In The Know: Gov.’s education plan seeks to break legislative ‘logjam’ | Lawmakers facing tough choices on taxes, budget | Gov. may seek impeachment in McCurtain Co.

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

Stitt’s education compromise: ‘A positive step’ for House, Senate ‘to review’: Stitt’s proposed compromise includes a tiered teacher pay raise and tax credit tweaks more in line with the Senate’s proposal, its details regarding additional school funding fall more in line with a provision of the House’s proposal. It also proposes a phased cap on the proposed new refundable tax credits for homeschool and private school families. Overall, Stitt pitched an estimated $600 million investment in public education and a proposal for $200 million worth of the tax credits. [NonDoc]

  • Stitt unveils compromise Oklahoma education funding plan to ease legislative impasse [KOSU]
  • As GOP leaders spar over education funding, Stitt proposes compromise plan [Tulsa World]
  • Stitt calls on House, Senate leaders to ‘break the logjam’ on education negotiations [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Legislature faces tough choices on tax cuts, spending plans: With about five weeks left in Oklahoma’s 2023 legislative session, the most important thing left is how to spend more than $10 billion in the state budget. The biggest portion of the money will go toward agencies and regular state functions. Gov. Kevin Stitt said recently that he wants to spend at least as much as the state did last year, about $9.6 billion. Things get fuzzy, however, when trying to decide how to spend Oklahoma’s $1.2 billion revenue surplus. [The Oklahoman]

Stitt asks Oklahoma AG to probe and possibly oust McCurtain County sheriff: Gov. Kevin Stitt has called on Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond to investigate complaints of official misconduct against McCurtain County Sheriff Kevin Clardy and potentially move to oust him from office. [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

AG Drummond: Restoring state’s accountability is the priority: Attorney General Genter Drummond spent the better part of a 33-minute speech before the Rotary Club of Sand Springs on Friday using examples torn from the recent pages of newspapers as evidence of his love for the law and his determination to uphold it, whether popular or not. But like all good trial attorneys, Drummond saved his most rousing verbiage for the closing argument. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma lawmakers plan to dispute CVS on prescription ‘misinformation’: State Insurance Commissioner Glen Mulready says legislators and the Oklahoma Insurance Department have heard from several consumers about the pharmacy chain’s decision to end 90-day prescription fills, which it claims is the result of a state law. [KTUL]

Stitt seeks federal aid for McClain, Pottawatomie county residents affected by tornadoes: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Sunday requested an expedited major disaster declaration from the federal government for McClain and Pottawatomie counties as a result of damage from devastating tornadoes and severe storms on April 19. [The Oklahoman]

Bill requiring bonds from medical marijuana grows among 36 signed by Stitt last week: Senate Bill 913, by Sen. Darcy Jech, R-Kingfisher, exempts from the requirement grows operating on land owned by the license-holder for at least five years. Some uncertainty seems to exist over whether the exemption applies only to five years of ownership prior to Thursday, when Stitt signed the bill, or could be acquired going forward. [Tulsa World]

Political notebook: Anthony blasts fellow corporation commissioners — again: Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony filed a 180-page dissent last week after the other two commissioners, Todd Hiett and Kim David, voted to accept $6 billion in fuel costs claimed by the state’s three largest investor-owned utilities from the 2021 February deep cold spell. [Tulsa World]

Column: Striving to bridge the digital divide: Technology impacts nearly every aspect of our lives, and education is no exception. It has transformed school systems, enhanced the learning experience and created an engaging environment for students of all ages. Not all communities in Oklahoma, however, are equally equipped to thrive in the digital age. [Roger Ramseyer Guest Column / Tulsa World]

Rep. Mark McBride Column: Issues in Legislature are not new or novel. ‘We’ve got this covered’: The Legislature has been doing the job of protecting our children in our public schools for decades now. We’re awake at the wheel. The issues that are before us right now in the public forum — protecting children from pornographic materials, ensuring young women are protected on the sports field and in any other public venue — are not new or novel issues. [Rep. Mark McBride Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Column: Lawmakers should oppose mail-order rules that raise costs for vulnerable Oklahomans: A recently approved proposed regulation change by the Oklahoma Board of Pharmacy could create a set of new rules regarding the home delivery of medications that would severely limit postal carriers’ ability to bring life-saving prescriptions to rural families. [Delonna Callaway Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Column: ‘It’s a shame he didn’t see it’: Gov. Kevin Stitt disbands homelessness council: The governor’s refusal to engage with housing development as the long-term solution to homelessness dooms efforts to provide mental health services and job training as a solution to homelessness. Academic studies and plain common sense tell us that if a person or family is housed vs. homeless, they’re much more likely to be stable on their mental health medication, more likely to be able to hold down a job, more likely to maintain their sobriety, more likely to finish their education, less likely to interact with the justice system, less likely to need emergency medical care, in short, more likely to have a stable, healthy, productive life. [Dan Straughan Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

  • Gov. Stitt ends homeless council as Oklahoma remains bottom 10 for affordable housing [The Oklahoman]
  • Live chat archive: Dan Straughan of the Homeless Alliance and Oklahoman reporter Steve Lackymeyer [The Oklahoman]
  • Homeless on Route 66: ‘We’re all human, but we’re also trying to run a business’ [Tulsa World]

Column: Stitt turned his back on most vulnerable when he did not renew homelessness council: The majority of people in our city and state are one or two paychecks away from homelessness. A lost job, a sick child, a traumatic experience, mental illness, addiction. Homelessness can be caused by a myriad sorrows, often seemingly insurmountable. [Kelly Dyer Fry Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Editorial: State Superintendent Ryan Walters needs to stop dodging accountability: It shouldn’t take a subpoena to get the Republican state superintendent to answer questions from a Republican supermajority-controlled Legislature, but that’s where Ryan Walters is headed. Walters may be the first agency leader in state history to refuse an appearance before an Oklahoma House committee at the House’s request. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Biden administration wants to boost aviation sector training in OKC: The Federal Aviation Administration will train 1,500 air traffic controllers in Oklahoma City this year. If the president gets his wish, the FAA’s Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center will train another 1,800 next year. [The Oklahoman]

Abortion pill: Supreme Court halts mail, telehealth restrictions on mifepristone: The Supreme Court on Friday allowed full access to the abortion pill mifepristone, resolving for now a massive and fast moving conflict over the drug while the underlying lawsuit is decided. [The Oklahoman]

D.C. Digest: Mullin says labor secretary nominee biased against employers: New U.S. Sen. Markwayne Mullin hasn’t been bashful in his short time on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, commonly known as HELP. Mullin, who came to Congress 10 years ago after building a plumbing-based small-business empire, has regularly clashed with Chairman Bernie Sanders of Vermont and lectured witnesses on their lack of perspective. [Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

Program to advance Cherokee women entrepreneurs: The Cherokee Nation, the University of Tulsa’s Collins College of Business and StitchCrew are partnering to offer a Native American Women Entrepreneurship Accelerator to Cherokee women this fall. A first of its kind in the region, the eight-week program focuses on supporting Native American women as underrepresented entrepreneurs. The programming will take participants from conception to business planning and then through steps to growing their business before concluding with an opportunity to pitch their business proposal to potential investors and partners. [Journal Record]

  • Native American women entrepreneurship program to offer $10K grants to participants [Tulsa World]

Health News

Medicaid unwinding creates race to inform 300,000 Oklahomans of their options: With the upcoming conclusion of the public health emergency declared for the COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 300,000 Oklahomans could become ineligible for SoonerCare, the state’s Medicaid program funded with federal and state dollars. [NonDoc]

Column: Tulsa primed to become hub for health equity: Tulsa doesn’t rank well in health equity, but an ongoing national spotlight is creating an opportunity to make sweeping change. [Jabraan Pasha, M.D Guest Column / Tulsa World]

Column: Oklahoma legislators should oppose new mail-order rules: The Postal Service’s universal service obligation mandates the Postal Service provides efficient and affordable delivery to every citizen, everywhere, every day. But a recently approved proposed regulation change by the Oklahoma Board of Pharmacy could create a set of new rules regarding the home delivery of medications that would severely limit our ability to bring life-saving prescriptions to rural families. [Delonna Callaway Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma County jail reports second inmate death in two days: An inmate at the Oklahoma County jail died Saturday, the second death at the facility in two days. [The Oklahoman]

A man’s death in jail was ruled a homicide. Family and friends are still waiting for someone to be charged: A prosecutor is reviewing Ronald Gene Given’s death at the Pottawatomie County jail again after The Frontier sued for the release of surveillance video showing a violent encounter with detention officers. [The Frontier

Economy & Business News

Oklahoma hopes to tap into shifting geography of the firearm manufacturing business: Gov. Kevin Stitt beamed a smile as he walked the floor of a Las Vegas convention center, looking for anyone willing to hear his pitch on why they should move their business to Oklahoma. Stitt, a former CEO, has long made business recruitment a central part of his administration. But on this January morning, he was on the Vegas Strip specifically hoping to recruit firearm manufacturers by promoting Oklahoma’s pro-gun policies and a political climate that resists calls for gun control in the wake of mass shootings. [The Oklahoman]

In Oklahoma, diversification has long been key word in economic development: The oil and gas sector plays a major role in the economic health of the state. Its boom-and-bust cycles have driven state leaders for the last few decades to make diversification a goal, particularly since state services rely heavily on revenue from taxes on production. [The Oklahoman]

License suspended for business with heavy investment from taxpayer-supported state fund: An Adair County company that received a $500,000 taxpayer investment from the governor’s discretionary business recruitment fund has had its Oklahoma business license suspended and is facing unrelated allegations that it defaulted on a private loan. [CNHI]

State unemployment rate unchanged as labor market remains tight: Oklahoma’s economy added more than 7,300 jobs in March, while the number of job seekers declined slightly and the unemployment rate stayed at 3%, according to numbers released Friday by the U.S. Labor Department. [The Oklahoman]

Report shows yearly rent growth down first time since March 2020: Yearly rent growth turned negative for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 era, according to the April report from March rent levels dipped nearly half a percentage point following eight months of decelerating growth and six months of single-digit growth. [Journal Record]

Swiss company to build drone-testing research labs in Tulsa: Swiss company WindShape has announced a strategic partnership with the Osage tribal nation to open a cutting-edge indoor drone testing and validation facility at the Skyway36 Droneport and Technology Innovation Center in Tulsa. [Journal Record]

New Oklahoma company hopes to make fashion eco-friendly: One of Oklahoma’s newest companies is developing a synthetic fiber that could make the fashion industry greener. Sci-Lume Labs has moved into a space at AXIS, a state-certified small-business incubator located at Francis Tuttle Technology Center. [Journal Record]

Column: Why Oklahoma needs a workforce captain: The vast promise and potential of Oklahoma’s future is undercut by the lack of focus and coordination in our state’s workforce system. Workforce has been listed as Oklahoma businesses’ most difficult challenge multiple years in a row, yet nothing has been done. [Rick Nagel and Tim Pehrson Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Education News

Two Tulsa Educators Who Overcame The Pandemic’s Challenges: The impact of the COVID-19 virus was brutal for Tulsa Public Schools’ teachers. The same woes that burdened educators across the country – and indeed globally – affected them, too: school administrators who were ambivalent about how to respond to the pandemic; off-and-on decisions about whether schools would be remote or in-person; coping with COVID-19 illnesses themselves or among colleagues; having to learn the tools of remote teaching on the spot. [Oklahoma Eagle]

Oklahoma school settles lawsuit over religious ‘missionaries’ classes: An Oklahoma public school district has settled a lawsuit alleging First Amendment violations via required religious education for pre-K through 8th-grade students. The American Humanist Association (AHA) filed the lawsuit against Maryetta Public Schools, saying students were forced to participate in evangelistic religious activities during a monthly, hour-long class called “Missionaries,” a program that has since been disbanded [KFOR Oklahoma City]

Student: COVID experience revealed desire for learning beyond indoor classroom: During a video class break, my sister and I went outside and just stood in the sun. We’d walk down the street and back, look at the flowers, the clouds, the sunset. We developed a new appreciation for nature and the outdoors. Since then, every opportunity I got, I would go outside ― during breaks and after school. All this led me to think about how much time we spend in the classroom and whether the structure of schools should be reformed to include a more open environment for different types of learning. [Yakierra Minor Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

General News

Podcast: ‘Focus: Black Oklahoma’: custody battle between same-sex parents, economic inclusion for refugees, Tulsa’s hip-hop history: This episode of Focus: Black Oklahoma features reports on a same-sex custody battle, how a local organization is advocating for refugee rights, and the history of hip-hop in Tulsa. [KOSU]

Column: Social media attracts like moths to a flame: The CDC report confirms that youth mental health started to tank as social media and smartphones began to take hold. Social psychologist and New York University professor Jonathan Haidt has studied the effects of social media on mental health for years and directly connects social media as a major cause of the mental illness epidemic. Major cause, yes, but not the only cause. [Dee Harris Guest Column / Tulsa World]

Ginnie Graham: America has lost its ever-loving mind: Last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing that gun violence outpaced motor vehicle deaths among American youth. In no other peer country do firearms rank in the top four causes of child and youth deaths. Yes, we as a nation have lost our ever-loving mind. The unnecessary, and preventable, bloodshed building up in America has become our sin, our albatross to truly guaranteeing a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. [Ginnie Graham Column / Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Tulsa County park officials resign [Tulsa World]
  • See what OKC’s new family justice center for domestic violence survivors could look like [The Oklahoman]
  • Meet the newest member of the TPS board of education: A 24-year-old community organizer [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Public dollars should go to public schools.”

– House Minority Leader Cyndi Munson, D-Oklahoma City, in response to Gov. Stitt’s education proposal that would setting aside taxpayer dollars for private-school tax credits. [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Percentage of private school students enrolled in schools located in urban and suburban areas, compared with 10% of students enrolled in schools located in rural areas and 6% enrolled in schools located in towns. [National Center for Education Statistics]

Policy Note

Florida just expanded school vouchers — again. What does that really mean?: Around the country, the political razzle-dazzle around “school choice” – giving families who enroll in the programs vouchers to spend on a range of school options as they see fit – is electrifying conservatives, grabbing public attention and becoming a GOP campaign banner. What if your child doesn’t get into the school they want or need? What if a school costs more than the voucher’s value (as many do)? How can you tell if a private school is any good? And the big challenge: What does this mean for public schools, which 90 percent of children in America attend? [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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