In The Know: Lawmakers agree on $12.9B budget | Bill would set lawmaker oversight on federal ed grants | Good public policy should serve all Oklahomans

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

WATCH: Conversations with Advocates | The Rev. Chris Moore: Good public policy would serve all Oklahomans: The Rev. Chris Moore — Pastor of Fellowship Congregational United Church of Christ and Board Chair of the Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry — talks with OK Policy’s Emma Morris about the need to make state policy decisions that work on behalf of every Oklahoma resident, especially our friends and neighbors in need. [OK Policy / YouTube]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma lawmakers agree on $12.9 billion budget package without major tax cuts: Lawmakers wheeled out a $12.9 billion appropriations package on Tuesday for the budget year that begins July 1. The final amount is $300 million less than a preliminary total published Monday. Lawmakers said the difference came from reductions in programs for affordable housing and rural economic development. [Tulsa World]

  • Proposed Oklahoma state budget: A look at key policy, spending initiatives [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma legislators roll out $13.2B budget plan [Journal Record]
  • Republicans give nod to budget with 32% increase in allocations [Norman Transcript]
  • Lawmakers say grocery, income tax cuts unlikely this year [CNHI]
  • What’s in Oklahoma’s largest state budget ever introduced? [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Lawmakers want to reign in Ryan Walters’ handling of federal grants for schools: The state House of Representatives and Senate appropriations committees on Tuesday afternoon passed a common education budget bill that seeks to reign in the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s handling of competitive federal grants. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Supreme Court dismisses effort for ACCESS Oklahoma injunction: The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday issued its first opinion in the ongoing battle by Norman-area residents wanting to stop construction of new toll roads as part of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s proposed ACCESS Oklahoma expansion. [The Oklahoman]

Several dozen bills remain in limbo after being vetoed by Gov. Kevin Stitt: The legislative session at the state Capitol wraps up on Friday but several dozen bills remain in limbo after being vetoed by Gov. Kevin Stitt. Vetoed bills that still have yet to get an override include a bill that authorizes OETA to operate, as well as several bills that impact tribal citizens. [KOCO]

Child labor laws in crosshairs of some legislators: Lawmakers in several states are working to roll back child labor protections at the same time violations of the standards are on the rise. And Oklahoma experts say lawmakers here could be pushing similar legislation before long. The U.S. Labor Department reports there has been a 69% increase since 2018 in the number of children being employed illegally nationwide, and it has more than 600 child labor investigations underway. Officials said they are particularly concerned about the potential exploitation of migrants who may not even have a parent in the United States. [Journal Record]

Tribal Nations News

State-tribal tobacco and auto tag compacts move forward after Stitt criticism: A proposal to extend state-tribal tobacco tax compacts advanced Tuesday in the Oklahoma Capitol. But lawmakers scaled back the terms of the extension from five years to one after Gov. Kevin Stitt criticized the initial bid as a “dark of the night” attempt to cut him out of negotiations. [The Oklahoman]

Commitment to education a hallmark of the Chickasaw Nation: Education has historically been one of the Chickasaw Nation’s highest priorities, and this year marks 40 years since the launch of two programs that forged a foundation for many modern-day education programs. [Ada News]

Beyond Lena’ Black’s Eagle Plume, There is a Larger Story: Removing an eagle plume from a Native American’s attire would be comparable to taking a crucifix necklace from around the neck of a Christian. The Lena’ Black incident is just one of many cases involving schools denying Native American students their rights to have an eagle feather attached to their mortarboard. Native American students shouldn’t have to sacrifice their Indigenous identity when they’re celebrating their academic success. [Native News Online]

‘We’re good enough to foster, but we’re not good enough to adopt?’ Tribal Nation denies citizens’ adoption because of same-sex marriage: A couple from Norman is tangled up in an an adoption case involving a 10-year-old girl, her adoptive family and a Tribal code that is at odds with the U.S. Constitution. [KFOR]

  • Court decision could allow Oklahoma couple to adopt the child they’ve fought for [KOCO]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma bill aids those who killed their abusers, but not those already behind bars: House Bill 1639 would allow women to present evidence of their abuse when charged with a crime against their intimate partner where self-defense could be raised. The bill initially had included language that would help those already incarcerated, allowing them to apply for a hearing to review their history of domestic violence and consider a lesser sentence. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma County to pay $3M to a former inmate who claimed guards left him paralyzed: In an excessive use of force case dating back more than five years at the Oklahoma County jail, county commissioners agreed to pay $3 million to a former inmate who claimed guards left him paralyzed. [The Oklahoman]

  • $4M in settlements to go to two Oklahoma inmates [KOCO]

Lawmakers move forward with adopting $1.05M settlement for family of dead inmate: The Oklahoma Senate adopted a resolution Tuesday to approve a settlement agreement for the family of Joshua England, who died at the Joseph Harp Correctional Center in Lexington in 2018. He was three months from being released on a short-term prison stay for arson. England’s family sued the Oklahoma Department of Corrections for $1.05 million after he died from a ruptured appendix. The family said the DOC did little to help the inmate while he suffered for days. [KFOR Oklahoma City]

Popular GOP influencer, school advocate arrested on burglary and stalking charges: A Tulsa-area GOP influencer and school advocate bonded out of jail Tuesday after he was arrested on burglary and stalking charges. Ron Causby, who goes by The Real Ron Ron on social media, was arrested Sunday. He has previously advocated for Oklahoma Republicans online. [Fox23]

Podcast: Long Story Short: How Cleveland Co. Jail Failed to Check on High-Risk Detainees: Whitney Bryen reports on the Cleveland County jail’s failure to conduct required checks on detainees at the time Shannon Hanchett and two others who died were held there. Also: Paul Monies shares state budget details and Executive Editor Mike Sherman dishes with host Ted Streuli about the tradition of journalism internships and what Oklahoma Watch readers can expect this summer. [Oklahoma Watch]

Economic Opportunity

Oklahoma communities encouraged to apply soon for SITES funding: Communities in Oklahoma are encouraged to apply for the $29.9 million from the state set aside for the creation and expansion of infrastructure to help with industrial sites, said the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. [Journal Record]

Education News

UCO professors voice ‘deep concerns’ with hiring Todd Lamb for president: Faculty leaders at the University of Central Oklahoma say they are “deeply troubled” at a lack of transparency and impartiality in the search process that led to the hiring of former Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb as the university’s next president. [The Oklahoman]

Trent Smith resigns from State Board of Education: Trent Smith resigned from the State Board of Education this month after serving more than two years. He had been the most senior member of the board after Gov. Kevin Stitt replaced four of the six members in January. [NonDoc

Opinion: Lawmakers should focus on funding public schools so all Oklahoma children can learn: As a social work student in a pediatric clinic for mostly lower-income families, I regularly speak with parents about school issues. One common story I hear is this: My child has a developmental delay and the school refuses to start them on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Often, years have passed and the child missed out on education that is accessible to them — education that they have a right to receive under federal law. [Andrew Helt Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits building renovation gets funding boost [Journal Record]

Quote of the Day

“School choice sounds great on the surface because it would allow parents to choose the best available school for their child. But it costs the state a significant amount of money that, if put into public education in smart, evidence-based ways, could significantly improve education for all students.”

– Andrew Helt, writing about the importance of investing in public schools. [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day

1 in 6

In 2022, 650,600 Oklahoma residents, or 1 in 6 residents, participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is the nation’s most important and effective anti-hunger program. [CBPP]

Policy Note

Most Working-Age SNAP Participants Work But Job Instability Overstates Joblessness in Some Analyses: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps more than 40 million people put food on the table each month. SNAP has existing, harmful work-reporting requirements, but recent proposals from House Republicans would harm more SNAP participants — by taking food away from older adults who can’t show every month that they meet or are exempt from work-reporting requirements — without improving employment. [CBPP]

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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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