In The Know: Gov. calls for special election for HD 39 | Grand jury takes up Swadley’s scandal | Capitol Update

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

Governor issues executive order to change workforce development responsibilities (Capitol Update): Gov. Kevin Stitt filed an interesting executive order last week transferring the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development from the Department of Commerce to the Oklahoma Employment Security (OESC) Commission and giving OESC control over all money received by the state through the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

State’s multicounty grand jury takes up Swadley’s scandal: Oklahoma’s new multicounty grand jury has begun looking into the state’s dealings with Swadley’s Bar-B-Q. Testifying Thursday was Mike Jackson, the executive director of the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency. [The Oklahoman

Stitt to court: Guilty plea booted Rep. Ryan Martinez from office, election coming: The latest disagreement between Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and the office of Attorney General Gentner Drummond involves whether Rep. Ryan Martinez is eligible to continue his term in the Legislature following his Aug. 2 plea agreement on a felony DUI charge. [NonDoc]

State Government News

AG ignores facts, rejects settlement for Tulsa Massacre survivors: As the Oklahoma Supreme Court prepares to hear an appeal from survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre the office of Oklahoma’s top law enforcement officer is weighing in on the case. Aaccording to the office of Oklahoma Republican Attorney General Gentner Drummond, the survivors should never see the opportunity become reality. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Public employee pension plans could be affected by ‘anti-woke’ regulations: A statute banning government pension plans from investing in companies that boycott oil and gas businesses could cost over $10 million for divestment and asset transitions – and that could affect police, firefighters, and others on municipal payrolls. [CNHI]

Oklahoma law aimed at helping small pharmacies intrudes on Congress’ power, court says: Key parts of an Oklahoma law aimed at helping small pharmacies draw more customers covered by health plans were struck down on Tuesday by a federal appeals court. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Turnpike Authority looks to law enforcement data for PlatePay billing solution: Oklahoma Turnpike Authority officials are working to reduce the backlog of unpaid tolls as it transitions to a cashless system. The OTA recently said it has millions in uncollected tolls because the new PlatePay system could not read certain tags, including some tribal tags. [Tulsa World]

Rep. Jason Lowe: Mental health investment is compassionate and strategic, benefitting our entire society: The recent exoneration of police officers involved in the deaths of three Oklahoma residents, including Bennie, is deeply disturbing. It underlines the urgent need for legislative action to broaden and maintain crisis intervention services. Our state is grappling with a mental health and substance abuse crisis. Ranking third-worst nationally for rates of mental illness and second-worst for substance abuse rates, it’s a stark call to action. [Rep. Jason Lowe Column / The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Tinker Air Force Base officials tight-lipped on 17 deaths since January: There have been at least 17 deaths on Tinker Air Force Base this year, but officials have been tight-lipped as to why. Officials say they aren’t releasing information out of concern for families and units on base. [KGOU]

Tribal Nations News

Program on Cherokee Civil War units set for Saturday: The story of two Cherokee mounted units that fought in regional conflicts during the Civil War will be the subject of a special program Saturday at Honey Springs Battlefield. [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma County Jail faces allegations of inhumane conditions despite positive report from Crime and Justice Institute: Experts shared the results of their five-year study on the jail, which focused on how the jail is reducing its population and creating a fair criminal justice system. [Fox 25]

Economic Opportunity & Housing

‘We need more of all kinds of housing’: A look into the housing issues facing Oklahoma communities: “It’s not just that we need more low-income housing. We need more of all kinds of housing,” asserted Dan Straughan, the executive director of the Homeless Alliance. [Fox 25]

Economy & Business News

Column: There’s no more important component to our economy than our small business community: Oklahoma City owes much of its success to the small businesses that operate here. Small businesses employ just over half of all Oklahoma City workers and help to diversify our economy, provide valuable goods and services, foster innovation and entrepreneurship, and enhance the quality of life for everyone. [Kenton Tsoodle Guest Column / The Oklahoman

Education News

Gist says anti-TPS effort timed for max disruption: ‘We have lost teachers because of this’: Tulsa Public Schools lost teachers ahead of the new academic year because of the specter of a state takeover, Deborah Gist said this week. The superintendent of Oklahoma’s largest school district said she believes it is no coincidence that State Superintendent Ryan Walters has called into question whether TPS should receive routine renewal of its state accreditation in late July rather than months ago in the spring when state accreditation officers completed their annual review of TPS. [Tulsa World]

Education roundup: Criminal cases, agency rules and looming decisions: The following Oklahoma education roundup summarizes education-related stories that you may have missed over the last few months, including new quotes and recent updates on high-profile misconduct cases working through the judicial system. [NonDoc]

Former Ninnekah girls basketball coach pleads guilty in sexual grooming case: A former girls basketball coach at Ninnekah High School pleaded guilty Thursday in Grady County District Court to 10 felony charges, including sexual battery and lewd or indecent acts against a child under 16. [The Oklahoman]

YouTube removes Ryan Walters video after Tulsa World copyright claim: YouTube removed a video by State Superintendent Ryan Walters that included unauthorized use of property from the Tulsa World. After Walters and his staff refused to take out the video segment made by the Tulsa World after repeated requests to do so, the news organization filed a copyright infringement complaint with YouTube. [Tulsa World]

Column: National Teacher of the Year Rebecka Peterson offers a love letter to teachers as school year starts: School starts this week for many of us, and even though (or maybe because) I’m not in my own classroom this year, I wanted to take a moment to remind you of your impact. [Rebecka Peterson Guest Column / Tulsa World]

TPS Board President Stacey Woolley: Choosing independence means not standing idly by: Improving outcomes for students — especially in a large, urban center — is hard. The problems and required solutions are complex. Doing so requires knowledge, thoughtfulness, lots of listening and a willingness to admit mistakes. Soundbites, rhetoric and attacks will not suffice. [Stacey Woolley Guest Column / Tulsa World]

Column: Know the Oklahoma State School Board members, send them an email: There are faces and voices missing during this unprecedented upheaval swirling around Tulsa Public Schools’ accreditation: the five unelected State Board of Education representatives. These are all governor appointees who can approve or vote down the plans from State Superintendent Ryan Walters to take over TPS. [Ashley Heider Daly Guest Column / Tulsa World]

Column: Manufactured crisis in schools takes time away for big-picture discussions: Tulsa public school administrators are completely overwhelmed by the firehose of misinformation, distortions and lies coming at them. Their time is monopolized by people seemingly hell-bent on tearing down the district, rather than offering a helping hand or even sitting down for an informative discussion. [Ginnie Graham Column / Tulsa World]

Opinion: Set aside political rhetoric, provide Tulsa schools help to keep good teachers: Urban public schools serve all students, regardless of background, skill, test scores and learning abilities. To educate them, Tulsa Public Schools must coordinate with and answer to teachers, parents, administrators, politicians, neighbors and other stakeholders — all with their own interests, ideas and opinions. [Adam Kupetsky Guest Column / Tulsa World]

Editorial: Silence is no way to improve schools or defend representative democracy: For the past few weeks, Tulsa Public Schools staff, students and their families have been on edge about the threats of a state takeover of the district. Their fears are real about what a district operated by state bureaucrats would mean for students and employees. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

General News

Officials, parents explain nature of child support: Delinquency in child support payments isn’t always a product of ill intent. Sometimes, financial difficulties get in the way, but the importance of these funds can’t be underestimated, according to those who work behind the scenes. [CNHI]

Smaller nonprofits face challenges from pandemic’s effects: Many smaller nonprofit organizations were hit hard when its already small support was kneecapped by the pandemic. More than one-third of U.S. nonprofits faced closing within two years because of the financial harm inflicted by the pandemic, according to a study released in 2021 by the philanthropy research group Candid and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. [Journal Record]

Researchers and volunteers joined together to map extreme heat in OKC: City leaders have been working for months to coordinate a massive, localized effort to collect data for the hottest areas of the city ― data that could be used to shape policies for infrastructure and environmental planning in the near future. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

Quote of the Day

“We all learned at our mother’s knee that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And boy that is really true about homelessness.” 

-Dan Straughan, Executive Director of the Homeless Alliance, speaking about the connection between affordable housing availability and homelessness [Fox 25]

Number of the Day


Uninsured rate in 2021 for immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for more than five years. [KFF]

Policy Note

Latino kids in states with more anti-immigrant laws are in poorer health, study finds: Latino children living in states with more anti-immigrant laws and policies — and the resulting inequities in access — were linked to higher odds of chronic physical or mental health conditions, according to a study published Tuesday in the medical journal Pediatrics. [NBC]

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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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