOSU]

Education News

Oklahoma’s top school board denies requests to change trans students’ gender records: The Oklahoma State Board of Education on Thursday denied two requests to change students’ gender markers on school records. Although State Superintendent Ryan Walters claimed there is no legal precedent for these requests, an attorney representing both students said the board’s decision contradicts previous state Supreme Court decisions, attorney general opinions and the state Constitution. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Walters demands more from Tulsa Schools, condemns Stillwater Schools’ ‘attempt to circumvent’ new rules [KGOU]
  • Oklahoma Ed. Board: Walters touches on Israel-Hamas conflict, dismisses pronoun requests [The Oklahoman]
  • As Tulsa superintendent reports on improvement efforts, Walters demands results [Tulsa World]
  • State Board of Education denies gender record changes in two districts [NonDoc]

Native American education council still short on members despite legislative effort: As an advisory board on Native American education approaches a milestone year, the group is still hamstrung by a lack of members. The 18-person Oklahoma Advisory Council on Indian Education has seven vacancies despite recent legislation intended to improve the member appointment process. [Oklahoma Voice]

Tulsa World Opinion podcast: Do standardized tests really reflect students’ academic skills? (audio): Anna Johnson, a professor and researcher at Georgetown University who has been studying education in Tulsa since 2016, talks with Ginnie Graham about comparing third grade Oklahoma State Testing Program (OSTP) scores — the state’s standardized test — to researcher-administered developmental tests of children’s academic skills. Why might these tests not tell the full story of student skills? [Tulsa World]

Opinion: Tax-funded parochial schools divert tax dollars from underfunded public schools: At a minimum, tax-funded parochial schools will, of necessity, divert scarce tax dollars from historically underfunded public school systems. [John Seymour / The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Sudden exodus of textbook publishers should alarm Oklahomans: Somehow Oklahoma’s education climate has become so abhorrent, controversial and politicized in the past year that companies specializing in teaching children how to count apples and bananas and calculate the shortest distance to grandma’s house no longer want to do business in the state. [Janelle Stecklein / Oklahoma Voice]

General News

Tulsa survivor of Massacre speaks; OK Supreme Court listens: Less than a month before her 109th birthday, 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre survivor “mother” Lessie Benningfield Randle told Good Morning America she wants to see justice. The rare interview from one of just two last known living survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre comes as the Oklahoma Supreme Court considers an appeal of their historic legal case.  [The Black Wall Street Times]

Museum opens in ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ filming location, celebrates Fairfax history: After Martin Scorsese and his team finished filming in Fairfax’s First State Bank, Danette Daniels (an Osage Nation tribal member who lives in Fairfax) spent 14 months renovating the building, which she is preparing to open to the public as the Fairfax Osage Reservation Museum.  [The Oklahoman]

  • Turning an epic movie into a community project: How Scorsese made ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ [KOSU]

EPA-funded environmental justice projects coming to Chickasaw Nation, East OKC neighborhood: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced recipients for $128 million worth of environmental justice grants.
Some of that funding, which comes from the Inflation Reduction Act, will promote cleaner air in a historically-Black Oklahoma City neighborhood and cleaner water in the Chickasaw Nation. [KOSU]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Second downtown TIF district, RTA rail station, discussed at Edmond Alliance luncheon [NonDoc]
  • New city scoring system highlights strengths, weaknesses of Tulsa neighborhoods [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“The youth justice system is underfunded, and preventative and rehabilitative services are scarce and difficult to navigate.”

-Jill Mencke, Youth Justice Policy Analyst at the Oklahoma Policy Institute [News 9]

Number of the Day


Number of referrals to the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs for youth under the age of 13, which is about 1  in 10 of total referrals. [OK Policy analysis of provided OJA data]

Policy Note

Racial Disparities in Tulsa’s Youth Legal System: Finding and Recommendations for Advancing Equity: This report examines racial disparities faced by youth of color in the youth legal system in Tulsa County, Oklahoma. The report summarizes available quantitative data pertaining to Tulsa’s youth legal system and analyzes qualitative content from surveys and interviews with Tulsa youth, community members, and system representatives. Finding that Black youth and other youth of color experience disparate legal system treatment compared to their White counterparts, the report offers the following strategic recommendations to advance and enhance race equity in Tulsa’s youth legal system. [Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University in Partnership with Youth Services of Tulsa]

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David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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