In The Know: Lethal injection lawsuit goes to trial | More than five dozen election-related bills | New Fellowships announced

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

Two New Paid Fellowships Announced for Fall 2022-2023: We are currently hiring for two paid Fellow positions: a Policy Fellow and Communications & Operations Fellow. These one-year fellowship opportunities are for Fall 2022-Fall 2023 and applications are open now. The deadline to apply for a Fellowship is Wednesday, March 30 at 5:00 PM (CST). [Learn more and apply]

Feb. 25th Approaching Deadline for Three Staff Positions: In addition to two new Fellow positions, OK Policy is accepting applications for three full-time staff positions: Manager of Organizational Advancement, Staff Accountant, and Digital Communications Associate / Storybanker. The deadline to apply for a staff position is Friday, February 25 at 5:00 PM (CST). [Learn more and apply]

Oklahoma News

A lawsuit challenging Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol is going to trial. Here’s what’s at stake: The outcome of an upcoming federal trial will have long-lasting implications for the death penalty in Oklahoma. A nearly eight-year-old lawsuit, filed by a group of Oklahoma death row prisoners who claim the state’s lethal injection protocol causes unconstitutional pain and suffering, will proceed to trial on Feb. 28 at the federal courthouse in Oklahoma City. [Oklahoma Watch

Lawmakers scrutinize state’s election system: Though Republican lawmakers acknowledge that Oklahoma has one of the most secure election systems in the nation, they plan to take a closer look at the state’s system this year in an effort to increase overall confidence in the integrity of outcomes and boost voter turnout at school and municipal elections. More than five dozen election-related bills have been filed in 2022 that aim to ensure the security of election data, require post-election audits and add voter ID requirements into the state Constitution. [CNHI via Muskogee Phoenix]

Increasing diversion, reducing incarceration continued concern for Oklahoma County: The diversion programs and partners working with the Oklahoma County jail say the goal of the work they are doing is to help Oklahoma stop topping national lists for incarceration through work on the front end of the criminal justice process. [The Oklahoman]

New from OK Policy: The 2022 session brings rare opportunity for significant progress in our criminal justice system: Even after progress, Oklahoma still ranks third in overall incarceration. Oklahoma lawmakers can use this session to reduce the prison population, build on past efforts and empower individuals to lead successful, healthy lives after incarceration.

State Government News

Why Oklahoma should keep the state income tax: It’s a topic that has been in regular conversation in our state capitol for a few years now, but in 2022, the idea of ditching the Oklahoma State Income Tax is hitting legislative desks with support. While it may seem like a good idea that’ll give you more money per paycheck, don’t forget about the golden rule in life. Only two things are absolute, death and taxes. [Opinion / KLAW

Report from OK Policy: A Better Path Forward: Oklahoma has cut its taxes and public services too much, and this has created real harms to the health, safety, and prosperity of all Oklahomans. Each year our elected officials and policymakers have fewer dollars to answer today’s needs or to invest in our state’s future success

The Department of Public Safety has settled a lawsuit over a trooper cheating and blackmail scandal: The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety and a state insurer agreed to pay $400,000 to settle a former trooper’s claims of retaliation after he raised concerns about cheating in the agency’s promotional process. [The Frontier

House Democrats define priorities for legislative session: Elimination of Oklahoma’s sales tax on groceries was identified Wednesday as a priority among Democrats in the state House of Representatives. Leaders in the minority party in the House also said they would place high value on legislation to improve the health care of Oklahomans, to strengthen the state’s education system, to promote economic development, and to increase transparency and accountability at the state Capitol. [The Journal Record

Oklahoma lawmaker puts bill to ban vaccine mandates on hold after scrutiny from fellow Republicans: The author of a bill that would ban mandatory vaccine mandates as a condition of continued employment put the measure on hold Thursday following scrutiny from fellow Republicans. [Tulsa World

Oklahoma lawmakers file bills to change protective order law after push from BA mother: Court documents show 46-year-old Stephen Bernius tried to get legal protection from the man accused of killing him two days before his death in September 2021. According to the Oklahoma State Courts Network, a judge denied the protective order two days before Bernius’s death because it did not meet the statute. [KTUL

Where does medical marijuana stand in the Oklahoma Legislature?: When it comes to marijuana policy, Oklahoma has been dubbed a “Wild West.” With the relatively low cost of starting a business, few regulations on facility placement and the ease of obtaining a medical card, the Sooner State has become a prime destination for businesses looking to cash in on the Green Rush. [State Impact Oklahoma

Federal Government News

FAA head resigns after effort to rebuild agency’s reputation: The leader of the Federal Aviation Administration, whose agency has been criticized for its oversight of Boeing and handling of questions surrounding 5G interference with aircraft, said Wednesday he will step down March 31. [The Journal Record

Health News

National report finds Oklahoma is lacking in youth mental health supports: Youth across the nation have been struggling with their mental health amid the coronavirus pandemic and school closures. The stakes are high, the report’s authors suggest. Oklahoma has an estimated 54,000 children with major depression and 30,000 of them aren’t receiving any treatment. [KGOU

National Study: Black, Mexican American youth under 25 face highest death rates: According to research comparing the death rates among all wealthy nations, Black and Mexican American youth were found to face the highest mortality rate of them all. The findings leave professionals looking for policy solutions to address the disparity.  [The Black Wall Street Times

Elderly care costs on rise in Oklahoma, other states: Costs associated with the professional care of elderly Oklahomans increased significantly in 2021, driven by pandemic challenges and especially by higher wages commanded by workers, according to a new report. [The Journal Record

Voting and Election News

Viewpoint: Young Oklahomans need seat at table, and electing them benefits communities: “Your generation needs to get more involved with their communities.”  I, like most young Oklahomans, have heard this comment countless times from community members, and they are not wrong. Yet, it seems like every time a young person seeks office they are labeled as a rabble rouser or a punk kid who just wants to cause problems in their communities. [Opinion / The Oklahoman

Ginnie Graham: Make state government look like Oklahoma’s population: It’s not an easy task to build a board, business or government reflecting the complex diversity those groups represent. But, it can — and ought to — be done. The legislative session serves as a reminder that state-level representation is largely white and male, from those elected to appointed. [Column / Tulsa World

Parents, 12-year-old say Abby Broyles verbally ‘accosted’ kids at Valentine’s party: A Valentine’s Day weekend sleepover party for tween girls that included watching the film Titanic turned bizarre and tearful after parents say Oklahoma 5th Congressional District candidate Abby Broyles allegedly became drunk and berated some of the children in attendance. [NonDoc]

Economy & Business News

High court affirms employment-at-will doctrine: Fraudulently overcharging customers is a violation of Oklahoma law, but Oklahoma law also allows a fraudulent retailer to fire, without consequence, an employee who reports the alleged crime, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Tuesday. [The Journal Record

Understanding what’s driving ‘The Big Quit’: Roughly 33 million Americans have walked away from their jobs since the spring of 2021. Competitive salaries and benefits are very important to employees, but a lot of the Great Resignation is about work-life issues and how workers see their future, said Keith McFall, chief operations officer of Express Employment. [The Journal Record

Education News

(Audio) Education voucher bill, State School Board nominee, anti-Stitt Super Bowl ad and more: This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU’s Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and Civil Rights Attorney Ryan Kiesel about House Speaker Charles McCall announcing his chamber would not take up a controversial school voucher bill that had trouble getting out of a Senate committee, medical marijuana and tax cut bills as well as Governor Kevin Stitt’s nomination of a former employee of his to the State Board of Education. [KOSU

General News

Delegation from Georgian republic in Tulsa to learn, talk about diversity, inclusion: As an adult who depends on a wheelchair to get around, Temur Kakabadze has enjoyed the public accessibility he’s experienced this week in Tulsa. But thankfully, he added, progress is being made in his country of Georgia in how disabled people are treated. And he’s proud to be a part of those continuing efforts. [Tulsa World

Editorial: Initiative plan for Tulsa atonement for race massacre shows promise: A process for moving the city forward to repair damage from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre appears promising in its inclusiveness and intention. A framework for discussing how to make amends stems from a nonbinding resolution passed by the Tulsa City Council last June to establish such a community-led initiative. [Editorial / Tulsa World

‘Real Wild West’ of Oklahoma: How escaped slave Bass Reeves became ‘greatest frontier hero’: Standing 25 feet in the air, the heroic-size sculpture of Bass Reeves, mounted on his horse, rifle in his hand and dog following along, greets anyone traveling over the U.S. 64 bridge over the Arkansas River into Fort Smith, Arkansas. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

City considers police hiring bonuses amid soaring tax revenue: Members of the city councilor-led Finance Committee have agreed to consider hiring bonuses for police officer recruits as open positions outpace the hiring pool. [Norman Transcript

Quote of the Day

“When you look at it on a national average or even a global average, we’re like really, really good at sending people to prison. It doesn’t really make a city safer, it just costs a lot of money.”

– Oklahoma County District Judge Kenneth Stoner [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day

$423.6 Million

Total annual revenue generated by immigrant-owned businesses in Oklahoma

[Source: American Immigration Council]

New from OK Policy: Given the tremendous contributions immigrants have made throughout our nation’s history, bringing immigrants into the fold does not have to be a divisive issue in Oklahoma; instead, it can become a way to strengthen our state, our communities, and our economy.

Policy Note

Revival and Opportunity: Immigrants in Rural America: Immigrants are playing a key role in reviving and growing many rural communities and with the right policies could play an even bigger role in sustaining them. To a great extent, how well rural communities fare depends on how well they adjust to change and on how welcoming residents are to new immigrants. This report discusses some of the strategies that several rural communities have utilized to help integrate residents and newcomers and illustrates that many constructive changes do not require significant resources. [Center for American Progress]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


Kristin Wells served as the Communications and Operations Fellow for OK Policy from October 2021 to July 2022. She previously worked as a digital content producer for News On 6. A native Kansas Citian, Kristin graduated with a B.A. in Media Studies and a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Tulsa in 2020. While there, she was accepted into the Global Scholars program, spurring her interests in policy, social movements, global identities, and the importance of education and advocacy. She hopes to use her skills to continue to learn and create a more equitable future for Oklahomans. An avid sports fan, Kristin lives in Tulsa with her rescue dog and is passionate about college basketball, documentaries, and coffee.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.