In The Know: Improving Oklahoma’s youth justice system | ‘Vicious cycle’ of youth court fees | Impact of federal COVID-19 funding | 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

State’s juvenile justice system mirrors deficiencies of adult system, report says: Oklahoma’s juvenile justice system mirrors some of the same deficiencies as the one for the state’s adult offenders, a report released Monday said. The report chronicles some of that legal action and notes recent reforms, but concludes that “Oklahoma’s historical legacy continues in the form of ongoing disinvestment in communities and families.” [Tulsa World

  • ‘It’s a vicious cycle,’ Bill aims to cut youth court fees in Oklahoma [KFOR

New Report from OK Policy: Better Tomorrows: A Landscape Analysis of Oklahoma’s Youth Justice System and Suggested Reforms reviews the historical context for Oklahoma’s youth justice system, examines contemporary processes and actors within the system, and recommends a series of reforms that can help achieve better outcomes for justice-involved children and their families.

Health Care Authority warns 200,000 might lose SoonerCare when public health emergency ends: The Oklahoma Health Care Authority warns that nearly 1 in 5 Oklahomans with SoonerCare might be removed from the program after the federal public health emergency ends. [Tulsa World] While the emergency could be extended for another 90 days, as it has been several times since 2020, it’ll otherwise come to an end on April 16. [The Oklahoman

State agencies spend millions on outside support from marketing, PR firms: Public relations companies have found a lucrative customer base among state agencies in recent years as many have signed off on millions of dollars in contract work for everything from website design to brand management. Since 2019, state agencies have spent more than $99 million on public relations and marketing work from outside companies, according to state financial records. [The Oklahoman

State Government News

What to know about the newest round of medical marijuana legislation: As lawmakers rushed to meet last Thursday’s deadline to have bills read in their house of origin, over 30 medical marijuana-related bills advanced from the House and Senate floors. [State Impact Oklahoma] Legislation ranging from a moratorium on commercial business licenses, product packaging and sales requirements, an increased law enforcement presence within the industry and an adjustment to testing lab protocols all worked through each side of the rotunda last week. [The Oklahoman

Oklahoma in good shape since COVID, state treasurer says: Though the state treasurer cautioned Enid residents to not get too comfortable Monday, he said Oklahoma’s state revenue is at an apex since the COVID-19 pandemic began two years ago. [Enid News & Eagle]

Federal Government News

Biden introduces $5.8 trillion spending plan: President Joe Biden announced a budget blueprint Monday that calls for higher taxes on the very wealthy, lower federal deficits, more money for police and greater funding for education, public health and housing. [The Journal Record

Tribal Nations News

City commission crafts letter in support of Cherokee Nation delegate to Congress: The Cherokee Nation is still waiting to have a delegate seated in the United States House of Representatives. Greater Tulsa Indian Affairs Commission Chairman Joe Deere says the commission recently wrote a letter in support of having tribal representation in the nation’s capital as granted by the 1835 Treaty of New Echota. [Public Radio Tulsa

New Cherokee Nation community center will provide Head Start, health programs, space for traditional tribal games: Cherokee Nation and local community leaders broke ground on Friday for a new community center in the small northeastern Oklahoma town of Kenwood. [KOSU

Voting and Election News

Doubts surround residence, voter registration history of Oklahoma City school board candidate: Unwanted items are strewn about a dirty front porch at the run-down rental house on NE 18 Street. Neighbors say the property has long been vacant, with no tenants seen in six months.  Yet, Oklahoma City Board of Education candidate Sharri Coleman claims to live there, though for how long she would not say. [The Oklahoman

Criminal Justice News

City Council contemplating putting police oversight to a vote of the people: More than three years after Mayor G.T. Bynum proposed it, and six months after saying he no longer plans to pursue it, the Office of the Independent Monitor is back before the City Council. Councilors, not the mayor, put it there. [Tulsa World

Economic Opportunity

Editorial: ‘Return to Work’ not the incentive state lawmakers promised: The $1,200 workforce incentive program intended to replace the federal government’s enhanced individual unemployment benefits didn’t turn out to help many Oklahomans. Eight out of 10 applicants were rejected for various reasons, according to an analysis by Tulsa World reporter Curtis Killman. [Editorial / Tulsa World

Affordable housing dev in OKC hamstrung by red tape, credit competition: When viewing the ongoing crisis of affordable housing availability in Oklahoma City, it’s easiest to blame developers for not building and offering enough worthwhile, affordable units to meet consistently rising demand. [OKC Free Press]

Recently from OK Policy: Evictions are returning to pre-pandemic levels. That’s not a good thing. Evictions in Oklahoma have been a problem for many years, but job loss and lost income during the COVID-19 pandemic made it even harder for Oklahomans to stay in their homes.

Economy & Business News

Tulsa continues to have lowest average gasoline prices in U.S.: Tulsa continues to have the lowest average gasoline price in the U.S., while many areas of the country have prices well over $4 per gallon. The city also had the lowest average price in mid-March, according to the survey. [Tulsa World

  • U.S. oil exports surge, drawing crude away from storage hub [Reuters

Planned industrial buildings near Whirlpool plant valued at more than $50 million: A Kansas City-based real estate developer is planning to invest at least $50 million into build a pair of speculative industrial buildings just northeast of Tulsa. [Tulsa World

Education News

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister Meets With White House To Discuss Education Post-Pandemic: Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister is meeting with education leaders from the Biden administration and other states, discussing the most effective and efficient ways to close learning gaps caused by the pandemic and, more generally, charting the best course forward for public education. [News On 6

As Guthrie Public Schools grows, so does community financial support: Guthrie Public Schools, which once went nearly a decade without having a single school bond approved by voters, has seen a notable uptick in financial support from the community in the past few years, according to local educators. [NonDoc

Former Governor Frank Keating talks education in Stillwater: Whether you call the result “school choice” or you call it “vouchers,” a measure that would have allowed public funding to follow students who don’t attend public school, is dead in the Oklahoma Senate. Former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, an advocate for the issue, talked about that and gave an overview of the state of politics in general [Stilwater News Press]

Oklahoma Local News

Congress for New Urbanism focuses on equity during annual conference: The annual event brings planners, designers, architects, developers, and advocates for public transit and walkability together in a different host city year to year. This year was Oklahoma City’s first experience hosting the unique event. [OKC Free Press]

OTA comes to Norman: A long-awaited meeting between turnpike officials and the City Council will be hosted today for a presentation of proposed toll roads in Norman in the next 15 years. [The Norman Transcript]

Sheriff “adamantly opposed” to homeless shelter relocation: The Cleveland County sheriff has joined two city councilors in opposing the proposed relocation of Norman’s homeless shelter. [The Norman Transcript]

City of Stillwater continues COVID assistance with Phase 3 rent and utility aid: The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll, on businesses, on the people who work for them and even on their customers. But the City of Stillwater has tried to temper the impact on its economically vulnerable residents by offering multiple financial assistance programs over the past 18 months. [Stillwater News Press]

Quote of the Day

“Juvenile justice done correctly is a collaboration.”

– Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs Executive Director Rachel Holt, speaking at OK Policy’s panel discussion and report release on Oklahoma’s youth justice system [Tulsa World]

New Report from OK Policy: Better Tomorrows: A Landscape Analysis of Oklahoma’s Youth Justice System and Suggested Reforms reviews the historical context for Oklahoma’s youth justice system, examines contemporary processes and actors within the system, and recommends a series of reforms that can help achieve better outcomes for justice-involved children and their families.

Number of the Day


Where Oklahoma ranks nationally for positive family and community support

Source: 2021 KIDS COUNT Data Book

Policy Note

Families and Reentry: Unpacking How Social Support Matters: As has been detailed extensively in the literature, individuals released from prison to the community face myriad challenges upon release —challenges that former prisoners rely heavily upon their family members and social support networks to assist them in tackling in the days and months following their release from prison. [Urban Institute and Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority]

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Kristin Wells served as the Communications and Operations Fellow for OK Policy from October 2021 to July 2022. She previously worked as a digital content producer for News On 6. A native Kansas Citian, Kristin graduated with a B.A. in Media Studies and a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Tulsa in 2020. While there, she was accepted into the Global Scholars program, spurring her interests in policy, social movements, global identities, and the importance of education and advocacy. She hopes to use her skills to continue to learn and create a more equitable future for Oklahomans. An avid sports fan, Kristin lives in Tulsa with her rescue dog and is passionate about college basketball, documentaries, and coffee.

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