In The Know: More culture-war bills | OTA expansion blocked at Lake Thunderbird | Officials take public approach to replacement for Swadley’s | 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

Oklahoma schools are again the focus of culture-war bills during 2023 Legislative Session: Culture-war debates could reignite at the Oklahoma state Capitol with a slew of bills filed ahead of the legislative session proposing further limits on discussions of gender identity, sexual orientation and other social issues in public schools. [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Wildlife, pollution cited as Bureau of Reclamation blocks OTA expansion at Lake Thunderbird: Citing concerns about the impact to protected species in the area, sound and light pollution, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation last week denied the application along the route of the south extension as it does not meet the land’s intended purposes. [The Oklahoman]

State officials take public approach to replacement for Swadley’s: New leadership is changing tactics on the processes that led to last year’s Swadley’s Bar-B-Q scandal, and on state officials’ response to the situation. [Journal Record]

Tribal Nations News

Report: Native Americans Significantly Overrepresented In US Prisons: A recent report released by the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge reveals a significant overrepresentation of Native American people in the U.S. prison system, which worsens in states with larger native populations. [The Crime Report]

Six key moments defining Oklahoma’s relationship with Native tribes under Gov. Kevin Stitt: The relationship status between Stitt’s office and tribal nations quickly changed to “It’s complicated.” Here are the key moments that have shaped Stitt’s record on working with tribal nations so far, starting with a stunning op-ed. [The Oklahoman]

Voting and Election News

Could the state superintendent soon be an appointed position?: Just a few months after Oklahomans voted on a new state superintendent, an Oklahoma lawmaker has filed a measure that would change that process. Rep. Chad Caldwell has filed House Joint Resolution 1030, which would allow voters to voice their opinions on a possible change to the Oklahoma State Constitution. [KFOR Oklahoma City]

10 applicants to be considered for vacant Tulsa school board seat: The candidate list originally released by TPS Monday afternoon includes Weslie Alexander, Orion Banos Moguel, Quinton Brown, Dustin DeVore, Jacqueline Evans, Daniel Grove, Paul Hall, Diamond Marshall, Sharita Pratt, Jasmine Stewart and KanDee Washington. [Tulsa World]

  • Candidates for Tulsa Public Schools board introduce themselves [KTUL]

Health News

New VA Hospital coming to Norman: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is in the process of acquiring the former Norman Specialty Hospital near the corner of Robinson Street and Berry Road to convert into a new VA hospital, The Transcript has learned. [Norman Transcript]

Criminal Justice News

Prisoners getting second chance with construction program: A program at Francis Tuttle Technology Center is addressing the construction worker shortage by preparing adults nearing release from the criminal justice system for careers in the industry. [Journal Record]

Education News

‘Structural issues’ shutter Shidler Elementary School: With the passage of Oklahoma City Public Schools’ historic bond package in November, Shidler Elementary School in south OKC will be combined with nearby Adelaide Lee Elementary School to form a new school. However, problems at Shidler, 1415 S. Byers Ave., have demanded more immediate attention, as “structural issues” have rendered a 10-year-old new addition to the building unusable. [NonDoc]

General News

Magazine celebrates entrepreneurial spirit of Greenwood: You might know Tulsan Trey Thaxton as the man behind the popular Greenwood Ave. merch line or his multi-disciplinary creative consultancy, Goldmill Co. Now he’s the man behind the new quarterly magazine also named Greenwood Ave. [Downtown Tulsa]

9 things to know about your 2022 taxes in Oklahoma, including where to file for free: Tax season is officially underway, and taxpayers have just a few months to pay taxes, file a tax return or request a tax return extension. The Internal Revenue Service estimates more than 168 million tax returns will be filed this year. Here’s everything you need to know about filing your state and federal tax returns for the 2022 tax year. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Joe: Commission to help ensure that all voices are heard: The Oklahoma City Human Rights Commission will meet Tuesday for the first time since 1996. I hope we give the commission a chance to succeed because we all should be concerned about human rights. [Opinion / Journal Record]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Blown away, stolen, then recovered, this Native artist’s mural still won the OKC contest [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“Trans students are just students trying to go to school. We’re not trying to hurt anybody. The state has decided to go after not just trans people but trans kids. That’s just messed up.”

-Andrew Bridge, one of three transgender Oklahoma students suing the state in an effort to overturn the transgender bathroom bill signed into law last year. 

Number of the Day


More than 400 of the 1,901 House bills filed for the upcoming Legislative session are “shell” bills with little or no substantive language. Shell bills are intended to serve as placeholders for legislative proposals to be filled in later.
[Tulsa World] | [More about shell bills from OK Policy’s “What’s That?”]

Policy Note

Inflation should not change how policymakers respond to recession: The next recession may hit while inflation remains above the Federal Reserve’s preferred 2% inflation target. This will lead many to claim that policymakers are constrained in how aggressively they can use the traditional tools—lower interest rates and fiscal relief—to fight the recession. This is not true. If the U.S. enters a recession next month (with year-over-year inflation rates still running at 7% or higher), policymakers should still move quickly to cut interest rates and undertake significant fiscal relief. [Economic Policy Institute]

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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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