In The Know: New report highlights unaddressed disparities in youth justice system | Investigations finds state and local governments infringe on tribal nations’ taxing authority | 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

‘They need to see a pathway’: Area nonprofits hungry for collaboration after report on youth justice disparities: The Anne & Henry Zarrow Foundation funded a look into racial disparities in Tulsa’s youth legal system by the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, and organizers met with the Tulsa World’s Editorial Board last Wednesday to bring attention to their approach. Despite the city’s equality indicators illustrating significant disparities in the youth juvenile justice system, Bill Major, president of the Anne & Henry Zarrow Foundation, said that after some checking around, it was apparent there was no coordinated effort to address the issue. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Oklahoma lawmaker files bills to support border states, prohibit birthright citizenship in Oklahoma: Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, has filed multiple bills “aimed at preventing and disincentivizing illegal immigration,” according to a press release. [KOKI FOX 23]

Oklahoma state senator files bill on history education, teaching of ‘controversial issues’: Oklahoma State Sen. George Burns (R-Pollard) has filed SB 20, a measure that would prevent public school history teachers from being required to talk about, “currently controversial issues of public policy or social affairs” in class. [OKC Fox]

Tribal Nations News

Tribes need tax revenue. States keep taking it: State and local governments often tax economic activity on tribal land, reducing what tribes can collect to fund services for their citizens. It’s the latest variation on centuries of wealth extraction. [Center for Public Integrity]

Voting and Election News

76% of voters 30 and younger didn’t vote in Oklahoma’s November midterm election: More than three-quarters of registered voters under age 30 in Oklahoma didn’t cast a ballot in the November statewide election, according to a Tulsa World analysis of voter registration data. The 24% turnout among the under-30 crowd is a nearly seven-point decline from the 2018 midterm election, when about 31% of registered voters in that age group cast ballots. [Tulsa World]

Health News

Hundreds of incarcerated people are dying of hep C — even though we have a simple cure: STAT’s investigation found that 1,013 people died of hepatitis C-related complications in states’ custody in the six years after the first cure, a Gilead antiviral drug called Sovaldi, hit the market in late 2013. This tally, based on an analysis of 27,674 highly restricted death records, has never before been reported. [STAT]

Criminal Justice News

Appeals court tosses Tulsa cop’s lawsuit: An Oklahoma appeals court last week ruled to dismiss a Tulsa policeman’s lawsuit against news organizations that correctly quoted an inflammatory comment he made during an interview. Travis Yates, a Tulsa police major, said he was falsely depicted as a “racist cop” when local and national news organizations publicized a statement he made during an interview with local radio station Talk Radio 1170 in June 2020. [Journal Record]

DA drops charges against preacher who participated in Julius Jones vigil: Misdemeanor charges against a prominent Black Oklahoma City preacher who was arrested during a 2021 prayer vigil for Julius Jones have been dropped. Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater’s office dropped charges against the Rev. Derrick Scobey “in the best interest of justice” on Dec. 13, according to court records. [The Oklahoman]

Jim Couch’s resignation from Oklahoma County jail trust leaves another role to fill: Oklahoma County jail trust chairman Jim Couch resigned Friday, leaving another vacancy to be filled after the jail’s administrator resigned earlier this month. Couch’s announcement followed Greg Williams’ resignation and the trust’s decision on Friday to hire Maj. Brandi Garner as the jail’s interim administrator. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Developers plan extensive makeover of Skirvin: Investors and architects will begin meeting this week to develop a design plan for a $15 million renovation of downtown’s stately 111-year-old Skirvin Hilton now that it has changed ownership. ­Developer Mark Beffort said great care will be taken to make the building current while keeping its historic look and feel. Planning will take six or seven months and the extensive makeover should begin in the third quarter of 2023, Beffort said. [Journal Record]

Terence Crutcher Foundation buys North Pointe Shopping Center: The Terence Crutcher Foundation has bought the North Pointe Shopping Center for $1.7 million, according to documents filed with the Tulsa County Clerk’s Office. The purchase of the 5.8-acre property on the northeast corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Pine Street comes just six months after the Cherokee Nation expressed interest in buying the structure to transform it into a courthouse and administrative building for the tribe. [Tulsa World]

Bass Pro Shops to stay in Bricktown after completing incentives deal with city: The new lease with the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority starts in November 2023, and the retailer has five more five-year renewal options, allowing it stay under the same terms for the next 25 years. The deal, which required the city to build the $19 million store, wasn’t without controversy as Academy Sporting Goods unsuccessfully led a campaign to sway council members to reject the agreement. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Guest Column: School mental health providers need support or they, too, will walk out: Low pay and an increase in responsibility have left many Oklahoma teachers and school personnel reconsidering their chosen careers. This has left many school districts across the state with the current teacher shortage, which in turn impacts the students. Many students in this state rely on teachers and school personnel to help guide them in their lives while dealing with the overwhelming increase in mental health problems after the pandemic. [Regan Brewer Guest Columnist / The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Norman homeless encampment under I-35 bridge evicted for ODOT repairs [KOKH]
  • Edmond in ‘preliminary’ discussions to take over portions of U.S. Route 66, Route 77 [NonDoc]

Quote of the Day

“A lot of us feel strongly that we paid our taxes through the land that we ceded. Why do we as Indian people have to pay taxes to the United States when the land that we gave up is their tax base? The property taxes, the business taxes, all the income that they generate and run their government is based on the land we ceded.”

– Henry Cagey, councilmember and former chairman of the Lummi Nation, commenting on how many state and local governments infringe on tribal nations’ taxing authority, siphoning billions of dollars in tax revenue from reservations over the past few decades alone. [Center for Public Integrity]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma voters ages 18-30 who did not cast a ballot in the 2022 November midterm election. [Tulsa World]

Policy Note

The U.S. Maternal Health Divide: The Limited Maternal Health Services and Worse Outcomes of States Proposing New Abortion Restrictions: In anticipation of a U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, a number of states passed “trigger laws” that would ban all, or nearly all, abortions once national abortion protections ended. In this brief, we assess the current state of maternal and infant health in these states, identify weaknesses in perinatal care systems, and consider how abortion bans may exacerbate these weaknesses. [The Commonwealth Fund]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.