In The Know: Gov. emphasizes ‘local control’ for Tulsa Public Schools | Affordable housing in Edmond | Back to school with private school vouchers

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

Private school tax credits will give everyone’s taxes to people who don’t need our help: This school year marks the first one where Oklahomans can get government subsidies to leave their local public schools and enroll their children in private schools or teach them at home. While this program could make private and homeschooling more practical or affordable for a few families, taxpayers will mostly be paying for people to do what they were willing to pay for on their own. As a result, we’ll be handing millions of tax dollars to the most well-off among us while propping up private schools, whose enrollment has stagnated in recent years. [Paul Shinn / OK Policy]

State Government News

Legal sports betting depends on Stitt, Legislature dealing with tribes, gaming official says: Oklahoma may be a few steps closer to legalized sports betting, but if and when it ever becomes a reality depends on Gov. Kevin Stitt and legislative leaders’ dealings with tribes, an official said. [Tulsa World]

Interim study looks into progress of Afghan refugee placement program: Afghan refugees started making their way to Oklahoma about two years ago with the help of numerous agencies. Just how well has the transition gone though? Tuesday a state senator listened to an interim study to find out. [KFOR]

Oklahoma treasurer whittles down financial institution blacklist as millions in state investments hang in the balance: State Treasurer Todd Russ is paring down a so-called blacklist of financial companies the state is not supposed to do business with. Oklahoma will still decline to work with financial heavy hitters like BlackRock, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase. [KOSU]

  • Treasurer shortens the list of companies banned from doing business with the state [The Oklahoman]

What a State Business Decision Means For Veterans in Talihina: The state’s decision to close the Talihina Veterans Center with the aim of mitigating monthly half a million dollar losses, and the siphoning of funds from other veterans services provided to help cover it, means the veterans living in Talihina need to leave a place many thought would be the last stop in their life journeys of service and sacrifice. [Oklahoma Watch]

More accusations emerge as attorney, clients take new aim at turnpike plan: While the matter of whether the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority followed proper bond procedure to finance numerous turnpike projects with several bonds has been settled at the Oklahoma Supreme Court in the agency’s favor, a Norman attorney claims OTA violated another guidance in state law to use the state’s Attorney General’s Office as its bond counsel. [CNHI]

Electric vehicle startup Canoo’s incentives with Oklahoma, Cherokee Nation, could top $113 million: Oklahoma and the Cherokee Nation are set to provide electric vehicle start-up Canoo an incentives package that could total $113 million over 10 years as the company nears production. [The Oklahoman]

  • Timeline: Canoo electric vehicle startup, from 2017 to Oklahoma’s investment and beyond [Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Mood, a national online-only hemp dispensary in OKC, ships THC products by the truckload: A loophole in farm law is big enough to drive a truck through — one loaded with legal hemp, a kind of cannabis, loaded with enough legal THC, the main psychoactive chemical compound in marijuana, to get you high. Legally. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Hoskin offers call to action for citizens to ‘bend’ century into ‘great Cherokee century’: On Monday, with all the pomp and circumstance due a sovereign nation’s inauguration, Cherokee Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., Deputy Principal Chief Bryan Warner and eight elected tribal councilors took their official oaths of office in Tahlequah, the Cherokee Nation capitol. [CNHI]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma Department of Corrections to add another prison under its control: After nearly 30 years, the privately owned Davis Correctional Facility will switch hands to the state. Starting Oct. 1, the facility in Holdenville will become a state-run prison in what the DOC is calling a cost-saving move. [KOCO]

Column: Oklahoma jails now de facto psychiatric hospitals with defendants suffering mental health disorders: Severe mental illness has become one of the most common reasons a person ends up in the criminal justice system. As psychiatric beds were shuttered, county jails have evolved as the de facto mental health hospitals for pretrial detainees with severe mental disorders. [Dr. Kathy LaFortune Guest Column / Tulsa World]

Economic Opportunity

Column: For many vulnerable families, 2023 meant new challenges that made summer more difficult: But too many Oklahoma children weren’t going to have similar memories of this summer. An estimated 37,000 children in Oklahoma County lack consistent access to enough nutritious food for an active, healthy lifestyle. [Tamara Sandberg Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

  • From OK Policy: Summer months bring hungry Oklahomans [Journal Record]

Education News

With nonaccreditation looming over Tulsa schools, Stitt says ‘everything is going to be OK’: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday said he believes the State Board of Education will not overreact when considering accreditation for Tulsa Public Schools. The district has been a lightning rod for criticism from State Superintendent Ryan Walters over academic performance and financial management. “I don’t know what takeover is, what they are talking about. I believe in local control. I think the local board needs to address that,” Stitt said. [Tulsa World]

Tulsa Public Schools to State Board of Education: Honor the accreditation recommendation: Tulsa Public Schools’ board of education voted 5-2 Tuesday evening to adopt a resolution calling on the Oklahoma State Board of Education to accredit the district as recommended earlier this summer by the state’s accreditation office. [Tulsa World]

  • Tulsa Public Schools faces challenges in accreditation renewal: District currently serves roughly 3,000 Native American students [Mvskoke Media]

Column: Tulsa’s economic future threatened by political games: Tulsa Public Schools is under fire — and it’s not just students and families who will be impacted. As a business leader, I’m gravely concerned about the rhetoric coming from the state superintendent’s office. [Sara Gallagher Guest Column / Tulsa World]

General News

‘It’s embarrassing’: Edmond housing study discussion turns fiery at council meeting: The Edmond City Council received a citywide housing study Monday night, but discussions surrounding the report and potential action to increase affordable housing options offered a heated debate among meeting attendees. The assessment from Development Strategies estimates that 64 percent of Edmond residents cannot afford the average new home price in the city. [NonDoc]

  • Edmond housing affordability crisis: 75% of workforce can’t afford to live in the city, new study reveals [Fox 25]

Could a new passenger train be chugging your way? Potential new Oklahoma routes identified: Oklahoma could be on track for more passenger trains after a federal study on how to expand America’s passenger rail system identified several potential routes in the state. [KOSU]

OKC City Council approves $200M for upscale apartment towers in Lower Bricktown: Units in the building could be leased by an Arizona-based nonprofit, which would subsidize the rents for low-income residents. But the agency has come under fire for questions of fraud, and two city councilors both said it has no track record of providing affordable housing and workforce training. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Edmond officially moving away from EMSA for ambulance service [The Oklahoman]
  • Attorney known for cannabis-related work faces discipline from Oklahoma Bar Association [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“This idea that people who pay less for their home or, god forbid rent, are not good people and not good neighbors is gross and it’s embarrassing, and it’s got to stop.”

– Edmond Ward 3 City Council Member Christin Mugg, speaking during a public meeting where residents argued against the idea of public funds being used to address the city’s affordable housing crisis. [Fox 25]

Number of the Day


An apartment complex has not been built in the city of Edmond since April 2012. Referendum petitions have stopped proposed multifamily housing developments in 2017, 2021, and 2022. [NonDoc]

Policy Note

Key facts about housing affordability in the U.S.: A rising share of Americans say the availability of affordable housing is a major problem in their local community. A variety of factors have set the stage for the financial challenges American homeowners and renters have been facing in the housing market, including incomes that haven’t kept pace with housing cost increases and a housing construction slowdown. [Pew Research]

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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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