In The Know: Gaming compacts | Tax-funded religious schools | Mexican consulate in OKC | 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.

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Oklahoma News

Oklahoma House Speaker says the issue over four gaming compacts are settled by state and federal courts: A dispute over four Oklahoma gaming compacts may be near legal resolution in a Washington D.C. federal court, but the case may have a significant impact on the relationship between the state legislature and the governor around tribal relationships going forward. In 2020, Governor Kevin Stitt unilaterally entered into compacts with the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, Kialegee Tribal Town, the Comanche Nation and the Otoe-Missouria Tribe. [KOSU]

Oklahoma takes ‘momentous’ step to allow taxpayer-funded religious schools: Oklahoma’s departing attorney general just took a big step toward achieving a conservative education milestone. A state law that blocks religious institutions and private sectarian schools from public charter school programs is likely unconstitutional and should not be enforced, Attorney General John O’Connor and Solicitor General Zach West wrote in a non-binding legal opinion this month. [Politico]

State Government News

Mexican consulate to open in Oklahoma City this spring: A Mexican consulate is scheduled to open in Oklahoma next year. Gov. Kevin Stitt announced on Tuesday a Mexican consulate is scheduled to open in Oklahoma City in spring 2023. Stitt says the consulate will provide assistance to the state’s growing Mexican population and promote relations between Oklahoma and Mexico. [KGOU]

  • Mexican government to open a consular office in Oklahoma City this spring [The Oklahoman]

Conservative group ranks state lawmakers on their voting records: Oklahoma’s Legislature ranked the 11th most conservative in the country in 2021, according to a recently released analysis by the Center for Legislative Accountability. Oklahoma legislators cast votes for “the conservative position” 68% of the time in 2021, according to the analysis backed by the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) Foundation and the American Conservative Union Foundation. [CNHI via Norman Transcript]

Editorial: Lowering age to legally carry firearms is the wrong move: Oklahoma lawmakers in the coming session will consider legislation that would further loosen the state’s gun laws, but given the rash of gun violence we’ve seen this year, it would be wise to put the brakes on this trend. State Rep. Jim Olsen, R-Roland, filed House Bill 1001 with the goal of lowering the age at which Oklahomans can carry firearms. [Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

Oklahoma County Election Board strikes OKC city council candidate from ballot: Chris Cowden, who filed to run for city council in Ward 2, was deemed by the board to not meet the voter registration requirements set by the Oklahoma City charter. Unless the board’s decision is overturned by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, Ward 2 Councilmember James Cooper, 40, will have only two opponents on the ballot in February. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Column: Office Visit: Real solutions needed to address nurse shortage: Last Tuesday, attendees at the State Chamber’s Public Affairs Forum 2022 learned that a chamber survey found 60% of respondents identified workforce challenges as the No. 1 issue facing their business. House Speaker Charles McCall shared that “the unemployment rate remains low, but businesses are still struggling to find qualified, skilled workers.” Although McCall did not call out the nursing shortage, everyone knew it was at the top of the list. [David Holden Guest Column / The Journal Record]

Criminal Justice News

Friends mourn loss of ‘Cookie Queen’ as body cam footage reveals new details about her arrest: Jail officials say 38-year-old Shannon Hanchett was found dead in her cell early Thursday after spending 12 days in jail. County and state authorities are investigating the circumstances of her death, but new details about her arrest were made public Tuesday when the Norman Police Department released video recorded by an officer’s body camera. [The Oklahoman]

  • State agency: Mental health beds available the night of woman’s arrest [Norman Transcript]

Education News

TPS board adopts district map after candidate filing deadline: The Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education voted Monday night to adopt its district map after the statewide filing period for school board candidate seats. After months of discussion and a missed candidate filing deadline, the Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education voted Monday to adopt its zoning map for the next decade. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Tulsa County judge terminates legal challenge over TPS board election districts: A legal challenge over Tulsa Public Schools’ Board of Education election districts ended Tuesday. Tulsa County District Court Judge Doug Drummond terminated the lawsuit, saying plaintiffs David Arnett and Scott Carson suffered no “irreparable harm” required for injunctive relief from the courts and that the requested injunction in a local school board election would be “detrimental to the public interest, not in favor of the public interest.” [Tulsa World]

General News

Temporary fix to Bethany-Warr Acres wastewater treatment issue springs a leak: The Bluff Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant handles sewage from Bethany and Warr Acres, but the facility is located in northwestern Oklahoma County, just west of Edmond city limits. It typically treats three million gallons of raw sewage a day. After receiving a complaint from a community member, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality issued an emergency order to stop the plant from spilling waste into its namesake creek. [KOSU]

Oklahoma Local News

  • East Tulsans talk renewal at planning open house [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Tornado strikes central Oklahoma, destroying property but not lives [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“It is a whole other ballgame for the state to instruct children on religious doctrine and teach it as truth. That’s what we’re talking about here: State dollars in public schools, delivering instruction to children preaching religion as a way of life that must be adhered to. That’s staggering.”

– Derek Black, education and civil rights professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law, speaking how Attorney General John O’Connor and Solicitor General Zach West believe the state law that blocks religious institutions and private sectarian schools from public charter school programs is likely unconstitutional. [Politico]

Number of the Day

$91 million

Amount that localities in Oklahoma collected from fines and fees in 2019. [Tax Policy Center]

Policy Note

Assessments and Surcharges: A 50-State Survey of Supplemental Fees: For decades, states have used justice fees to raise revenue, which are now imposed throughout the criminal legal system. But there is a particularly pernicious category of fees imposed by the courts on people simply because they are involved with the justice system. [Fines and Fees Justice Center]

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Hana Saad joined OK Policy in August 2022 as the Communications and Operations Fellow. She graduated from the University of Tulsa with degrees in Media Studies and English and is part of Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society. At TU, Hana regularly wrote for The Collegian and was the Co-Editor of the Stylus Journal of Art and Writing. She also serves on the team at Puppy Haven Rescue to help in their mission of saving rescue dogs across Oklahoma. Hana is eager to learn more about public policy in Oklahoma and use her skills to support the OKP work to build a more equitable state. In her free time, she loves to read fiction and poetry, walk her dog, and make copious cups of tea.

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