In The Know: New laws go into effect today | Oklahoma among most food insecure states | Interim study focuses on youth justice

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

Interim study on youth justice shows need for funding, cohesive systems for prevention and treatment services (Capitol Update): A recent interim study on youth justice showed a lack of funding for prevention and treatment and lack of a coherent system that dependably provides vital services everywhere they are needed. As our treatment of troubled kids through the years has proven more than once: Good intentions don’t always provide good results. Today’s youth face a troubled world. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

More than 215 new Oklahoma laws take effect Wednesday: More than 215 new state laws take effect Wednesday that impact everything from state employee benefits and jury pay to oversight of medical marijuana grows and missing persons. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • These new laws go into effect Nov. 1 in Oklahoma: What to know [The Oklahoman]
  • More than 200 new Oklahoma laws take effect Wednesday [Tulsa World]

USDA finds almost 250,000 Oklahoma households face food insecurity: A new United States Department of Agriculture report found food insecurity rates have increased since 2021 and Oklahoma is one of the top six states in the metric. [KOSU]

State Government News

Oklahoma’s bank boycott could cost taxpayers millions, public employee group says: Oklahoma’s largest public employee association says efforts by State Treasurer Todd Russ to boycott large banks and asset management companies with environmental, social and governmental policies could cost state taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and “the promise the state has made to thousands of retired public employees.” [The Oklahoman]

Lawmakers probe Oklahoma’s business retention efforts as Ardmore tire plant to close: State senators on Tuesday explored the conditions that led a global tire company to decide to close its Ardmore factory and probed economic development officials on solutions to retain businesses in Oklahoma. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • ‘An economic earthquake.’ Legislators talk next steps in the years before Michelin closure [The Oklahoman]
  • How big of a blow is losing the Michelin tire plant in Ardmore? [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma state parks need nearly $350 million in maintenance and repairs, study says: The Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department predicts $350 million is needed to repair capital infrastructure to state parks, according to a recent study. The study also found the infrastructure for tourists to enjoy state parks in Oklahoma, like cabins, campgrounds and restrooms, are in need of major repair. [KOSU]

Tulsa lawmaker presses for free school lunches: A Tulsa lawmaker said he will again push to expand free school lunches. Last session, Rep. Jeff Boatman, R-Tulsa, filed House Bill 1376. The measure on March 21 passed the House by a vote of 91-7, but it failed to get a hearing before the Senate Education Committee. The measure is still alive. [Tulsa World]

Texas Water District Offers To Pay For Experts in Red River Dispute: A Texas water district has offered to pay attorneys, engineers and surveyors for advice to resolve a boundary dispute along the Red River at Lake Texoma. The dispute involves a water pumping station lying just a few feet on the Oklahoma side of the border. [Oklahoma Watch]

Oklahoma’s governor presses NCAA to change transgender student athlete participation policy: Oklahoma’s governor is pressing the nation’s top collegiate sports governing body to overhaul its transgender student athlete policies to “guarantee a fair environment” for female athletes. [Oklahoma Voice]

Tribal Nations News

Kasey Alerts for missing adults begin in Oklahoma, named after Cherokee man who vanished: Oklahomans soon could start seeing a new type of public alert flash across phone screens and highway signs. Kasey Alerts are meant to help police find adults who go missing under suspicious circumstances. The law that created the alerts takes effect Wednesday. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Clinton hospital reopening with emergency, radiology, lab services: Ten months after it was shut down by the private company managing it, Clinton Regional Hospital is reopening today with a board made up of local residents overseeing its operations. [NonDoc]

Company that offers direct primary care on insurance Marketplace now serving OKC: As thousands of Oklahomans have been dropped from SoonerCare, the state’s Medicaid program, many are looking to the federal insurance marketplace for a new plan. [The Oklahoman]

  • Together Oklahoma and OK Policy, along with regional community partners, hosted a two-hour, live-stream event to highlight the importance of updating eligibility information and walk viewers through the process so SoonerCare participants can continue to receive high-quality, affordable health care. [Watch Here]

Criminal Justice News

Culture change at Oklahoma corrections department aims to give inmates a voice: As new Department of Corrections Director Steven Harpe, a Stitt appointee who used to serve as the state’s chief operating officer, attempts to change the culture at the Department of Corrections, he’s trying to give the roughly 23,000 inmates in state custody a greater voice in how the prisons operate. [Oklahoma Voice]

Oklahoma County has 2nd most death row exonerations in the US. Who are the 11 people freed?: Oklahoma County is now tied with Cuyahoga County in Ohio and Philadelphia County in Pennsylvania for the second-most death row exonerations of counties in the U.S., according to the Death Penalty Information Center — with Cook County, Illinois, being the highest. Six of Oklahoma’s overturned death row convictions originated in Oklahoma County. Counties with high numbers of wrongful convictions show patterns of systemic misconduct by police and prosecutors. [The Oklahoman]

Politicians love to cite crime data. It’s often wrong: Across the country, law enforcement agencies’ inability — or refusal — to send their annual crime data to the FBI has resulted in a distorted picture of the United States’ crime trends, according to a new Stateline analysis of the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program participation data. [Oklahoma Voice]

Housing & Economic Opportunity

Affordable housing advocates and developers to get new Oklahoma Housing Needs Assessment: An online resource used by affordable housing developers in Oklahoma, as well as lenders and others, is being revamped, updated and made interactive, forward looking and ongoing to keep helping get people into homes. [The Oklahoman]

City of Tulsa to reissue RFP for low-barrier homeless shelter operator after receiving just one response: The City of Tulsa has decided to try again to find a social services provider to establish and operate a low-barrier shelter for homeless people. [Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Three Ponies RV Park breaks ground as precursor to American Heartland Theme Park: The Three Ponies campground marks the first phase of American Heartland Theme Park and Resort, a more than $2 billion entertainment destination development that has raised eyebrows, expectations and questions since its announcement this summer. [NonDoc]

Education News

New law blocks local school board members from joining Oklahoma’s top education board: State lawmakers hope a new law that takes effect Wednesday will limit potential conflicts of interest between the state’s top school board and local districts. [Oklahoma Voice]

After another education official resigns, lawmaker criticizes transparency issues under Ryan Walters: The head of the Oklahoma House’s budget committee on education says he’s concerned about lack of transparency at the Oklahoma State Department of Education headed by Ryan Walters. [The Oklahoman]

How One Researcher Raised the Bar For Disadvantaged High School Students: Students graduating from a high-poverty high school often feel like they don’t belong at a 4-year university, and professor Paul Ketchum wants to prove them wrong. The crux of the program was twofold. First, the students needed specific academic skills. Second, they needed to buy into the idea that they belong in college. [Oklahoma Watch]

Devin Fletcher pleads guilty in Tulsa Public Schools embezzlement case: After initially pleading not guilty to the charge against him, former Tulsa Public Schools administrator Devin Fletcher changed his plea to guilty Monday, admitting details in the conspiracy to commit wire fraud case brought against him in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma. [NonDoc]

Opinion: Expanding early childhood education is urgent as poverty increases: We, as a society, are defined by how we serve our most vulnerable — our children — and recent data presents an urgent need for policymakers to disrupt and prevent the cycle of poverty from continuing. But how do we do it? [Ken Levit / The Oklahoman]

General News

Talihina veterans home closes this week, future of 600-acre property remains unclear: A state-run veterans home in Talihina will close this week, roughly one year before construction of a new facility in Sallisaw will be complete. [Oklahoma Voice]

Poultry companies ask judge to throw out ruling in decades-old case over polluted Oklahoma river: Tyson Foods and other Arkansas poultry companies have filed a motion to dismiss a court ruling that says they’re responsible for cleaning up pollution in Oklahoma’s Illinois River Watershed. [KOSU]

Asylum Relief Elusive for Two Afghan Scholars-at-Risk: While others in Oklahoma’s Afghan community qualify for a two-year extension to their parole status, Hossain Ahmadi and Zahra Eyvazi are racing to file for asylum before their student visas expire at the end of this year. They face a long, expensive process. The federal asylum backlog is expected to surpass 1 million claims by 2024. Wait times for approval are nearly a decade. [Oklahoma Watch]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Grunewald talks bond election, new dual-enrollment program at Edmond Public Schools State of the Schools [NonDoc]
  • Tulsa Public School board votes to reauthorize Tulsa Honor Academy High School [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“It is hungry kids. It is not something we should be playing politics with.”

– Rep. Jeff Boatman, R-Tulsa, speaking about House Bill 1376, which would expand free school lunches in Oklahoma. [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


More than half (50.9%) of the American Indian (alone) population lived in five states; Oklahoma had the largest American Indian alone population (14.2%), followed by Arizona (12.9%), California (9.9%), New Mexico (9.1%) and Texas (4.8%). [U.S. Census Bureau]

Policy Note

Indigenous data warriors and the ongoing fight for data sovereignty: American Indians and Alaska Natives face systematic undercounting, inaccuracies, and exclusion from data gathering, leading to a loss of resources. Stacker conducted interviews, consulted research, and explored how Indigenous data warriors are fighting for data sovereignty: the right and ability of tribes to develop their own systems for gathering and using data. [Stacker]

Note: November is Native American Heritage Month

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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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