In The Know: Lawmakers resisting urge to spend $2.8B in state savings | TPS: Accreditation decision violated Open Meetings Act | Capitol Update

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

Column: Is history repeating with state’s current education turmoil? (Capitol Update): With the first post-pandemic school year about to start, a devastating teacher shortage, and many students who have fallen behind because of the interruptions in their education, you’d think the state board of education would be laser focused on policies to help overcome those challenges. Instead, they are busy monitoring the implementation of House Bill 1775, a convoluted bill passed in 2021 that prohibits teachers, administrators, or other school employees from requiring or making part of a course certain concepts regarding race and sex. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

With record $2.8 billion in Oklahoma’s savings accounts, state leaders resist calls to spend: Oklahoma has a record $2.8 billion in state savings accounts, but state leaders say they intend to keep that money socked away for a rainy day. [The Oklahoman]

TPS claims state ed board’s accreditation decision violated Open Meeting Act: An attorney with Tulsa Public Schools is questioning whether the decision to downgrade the district’s accreditation was in compliance with the state’s public notification requirements. [Tulsa World]

‘An impossible position’: Oklahoma teacher resigns over HB 1775: House Bill 1775, the controversial Oklahoma law, prohibits schools from covering certain concepts on race and gender, and it recently caused a significant accreditation downgrade for Tulsa and Mustang Public Schools. [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

No red flag: Oklahoma officials barred from limiting guns based on risks: Two years ago state lawmakers banned the use of extreme risk protection orders, believed to be the only anti-red flag law in the nation. [The Oklahoman]

Is Oklahoma a ‘top 10’ state for bridges? Not quite: State officials have proclaimed Oklahoma “top 10” for bridges, as both the governor and transportation director recently celebrated a No. 5 ranking for the fewest number of bridges in “poor” condition. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

White House hits back at Markwayne Mullin, Kevin Hern over student loan criticism: The White House struck back on Thursday against two Oklahoma congressmen who criticized student loan forgiveness after accepting taxpayer aid for their businesses during the pandemic. [The Oklahoman]

Column: D.C. Digest: Oklahoma delegation joins Republican IRS clamor: Members of the delegation have also joined in the Republican chorus lamenting the 87,000 Internal Revenue Service employees authorized under the Democrats’ Inflation Relief Act. [Tulsa World]

Column: Inflation Reduction Act provides needed relief: On Aug. 16, the Inflation Reduction Act was signed into law, a comprehensive $750 billion plan that includes major health care, tax and climate reforms. [Sen. Carri Hicks Guest Column/ The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Cherokee Nation, Indian Health Service invest nearly $12 million in water, sewer infrastructure: The Cherokee Nation and Indian Health Service say they’re funding projects to bring clean drinking water and safe wastewater treatment to Cherokee Nation citizens. [KOSU]

Column: True retribution for Native Americans is overwhelming, uncomfortable: The United States was founded on the dispossession of Native Americans. The damage inflicted onto tribes was/is so enormous that any true retribution must be as colossal, measured not only in money but in power. [Esha Venkataraman Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Voting and Election News

Oklahoma Voter Turnout Lags in August Runoff: The vast majority of Oklahoma voters, with the exception of Libertarians in places with no local races, were eligible to participate in last week’s runoff election. [Oklahoma Watch]

SQ 820: Don’t bogart that initiative petition, my friend: After a spring challenge of State Question 820’s “gist” that took a couple of months to resolve, supporters of this initiative petition legalizing recreational marijuana again find themselves in front of the Oklahoma Supreme Court after a third-party state contractor validated that their signature submissions met the threshold to qualify for the Nov. 8 general election ballot. [NonDoc]

Opinion: Political notebook: U.S. Senate debates seem unlikely: Even before the polls closed on Tuesday and Markwayne Mullin officially became the Republican nominee to complete U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe’s unexpired term, Democrat Kendra Horn was trying to lure Mullin into a debate. [Tulsa World]

‘Boys versus girls’ at top of Oklahoma’s general election ballot: The top four offices to be decided in the Nov. 8 general election — governor, lieutenant governor and both U.S. Senate seats — as well as the state superintendent of public instruction are a race between men and women. It’s the first time such a thing has happened in Oklahoma. [Tulsa World]

Health News

Guest columnist: How new spending package stifles drug development: In sleight of hand, proponents created the illusion they are controlling drug prices. Actually, this bill does just the opposite. They have instituted a cap on how much the cost of a drug can go up compared to inflation. Sounds good on the surface, but as always, the devil is in the details. [Nate Webb / The Oklahoman]

Column: Remembering celebrated journalist, vaccine advocate Pam Henry: In the absence of any contraindications, vaccinating one’s child against COVID is a smart move for one’s personal health, classmates and the community. My affinity for vaccines started from having roomed my freshman year at the University of Oklahoma with Pam Henry, the last poster child for the 1959 March of Dimes campaign against polio. [Pam Olson Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

In the line of fire: Oklahoma law officers face unexpected dangers every day: In the Sooner State and around the country, the shooting deaths of sheriff’s deputies in recent years have revealed a particularly dangerous aspect of law enforcement work, one in which authorities are delivering bad news to people at a low point in their lives. [The Oklahoman]

‘Destroyed’: Family mourns death; data contradicts OHP pursuit claims: Questions have been raised for a long time about police pursuits, but at least one expert and one study challenge the decision to pursue in most cases, indicating that when a pursuit is called off most of the time the fleeing vehicles slow down to near the speed limit within two minutes. The findings contradict claims the Oklahoma Highway Patrol has given as reason for pursuing and spinning out a truck during an Aug. 15 pursuit on I-35. [Norman Transcript]

Aungela Spurlock named director of Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation: Aungela Spurlock, a two-decade member of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, has been named its top official, becoming the first female director in the agency’s nearly 100-year history. [The Oklahoman]

Column: Oklahoma executions will continue until the people say ‘Stop’: My hope is that the people of Oklahoma will be repulsed and recognize that this is the senseless killing of a defenseless person who committed a crime 25 years ago. [Rev. Don Heath Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Honda and LG Energy plan to build a $4.4 billion lithium-ion plant in the US: On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Panasonic is eyeing Oklahoma as the site for a lithium-ion battery plant that would supply Tesla with high-capacity batteries. Canoo, which moved its headquarters to Bentonville, Arkansas, has plans to build an EV factory in Oklahoma. [TechCrunch]

  • Oklahoma is leading contender for a $4 billion Panasonic EV battery plant [Dallas Morning News]

Column: Marginalized farmers need community, equity to survive: As the median age of farmers and ranchers is increasing, the United States is on the precipice of a historical shift in land ownership and management. Millions of acres will be transferred to new operators and owners in the next several decades. How we navigate this transition will determine the ability of marginalized groups to successfully enter into agriculture. [Jean M. Lam Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Education News

Area universities see big jumps in freshmen to kick off fall semester: Feeling no lingering effects on enrollment after two pandemic years, area universities say they are welcoming new students to campus at historic rates this fall semester. [Tulsa World]

TCC bucking trend through its success with student services: Tulsa Community College has shown what it takes to post good student outcomes: Invest in students. [Ginnie Graham Column / Tulsa World]

General News

Column: We’re playing with fire with Christian nationalism: In 1994, Jim Inhofe said he was told by a voter that he’d win his bid for the Senate because of “God, gays and guns.” These three fronts of America’s culture wars still define a strain of conservatism that has worked well on Election Day. Nearly three decades after Inhofe recalled that quip, the draw toward these issues, and others like them, is strong. [Bob Doucette Column / Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

Quote of the Day

“I can’t think of a single example in history where the folks who have been banning the books turn out to be the quote-unquote good guys.”

-Former Norman High School teacher Summer Boismier, who resigned four days after a parent complained about a bookcase in her classroom covered in paper with the message “books the state doesn’t want you to read” due to HB 1775. [The Oklahoman

Number of the Day


Women in the United States earned 30% less than men and that pay gap increased with age, according to Quarterly Workforce Indicators reports for the 3rd Quarter of 2020, the most recent national data available [U.S. Census]

Policy Note

Women’s Equality Day: Celebrating Those Advancing Gender Equity: Many of the women who organized the movement for suffrage, including women of color, whose stories are too often ignored, faced violence, abuse, jail time, racism, and even torture. Women’s Equality Day is therefore a day of commemoration and celebration, recognizing the extraordinary work of those who advocated for change despite the grave risks to themselves and their families. [U.S. Department of Labor] Note: Friday, Aug. 26, was Women’s Equality Day, which honors women’s suffrage and advancing gender equity. 

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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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