In The Know: How community book ban efforts gained momentum | State question process deserves better | Lawmakers to consider drought relief

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: State question process deserves better: Last week culminated a slow-motion nightmare for advocates of State Question 820, the ballot initiative that will put full legalization of marijuana to a vote of the people. However, as Paul Monies with Oklahoma Watch reported, SQ 820 advocates became “unwitting guinea pigs” in a new process intended to speed up signature verification by using an outside vendor. Instead, it took three times longer, cost the state more than $350,000, and delayed Oklahomans from being able to vote on SQ 820. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

Special legislative session to take up drought relief: Lawmakers plan to dole out an additional $20 million for drought relief along with more than $1 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funds during this week’s special session. Lawmakers returned to the Capitol on Wednesday for the special session. They plan to leave the door open for a final adjournment, called sine die, on Oct. 14. [Tulsa World]

  • In Oklahoma special session, drought relief likely, grocery tax relief not [The Journal Record]
  • Oklahoma lawmakers provide “unprecedented” drought relief to farmers, ranchers [CNHI]

Book Ban Disputes Roiled These Oklahoma Communities. Here’s What Happened: Calls to ban books have been around for decades, but coordinated social media efforts can spread them far, wide and at lightning speed. Now, complaints from a vocal few threaten to set off a blanket ban or lead to self-censorship out of fear — limiting book choices for thousands of students in a single district. [Oklahoma Watch]

State Government News

Lawmaker Dismisses Lawsuit Over GEER Spending Records: A state representative who sued the state will soon receive the spending records on a COVID-19 relief program created by the governor in 2020. [Oklahoma Watch]

Judge dismisses lawsuit against Stitt appointee on Oklahoma Veterans Commission: A local judge dismissed a lawsuit alleging Gov. Kevin Stitt violated state law when he appointed a new member of the Oklahoma Veterans Commission. [The Oklahoman]

Former Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority director Travis Kirkpatrick dies: Travis Kirkpatrick, a longtime Oklahoma civil servant and former director of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, died Tuesday. Kirkpatrick, 40, spent nearly 18 years serving in a variety of roles of state government. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

United Methodists will host vigil for victims of Native American boarding schools: Members of The Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference (OIMC) of The United Methodist Church will gather on Friday for a prayer service in conjunction with National Day of Remembrance for U.S. Indian Boarding Schools being observed across the United States and Canada.  [The Oklahoman]

Voting and Election News

‘The only true Native American in the Senate’: Markwayne Mullin is poised to make history as the first tribal citizen in the U.S. Senate in nearly two decades but not all Native voters are happy. []

The Frontier to fact-check gubernatorial and Oklahoma County DA debates: The Frontier is partnering with NonDoc and News 9 to fact-check debates in the gubernatorial and Oklahoma County district attorney races ahead of the November election. Gov. Kevin Stitt and Democratic challenger Joy Hofmeister have agreed to a debate hosted by NonDoc and News 9 at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Will Rogers Theatre in Oklahoma City. [The Frontier]

Editorial: Elections at risk because of extremists harassing workers: Political extremists’ harassment of election board officials by weaponizing the open records law and threats against poll workers are appalling and put Oklahoma elections at risk. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Health News

OU Health cancels gender care after funds threatened: The University of Oklahoma Medical Center confirmed Wednesday it is planning to stop offering some gender-affirming medical treatments after state lawmakers threatened to withhold millions of dollars in federal funding earmarked for the University Hospitals Authority. [The Journal Record]

‘Not done.’Activists say abortion restrictions in Oklahoma aren’t enough: An annual anti-abortion campaign began on Wednesday in the Oklahoma City metro area, with activists saying their mission to eliminate legalized abortion is still incomplete, despite Oklahoma’s abortion ban.  [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma Lawmaker Calls for Investigation of Prosecutor for Deliberately Withholding Evidence of Innocence in Richard Glossip Retrial: An Oklahoma state representative has called for an investigation into the practices of the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office following additional revelations that county prosecutors deliberately withheld exculpatory evidence and manufactured false testimony to secure a conviction and death sentence against Richard Glossip in his 2004 retrial. [Death Penalty Information Center]

  • Death row inmate’s attorney, state lawmaker call for new trial to forestall one of Oklahoma’s 25 scheduled executions [CNHI]

Question of suspect’s competency stalls case in slayings of three women: The man accused of killing three Tulsa women earlier this year will undergo a mental evaluation after his attorney raised concerns about his client’s ability to comprehend reality. [Tulsa World]

Mental health crisis is ‘gaping wound,’ needs prioritization by Legislature, Tulsa County DA says after stabbing: Speaking at the Tulsa Police Department a day after being stabbed, reportedly by his adult daughter at his home, Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said mental illness needs to be prioritized in the state. [Tulsa World]

  • Tulsa County DA recovering after being stabbed multiple times by daughter Public Radio Tulsa]

Two Oklahomans plead guilty to federal hate crime for racial attack outside Shawnee bar: After an assault left a Black man unconscious and bleeding in the parking lot outside a Shawnee bar in 2019, his attackers drove off into the night. This week, both attackers admitted they assaulted the victim because of his race. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Three cities written out of RTA plan: Significant progress has been made on plans for high-capacity transit in central Oklahoma even as three cities have dropped out of the alliance, officials said this week. [The Journal Record]

OKC oil executive to pay $1.9 million to settle federal investigation: The owner of an Oklahoma City oilfield services company has agreed to pay a monetary penalty and correct several violations of environmental law after an investigation by state and federal regulators. [The Oklahoman]

What does small-town Oklahoma have to offer people wanting to live outside the city? Lots: If you’re looking to move out of the big city and get into a new home, small-town Oklahoma has lots to offer for a lot less — lots and lots of vacant lots for sale for much less than lots in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and other not-so-small towns. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

What to Do When the School Wants to Remove IEP Services: According to the National Center for Statistics, the number of students receiving special education services has increased, from 6.4 million to 7.0 million between 2011–12 and 2017–18. The National Educational Association states that nationwide the current average per student cost in public schools is $7,552, and the average cost per special education student is an additional $9,369 per student (total average cost is $16,921 per special education student). [TulsaKids]

Scissortail Studios opens pathway to filmmaking in Oklahoma City high schools: Oklahoma City Public Schools and local film industry officials say they hope a new high school film program, established this school year as Scissortail Studios, will grow Oklahoma’s pipeline to the the cinema workforce. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma City Public Schools announces launch of Scissortail Studios [The Oklahoman]
  • OKCPS announces film and video production program for schools [KFOR]
  • Program lets students in on action of film production [The Journal Record]

Tulsa study offers more evidence of pre-K’s benefits into adulthood: Many people might think the main benefit of a high-quality preschool program is the academic boost it gives young children when they enter elementary school. [The Hechinger Report]

Edmond City Council, school board discuss EPS growth, possible new schools: The Edmond City Council and city staff members met with the board and other representatives of Edmond Public Schools Tuesday night to address the district’s increasing needs during a period of significant growth, particularly on the city’s east side. [NonDoc]

General News

Signs pop up in Oklahoma City encouraging people to ‘close the library’: Mysterious signs have been popping up in the Oklahoma City metro this week calling on residents to vote to “close the library,” on election day and attend a “book burning party,” the following week. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Quote of the Day

“What we’re really talking about here is a vocal minority trying to dictate what other people’s families, what other people’s children, should be reading in order to advance their own agendas.”

– Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada, President of the American Library Association, speaking about efforts to ban books [Oklahoma Watch]

Number of the Day


Local criminal justice fines and fees revenue in Oklahoma represents a 1.1% share of the state general fund revenue in 2021, tied with Florida and South Carolina. Only 13 other states had a higher rate. [Tax Policy Center]

Policy Note

What Would It Take for States to Reform Local Fines and Fees?: Fines and fees make up a small share of state and local revenue overall, but they can be devastating for low-income residents, especially Black, Latine, and Native American households, who are disproportionately affected by criminal legal systems. These penalties, such as traffic tickets and court costs, also create harmful incentives for police departments and courts. [Tax Policy Center]

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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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