In The Know: House Democrats request bipartisan committee to investigate state superintendent | State bank fined for discriminatory loan practices | National Guard border deployment cost: $825,000

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

House Dems Ask Speaker to Investigate Grounds to Impeach Ryan Walters: Oklahoma House Democratic Leader Cyndi Munson, D–Oklahoma City, on Tuesday delivered a formal request to create a special bipartisan House committee to investigate whether there a grounds to impeach Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • House Democrats push for Ryan Walters’ impeachment [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters draws political heat, fines for recent actions [KGOU]

DOJ orders Oklahoma bank to invest in minority neighborhoods in wake of redlining accusations: The U.S. Department of Justice is proposing a consent order on a Collinsville bank to resolve allegations of past lending discrimination. American Bank of Oklahoma is accused of redlining and keeping non-white people out of majority white parts of Tulsa because of their race. [KOSU]

  • Settlement reached on lawsuit against bank accused of avoiding giving credit based on race in Tulsa [The Oklahoman]
  • DOJ secures $1M settlement with American Bank of Oklahoma [The Black Wall Street Times]
  • Oklahoma bank and the Justice Department propose settlement of redlining allegations around Tulsa [AP via Public Radio Tulsa]

State Government News

Oklahoma’s National Guard border deployment estimated to cost $825,000: Gov. Kevin Stitt’s decision to deploy Oklahoma National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border is expected to cost taxpayers at least $825,000. The bulk of those funds will be used to pay the roughly 50 Guard members deployed to El Paso, Texas, according to a document released by the National Guard in response to an Oklahoma Voice public records request. [Oklahoma Voice]

Legislature can renew tribal compacts without Stitt, lawmakers tell Oklahoma Supreme Court: The Oklahoma Legislature can renew compacts with tribal nations without Gov. Kevin Stitt’s approval, top lawmakers said in court documents filed Monday. [The Oklahoman]

  • At odds with the tribes, Stitt stripped of power over Native American education council [Oklahoma Voice]

Oklahoma Ethics Commission seeks new executive director after Kemp resigns citing poor resources: The Oklahoma Ethics Commission is searching for a new executive director after the current agency head announced she will resign by the end of the year due to a lack of state funding. In tendering her resignation, Director Ashley Kemp accused legislators of underfunding her state agency, which she said made it difficult to enforce ethics laws. [Oklahoma Voice]

Tribal Nations News

Oklahoma law to tackle missing, murdered Indigenous crisis remains unfunded: Two years after Oklahoma lawmakers passed bipartisan legislation to address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous people, a state law enforcement entity has not secured federal funding to carry out the new law. [Oklahoma Voice]

Tourism destination planned by Chickasaw Nation has a new name: the Horizons District: The Chickasaw Nation, which joined Oklahoma City in completing the First Americans Museum and is developing the $400 million OKANA resort, is about to launch a campaign promoting the area as the Horizons District.  [The Oklahoman]

Voting and Election News

TPS Board member’s campaign manager “OK with” questionable payments, but asks for accountability: Thousands of dollars with questionable origins were spent to elect the Tulsa Public Schools board member whose actions springboarded threats of a state takeover of the district. The candidate’s campaign manager said the political action committee that supplied the money should be accountable for accurately reporting the source of the money. But she argued the money the local campaign raised and their organizing efforts ultimately led to the candidate’s victory, which is why she’s “OK with” the unaccounted money. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • ICYMI: A group spent $18K to help a Tulsa school board candidate. No one can say where the money came from [The Oklahoman]

(Audio) Listen Frontier: Monroe Nichols wants to be Tulsa’s next mayor: Rep. Monroe Nichols, D-Tulsa, is one of the more outspoken members of Oklahoma’s Legislature. Now he wants to take his talents to Tulsa’s City Hall where he would become the city’s first Black mayor. [The Frontier]

Commentary: Political accountability depends on participation in elections: Of the state’s estimated 3 million eligible voters, roughly one-third are not registered, and another third do not vote regularly. In most elections, more Oklahoma voters stay home than cast a ballot. Voters stay home because we have been led to believe our voice and our vote do not matter. [Andy Moore Commentary / Oklahoma Voice]

Health News

Anti-opioid vending machines placed across Oklahoma: Vending machines are being installed across the state to provide free products to combat opioid overdoses. [Tulsa World]

Updated COVID-19 vaccines expected to be available in September, federal officials say: The Biden administration is gearing up for a fall vaccination campaign that not only includes updated COVID-19 boosters, but the annual flu shot and the newly approved RSV vaccine. [Oklahoma Voice]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma to continue lethal injections as Alabama eyes nitrogen gas executions: Oklahoma prison officials are watching closely as Alabama attempts to become the first state to use nitrogen hypoxia to carry out an execution. [Oklahoma Voice]

Local advocates call for DOJ to investigate dropped police shooting cases: A coalition of local civil and human rights organizations, including the People’s Council for Justice Reform, sent a letter to the United States Department of Justice’s Criminal and Civil Rights Divisions asking them to launch their own criminal and civil investigations into three shooting deaths by police officers in Oklahoma County. [KGOU]

Housing & Economic Opportunity

Company plans affordable housing complex in OKC: A company based in Atlanta has announced plans to develop an apartment complex on S. MacArthur Boulevard in Oklahoma City utilizing affordable housing tax credits. The Rising Sun Apartments planned at 1315 S. MacArthur Blvd. will be built at a cost of about $36 million. [Journal Record]

Economy & Business News

Great Plains farmworkers struggle with extreme heat — and almost no regulatory safeguards: A fifth of reported heat-related deaths between 2017 and 2022 were agricultural workers, according to OSHA data. Academics, occupational health specialists and advocacy groups are calling attention to the under-reported impact of climate change on this group from heatwaves. [KOSU]

Education News

Five questions, answered: Why a judge dismissed a sexual abuse lawsuit against Mount St. Mary: U.S. District Judge David L. Russell dismissed a lawsuit against Mount St. Mary High School filed by more than a dozen Jane Does who accused the school of fostering a climate of sexual abuse. As part of his ruling, Russell held that the Title IX statute of limitations had run out. [The Oklahoman]

How Oklahoma high schools are responding after football game shooting: Extra security is being put in place at high school athletic events around Oklahoma City following last week’s shooting at a football game in Choctaw that left a 16-year-old dead and several injured. The new measures aim to prevent future violence. [KGOU]

General News

Taken advantage of’: 2 houses, 3 pastors and ‘toxic’ allegations for a nonprofit leader: The house at the center of a lawsuit has changed hands twice since a Tulsa woman moved there in 2020, with both transactions raising ethical and legal questions involving Aaron “AJ” Johnson, the charismatic owner of Oasis Fresh Market and the executive director of Oasis Fresh Foundation, a pair of intertwined legal entities that jointly operate the first grocery store opened in north Tulsa in the last decade. Johnson has been lauded for running the social service-focused grocery store and meeting a community need. [NonDoc]

Tulsa Massacre descendant files appeal to reopen family Estate: A month after a Tulsa County District Judge blocked Jon Adams from reopening his famous ancestor’s estate on Black Wall Street, attorneys for Adams have filed an appeal with the Oklahoma Supreme Court. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Nationwide analysis of water wells shows groundwater decline in Oklahoma: Water levels in the Ogallala Aquifer that lies under the Oklahoma panhandle began a steady decline in the late 1970s that’s continued through today. But in the rest of the state, aquifer levels were mostly rising until the 2000s, when they too started on negative trajectories, according to the New York Times’ data investigation. Many of Oklahoma’s monitoring wells hit all-time recorded lows in the past decade. [KOSU]

  • Five Takeaways From New York Times’ Investigation Into America’s Groundwater Crisis [NY Times]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Downtown Edmond mixed-use project approved for TIF funding [Journal Record]
  • Parties agree to end legal battle over Tulsa hotel assessment to fund tourism [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Plain and simple, the governor’s continued rhetoric and vitriol surrounding not only these compacts, but also our Native American Tribal partners as a whole, seeks to divide the state. It is clear at this point the governor has no end game, goal, or aspirations of working with the legislature or tribes.”

-Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


The average number of months Oklahomans spend on a wait list for rental assistance through the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency, which is six months longer than the average public housing authority in the state but less than the national average of 26 months. There are approximately 26,291 people on OHFA’s waiting list for rental assistance. [Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency]

Policy Note

Worst Case Housing Needs: 2023 Report to Congress (Executive Summary): The report finds that, since 2019, worst case housing needs increased across demographic groups, household types, and regions throughout the United States. The unmet need for decent, safe, and affordable rental housing continued to outpace income growth and the ability of federal, state, and local governments to supply housing assistance and facilitate affordable housing production. As a result, the number of very low-income families with worst case housing needs in 2021 exceeded previous record levels resulting from the Great Recession of 2007–2009.  [U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development | Office of Policy Development and Research] | [Full Report]

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David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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