In The Know: Legal concerns arise over OSDE employee “confidentiality” agreement | Governor’s council says AG has no authority over tribal gaming compact suit | 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

Stitt’s counsel to Legislature: Drummond lacks authority to take over gaming compact suit: Despite what he has told legislative leaders, Attorney General Gentner Drummond lacks the authority to take over the state’s representation in a three-year-old legal dispute between Gov. Kevin Stitt and tribal nations regarding casino gaming compacts, the governor’s general counsel says. [NonDoc]

‘They’re trying to silence people’: OSDE requires all employees to sign confidentiality agreements, legality concerns arise: The Oklahoma State Department of Education requires all employees sign a confidentiality agreement, but the term “confidential” isn’t clearly defined and an attorney is raising concerns over the legality of the document. [KFOR]

Federal Government News

Oklahoma AG, others push back against aggressive EV push: A plan by the Biden administration to “forcibly phase out” gas-powered vehicles and push adoption of electric vehicles at a “breakneck pace” would be disastrous to Oklahoma and to the nation, according to Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond. [Journal Record]

New round of student loan debt forgiveness will erase balances for over 800,000 people: A tweak to how the federal Education Department calculates student loan payments, intended to correct past errors, means about 804,000 people will have the balance of their loans erased over the next few months. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Northeastern Oklahoma tribe rescinds charter with traditional Native college: After months of turmoil, mounting debt and uncertainty over the future of a tribal institution in a nearby city, the United Keetoowah Band Council voted to rescind its charter with Bacone College. [CNHI via Enid News & Eagle]

Voting and Election News

Column: Oklahoma rolls out online voter registration – finally: It is no surprise to anyone attentive to Oklahoma politics that our voter participation rate is abysmal. Nonetheless, there was encouraging news this week – both at NE 23rd and Lincoln Boulevard and in the grass roots – that Oklahoma is getting serious about improving democracy’s health. [Arnold Hamilton Guest Column / Journal Record]

Editorial: Election reforms in open primaries, no straight-party option to calm the rhetoric: Tulsa and Oklahoma City municipal elections have proven something: When every voter gets the same ballot, candidates representing the broadest consensus of a community emerge. That’s a good outcome. When citizens feel they have a choice in their representation, they tend to vote more often and enter public life. Civic engagement goes up, and elected officials are more responsive to constituents. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Health News

Oklahoma man claims Integris let patient information to be tracked for advertising: A Bethany man is suing Integris Health, alleging that the largest Oklahoma-owned health system violated privacy laws by allowing third parties to harvest personal health care information for advertising purposes. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

How can Oklahomans get those involved in justice system a chance for a new path?: It’s a job a newly launched task force will have to face. It’s a way to review what works in Oklahoma’s criminal justice system, taking data from jails across the state and coming up with ways to keep Oklahomans safe and fewer people behind bars. [KOCO]

New trial ordered in Oklahoma City murder case because of judicial sex scandal: A divided appeals court on Thursday threw out a 2021 murder conviction because the trial judge and prosecutor had a secret sexual history. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Protecting young workers is focus of new partnership: Workplace safety for Oklahoma’s youngest employees is the focus of a new partnership between Metro Technology Centers and the Oklahoma Department of Labor. [Journal Record]

Education News

Marlow Public Schools sends text threatening to parents over unpaid lunch debt: Marlow Public Schools sent elementary parents a reminder on Wednesday to pay any lunch debt from the previous school year. The text also mentioned that without a set payment arrangement with the district, the student wouldn’t be placed in a class this upcoming school year. [KFOR]

Editorial: Right-wing attacks on public education now moving into harassment and physical altercations: Bad behavior at school board meetings is hitting new lows as grown adults boo Tulsa youth during public comments and septuagenarians physically strong-arm teachers. These anti-American tactics to silence others show that their motives have nothing to do with making public schools better. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

General News

Terence Crutcher Foundation to host 7th annual Memorial Gala: The Terence Crutcher Foundation, an organization that permeates Black power in the North Tulsa community, is gearing up for its seventh annual commemoration event in honor of Terence Crutcher, a beloved, unarmed community member who was gunned down by a Tulsa Police Department officer in 2016. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Column: Tulsa doesn’t need a court order to do right by the 1921 Race Massacre Survivors: The foundation of Tulsa has a giant crack in it. The dismissal of the reparations case by the Tulsa Race Massacre survivors does not negate the moral obligations and the need to repair the damage, for we understand that the healing of this racial wound will be soothed by no other salve. [The Rev. Chris Moore Guest Column / Tulsa World]

Plan to install automated meters gets water board’s OK; rates would rise after three flat years: The authority charged with overseeing the city’s water and sewer operations voted this week to spend an estimated $93.7 million to install automated water meters, inspect and inventory service lines for lead, and replace water meter boxes at all small and residential water meters in town. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Oklahoma City to open first recreation center in over 40 years [KOSU]
  • Zero-waste business models take root in OKC [Journal Record]
  • OG&E facing $60M lawsuit alleging negligence at Classen Curve [The Oklahoman]
  • Live video-streaming part of new 911 service for Tulsa [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“How do you know what’s confidential or not? Most of that information should be subject to an open records request, or it should involve matters that are conducted in open meetings that anyone can attend. The question is, what would be confidential on there?”

– Mark Hammons, an Oklahoma City employment attorney, on the employee confidentiality agreement required by OSDE that is raising legal concerns over what, exactly, the agency intends to keep confidential from the public. [KFOR]

Number of the Day

1 in 6

650,600 Oklahoma residents, or 16% of the state population (1 in 6), were assisted by the federal anti-hunger program — Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — during fiscal year 2022. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Policy Note

About 500,000 Adults Will Soon Lose SNAP Due to Return of Work-Reporting Requirements; Another 750,000 Older Adults Newly at Risk: An ineffective SNAP policy that takes food assistance away from people who can’t meet a work-reporting requirement will return this summer, after being paused during the public health emergency. This will mean that people who are between jobs, who have health conditions or caregiving responsibilities that impede work at least temporarily, whose work hours fluctuate, or who face challenges navigating the red tape of the reporting and exemption systems will be at risk of losing the food assistance they need to buy groceries. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

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Annie Taylor joined OK Policy as a Digital Communications Associate/Storybanker in April 2022. She studied journalism and mass communication at the University of Oklahoma, and was a member of the Native American Journalists Association. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communications from the University of Central Oklahoma. While pursuing her degree, she worked in restaurant and retail management, as well as freelance copywriting and digital content production. Annie is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation, and holds a deep reverence for storytelling in the digital age. She was born and raised in southeast Oklahoma, and now lives in Oklahoma City with her dog, Melvin.

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