In The Know: Is the education package enough? | State revenue weakens in May | Tribal elections

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.

State Government News

Some say education package isn’t not enough: The Oklahoma Legislature passed what’s been called a historic education package in May — but the reviews are mixed as to what the effect will be on the education scene across the state. Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the bill into law on May 26 and it will go into effect July 1. [CNHI News via Enid News & Eagle]

State revenue weakens in May: A two-year upward trendline for state revenue continued to show signs of flattening as oil and gas revenue declines, State Treasurer Todd Russ reported this week. [Tulsa World]

Ryan Walters defends Moms for Liberty after SLPC designates group as extremist: For the first time, the Southern Poverty Law Center designated the conservative organization Moms for Liberty as an extremist group. On Wednesday, Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters issued a statement where he “wholeheartedly condemns the Southern Poverty Law Center’s reckless and boneheaded comments toward mothers in Oklahoma.” [The Oklahoman]

Gov. Stitt signs bill to establish Oklahoma Civil Rights Trail, connecting historic sites: SB 509 will connect all-Black towns and locations significant to the civil rights movement, including man Native American sites of historical significance. The trail will also help stimulate tourism, foster entrepreneurship, and promote economic development within these communities. [KTUL]

Oklahoma, other states push back against California EV mandates: Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond joined a coalition of top legal officers in other states on Thursday in pushing back against action taken in California to do away with gasoline-power vehicles and eventually replace them with electric vehicles. [Journal Record]

Podcast: Catholic charter school, FY2024 budget, tribal compacts and more: KOSU’s Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and Civil Rights Attorney Ryan Kiesel about the Statewide Virtual Charter School moving forward with approving the nation’s first religious charter school and the fiscal year 2024 budget becoming law without the governor’s signature. [This Week in Oklahoma Politics / KOSU]

Editorial: Oklahoma doesn’t need to fight the battle to challenge church, state separation: The Statewide Virtual Charter School Board was wrong to approve giving public funds to the Catholic Church for a new religious school. It violates the state constitution, the state’s charter school law and national laws. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Editorial: Sen. Markwayne Mullin spreading conspiracies, missing opportunities: U.S. Sen. Markwayne Mullin has been on the job in the Senate for about five months, making headlines for repeating unproven conspiracy theories and turning congressional hearings into theater. While this is entertainment for those enjoying political chaos, the narrow communication approach and bombastic tactics have led to missed opportunities. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

It’s election season for some of Oklahoma’s 39 tribal nations. Here’s what you need to know: Tribal elections in Oklahoma are a big deal. Even if you’re not a citizen of one of these tribal nations, these elections still affect you. Last year, a report detailed tribes have an economic impact worth billions in the state. Tribal nations employ citizens and non-citizens, provide a bundle of human services and employ people in the healthcare field. [KOSU]

Drawing no opponent, Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby reelected to 10th term: Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby and his son, Lt. Gov. Chris Anoatubby, were reelected by default for additional four-year terms after candidate filings for the tribe’s July 25 general election concluded late Wednesday. First elected governor of the Chickasaw Nation in 1987, Bill Anoatubby is set to be sworn into his 10th consecutive gubernatorial term in October. [NonDoc]

Comanche Nation runoff incumbents, challengers seek ‘major changes’: Comanche citizens will be voting for four positions: secretary/treasurer, tribal attorney and a pair of seats on the Business Committee, a seven-member governing body managed by a chairman, a vice-chairman, the secretary/treasurer and four committee members, all of whom serve three-year terms. Tribal attorneys — often private law firms — are elected annually. [NonDoc]

Voting and Election News

Column: Defending the citizen-led ballot initiative process is important: Do you trust politicians to always get it right? Neither do I. Fortunately, the ballot initiative process and veto referendum provides a check on the decisions made by powerful politicians and enables citizens to actively participate in the democratic process. It empowers individuals to raise issues, propose solutions and shape public policy without being subject to the whims of partisan interests or legislative gridlock. It is a powerful tool that ensures the government remains accountable to the people it serves. [Rep. Mickey Dollens Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Column: To rid our system of ‘hate politics,’ we must use our vote as the cleansing agent: Our America is at a crossroads. Our democracy is on a path of destruction, not from an external force, but an internal force. Our current path is littered with false, misleading, derogatory and fantasy-based conspiracy statements made by politicians and their supporters. Hateful political statements distributed through modern communication channels are more invasive and damaging than ever. [Richard C. Hall Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Health News

Oklahoma health agency awards $3.75B in Medicaid managed care contracts: Officials on Thursday announced the state will contract with three major companies to manage health care for about 800,000 Oklahomans receiving Medicaid benefits through SoonerCare. [Tulsa World]

Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City president takes statewide role: The president of Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City was named recently to lead Mercy’s overall operations in Oklahoma, including its clinics, nine acute care hospitals and two rehabilitation hospitals. Jim Gebhart also will continue in his role in Oklahoma City. [Journal Record]

Criminal Justice News

An autopsy said Shannon Hanchett died of ‘natural causes.’ Her friends want more answers.: A Norman baker died in December of heart disease while in custody at the Cleveland County jail, a pathologist determined in an autopsy report released Wednesday. Shannon Hanchett, Norman’s 38-year-old “Cookie Queen,” died of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy due to an atrial septal defect of the heart, according to the autopsy by the Oklahoma chief medical examiner’s office. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Improvements coming to Pryor industrial park as Oklahoma seeks Panasonic plant: The MidAmerica Industrial Park is set to get $145 million in improvements as state leaders try to entice Panasonic to build an electric vehicle battery plant in Pryor. In response to a request from Panasonic, lawmakers appropriated $145 million for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce to fund site improvements and facility upgrades at the industrial park. [Tulsa World]

Education News

Education Watch: Did State Board’s Vote For Catholic School Count?: The Statewide Virtual Charter School Board made waves this week by approving the nation’s first religious public charter school. The validity of that vote is already in question. Newly installed board member Brian Bobek may not have been eligible to vote. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • Meet the board members who approved the country’s first state-funded religious school [The Oklahoman]

General News

How curfews affect unhoused and runaway kids: Cities like Oklahoma City, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Chicago have created new youth curfews, expanded old ones or resumed enforcement of dormant, existing curfews. Homeless and youth advocates worry that these curfews increase kids’ contact with police while failing to reduce crimes against or committed by minors. In some cases, judges have ruled youth curfews are unconstitutional. [Streetlight]

Oklahoma Local News

  • A national home building company just opened a new addition in OKC. How rare is that? [The Oklahoman]
  • Will Norman raise water rates to fund improvements the city says are necessary? It’s up to residents [KOSU]
  • Tulsa ceremony sees 90 children become U.S. citizens [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • City of Tulsa ends negotiations on planned redevelopment of Evans-Fintube property [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“By participating in democracy and protecting the ballot initiative process, we can facilitate impactful policy changes throughout Oklahoma when our elected politicians inevitably don’t get it right.”

– Rep. Mickey Dollens, D-OKC, writing about the importance of the ballot initiative process and veto referendum to provide a check on lawmakers in the democratic process. [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Estimated number of Oklahoma children under 17 who are left out of the full $2,000 Federal Child Tax Credit. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

Policy Note

Expanding the Federal Child Tax Credit in Upcoming Economic Legislation: When the temporary Child Tax Credit expansion under the American Rescue Plan expired at the end of 2021, the credit reverted to the flawed design left in place by the 2017 Trump tax law. As a result, an estimated 19 million children — or more than 1 in 4 children under age 17 — will get less than the full Child Tax Credit or no credit at all this year because their families earn too little, while families with much higher incomes (up to $400,000 for married couples) will receive the full $2,000 credit for each child. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

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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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