In The Know: Lawmakers advance bills to take some powers from Gov.’s office | Recreational marijuana debates | Policy Matters | 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

Policy Matters: We can’t move forward if we don’t acknowledge past: During Black History Month, it’s worth remembering the adage that “history never repeats itself, but it rhymes.” While some believe the civil rights movement resolved our nation’s racial problems, that’s far from the truth, and we can meaningfully address them only if we have an honest dialogue about actions that got us here. [Shiloh Kantz / The Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

There wasn’t an insurrection at Oklahoma’s capitol, Gov. Stitt says: Gov. Kevin Stitt referred to a Monday protest inside the state Capitol as “no big deal,” refuting comparisons some have tried to make between the demonstration and the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. On Monday, as the state Legislature began a new session, Oklahomans protesting anti-transgender bills gathered inside the state Capitol, chanting “trans lives matter.” [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahomans Debunk False Claims of a Violent Protest at the State Capitol [Oklahoma Watch]

We fact-checked Gov. Kevin Stitt’s State of the State address: Gov. Kevin Stitt called for sweeping tax cuts and expanding students’ access to private schools through school vouchers during his fifth State of the State address this week. We found a few misleading claims about Oklahoma’s economy and taxes. [The Frontier]

State Government News

Oklahoma tallies record revenue, but treasurer advises caution: In his first report on state tax revenues, new Oklahoma Treasurer Todd Russ issued a note of caution this week, despite collections over the past year totaling nearly $2 billion more than those collected during the previous 12-month period. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma lawmakers target medical care for trans kids: Republican attacks on gender-affirming medical care for young people continued Wednesday in several conservative states that are among more than two dozen considering similar bans nationwide. Lawmakers in Nebraska, Oklahoma and South Dakota considered bills Wednesday that would prohibit gender-affirming treatments, like the use of puberty-blocking drugs and hormones, despite the endorsement of such treatments by major medical associations. Those measures passed legislative committees in Oklahoma and South Dakota and also are expected to advance in conservative Nebraska, which has a nonpartisan Legislature. [Journal Record]

  • Panel passes bills aimed at transgender Oklahomans [Tulsa World]

Gov. Stitt renews rape kit task force that was briefly disbanded: A state task force to address a backlog of untested rape kits — the physical evidence nurses collect from rape victims during examinations — was inexplicably dissolved for one week due to inaction from Gov. Kevin Stitt. The governor issued an executive order on Wednesday to revive the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Task Force following questions from the Tulsa World about why the group had expired at the end of January. [Tulsa World]

Following Swadley’s scandal, Senate committee advances bill to alter oversight at tourism agency: A bill that would decentralize the power structure of the state’s tourism department advanced through a state Senate committee Wednesday, a step toward increasing financial accountability for an agency that recently came under scrutiny for questionable contracts with a local barbeque restaurant. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma lawmakers vote to strip governor’s authority over Veterans Commission: A bill that would strip much of the governor’s authority over the Oklahoma Veterans Commission advanced unanimously from committee Tuesday amid controversy about the commission’s membership and stalled construction of a long-term veterans care facility in Sallisaw. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Biden’s comments on oil draw pushback from Oklahoma lawmakers: President Joe Biden drew derisive laughter from Republicans when he said the United States will need oil “for at least another decade.” Biden made the comment in his State of the Union address Tuesday as he promoted a landmark law to slow climate change. That law authorizes hundreds of billions of dollars to boost renewable energy such as wind and solar power and help consumers buy electric vehicles and energy-efficient appliances. [Journal Record]

Tribal Nations News

Some Oklahoma schools don’t let students wear tribal regalia. Lawmakers could end that: When Muskogee High School refused to grant a Native American student her diploma because she attached an eagle feather to her graduation cap, the decision sparked outrage across the U.S. [The Oklahoman]

Voting and Election News

Recreational marijuana debates show concern for criminal justice reform and individual freedom: With the March 7 vote on State Question 820 getting closer, those on both sides of the issue came together this week to debate the potential legalization of recreational marijuana in Oklahoma. [Tulsa World]

  • Oklahoma to vote on recreational marijuana: How would State Question 820 work? [Tulsa World]

Tulsa County election workers agree to deferred prosecution deal with DA’s Office: Under the terms of the agreement, David Barber, 72, and Henryetta Barber, 68, will not be charged with interference with the conduct of an election. In return, they must each pay a $50 fine, do 25 hours of community service, cease being poll workers and not violate any laws for six months. [Tulsa World]

Big school bond proposals on the ballot in Norman, Stillwater, Mustang and more: Voters in 62 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties have something to vote on during the primary and special election on Tuesday, February 14. Early voting takes place Thursday, February 9 and Friday, February 10, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. While most early voters will cast ballots at their local county election board, others will not. You can find your early voting location here. [KOSU]

Debate: JoBeth Hamon, Marek Cornett differ on police, economic development: Incumbent Ward 6 OKC City Council member JoBeth Hamon and challenger Marek Cornett lightly sparred over issues like policing and economic development while finding common ground on public transportation during a debate Wednesday night hosted by NonDoc at The Yale Theater. [NonDoc]

Health News

Column: Want to improve heart health? Embrace cultural history, heritage: Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death for Native Americans — but maintaining a healthy weight, managing blood pressure and quitting smoking are all ways to improve heart health and lengthen your life. Another way to improve your heart health? Engage in traditional cultural activities. [Dakota LeClaire Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

January fairgrounds events draw 104,000, generate $36M impact in OKC: Despite ups and downs in the weather, January events at the Oklahoma City Fairgrounds attracted tens of thousands of visitors and had more than a $36 million impact in the area economy, fairgrounds officials reported this week. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma-invested company pushes ‘zero-carbon economy’: A green energy company heavily invested in Oklahoma is stepping up efforts to move the United States and Canada to a “zero-carbon economy” and will leverage advantages offered under the federal Inflation Reduction Act to continue making investments in wind and solar energy, next-generation battery storage, and other green energy technologies. [Journal Record]

Education News

‘Never took a sick day in seven years’: Oklahoma teacher moms and the realities of no paid maternity leave: Oklahoma teachers wanting to have babies are relegated to few options: try to time the birth for summer break, take limited unpaid leave, hope for colleagues to share their sick leave days, or pay out-of-pocket for their own substitute teachers. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

State superintendent rails against socialism while suggesting merit-based pay for teachers: Oklahoma needs to “continue to chip away” at its “socialist system” that pays teachers equally regardless of how good they are and instead embrace a “free-market approach” that rewards excellence, the state’s superintendent said. [Enid News & Eagle]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Investors seek removal of developer for Strawberry Fields area near OKC’s Scissortail Park [The Oklahoman]
  • OKC adjusts to new reality: Slowing tax revenue [Journal Record]
  • $609 million Improve Our Tulsa extension vote projected for August [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“So I essentially never took a sick day in seven years of teaching to be able to account for all of this.”

-Sapulpa High School English teacher Karli Myers, who said she had to bank years of sick leave to be able to financially afford time off to have a child [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Number of the Day


The 2021 median income for Black Tulsans, which is nearly half that for white Tulsans who reported a median income of $58,948 [Tulsa Equality Indicators] | [Data]

Policy Note

Decades After the Tulsa Race Massacre, Urban ‘Renewal’ Sparked Black Wall Street’s Second Destruction: More and more Americans are coming to know the story of the Tulsa Race Massacre that destroyed Black Wall Street. But the common narrative—that the neighborhood never recovered after the massacre—is incorrect. In fact, Greenwood’s resilient residents rebuilt their community almost immediately after the events—in defiance of hastily-enacted racist zoning codes—giving rise to the neighborhood’s moniker of Black Wall Street after, not before, the massacre. And while a price cannot be put on the 300 lives lost, the violence that really destroyed Black Wall Street wasn’t physical, but structural. [Smithsonian Magazine]

Note: February is Black History Month

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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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