In The Know: Neighbor states poach teachers | Spotlight on missing, murdered Indigenous people | Local trailblazer for food incentive program | 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

Neighboring states poach Oklahoma teachers with higher pay, other incentives: As Oklahoma struggles to pay its classroom teachers competitively, school districts across the borders are hoping to capitalize, launching high-profile recruiting efforts promising more lucrative salaries, free housing and sign-on bonuses for the most qualified. “Your Future is in a Fort Worth Classroom. First-year teachers earn $58,000-$69,500,” reads a billboard recently erected by the Fort Worth Independent School District at the Texas-Oklahoma border. [CNHI via The Norman Transcript]

‘Whose daughter is next?’ Missing, slain Native people need officials to do more, families say: Skye was Alecia Onzahwah’s quiet child, always compassionate and funny even when she was struggling in life. Her killing has pushed Onzahwah to speak out and search for answers she believes investigators never tried to find. [The Oklahoman

  • US panel to focus on Native American missing, slain cases [AP News
  • Community members spotlight missing, murdered Indigenous women at Oklahoma Capitol rally. See the photos [The Oklahoman
  • May 5 was National Day of Awareness for MMIWG2S [Indian Country Today]  [Indian Country Today]
  • Fact sheet: Justice Department efforts to address the crisis of Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons [Indian Country Today]

Oasis Fresh Market becomes local trailblazer for food incentive program: Oasis Fresh Market in Tulsa is the first metropolitan store to offer a special healthy food incentive program to customers. It is called Double Up Oklahoma (DUO), which matches the value (up to $20 per day) of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) dollars spent for fruits and vegetables at participating farmers markets and grocery stores. [Tulsa World

Residents begin to ‘pick up the pieces’ after Seminole tornado: Cowering inside a restored gun vault, clutching her 7- and 10-year-old sons and praying for her family’s lives is how Tiffani Coker found herself Wednesday night as a tornado roared overhead. [The Oklahoman

  • Teachers, students pick up the pieces in wake of tornado that heavily damaged charter school in Seminole, Okla. [KOSU
  • Tornadoes strike Texas, Oklahoma, cause widespread damage [AP News]

State Government News

House panel investigating Tourism, Swadley’s sets first meeting, issues subpoenas: A special legislative committee investigating the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department’s now-defunct partnership with Swadley’s Bar-B-Q will hold its first meeting next week. [The Oklahoman] The subpoenas were issued to Office of Management and Enterprise Services director Steven Harpe and Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency director Mike Jackson to testify in the committee’s first meeting. [News On 6

OTA says Norman studies full speed ahead: The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority announced Thursday that it would find the money to further environmental and engineering studies with cash on hand following an oversight committee’s ruling it cannot use revolving credit. [The Norman Transcript]

Oklahoma becomes first U.S. state to ban non-binary birth certificates: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a law this week making the Sooner State the first in U.S. history to outlaw non-binary birth certificates. Stitt, a Republican, approved Senate Bill 1100 in a April 26 ceremony after calling on the state legislature to introduce legislation preventing non-binary people from accessing accurate birth records. [Xtra

  • Why Nonbinary Birth Certificates Aren’t All That Radical [The Atlantic

Gov. Stitt signs bill to fix Oklahoma’s health care power of attorney law: Governor Kevin Stitt signed a bill Thursday to restore health care power of attorney in Oklahoma. KFOR reported that the medical power of attorney would be no more as of November 1, 2021. It then became the Uniform Power of Attorney Act. [KFOR]

Federal Government News

White House announces Karine Jean-Pierre as new press secretary: President Joe Biden announced today that former White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has been promoted to be Assistant to the President and White House Press Secretary. Jean-Pierre will step into the Press Secretary role replacing Jen Psaki, who will depart from the White House on May 13. [The Black Wall Street Times

Tribal Nations News

Quapaw Nation has advantage with criminal law following the McGirt decision: One of Oklahoma’s smallest tribal reservations is making a big impact. The Quapaw Nation was the most recent reservation to be federally recognized in October of 2021. The reservation spans the northeastern part of Ottawa County as well as parts of Kansas and Missouri. The Quapaw Nation’s sovereignty being recognized after the landmark McGirt decision is paying off. [KTUL]

Health News

OSDH: Over 1,600 active cases of COVID-19 in Oklahoma: Health officials are reporting more than 1,400 new COVID-19 cases since last week’s data was released in Oklahoma. OSDH announced in March that it was discontinuing its daily situation updates that monitor the daily case counts, and instead, release weekly data on Thursdays. [KFOR]

What we know, and what we don’t, about Oklahoma’s 6-week abortion ban: Abortion access was drastically limited in Oklahoma this week when Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill that bans most abortions after roughly the sixth week of pregnancy. Restrictions may get even tighter soon, as the U.S. Supreme Court has signaled it’s willing to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that upheld the right to abortion. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma faith leaders weigh in on abortion rights after Supreme Court Roe v. Wade leak [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

More work needed to improve Tulsa police relations with marginalized communities, CNA report shows: The Tulsa Police Department is making plans to improve community policing after an evaluation from research firm CNA showed areas on which the department needs to improve. [Tulsa World

Economic Opportunity

Oklahoma wheat harvest might be cut in half. It will affect farmers and consumers alike: Oklahoma’s wheat harvest could be half of what it was last year, leaving farmers in a challenging situation and further complicating food supply chain issues for consumers. [The Oklahoman

Economy & Business News

First-time jobless claims increase slightly; continued claims hit historic low: Initial state jobless claims increased slightly last week while continued claims hit a historic low, according to a government report. Continued claims weekly totals have not been this low in over 20 years. [Tulsa World

Education News

COVID changed the way colleges prepare future teachers: As COVID-19 brought winds of change in K-12 education, schooling of future teachers shifted, as well. Colleges of education in Oklahoma say they modified the way they prepare students for a career in education during the pandemic era. [The Oklahoman

Virtual learning ‘here to stay’ in Oklahoma education: Virtual learning abruptly rushed to the forefront of education in the COVID-19 pandemic after years of glimmering as a far-off possibility in many Oklahoma schools. Now, school leaders say online education isn’t going anywhere. [The Oklahoman

Oklahoma Local News

Citizen ‘dream team’ shapes Arcadia Lake master plan: Edmond is working to develop a master plan for Arcadia Lake, the 1,820-surface-acre lake constructed in the 1980s that serves as a source of water and recreation for the city. “Tourism is an important economic driver for our city, and the attraction with maybe the most far-reaching potential is Arcadia Lake,” Edmond Mayor Darrell Davis said in a release. [NonDoc

Moore City Council spends pandemic relief funds on police-fire equipment: The Moore City Council met without Mayor Glenn Lewis present in regular session and addressed two key issues among others Monday. They invested a portion of money received in the American Rescue Plan Act into community services and policing. [OKC Free Press]

MAPS 4 Citizens Advisory Board recommends operating partners: Most significant among the recommendations made by the MAPS 4 Citizens Advisory Board (CAB) Thursday were: Operating partners for two MAPS 4 projects, Boy & Girls Clubs of Oklahoma County be selected to operate the MAPS 4 Youth Centers, Metro Technology Centers be selected as the operating partner for the Henrietta B. Foster Center. Land acquisition deals for transit expansion, and Beautification at NE 23rd and Martin Luther King Boulevard. [OKC Free Press]

Public invited to comment on new Stillwater city budget Monday: The Stillwater City Council is preparing to adopt an overall operating budget totaling just over $110 million for fiscal year 2022-2023. That’s almost $2 million less overall than the fiscal year 2021-2022 adopted budget, which ends June 30. [Stillwater News Press]

Quote of the Day

“It has a trickling effect of not being able to recruit or retain educators in our state. It all goes into that whole respect piece. To have competitive pay is part of that respect.”

— Katherine Bishop, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, speaking about billboards and ads from out-of-state school districts targeting Oklahoma teachers with better pay. [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


For Oklahomans in the wealthiest one percent of earners, HB 3350 would cut their taxes by about $2,043 per year. Middle-class Oklahomans would get a tax cut of about $61, while Oklahomans in the lowest 20 percent of earners would receive an average tax cut of $4.

[Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute]

New from OK Policy: Under HB 3350, the majority of the benefit would go to the richest Oklahomans and leave the state scrounging for revenue to provide services that support us all.

Policy Note

How Post-Pandemic Tax Cuts Can Affect Racial Equity: State policymakers across the country are considering tax cuts in 2022. While there are many reasons and ways to cut taxes, state policymakers should keep in mind that the pandemic’s negative effects were unequal and that future state revenue growth is uncertain. This report, using the Tax Policy Center state tax model, analyzes 2021 tax cuts passed in Arizona, Maryland, New Mexico, and Ohio, showing how each state’s tax cut affected different income groups and representative households from different racial and ethnic groups. In general, states that expanded refundable tax credits provided larger benefits to representative Black and Latino households. [Urban Institute]

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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.

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