In The Know: Gov.’s ‘cheer’ for cockfighting organization draws criticism | Muscogee Nation sues Tulsa over traffic ticket enforcement | ‘Minding the gap’ for youth justice

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: ‘Minding the gap’ for state’s youth justice system: Bipartisan efforts by lawmakers and strategic efforts from policymakers have lowered Oklahoma’s youth referral and detention rates, which are now historically low. A look at racial composition, however, shows more can be done to make youth justice more equitable. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

State Government News

Video of Stitt’s ‘cheer’ for cockfighting organization draws criticism: Two animal rights groups along with a former governor and former state attorney general criticized Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt today for recording a video message supporting a game-fowl organization that backs legislation to reduce the criminal penalties related to cockfighting. [NonDoc]

  • Gov. Stitt’s apparent support of cockfighting draws criticism [Tulsa World]
  • Gov. Stitt under fire for comments that appear to support cockfighting group [The Oklahoman]
  • ‘Reprehensible’: Fury as Oklahoma governor backs cockfighting group [The Guardian]
  • Oklahoma Gov. Stitt slammed for openly supporting cockfighting — encouraged farmers ‘preserving’ state’s ‘spirit of competition’: [New York Post]

Report: Oklahoma to pay $3.3 million for Stitt’s tribal legal fees: As Gov. Kevin Stitt’s administration continues to clash with Oklahoma’s tribes in the courtroom, the state is paying his legal costs using gaming compliance fees from the tribes. [Oklahoma Voice]

Oklahoma’s superagency managing technology, budgeting, employee management and state office buildings has little budget oversight or transparency: The Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency said its examination of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services found the agency’s annual appropriations have tripled in the past five years, reaching $164 million in fiscal year 2024. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • Oversight committee review reveals flaws and inefficiencies in Oklahoma’s Office of Management and Enterprise Services [Fox 25]

Federal Government News

Two out of five lawmakers from Oklahoma vote against plan to avoid government shutdown: Two Republicans from Oklahoma — Josh Brecheen and Kevin Hern — were in the minority as the U.S. House of Representatives approved a temporary measure to fund the government and avert a shutdown. [The Oklahoman]

OK Sen. Markwayne Mullin defends Senate fight, tells Sean Hannity it’s ‘Oklahoma values’: U.S. Sen. Markwayne Mullin, R-Oklahoma, said he believed Oklahomans “would be pretty upset” at him if he hadn’t threatened a union leader to a fight during a senate hearing. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: With Markwayne Mullin’s D.C. antics, ‘Oklahoma values’ go down the drain: Tuesday, Sen. Markwayne Mullin instigated tense moments during a Senate hearing when he challenged the president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters to a fist fight. Right there in space where the most deliberative body in the world convenes for decisions that arguably affect the entire world. [Clytie Bunyan / The Oklahoman]

Editorial: Fistfights and taunts aren’t Oklahoma values: U.S. Sen. Markwayne Mullin, R-Oklahoma, fell victim to little-brother syndrome by rising to the bait set by Teamsters President Sean O’Brien. [Editorial / Tulsa World] 

Tribal Nations News

Muscogee Nation challenges city of Tulsa’s criminal jurisdiction over its tribal citizens: The Muscogee Nation filed a federal civil lawsuit Wednesday against the city of Tulsa, claiming its continued enforcement of criminal laws against tribal citizens violates federal law. [Tulsa World]

  • Muscogee Nation sues to stop Tulsa from prosecuting tribal citizens for traffic offenses [The Oklahoman]
  • Muscogee (Creek) Nation sues Tulsa over traffic ticket enforcement [Oklahoma Voice]
  • Muscogee Nation sues City of Tulsa in latest jurisdictional fight [NonDoc]
  • Muscogee Nation sues City of Tulsa, accusing it of violating McGirt precedent [KOSU]

Most tribes provide vehicle and license plate data to Oklahoma despite Gov. Stitt’s claim: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and Public Safety Commissioner Tim Tipton have said for months the state doesn’t have access to tribal vehicle registration information. Records show at least 26 of the 33 tribes that issue vehicle tags in Oklahoma — about three in four — provide vehicle registration data to the state. [The Oklahoman]

‘Rigorous interview’ for judgeship: Former Cherokee Nation AG faces Senate committee: The spotlight was on Oklahoma’s potential first female Native American federal judge as the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned Sara Hill along with two other U.S. district judge nominees in Washington on Wednesday. [Tulsa World]

  • U.S. Senate Republicans question Oklahoma judicial nominee on tribal sovereignty [Oklahoma Voice

Health News

Medicaid Officials Anticipate Sharp Enrollment Declines and Increases in State Spending on Medicaid as Pandemic-Era Policies Continue to Unwind: The 23rd annual survey of state Medicaid directors finds that states expect national Medicaid enrollment will decline by 8.6% in state fiscal year (FY) 2024 as state Medicaid agencies continue to unwind pandemic-related continuous enrollment protections. After reaching record high enrollment, these estimates reflect a dramatic year-over-year decline in program enrollment from that high. [KFF]

Criminal Justice News

Foreclosed-property buyer slams Oklahoma County online sheriff’s auctions as invalid. Why?: Oklahoma County’s first-ever online-only sheriff’s auction of foreclosed property on Tuesday may have gone off smoothly, but it was “contrary to law,” according to a longtime bidder and buyer who filed a formal objection in one of the foreclosure cases, claiming he was unable to participate. [The Oklahoman]

Housing & Economic Opportunity

Many Black Neighborhoods in Tulsa Are Not A City Priority: The City of Tulsa has unveiled a new ranking of neighborhood conditions in the city that fails to include several key Black neighborhoods among those areas pinpointed for top priority for city resources. [Oklahoma Eagle]

Economy & Business News

Canoo takes it one vehicle at a time: An electric vehicle startup’s new production facility in west Oklahoma City is now operational, producing one automobile per day. The first vehicles assembled at Canoo’s manufacturing facility were on display Wednesday inside its 630,000-square-foot plant as part of a batch in an agreement for up to 1,000 vehicles with the state of Oklahoma. [Journal Record]

  • Oklahoma’s multi-million dollar bet on electric future: Canoo rolls out first fleet with facility tour [KOKH]

Company’s $30M expansion to add 300 jobs in Shawnee: A major expansion planned by an established manufacturer in Shawnee will bring as many as 300 new jobs to the community. Georg Fischer Central Plastics broke ground Tuesday on a 150,000-square-foot manufacturing plant to complement facilities it already has in the Pottawatomie County seat. [Journal Record]

OKC needs new arena to stay competitive, supporters say: The Paycom Center has an estimated annual economic impact of $590 million in the state capital, according to a study released by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. The proposed new downtown arena could do more, officials said during a chamber forum Wednesday. [Journal Record]

  • ‘We can’t go backward.’ OKC Chamber study says new arena vital to maintain trajectory [The Oklahoman]

Education News

New state report cards out: Chronic absenteeism increases; overall reading proficiency declines: The Oklahoma State Department of Education released the 2022-23 school report cards on Wednesday. Chronic absenteeism fell from a D to an F. [Tulsa World]

  • Oklahoma did not get a single A on its school report card. Here’s where students are struggling. [The Oklahoman]
  • State report card shows continued academic struggle amongst Oklahoma public schools [KFOR]

Insight School teachers and students make impassioned plea against in-person instruction rule change: Supporters of the Insight School, the state’s only alternative virtual charter school, showed up in force Wednesday to oppose a rule change by the Oklahoma State Department of Education. School choice — a principle embraced by Superintendent Ryan Walters — was front and center at a public hearing. [The Oklahoman]

  • Should alternative education schools be allowed to operate solely online in Oklahoma? [KOCO]

Oklahoma schools turning to the new, old way of teaching students to read: The science of reading is returning to the limelight, and Oklahoma schools and universities are using those techniques to teach literacy to the next generation. [KOGU]

In Catholic charter case, OK Supreme Court denies Ryan Walters’ request, approves school’s: Without offering a reason, the Oklahoma Supreme Court denied a motion Tuesday from the State Department of Education and Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters asking to intervene in a case involving a potential Catholic virtual charter school. However, justices granted a similar motion from the school. [NonDoc]

NPS secures ground lease for new Oklahoma Aviation Academy site: Norman Public Schools has acquired the land to build the Oklahoma Aviation Academy. [Norman Transcript]

Opinion: Make decisions on private school vouchers and public funding on facts, not faith: As a graduate of the Catholic University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and former consultant for private schools, I view the proposal for an Oklahoma Catholic public virtual charter school as an economic conundrum. [Jodi Dean /Tulsa World]

General News

 An Oklahoma town has been struggling with voter apathy, white nationalism on a national stage: The election this year of Judd Blevins to Enid’s Ward 1 city council seat came as a surprise for many. Blevins, who has been tied to the white nationalist group Identity Evropa by several progressive groups, won the election by a mere 36 votes — 422 to 386. [The Oklahoman]

Taxpayer-funded ‘dress uniforms’ for ODOC executives stir controversy: The new so-called ‘dress uniforms,’ funded with your tax dollars, raised some eyebrows at recent cadet graduations. [KOKH]

Quote of the Day

“It’s difficult to overstate the historic nature of [Sara Hill’s] nomination to be the first Native American woman to serve as a federal judge in Oklahoma.”

-Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., said of the former Cherokee Nation Attorney General Sara Hill in support of her confirmation during the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s overall rank for child well-being. Oklahoma ranks in the bottom half of all but one of the child-focused health and well-being metrics that shape the overall state ranking. [KIDS COUNT]

Policy Note

Abortion-Restricting States Skimp on Funding for Children: States differ dramatically in how much they allow families to make choices about whether and when to have children and how much support they provide when families do. But there is a clear pattern: the states that compel childbirth spend less to help children once they are born. These states have some of the least generous tax, spending, and labor market policies for families in the U.S. [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy]

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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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