In The Know: House passes “Don’t say gay or trans” bill | State Supreme Court finds constitutional “limited right” to abortion | Mexican Consulate to open in OKC | 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.

New from OK Policy

A Mexican Consulate in Oklahoma City will help more than 100,000 Oklahomans

For years, Oklahomans have had to travel hundreds of miles to reach the nearest Mexican consulate for handling diplomatic transactions such as renewing passports, getting an identification card, or other routine services for Mexican and U.S. nationals. Commuting to the consulates specifically designated for Oklahoma residents — Little Rock, Arkansas, or Kansas City, Missouri — is a demanding process that often requires workers to take an entire day off of work just to make the long drive there and back. However, Mexico recently announced that it will open a Mexican Consulate in Oklahoma City in May 2023, making it significantly easier for over 100,000 Mexicans in Oklahoma to access the services they need without sacrificing a day’s worth of wages or more to travel out of state. [Gabriela Ramirez-Perez / OK Policy

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma House passes ‘Don’t say gay or trans’ bill: After more than an hour of discussion, Oklahoma state representatives passed HB 2546. The bill, known as the “don’t say gay or trans” bill would ban classroom instruction of sexual orientation or gender identity by school personnel or third parties. [KTUL]

  • Oklahoma House Republicans advance so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ education bill [KOSU]
  • State House Passes Sex Ed Restriction Bill [News 9]
  • In Their Own Words: Oklahomans On Gender Identity Proposal in Schools [Oklahoma Watch]

Oklahoma House advances sports betting bill, will begin Senate committee process: By a 2-1 margin, the Oklahoma House advanced House Bill 1027 to the Senate on Tuesday. The bill would allow tribes to add sports betting to existing gaming compacts they have with the state. [The Oklahoman]

Corporation Commission discusses SB 1103 on electricity rates, declines action: After nearly three hours of discussion in the crowded hearing room of the Jim Thorpe Building, two of the three Oklahoma Corporation Commission members decided not to take a stand on the legislation labeled as the Ratepayer Protection Act of 2023. Opponents said the measure instead should be called the utility shareholders relief act. [NonDoc]

  • Ratepayer or Shareholder Protection Act? Consumer Groups, Utilities Square Off on Pending Bill [Oklahoma Watch]
  • Oklahoma utilities want to change the way rates are set, and some think that will hurt customers [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Supreme Court justices deeply divided over constitutional abortion rights: The Oklahoma Supreme Court was deeply divided over the abortion question, with the 5-4 majority ruling on Tuesday that the state constitution protects a woman’s right to have an abortion to save her own life. The majority opinion states that the court did not rule on elective abortions. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma Supreme Court rules Oklahomans have “limited right” to abortion [The Oklahoman]
  • Right to terminate life-endangering pregnancy is inherent, Oklahoma Supreme Court says of state constitution [Tulsa World]

State Government News

House votes to eliminate state grocery tax: Repeal of the 4.5% state sales tax on groceries moved to the Oklahoma Senate on Tuesday, courtesy of the House of Representatives. House Bill 1955, by Speaker Charles McCall, passed the House 88-7 with the title on, meaning it is theoretically only a Senate floor vote from Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk. [Tulsa World]

Several Marijuana-Related Bills Pass Through Oklahoma Legislature: Oklahoma legislators passed several bills targeting illegal grow operations in the state. One passed bill would require 1,000 feet between grow operations and any church, and another bill allows the director of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority to shut down grow operations that harm the environment [News On 6]

Bill To Arm Teachers Moving Through Oklahoma House: A bill moving through the Oklahoma House of Representatives would allow more teachers to legally carry firearms at school. Currently, school boards can authorize teachers with a security guard license or CLEET certification to be armed on campus. [News 9]

Teachers and other certified personnel to get up to $6,000 pay raise under Edmond Senator Adam Pugh’s plan — approved on Tuesday: A bill to provide an across-the-board pay increase for Oklahoma’s teachers and certified school personnel received overwhelming support in the Senate Tuesday (March 21). Formal cost estimates for the proposal are not yet available. [Oklahoma City Sentinel]

  • Senate passes teacher pay raise bill with starting salary of $39,601 [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma AG’s office questions Walters’ authority to impose new education rules: An advisory opinion from the Attorney General’s Office indicates State Superintendent Ryan Walters may not have the authority to pursue controversial new state agency rules on school library books and sexual education materials. [Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

OU Native Nations Center Moves To President’s Office, Expanding Indigenous Research: A program at the University of Oklahoma will soon have a new office. On the surface, the transition will promote research and education, but leaders of the program say the new space can provide a louder voice. [News 9]

Health News

Oklahoma is invading the privacy of mental health patients: Last year, state lawmakers in Oklahoma passed SB 1369, the Oklahoma Healthcare Transparency Initiative Act. The legislation requires all healthcare providers to enter patient records into an online database. [KOSU]

  • Ahead of health information exchange vote, mental health provider rules questioned [NonDoc]
  • Lawmaker says concerns about Oklahoma health information exchange ‘unfounded’ [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Prison activism has spawned improvements in Oklahoma, but work remains: Incarcerated people in Oklahoma are using whatever tools they can — social media, celebrity attention and the legal system — to bring attention to carceral abuses. [Washington Post]

Criminalized survivors of domestic violence may see relief from proposed bill: Oklahoma has one of the highest rates of female incarceration in the nation and in the world. One proposed bill could help address the issue. [KGOU]

General News

Oklahoma opens applications for water, sewer bill assistance: The Oklahoma Department of Human Services is accepting applications for household utility assistance. The Low-Income Water Assistance Program uses federal pandemic relief funds to help Oklahomans maintain their access to water and sewer services. The program provides a one-time stipend that goes directly to the recipients’ utility provider to cover bills. [KOSU]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Stonecipher discusses controversial OKC homelessness ordinances at Nichols Hills country club [NonDoc]

Quote of the Day

“Is it really a hearing if no one’s here to hear the voices of the people who want to weigh in on this? No, it’s not.”

– Erika Wright, public school parent and advocate for rural schools on the absence of State Superintendent Ryan Walters at a State Board of Education hearing on Friday. The hearing was held to give the public a chance to comment on new rules, proposed by Walters, that would require school staff to inform parents when a student uses a different name, pronoun or other aspects of social transition, regardless of the potential harm they face at home. [Oklahoma Watch]

Number of the Day


Rate of Oklahoma children under 18 whose family income was less than twice the federal poverty level and at least one parent worked 50 or more weeks during the previous year. [KIDS COUNT]

Policy Note

Private opulence, public squalor: How the U.S. helps the rich and hurts the poor: Over 11% of the U.S. population — about one in nine people — lived below the federal poverty line in 2021. But Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond says neither that statistic, nor the federal poverty line itself, encapsulate the full picture of economic insecurity in America. His new book, “Poverty, by America,” studies various factors that contribute to economic inequality in the U.S., including housing segregation, predatory lending, the decline of unions and tax policies that favor the wealthy. Desmond says that affluent Americans, including many with progressive political views, benefit from corporate and government policies that keep people poor. [NPR]

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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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