In The Know: Multiple bills advance that would cut state revenue | Grand jury releases report on Oklahoma Co. Jail | New fed. legislation will improve health care access, outcomes

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 federal legislation will improve health care access and outcomes in Oklahoma

In late December 2022, Congress passed an omnibus appropriations bill that includes several health provisions that will have meaningful impacts for Oklahomans. Taken together, these provisions will strengthen the health care safety net. This is particularly important in Oklahoma, as the state continues to rank poorly on the majority of all health outcomes due to the state’s historic underinvestment in public programs that impact health. [Emma Morris / OK Policy]


Oklahoma News

Oklahoma House of Representatives send Senate counterparts several options to cut taxes: As lawmakers debate how to spend billions of dollars of surplus state funds, the Oklahoma House of Representatives has sent their Senate counterparts several options to cut taxes. [The Oklahoman]

Grand jury slams Oklahoma County jail trust after year-long investigation: The Oklahoma County jail should be returned to the control of the sheriff, the state’s multicounty grand jury concluded after a 14-month investigation of health issues and the high number of deaths there. The grand jury did not issue any indictments out of its look into jail operations. However, it did recommend the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation check further into allegations a jail attorney obstructed justice by modifying police reports. [The Oklahoman]

Rules impacting school libraries, LGBTQ+ students advance in Oklahoma State Board of Education: After receiving hours of public input and hundreds of pages of comments, Oklahoma’s top school board unanimously passed rules impacting public school libraries and non-gender-conforming students. The Oklahoma State Board of Education voted Thursday to approve a new requirement that schools notify a student’s parents if the child changes gender identity or pronouns. The board also agreed to a ban on “pornographic” content from school libraries. [The Oklahoman]

  • ‘Our values are under attack’: Board bans pornography, adds to Parent’s Bill of Rights [KOKH Fox 25]
  • State BOE passes controversial school measure despite AG disapproval [2 News Oklahoma KJRH Tulsa]
  • Board approves controversial new accreditation standards, Walters airs grievances [NonDoc]

City of Tulsa argues it has the ability to prosecute Native people under pre-statehood law: A pre-statehood law, known as the Curtis Act, was used to force allotment. It’s now being used as the latest way to challenge the landmark McGirt v. Oklahoma decision. [KOSU]

  • Can city issue traffic tickets to Native drivers? Appellate court hears arguments in jurisdiction case [Tulsa World]
  • Can Tulsa prosecute Native Americans? Federal appeals court considers speeding ticket case [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Pressed by Stitt, board hires former Rep. Mike Sanders as first Broadband Office director: After an unusual series of events that included a vote to pursue hiring an out-of-state candidate, a voicemail from Gov. Kevin Stitt’s deputy chief of staff requesting a different result and the subsequent replacement of a prominent board member, the governing board of the Oklahoma Broadband Office selected former state Rep. Mike Sanders on Wednesday to be the first director of the agency, which has about $1.6 billion in federal money to deploy over the next five years. [NonDoc]

  • Former Rep. Mike Sanders to be Executive Director of the Oklahoma Broadband Office [The Frontier

Oklahoma House’s ‘Women’s Bill of Rights’ targets transgender women and girls: The Oklahoma House of Representatives got in one last transgender bill on Thursday, its last chance to consider its own legislation before sending it to the Senate. Titled the “Women’s Bill of Rights,” House Bill 1449, by Rep. Toni Hasenbeck, R-Elgin, essentially says transgender women and girls are not women and girls as far as the state of Oklahoma is concerned. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma lawmakers weighing response to court’s abortion ruling: The state Supreme Court’s ruling that Oklahoma’s constitution protects a woman’s right to have an abortion to save her own life may have reignited interest among lawmakers to seek additional exceptions. State Sen. Julie Daniels is the author of Senate Bill 834, which would allow a legal abortion in several circumstances, including when the pregnancy is the result of a rape or incest. [The Oklahoman]

Tighter regulations on medical marijuana growers move through the Oklahoma legislature: Since Oklahoma voters rejected recreational cannabis earlier this month, the state legislature has advanced several bills to further regulate medical cannabis grow businesses. [KOSU]

Seatbelt bill for Oklahoma backseat passengers under 16 advances: A bill to require backseat passengers under 16 to wear a seat belt passed in the Senate earlier this week. Senate Bill 681 would require passengers 16 and younger to wear a “properly fastened seat belt,” in the backseat of a car. Currently, Oklahoma state law requires children 8 or younger to do so. [KOSU]

Consumer groups, utilities square off over Oklahoma Senate bill: In an odd twist, a utility-backed bill changing how electric utilities process rate increases got a full hearing Monday in an unlikely place: the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. [Journal Record]

Broken Arrow lawmaker argued with police, flashed legislative ID during arrest: A Broken Arrow lawmaker argued with police and warned officers they had “messed up” before being arrested on a public drunkenness complaint Thursday. Republican Rep. Dean Davis, 50, flashed his legislative ID card after an officer had handcuffed him outside a bar in Oklahoma City, according to an arrest report. [Tulsa World]

  • ‘Last night has become a story’: Broken Arrow Rep. arrested for public intoxication [KTUL]
  • Lawmaker arrested in Bricktown on public drunkenness complaint [The Oklahoman]

Podcast: Abortion ruling, toxic waste, Oklahoma Turnpike Authority audit and more: This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU’s Michael Cross talks with Republican Politics Consultant Neva Hill and Civil Rights Attorney Ryan Kiesel about a decision by the State Supreme Court allowing women the “limited right” to an abortion to save their lives, the Environmental Protection Agency telling Gov. Kevin Stitt he can’t legally refuse shipment of toxic waste from a train derailment in Ohio and an advisory opinion from Attorney General Gentner Drummond over State Superintendent Ryan Walters’ move to create new education rules. [This Week in Oklahoma Politics / KOSU]

Tribal Nations News

Appellate court upholds convictions initially overturned due to McGirt ruling: Two men whose state felony convictions and sentences were initially overturned by an appellate court on jurisdictional grounds lost their appeals in the same court Thursday. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals in separate rulings upheld the convictions of Richard Roth, 43, and Johnny Edward Mize II, 37. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma House approves bill to let tribes offer sports betting: The state House has advanced legislation that would allow Oklahoma tribes the option to offer sports betting for the first time. House Bill 1027, which next moves to the Senate, allows tribes to enter into compacts with the state to offer in-person and online wagering on the outcome of sports contests. [Norman Transcript]

Economy & Business News

BOKF executives: Fed correct to remain focused on inflation: Inflation, as well as worries about long-term damage to consumers and to the economy if it’s allowed to continue unchecked, justified a move by the U.S. Federal Reserve this week to raise its key interest rate yet again, the chief investment strategist at BOK Financial said Thursday. [Journal Record]

Education News

Education Department Moves to Revoke Credentials of Teacher Who Shared QR Code: Before he was elected state superintendent, Ryan Walters vowed to go after the teaching credentials of Summer Boismier, a high school English teacher who made national news for her objection to book banning. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • State aims to revoke license of Norman teacher over ‘books at issue’ [CNHI via Ada News]

General News

Column: Why do Oklahoma politicians want us to react to imaginary threats?: The state that is both my place of birth and my chosen home is in the middle of a crisis, and it is one of calculated planning from within rather than a crisis of external forces. As if tornadoes, hailstorms, earthquakes and droughts aren’t enough, we have to see our neighbor as our enemy. Right now in our state, in greater momentum than I have seen in my lifetime, group after group of good Oklahomans is being singled out as “the problem.” We are being told there is an enemy, and the enemy is [insert name of people group]. [Noel J. Jacobs Guest Column]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Tulsa city councilors approve $1 million payment as part of dispute settlement with firefighters [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“As politicians continue to use these tactics, we become preoccupied with fighting one another while our state’s outcomes and people continue to suffer.”

-Noel J. Jacobs, Ph.D., a child psychologist and executive director of The Respect Diversity Foundation, writing about why Oklahomans should stop listening to politicians who use fear as a tool for governing. [Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma households that rent their homes. [National Low Income Housing Coalition]

Policy Note

Tackling Rural America’s ‘Hidden’ Housing Crisis: Over the past two years, the rate of homelessness and housing insecurity rose faster in rural places than the country at large, but community-based organizations are in a unique position to offer solutions. [Daily Yonder]
  • Report: Rural Homelessness Increased from 2020 To 2022 [Daily Yonder]

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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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