In The Know: Oklahoma GOP passes bill banning gender-affirming care for youth | Capitol Update | 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

Capitol Update: A look at the education plans proposed in the House and Senate: There are two legislative plans now for funding Oklahoma common education. It’s likely all these proposals will end up serving as conversation starters. The bills may look quite different when or if they hit the governor’s desk. But it is good that the topic is money and support for public education. And notably, there is no mention of “merit” pay in either legislative plan. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma GOP passes bill banning gender-affirming care for youth: The Oklahoma Senate’s GOP passed SB 613, banning gender-affirming care for minors. SB 613 prohibits healthcare workers from providing gender-affirming medications, surgeries, and even counseling patients on gender-related issues. [Black Wall Street Times]

Another mega-manufacturer eyeing Pryor industrial park, Gov. Kevin Stitt says: Gov. Kevin Stitt let slip Friday that the state is trying to close a multibillion-dollar economic development deal that would bring a large employer to the eastern part of the state. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Legislature has more money to allocate, but Senate sour on House education price tag: In its annual certification of various and sundry complicated state revenue figures, the Oklahoma Board of Equalization told the Legislature that it has more than $12.4 billion that it can appropriate this session. But with $1.3 billion of that being prior-year surplus and $256 million in one-time American Rescue Plan Act federal funding, lawmakers are likely to craft a Fiscal Year 2024 budget that is roughly $1 billion larger than what they approved last year. [NonDoc]

  • Budget estimates show Oklahoma can handle tax cuts and more school funding, Gov. Stitt says: [The Oklahoman]
  • Board certifies $2B more for Oklahoma lawmakers to spend this year [Journal Record]

Oklahoma bill proposes incentive to firms for child care help: Employers that help their workers with child care expenses would be eligible for a tax credit if House Bill 2451 passes. HB 2451, by state Rep. Suzanne Schreiber, D-Tulsa, was one of a handful of bills approved by the House Appropriations and Budget Finance – Revenue and Taxation Subcommittee on Monday. [Journal Record]

  • Bill aims to reduce ‘child care deserts’ in Oklahoma [Tulsa World]

Stitt says he would fire Veterans Affairs director if he had the authority: Gov. Kevin Stitt would fire the head of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs if he had the power to do so, he said Friday. But Stitt said he has not directed his appointees on the Veterans Commission to fire the state agency head, despite allegations to the contrary. [Tulsa World]

  • Four takeaways: Gov. Kevin Stitt addresses sports betting, recreational pot, Joel Kintsel [The Oklahoman]

‘A little carried away’: GOP lawmakers aim to limit Stitt’s power: Four years after the Oklahoma Legislature made Gov. Kevin Stitt the state’s most powerful governor, several GOP lawmakers want to limit the governor’s ability to make appointments to key state boards and commissions. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma lawmaker aims to block Ryan Walters’ proposed education rules: A Republican state lawmaker wants to block State Superintendent Ryan Walters from creating new agency rules that would allow the State Board of Education to downgrade schools’ accreditation status. [Tulsa World]

How the Oklahoma House Education Plan for tax credits will work: The Oklahoma House of Representatives released its two-part Education Plan Thursday. The first part would give public schools $500 million in increased funding for public schools, which included raises for teachers and staff. The second part would be called the Oklahoma Parental Choice Tax Credit. It would offer private and home school students a tax credit to use on things like tutoring, tuition, fees, textbooks, and instructional supplies [KFOR Oklahoma City]

Teachers, parents and students speak at the Capitol on Oklahoma’s public education: Teachers, students and public education supporters gathered at the Capitol to share their thoughts about the state of education in Oklahoma and to talk with lawmakers constructive legislation. In recent weeks, three different education plans have been proposed between the House, Senate and the Governor. [KFOR Oklahoma City]

Q&A: Oklahoma Attorney General’s Quick Start Includes Marijuana Enforcement and Spending Investigations: New Republican Attorney General Gentner Drummond hasn’t wasted any time in his first month in office. [Oklahoma Watch]

Potency caps, seed-to-sale vendor reboot among Legislature’s 2023 marijuana measures: There are about 50 bills in the House and Senate this session that involve medical marijuana. They range from HB 1734, which would require dispensaries to display signage about the risk of consuming cannabis while pregnant, to SB 116‘s proposal to keep cannabis grow operations away from churches. [NonDoc]

Voting and Election News

State Question 820

Criminal Justice News

Listen: New Oklahoma County jail CEO talks about her plan to turn around troubled facility: When Brandi Garner took over as Interim CEO of the Oklahoma County Detention Center in January, she inherited an aging facility with chronic staffing shortages and a high number of prisoner deaths. [Frontier]

Partnership will bring mental-health services to Tulsa’s municipal jail: Case managers from Family & Children’s Services will begin providing mental health services to inmates at the Tulsa Municipal Jail this week, officials said Monday. [Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Oklahoma launches new marketing campaign to attract visitors: The “Imagine That” campaign, the first of its scale launched by the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department since 2015, will benefit from music produced by Sooner State artists like Muskogee composer Aaron Newberry and Oklahoma City violinist and vocalist Kyle Dillingham. It also will feature scenery from all corners of the state, from Gloss Mountain State Park in Fairview to the Sequoyah State Park Nature Center in Hulbert. [Journal Record]

  • Oklahoma launches $1.2M ‘Imagine That’ tourism campaign [Tulsa World]

How Oklahoma leaders plan to fix high-tech workforce shortage: Ask just about anyone at the state Capitol, and they’ll tell you Oklahoma has a workforce development problem. It’s an issue that’s been raised by leadership of both the House and Senate, and Gov. Kevin Stitt brought it center stage during his state of the state address earlier this month. [The Oklahoman]

Meat plant cleaning service fined $1.5M for hiring minors: One of the country’s largest cleaning services for food processing companies employed more than 100 children in dangerous jobs at 13 meatpacking plants across the country, the U.S. Department of Labor said Friday as it announced over $1.5 million in civil penalties. [Journal Record]

Developer seeks TIF deal from OKC, wants to build 4 towers in Bricktown: Oklahoma City Council members may soon be asked to approve a new $215 million tax increment financing district to assist construction of two apartment towers in Lower Bricktown, as well as other potential future development east of the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Unrest in Republican Party over lack of experience on Oklahoma’s Board of Education: Some members of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s own party say he was given too much power after several nominees to the Board of Education had zero education experience. [KTUL]

Education roundup: Catholic charter school, property tax mistake, OSDE changes and Epic: With a new superintendent leading the Oklahoma State Department of Education and a new session starting in the Legislature, a lot is happening in the education world right now. [NonDoc]

’40K students by 2030′: Governor issues challenge as OU, OSU attempt to kick-start growth: For the state’s two largest universities, boosting stagnant enrollment numbers was already an area of renewed focus. But in a recent speech, Gov. Kevin Stitt seemingly upped the ante. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • OKC’s Lower Bricktown eyed for new TIF district, new apartment [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma City wants to allocate $154 million to improve 105 OKC parks. Here’s what to know [The Oklahoman]
  • Tensions rise, OKC Council decision looms over plan to build more affordable housing [The Oklahoman]
  • ‘You are not welcome’: Without shelter, resources limited for Edmond’s unhoused [NonDoc]
  • City Council resolution touts Tulsa’s tolerance, inclusiveness [Tulsa World]
  • Black History Month: 90-year-old veteran’s experience in newly desegregated military offered hope, lessons [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“The whole construct of merit pay to me implies that you have teachers holding back right now, that if we put some sort of incentive out there they’ll teach harder (and) they’ll teach better. I personally don’t think that’s true. When I go into classrooms in schools, I see a lot of teachers who are putting everything they have into instruction daily. I don’t know what they have in reserve that some sort of incentive pay system is going unlock.”

Number of the Day

$611 Million

The Oklahoma Board of Equalization certified about $611 million less in available revenue for the upcoming fiscal year that starts July 1. The decrease in available revenue is driven in part by lowered oil and gas price estimates. [State Board of Equalization] | [NonDoc]

Policy Note

Conservatives: “School Choice” Will Punish Public Schools for Wokeness: This year’s National School Choice Week comes with a twist: Amid conservatives’ outcry over history lessons on race and LGBTQ rights and awareness in schools, some proponents of the “educational freedom” movement are pitching it as an antidote to the supposed indoctrination of students by teachers and administrators. [The New Republic]

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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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