In The Know: Gov. announces new sports betting plan | Why Oklahoma may be losing in bids for businesses | Wages too low in Oklahoma

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.

State Government News

Governor announces a plan for sports betting in Oklahoma, but many hurdles lie ahead: Gov. Kevin Stitt says he’s creating a path for sports betting in the state, but experts say his plan is far from reality. They also say the governor’s proposal likely runs afoul of the central state-tribal gaming compact, which grants tribal nations exclusive gaming rights in exchange for paying Oklahoma millions of dollars in monthly fees. [The Oklahoman]

  • Gov. Stitt unveils plan for sports betting in Oklahoma [KFOR]
  • Stitt offers new sports betting proposition [Tulsa World]

This Week in Oklahoma Politics: Stitt travels to Israel, Walters endorses Trump, Oklahoma County Jail problems and more: The panel discuss discuss Gov. Kevin Stitt and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott traveling to Israel, State Superintendent Ryan Walters’ endorsement of former President Trump and the resignation of a State Department of Education employee getting the attention of a legislative leader. [KOSU]

Opinion: Oklahoma may be losing in bids for businesses because lawmakers focus on wrong issues: Legislators should take a look in the mirror before pointing fingers to figure out why major companies choose to set up shop elsewhere. [Janelle Stecklein / Oklahoma Voice]

Editorial: Spend public money to fix public services: Department of Tourism and Recreation Executive Director Shelley Zumwalt came into the job a year ago as a fixer when scandal hit the department around possible overcharging in restaurant contracts. What she found was a system wasting away due to underfunding and woefully underpaid staff. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

Tired of waiting, Tulsa mayor proposes discussions with tribes to resolve jurisdiction questions: Mayor G.T. Bynum intends to work with the three tribal nations that intersect in Tulsa to establish a long-term governing framework that would put an end to years of litigation and provide a common set of municipal laws, he said Thursday. [Tulsa World]

With Muscogee Nation election Saturday, Rep. Joseph Hicks faces ‘acceleration’ hearing Monday: As Muscogee Nation Tribal Council Rep. Joseph Hicks approaches the finish line in his reelection effort against challenger Dode Barnett on Saturday, he is also preparing for a Muscogee Nation District Court hearing Monday that could result in one of his two DUI offenses being accelerated to a felony. [NonDoc]

Opinion: Fans Of ‘Killers Of The Flower Moon’ Overlook The Ultimate Villain In The Osage Murders: There’s a crucial element in “Killers of the Flower Moon” that the media has so far been unwilling to address because it involves themes the left does not like, namely oil and gas, American energy independence, and authentic tribal sovereignty. What the Osage murders inconveniently reveal is that the ultimate villain in the story, the malevolent entity that continues to victimize Osages and all American Indians to this day, is the U.S. federal government. [The Federalist]

Voting and Election News

Search ramps up for new Oklahoma Ethics Commission executive director: Oklahoma Ethics Commission members are moving quickly to hire an executive director ahead of what’s expected to be a busy 2024 election season. The commission met Thursday in a special session to review 14 resumes, and commission members could interview candidates as early as the next meeting on Nov. 17, said executive director Ashley Kemp. [Oklahoma Voice]

Criminal Justice News

Wewoka police arrest 6 amid escalating gang rivalry: Six people have been arrested by law enforcement in Wewoka in connection with a recent series of violent incidents that left residents of Seminole County on edge, officials announced Thursday. [The Oklahoman]

Report shows proof Oklahoma County diversion programs are working, CJAC says: Officials with the Oklahoma Criminal Justice Advisory Council said there is proof diversion programs are working, pointing to a recent report. These programs are things like drug court, where offenders are diverted from general population in jail and rehabilitated. [KOCO]

Lawton Pair Charged with Murder and Accessory to Murder After Native American Woman’s Body is Found in Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge: Two Lawton residents are facing federal murder and accessory to murder charges following a federal, tribal, and local investigation into the death of a Comanche Nation woman found in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. The case also furthers the Department of Justice’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons efforts to address violence against Native American individuals. [U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District]

Two Northern Oklahoma College Students Report Separate Rape Incidents in Dorms in Tonkawa: Two female students say they were raped in their dorms at Northern Oklahoma College in Tonkawa. Investigators say the incidents happened a week apart and aren’t related. [Ponca City Now]

Housing & Economic Opportunity

‘Wages are too low’: United Way reports on Tulsa’s living wage situation: An economic slideshow followed by an interactive simulation into just how thousands of Tulsa-area families make ends meet was the subject of a presentation by Tulsa Area United Way to the Rotary Club of Tulsa Wednesday. Research and Data Director Melanie Poulter reported the figures using numbers from MIT’s living wage calculator. She told 2 News it challenges some beliefs about what makes someone financially struggle in Green Country. [KJRH]

Map shows which internet providers are fastest around Oklahoma: Before you sign a contract and set up your wifi, you probably want to know what your options are. A map maintained by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) lets you examine which internet provider offers the fastest speed where you live. [KFOR]

Opinion: The Oklahoma Academy examines housing in Oklahoma: The Oklahoma Academy is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan, citizen-based organization for the purpose of identifying, discussing, and creating solutions on critical issues facing Oklahoma. This year’s town hall was “Oklahoma Housing: Affordable, Accessible, Attainable” and focused on housing stock, housing financing, local zoning/ordinances, and housing policy. [Journal Record]

Economy & Business News

Blue Whale development proposal shared with Catoosa officials: A development proposal suggests significant upgrades could be possible for the Blue Whale, a Route 66 attraction in Catoosa. Hampton Creative, a Tulsa-based independent branding agency, created a master site plan that was shared this week with city officials. [Tulsa World]

Education News

Ryan Walters’ office wants to hire someone to raise national media exposure. Critics are asking why: The state Education Department is looking to hire someone to manage national media appearances, raising concerns the agency would be boosting Superintendent Ryan Walters’ national profile at taxpayer expense. [Oklahoma Watch]

Wrongful termination lawsuit: Judge denies OSDE request for dismissal: An Oklahoma County District Court judge declined to dismiss a lawsuit Thursday against State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters and the Oklahoma State Department of Education regarding the allegedly wrongful termination of a former employee, but she left one aspect of the requests pending. [NonDoc]

Teachers continue to leave Oklahoma classrooms despite record investments. These programs aim to help: Lawmakers invested a record $5.7 billion in Oklahoma education for fiscal year 2024, with millions of dollars aimed at addressing the state’s teacher shortage. Only 16% of the $17 million in funding for fiscal year 2023 was awarded in scholarships for the program, leaving millions on the table. Last school year, the turnover rate for Oklahoma teachers was 24%, the highest rate in a decade. [KOCO]

School board member calls for Tulsa Honor Academy termination: Citing the use of racial slurs by students, a Tulsa Public Schools board member wants the district to end its sponsorship of an east Tulsa charter school. [Tulsa World]

Governors risk NCAA ramifications with opposition to transgender policy, scholar says: Governors criticizing an NCAA policy on transgender student athletes, including Gov. Stitt, may put their universities at risk of “penalties or ramifications” if those institutions disobey the policy, according to a sports law scholar. [Oklahoma Voice]

Who is enrolling at OU and OSU? A look at the record-breaking freshmen classes: OU’s freshman class this fall is the biggest in school history, numbering 5,198. That is up 11% from last year and 20% from the fall of 2014. At Oklahoma State University, the freshman class of 4,670 is only slightly larger than last year’s, but it is also a record and is 13% larger than the class in the fall of 2014. [The Oklahoman]

General News

Oklahoma support organizations work to provide Afghan refugees with halal food: Advocates with the Urban Mission pantry say a recent decline of food supply, fewer monetary donations, and strain on the food pantry led to the end of its home-delivery program. The pantry still provides halal food to Afghan refugees and other Muslim households who can make it to the drive-thru. [KOSU]

Southeast Kansas town is almost out of water, and signs of crisis are everywhere: The stubborn drought that has hung over southeast Kansas for close to two years has brought Caney, a town of less than 2,000 people on the Oklahoma border, within weeks of reaching the end of its water supply. Without rain, Caney could run dry by Christmas. [Oklahoma Voice]

Quote of the Day

“Rather than point fingers at economic development officials or continue to dump money into failed business recruitment efforts, lawmakers might need to look in the mirror and reflect upon whether their legislative priorities are making Oklahoma an attractive place for businesses and employees.”

– Janelle Stecklein, editor for Oklahoma Voice, writing in an opinion piece about why Oklahoma lawmakers actions can be counterproductive to economic development activities. [Oklahoma Voice]

Number of the Day


 Black youth in Oklahoma represent nearly 1 in 4 referrals (24.9%) to the Office of Juvenile Affairs in 2022 but make up less than 8 percent of the population. Conversely, while 63.4% of the Oklahoma’s are white, they represented only about half (50.9%) of OJA referrals in 2022. [OK Policy analysis of provided OJA data]

Policy Note

Youth Involved with the Juvenile Justice System: Some children and youth become involved with the juvenile justice system because they are accused of committing a delinquent or criminal act. Other youth encounter the system for status offenses—actions that are illegal only because of a youth’s age—such as truancy, underage drinking, and running away from home. Not all of these cases, however, are formally processed through the courts. []

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Kandis West is a communications professional with more than 15 years of experience. Most recently, she served as the Communications Director for the Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus. She spent nine years in the Olympia/Tacoma area of Washington organizing compensation campaigns for teachers for the Washington Education Association. Kandis has a proven track record of increasing community engagement, public awareness and media exposure around the most pressing issues that impact citizens. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism.

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