[In The Know] PAC funds in Oklahoma elections | Addressing Oklahoma’s teacher shortage | 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.

Oklahoma News

Energy firms help fund candidates seeking to regulate Oklahoma’s oil and gas sector: More than one-fourth of all campaign funds received by the frontrunner for an open Oklahoma Corporation Commission seat have come from political action committees, most related to energy production, an example of how much attention this down-ballot race receives from the powerful sector it is tasked with regulating. [The Oklahoman]

Super PACs are spending big on GOP candidates in Oklahoma’s open U.S. House and Senate races: Super PACs, some backed by dark money, are injecting millions of dollars into Oklahoma’s competitive U.S. House and Senate races this year. Some are even outspending the candidates themselves. [The Frontier]

Answering the call: Oklahoma teacher shortage requires thousands to step into the void every year: Year in and year out, thousands of Oklahomans and new transplants are having to step into the void from teachers leaving the profession through resignation and retirement. According to new data obtained from the Oklahoma Teachers’ Retirement System, summertime retirements of teachers from May until this point in August number 1,973. By comparison, 2,205 Oklahoma teachers retired during the same period in 2021, 1,600 in summer 2020, and 1,622 in summer 2019. [Tulsa World]

  • COVID cases likely to rise with back-to-school. There are precautions you can take [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s secretary of energy and environment to resign: Gov. Kevin Stitt’s Cabinet secretary of energy and environment announced his resignation Friday. Ken Wagner will step down Sept. 3 after serving nearly four years in the Stitt administration, according to a news release from the governor’s office. [The Oklahoman]

Cached: OMMA preps for new commercial licensee moratorium: When legislators puff-puff-passed HB 3208 in May, it set into motion a countdown to an Aug. 26 moratorium on new commercial licenses issued by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority. Now, as summer ebbs into fall and that deadline approaches quickly, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority is keeping an eye for a potential rush of last-minute applications. [NonDoc]

Editorial: Better things to spend Oklahoma’s money besides tax cuts: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has touted the state’s record savings accounts that reached $2.8 billion with promises of tax cuts. That’s a poor way to spend that money considering the dire needs in many public services. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

Two Republicans to vie for Oklahoma state treasurer in runoff election: Two Republicans with extensive policymaking experience are vying to become Oklahoma’s next state treasurer and will face off in the Aug. 23 GOP runoff primary. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Abortion bans limit training options for some future U.S. physicians: In interviews, a dozen doctors, activists and medical students said they worried that the next generation of physicians trained in states with severe abortion restrictions would lack crucial skills to treat women. [Reuters]

New OU-Tulsa affordable dental care clinic already ‘inundated’ with patients: A new clinic aimed at providing northeast Oklahomans with less costly dental care while training the next generation of young dentists is now open to the public. [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma DA Allan Grubb stepping down after being accused of corruption: The district attorney of Pottawatomie and Lincoln counties quit Friday, three weeks after the state’s multicounty grand jury accused him of habitual neglect of duty, oppression in office and corruption. [The Oklahoman]

Faced With COVID, A Desperate Man’s Sobriety, Survival Fell to His Mother When Rehab Center Evicted Him: An Oklahoma County judge asked a nonprofit to help find a residential treatment facility with room for a defendant that appeared in her court. But when the man later contracted COVID-19 and ordered to leave the facility, neither the court, the nonprofit nor the treatment facility offered to help. He died of an overdose in July 2020. [Oklahoma Watch]

Report uncovers new evidence in death row inmate Richard Glossip’s case, as Oklahoma lawmakers request new hearing: A law firm claims new evidence has been discovered in the case of Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Glossip. [KGOU]

  • Death row inmate Richard Glossip facing fourth execution date [NPR via KOSU]

‘When they stop serving last meals, we’ll stop reporting it.’ Oklahoma death row custom stirs debate: Along with informing readers last October that 60-year-old condemned inmate John Marion Grant was convicted of fatally stabbing a female prison staffer with a sharpened screwdriver, reporters dutifully noted his last meal request included Nutter Butter cookies and a 2-liter bottle of Mr. Pibb. [The Oklahoman]

Garfield County sales tax increase to expand, renovate jail to appear on Aug. 23 ballot: Voters in the upcoming Aug. 23 runoff primary election will see a proposition on their ballots to increase the county sales tax by 0.30%, or 30 cents on every $100 spent, for a 20-year period beginning on Jan. 1, 2023, to fund the operation, maintenance, construction, equipping and improvement of the Garfield County Detention Center and its facilities. [Enid News & Eagle]

Education News

Tribal leader concerned HB 1775 affecting how native history is taught in classroom: A local tribal leader is concerned that House Bill 1775 is affecting how Native American history is being taught to Oklahoma students after hearing that an educator has decided not to teach from the “The Killers of the Flower Moon.” [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma City Public Schools planning nearly $1 billion bond issue in 2022: The largest bond issue in Oklahoma City Public Schools history, nearing $1 billion, is on the line in a district school board vote Monday. The school board will decide whether to call for a bond election to take place Nov. 8, the same date as Oklahoma’s general elections. [The Oklahoman]

General News

Museum curator sharing global impact of Greenwood Rising History Center: Officials from the Greenwood Rising Black Wall St. History Center are celebrating the impact the museum has had not just on the Tulsa community, but the world. The museum marked its first anniversary by launching an app that will provide people around the globe with access to a virtual experience. [Public Radio Tulsa]

How sit-ins, civil rights icon mother Clara Luper influenced Marilyn Hildreth’s own activism: Marilyn Luper Hildreth, oldest daughter of Oklahoma City civil rights icon Clara Luper, recently shared some of her favorite memories ahead of the 2022 Freedom Fiesta Week, a series of activities held to commemorate and celebrate the Oklahoma City sit-in movement begun by Clara Luper and the NAACP Youth Council to integrate whites-only establishments, beginning in August 1958. [The Oklahoman]

  • ‘Her legacy continues’: Clara Luper’s daughter carries on her mom’s fight for equal rights (Video) [The Oklahoman]

Monument to victims of Edmond Post Office massacre in disrepair: Most months, the fountain for the monument for the victims of the Edmond Post Office massacre stays dry and dark at night. The color of the bronze statute has faded, and the base has countless cracks. Weeds sprout from the joints in the surrounding sidewalk. [The Oklahoman]

Drought leads Oklahoma City to draw water from Canton Lake for first time since 2013: Two months into a summer of historic drought and record-breaking temperatures, Oklahoma City is drawing 2.6 billion gallons of water from northwest Oklahoma’s Canton Lake, which it will send down the North Canadian River to replenish Lake Hefner, its main drinking water supply. [The Oklahoman]

Column: OKC residents, support new Thunder arena if you want, but don’t expect economic boom: Time after time empirical work has shown that sports venues do not affect local economic growth. A survey of the literature has shown, “that sports subsidies cannot be justified on the grounds of local economic development, income growth or job creation.” [Travis Roach Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“We don’t study history to feel good about it. History is there for us to understand the mistakes of the past so we cannot repeat them.”

-Former Osage Nation Principal Chief Jim Gray speaking about HB 1775 [Public Radio Tulsa

Number of the Day


Number of summertime retirements of Oklahoma teachers from May until this point in August. During the same period in 2021, 2,205 Oklahoma teachers retired [Oklahoma Teacher Retirement System via Tulsa World]

Policy Note

America is pushing teachers to the brink: Teaching has become one of the most draining jobs in America. Today’s teachers are navigating the threat of school shootings, a pandemic and intensifying political interference in their lesson plans — all while their wages remain stagnant. [Axios]

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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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