In The Know: Oklahoma sees increase in homeless youth | Decades of deferred maintenance threaten state’s economic future | 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: Decades of deferred maintenance threaten state’s economic future: Oklahoma’s current economic development position reminds me very much of the perils of buying a house. From the curb, the house may look affordable and welcoming, but a closer look shows a cracked foundation and other major deficiencies. [Shiloh Kantz Guest Column / The Journal Record

Oklahoma News

Homeless Youth Walk a Hidden Path in Rural Oklahoma: Drew and Stone are part of a 29% increase in homeless youth living without a parent or guardian in Oklahoma from 2020 to 2022 — one of the largest increases in the nation, according to the 2022 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report. One professor studying the issue estimated there could be more than 120,000 homeless youth in Oklahoma. To help keep track of homeless students, a new state law aims to improve how districts identify and count students. [Oklahoma Watch

State Government News

Fact-checking Oklahoma Gov. Stitt’s statements about tribal compact negotiations: Gov. Kevin Stitt is suing state legislative leaders over their handling of financial agreements with tribal governments. KOSU took a deep dive into some of the statements Stitt made when he announced that lawsuit. [KOSU

Oklahoma treasurer says exemptions for ‘woke’ investment ban likely in closed-door meeting with state retirement fund leaders: Oklahoma State Treasurer Todd Russ is expected to issue a revised list of financial institutions accused of boycotting the energy industry by the end of the month, according to state pension fund directors. And the state will likely grant exceptions for pension systems using companies accused of boycotting the fossil fuel industry, pension fund directors were told during a closed-door meeting at the Oklahoma Capitol on Tuesday. [The Frontier

Oklahoma Rep. Ryan Martinez pleads guilty in non-driving DUI: Edmond state Rep. Ryan Martinez pleaded guilty Wednesday to a felony offense of being in physical control of a vehicle while intoxicated, or what is commonly known as a non-driving DUI. [The Oklahoman

Column: How will funding be allocated as Oklahoma makes plans to expand state’s internet access?: High-speed internet is essential for home, business and agricultural needs, but estimates show there are more than 298,000 unserved and underserved locations across Oklahoma. [Joe Cabrera Guest Column / The Oklahoman

Federal Government News

Not just one more indictment: A stress test for Trump, the campaign and the country: We’ve held presidential elections during a world war and a civil war, through a pandemic and amid mass protests. But the spider’s web ensnaring Donald Trump is creating a campaign that is entirely new and will be enormously complicated. [The Oklahoman

Tribal Nations News

Muscogee Nation announces substance abuse center in Muskogee: The Muscogee (Creek) Nation on Tuesday announced it has purchased a former hospital facility in Muskogee to open a Healing and Recovery Center starting next year. With the acquisition of Saint Francis Health System’s East Campus Hospital, the tribe hopes to address worsening concerns about behavioral health and substance use disorders. [Tulsa World

Health News

Maternity care ‘deserts’ common in Oklahoma, other states: Maternity care “deserts” in counties across Oklahoma and in many other states may make it “dangerous to be pregnant,” according to a new report from the March of Dimes. Oklahoma, the report said, is among nine states that should be given “F” grades when it comes to maternity care. [The Journal Record

Oklahoma Dept. of Mental Health campaign highlights the importance of mental health for students as school returns: As students, teachers, administrative personnel and guidance counselors start the new school year, the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) announces the “Be Kind to Your Mind” campaign. [The Oklahoma City Sentinel

Criminal Justice News

Great-grandmother’s injuries highlight Oklahoma Highway Patrol’s lack of body cams: For more than seven minutes, the screams of a 68-year-old great-grandmother can be heard on the recording of an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper’s dashboard camera during a traffic stop arrest that left Nancy Kemp with a broken nose, seven broken ribs, a broken foot, emotional trauma and misdemeanor charges. [NonDoc]

Economy & Business News

Tax-free weekend brings summer spike for Oklahoma retailers: With the average family spending an estimated nearly $900 on back-to-school items this year, the upcoming tax-free weekend might be a way to trim those costs. From 12:01 a.m. Friday through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, shoppers in Oklahoma do not have to pay sales taxes on certain items. [Tulsa World]

Yellow Corp.’s shutdown yanks up the trucking company’s roots planted in OKC 99 years ago: Sam Miller, a Yellow Corp. truck driver for five years, considers himself one of the lucky ones among more than 200 Oklahomans who lost their jobs this week. The financially troubled national freight hauler that was founded 99 years ago in Oklahoma City, and was still operating here, shut down Sunday. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

After a state law banning some lessons on race, Oklahoma teachers tread lightly on the Tulsa Race Massacre: One year after Oklahoma lawmakers passed a bill banning some concepts about race in public schools, Bixby teachers decided to shelve a lesson on “Dreamland Burning,” a young-adult historical fiction novel based on the Tulsa Race Massacre. [The Frontier]

‘It’s a big deal’: Oklahoma State Department of Education approves four-day school week for two rural districts: Two rural school districts, Roff Public Schools and Stonewall Public Schools, will be having four-day school weeks after the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) approved their waivers. [KOKH

General News

Future for First Church uncertain after Oklahoma Supreme Court grants emergency stay: Wednesday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court granted the Oklahoma United Methodist Conference’s request for an emergency stay of a judge’s order, pending the outcome of an appeal. The conference is appealing Oklahoma County District Court Judge Aletia Timmons’ ruling in favor of First United Methodist Church of Oklahoma City, 131 NW 4. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“Let’s say we missed the mark ten times over. Would Oklahoma’s citizens — the brave, bold, resourceful, and upright of our state — be content that we have 12,000 homeless children? What if I threw on top of that, we know where to find them? We know who they are, and we know where the majority of them and their siblings go to school? The fact is that we do know, and the correlation between this epidemic and our ranking of 49th in education and 46th in overall child-well being is difficult to ignore.” 

-David McLeod, addressing the count of Oklahoma’s homeless youth. McLeod is one of three University of Oklahoma professors who partnered with the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency to determine how to best distribute $32 million of federal funding toward unhoused and housing-insecure Oklahomans.  [Oklahoma Watch

Number of the Day


Average monthly benefit per person for Oklahoma residents who participate in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, which helps low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to age 5 with nutritious foods to supplement their diets. [U.S. Department of Agriculture

Policy Note

Hundreds of Thousands of Young Children and Postpartum Adults Would Be Turned Away from WIC under House and Senate Funding Levels: As Congress considers appropriations bills for fiscal year 2024, new data confirm that WIC needs significant additional funding — well beyond the amounts provided in current House and Senate bills — to maintain a long-standing, bipartisan commitment to avoid turning away eligible families, and to provide participants with the current science-based food benefit. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

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Kristin Wells served as the Communications and Operations Fellow for OK Policy from October 2021 to July 2022. She previously worked as a digital content producer for News On 6. A native Kansas Citian, Kristin graduated with a B.A. in Media Studies and a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Tulsa in 2020. While there, she was accepted into the Global Scholars program, spurring her interests in policy, social movements, global identities, and the importance of education and advocacy. She hopes to use her skills to continue to learn and create a more equitable future for Oklahomans. An avid sports fan, Kristin lives in Tulsa with her rescue dog and is passionate about college basketball, documentaries, and coffee.

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