In The Know: Lawmakers return for special session | Tribal leaders working around governor | Religious charter school drawing national spotlight | 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.

State Government News

Tribal compacts aren’t the only issue left for lawmakers headed back to special session: Oklahoma’s House of Representatives will head back to the state Capitol on Monday to begin overriding Gov. Kevin Stitt’s veto of tribal compact extensions, but several other issues are stuck in limbo. Lawmakers were expected to return at some point after Stitt vetoed bills that would extend tribal compacts on motor vehicle registration and tobacco tax collections. It’s likely there is enough support to override both vetoes. [The Oklahoman]

Roll-up round up: Stitt vetoes omnibus bill, signs new laws on license fees, lab: In a surprise move late Friday, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt vetoed SB 437, an omnibus medical marijuana bill that proposed a slate of new restrictions and included one particular timeline extension that appears to have drawn Stitt’s ire. The governor’s last-minute veto capped off a 2023 regular legislative session saw lawmakers add an array of new laws to the state’s medical weed industry. [NonDoc]

OSU vet school gets ‘historic’ $80 million appropriation: The Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine received a “historic” appropriation during the last legislative session. Lawmakers approved House Bill 2863 to create the Oklahoma State University Veterinary Medicine Authority and appropriated about $80 million for it. [Tulsa World]

Drummond praises signing of laws to combat illegal marijuana operations: Attorney General Gentner Drummond praised the governor and state Legislature today for approving a suite of legislation this year to help law enforcement crack down on Oklahoma’s plethora of illegal marijuana grow operations. Gov. Stitt today signed the last of the marijuana-related bills. [Okemah News Leader]

Oklahomans rally at State Capitol for child well-being reform amid alarming abuse statistics: People gathered at the State Capitol, fighting for Children’s Rights in Oklahoma, in light of a recent report from Child Help that ranks Oklahoma as one of the top ten worst states for child abuse. [KTUL]

Oklahoma is boycotting banks hostile to oil and gas while recruiting green energy companies: Gov. Kevin Stitt is touting a new law that bars the state from contracting with banks deemed hostile to the oil and natural gas industries at the same time he is trying to recruit renewable energy projects to Oklahoma. [Tulsa World]

Captiol Insider: Special session winding down: With the deadline for the end of the special session coming June 30th, Oklahoma lawmakers are wrapping up their legislative work for 2023. [KGOU]

Tribal Nations News

At odds with the governor, Oklahoma tribal leaders are working around him: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt pledged a new approach to working with tribal governments in his second term. But less than six months in, the friction that defined his first four years has returned. The Legislature has emerged instead as the state’s power broker with tribes, a role top lawmakers and many tribal leaders have embraced. [The Oklahoman]

Voting and Election News

Stitt endorses DeSantis at east Tulsa rally: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are not exactly two peas in a pod, but in policy and governing style they’re close to it. So if Oklahoma Republicans like Stitt, they’ll like DeSantis. [Tulsa World]

  • DeSantis reaches out to Oklahoma voters in Tulsa visit; gets Gov. Stitt’s endorsement [The Oklahoman]
  • Stitt endorses DeSantis for president [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma Democrats have stamped their last rooster: Last Sunday, the Oklahoma Democratic Party Convention voted, without much opposition, to replace the rooster that has represented the party on Oklahoma ballots since statehood and territorial ones before that, with the more familiar donkey, which traces its origins as a party symbol to 1828. [Tulsa World]

Health News

Column: Oklahoma must recruit Black physicians like it does Black athletes: Because of a poor medical recruiting system, we are losing lives, talent and time. I am the only Black male resident emergency physician in Tulsa, and starting July 1, I’ll be the only one in the state. This summer, Tulsa will lose nine out of 12 Black physicians matriculating out of training to other states. That means four-plus years of training and investment with no immediate return to the lives of Oklahomans. The underutilization and undervaluation of our diverse workforce and pipeline allows for the continued siphoning of talent out of Oklahoma. [Dr. Chris McNeil Column / Tulsa World]

Economic Opportunity

Column: Tulsa’s Meals on Wheels facing financial challenge like never before: Meals on Wheels is a vital lifeline for thousands of senior citizens who live alone in our greater Tulsa community. The demand for Meals on Wheels services has increased by 250% since 2018, volunteerism has declined by 60%, and meal costs have increased by 24%. [Mark Hurley Column / Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Venture Capitalism thrives when equity and equality are paramount: Venture capital (VC) funding is an essential source of capital for many entrepreneurs looking to start or scale their businesses. It’s worth noting that the topic of equity distribution and VC funding can be complex and varies based on different factors such as industry, location, and individual circumstances. [Black Wall Street Times]

Education News

Public or private? Charter law question at the center of Oklahoma Catholic school debate: Oklahoma made international news last week with a landmark vote to approve the nation’s first Catholic charter school. The decision touched on the very foundation of the U.S. Constitution and posed a central question: How could it be legal for a publicly funded school to be religious? [The Oklahoman]

Help wanted: School staffing challenges not just limited to certified positions: School districts are not searching just for teachers this summer. They’re searching for just about every position that’s staffed in a school building. [Tulsa World]

General News

Oklahoma has restored nearly 100 unhealthy streams thanks to water monitoring, regenerative agriculture: It only took a few minutes for Wes Shockley and his colleague to pull a dozen species of fish (and one small turtle) out of Pryor Creek. Shockley has been a Water Quality Monitoring Expert with the Conservation Commission for three decades, and he says those critters are signs of a healthy stream. “What lives here tells the story better than anything else,” Shockley said. “We can come out here and collect water samples — and we do. But that’s a point in time that doesn’t tell as big a story.” [KOSU]

The Tulsa Race Massacre is recounted through family memories in ‘Built from the Fire’: In “Built from the Fire,” Luckerson tells the story of Greenwood largely through the eyes of the Goodwin family. Regina Goodwin currently represents the Greenwood district in Oklahoma’s statehouse. Her ties to Tulsa go back generations, and her family was shaken by fear when the mob attacked what was often called the “Black Wall Street” more than 100 years ago. [NPR]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Ex Edmond mayors, current council highlight $80 million gap in road fix needs [The Oklahoman]
  • ‘Reading saves lives.’ Little Read Wagon, libraries build book programs for OKC’s marginalized [The Oklahoman]
  • Tulsa not included in proposed OKC-to-Kansas passenger rail expansion [Tulsa World]
  • City of Tulsa to restart discussions Wednesday on plans for Evans-Fintube redevelopment [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Forcing taxpayers to fund private religious education, even when such schools fail to meet education standards and use public funds to promote religious training, worship and instruction, simultaneously erodes the foundation of our democracy and harms students.”

– Rabbi Abby Jacobson, writing about Oklahoma’s recent decision to approve the nation’s first religious charter school. [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day

About 44% of recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, (formerly known as food stamps), reported skipping meals in May because of a combination of reduced benefits and higher food costs. [CBS News]

Policy Note

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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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