In The Know: Gov. claims China is buying land, but fed data points to other countries | Legislative study on tribal compacts ends without permanent solution | Respecting tribal sovereignty starts at the top

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

Policy Matters: Respecting tribal sovereignty starts at the top: During Native American Heritage Month this November, the single largest recognition our state can provide to tribal nations starts at the top – our state’s chief executive should fully recognize tribes as sovereign nations and partners. And then start treating them that way. While most lawmakers recognize the value of strong tribal relations, the governor’s adversarial position with tribal nations has jeopardized our state economically and culturally. [Shiloh Kantz/Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma governor says China is buying up the state’s farmland. The data he cites points to other countries: Oklahoma has seen some of the nation’s largest growth in foreign-owned land in recent years, leading to a political debate over whether new restrictions should be imposed. But in Oklahoma, the growth in foreign-owned land pointed to by the governor has little to do with marijuana farms or Chinese companies, according to federal records. Instead, it’s almost entirely from companies in Canada and Europe that bought or leased land to build wind and solar farms. [Investigate Midwest]

How experts say Oklahoma will weather an upcoming recession: To put it in Oklahoma weather terms, the anticipated post-COVID-19 recession is in the forecast for next spring, but it’s a thunderstorm warning with minimal damage to property expected, not a severe thunderstorm with high winds and extensive destruction, said an economist speaking at the annual State of the Economy event by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Legislative hearing on state/tribe compacts ends without a ‘permanent solution,’ says House speaker: Oklahoma lawmakers will need to focus on key compacts between the state and tribal nations when they reconvene in the spring, House Speaker Charles McCall said Wednesday. The Legislature voted in July to renew tobacco tax and vehicle registration compacts with tribal nations through 2024. But the deals, which generate about $60 million a year for the state, remain in flux past that date. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma legislators relearn legal rules for tribal compacts [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma AG’s office subpoenas agency for Winter Storm Uri records amid legal probe: The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office has subpoenaed a state agency as part of an ongoing probe into “unlawful activity” related to price market manipulation during a weather emergency that saw energy prices soar to astronomical levels. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Did an Oklahoma agency ‘fleece’ ratepayers after the 2021 winter storm? What a new subpoena aims to find out [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma cracks down on marijuana grow facilities violating signage rules: The state’s crackdown on marijuana facilities that violate state law includes signs that don’t meet legal standards. The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority has filed 165 petitions for revocation against licensed grow facilities for failure to have signage required by law, the agency announced this week. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Opinion, Rep. Lucas: Weather Act Reauthorization enhances state’s research, forecasting capabilities: Recent efforts have made significant progress in advancing our national weather system. But there is still work to be done if we want to be the world’s leading source of forecasting. [U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas / The Oklahoman]

Health News

Ohio voted to establish abortion rights in the state constitution. Could Oklahoma do the same?: The battle to build abortion rights into the Ohio Constitution has been closely watched in Oklahoma. Both are strongly Republican states with highly restrictive abortion laws. Both are states that backed former President Donald Trump twice. But on Tuesday, Ohio voters approved by a strong margin a state constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights that in effect bypassed the heavily Republican state Legislature. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma is still combating youth e-cigarette usage as CDC reports national decline: Nationwide, 4% fewer high school students are using e-cigarettes compared to last year, according to new CDC data, and Oklahoma is implementing measures to further reduce its use among youths. [KOSU]

A lifeline: Free mental health hotline serves thousands of Oklahomans: A new free mental health hotline fielded tens of thousands of calls from Oklahomans during its first year. The national 988 hotline launched in Oklahoma in July 2022, and operators have answered 50,000 calls for help. [Oklahoma Voice]

Oklahoma doesn’t mandate sex ed, so some churches are trying to fill the gaps: Oklahoma youth have inequitable access to sex education depending on where they go to school. And there are Oklahoma legislators who want to limit that access even further. But, for some local churches, providing comprehensive sex ed is a matter of faith, and they’re working to fill in some of the gaps. [Oklahoma Voice]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma board recommends clemency for man set for execution: The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board narrowly voted Wednesday to recommend sparing the life of a man set to be executed later this month for what he claims were the self-defense killings of two men in Oklahoma City in 2001. [AP via Journal Record]

  • Oklahoma death row inmate Phillip Hancock recommended for clemency [The Oklahoman]

Why murder suspects are being released from mental facilities in Oklahoma: At least four murder suspects have been released from state mental facilities in the last year and a half after being deemed no longer a threat, court records show. All have been recharged and arrested again. [The Oklahoman]

Former Oklahoma County judge gives up practicing law because of sex scandal: Former Oklahoma County district judge Tim Henderson, who stepped down because of a sex scandal, agreed in October “to relinquish my right to practice law.” The Oklahoma Supreme Court voted 8-0 on Monday to accept his resignation from the legal profession. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Treatment courts are more effective than incarceration for certain offenses: Several recent articles have mentioned that Oklahoma crime rates, especially property crime rates, are decreasing. This good news is due, at least in part, to the growing success of treatment courts (which consists of drug, DUI, mental health and veterans courts). [Hon. Kenneth M. Stoner / The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Company invests $30M in Muskogee plant expansion: A North Carolina company has invested $30 million to expand a plant it operates in Muskogee and plans eventually to hire 30-40 additional workers there. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma Makes Third-Party Administration of CDL Test Easier: A new Oklahoma law making it easier for written commercial driver license tests to be administered took effect Nov. 1 to help offset the truck driver shortage. [Transport Topics]

Education News

‘This is the public’s money’: Lawmaker, advocate respond to outside firm overseeing school choice tax credits: The Oklahoma Tax Commission hired California-based Merit International, Inc. to oversee the state’s Parental Choice Tax Credit Program for $3.95 million. Critics contend the state is throwing millions at a third-party vendor when Oklahoma has run into issues mixing outside companies and education in the past. [Fox 25]

Oklahoma virtual charter school says proposed rule changes could shut it down completely: Insight School of Oklahoma, which bills itself as Oklahoma’s only alternative education virtual charter school, said Wednesday proposed rule changes from the Oklahoma State Department of Education would effectively shut down its operation. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma’s Education Department rolls out new tutoring initiatives: The Oklahoma State Department of Education announced three new initiatives to get tutoring to students: community volunteer tutoring, online tutoring through a third-party vendor and an incentive program for teachers to tutor. [KOSU]

Walters thanks Stillwater parents for bringing concerns about district to his attention: The State Superintendent of Public Instruction thanked Stillwater parents for bringing issues about gender identity, unwanted books and other issues regarding the school district to his attention over the last year. [Stillwater News-Press]

‘Giants were lining that hallway’: State superintendent continues to slam Educators Hall of Fame: Ahead of the 36th induction for the Oklahoma Educators Hall of Fame, State Superintendent Ryan Walters continued to clash with educators after fresh comments targeting the group were heard at a town hall meeting Tuesday in Stillwater. [KFOR]

Editorial: State should pay for teachers and schools, not national image: The Oklahoma State Board of Education is seeking a contractor to manage national media appearances in what seems to be an effort to boost State Superintendent Ryan Walter’s national profile – and do so at the taxpayer expense. That’s a horrible idea. [Editorial / Enid News Eagle]

General News

Editorial: Honor veterans by making life better for them after service: Veterans Day reminds us of the unending debt owed to our soldiers, living and dead, for offering up all they had. We offer appreciation for the sacrifices made to keep our nation safe. The work of ensuring that veterans are healthy and successful after service is ever-evolving. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Projects, election priorities pondered at Edmond strategic planning meeting [NonDoc]
  • City of Tulsa agrees to $25.5M purchase of former State Farm corporate HQ [Tulsa World]
  • Opinion: Community is the centerpiece of OKC’s renaissance, not an arena [Chelsea Banks / The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“[B]eyond mere efficiencies, we have a moral and ethical obligation to create the framework in which people can be successful. It is vital that we take a data-driven, evidence-based and more compassionate approach to combat addiction.”

-Hon. Kenneth M. Stoner, an Oklahoma County district judge who presides over the county’s treatment courts, writing in an opinion piece about the success of drug courts and upstream programs that help people before they get involved in the criminal justice system. [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day

$15.6 billion

Total economic impact of Oklahoma tribes in 2019 [Oklahoma Native Impact Report]

Policy Note

Tribal Nations & the United States: An Introduction: The guide “Tribal Nations and the United States: An Introduction” developed by the National Congress of American Indians seeks to provide a basic overview of the history and underlying principles of tribal governance. The guide also provides introductory information about tribal governments and American Indian and Alaska Native people today. The purpose of the guide is to ensure that policy decision makers at the local, state, and federal level understand their relationship to tribal governments as part of the American family of governments. Additionally, this guide provides the information necessary for members of the public at large to understand and engage effectively with contemporary Indian Nations. [National Congress of American Indians]

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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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