In The Know: LOFT report says $3B in state spending outside Central Purchasing | AG drops charges against Rep. O’Donnell | 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.

Oklahoma News

Legislative report says $3 billion in state spending avoided Central Purchasing oversight: About $3 billion in state agency spending — almost $6 of every $7 paid out — bypassed scrutiny by the Central Purchasing Division, according to a report delivered to lawmakers on Thursday. [Tulsa World]

Despite calling him ‘guilty,’ AG Gentner Drummond drops charges against Rep. Terry O’Donnell: Even though he believes Rep. Terry O’Donnell “violated the law,” Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond today dismissed all charges against an influential legislator who ran a bill changing the law and legalizing his wife’s ability to inherit her mother’s state-appointed tag agency. [NonDoc]

  • Criminal case against state Rep. Terry O’Donnell and his wife dropped [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma AG to drop charges against Catoosa Rep. and his wife [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • AG drops charges against state Rep. Terry O’Donnell, wife [Tulsa World]

Stitt backs Ryan Walters’ controversial rules on pornography, parent rights: Oklahoma’s governor and state schools superintendent are backing controversial rules on parental rights and pornographic content in schools, despite the attorney general indicating the rules should be null and void. [The Oklahoman]

  • Stitt, Walters pressure lawmakers to pass contested agency rules [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Firm reports progress in turnpike ‘interoperability’ between states: In the future, Oklahomans should be able to travel on turnpikes as far away as Florida or even New York and have tolls automatically deducted from their PikePass accounts, according to officials at a Texas-based company involved in establishing turnpike “interoperability” between states. [Journal Record]

  • Drive on the Turner Turnpike? When you can expect conversion to cashless tolls [The Oklahoman]

Rally for Recovery advocates for recovery services and mental health awareness: More than 50 advocates and 20 support organizations attended the 24th annual Rally for Recovery at the state Capitol on Thursday morning. The event was hosted by the Oklahoma Citizen Advocates for Recovery and Transformation Association (OCARTA), founded by Donna Woods. OCARTA is a non-profit organization that provides support for people in recovery through peer-to-peer support and lifestyle classes. [The Oklahoman]

Podcast: New education rules, Superintendent Ryan Walters, state park restaurants and more: KOSU’s Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and Civil Rights Attorney Ryan Kiesel about Attorney General Gentner Drummond releasing a binding opinion canceling controversial new rules from the State Board of Education on library books and sex education and Superintendent Ryan Walters choosing to not appear before lawmakers. [This Week in Oklahoma Politics / KOSU]

Column: Tax credits are a reverse Robin Hood, robbing public schools of needed resources: Private school voucher proposals have moved through both the House and Senate over the last few weeks. Now we cannot be sure what final deal may come out of negotiations and whether it will stall or move forward to the governor’s desk. [Sen. Julia Kirt Guest Column]

Federal Government News

Feds pick OSU for expansion of energy efficiency program: Oklahoma State University has been selected as a potential site for one of five regional Centers of Excellence in the field of energy efficiency assessments. U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm made the announcement during a visit to Stillwater. The decision could lead to the expansion of OSU’s Industrial Assessment Center into a regional hub for other IAC programs. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Cherokee Nation breaks ground on $400 million hospital: The Cherokee Nation broke ground Thursday on a $400 million hospital that will solidify what officials described as the tribe’s health-care independence. The new facility will replace and double the size of the nearly 40-year-old W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, but it will retain the Hastings name. [Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

Amid polarization, minority party lawmakers face penalties: Oklahoma Republicans removed the state’s only nonbinary legislator from House committees after the lawmaker provided refuge to a transgender rights activist. In Florida, two Democratic leaders were arrested for participating in a protest over abortion restrictions. And in Tennessee, three Democratic House members are facing expulsion for using a bullhorn in the House chamber to show support for demonstrators demanding gun control. [Associated Press via Journal Record]

Criminal Justice News

Drummond moves to vacate Richard Glossip murder conviction, may trigger third trial: Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond on Thursday filed a motion to vacate the first-degree murder conviction of Richard Glossip, a decision that could send the case back to district court for a third trial if the Court of Criminal Appeals grants Drummond’s motion. [NonDoc]

Economy & Business News

Treasurer reports slowdown in Oklahoma’s record revenue growth: While it’s true that Oklahoma took in record tax revenues over the past 12 months, leaving the state with $1.77 billion more to spend than it accumulated in the previous 12-month span, effects of a “moderating” Oklahoma economy are becoming more evident, state Treasurer Todd Russ reported this week. [Journal Record]

General News

How the wealthiest Oklahomans’ net worth compares to the richest man in the world: Forbes Magazine has released their annual list of the richest people in the world and a trio of Oklahomans (or families with Oklahoma ties) landed in the top 200. [The Oklahoman]

Violence, dwindling funds prompt ‘Operation Move Out’ for some Afghan refugees in Oklahoma: An Afghan refugee family’s Ramadan holiday was recently disrupted when six people burst into their Oklahoma City apartment and began beating the father while his wife and children looked on in horror. [The Oklahoman]

Column: Religious authoritarians have lost sight of other people’s testimony, experiences: Theological humility might not seem like it will be enough to push back against the violent and hard-hearted religious authoritarianism we’re up against, but as researcher Brené Brown writes, “People who demonstrate humility don’t lack confidence or conviction. They may hold strong views, but they are open to hearing other points of view.” [Rev. Lori Allen Walke Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Oklahoma City wants your help in planning nearly $70 million in parks projects [KOSU]
  • Is Oklahoma City’s new homelessness plan ‘bold enough’? Is there a capacity to do more? [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“The only way we’re going to get out of this is by aligning each level of government to invest in solving this problem and having skin in the game. It’s everyone’s problem.”

– James Cooper, an Oklahoma City Councilperson, talking about the growing number of people experiencing homelessness, and the potential solutions that could alleviate the issue, if the proper resources can be pooled to do so . [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Number of people released from Oklahoma prisons annually. [Prison Policy Initiative, 2019]

Policy Note

Building Connections to Housing During ReentrySecuring stable, affordable housing is fundamental to successful reentry. To help policymakers build sustainable pathways to housing, The Council of State Governments Justice Center, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance, conducted the first national survey of state Departments of Corrections reentry coordinators, receiving responses from 37 out of 50 states plus the District of Columbia. This national report outlines current practices, highlighting areas where policymakers can direct efforts to increase connections to housing. [CSG Justice Center]

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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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