In The Know: Lengthening Oklahoma’s eviction timeline | Immigrants driving labor market growth | Fixing state’s open records laws

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

Lengthening the eviction timeline will increase access to justice for Oklahoma renters (SB 1575): In Oklahoma, a renter can go from being one day late on rent to being physically removed from their home in under two weeks. This short timeline makes it nearly impossible for tenants to gather back rent, make arrangements to show up in court, or even find alternate housing. Extending the eviction timeline will help Oklahoma tenants to exercise their legal rights and prevent housing instability and homelessness. [Katie Dilks / Oklahoma Access to Justice Foundation]

Oklahoma News

Legislation targeting homeless encampments not a good strategy, official says: Legislation its authors say addresses public safety issues in and around homeless encampments is unlikely to make much of a long-term difference, the director of a Tulsa housing nonprofit said. [Tulsa World]

Report: Immigrants bring 50% of labor market growth: Foreign-born workers are fast becoming the reason for the U.S. economy’s rebound since the pandemic, and the declining population of U.S.-born workers is also a cause. According to an analysis by Economic Policy Institute, between January 2023 and January 2024, immigrants made up about 50% of the labor market’s recent growth. [Tahlequah Daily Press]

State Government News

War of words: Stitt and Drummond at odds over state officials holding dual positions: Gov. Kevin Stitt continued his war of words with Attorney General Gentner Drummond Friday. The two Republican officials have different interpretations of a law about holding more than one position in state government. A lawsuit, filed by the governor’s office this week, is intended to provide clarity on the statute and isn’t meant to be adversarial, Stitt said. [The Oklahoman]

Judge Revives Lawmakers’ Open Records Lawsuit: State Reps. Justin Humphrey, R-Lane and Kevin McDugle, R-Broken Arrow do in fact have standing to pursue an open records lawsuit against District Six District Attorney Jason Hicks, Stephens County District Judge Brent Russell decided last week. The decision is a reversal from the court’s initial ruling on Feb. 16. [Oklahoma Watch]

State house passes bill to make thefts over $500 a felony, against previous limits: Legislation passed the State House of Representatives this week that would make thefts over $500 a felony. The Oklahoma Policy Institute says it would undo the will of the people and increase the incarceration rate in the state. [Fox 25]

Prison Rodeo Revitalization Bill Progresses in State Legislature: On Thursday, House Bill 3749 was passed by the Oklahoma House of Representatives. If successful, the bill would set up a revolving fund to revitalize the rodeo grounds located at the McAlester State Penitentiary. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Government transparency measure would require reason to be given for open records delays: When a member of the public files an open records request from a government agency, there is no timetable required for it to be fulfilled. Sometimes, it can feel like a public records request in Oklahoma simply goes into a black hole. [KOSU]

Capitol Insider: Governor sues attorney general in fight over AG legal opinion: A legal opinion from Attorney General Gentner Drummond forced a member of Governor Stitt’s cabinet to resign. Now, the governor is seeking legal action against the AG. [KGOU]

New Ethics Commission executive director to ‘renew our focus on education’: Lee Anne Bruce Boone was named the fourth executive director of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission on Dec. 7, and she began her new duties Jan. 4. Now tasked with running the agency that tracks activities of lobbyists, political candidates and political action committees, Bruce Boone has a long history of working in the public sector. [NonDoc]

Opinion: Lawmakers messed up Oklahoma’s open records law, allowing bad actors to hide. It’s time to fix it: Every so often lawmakers decide to monkey around with the state’s open records laws and make changes that adversely affect the public’s right to know. So in honor of our nation’s Sunshine Week, this seems a fitting time to point out how one of the Legislature’s bright ideas to “improve” our Open Records Act has backfired spectacularly. [Janelle Stecklein / Oklahoma Voice]

Opinion, Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony: House Bill 2367 could block the public’s right to know how Oklahoma’s biggest agency impacts utility prices: Before the Oklahoma Legislature considers adopting the unbelievably broad exceptions to the Open Meeting Act for Corporation Commissioners provided for in House Bill 2367 — the so-called “Corporation Commission Efficiency Act” — it needs to consider whether the public should continue to have its current “right to know” how the state’s most economically powerful state agency conducts business and regulates (or doesn’t) the monopoly public utility companies under its constitutional jurisdiction. [Bob Anthony / The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

US Sen. James Lankford on CNN: ‘I was actually listening to the president’: U.S. Sen. James Lankford has again been on the receiving end of backlash from his own party because of his work on a bipartisan immigration package. Lankford was censured by the Oklahoma County Republican Party on Saturday over his work on the massive border security and foreign aid deal. Some members of the Oklahoma Republican Party met in January to censure Lankford over what they called his “open border deal.” [The Oklahoman]

  • Despite affirmation during Biden’s State of the Union, Lankford issues critical statement [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Oklahoma County Republican Party censures US Sen. James Lankford [The Oklahoman]
  • Why are Republicans attacking Lankford on the border bill? [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Funding Package Breakdown for Funds Appropriated for Indian Country: On Saturday, President Joe Biden signed into law a six-bill funding package that will fund programs for the current year’s federal budget. Funding for American Indian and Alaska Native programs is spread across several federal departments and agencies. The majority of funds appropriated for Indian Country are in the budgets of the U.S. Department of the Interior and Indian Health Service (IHS).  [Native News Online]

‘Flower Moon’ inspires non-Osage owners to try returning headrights to Osage Nation: Since the film release of “Killers of the Flower Moon,” non-Osage headright owners have been attending Osage Minerals Council meetings, standing up and asking how they can return the headrights to the tribe. [Tulsa World]

Enrollment in tribal language courses grows in Oklahoma as tribes aim to increase fluency: Today’s generation of children has more possibilities  to learn tribal languages. State data shows enrollment in Native American language programs is growing in Oklahoma public schools. [Oklahoma Voice]

Voting and Election News

Among Republicans, Trump’s support is weakest in and around Oklahoma City: It wasn’t much of a surprise when Donald Trump won Oklahoma’s vote to be the Republican presidential nominee over Nikki Haley. In most states, Haley was able to secure about one-third of primary electorate. She got even less of the vote share in Oklahoma, but a deeper dive into the results shows where the former president’s political movement is losing steam among GOP voters. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Oklahoma’s older population is skyrocketing. What can we do to prepare for their care?: Oklahomans are getting older — and for the first time in our history, the number of adults age 60 and older will outnumber children by 2034. From the Panhandle to the Red River and every community in between, each of us has an opportunity to have a say in how we plan for our future. [Jeromy Buchanan / The Oklahoman]

Education News

‘Stop playing politics’: State leaders concerned over Teacher Empowerment Fund bonuses not being paid out: While the Oklahoma State Department of Education claims there are no problems with the Teacher Empowerment Fund, the Governor and Senate President Pro Tempore say otherwise. [KFOR]

How Norman Public Schools and OU are partnering on an innovative aviation immersion school: Aviation/aeronautics is the second-largest industry in Oklahoma. As the need develops to produce more workforce-ready people to fill jobs in that industry, Norman Public Schools and the University of Oklahoma are partnering on a project to fill that need. [The Oklahoman]

Community News

A month after Nex Benedict’s death: Crisis calls, anti-LGBTQ+ both on the rise in Oklahoma: National and local LGBTQ+ advocates spoke this week about Nex Benedict’s death and the anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric surrounding the tragedy, one month after a reported altercation involving the 16-year-old. [The Oklahoman]

Following The Passing Of Nex Benedict, Serious Questions Linger: Attendees of a recent rally following the death of Nex Benedict were more than a support group. They came to push back. Many  participants said that a big part of their mission was to protest the anti-LGBTQ+ culture at the school and across Oklahoma. [Oklahoma Eagle]

As a Muslim, Ramadan is a time when I can make things right. This holy month, we all can: Fasting, particularly for a new Muslim, can be a jarring experience. Imagine voluntarily giving up all food and drink — including the caffeinated beverages we rely on to keep us in motion — during sunlight hours for 30 days straight. Most of us, void of the faith component that motivates the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims to partake in Ramadan, would find this a challenge at the very least. From the age of 17, the first time my sense of conviction in my newfound faith led me to complete the monthlong fast, I realized Ramadan is a time when I can make things right spiritually, physically and socially. [Adam Soltani / The Oklahoman]

With the words ‘In the beginning …’ a group kicks off Bible Reading Marathon at state Capitol: A Bible Reading Marathon began on Saturday at the state Capitol with words familiar to many people: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the Earth.” The Rev. Carol Unsell read the first sentence of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, with a flourish. Her reading stint was preceded by an opening ceremony for the inaugural event expected to continue for roughly 90 continuous hours through Wednesday, March 13. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: A massive shortage of families for Oklahoma foster children exists. This is truly a crisis: Few entities withstood the coronavirus pandemic unblemished. Restaurants struggled, personal care services were hurt and the travel industry was brought to a halt. Most segments of society have recovered. Some are thriving. But some ― including foster care ― are still struggling. [Katherine Craig / The Oklahoman]

Local Headlines

  • Road between Del City, OKC set to get overhaul ahead of possible county jail construction [The Oklahoman]
  • Wellness center for active military, vets considered by Tulsa [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • USPS asking for public comment on move of Tulsa’s mail processing to Oklahoma City [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Norman voters reject another franchise agreement with OG&E [The Oklahoman]
  • Troubled hotel-apartments in Edmond could be closed by city council [The Oklahoman]
  • What to know if someone knocks on your door claiming to be an OKC utilities worker [The Oklahoman]
  • Former District 5 Councilor Karen Gilbert to challenge incumbent Grant Miller [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa school board candidates are seeking your vote  [Oklahoma Eagle]
  • At least 1.5 million square feet of office space available downtown, but officials bullish on future [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“One problem is that they’re almost impossible to enforce. If that were to be the law, we literally could not comply. The solution is affordable housing. … (These bills criminalizing homelessness) would be a setback.”

 -Becky Gligo, executive director of Housing Solutions, speaking about House Bill 3686 and Senate Bill 1854, both of which would prohibit “unauthorized camping” on “state-owned lands.” [Tulsa World

Number of the Day


Oklahoma law sets the minimum amount of notice a tenant must receive for their court date at three days. This means a person could miss their rent on the 1st, and find out on the 8th that they have court in three days that could result in them becoming homeless. [Oklahoma Access to Justice Foundation via OK Policy]

Policy Note

Tax cuts fail again in Kansas and Wisconsin; lawmakers should pivot to proven investments: The governors of both Kansas and Wisconsin recently stood up to legislators who tried to push through costly tax cuts that would overwhelmingly benefit the most well-off. Lawmakers in those states and others should shift their focus from expensive, top-heavy tax cuts to tried and true policies that help middle-class and low-income families. [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy]

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David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.