In The Know: Proposed bill would make state questions harder to pass | Capitol Update | Together OK Affinity Group Meetings

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

Shropshire an excellent choice for DHS Director (Capitol Update): Gov. Kevin Stitt made an outstanding appointment of Dr. Deborah Shropshire as the new Director of the Department of Human Services. The top DHS job had been filled by Samantha Galloway on an interim basis since Justin Brown resigned last August. Galloway was chief of staff and a deputy director of DHS during Brown’s administration of the agency. Brown continues as the governor’s Secretary of Human Services. [OK Policy]

Together Oklahoma Affinity Group Meetings start this week: Together Oklahoma — Oklahoma Policy Institute’s grassroots advocacy program — will start holding affinity group meetings this month to help encourage everyday Oklahomans to exercise their political voice about the state law making process and important policy decisions. [See Full Schedule & Learn More]

State Government News

Lawmaker wants voters to make it harder to pass state questions: A state lawmaker wants Oklahomans to make it more difficult for voters to pass state questions. Senate Joint Resolution 5, filed by Sen. Warren Hamilton, R-McCurtain, would ask voters to amend the Oklahoma Constitution to allow state questions to be on ballots in only odd numbered years. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma bills filed to protect professionals from losing jobs over tax: Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair, has filed Senate Bill 132 and Senate Bill 388 to open the conversation about agencies revoking professional licenses for tax issues. [The Lawton Constitution]

Gov. Kevin Stitt forms task force to address workforce challenges: Gov. Kevin Stitt created a task force on Tuesday to address state workforce challenges. Stitt signed an executive order to form the Workforce Transformation Task Force that will make recommendations on how the state can consolidate its workforce development practices in order to have a greater impact. [Tulsa World]

Health News

Oklahoma hospitals cut staff amid rising expenses: Hospital systems across Oklahoma are reducing staff and increasing efficiencies in an attempt to maintain patient care amid rising costs. [Journal Record]

Presbyterian Health Foundation funds key research in OKC: The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation has been awarded 15 grants to advance the work of scientists looking for breakthroughs in the treatment of cancer and other diseases, and even to better understand things like how to extend health as people age. [Journal Record]

Video: 988 testimonials normalize mental health: Going beyond the call center, the Oklahoma 988 Mental Health Lifeline wants to further make a difference by sharing mental health testimonies. This is an opportunity for people to understand that they’re not alone in their mental health struggles. Whether it involves family, work or school, 988 wants Oklahomans to recognize the signs and support one another. [The Oklahoma 100]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma County seeks land for new county jail, associated facilities: Oklahoma County commissioners on Tuesday began the process of finding land for the construction of a new county jail. Commissioners authorized seeking offers from people who own between 40 and 80 acres. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Fidelity pledges $250 million to support minority students: Fidelity Investments will commit $250 million to a new education initiative to support up to 50,000 underserved minority students with scholarships and mentorship programs in the next five years. [Journal Record]

With an eye on boosting rural businesses, Oklahoma picks investment firms: The Rural Jobs Act, signed into law last year, is meant to stimulate Oklahoma’s rural economy by giving a tax break to investors who provide capital or debt financing to businesses in the most rural and sparsely populated parts of the state. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

TCC welcomes newest nursing students as program begins multiyear expansion: With the spring semester, an expansion of TCC’s nursing program is underway that is expected to run through 2027 and help produce more nurses for the area workforce. Through fall 2027, the plan is to increase the number of nursing students admitted each semester, officials said, leading to around 75 additional graduates each year. [Tulsa World]

Editorial: School building assessment bill a step in the right direction: A proposed law that would require every public school building to undergo an assessment in the next three years to protect against active shooters appears to be a common-sense approach that should garner bipartisan support. [Enid News & Eagle]

General News

From ‘happy and healthy’ to ‘terribly wrong’: Kunzweilers discuss family experience with mental illness at Republican Women’s Club: Although plunged into one of the most “difficult” experiences of their lives, Tulsa District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler and his family said they stepped into the spotlight to bring attention to the far-reaching but stigmatized issue of mental illness. Standing before a gaggle of reporters at a press conference on the day after his stabbing, Steve Kunzweiler decried the state Legislature’s lack of response to an “exploding” mental health crisis. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Any attempt to limit the rights of Oklahomans to circulate petitions and change laws that the Legislature doesn’t want changed is very undemocratic. It is one of the first rights given to us in the Oklahoma Constitution, and this is the way people get to speak.”

-Michelle Tilley, campaign manager for Yes on 820 [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Caddo County in Oklahoma has been the subject of 30 federally declared disasters from 1990 to 2022, tied with Lawrence County, Kentucky, for the most disaster declarations during that period. Other Oklahoma counties in the top 12 included Logan (27), Canadian (26) and Okmulgee (26). Marshall County had the fewest with nine disaster declarations in the state.

[FEMA via USA Today] | [Searchable Database]

Policy Note

‘We Cried Too Much’: Walgreens CFO Says Retail Theft Maybe Isn’t the Crisis It Portrayed: A top Walgreens executive admitted that the U.S.’s second-largest pharmacy chain may have overstated its concerns about retail theft in stores. The admission comes after the company claimed that organized retail crime was greatly affecting its business, a line that helped stoke a nationwide moral panic over a supposed wave of shoplifting. There have long been indications that things weren’t quite what they appeared. [Vice]

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Hana Saad joined OK Policy in August 2022 as the Communications and Operations Fellow. She graduated from the University of Tulsa with degrees in Media Studies and English and is part of Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society. At TU, Hana regularly wrote for The Collegian and was the Co-Editor of the Stylus Journal of Art and Writing. She also serves on the team at Puppy Haven Rescue to help in their mission of saving rescue dogs across Oklahoma. Hana is eager to learn more about public policy in Oklahoma and use her skills to support the OKP work to build a more equitable state. In her free time, she loves to read fiction and poetry, walk her dog, and make copious cups of tea.

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