In The Know: Nearly $2 million spent on state’s legal fees on gaming lawsuits | Rural hospitals at risk of closing | Back-to-school not rosy for all Oklahoma families | 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.

New from OK Policy

Back-to-school is not rosy for all Oklahoma families: With the calendar turned to August, many Oklahoma parents are focused on back-to-school shopping, buying school supplies and picking out clothes for their child’s first day of school. However, the situation is more dire for many Oklahoma parents struggling to put a roof over their head and food on the family table. [Shiloh Kantz Guest Column / Tulsa World]

Oklahoma News

Gov. Kevin Stitt paid more than $1.9 million in legal fees for gaming lawsuits with state money: Nearly $2 million in state money meant to ensure Oklahoma is receiving its cut from tribal gaming operations was used to pay law firms representing Gov. Kevin Stitt in legal fights with the tribes, payment records show. The money came from annual fees tribal nations pay the state to regulate gaming operations in Oklahoma. [The Frontier]

Nearly half of Oklahoma’s rural hospitals are at risk of closing down: Almost half of Oklahoma’s rural hospitals are at risk of shutting down, according to a new report from a national health policy group. A July report from the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform finds 37 of Oklahoma’s 78 rural hospitals are at risk of closing. [KOSU]

State Government News

Another Republican says racism didn’t cause Tulsa Race Massacre: For the second time in a month, a prominent Oklahoma Republican is claiming racism may not be the root cause of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. [The Black Wall Street Times]

  • After a state law banning some lessons on race, Oklahoma teachers tread lightly on the Tulsa Race Massacre [The Frontier]

Despite guilty plea on felony APC, deferred sentence likely lets Rep. Ryan Martinez stay in office: Oklahoma Rep. Ryan Martinez pleaded guilty to actual physical control of a motor vehicle Wednesday in relation to his October arrest outside of an Edmond bar. [NonDoc]

Column: When will all Oklahomans have access to broadband’s benefits?: Not long ago, high-speed internet service was considered a luxury. Today, it has become a necessity, a part of our everyday lives. The problem is that too many Oklahomans have been left out. [Mike Sanders Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Column: How will funding be allocated as Oklahoma makes plans to expand state’s internet access?: Oklahoma was allocated more than $797 million in funding from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program to expand broadband internet to areas across the state. [Joe Cabrera Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Tensions in OK State Government rise after tribal compact veto overrides: In a special session The Oklahoma State Legislature voted to override Governor Kevin Stitt’s vetoes over tribal compacts, SB 26X and HB 1005X on July 31. [Mvskoke Media]

Muscogee Nation to develop ‘produce prescription’ program in Eastern Oklahoma: The Muscogee Nation will develop a “produce prescription” program with federal funding. The Indian Health Service granted the Muscogee Nation $500,000 to reduce food insecurity and improve health through the program. It will increase access to fresh vegetables, fruit and traditional foods for people living in the Muscogee Nation. [KGOU]

Cherokee Nation receives $80,000 worth of food from Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma: The Cherokee Nation received a one-time Feeding America grant that was matched by the Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, resulting in $80,000 worth of food items delivered to the tribe this week. [Cherokee Phoenix]

‘How to Protect Native American Archaeological Sites and History’ webinar is Aug. 16: The State Historic Preservation Office will host a “Lunch and Learn” webinar beginning at noon on Wednesday, Aug. 16. The webinar will focus on protecting Native American archaeological sites and history. [Cherokee Phoenix]

Voting and Election News

Oklahomans head to the polls for a smattering of local elections: Voters in 14 counties across Oklahoma are heading to the polls next Tuesday to determine the future of school bonds, municipal propositions and more. [KOSU]

Criminal Justice News

Great-grandmother’s injuries highlight Oklahoma Highway Patrol’s lack of body cams: More than a year after the Oklahoma Highway Patrol arrested a 68-year-old woman, the incident has highlighted how the state of Oklahoma’s largest law enforcement agency largely lacks the body-worn camera technology being adopted by departments across the country in an effort to document critical incidents for the sake of officers and the public alike. [NonDoc]

Education News

Walters zeroes in on ‘poor leadership,’ chronically low academic outcomes at Tulsa Public Schools: Oklahoma’s state superintendent says it’s past time for the state to intervene in Tulsa Public Schools because of “poor leadership” and chronically low academic outcomes for students. [Tulsa World]

  • Tulsa Public Schools denies Ryan Walters’ Chinese funding claims [Tulsa World]
  • Ryan Walters claims Tulsa schools accepting Chinese money in Twitter video; district says no [The Oklahoman]

OKC institute brings Clara Luper’s ‘radical love’ teaching approach to modern classrooms: As teachers head back to classes themselves, many are anxious about how they might tackle tough questions in the classroom, or how to give unseen students their voices. [The Oklahoman]

Column: Is Ryan Walters intent on using power of the state to enforce religious beliefs?: Don’t lose the plot, Oklahomans. We’ve got to stay focused. At the most recent Oklahoma State Board of Education meeting, state schools Superintendent Ryan Walters accused Tulsa Public Schools of intentionally misleading the department about funding spent on diversity, equity and inclusion programs. The consequences could include an unaccredited status, which would trigger a shut down and loss of funding. [The Rev. Lori Walke Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

General News

Woman allegedly evicted for going to KFOR because air conditioner wouldn’t get fixed: Kia Parker just wanted her air conditioner fixed, instead she says her landlord gave her an eviction notice. [KFOR]

‘You have a place here’: Rural Oklahoma town hosts first Pride event: Prague – a town of about 2,500, an hour east of OKC – hosted its first ever Pride in late July. The celebration is part of a growing movement to build community for LGBTQ people in rural Oklahoma, outside of big cities. [KGOU]

Community-based gun violence prevention program launches in Northeast Oklahoma City: LiveFree OKC is Oklahoma’s first community violence intervention program. The nonprofit launched in Northeast Oklahoma City this week with the goals of building peace and reducing gun violence. [KOSU]

These two Oklahomans have had it — and they’re taking their hit podcast on tour: The show launched in October 2022 and is among the top 50 podcasts in the United States. Each week, Welch and Sullivan air out their grievances with various topics, including toddlers and prenups. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma’s tax-free weekend: How to save on back-to-school shopping: Oklahomans, mark your calendars. The much-awaited tax-free weekend is just around the corner, providing a great opportunity for back-to-school shoppers to save some extra cash. [The Oklahoman]

Column: What are the complicated questions that confront the holistic reality of OKC?: I understand the importance of the Oklahoma City Thunder. I am a huge Thunder fan. However, I also love all of our city, including those who have less power and privilege than I have. I love our neighbors who struggle in ways our city has, so far, failed to adequately address. So, it’s difficult for me to sign off on subsidizing the businesses of folks who have the most in our community for a “quality of life benefit” that many of our city residents will never have the ability to engage in. [Walter Milligan Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Tulsa stadium trust board weighs refinancing bonds, appoints replacement trustee [Public Radio Tulsa]

Quote of the Day

“This ideological notion of white supremacy and black subordination is ultimately at the root of these events. We shouldn’t be afraid to acknowledge that horrific history, because if we don’t first acknowledge it, we can’t begin to remediate.”

-Hannibal Johnson, author of “Up from the Ashes,” who also served as a curator for Greenwood Rising, said it’s impossible to teach about the Tulsa Race Massacre without including its root in systemic racism. [The Frontier]

Number of the Day

$7 million

Estimated amount of state revenue lost annually due to Oklahoma’s back-to-school shopping tax holiday each August. [OK Policy]

– – –

Clarification: Tuesday’s Number of the Day said Oklahoma court fees for filing an eviction were $108, but that cost included an optional $50 fee for service by the sheriff in a civil case. That fee can be waived if the filer arranges service on its own. The base cost for eviction filing is $58, which entails $45 for a forcible entry and detainer for small claims ($5,000 or less), $6 law library fee, and $7 for alternative dispute resolution fee. [Uniform Oklahoma Fee Schedule / OSCN] 

Policy Note

Sales Tax Holidays: An Ineffective Alternative to Real Sales Tax Reform: Sales taxes are an important revenue source, making up close to half of all state tax revenues. But sales taxes also are inherently regressive because low-income families spend a greater share of their income on goods and services subject to the tax. Lawmakers in many states have enacted “sales tax holidays” to temporarily suspend the tax on purchases of clothing, school supplies, and other items. These temporary exemptions may seem to lessen the regressive impacts of the sales tax, but their benefits are minimal while their downsides are significant—particularly as lawmakers have sought to apply the concept as a substitute for more meaningful, permanent reform or to arbitrarily reward people with specific hobbies or in certain professions. [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.

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