In The Know: Inflation has increased Oklahomans’ annual costs by nearly $9K per year | Protecting state question process | Child care funding drastically dropped

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

State Questions: The Foundation of Oklahoma’s Democracy (video): In this video, adapted from a presentation given during a legislative interim study this fall, OK Policy’s Cole Allen provides an overview of the state questions process (also known as the initiative petition or citizens initiative) and why it’s so important to protect this vital democratic right in Oklahoma. [Cole Allen / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Oklahomans need $8,900 more just to live like they did in 2021, analysis finds: An economic analysis by a group of Congressional Republicans showed the average Oklahoma household would need to spend an additional $739 a month, or about $8,900 per year, just to afford the same goods and quality of life they had less than three years ago. [KFOR]

Why does one legislator have a quest to protect Oklahoma’s initiative and referendum law?: For more than a century, the public has used the initiative and referendum process to change state law and the Constitution itself. Indeed, records show the Oklahoma Constitution — has been amended by the public more than 150 times. But not everyone embraces public-driven legislation. [The Oklahoman]

Few schools participate in Oklahoma Teacher Empowerment Fund: Despite being touted by state Superintendent Ryan Walters as a way to stem the ongoing teacher shortage, public records show that only a handful of districts are participating in the initial rollout of a merit-based teacher salary program. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Enrollment Verification Problems Delay Start of Private School Tax Credit: Families wanting to apply for a new private school income tax credit of up to $7,500 per child will have to wait a little longer. The opening for the Parental Choice Tax Credit will now be delayed until 2 p.m. Dec. 6, the Tax Commission said. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • Capitol Insider: Application period pushed back for new private school tax credits [KGOU]

Oklahoma governor’s monopoly on turnpike board to end but changes may take time: A new law takes away the governor’s ability to appoint all members of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority board, but many of the appointees likely won’t change until after Gov. Kevin Stitt is out of office. [Oklahoma Voice]

Tax credits awarded to facilitate rail, infrastructure projects: The Oklahoma Department of Commerce recently announced recipients of Strategic Industrial Development Enhancement Act tax credits, including railroads and other entities planning nearly $55 million worth of infrastructure and other projects. [Journal Record]

Rise of delta-8 THC makes need for hemp regulations urgent, Oklahoma officials say: As dispensaries, gas stations and other shops are selling an increasing amount of chemically altered THC products, state officials worry no oversight means no consumer protection. [Tulsa World]

Political notebook: Walters says legal action possible against group protesting school’s morning prayer: State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters is considering legal action against a Wisconsin-based group calling for his resignation, he said last week. [Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

D.C. Digest: Lankford still hopes for immigration agreement: U.S. Sen. James Lankford and five colleagues — three Republicans, two Democrats and an independent — worked through the Thanksgiving break on a border policy bill but came to no resolution.  [Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

Cherokee Nation celebrates traffic citation revenue-sharing agreements: Cherokee Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. met with Tahlequah’s mayor Thursday to sign the kind of agreement he thinks could begin to resolve strife over tribal license plates. This agreement, one of 30 the Cherokee Nation has entered with Oklahoma municipalities on reservation land, ensures revenue sharing from traffic citations issued to tribal citizens, giving the city all but $30 of every ticket written by a tribal police officer. [Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

Filing period opens for area school board seats: The filing period opens Monday for more than 20 school board seats around the Tulsa area, including three with Tulsa Public Schools. The filing period runs through 5 p.m. Wednesday and candidates may file with their county election board. [Tulsa World]

Presidential Primary Candidate Filing Begins Today: Ready or not, Oklahoma’s presidential primary season kicks off this week. Candidate filing for the Oklahoma Presidential Preferential Primary began this morning at 8 a.m. and runs through 5 p.m. Wednesday. [Oklahoma Watch]

Health News

Medicaid disenrollment could drive many to ERs for health care, homeless expert says: This spring the Oklahoma Health Care Authority — the agency in charge of Medicaid in Oklahoma ― began to remove more than 250,000 people who were temporarily added to the Medicaid rolls during the COVID-19 pandemic. [The Oklahoman]

A shortage of nurses has Oklahoma struggling to conduct regular inspections of nursing homes: An incident at a Midwest City nursing home and the deficiencies uncovered during the state Health Department investigation highlighted the important need for state-employed surveyors to ensure nursing homes and assisted living facilities are safe and follow the rules. But Oklahoma is seriously short of staff to conduct those inspections. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Health Care Authority opens SoonerSelect dental plan enrollment: Select SoonerCare members can now choose between two dental plans that will begin coverage on Feb. 1. The plans are open to Soonercare members transitioning to SoonerSelect, which includes mainly children, pregnant women and adults in SoonerCare’s expansion group. [KGOU]

How are Oklahomans addressing suicide prevention? Faith coalition giving survey: The Oklahoma Faith Network, formerly known as the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, is asking people to take a survey the coalition leaders created to gauge how much Oklahomans of faith know about the nature of suicide and how Oklahoma faith communities are grappling with the issue. The survey is available at [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Oklahoma still has an HIV/AIDS problem; Black residents disproportionately impacted: I have now been actively working to end the HIV epidemic in Oklahoma for nearly 25 years. It is my daily rallying cry. We have accomplished so much, but more work lies before us until HIV is no longer a public health threat. [Theodore H. Noel II / The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Who pays to have Oklahoma County detainees transported to and from the courthouse?: At least one member of Oklahoma County’s Criminal Justice Authority believes the agency is being taken for a ride by a proposal that would spend about $750,000 of its budget to pay for the county sheriff to transport jail detainees to and from the courthouse. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Company plans to refine lithium for EV industry in Tulsa: A company has announced plans to build a refining facility in Tulsa to provide high-demand lithium for use in the electric vehicle industry. The investment by Stardust Power should help address China’s dominance in the production of lithium, company CEO Roshan Pujari said. [Journal Record]

How do you prepare for the next ‘mega project’? Spend millions on a hope: Following near misses with Panasonic and Volkswagen, officials at MidAmerica Industrial Park are spending tens of millions of dollars in infrastructure improvements in anticipation of its next “mega project.” Officials have spent at least $60 million on water, sewer, electricity and roads on about 2,000 acres for a “mega project.” [Tulsa World]

How Tulsa’s PGA Championship helped land a $1 billion manufacturing plant: A PGA golf tournament in Tulsa in May 2022 may have played a key role in largest economic development project in state history, officials said. Enel North America plans to build a $1 billion solar panel manufacturing facility at the Tulsa Port of Inola. [Tulsa World]

Education News

Angry taxpayers to confront Kingfisher school board about $5 million settlement of hazing case: There’s a growing outcry over a $5 million settlement of a football hazing lawsuit, and it’s not just because the popular high school coach at the center of the federal case has been forced out. Property owners in the Kingfisher school district are mad because they’re being told their taxes will go up for three years to pay $3.75 million of the settlement. Estimates are the increase could be as much as 12%. [The Oklahoman]

Taxpayer challengers in Catholic charter school case seeking judge’s recusal over close ties: Taxpayer challengers to a state-sanctioned Catholic charter school in Oklahoma want the judge assigned to the case disqualified over personal ties to one plaintiff and attorneys for one of the defendants. [Tulsa World]

TPS officials had no idea new expectations for improvement were coming from state: Officials with Tulsa Public Schools are now regrouping in light of additional requirements placed on the district Thursday by the Oklahoma State Board of Education. The board unanimously adopted an order requiring the district to meet additional goals by the end of the 2022-23 school year in order to avoid a state takeover or loss of accreditation. [Tulsa World]

Bacone College has survived many troubles. Can it avoid a court-ordered sheriff’s auction?: One of Oklahoma’s oldest institutions of higher education is set to be sold at a sheriff’s auction — and that’s only one of the myriad of issues facing long-troubled Bacone College in Muskogee. [The Oklahoman]

Yukon Public Schools to renovate home into a learning space for students with special needs: Yukon Public Schools has plans to open a transition house for students with special needs, aiming to prepare them with the necessary skills for independent living upon graduation. [KOSU]

General News

Revivalists Envision Future For All-Black Towns: The primarily central and eastern located All-Black towns were, and continue to be, keepers of childhood memories, generational faith-based institutions and a reminder of the commitment-to-excellence by those who built a foundation for a future of resilience. [Oklahoma Eagle]

From words to wealth: Bookstore’s Journey to Black Wall Street: Over a century after Black bodies, businesses and books burned during the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, the city’s only Black-owned bookstore held a grand opening at its new location on Black Wall Street Friday. Onikah Asamoa-Caesar, owner of Fulton Street Books & Coffee, has succeeded in steadily growing her business over the last few years, but she failed to hold back tears during Friday morning’s ribbon cutting. [The Black Wall Street Times]

  • Fulton Street Books & Coffee Has Moved To Greenwood, And We’re Here For It [Oklahoma Eagle]

Free viewing of “A Town Called Victory” highlights hate and hope: “A Town Called Victory,” a true story about one community’s response to anti-Muslim hate, will play free Monday, December 4 at Circle Cinema in Tulsa. The three-part docu-series recounts the story of a mosque that was burned down in Victoria, Texas in 2017. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Opinion: OKC arena report doesn’t provide enough information to conduct a cost-benefit analysis: It is unfortunate that OKC taxpayers are being asked to choose whether to extend the 1-cent sales tax to replace Paycom Center based on estimates from the “Economic and Revenue Impacts of the Oklahoma City Arena” report by Applied Economics. Based on my training as a Ph.D. economist and 30 years of experience immersed in local economic development research, I am well-qualified to assess such reports. My conclusion is unequivocal: The public is being misled about the content of this report. [Cynthia Rogers / The Oklahoman]

  • ‘Access to those jobs’: OKC arena deal could include community benefits agreement [NonDoc]
  • Backlash to new OKC arena idea raises questions about necessity [OKC Free Press]

Editorial: Communities being harmed by under-resourcing, disrespecting of public service jobs: For generations, Americans entered professions in public safety, health and education to create a foundation for thriving communities. Workforce shifts and unnecessary political winds are jeopardizing that infrastructure. Tulsa and Oklahoma are following national trends as residents opt for private industry jobs over those in law enforcement, teaching and public health. Politicizing public servant work has only exacerbated recruitment efforts. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Embark launches new rapid transit service, aiming to revolutionize transportation in Oklahoma City metro area [Fox 25]
  • Indigenous chefs get spotlight at food fest [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Developer updates Norman on plans for proposed $1 billion entertainment district [KOSU]
  • Cost to put new control tower at Tulsa International Airport tops $100 million [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“(The initiative and referendum process) serves as a backstop against the Legislature. It placed legislative authority directly into the hands of the people.”

-Oklahoma historian and attorney Bob Burke, saying the initiative petition/state question process in Oklahoma’s Constitution was designed to give people a voice in the legislative process. [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Percentage of child care providers who have run out of stabilization funding and reported they were serving fewer children. [National Association for the Education of Young Children]

Policy Note

Child care programs see closures, resignations and tuition hikes after federal funding expires: It’s been two months since the federal government’s $24 billion in child care stabilization grants expired, sending the sector over what many have come to refer to as the “child care cliff.” The relief, part of the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act, was intended to avoid a worst-case scenario for the early care and education field while the country rebounded from the pandemic. But the relief stopped on Sept. 30. Without another source of funding to supplement the sector, which the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury has called a “textbook example of a broken market,” the problems that the relief money helped paper over are once again pronounced. [The 19th]

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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.