In The Know: Gov. pressures lawmakers to let him negotiate with tribes | Why state superintendent is pushing Christianity in schools | Protecting the state question process

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

Gov. Kevin Stitt pressures lawmakers to let him negotiate with tribes: Gov. Kevin Stitt is trying to rally support for his interpretation of tribal-state relations as lawmakers inch closer to extending the current agreements on tobacco taxes and motor vehicle registrations. Stitt returned to Oklahoma after spending several days at the Paris Air Show, an aviation and aerospace trade show. After spending the morning in the Tulsa area viewing storm damage, he spoke to reporters inside the state Capitol. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma receives millions from state-tribal tobacco, vehicle compacts [Tulsa World]

Stitt says his absence made no difference in emergency declaration: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell were both still taking some fire for being out of state following Saturday night’s wind storm, but both said during stops in Tulsa on Friday that their absences made no difference in the state and local response to the record-breaking gale. [Tulsa World]

  • Why the emergency declaration following severe weather didn’t come from Stitt or Pinnell [The Oklahoman]
  • Should the governor keep power when traveling out of state? The Constitution says no [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma Senate leader winds up signing emergency declaration with Stitt, Pinnell out of state [Tulsa World]
  • ‘Delay and confusion’: Pro Tem Treat informed of acting governorship less than an hour before signing emergency declaration [Fox25]
  • Editorial: No such thing as 100-year natural disaster events [Editorial / Tulsa World]

State Government News

Why state schools Supt. Ryan Walters sees an opening to push Christianity in schools: Earlier this year, a group of Oklahoma evangelical pastors began meeting to discuss ways they could push for displays of Christianity inside public schools. Emboldened by the recent election of state schools Superintendent Ryan Walters, the pastors believed the time was right to push the boundaries on the separation of church and state. [The Oklahoman]

  • Muslim leader denies being in group Ryan Walters says wants Ten Commandments in schools [The Oklahoman]
  • Walters’ Faith Committee Wants Ten Commandments in Every Public Classroom [Oklahoma Watch]
  • Gov. Kevin Stitt approves controversial education rules backed by Ryan Walters [Tulsa World]
  • State Board of Education meetings have become theater of political conflict [The Oklahoman]
  • State Superintendent Ryan Walters Column: Oklahoma welcomes religious charter schools [State Superintendent Ryan Walters Column / Tulsa World]

Lawmaker Seeks Study on Protecting Oklahoma’s Ballot Initiative Process: Legislative efforts to add hurdles to Oklahoma’s ballot initiative process fizzled out at the Capitol this year, but one Democratic lawmaker is concerned similar proposals will gain traction in the future. [Oklahoma Watch]

Anti-trans legislation creates more recognition, support for trans Oklahomans: The number of bills seeking to restrict gender-confirming health care in the 2023 Oklahoma legislative session may have taken a toll on the mental health of 2SLGBTQ+ people in the state, but community members say they’re becoming a better-represented part of the conversation in Oklahoma through education, lawsuits and events. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Lobbyist Spending Rebounds From Pandemic-Era Decline: Oklahoma lobbyists have spent nearly $380,000 this year on gifts, meals and beverages for state legislators and other elected officials through May, a 42% increase over the same period two years ago. [Oklahoma Watch]

New report commissioned by OMMA finds ‘oversupply’ of medical marijuana product: Medical marijuana producers are growing 32 times more cannabis than is demanded by the market. A report by Cannabis Public Policy Consulting, which was ordered by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, reveals several key findings about the state’s medical marijuana industry. [KOSU]

Oklahoma’s medical marijuana agency ‘ready to really get going’: Last year, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority issued just one shutdown order against a marijuana business. But in the first five months of 2023, the agency has issued nearly 100 shutdown orders, according to records obtained by The Oklahoman. Originally a division within the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority officially became a standalone state agency last year. [The Oklahoman]

Former employees file wrongful termination suits over actions allegedly taken by Zumwalt: Two former employees filed wrongful termination lawsuits against two state agencies for action Tourism and Recreation Department Executive Director Shelley Zumwalt allegedly took while employed by those entities. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma had to turn away $80M in film, television business, lieutenant governor says: Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell said Oklahoma has turned away $80 million worth of film and television business leading to possible economic development due to the tight cap on the state’s film incentive program. [Tulsa World]

Despite support from some pro-lifers, efforts to soften Oklahoma’s strict abortion ban failed this year at the Legislature: Oklahoma anti-abortion lawmakers are in a dilemma: Support legislation that could make it easier for some women to get abortions, or risk successful legal challenges and backlash from voters. [The Frontier]

  • The Frontier fact-checked claims about Oklahoma’s abortion ban and conflicting laws [The Frontier]

Tribal Nations News

How tribal leaders are reviving a historical advocacy group to change Oklahoma policy: The United Indian Nations of Oklahoma has historically helped shape compact talks. But in more recent years, it hasn’t had a seat at the bargaining table. Now tribal leaders are trying to revive the organization as a political force in Oklahoma and beyond. [The Oklahoman]

Two long-awaited SCOTUS decisions underscore fight for tribal rights: Lawsuits were a main point of discussion during last week’s 2023 Sovereignty Symposium, and for good reason. This month, the U.S. Supreme Court has handed down two decisions concerning tribal sovereignty and the federal government’s obligations to tribal nations. [NonDoc]

Health News

As Sallisaw project lingers, state to shut down Talihina Veterans Home early: Because the Talihina Veterans Home is losing $500,000 a month owing to low occupancy and high contract employee costs, members of the Oklahoma Veterans Commission voted unanimously this morning to shut down the outdated facility in about three months. [NonDoc]

  • Saying employees ‘deserve better,’ state Veterans Affairs interim director requests performance audit [NonDoc]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma death row inmate rejects clemency hearing, claims his late father was the killer: A death row inmate convicted in the 1996 murder of a University of Oklahoma dance student is now rejecting the chance for a clemency hearing while still claiming to be innocent of the killing. [The Oklahoman]

  • Death-row inmate says he’ll reject chance for clemency [Journal Record]

Appeals court upholds dismissal of manslaughter case against Blackwell police officer: In a closely watched case, a state appeals court has agreed a Blackwell police lieutenant acted reasonably when he shot at a pickup driver more than 60 times to end a “delusional rampage.” [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Column: Diversity, equity and inclusion? It isn’t a political movement. It’s basic human decency: Wait a minute. I thought we were supposed to be a pro-business state. If so, then why are some of our elected officials working to erase the notion of diversity, equity and inclusion? Studies show there’s a direct correlation between successful businesses and a commitment to inclusion. They go hand in hand. [Russ Florence Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Education News

Without paid family leave, teachers stockpile sick days and aim for summer babies: According to a survey by the National Council on Teacher Quality, less than one fifth of the nation’s largest school districts offer paid parental leave for teachers.  A new Oklahoma law pays for six weeks of maternity leave for teachers. [KOSU]

Column: Holocaust education brings out teacher nervousness: Teachers worry about accidentally stumbling upon something objectionable a parent — or more likely an activist — will hear second or third hand. Some were uncertain if their administrators would have their back. None had concerns about how their students would respond, having full confidence in the abilities of teens and pre-teens. It’s the grownups struggling with these concepts. [Ginnie Graham Column / Tulsa World]

Column: It would make more sense for the state schools superintendent to support public education: Our public schools and public school educators haven’t changed in five years, and clearly, nor has public support for them. But the attacks on teachers and public schools continue to mount, and they’re getting more dangerous and more vicious, because they’re intended to destroy the very institution of public education. [Colleen Elliott Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

General News

Column: Do not ignore needs of teens in foster care; they are survivors: Kids in foster care face extreme barriers and obstacles. No child goes into foster care because they were a bad kid. As a community, we need to adjust our preconceived ideas of kids in foster care and really come to understand that they are victims of some of the most heinous forms of abuse. [Brittany Stokes Guest Column / Tulsa World

Equality Center’s Rainbow Library expands in the face of book bans: Tulsa’s Rainbow Library began expanding this summer in order to promote accessibility to books on queer topics by adding satellite locations. [Tulsa World]

  • Oklahomans For Equality names executive director ahead of Tulsa Pride celebrations [Tulsa World]

Column: Councilperson: OKC is for everyone, and we should all do our part to keep it that way: If parents aren’t supportive, students often find themselves homeless or couch-surfing with friends, explaining why LBGTQ+ youths represent 40% of youth homelessness. Disproportionately, they experience increased risk for access to alcohol and drugs, substance abuse, addiction, mental health issues, predatory behavior and sex trafficking. To be clear, we’re describing middle and high school students, if not younger. [OKC Councilperson James Cooper Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Column: Discrimination is a visible obstacle for LGBTQ+ members seeking homeownership: According to the 2023 LGBTQ+ Alliance annual report, 19.8% of the members say housing discrimination is most visible where real estate professionals discriminate against potential homebuyers, 17% against potential renters, and 20% of sellers discriminate against potential homebuyers. [Glen Hubbell Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Lack of housing, other factors result in ‘missing households’ in OKC [Journal Record]
  • Downtown Tulsa again booming after pandemic pause [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Oklahoma has a proud history of citizen-led initiatives that have driven significant policy changes. The power to shape our public policy includes the citizens of Oklahoma, extending beyond solely elected officials and special interest groups.” 

– Rep. Mickey Dollens, D-Oklahoma City, who is seeking an interim study on protecting Oklahoma’s ballot initiative process, speaking about the importance of such a process. [Oklahoma Watch]

Number of the Day


Number of weeks of unemployment insurance provided by Oklahoma, which is among the lowest in the nation. [CBPP]

Policy Note

Workers Feel Burned Out, Excluded from Jobs as Employers Seek to Hire: While reports of low unemployment and increasing wages are typically good news to the labor force, workers are still experiencing burnout, challenging hiring processes and concerns about caregiving, health and transportation. [Philadelphia Inquirer via Governing]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.