In The Know: OK House passes $800 million common ed proposal | Renter protection bill advances | Policy Matters | 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

Policy Matters: Public education is Oklahoma’s north star for Top 10: As Oklahomans celebrated Public Schools Week at the state Capitol on Monday, I was reminded that our public schools should be centerpieces of our communities. Schools should be where students, educators, and families come together to build stronger communities and prepare tomorrow’s leaders. [Shiloh Kantz / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Death penalty poll shows shifting attitudes in Oklahoma: Results of a poll released Wednesday indicate the majority of Oklahomans favor life in prison over the death penalty, revealing attitudes toward the death penalty in Oklahoma are changing – both among voters and state leaders. [Journal Record]

  • Group of GOP lawmakers, religious leaders say poll shows Oklahomans support pause in executions [The Oklahoman]

How Oklahoma’s mismanagement of federal education funds could leave $18 million on the table: Due to the state’s handling of its previous round of funding, Oklahoma now has nearly $18 million of federal education funding sitting untouched — and time is running out to spend it. StateImpact’s Beth Wallis sat down with Oklahoma Watch education reporter Jennifer Palmer for a recap of just what happened with the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

State Government News

Oklahoma House passes private-school tax credit, increases public school funding: House Bill 2775, which passed in a 78-20 vote, would raise salaries for all Oklahoma teachers by $2,500 and pump an extra $300 million into public-school funding to support additional school staff raises and classroom needs. The $300 million investment would apply on a per-pupil basis, and no district could receive more than $2 million in added funds. [The Oklahoman]

  • House passes $800 million common ed proposal [Tulsa World]
  • Large Tulsa school districts slam funding disparity in GOP education plan [Tulsa World]

Opponents of legislation targeting drag performers voice concerns: The hundreds of protesters who gathered outside the House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday morning booed after watching Republican Rep. Kevin West’s House Bill 2186 pass with a vote of 5-2. The original language of the bill would have outright banned drag performances, including drag queen story hours, from being held in public where minors could see them. However, the amended bill specifies such performances cannot be “harmful to minors,” which under Oklahoma statute includes nudity, sexual conduct or sexual excitement, or “sadomasochistic abuse.” [KGOU]

  • Discussions of cockfights and drag performances enliven House committee meeting [Tulsa World]

Renter Protection Bill Headed To Oklahoma House: House Bill 2109 would protect renters in the event they voiced concerns about their living conditions related to health or safety [News 9]

Tribal Nations News

Baby’s registration pushes Cherokee Nation to record citizenship level: Already the largest federally recognized tribe in the United States, the Cherokee Nation enrolled its 450,000th tribal citizen this week, a benchmark set after rapid growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Cherokee population has swelled in recent years largely by people asserting their citizenship rights as adults, but it was a newborn baby who actually pushed enrollment to this new record, tribal officials said. [Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

Oklahomans to weigh pros, cons of recreational marijuana legalization: A yes vote on SQ 820 on March 7 would allow Oklahomans 21 and older to legally purchase or possess up to an ounce of cannabis flower, 8 grams of concentrate and/or 8 grams of concentrate contained within infused products. Additionally, adults would be allowed to have up to six mature and six seedling plants in their homes. [Journal Record]

Health News

Oklahoma legislation would make maternal mortality death data easier to compile: Oklahoma ranks among the worst states in the country for maternal mortality, but data on those deaths is difficult to compile. A bill making its way through the Legislature now could make it easier. [KOSU]

Women, Chronically Ill Shielded as Oklahoma Medicaid Checks Near: Mothers, children, and patients with chronic health conditions will be last to lose Medicaid coverage in Oklahoma once checks on income eligibility resume in the spring. The initiative from the Oklahoma Medicaid Authority aims to take advantage of the Biden administration’s 14-month window for eligibility checks by evaluating Medicaid beneficiaries based on need, targeting people who rarely use Medicaid services early in the unwinding schedule while delaying the cancellation of coverage for vulnerable populations. [Bloomberg Law]

Colulmn: We’ve turned the corner on the pandemic. But we can’t turn our backs on those we lost: It’s been three years since Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID before tip-off against the Oklahoma City Thunder, starting a domino effect that would close businesses, shut schools, cripple the economy and, for many, trigger months of emotional anguish. [Russ Florence Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Column: Criminal justice reform benefits Oklahoma’s workforce: A little over six years ago, Oklahoma voters passed State Questions 780 and 781, launching major reform in our state’s criminal justice system by reclassifying certain crimes and redirecting low-level, non-violent criminal offenders from prison to diversion programs. The impact on our economy and workforce has been notable. [Timothy Tardibono  / Journal Record]

Group of GOP lawmakers, religious leaders say poll shows Oklahomans support pause in executions: The Oklahoma chapter of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty said a poll it commissioned last month showed that three out of four Oklahomans favored “pausing executions to ensure the process is fair and just, and does not result in the execution of innocent people.” [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Unpaid overtime in Oklahoma: $2.2B: Oklahoma workers are owed more than $2.2 billion in unpaid overtime compensation, according to a new study. The national study of 3,000 workers conducted by the California law firm Bisnar Chase reveals the average Oklahoma employee in the private sector worked 2.8 hours of unpaid overtime per week in 2022. The national average was 2.1 hours. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma City’s LSB Industries reports most profitable year: The company reported nets sales for the quarter of $234 million, compared to $190 million in the fourth quarter of 2021, and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $105 million, compared to $90 million in the final quarter of the previous year. On a per-share basis, the company said it had net income of 83 cents. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, were 90 cents per share. [Journal Record]

General News

With antisemitism attacks on rise, OKC leaders reiterate importance of reporting, leading: Antisemitic flyers that have been circulating in northwest Oklahoma City, and are on the FBI’s radar, were a topic of discussion during a recent community forum about antisemitism. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

City Council asks Biden to make Greenwood a National Monument: Establishing a national monument does require the federal government to gain control of some land or property. Some community members expressed concern that would require some of the buildings on Greenwood to fall under government control. [Black Wall Street Times]

  • National monument status sought for Tulsa’s Greenwood District [Journal Record]
  • Tulsa city councilors hesitate on affirming city as welcoming to LGBTQ residents [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa school board has lack of quorum, can’t take action on open seat [Tulsa World]
  • Everything you need to know about OKC’s new fairgrounds coliseum [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“If our state leaders want to benefit every student, parent, and teacher, they would stop playing games that attempt to pit urban and rural education systems against each other in a fruitless competition that ends in woefully inadequate resources for both.”

-Tulsa Public Schools spokesperson, Drew Druzynski, in a statement about HB 2775, which would dole out $300 million in new per-pupil funding, but result in TPS receiving less of that pot of money per student than any other district in the state. [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Number of children enrolled in Oklahoma’s public schools for the 2022-23 school year, up .37% from the previous year. [Oklahoma State Department of Education]

Policy Note

School Vouchers: There Is No Upside: Despite an ever-growing volume of data showing that direct and sustained dollar investments in public schools yields large and inter-generational opportunity, the alternative scheme to divert those dollars into individual accounts for private tuition and side-item educational expenses is alive and well. [Albert Shanker Institute]

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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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