In The Know: Improving the expungement process | Death penalty cases and execution lawsuit | Challenge to special election | 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

HB 3903 would place strict limits on reviews of death penalty cases (Capitol Update): House Bill 3903 by Rep. John Pfeiffer, R-Orlando, that passed out of the Judiciary-Criminal Committee last week, exposes an ongoing dispute between the state’s prosecution forces and the Pardon and Parole Board and governor. A recent battle between the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Pardon and Parole Board culminated with a recent decision by Gov. Stitt to commute the death sentence of Julius Jones after the Board had recommended clemency. Jones’ request for clemency was partially based on his claim of innocence. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy

Oklahoma News

The expungement process in Oklahoma is expensive and time-consuming. The legislature could change that: Expungement can help people with arrests or aging convictions pass background checks and secure stable housing and employment. Most don’t take advantage of the relief it offers. The Oklahoma Policy Institute estimates that 93.5% of expungement eligible records remain unsealed. The greatest barrier to expungement is cost, criminal justice reform advocates say. While it’s possible to seek expungement without an attorney, the petition process is complex and typically takes months. [Oklahoma Watch

Previously from OK Policy: Nearly 20 states have adopted some form of automatic record clearance for their adult or juvenile criminal justice systems. If Oklahomans could expunge their criminal records through automatic expungements, it would be much easier for them to access employment and become productive citizens, but the current expungement system is too expensive and complicated for most eligible Oklahomans to access the benefits of an expungement.

Executions in Oklahoma remain on hold until judge rules on constitutionality of method: Oklahoma executions could resume as early as this summer if a federal judge rejects inmates’ complaints about the lethal injection procedure. A trial over the procedure wrapped up Monday in Oklahoma City federal court after six days. [The Oklahoman

  • Oklahoma attorneys say execution method is constitutional as trial wraps [AP News via Public Radio Tulsa
  • This sedative is now a go-to drug for executions. But does it work? [New York Times]
  • Oklahoma lethal injection lawsuit wraps up closing arguments [KOCO]

Lawsuit seeks to postpone Oklahoma’s special election for U.S. Senate: An Enid attorney claims an election to fill retiring U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe’s seat is unconstitutional. The lawsuit claims it is unlawful for the state to call an election until the after seat is officially vacant under the 17th Amendment of the U.S Constitution. [The Frontier] Enid attorney Stephen Jones also is asking the court to block the Election Board, which is named in the lawsuit, from carrying through with the special election later this year. [The Oklahoman] Because he said Inhofe’s Senate seat will not be vacant until Jan. 3, 2023, Jones argued that the earliest a special election to replace Inhofe could be held would be in 2024. [CNHI via Enid News & Eagle]

State Government News

Geography often more divisive than party affiliation at the Oklahoma state Capitol: Even before the legislative session was a week underway, one of the signature proposals from the leader of the state Senate was shot down by the leader of the House. “He’s a suburban Oklahoma guy and I’m a rural Oklahoman, and we see things through the lens of our individual districts,” said McCall, comparing himself with Treat. [The Oklahoman

State lawmakers aim to revamp government system for issuing driver’s licenses, REAL IDs: After some Oklahomans previously had to wait months to renew their driver’s license or get a REAL ID, state lawmakers want to revamp the government structure for issuing licenses, car tags and some other state-issued documents. [The Oklahoman]

Where do coronavirus bills stand in the Oklahoma legislature? Conservative Oklahoma lawmakers are working to ensure the state shies away from the mitigation efforts it implemented early in the coronavirus pandemic. [StateImpact Oklahoma

Hofmeister criticizes voucher bill, focus on teacher shortage in Enid visits: Oklahoma’s state superintendent, who’s also seeking Democrats’ nomination for governor, juggled dual roles during a multi-stop visit to the Enid area Monday. [Enid News & Eagle

  • Homeschool organizations say school vouchers come with ‘strings attached’ [KTUL

Oklahoma bill restricts trans women students from sports: Trans women students are once again under attack in Oklahoma. Representative Toni Hasenback made a change to House Bill 4245 restricting trans women from school sports. [The Black Wall Street Times

Oklahoma Republican lawmakers unveil medical marijuana regulations: Republicans in the Oklahoma House on Monday unveiled a package of new restrictions on the state’s booming medical marijuana industry, designed to crack down on illegal growers who sell cannabis on the black market. [Public Radio Tulsa] The plan comes amid growing complaints from constituents and industry advocates that years of legislative gridlock, neglect and regulatory inaction have created an out-of-control, billion-dollar industry that is threatened by illegal growers who are stressing rural water supplies and electrical grids. [CNHI via Enid News & Eagle]

  • Medical marijuana legislative priorities outlined by Oklahoma House working group [Tulsa World]
  • Marijuana bills aim to rid state of ‘bad actors’ [The Journal Record

House passes legislation to prevent enforcement of federal ‘infringement’ on gun rights: State and local officials would be prohibited from enforcing some federal gun laws under legislation approved Monday by the Oklahoma House of Representatives. [Tulsa World]

Health News

Oklahoma Health Department ends daily COVID updates; shifts to weekly reporting: The Oklahoma Health Department is doing away with daily COVID-19 updates on new cases as it begins to treat the virus as “endemic.” Until now, the department published a daily update at 11 a.m. each weekday — and recently, on some Saturdays during the omicron surge — detailing how many new COVID-19 cases the state had added to its total. [The Oklahoman

‘We can do better than this.’ Why insulin pricing reform is personal for this Oklahoma family: Everything changed when Clayton McCook’s daughter, Lily, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 10 years ago. Some states, including Oklahoma, have taken steps toward making insulin affordable. But McCook and other drug pricing reform advocates say there’s still much work to be done to ensure everyone who needs it can access it. [The Oklahoman

Criminal Justice News

Williams outlines efforts to address Oklahoma County Jail fentanyl problem: More strip searches, a body scanner for jail employees and extra education among detainees are some of the ways Oklahoma County Jail CEO Greg Williams plans to handle a growing fentanyl problem at the jail, Williams said during Monday’s meeting of the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority. [NonDoc] Williams said fentanyl is a growing concern at the jail, as it is across the state. [The Oklahoman

  • Jail Trust hears reports on jail deaths, contraband — still backs CEO [OKC Free Press]

Economic Opportunity

Oklahoma County commissioners hire consulting firm to help with COVID relief funds: The Oklahoma County commissioners on Monday  approved a contract with Accenture, a consulting firm hired to help administer coronavirus relief funds received through the American Rescue Plan Act. [The Oklahoman

Economy & Business News

Gasoline prices highest since 2008, but Oklahoma still has 2nd-lowest in U.S.: Skyrocketing gasoline prices are expected to continue for the foreseeable future with the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and relatively tight oil supplies, AAA Oklahoma and a national analyst said Monday. [Tulsa World]

Education News

RUSO board talks presidential positions, presidents discuss scholarships for Ukrainian students: While regents who govern the Regional University System of Oklahoma entered executive session this morning to discuss presidential vacancies at East Central University and Northwestern Oklahoma State University — as well as the employment of the current president of the University of Central Oklahoma — the presidents of RUSO universities gathered in a separate room and discussed launching an initiative to fund scholarships for Ukrainian students that have been displaced by the Russian invasion. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma City schools to end uniforms for middle and high schools next year: Middle-school and high-school students will no longer wear uniforms in Oklahoma City Public Schools next year. The district school board voted 7-1 on Monday to continue with uniforms at the elementary level but eliminate them for fifth through 12th grade. [The Oklahoman]

  • Some question the idea of eliminating school uniforms in OKCPS [OKC Free Press]

Oklahoma Local News

Oklahoma County Commissioners consider burn ban, bridges, and ARPA funds: The Oklahoma County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) held their regular meeting on Monday morning. During the meeting, the Commissioners heard from Emergency Management about extending the ongoing burn ban in Oklahoma County. [OKC Free Press]

Quote of the Day

“When someone has a conviction on their record or even a deferred sentence, those things are huge barriers to getting the job that really pays enough to live on or getting safe housing that requires a background check. We want to save people money, but more than that I want people to get better jobs and better housing and remove some of those barriers.”

— Rachel Delcour, the criminal justice director for the Women in Recovery program in Tulsa, describing how an automatic expungement process could help remove barriers to employment, education, and housing [Oklahoma Watch]

Previously from OK Policy: Nearly 20 states have adopted some form of automatic record clearance for their adult or juvenile criminal justice systems. If Oklahomans could expunge their criminal records through automatic expungements, it would be much easier for them to access employment and become productive citizens, but the current expungement system is too expensive and complicated for most eligible Oklahomans to access the benefits of an expungement.

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahomans who received the monthly Child Tax Credit that spent the funds on basic needs

[Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

Policy Note

The expanded child tax credit briefly slashed child poverty. Here’s what else it did: For six months, the United States experimented with an idea that’s new here but is already a backstitch in the social fabric of many wealthy nations: a monthly cash payment to help families cover the costs of raising children. Less than a year in, though, this U.S. experiment, known as the expanded child tax credit, has already been unwound by a deadlocked Congress. Still, it’s worth asking: What did it accomplish? Here’s what the data tells us. [NPR]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.