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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

Oklahoma behind in meeting future workforce needs, state higher ed leader says: The leader of the state’s higher education system suggested Monday that Oklahoma is not meeting growing workforce demands. Garrett, who became the first woman to lead the state’s higher ed system in 2021, said Oklahomans in what she called the state’s “other pipeline” were largely falling behind both during and after high school. [Enid News & Eagle]

Editorial: Veto of SB 1695 a blow against government transparency: Gov. Kevin Stitt has said one of his priorities is to create a more transparent state government, but he missed an opportunity to do just that when he vetoed Senate Bill 1695. SB 1695, by state Sen. Casey Murdock, R-Felt, would have required Cabinet secretaries and state agency directors to file financial disclosure forms. [Editorial / Tulsa World] 

State Government News

Recreational marijuana: SQ 820 signature collection starts today: A new effort to legalize marijuana in Oklahoma for adult recreational use gets underway today, as organizers behind State Question 820 can begin gathering signatures that they hope will put the issue before voters in November. [NonDoc] Starting Tuesday, Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Laws has 90 days to collect the 94,910 signatures necessary to get State Question 820 before voters. [The Oklahoman

Oklahoma sues Swadley’s; tourism director resigns: The head of the state’s tourism and recreation department resigned abruptly Friday, and the governor announced Oklahoma had filed suit against Swadley’s Bar-B-Q for breach of contract amid a growing furor over the state’s park contract with the barbecue restaurant chain. [Claremore Daily Progress]

Capitol Notebook: Lawmakers aim to block state deals with anti-gun and anti-fossil fuel firms: The Oklahoma Legislature is moving to prevent the state from contracting with businesses that “discriminate” against gun makers and entities that boycott fossil fuel companies. [The Oklahoman] House Bill 3144 would stop Oklahoma from contracting with companies that have policies designed to curtail mass shooting. [Public Radio Tulsa

Gov. Kevin Stitt signs bill requiring K-12 library books to meet ‘community standards’: A bill to regulate content in school libraries crossed the finish line Friday as Gov. Kevin Stitt signed legislation requiring books to adhere to “community standards.” [The Oklahoman

  • Enid city council to discuss ‘possible lawsuit’ over library policy Tuesday [Enid News & Eagle]

Loitering becomes target of Oklahoma House bill: A House bill once intended to lessen the punishment for cockfighting was turned into a bill to increase punishments for loitering. The Republican majority overrode the concerns of the Democrat minority that the wording of the bill may be used to criminalize homelessness and lawful protests. [The Journal Record]

Local attorney challenges OTA, contends ‘no legal authorization’: An attorney plans to sue the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority ahead of its plans to begin spending millions in bond funds to commence environmental and engineering studies. The OTA announced in February its $5 billion, 15-year plan, Advancing Connecting Communities and Economies Safely Statewide [ACCESS]. [The Norman Transcript]

Auditor, attorney talk Oklahoma’s sunshine laws: State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd recently teamed up with municipal attorney Amanda Mullins for a training session on the Oklahoma Open Meeting and Open Records Acts, which are designed to make local government as transparent as possible. [Southwest Ledger]

Federal Government News

Leaked Supreme Court draft would overturn Roe v. Wade: A majority of the court privately voted to strike down the landmark abortion rights decision, according to the document, obtained by Politico. The release of the document is unprecedented in the court’s modern history. [The New York Times

  • Factbox: Restrictions vs protections: How U.S. states are taking sides on abortion [Reuters
  • Draft ruling shows Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade [KFOR]

Tribal Nations News

Indian Health Service receives $5 million to prevent HIV: Among those who live with HIV, Indigenous peoples have the largest percentage of people with undiagnosed HIV infections. Indian Health Service is receiving $5 million for the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. initiative. [KOSU

  • IHS clinic in Oklahoma City hit by cyber attack, delaying refills and appointments [FOX 25]

Oklahoma tribes increasingly reclaim out-of-state ancestral homelands: Tribes across the nation are increasingly buying back or being gifted back property in their ancestral homelands, either to build economic sustainability or to manage cultural preservation sites. Muscogee (Creek) Nation citizen Galen Cloud said he was filled with sobering thoughts the last time he visited his tribe’s homeland. [The Norman Transcript]

Man who pleaded guilty in precedent-setting case for Quapaw tribe sentenced in federal court: A man whose criminal case established that the Quapaw Nation’s reservation had never been disestablished was sentenced Monday in federal court. [Tulsa World

Voting and Election News

With $2.6M in the bank, Gov. Kevin Stitt still leading in campaign fundraising: Gov. Kevin Stitt continues to outraise his opponents on the campaign trail. Stitt raised more money last quarter than all of his opponents combined, and he has five times more campaign cash on hand than his leading competitor. [The Oklahoman

All but one of Oklahoma City’s 2022 mayoral candidates file final contribution reports: The Oklahoma City 2022 mayoral election race brought in at least $1.2 million, with Mayor David Holt bringing in a record amount of contributions — upward of $823,000. [The Oklahoman

Nathan Dahm gets major campaign boost from Rand Paul group in race to succeed Jim Inhofe: A group aligned with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has spent nearly $900,000 backing state Sen. Nathan Dahm in the race to succeed U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, while three other groups are financing ads boosting Rep. Markwayne Mullin, Oklahoma City banker T.W. Shannon and former Inhofe aide Luke Holland in the crowded Republican primary. [The Oklahoman

DA Allan Grubb faces two opponents as OSBI and state auditor review office finances: The embattled district attorney of Pottawatomie and Lincoln counties has drawn two opponents to his reelection bid. Allan Grubb faces former prosecutors Tanya Roland and David Hammer in the Republican primary election in June. [The Oklahoman

Election Board: You win some, you lose some on candidate filings: The Oklahoma State Election board shot down the campaigns of three candidates and allowed nine other candidates to remain on the ballot during a marathon meeting last Monday. [Southwest Ledger]

Health News

Hospital nursing chief says industry faced challenges: Nurses faced unprecedented challenges in the last couple of years and it took a toll. Kim Stout, chief nursing officer at McAlester Regional Health Center, said nurses saw more death than they ever had before the COVID-19 pandemic — including the southeast Oklahoma hospital which operated at full capacity at various times in the past two years due to spikes in cases amid staffing shortages. [CNHI via McAlester News-Capital]

Economic Opportunity

‘We have to think differently.’ OKC vies for $55M grant to grow biosciences industry: A group of Oklahoma City’s leading civic, bio-science and university players pitched a vision Monday on how they hope to work together to use a $55 million Economic Development Administration Grant to further build up the region’s growing innovation cluster. [The Oklahoman

Spring festival turnouts show progress toward tourism recovery: Annual events that make Norman the City of Festivals are returning with significant turnouts, and as the economy continues to recover from the pandemic, local leaders are looking at ways to further the town’s image as a destination for tourism. [The Norman Transcript]

Education News

Education Watch: How we analyzed nearly $8 million in pandemic relief purchases: Our latest story, which published in partnership with The Frontier, digs into an $8 million program Gov. Kevin Stitt created in 2020 with federal COVID-19 relief funds. The Bridge the Gap Digital Wallet program gave low-income families grants of $1,500 to buy education-related items. [Oklahoma Watch

Previously from OK Policy (2020): Gov. Stitt’s GEER plan widens the gap in access to technology and online learning for low-income students and students of color

General News

‘History was made’: Tulsa Race Massacre lawsuit to proceed to evidentiary stage: Tulsa County’s largest courtroom was standing-room only on Monday as a judge announced that the public nuisance lawsuit filed by three Tulsa Race Massacre survivors against multiple city, county and state groups could move forward. [Tulsa World

  • Judge rules that Tulsa massacre lawsuit seeking reparations can proceed [Reuters]  [AP News]
  • Tulsa race massacre reparations lawsuit survives motion to deny and will move forward, judge rules [CNN]

Oklahoma Local News

Commission punts David Hooten proposal to use ARPA funds for dog training center: Following a terse and at times awkward exchange with Oklahoma County Clerk David Hooten, the Oklahoma County Board of County Commissioners took no action on a proposed K-9 training center to be operated by a nonprofit co-founded by former University of Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer. [NonDoc] The request from County Clerk David B. Hooten, also a candidate for state treasurer, would have funded the construction of a training center for “specialized canines used for emergency disaster recovery,” according to the agenda item. [The Oklahoman] The BoCC also discussed receiving recommendations to fill a vacant at-large seat on the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority (Jail Trust). [OKC Free Press]

  • Jail Trust narrowly reaches quorum, takes little action, hears jail report [OKC Free Press]

Correct Kaw Lake appeal filed; attorneys ask state for stay on land work: Attorneys for Dr. James Merrifield filed the correct appeal petition with the state on Friday in his objection to the city of Enid’s Kaw Lake pipeline project. In the petition for certiorari, attorneys are asking the Oklahoma Supreme Court to overturn a district court judge’s ruling allowing the city to proceed with condemning Merrifield’s property in Osage County. [Enid News & Eagle]

Statue of Star Native American Ballerina Is Stolen and Sold for Scrap: At the end of a row of statues in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Marjorie Tallchief, a celebrated Native American ballerina, had stood ensconced in bronze, en pointe in a tutu, since 2007. But on Friday, her statue, on the grounds of the Tulsa Historical Society & Museum, was cut down from its base, hacked apart and sold for cash, said Michelle Place, the executive director of the museum. [The New York Times

  • Pieces of stolen Marjorie Tallchief statue recovered, Tulsa Historical Society says [Tulsa World

Quote of the Day

“It’s important to dig deeper and see if that economic success is happening across the city and in different geographic areas, amongst different demographic groups. And the answer is ‘no.’ And then the pandemic continued to shine a light on that.”

– Mayor David Holt, speaking about the importance of investing in the community at a presentation for a grant to grow the biosciences industry in OKC. [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day

65%

Nearly two-thirds (65%) of the benefit will go to the top 20 percent of earners under the tax cut proposed in HB 3350.

[Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute]

New from OK Policy: Under HB 3350, the majority of the benefit would go to the richest Oklahomans and leave the state scrounging for revenue to provide services that support us all.

Policy Note

Yes, US economy may be slowing, but don’t forget it’s coming off the hottest year since 1984 – here’s who benefited in 4 charts: The U.S. economy unexpectedly shrank in the first quarter, according to gross domestic product data released on April 28, 2022. While the reasons were technical and weren’t seen as signs of weakness, they add to worries that the U.S. might be headed for another recession as the Federal Reserve seeks to fight inflation by raising interest rates. But before we fret too much about what 2022 will bring, it’s worth reflecting on 2021, which saw the strongest economic growth in almost four decades. [The Conversation]

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kristin Wells joined OK Policy in October 2021 as the Communications and Operations Fellow. 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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