In The Know: Governor replaces Ryan Walters as Education Secretary | ACCESS Turnpike project halted | Parent activists criticize private school tax credits | More

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

‘They are playing a game’: Parent activist group criticizes private school tax credits: An activist group of public school parents in Oklahoma are calling the proposed private school tax credit in Oklahoma a “big problem” for students across the state. [KOKH]

Oklahoma Board Poised to Reconsider Plan for Nation’s First Public Religious School: A state board voted to reject a proposed Catholic online charter school on Tuesday. But it’s not the final outcome. School leaders have a new 30-day window to revise their proposal and try again. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • Board disapproves Catholic charter school application for now, requests corrections [NonDoc]
  • Oklahoma board votes down Catholic charter school but the process isn’t over yet [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma board rejects Catholic charter school request but gives 30 days to revise application [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to halt work on ACCESS projects: The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is running into a major roadblock on its 15-year, $5 billion ACCESS Oklahoma Turnpike Project. As of Friday, all work will cease on the several ACCESS projects already underway. [StateImpact Oklahoma via KOSU]

  • Turnpike Authority puts brakes on Access Oklahoma plan [Journal Record]
  • Turnpike authority, hit with lawsuits, investigative audit, halts ACCESS Oklahoma [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

As hopes of confirmation wane, Governor replaces Ryan Walters as Secretary of Education: Ryan Walters will no longer serve as Secretary of Education, a position he held in addition to his role as State Superintendent of Public Instruction, after Gov. Kevin Stitt replaced him on Tuesday. [The Frontier]

  • State Superintendent Ryan Walters replaced as State Ed Secretary [The Black Wall Street Times]
  • Stitt replaces Walters as Cabinet pick for education secretary [The Oklahoman]
  • Stitt Names New Secretary of Education, Replacing Walters [Oklahoma Watch]
  • Gov. Kevin Stitt appoints Katherine Curry as education secretary [KOCO]
  • Stitt picks professor, not Walters, for education secretary [Muskogee Phoenix]

Oklahoma governor’s executive order changes makeup of Cabinet: Gov. Kevin Stitt issued an executive order on Tuesday restructuring his Cabinet to create a new secretary of workforce development position and secretary of operations and government position. [Journal Record]

Listen: Long Story Short: Guess How Many State Purchases Bypass a Corruption-Prevention Rule: The state’s central purchasing law, meant to prevent brother-in-law deals and other forms of corruption, is only used for one out of seven purchases an independent audit found. [Oklahoma Watch]

Proposed new unit in attorney general’s office might help public obtain state records: A proposed new law could help agencies and the public avoid costly legal battles over public records by creating a new state office led by the attorney general. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma Senate to vote on giving AG more power in open records violations [Tulsa World]

New bill proposes oversight for Capitol Complex, Governor’s Mansion grounds: Senate Bill 141 establishes an oversight committee for construction and maintenance on capitol grounds, to make sure those decisions are made without secrecy, for all Oklahoma citizens to be aware of changes made on public lands. [KFOR]

Federal Government News

EPA pollution limits aim to boost US electric vehicle sales: The Biden administration is proposing strict new automobile pollution limits that would require as many as two-thirds of new vehicles sold in the U.S. to be electric by 2032. [Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

Panelists call out local, state law enforcement over inaction on missing and murdered Indigenous people: The 14-person panel of the Not Invisible Act Commission has been tasked by the U.S Department of the Interior and the U.S. attorney general under the terms of the Not Invisible Act to make recommendations by October, including how to improve a problem Gray has routinely faced when working with victims’ families: the lack of consistent coordination and communication across law enforcement agencies. [Tulsa World]

Health News

Free business roundtable set on Medicaid coverage reduction: “How Reductions in Medicaid Coverage Affect Your Business” is the topic of a free business roundtable on April 13 hosted by The Journal Record in partnership with the Oklahoma Primary Care Association and Health Alliance for the Uninsured. Over the next nine months, 308,000 Oklahomans are expected to lose medical insurance due to the reduction in Medicaid provided by the Public Health Emergency Act, which is set to end on May 11. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma man pushes for hospital accountability bill after losing his wife during pandemic: Gerald Brand of Oklahoma City wanted answers following his wife’s death but said a lack of care and accountability made that nearly impossible. He said other Oklahoma families shouldn’t go what he and his daughters experienced. [KOKH]

COLUMN: Encouraging our legislators to make dental insurance work for Oklahomans: As we all stretch to make every dollar count, I’m encouraged that Sen. John Michael Montgomery and other members of the Oklahoma Legislature are working to ensure the hard-earned dollars that Oklahomans spend on dental insurance are used for patients, not profits. [Lawton Constitution]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoman could get new trial amid prosecutor misconduct: Robert Kraft, 34, of Choteau, Oklahoma, was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder in July 2022, and the jury recommended a life prison sentence. But Kraft’s attorney has filed a motion for a mistrial after District Attorney Matt Ballard acknowledged two of the prosecutors on the case, Isaac Shields and George Gibbs Jr., watched jurors deliberate. [Journal Record]

Interview with state Rep. Kevin McDugle on Richard Glossip, Oklahoma executions: The Republican lawmaker supports the death penalty, but he isn’t afraid to speak up when he believes someone shouldn’t be put to death — or when he thinks the state gets it wrong. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma Local News

  • OKC ranks highly among ‘weed-friendly’ cities [Journal Record]
  • Education, perspectives described as the next step to getting ‘beyond apology’ [Tulsa World]
  • Seeking vote on Edmond city projects, Brian Shellem files 3 referendum petitions [NonDoc]

Quote of the Day

“It is insulting when we hear the state say they just can’t get around jurisdictional issues. We’ve had to negotiate through them since birth, as we have to know what fee land is, what trust land is and who has authority where. This is not a turf war. It just isn’t. We can all work together or we can keep being jerks to each other.”

– Olivia Gray, former director of the Osage Nation’s Family Violence Prevention Program and one of four witnesses to testify before a federal subcommittee on potential recommendations for addressing violence and human trafficking among Indigenous communities. [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day

6 in 10

About 6 in 10 Americans feel that corporations and the wealthy don’t pay their fair share in taxes. [Pew Research Center]

Policy Note

Growing Trend to Phase in or Trigger State Tax Cuts Is Irresponsible, Skirts Accountability: Policymakers in many state capitols are pushing irresponsible plans for automatic, deep, and costly income tax cuts to be implemented several years after their enactment — obscuring the effect of tax changes that primarily benefit wealthy households and corporations but ultimately damage most people and communities. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

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Annie Taylor joined OK Policy as a Digital Communications Associate/Storybanker in April 2022. She studied journalism and mass communication at the University of Oklahoma, and was a member of the Native American Journalists Association. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communications from the University of Central Oklahoma. While pursuing her degree, she worked in restaurant and retail management, as well as freelance copywriting and digital content production. Annie is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation, and holds a deep reverence for storytelling in the digital age. She was born and raised in southeast Oklahoma, and now lives in Oklahoma City with her dog, Melvin.

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