In The Know: OSDE asks judge to greenlight religious charter school | Improving Oklahoma’s ballot initiative process | Understanding the true origins of poverty in Oklahoma | 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: Poverty comes from structural barriers, not personal choices: Oklahomans can’t afford to ignore the state’s continued high poverty rate. To reverse these trends, the first step will require residents and elected officials to recognize that poverty is not an individual choice, but one created by structural barriers. No one chooses to live in poverty. Poverty – and the difficulty in breaking its generational cycle – stems from larger, interrelated systems and societal structures that make it harder for some people to provide for their families. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

  • ICYMI: 2022 Census data: Oklahoma remains among the nation’s poorest states; policy solutions can help reverse this trend [OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Ryan Walters, OSDE files motion to dismiss case against establishing virtual religious charter school: Superintendent Ryan Walters and the Oklahoma State Department of Education asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit aimed at stopping the nation’s first religious charter school. [KOCO]

  • Dismissal of lawsuit over St. Isidore religious charter school sought [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Some state agency leaders get hefty raises: Some state agency directors got significant pay hikes, according to a report released by the Office of Management and Enterprise Services. [Tulsa World]

‘Not our place’: 43 OK school districts reportedly spanked students with disabilities recently, lawmakers want to ban it: In a startling discovery, 43 Oklahoma school districts used corporal punishment against students with disabilities during the 2021-2022 school year. Oklahoma lawmakers have tried banning corporal punishment against students with disabilities in the past. [KFOR]

Editorial: Gas tax replacement study raises more questions: As hybrid and electric vehicles become more popular, the state of Oklahoma is looking for ways to tax such vehicles that use the state’s highways but don’t pay gasoline tax. But, a per-mile charge to fully or partially replace the gas tax should not be the only tactic considered by the Oklahoma Legislature. [Editorial / Enid News & Eagle]

AG launches task force, tip line to combat illegal Oklahoma marijuana grows: Oklahoma’s attorney general is asking citizens to report suspected illegal marijuana grow operations to a new anonymous tip line as part of efforts to crack down on illicit drug activity. [Oklahoma Voice]

Federal Government News

Oklahoma dam regulators call on Congress to continue safety program: State regulators are calling on Congress to continue a program that helps ward off dam failures in Oklahoma. [Oklahoma Voice]

Nearly 150 Oklahoma business leaders attend Washington fly-in: The Oklahoma State Chamber returned to the Sooner State Wednesday after concluding its annual Washington fly-in where members heard from delegation members and discussed key issues concerning Oklahoma businesses. [Norman Transcript]

Tribal Nations News

Oklahoma Historical Society could soon return headrights to Osage Nation: Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear says his nation has been approached by the Oklahoma Historical Society about returning headrights formerly belonging to Lillie Morrell Burkhart. The return would mean that the Osage Nation would manage Burkhart’s trust. [KOSU]

Voting and Election News

Study Examines Ways to Improve Oklahoma’s Ballot Initiative Process: As Oklahomans have voted to implement Medicaid expansion, legalize medical marijuana and enact criminal justice reforms, the state’s method of direct democracy has drawn heightened scrutiny from the Legislature. [Oklahoma Watch]

Oklahoma lawmakers study pros, cons of ranked-choice voting: A coalition of voter advocacy groups and some elected officials, including state Rep. Mickey Dollens, D-Oklahoma City, and Stillwater Mayor Will Joyce, say the preference-based voting system helps reduce negative campaigning and gives a greater voice to third-party and independent voters. [Journal Record]

Slew of candidates file for House District 39 special election: After former state Rep. Ryan Martinez resigned from his House District 39 post on Sept. 1, numerous first-time candidates have officially filed for the central Edmond legislative seat this week.[NonDoc]

  • 10 candidates to vie for Edmond House seat in special election [Oklahoma Voice]

Health News

Oklahoma trans youth, providers face uncertainty in gender-affirming care access: Alex — who requested StateImpact use his first name due to safety concerns — is a trans boy who has been out to his family since he was 12. It’s always been easy for him to be proud of his identity because of the support he received. What’s been harder is accessing gender-affirming care, which was targeted by 15 bills in Oklahoma this year. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma persists with juvenile life sentences despite national movement towards reform: Majority of states in our nation have banned sentencing juveniles to life without parole, but Oklahoma has not. [KOKH]

[VIDEO] Glynn Simmons, a former death row inmate, speaks about what it’s like to be free: Glynn Simmons, a former death row inmate who was recently released after 48 years in prison speaks about what it’s like to finally be free. [The Oklahoman]

Death-row preacher criticized as opportunist, danger to inmates: With just weeks left before his scheduled execution, Oklahoma death-row inmate Anthony Sanchez took the unusual step of firing his attorneys and skipping a clemency hearing that many viewed as the last chance to spare his life. Sanchez’s decision, and his relationship with an activist pastor who is a spiritual adviser to death-row inmates across the country, has drawn fierce criticism from capital defense attorneys and anti-death penalty groups. [Journal Record]

Opinion: Oklahoma’s execution spree slowed — due in part to a new AG — but the killing continues: Oklahoma is scheduled to execute Anthony Sanchez on Thursday. It would be Oklahoma’s third execution this year, and the 18th execution in the U.S. this year. [Opinion / Law Dork]

Oklahoma County jail reports seventh inmate death of 2023: 33-year-old Lashala Taulbee-Pratt was found unresponsive in her cell on Wednesday morning by an officer who was distributing meals. This was the seventh Oklahoma County jail inmate death of the year, but the first since three inmates died in four days in April. [KOSU]

  • Woman was jailed Saturday night in Oklahoma County. By Wednesday, she was dead [The Oklahoman]

Housing & Economic Opportunity

How OKC’s child care ‘crisis’ is affecting the workforce: Oklahoma City is facing a child care crisis that prevents parents from joining the workforce to support their families and impedes businesses trying to fill jobs. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma will need thousands of new homes to meet housing needs: Oklahoma will need over 173,000 new homes by 2028, according to Census Bureau data included in the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency’s evaluation of the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency. [The Center Square]

Education News

4-day school weeks up nearly 900% in the last 20 years: Facing an ongoing challenge of teacher recruitment, more school districts are going to a four-day-per-week schedule. [Fox 25]

General News

How coordinated support is coming at a critical time for Afghans in Oklahoma: Three Afghan men are one step closer to reuniting with the wives and children they left in Afghanistan because they attended a recent Oklahoma City area “one-stop-shop” event coordinated by a federal agency. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma, Texas planning to widen I-35 between OKC, U.S.-Mexico border: The Red River bridge spanning the Oklahoma-Texas border soon will become a construction zone as part of a joint effort to widen I-35 to at least six lanes between Oklahoma City and the U.S.-Mexico border. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

Quote of the Day

“It just depends on if we want to follow the law or not, and this office is all about the rule of law. As the Oklahoma Constitution and the federal Constitution are currently drafted, a charter school is a state actor, and it cannot be a parochial school.”

– Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond, responding to a request from Ryan Walters and OSDE that a district judge dismiss a lawsuit aimed at stopping the nation’s first religious charter school. [KOCO]

Number of the Day


Number of Oklahomans (about 1 in 6) living at or below the Federal Poverty Level in 2022, which was about $13,000 for an individual and $28,000 for a family of four. [U.S. Census Data via OK Policy]

Policy Note

Poverty: A Literature Summary: The United States measures poverty based on how an individual’s or family’s income compares to a set federal threshold. Poverty often occurs in concentrated areas and endures for long periods of time. Some communities, such as certain racial and ethnic groups, people living in rural areas, and people with disabilities, have a higher risk of poverty for a myriad of factors that extend beyond individual control. [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services]

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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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