In The Know: OTC approves private school voucher rules | Child labor not path to addressing workforce shortages | State joins social media lawsuit

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.

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma Tax Commission approves rules for school choice tax credits: Rules to implement the state’s new school choice tax credits advanced Tuesday, though questions about the program’s accessibility still persist at the state Capitol. Gov. Kevin Stitt now has 45 days to OK the rules after the Oklahoma Tax Commission voted unanimously to approve them. The regulations are automatically rejected if the governor doesn’t act. [Oklahoma Voice]

State Government News

Putting kids to work not the answer to labor shortage, panel told: Weakening child-labor laws is no way to solve workforce shortages, an Oklahoma House of Representatives committee was told Tuesday. Tuesday’s interim study served as a preemptive strike against the looser child-labor laws adopted by some states, including Arkansas and Iowa. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma joins lawsuit against Meta alleging that Instagram, Facebook is addictive for kids: Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the internet giant Meta for “knowingly designing and deploying harmful features on Instagram, Facebook and its other social media platforms that are addictive to children and teens.” [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma sues Meta, claims platforms hurt youth [Journal Record]
  • Oklahoma sues social media giant Meta for fueling anxiety, depression among kids [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • States accuse Meta of fueling children’s social media addiction [Oklahoma Voice]

Oklahoma is using more water than ever, but not replenishing underground supplies: Oklahoma should increase efforts to store water below ground and not rely solely on “surface evaporation basins,” a university professor advised state lawmakers on Tuesday. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma lawmakers discuss aquifer management solutions [KOSU]
  • After no clean drinking water for 4 years, this tribal nation wants more than sympathy [KOSU]

AG tells legislative panel Stitt’s Kialegee, Keetoowah gaming compacts are invalid: Attorney General Gentner Drummond has told a legislative panel that two gaming compacts negotiated by Gov. Kevin Stitt are illegal. The Joint Committee on State-Tribal Relations meets Wednesday to consider gaming compacts between Stitt and the Kialegee Tribal Town and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians. [Tulsa World]

  • As two small tribes seek to build casinos, Oklahoma lawmakers asked to approve compacts [Oklahoma Voice]

‘We need to do better’: Lawmaker weighs in on frustrations over Service Oklahoma, past effort to address concerns: Did the creation of Service Oklahoma alleviate Oklahomans’ frustrations with motor vehicle services in the state? One lawmaker said there is still much legislators need to change to improve Oklahomans’ experiences with the agency as they continue to face long lines and red tape. [Fox 25]

  • Service Oklahoma plans overhaul to streamline license and ID process, easing long waits [Fox 25]

Federal Government News

U.S. Rep. Kevin Hern drops back out of speaker’s race: First District Congressman Kevin Hern dropped his bid for the speakership of the U.S. House of Representatives twice Tuesday. [Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

Oklahoma Tribes, IDS, state and area communities work together on American Rescue Plan Water Projects: Oklahoma tribes, the state of Oklahoma, Indian Health Service (IHS) and communities are working together utilizing American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds in a unified effort to improve the water infrastructure of communities within the state. These projects will help ensure the infrastructure improvements needed as part of sustainable management of water resources serving Oklahoma residents, businesses and communities. [Chickasaw Nation

This Osage family’s story has long been in the public eye. Here’s how they’re handling it being portrayed on the silver screen: Killers of the Flower Moon is already generating Oscar buzz. But in Oklahoma, the story behind it is deeply personal. Jim Gray, the former principal chief of the Osage Nation, and his family met with KOSU’s Anna Pope to watch the film at the Circle Cinema in Tulsa for its public debut. The film is not only a story about the history of their community, but of the Gray family. [KOSU]

Trail of Tears Association meets in Oklahoma for its 26th Conference: The National Trail of Tears Association held its 26th Conference and Symposium Oct. 16-18 in West Siloam Springs and hosted members from nine states who are members of the organization’s nine chapters. [Cherokee Phoenix]

Health News

Without federal funding, Oklahoma minors lost access to confidential birth control and other family planning services at county clinics: The federal government is sending funding for family planning services in Oklahoma to an out-of state group after the State Department of Health refused to provide patients with information about abortion. [The Frontier]

Clinic opening highlights growing need for Oklahoma veteran mental health services: Officials celebrated the official opening of the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic in south Oklahoma City. Cohen, a non-profit organization, has 24 clinics throughout the nation with a goal to provide low- cost or free mental health care to veterans who have served since Sept. 11, 2001. This marks the nonprofit’s second clinic in the state. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • ‘We’re here to save lives:’ Mental health clinic focused on post-9/11 veterans opens in OKC [The Oklahoman]

Deadline extended to get opioid abatement grants: Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond extended the deadline for local entities to send letters of intent for grants meant to counteract impacts from the opioid epidemic to 5 p.m. Nov. 8. [KGOU]

Criminal Justice News

Tulsa police officer pleads guilty to misdemeanor, agrees to resign: One of two Tulsa police officers initially charged with being an accessory after the fact of a gang shooting has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and will resign from the force. [Tulsa World]

Housing & Economic Opportunity

OKC lags in multifamily dwelling construction: Oklahoma City ranks last among major metros in the nation when it comes to its percentage of new construction dedicated to apartment complexes and other properties intended for multifamily occupation. [Journal Record]

Economy & Business News

Black Businesses: Biden-Harris announces $3B investment: The Economic Opportunity Coalition (EOC) has pledged to secure $3 billion in deposits for community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and minority depository institutions (MDIs). These community lenders have a well-documented history of effectively serving low-income, rural, and other marginalized communities. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Education News

OK Supreme Court declines request to fire Kingfisher football coach: Eight of the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s nine justices declined Monday to consider Justin and Lyndy Mecklenburg’s request that the high court compel Kingfisher Public Schools to fire its controversial football coach who was recently charged with child neglect. [NonDoc]

  • Okla. Supreme Court won’t pick up Kingfisher coach issue; Ryan Walters calls it ‘PR stunt’ [The Oklahoman]

NIL initiative to benefit athletes at OU, nonprofits: A name, image and likeness initiative to help athletes at the University of Oklahoma capitalize on their talents also will benefit nonprofit organizations, supporters say. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma Local News

  • OKC Council votes to annex closer to Moore for $3.6M street project [The Oklahoman]
  • Jewish, Muslim faith leaders denounce xenophobia Tuesday during OKC council meeting [The Oklahoman]
  • Details emerge on metro OKC high-capacity transit project [Journal Record]
  • Oklahoma County transforming former Krowse Army Reserve building into sheriff offices [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“It is our belief at the Department of Labor that there are reasons we have (child labor) laws and there are better pools of people who are better able to fill our workforce shortage needs.”

-Labor Commissioner Leslie Osborn, speaking during an interim session [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Despite Black youth making up 14% of the overall population, they account for 80% of cases referred to juvenile court, 40% of cases detained, and 36% of cases adjudicated in the U.S. [Analysis of OJJDP Racial and Ethnic Disparities (R/ED) Databook, 2020]

Note: October is National Youth Justice Awareness Month

Policy Note

Changing Course In Youth Detention: Reversing Widening Gaps by Race and Place: When it comes to the odds of being detained, young people in the United States live in different worlds, depending on their race and the region and jurisdiction where they reside. The disproportionate use of detention for Black youth — already distressingly high before the pandemic — has increased. Also, over that three-year period, where youth lived mattered to a greater extent to their odds of being detained than it did before. [Annie E. Casey Foundation]

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David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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