In The Know: Oklahoma AG sues for release of federal family planning funds to state | YouTube pulls Gov’s video praising cockfighting | Tribal-State legislation included significant bills this session

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

The 2023 legislative session included significant tribal-state bills and a respect for tribal sovereignty from state lawmakers: This year, the Oklahoma legislature recognized tribal governments as self-governing, sovereign entities within the state, passing measures respectful of tribes’ responsibility for the health, safety, and well-being of their respective citizens. Lawmakers supported tribal-state bills with nearly unanimous bipartisan support, but were met with some opposition from the governor’s office. [Vivian Morris / OK Policy]

State Government News

Oklahoma Turnpike Authority goes back to drawing board as work resumes on $5B ACCESS plan: The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is rethinking its $5 billion turnpike expansion and improvement plans now that two lawsuits have been settled. [Oklahoma Voice]

Is Oklahoma’s health information exchange an invasion of privacy? A look at the arguments in a lawsuit: An Oklahoma County judge said he would decide soon whether or not to dismiss a lawsuit against the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and its health information exchange system. [The Oklahoman]

Effort to raise Oklahoma’s minimum wage has already faced legal challenges: The state Chamber of Commerce called an initiative petition to raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour “unconstitutional.” The chamber said they’re not against raising wages but argued legal precedent has proven that a mandate from a state question has shaky legal footing. [KOCO]

State retiree files legal challenge over Oklahoma’s bank boycott law: A retired state employee filed a lawsuit Monday to block the enforcement of a new law barring the state from working with banks deemed hostile to fossil fuel energy companies. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • A state retiree seeks to overturn Oklahoma’s ‘woke’ investment ban [The Frontier]

YouTube pulls video of Oklahoma Gov. Stitt praising cockfighting group, cites animal cruelty: Gov. Kevin Stitt’s video praising the cockfight industry has been pulled from YouTube, the company said Monday. YouTube said Stitt’s video violated the company’s community guidelines by promoting cruelty to animals. [The Oklahoman]

  • YouTube deletes Gov. Stitt cockfighting video for ‘violating community guidelines’ [KFOR]

Federal Government News

Oklahoma AG sues Biden administration over family planning grant clawback: Attorney General Genter Drummond filed a federal lawsuit against the Biden administration for clawing back a nearly $5 million family planning grant from the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The Biden administration reallocated those funds to abortion-rights groups like Planned Parenthood, according to a Monday news release from Drummond’s office. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Oklahoma attorney general sues federal agency over suspended Title X grant [The Oklahoman]
  • State AG sues for release of federal family planning funds to state [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma Attorney General Sues HHS, Biden Administration over Title X grant suspension [News 9]

Oklahoma refused to share a hotline with abortion information before it lost health funding: Before the federal government suspended Oklahoma’s family planning funding, state health officials refused to refer patients to a national hotline that provided information about abortion. Officials from the Oklahoma State Department of Health instead wanted to share a federal website with patients that doesn’t directly provide information on abortion, but does link to another government website on reproductive rights. [The Frontier]

Voting and Election News

Voting Rights Act of 1965 Key Provision in Jeopardy: A key section of the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965 is on the path to be gutted. On Monday, a conservative federal appeals court issued a ruling that, if upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, would restrict the ability of the same organizations that risked life and limb to pass the law from suing. [The Black Wall Street Times]

  • Federal appeals court deals a blow to Voting Rights Act, ruling that private plaintiffs can’t sue [AP via KFOR]

Dusty Deevers, Larry Bush outline competing priorities in SD 32 special election: The matchup is a clash of ideals and priorities in the open Senate District 32 seat, which was vacated this summer when John Michael Montgomery took a job running the Lawton-Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce. [NonDoc]

Economy & Business News

Ardmore hopes new program will ease post-Michelin transition: The Oklahoma Department of Commerce, the Oklahoma Development Finance Authority and the Ardmore Development Authority announced the creation of a Rapid Community Response Program last week to assist the Ardmore community as production winds down at its Michelin facility over the next two years, affecting more than 1,400 employees. [Journal Record]

Amazon to develop first solar farm in Oklahoma: The company announced last week that it’s developing its first solar farm in Oklahoma, and plans to power local grids and its operations. The solar farm will be in Kiowa County in southwest Oklahoma. It is one of three sustainable energy projects Amazon is developing in the state. [KGOU]

Applications for unemployment benefits edge up: In Oklahoma, the latest report on claims issued by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission showed that during the file week that ended Nov. 4, the number of initial claims for benefits, unadjusted, totaled 1,329 – actually a decline of 108 from the previous week. However, the less volatile four-week moving average of initial claims showed a slight increase in claims to 1,323. [Journal Record]

Education News

Fewer Than 1 in 4 Oklahoma High Schools Meet New AP Requirement: By the 2024-25 school year, all of Oklahoma’s 471 public high schools will be required to offer at least four A.P. courses. Only a quarter of high schools met that bar last school year, according to an Oklahoma Watch analysis of data from the College Board, which runs A.P. Half didn’t have any A.P. classes at all. [Oklahoma Watch]

Opinion: State, Walters continue to fail students: Sadly, Walters spends an inordinate amount of time on social media, amplifying messages of astroturf groups like Moms for Liberty, promoting Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and providing links to his appearances on right-wing media. None of which is leading an Oklahoma education renaissance or encouraging a holistic approach to better academic outcomes – from teacher pay and improved technology (think: better, more accessible broadband) to smaller class sizes and expanded course offerings. [Arnold Hamilton Guest Column / Journal Record]

General News

Turkey Day means travel days for Oklahomans: AAA estimates more than 480,000 Oklahomans – an increase of 1.1% from 2022 – will be among the 55.4 million Americans who will travel 50 miles or more away from home over the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma Local News

  • County approves rezone for limestone mine after two weeks of pushback [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Oklahoma County will use parking revenue, not jail fund, to pay bills [The Oklahoman]
  • Strawberry Fields OKC developer under securities investigation [The Oklahoman]
  • People in Oklahoma City gather for annual Transgender Day of Remembrance [KOCO]

Quote of the Day

“We will not allow Todd Russ to play politics with state employees and retirees’ money.”

– Tony DeSha, executive director of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association, one group backing a lawsuit to overturn an Oklahoma law banning the state from doing business with financial firms accused of boycotting the fossil fuel industry. [The Frontier]

Number of the Day

$56.8 million

Amount the State of Oklahoma received from tribal-state tobacco compacts during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022. [State of Oklahoma / Annual Comprehensive Financial Report]

Policy Note

What is Tribal Sovereignty (Video Explainer): Tribal sovereignty is a phrase you might have heard, but what does it really mean? In this video created by Native Governance Center and the Minnesota Humanities Center, you’ll learn about how Tribes exert their sovereignty to govern their citizens and why sovereignty matters. [Native Governance Center]

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Annie Taylor joined OK Policy as a Digital Communications Associate/Storybanker in April 2022. She studied journalism and mass communication at the University of Oklahoma, and was a member of the Native American Journalists Association. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communications from the University of Central Oklahoma. While pursuing her degree, she worked in restaurant and retail management, as well as freelance copywriting and digital content production. Annie is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation, and holds a deep reverence for storytelling in the digital age. She was born and raised in southeast Oklahoma, and now lives in Oklahoma City with her dog, Melvin.

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