In The Know: Gov. disbands homelessness council | Lawmakers weighing incentives for clean energy company | Lawsuit challenging state fines, fees collection returns to court

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

‘Real loss for the state’: Gov. Kevin Stitt disbands state homelessness council: Citing a desire to shrink state government, Gov. Kevin Stitt this week disbanded the state’s Interagency Council on Homelessness. But a former council chairman said the panel’s work was far from over. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

International clean energy company eyes Oklahoma as lawmakers weigh incentives: The international clean energy company Enel wants to build a solar panel manufacturing facility in Oklahoma and Gov. Kevin Stitt is asking state lawmakers to support an undisclosed incentive package to seal the deal. Enel North America is eying the Tulsa Port of Inola as a potential site for the plant, which would create an estimated 1,500 jobs. [The Frontier]

Oklahoma lawmakers advance bill to ensure Indigenous students’ right to wear tribal regalia at graduation: Senate Bill 429 would ensure Native students in public, charter and other schools are allowed to wear tribal regalia at high school graduations and other ceremonies in Oklahoma. The bill unanimously passed out of the House Common Education Committee on Tuesday, and it is now on its way to the House floor for a vote. [KOSU]

Hobbit cited in House committee discussion to keep governor’s Legacy Fund alive: The Oklahoma House Rules Committee kept Gov. Kevin Stitt’s $1 billion Oklahoma Legacy Fund in play on Thursday, albeit with a J.R.R. Tolkien reference and not much obvious enthusiasm. Meeting hours before a deadline to get Senate Bill 1101 and SB 1102 through committee, the Rules Committee voted along party lines to move the legislation along to possible consideration by the full House. [Tulsa World]

Judge clears way for lawsuit against state ag over poultry operation oversight: Saying officials were “deceptive” in a response to concerned residents, a state district court judge this week said the Spring Creek Coalition’s fight with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry deserves to be heard in court. [Tulsa World]

Podcast: Catholic charter school, Superintendent Ryan Walters, Turnpike extension stoppage and more: KOSU’s Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and Civil Rights Attorney Ryan Kiesel about the Statewide Virtual Charter School declining an application for the Catholic Church to set up the nation’s first ever taxpayer funded religious school, the governor removing State Superintendent Ryan Walters as his Secretary of Education and Walters threatening to sue the Biden Administration over a proposed rule barring outright bans on transgender athletes from playing in certain sports. [This Week in Oklahoma Politics / KOSU]

Federal Government News

Millions of federal dollars will help replace aging, undersized bridges in Northwestern Oklahoma: Northwestern Oklahoma will receive federal funds to replace seven rural bridges the Federal Highway Administration says are crucial for economic growth. [KOSU]

Biden admin proposes expanding health coverage to DACA: Undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children could enroll in Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Affordable Care marketplaces under a proposal the Biden administration submitted on Thursday. [Axios]

Criminal Justice News

Lawsuit challenging court fine, fee collection system heading back to court: A federal lawsuit challenging the legality of the state of Oklahoma’s court fine and fee collection system is heading back to district court after an appellate court reversed the dismissal of the case two years ago. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision Monday overturns a lower court ruling issued in 2021 in a case brought on behalf of indigent state court defendants. [Tulsa World]

Death row inmate loses appeal in case of murdered OU ballerina Juli Busken: The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on Thursday ruled 5-0 against a death row inmate who claimed his dad confessed to murdering University of Oklahoma ballerina Juli Busken. [The Oklahoman]

Labor commissioner’s killer could get supervised day passes from mental hospital: A treatment team at a mental hospital is recommending day passes for Christian Costello, who in 2015 fatally stabbed his father, the state’s labor commissioner, at an ice cream store. He was admitted to the state hospital in Vinita for treatment on June 9, 2018, after being found not guilty by reason of insanity of murder. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Can charter schools teach religion? Fight looms even after state board rejects school: A state board in Oklahoma voted down Tuesday an application for the country’s first religious charter school, highlighting the legal uncertainty around using tax dollars to directly pay for religious education. [Chalkbeat]

Column: With teachers’ hands tied, racism flourishes in the classroom: A lecture about why racist behavior is hurtful to both other students and the school might make a student feel sad about their own race, which is plainly against Oklahoma law. Similarly, any attempt to teach the children to be kinder to their peers could be construed as social-emotional learning: far too “woke” to teach in an Oklahoma public school. [Nick Brooke Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

General News

Oklahoma and Texas Seek Solution To Red River Water Dispute: A mapping mistake and the rise of an invasive species in Lake Texoma has elevated a boundary dispute between Oklahoma and Texas into a novel question for water and property rights experts. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • Questions linger over Texas water pump on Oklahoma side of Lake Texoma [NonDoc]

Column: Bill would give financial relief to family caregivers in Oklahoma: When 91% of Oklahomans agree on an issue regardless of political affiliation, it’s time to take action. The House unanimously passed the Caring for Caregivers Act, House Bill 1368, by Rep. Tammy West and Sen. John Michael Montgomery. Now, this important legislation is before the Senate. [Jim Randall Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“The work of ending homelessness is not done until every person has a safe and affordable home.” 

-U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, in a statement about Gov. Stitt’s decision to disband the Governor’s Interagency Council on Homelessness. [The Frontier]

Number of the Day


Number of people who were served by programs in the Oklahoma City area according to recorded data in a Homeless Management Information System (2022). [Homeless Alliance]

Policy Note

States were adding lessons about Native American history. Then came the anti-CRT movementDozens of states have recently adopted or introduced laws or policies that take aim at critical race theory, commonly known as CRT. Critics say the orders threaten to undo years-long attempts to enrich lessons about the history of Native American students whose culture is at risk of vanishing from the curriculum. [The Hechinger Report]

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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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