[In The Know] Funding voter-approved justice reforms | Modernizing the school funding formula | Report: Investors bought 1/4 of Oklahoma homes

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

Modernizing the school funding formula (Capitol Update): The Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT) issued a report last week calling for changes in the state aid school funding formula. It recommends providing more funding for school districts with high concentrations of students in poverty; changing the statutory definition of bilingual to English learners to define the need more properly; raising the weight per student for economically disadvantaged and bilingual students; and directing funding to instructional categories. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

What Legislators Did Instead of Funding Voter-Approved Criminal Justice Reforms: Oklahoma voters sent a message in 2016: Stop sending people to prison on minor drug and property crimes. Direct money saved to counties for drug and mental health treatment. State lawmakers still haven’t gotten the second half of that. [Oklahoma Watch] | From OK Policy:  Oklahomans deserve overdue investments in well-being | Follow through on SQ 781 by funding treatment and rehabilitation services

State Government News

Moratorium on commercial marijuana licenses starts Aug. 26: The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority is processing an influx of applications for new grower, dispensary and processor licenses as a moratorium on new licenses begins Aug. 26. [Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

Cherokee leaders discuss the state of tribal sovereignty following major Supreme Court decisions: Cherokee Nation officials discussed the ramifications of several recent Supreme Court decisions during a virtual event Saturday, holding firm to the nation’s rights even after an “erosion” of sovereignty from the high court and “anti-Indian” attacks by Oklahoma state leaders. [Public Radio Tulsa] | ᏣᎳᎩ: Wherever We Are, Aftermath of McGirt Edition (Video)

Voting and Election News

Election audit finds no tabulation errors: A post-election audit of 36 races in 33 counties found no tabulation errors and only a few errors in the handling of ballots, a report released Monday by the Oklahoma State Election Board says. [Tulsa World] | [The Oklahoman]

Republican Corporation Commission hopefuls try to get voters’ attention for runoff: This year’s election begins a period of turnover for the commission and comes at a time of some controversy and turmoil regarding utility rates. [Tulsa World]

Health News

Report ranks Oklahoma near bottom in health care: Expansion of Oklahoma’s Medicaid program, set in motion by passage of State Question 802 in 2020, has substantially reduced the number of people in the state without health insurance. However, according to a recent examination of data by finance website WalletHub, Oklahoma still lags every other state in the nation except for Texas in comparisons of percentages of insured adults. [Journal Record

Education News

Oklahoma schools now require ‘biological sex affidavit’ for student athletes: Oklahoma public schools have started requiring students from kindergarten to college to complete “biological sex affidavits” if they want to compete in school sports, in accordance with a state law that took effect earlier this year. [Today]

Educators concerned about number of non-certified teachers to fill classroom gaps: As school districts across the state prepare for the upcoming school year, the state has a rapidly growing need to fill numerous teacher openings across the state, including adjunct teachers. [KFOR]

Report critical of Oklahoma school funding formula: As lawmakers call for ever greater control over school operations, teacher advocates say their efforts will result in a growing teacher shortage. Last week, the Legislative Office of Fiscal Oversight, or LOFT, issued a report claiming the state’s funding formula for schools is too confusing, and recommended that legislative leaders make their own appointments to the state Board of Education. [Journal Record]

General News

State audit cites Oklahoma County’s lack of internal controls: The annual state audit of Oklahoma County government for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021, found “significant deficiencies” and “material weaknesses” in various internal controls, including for coronavirus relief and emergency rental assistance programs. [The Oklahoman]

$850K settlement reached in lawsuit after 2016 Okla earthquakes: A wastewater disposal well operator has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit filed after two earthquakes in 2016 caused damage near Pawnee and Cushing. [Tulsa World]

Garden of knowledge: Looking back on Greenwood Rising’s first year: The museum features the icons of Black Wall Street and memorializes the victims of the violence. Officials would have been happy to greet 2,500 visitors each month. Five thousand toured the museum the first month the doors opened. Attendance has held relatively steady all year, averaging 4,500 monthly guests. [Tulsa People]

Quote of the Day

“The diversion programs that they have invested in are not the diversion programs and not the resources that voters demanded. It’s not. That’s just a material fact. When they say they’re fulfilling the spirit of the law, that means that they are not fulfilling the letter of the law.”

-Damion Shade, Executive Director of Oklahomans For Criminal Justice Reform, speaking about lawmakers not funding community-level treatment as part of SQ 781 [Oklahoma Watch]

Number of the Day


Percentage of single-family home sales in Oklahoma in 2021 that were purchased by investors. Oklahoma’s rate was the same as the national average, but ranked as the 18th highest rate in the nation. [Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts]

Policy Note

Investors Bought a Quarter of Homes Sold Last Year, Driving Up Rents: Investors bought nearly a quarter of U.S. single-family homes that sold last year, often driving up rents for suburban families in the process. The issue is especially acute in some Sun Belt states amid evidence that investors often can outbid other buyers, keeping starter homes out of the hands of would-be owners, especially suburban Black and Hispanic families. Some local officials in those states are pushing for increased regulation of investor purchases, but many Republican lawmakers oppose such controls. [Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts]

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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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