In The Know: Gov. Stitt signs nation’s strictest abortion ban | Also signs school bathroom bill | Funding for internet access needed

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: Why choose to make a home in Oklahoma?: Recently, I’ve heard from a number of Oklahomans who openly questioned why they continue to live here – or why a family or business would relocate here – after lawmakers passed legislation that targets women and members of the LGBTQ community. This hurtful legislation occurred alongside the ongoing undermining of public education through rhetoric, legislation, and financial disinvestment. Now more than ever, we need to support folks who believe in a vision for a state that supplies equitable opportunities for ALL of our friends and neighbors. [Ahniwake Rose / The Journal Record

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signs nation’s strictest abortion ban. It starts immediately: Oklahoma on Wednesday implemented the strictest anti-abortion law in the nation, giving the country a preview of a possible post-Roe future. Gov. Kevin Stitt signed legislation to prohibit most abortions beginning at fertilization. [The Oklahoman

  • Bill making abortion illegal starting at conception signed by Oklahoma governor [Tulsa World
  • Oklahoma Gov. Stitt signs the nation’s strictest abortion ban [AP News
  • Oklahoma abortion ban faces challenge at state high court [Bloomberg]
  • Oklahoma Governor signs bill that bans most abortions [The New York Times]  [The 19th]
  • (Audio) Headlines: Strictest anti-abortion law, guns in schools & rain comes to an end [KOSU

Oklahoma’s Gov. Stitt signs bill restricting school bathrooms to birth sex, effective immediately: An Oklahoma bill limiting access to public-school bathrooms by a person’s birth sex is now law. School districts and charter schools that don’t comply face a 5% deduction in their state funding. That could subtract thousands to millions of dollars, depending on the school system. [The Oklahoman

  • ‘It’s utterly ridiculous:’ trans Tulsa students react to Oklahoma’s school bathroom ban [State Impact Oklahoma
  • Gov. Kevin Stitt signs controversial school restroom bill [Tulsa World

Local mental health professional offers advice for parents on Texas school shootings: In light of Tuesday’s school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, a local pediatric mental health professional is encouraging parents to maintain an open, honest environment when it comes to talking about traumatic events with their children. [Tulsa World

  • Oklahoma parents and teachers heartbroken and frustrated by Uvalde school shooting [The Oklahoman
  • In the wake of Uvalde massacre, Oklahoma education secretary calls for more guns in schools [Public Radio Tulsa
  • Pols intend to expand gun rights in Oklahoma [The Journal Record
  • Norman lawmakers split on gun violence solutions [The Norman Transcript]

State Government News

Law to expand high-speed internet needs funding: A new law intended to expand high-speed internet access to 95% of Oklahomans by 2027 comes two years after the pandemic closed schools and workplaces, and the shift to remote learning and working highlighted the connectivity disparity in the state. Gov. Kevin Stitt signed House Bill 3363 – the Oklahoma Broadband Expansion Act – into law this month. Legislation to fund it is awaiting his signature. [The Journal Record

Recent Guest Post: HB 3363 is an excellent first step, but Oklahoma should think bigger than the short-term on broadband because getting the infrastructure in place is only the first step. It is the adoption and effective use of broadband, not simple availability, that leads to improved economic outcomes.

Editorial: Lots of winners in the Oklahoma budget; public education, mental health are big losers: Oklahoma’s priorities are outlined in the state budget approved by the Legislature and waiting for Gov. Kevin Stitt’s approval. There are quite a few winners, and public education is the big loser. The budget of $9.8 billion was largely crafted behind closed doors by a small group of Republican lawmakers and rolled out about a week ago. [Editorial / Tulsa World

Recently Statement from OK Policy: OK Policy released a statement on the legislature’s FY23 appropriations bills. The budget reflect some good investments in Oklahoma, especially for youth and their families involved in the justice system and the hundreds of Oklahomans with intellectual and developmental disabilities who currently face a 13-year wait for services. Furthermore, given more than $1 billion in tax cuts were proposed during this session, we were heartened to see lawmakers demonstrate restraint. However, lawmakers again have missed the chance to make strategic and targeted investments to help more Oklahomans live healthy lives, raise thriving families, and create safer communities. 

Livestock supporting a family to be tax exempt: Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into a law a bill that exempts from personal property taxes livestock used to support a family, beginning in January 2023. [The Lawton Constitution]

Gov. Kevin Stitt asks judge to strike ‘smear’ from Oklahoma County grand jury report: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Wednesday asked a judge to strike from a grand jury report a finding that he placed “improper political pressure” on his appointees to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. Oklahoma County grand jurors criticized Stitt — without ever naming him directly — in a 65-page report made public May 12. [The Oklahoman

Women’s health initiative set to become law: A new law requires insurance companies to cover diagnostic mammograms ordered by a physician. [The Lawton Constitution]

(Audio) Long Story Short: Who will decide how to spend $1.87 billion in federal relief funds: Paul Monies reports on the Legislature’s special session plans, Jennifer Palmer explains who is paying for the Secretary of Education’s $160,000 income. [Oklahoma Watch

Tribal Nations News

FBI director warns of post-McGirt risks, asks senators for more Oklahoma funding: The change in criminal jurisdiction caused by the McGirt decision “poses significant and long-term operational and public safety risks,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said Wednesday as he asked U.S. senators for 76 new positions in the Oklahoma City field office. [The Oklahoman]

Housing, services facility for unaccompanied immigrant youths proposed by Cherokee Nation Businesses: The federal contracting arm of the Cherokee Nation is working with the U.S. government on a proposal to open a facility just north of Tulsa that would provide temporary housing and placement services to unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in the United States. [Tulsa World

Cherokee Nation takes steps to protect tribal elections from outside influence, dark money: The Cherokee Nation is taking steps to ensure that dark money doesn’t pour into the tribal nation’s elections and influence voters. A new law designed to reform the tribal nation’s election code was signed into law last week. [KOSU] “As a sovereign nation it is settled law that Cherokee Nation can govern the conduct of its own elections which go to the core of Cherokee democracy,” Chief Hoskin said during the signing. “Unlimited and unregulated cash pouring into our elections, as happened in the 2019 election, is destructive of our precious democracy and this law helps us fight it.” [Indian Country Today]

Mental Health Awareness Month with the Chickasaw Nation: “In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by a massive 25%,” according to the World Health Organization. Nevertheless, the stigma associated with illness still prevents many from seeking care. Therefore, the Chickasaw Nation is working to more seamlessly integrate mental health into its health services. [The Express-Star]

Voting and Election News

Congressional confessional: CD 2 candidates to debate in Bartlesville: Fourteen people are running for the Republican nomination in Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District, and all of them are being invited to take part in a Monday, June 20, debate date hosted by NonDoc at the Bartlesville Community Center, 300 SE Adams Blvd. in Bartlesville. [NonDoc

Amid ongoing investigations, DA criticizes opponents, says he is ‘only choice’ for job: The embattled district attorney of Pottawatomie and Lincoln counties said Monday night at a contentious candidate forum that he is the “only choice for this job.” [The Oklahoman

Health News

‘Additional expenses’: OU Health obtaining $150 million to improve financial picture: On the heels of COVID-19’s cost-increasing impacts on the health care system, OU Health is in the process of obtaining $150 million of tax-exempt financing through the Oklahoma Development Finance Authority in an effort to improve liquidity, finance a series of operational investments and rectify a capitalization concern that led to a bond rating downgrade earlier this year. [NonDoc

STDs rates increasing in Oklahoma’s 50+ population: STDS are on the rise in Oklahomans 50 and older, according to data from the health department. Chlamydia has increased 488%, and gonorrhea 893%. The national average of gonorrhea cases for adults 55-and-over is 19 per capita. [KXII]

Criminal Justice News

Multiple Jail Trust CAB subcommittees meet for first time, set functions: On Wednesday, all four subcommittees of the recently empaneled Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority Citizens Advisory Board (Jail Trust CAB) were scheduled to meet at various times throughout the day. [Free Press OKC]

Education News

Education as reconciliation discussed at 2022 John Hope Franklin Symposium: To have true reconciliation and justice, the United States and its citizens have to be educated on even the “uncomfortable” topics of race in U.S. history, said Michael Eric Dyson, the keynote speaker at the 2022 John Hope Franklin National Reconciliation in America Symposium. [Tulsa World

Ginnie Graham: Oklahoma teachers showing gains in pay, but student investment sliding toward the bottom: If Oklahoma lawmakers are not vigilant, public education is going to lose ground on the gains made in teacher funding. Data released in the past couple of weeks show Oklahoma far behind in per-pupil spending but making small steps in the rankings for teacher pay. [Column / Tulsa World

Oklahoma Local News

OKC could form human rights commission after first disbanded in 1996 over LGBTQ+ issues: Oklahoma City’s city council is considering establishing a human rights commission, more than 26 years after the last commission was disbanded for its attempts to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ people. [The Oklahoman

Quote of the Day

“State Question 781, passed by voters in 2016, remains unfunded. The law requires taking savings from reduced prison populations and putting it into local mental health programs, distributed to county governments. The tab is $50 million so far. Lawmakers are willfully violating this law.”

– Tulsa World Editorial Board, writing about investments and missed opportunities in this year’s state budget [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Share of Oklahoma residents lacking broadband internet. The US average is 6.5%.

[Source: Federal Communications Commission]

Recent Guest Post: HB 3363 is an excellent first step, but Oklahoma should think bigger than the short-term on broadband because getting the infrastructure in place is only the first step. It is the adoption and effective use of broadband, not simple availability, that leads to improved economic outcomes.

Policy Note

The Looming Battle Over How to Set ‘Low Cost’ Broadband Prices: The Biden administration wants to make sure that lower-income people can afford to use the expanded broadband service that will be built out with $42.45 billion from the recently signed bipartisan infrastructure package. To do that, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act mandates that states must require companies that get a piece of the funding—which is meant to build broadband in places with no or poor service—to offer the new customers a “low-cost option.” But in a debate that will be played out in statehouses across the country, the broadband industry and consumer advocates are clashing over how states should define “low-cost.” [Route Fifty]

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


Kristin Wells served as the Communications and Operations Fellow for OK Policy from October 2021 to July 2022. She previously worked as a digital content producer for News On 6. A native Kansas Citian, Kristin graduated with a B.A. in Media Studies and a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Tulsa in 2020. While there, she was accepted into the Global Scholars program, spurring her interests in policy, social movements, global identities, and the importance of education and advocacy. She hopes to use her skills to continue to learn and create a more equitable future for Oklahomans. An avid sports fan, Kristin lives in Tulsa with her rescue dog and is passionate about college basketball, documentaries, and coffee.

Leave a Reply

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