In The Know: Petitioners seek statewide vote on minimum wage | Gov. expands on his comments to gamefowl group | Is Oklahoma ready for next winter storm?

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.

State Government News

Petitioners seek to double Oklahoma’s minimum wage by 2029: Oklahomans may get to vote on increasing the minimum wage. Supporters filed paperwork on Oct. 27 with the Secretary of State’s Office indicating an intent to circulate an initiative petition to get State Question 832 on the ballot. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma attorney general says he’ll issue ‘guidance’ on tribal tag enforcement: Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond said his office would release “new guidance” soon about how the Oklahoma Highway Patrol should police vehicles displaying tribal nation tags. [The Oklahoman]

Governor’s office says Stitt’s praise of Gamefowl Commission wasn’t meant to support animal cruelty:  On Thursday, a spokesperson for the governor’s office told The Oklahoman that Stitt was just showing support for the agriculture community. [The Oklahoman]

  • Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office responds after group accused governor of supporting cockfighting [KOCO]

Fact-checking DPS Commissioner’s presentation to lawmakers on ‘Post-McGirt Oklahoma’: A presentation made by the Department of Public Safety commissioner this summer contained statements that were directly false, according to data, and others were more exaggerated. The presentation at times showed the negative effects of tribal tags on the efforts of troopers/law enforcement. [KFOR]

This Week in Oklahoma Politics: Tribal tags, abortion laws, Catholic charter school and more: The panel discusses the ticketing drivers with tribal tags who live outside the nation’s boundaries, the State Supreme Court temporarily suspending three abortion-related measures, and more. [KOSU]

Opinion: Oklahomans are watching to see if big bet on Canoo pays off: This week, an Oklahoma City electric vehicle company announced it had manufactured three vehicles in the state — the first Oklahoma-made automobiles since 2006. [Janelle Stecklein / Oklahoma Voice]

Federal Government News

These military bomber and surveillance plane engines will be serviced at Tinker through 2034: U.S. Air Force B-52 bombers and E-3 AWACS aircraft, the surveillance planes with the distinctive rotating radar domes, got a new lease on life after Pratt & Whitney received a $870 million long-term sustainment contract for the TF33 engine, with work at Tinker Air Force Base through 2034. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Opinion, Former Osage Nation Chief Jim Gray: ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ teachable moment remains uncertain: As an Osage Nation citizen and an American movie goer, I have an uncomfortable perspective with the film “Killers of the Flower Moon” and the history it tells. [Former Osage Nation Chief Jim Gray / Tulsa World]

  • ‘Flower Moon’ stirs debate on whether Native stories should only be told by Native filmmakers [Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

Oklahomans face hurdles in citizen-led ballot initiatives amidst progressive policy push: Oklahomans have many ways to make their voices heard when it comes to passing our laws. Besides the traditional going out to vote for your representative or a state question, you can introduce topics yourself. The citizen led ballot initiative process has been a successful way to pass policies. OK Policy’s Cole Allen talks about the issue in the video accompanying this story. [Fox 25]

Health News

Oklahoma sees third-highest increase in kindergarten vaccine exemptions: Oklahoma had the third-highest increase in vaccine exemption rates among kindergartners in the nation, according to the CDC. Exemption rates during the 2022-23 school year rose to 4.7% of Oklahoma kindergartners, which is 1.2% more than the year before. [KGOU]

Most Americans want health exceptions in abortion bans. Political infighting keeps blocking them: Doctors in abortion ban states, including those with health exceptions, have said exception language is written so vaguely that it is essentially meaningless, and hospitals have adjusted their policies to protect doctors from potential criminal charges and loss of medical licenses. Five states — Idaho, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Mississippi — have exceptions only to prevent death. [Oklahoma Voice]

Criminal Justice News

Lawmaker Seeks Outside Investigation, Legislation After Hinton Shower Stalls Confinement: Conditions are improving at a state prison where staff locked inmates in two-by-two-foot shower stalls for days in mid-August, but one lawmaker who specializes in criminal justice issues said the incident warrants further accountability efforts. [Oklahoma Watch]

Three Enid caretakers accused of choking, beating patients: Two men in Enid have been arrested and a third is wanted by police on suspicion of abusing vulnerable patients at the Robert M. Greer Center, an Enid facility that cares for people with intellectual disabilities and mental illness. [News 9] | [KFOR]

Economy & Business News

Report: Oklahoma could lack power reliability if extreme winter weather hits: Oklahomans could face rolling blackouts if extreme weather rolls in this winter, a new report found. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s 2023 report listed Oklahoma and the central U.S. region’s power reliability at an elevated threat level if the extreme cold weather hits the region. NERC is a non-profit organization that assesses power reliability and develops standards for secure supply. [Oklahoma Voice]

Are Oklahoma businesses reliably checking IDs for alcohol? Here’s a look at the data: A recent study shows more than a quarter of Oklahoma businesses aren’t consistently checking for IDs when selling alcohol. But that number was lower when looking at just bars and restaurants, according to the study. Meanwhile, grocery and convenience stores had higher compliance. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Ryan Walters sends out ‘discipline reform’ plan, encourages teachers to report districts that don’t comply: In a memo addressed to Oklahoma teachers, state schools Superintendent Ryan Walters on Thursday unveiled what he described as “comprehensive discipline reform” for schools in the state and encouraged teachers to anonymously report school districts they believe have violated their rights or are out of compliance with the district’s own discipline policy. [The Oklahoman]

Kingfisher hazing lawsuit settles for $5 million after head football coach charged: A federal lawsuit over hazing and bullying inside the Kingfisher High School football program is being settled for $5 million. [The Oklahoman]

Morning prayer, Bibles and Bible studies: Parent says school is pushing religion: Parents in Prague are upset after finding out that their kids have been going to bible studies at school, given bibles, and have had a morning prayer over the intercom the past couple of weeks at Prague Elementary School. [KFOR]

Completed 5 years after request, Talihina Public Schools audit questions superintendent expenses: Five years after citizens collected signatures to trigger an investigative audit of Talihina Public Schools, State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd released findings that detail more than $11,000 in questionable purchases for which Superintendent Jason Lockhart could not provide receipts. [NonDoc]

Tulsa interim superintendent says district turnaround is a ‘beautiful challenge’: Ebony Johnson has handled school turnarounds as a principal, but now she has to take it to a macro level. Since becoming Tulsa’s interim superintendent in September, her task has been to transform Oklahoma’s largest school district — all while under threat of a state takeover. [Oklahoma Voice]

Rural Oklahoma school district gets $8.5M federal grant: A rural Adair County school district will be getting a new building after landing a competitive multimillion-dollar federal grant. [Tulsa World]

General News

From tribal leaders to athletes, these are the newest Oklahoma Hall of Fame members: The newest class of Oklahoma Hall of Fame members were inducted into the illustrious group Thursday night. The group of eight includes one member inducted posthumously. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Help a foster child build a sense of belonging: Give them the gift of community: I encourage others to join the fostering community by reaching out to your local foster agency to see how you can help. There are many ways you can support the more than 6,500 children in state custody, through volunteerism, donations and fostering. Oklahoma still needs more than 800 individuals and families across the state to be foster parents. [Katherine Craig / The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Offering gratitude during times of challenge leads to healing: Perhaps it’s fitting to remember the origins of America’s Thanksgiving. It wasn’t founded out of a sense to be neighborly; it rose out of the agony of war and a call for piety. [Ginnie Graham / The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Amid anti-semitism, will we denounce what is evil and protect our neighbors?: Evil cannot go unchecked; good people cannot stay silent as their neighbors are terrorized. [The Rev. Daniel Ross / The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Some elected leaders put their constituents’ interests ahead of their party. How refreshing: This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for the elected leaders who put the interests of their constituents ahead of their party, their next election and their political future. They’re out there. We don’t always notice them, because they’re doing the work of the people. They’re solving problems and building bridges — not lobbying for their next gig on national cable news. [Russ Florence / The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“There was a lot of discussion on the internet, particularly Dr. Google, talked a lot about how bad these vaccines are, and that they would cause all kinds of harm to children and adults, particularly the COVID vaccines, and it brought a doubt about many vaccines, not just the COVID.”

-Dr. Steven Crawford, a family physician and board chairman of the Oklahoma Alliance of Healthy Families, speaking about rising vaccination exemption rates for Oklahoma school children. [KGOU]

Number of the Day


Rural counties in Oklahoma assessed an average of  $1,399.34 in court fines/fees per criminal case filed. [Open Justice Oklahoma / OK Policy]

Policy Note

The Drive to Jail: Why States Should Decriminalize Minor Traffic Offenses and Stop Using Bench Warrants to Enforce Traffic Laws: Imagine being arrested and jailed for rolling through a stop sign. In fourteen states including Oklahoma, that is a real possibility. In these states, minor traffic offenses are criminalized, meaning that they are arrestable offenses that come with a criminal record. Although what constitutes a minor traffic offense varies from state to state, generally they are moving violations (such as speeding, failing to stop, or failing to signal); equipment offenses (such as broken lights or a cracked windshield); or administrative regulations (such as driving without proof of insurance or with an expired registration). [Fines and Fees Justice Center]

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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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