In The Know: Lawmakers hopeful teacher pay plan can be worked out | AG defends HB1775 | Closing the affordable housing gap

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

Oklahoma lawmakers need to close the affordable housing gap: Oklahoma, like the rest of the country, faces a housing crisis. The state’s affordable housing supply isn’t keeping up with Oklahoma’s needs, and the issue is getting worse. To close the affordable housing gap, lawmakers should increase funding for the Oklahoma Affordable Housing Act and find new solutions to grow the stock of affordable housing. Several good bills are on the table this legislative session. House Bill 2040 would increase the state affordable housing tax credit annual cap from $4 million to $10 million, while HB 2870 and HB 2098 would create new programs to support affordable housing development. The affordable housing crisis will require a multi-faceted approach to solve and lawmakers can start that work this session. [Sabine Brown / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma attorney general defends controversial race and gender education law, pushes for suit dismissal: New Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond has taken an aggressive stance in defending the controversial state law targeting race and gender curriculum, pushing a federal judge to dismiss a suit claiming the law has chilled free speech in public schools and universities. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma high court opinion gives hope to advocates that abortion rights could be expanded: Although a recent court decision determined that Oklahoma’s constitution includes an inherent right for a woman to seek an abortion when its necessary to save her life, access to the procedure remains extremely limited in the state. But abortion rights advocates hope and GOP elected officials fear that the opinion could set the stage for the Oklahoma Supreme Court to further expand abortion access at a later date. [Tulsa World]

Once focused on low-income students, Oklahoma’s school choice effort goes ‘universal’: As the state Legislature considers a bill that would give refundable tax credits to parents with children in private schools, the governor and leaders in the House prefer a plan available to all Oklahomans, regardless of income. Allowing affluent families to have part of their private school tuition covered with state funds represents a shift within the school choice effort that had previously built its campaign around helping low-income families. [The Oklahoman]

Lawmakers remain hopeful teacher pay plan can be worked out: Despite a war of words at the Capitol about dueling teacher pay plans, several lawmakers said they are confident a deal can be struck. [Tulsa World]

  • Oklahoma education standstill could head to a conference committee for negotiation [KOKH]

State Government News

ACCESS Oklahoma opponents say the math for new toll roads doesn’t add up: If the forecasts by engineers are correct, Oklahoma City’s population, most recently estimated at 687,725, will jump to about 1.4 million by 2050. Maps produced by the turnpike authority to justify its proposed 15-year, $5 billion ACCESS Oklahoma expansion plan, show traffic back-ups spreading all along I-35 between Oklahoma City and Norman without construction of new toll roads. [The Oklahoman]

Bills Cracking Down on Marijuana Alive in Oklahoma Legislature: A month after Oklahoma voters defeated recreational marijuana, dozens of bills proposing changes to the state’s five-year-old medical marijuana program remain before lawmakers. [Oklahoma Watch]

Crazy at times, they say, but worthwhile. Here’s how these rookie Oklahoma legislators are doing: Two months ago, 24 new state legislators sat down at the state Capitol to begin their first terms in office. They were bucking a troubling trend. Many Americans these days say they are fed up with politics, and according to the polls, avoid political discussions even with friends. But these two dozen Oklahomans decided to get off the sidelines and battle to enter public office. [The Oklahoman]

Political notebook: In Oklahoma state government, everything requires a bill: A member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives admitted recently that he gets a “little punchy” about the middle of the session. It’s easy to understand why. More than 3,000 bills have been filed each session in recent years for sessions that last less than four months. [Tulsa World]

Column: Extremism silences voters and distracts from solving real problems: In 1908, A.C. Hamlin became the first Black person elected to the Oklahoma Legislature. He won election due to the large population of Black voters in his district, and despite being the only Black legislator and a member of the minority party, he worked with other legislators to pass legislation that funded a Black school in his district and addressed inequitable facilities for white and Black passengers on trains. [Rep. Cyndi Munson / The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Freed slaves became Muscogee, but descendants lost those rights. Can citizenship be restored?: Their ancestors were freed from slavery and guaranteed equal protection by the Muscogee Nation. But when Rhonda Grayson and Jeffrey Kennedy were growing up, they lost their rights in the eastern Oklahoma tribe. [The Oklahoman]

Voting and Election News

Should Oklahoma Lawmakers Consolidate Some Elections?: Oklahomans have had plenty of opportunities to vote lately. They could weigh in on several local and county races on April 4. For some, it was the fourth or fifth time in five months they’d been eligible to cast a ballot. [Oklahoma Watch]

Former President Donald Trump’s favorability is falling among Oklahoma Republicans, poll shows: Donald Trump’s favorable rating in Oklahoma has dropped to 50%, according to a new poll that shows Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis within nine points of the ex-president among state Republicans in a hypothetical primary match-up. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Column: Health information exchange delivers greater patient safety, more efficient care: Health information exchange delivers greater patient safety, more efficient care: Health information exchanges (HIEs) are networks of medical providers like the ones listed above who agree to share, with their patients’ consent, medical data so they can coordinate care and work as a team. [Rep. Marcus McEntire Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma County jail inmate dies Saturday: An Oklahoma County jail inmate died Saturday morning. This is the jail’s third death for 2023. Oklahoma County Detention Center officers discovered detainee Dina Kirven, 26, unresponsive in his cell just before 7 a.m. Saturday morning. Kirven had been booked in the detention center for less than six hours. [The Oklahoman]

What we know about the Blanchard standoff: Two individuals are dead after a police standoff Saturday morning in Blanchard, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

Column: Entrepreneurship a way for women to achieve pay equity: One would think in 2023 we’d be well past the conversations of the glass ceiling and pay equity. Unfortunately, we’re still bumping up against barriers similar to those faced by our mothers, grandmothers and even our great-grandmothers. [Bri Seeley Guest Column / Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Canoo buys OKC plant for $34.27 million as it prepares for electric vehicle manufacturing: Canoo, the start-up electric vehicle manufacturer, completed its $34.27 million purchase Friday of the former Terex plant in Oklahoma City where it plans begin production later this year. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahomans taking lead in drone technology and advanced air mobility: Oklahoma aerospace engineers told members of a U.S. House high tech committee that they are using drone technology and advanced air mobility to leverage aerospace programs within the state’s Native American tribes. [NonDoc]

Disposal well operators told to stop, reduce injections after state earthquakes this week: Regulators on Friday told some injection well operators close to the epicenter of Thursday morning’s 4.0 earthquake near Carney they will have to shut their operations down, indefinitely. [The Oklahoman]

  • Disposal well operations reduced following earthquakes [Tulsa World]

Column: Tapping into our unseen workforce in a changing world: Employers will also find they experience a much higher retention rate with employees who are living with a disability, offering continued advantages to maintaining a more diverse workforce. In a study conducted by the Chicago Lighthouse, disabled employees had a tenure 1.8 times higher than their non-disabled peers. [Lauren Branch Guest Column / Tulsa World]

Education News

OK Superintendent Walters threatens lawsuit over Biden trans athlete proposal: Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters says he “will sue the federal government” if the Biden administration’s proposal to forbid outright bans on transgender athletes is implemented. [KFOR]

  • Ryan Walters threatens to sue Biden administration over trans athletes proposal [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma State University receives $7 million for energy efficiency initiative: U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff announced an investment using federal funds to create the Great Plains Center of Excellence on Friday. OSU is one of five institutions across the country to receive a portion of the $18.7 million. Almost $7 million will go toward the center in Stillwater. [KOSU]

  • Oklahoma State University receives $7 million for energy efficiency initiative [Public Radio Tulsa]

Education notebook: Finalists announced, job fair, open house and more: Four elementary educators and a CareerTech instructor are the five finalists for Tulsa Public Schools’ 2023 Teacher of the Year. [Tulsa World]

Column: To end crisis, Oklahoma officials need to stop playing politics with education: Public education is in crisis. It is intertwined with growing a strong economy. We have kicked the can forward on educational funding and reforms too long. Studies confirm an economy grows when educational systems are of highest quality. It is time to fund public education in Oklahoma. Our children must be a priority. An underfunded investment in public education undermines economic growth. [Phil Busey Sr. Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Column: Community colleges are fueling Oklahoma’s workforce: Separated by nearly 250 miles and located in opposite corners of the state, Altus and Tulsa are a stark contrast to each other. With copious cotton fields, Altus is an agricultural center where aircrafts from the 97th Air Mobility Wing soar overhead. Tulsa, with its cityscape, is an urban center of tech and aerospace where skyscrapers ascend overhead. [Chad Wiginton and Leigh Goodson / Guest Column]

General News

Community-led discussion on possible repair, reparations for 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre set for Tuesday: The first two of four planned community discussions on possible repair and reparations for the harm caused by the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre will be held held this week. The meetings are part of the Beyond Apology program, a privately funded, community-led process established to receive input and inform the public on the issue. [Tulsa World]

As benefits decrease, more Oklahomans are seeking out food assistance, rethinking how they eat: Smaller SNAP stipends, along with historic inflation rates and skyrocketing rent and utility costs, have created a “perfect storm” for those struggling to put food on the table. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Free tax filing services benefit families and greater community: One of the most important benefits available to low- to moderate-income families is the possibility of receiving tax credits. The Earned Income Tax Credit, which is designed to provide financial assistance to working families with children who may struggle to make ends meet on low wages, can provide families between $560 to $6,935 in credit and have a significant positive impact on a household’s budget. [Marcela Swenson Guest Column / Tulsa World]

Column: Government based on opinions of a few will keep our state and nation divided: Democracy demands that governing officials reflect the opinions and values of those they represent. This requires an ability to practice diplomacy, not dictatorial approaches. They must govern without oppressing the minority or doing only what those who voted for them want. [Richard C. Hall Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Cooperation is better than conflict: I appreciate the principled stands that individuals take on issues, along with the ability to “meet in the middle” when it is necessary to accomplish a better path forward. [Joe Dorman Guest Column / Tulsa World]

Ginnie Graham: Holocaust education done right teaches about the fragility of democracy: It’s a mistake to tell students the lessons of the Holocaust. Give them the factual history, and they will come to their own conclusions about prejudice, bias, hate and the downfalls of society. [Ginnie Graham Column / Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • What we know about a reported active shooter on OU’s campus in Norman [The Oklahoman]
  • Despite hiring challenges, Tulsa police leader remains committed to quality over quantity [Tulsa World]
  • Lawsuit upends relative calm of life at Tulsa City Hal [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“This would be a pretty dramatic change when we haven’t even seen the results of the previous change. If we’re looking to improve voter participation, we need to look at the big-picture things like the ability to register to vote online.”

– Sen. Julia Kirt (D-Oklahoma City), commenting on the idea that lawmakers could combine some elections to increase voter participation. [Oklahoma Watch]

Number of the Day


The number of affordable and available homes for every 100 extremely low-income Oklahoma households in 2023. [National Low Income Housing Coalition]

Policy Note

Housing affordability hits historic low

Fewer than a quarter of homes listed for sale nationwide qualified as affordable for the typical U.S. household, according to a new report shared exclusively with The Hill. The report, released Friday by real estate brokerage Redfin, found that the number of affordable listings in 2022 fell by more than half from the previous year — the largest annual drop on the company’s record dating back to 2013. [The Hill]

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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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