In The Know: House members grill Walters during hearing | Gov. signs gender-affirming care ban | Kasey Alert Act is good tribal-state policy | Capitol Update

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

No more delayed justice, HB 1077 is good tribal-state policy: HB 1077, authored by Rep. Ken Luttrell, R-Ponca City and signed into law on May 1 by Gov. Stitt, directs the Department of Public Safety to create a statewide Kasey Alert for critically missing adults, similar to the alerts used for children and elders. The Kasey Alert will be a proactive effort to immediately alert the public when a person age 18-59 goes missing. Combined with Ida’s Law (Senate Bill 172 passed in April 2021), the Kasey Alert signals hope for justice for Oklahoma families impacted by the Missing and Murdered Indigenous People epidemic. [Vivian Morris / OK Policy]

This week is crucial for budget issues, education bills (Capitol Update): With only four weeks left in this year’s Legislative session, the feud between the House, Senate, and governor over education funding — including tax credits for parents sending their children to private schools — still dominates and is yet to be resolved. It was clear before the session began that a debate about education funding, public funding for private schools (call it vouchers or something else), and tax cuts would be on this year’s agenda. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

Ryan Walters calls Oklahoma teacher unions a ‘terrorist organization’ in Capitol hearing: In front of an overflow crowd, Oklahoma’s top education official called teacher unions “terrorist organizations” and blamed his predecessor for leaving his agency a “dumpster fire” while answering pointed questions from lawmakers for over two hours Monday at the Capitol. [The Oklahoman]

  • Ryan Walters calls teachers’ unions ‘terrorist organizations’ in heated legislative hearing [Tulsa World]
  • Lawmakers get their chance to publicly question State Supt. Walters [KFOR]
  • Walters’ meeting with House ends abruptly [News 9]
  • Supt. Walters calls teachers unions ‘terrorist organizations’ at House committee meeting [Fox 25]

Oklahoma governor signs bill banning gender-affirming care for trans youth: On Monday evening, Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill banning gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth. Senate Bill 613 would punish doctors found in violation of the law by having their licenses revoked and charging them with a felony that could result in up to $100,000 in fines or ten years in prison. [KOSU]

  • Oklahoma governor signs gender-affirming care ban for kids [Associated Press]
  • Governor signs ban on gender reassignment treatment for minors [CNHI]
  • Stitt signs legislation banning gender-affirming surgeries, hormone treatments for minors [Tulsa World]

Okmulgee County Sheriff reporting seven people dead after search for two missing girls: Authorities have confirmed seven people are dead, including two missing teen girls and the man they were supposed to be with, Monday in Okmulgee County. [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

School meal program stalls in Legislature in spite of large budget surplus: This year, Oklahoma’s House of Representatives advanced a bill that would have given 151,000 additional students across the state a free school meal. But the bill stalled in the state Senate, troubling anti-hunger advocates who saw the proposal as one of the best ways to address the state’s high rate of childhood hunger. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma legislature moves to exempt natural gas industry from price gouging law: The existing Emergency Price Stabilization Act prohibits anyone from increasing prices more than 10% within 30 days after a declared emergency in Oklahoma. Legislation to exempt the natural gas industry from that law is headed to the Governor’s desk. [KGOU]

Stitt, lawmakers at odds over sex offender registration bill: Oklahoma’s governor vetoed a bill that would have required sex offenders living on reservation land to register both with the local tribe and the state because of the “confusion” and “unnecessary disagreements” he said it would create. [CNHI]

Rep. Monroe Nichols urges lawmakers to restore funding to OETA: Oklahoma State Representative Monroe Nichols (D-Tulsa) called on state lawmakers to “restore funding” to the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA) after the governor vetoed the network’s reauthorization last week. [Black Wall Street Times]

Column: Stay informed and updated on current activities in the Oklahoma Legislature: There are many things that happen in life that we often have no control over. However, being informed regarding current issues in a person’s state government prepares them to make good decisions for the best course of action for their senior concerns. [Robin Gunn Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Oklahoma Supreme Court’s opinion challenging parts of the Indian Child Welfare Act is flawed, experts say: In late April, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the state could take custody of Native children who live on a reservation other than their own. It gives the state more latitude than it has had in the past to intervene in child welfare cases without consulting the tribe, according to legal experts. Critics say the decision is flawed and dangerous. [KOSU]

  • KOSU’s Allison Herrera will be on ‘Notes from America with Kai Wright’ on Sunday, May 7, and we want to hear from you [KOSU]

Bacone College recalled from Sheriff’s sale: The Muskogee County Sheriff’s Sale for the auction of Bacone College was recalled from sale on April 27. The sale is the result of an over one million dollar debt owed by the college to MHEC LLC for materials and installation of energy conservation services. [Mvskoke Media]

Voting and Election News

‘Respond as quickly as possible’: Oklahomans to receive voter address confirmation notices: Over the next several weeks, 326,603 registered voters in Oklahoma will receive an Address Confirmation Notice from the State Election Board. The notices are required by state law. Voters who receive an Address Confirmation Notice have 60 days to respond. [Fox 25]

Criminal Justice News

Jail Death Investigation Highlights Fatal Flaws in State’s Mental Health Response: The State Bureau of Investigation’s 300-page findings released to Oklahoma Watch reveal how Ronald Given died in the Pottawatomie County jail. Medical records, police reports, statements from first responders and interviews with jailers describe a fight between Given and his cellmate, questionable methods jailers used to force Given to the ground while he was handcuffed and an accusation by one jailer that Given was shocked with a Taser. [Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma AG files Supreme Court petition supporting stay of execution for Richard Glossip: State Attorney General Gentner Drummond on Monday filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of granting a stay of execution for death row inmate Richard Glossip. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma County jail trust hires new CEO despite recent inmate deaths: Members of the Oklahoma County jail trust on Monday selected Brandi Garner, who has served as the operation’s interim administrator since December, to take on the responsibility permanently. Garner’s hire comes as critics call for the jail trust’s dissolution following a scathing grand jury report and as the jail investigates the deaths of seven detainees who have died while she has led the operation. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Kingfisher Board of Education makes no decision in abuse, hazing lawsuit settlement offer: On Monday night, the Kingfisher Public Schools Board of Education decided to take no action regarding a lawsuit alleging a pattern of abuse and hazing at Kingfisher High School’s football program. [Fox 25]

  • Kingfisher school board discusses hazing lawsuit [The Oklahoman]

General News

State Treasurer sends letter to Biden expressing concerns over new policy: Oklahoma State Treasurer Todd Russ and more than 20 of his colleagues have sent a letter to President Biden conveying their apprehension about a new policy that goes into effect May 1. The new rule would force homebuyers with good credit to pay more for their mortgages in order to subsidize higher-risk borrowers. Those who make down payments of 20% or more will pay the highest fees instead of the lowest. [Fox 25]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Last Improve Our Tulsa town hall meeting focuses on city’s ailing facilities [Tulsa World]
  • RTA wants to put commuter rail project before Oklahoma City, Edmond and Norman voters [NonDoc]

Quote of the Day

“In less radical times, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction calling the educators who serve in our public school classrooms ‘terrorists’ would be shocking. However, this inflammatory and demonizing rhetoric continues to escalate in ways that endanger our educators and undermine public education.”

-Statement from the Oklahoma Education Association in response to State Superintendent Ryan Walters calling teacher unions “terrorist organizations.” [The Oklahoman

Number of the Day


The total number of missing or murdered Indigenous women is unknown because, for several reasons, federal databases do not contain comprehensive national data on all AI/AN women reported missing. [General Accounting Office]

Policy Note

Research raises new questions about missing and murdered Indigenous women: An analysis published recently in the Criminal Justice Policy Review offers new insights and raises new questions about the national public health crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women in the U.S. — and the news media’s role in helping authorities solve these cases. When found deceased, Native American women’s bodies are 135% more likely to be unidentified than the bodies of women of other racial or ethnic groups in the U.S., according to the analysis, which examines cases reported to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System from 2009 to 2018. [The Journalist’s Resource]

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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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