[In The Know] Questions remain after school district punishments | Public housing | Voucher bill expect to make a comeback

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

After education board hands down punishments to school districts, questions remain about what happens next: After the state Board of Education voted to downgrade the accreditation status of two Oklahoma school districts, questions remain about how the punishment will impact the schools. [The Frontier]

  • Lawmakers react to the Oklahoma State Board of Education’s vote to demote TPS’s accreditation [Fox 23]
  • Editorial: State school board used as pawn in a political anti-public education game [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Public housing is disappearing as solution as unmet demand rises in Oklahoma: Public housing was envisioned almost a century ago as part of the New Deal but is slowly disappearing even as thousands are being priced out of the market or evicted from their homes. One resident says he feels fortunate to have a home as people from nearby homeless camps drift in and out of the complex in search of shelter during the hot summer or cold winter months. [Oklahoma Media Center / The Frontier / The Oklahoman / Curbside Chronicle]

Voucher bill expected to make a comeback: A controversial voucher bill that failed to secure approval last session in the state Senate is expected to return next year. But it could face the same fate. [Tulsa World]

Find Out Who Requested Federal Relief Money Using Oklahoma Watch’s New Searchable Database: After months of resisting the release of the applications, the state in May provided details of almost $18 billion in project requests under the 2021 federal coronavirus relief bill, the American Rescue Plan Act. Oklahoma Watch has published a database allowing users to search the state’s ARPA applications data. [Oklahoma Watch]

State Government News

How Oklahoma Lawmakers Handled Potential Conflicts of Interest in 2022: Oklahoma lawmakers abstained from voting more than 100 times in 2022 due to potential conflicts of interest, an Oklahoma Watch review of legislative records found. Oklahoma Watch published a database that includes lawmakers’ 2021 financial disclosure forms, which were filed by May 15. [Oklahoma Watch

New law to overhaul Oklahoma tag agencies: Many of Oklahoma’s tag agencies will have a new look by the end of 2022 after lawmakers recently approved an overhaul of the system that handles how driver’s licenses and motor vehicle registrations and titles are issued. [CNHI via Duncan Banner]

Oklahoma DHS Director Justin Brown announces resignation: The director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services will step down next month after leading the agency for more than three years. Justin Brown, who was appointed by Gov. Kevin Stitt in 2019, will resign Aug. 19. During his tenure at DHS, the agency successfully clinched $32.5 million in new funding to clear the state’s developmental disabilities waiting list, which was widely praised as a landmark achievement. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Some Oklahoma lawmakers dismiss Jan. 6 hearings while others are following them closely: Top House Republican leaders have sought to discredit the committee’s work. Most Republicans, including Mullin and Bice, voted against establishing the committee in the first place. [The Oklahoman]

Politics complicates Oklahoma delegation’s votes on semiconductor bill: Fourth District Congressman Tom Cole was the only member of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation to vote for the Chips and Science Act passed by both the House and Senate last week. The state’s other four House members and both U.S. senators voted no on the measure, which authorizes roughly $172 billion in subsidies, tax credits and federal programs to promote semiconductor chip manufacturing in this country. [Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

Primary runoff races include labor commissioner, state treasurer: Two Republicans are seeking the nomination for state treasurer in the Aug. 23 primary runoff. Meanwhile, Labor Commissioner Leslie Osborn is hoping to fend off a Republican challenge from state Rep. Sean Roberts, who is term limited. [Tulsa World]

Health News

What’s at stake for neighboring states like Oklahoma in Kansas’ abortion election?: An election in Kansas might change the future of abortion access in the South and Midwest, including in neighboring Oklahoma, where abortion is illegal in almost all cases. Kansans will vote Tuesday on an amendment that, if passed, would add language to the state constitution that would eliminate protections to abortion rights. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma County jail has another inmate death, the 12th so far this year: The latest death is the 12th this year after an inmate was booked at the Oklahoma County jail. That total includes defendants who died at a hospital. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma correctional officer killed by inmate: A correctional officer at the Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville was attacked and killed by an inmate Sunday, authorities reported. [The Oklahoman]

Stricken warning was ‘unnecessary’ in pursuit policy, Oklahoma Highway Patrol said. Then 4 people were killed in chases: In the 12 months after the Oklahoma Highway Patrol removed a warning from its policy about high-speed pursuits, four people were killed and two more hospitalized when state troopers intentionally struck fleeing drivers at excessive speeds. [Tulsa World]

No charges against former Oklahoma County judge accused of sexually assaulting multiple women: A special prosecutor has decided not to charge former Oklahoma County District Judge Tim Henderson after a “thorough” investigation into allegations he sexually assaulted multiple women. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

Priced out of work: Why access to affordable child care is a gender equality issue: “Overall, I have accumulated over $1,000 in debt in a financially stable family that qualified for child care assistance and GI Bill financial support. I consider myself very lucky to have outstanding credit and the ability to wait until I get officially hired. If I am not hired, I will be $1,000 in debt for trying, and I do not plan on trying to get hired again after making that kind of sacrifice. The idea of losing that amount of money seems horrifying but is a risk my family must take as prices for living extend beyond our current means.” [Brittany Jacobs Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

‘Power choice’ effort gains steam in Oklahoma: Often called “retail power choice,” the idea has been floated by businesses and consumers for decades, including a strong push about 20 years ago. But an advocacy group says it plans to intensify its efforts over the next year to convince the state Legislature to make the switch. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Column: Adding some LOFT-y ideas for Oklahoma education: Another education study with a host of recommendations came forward last week. This time it’s from the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency. Earlier this year, LOFT released a report claiming Oklahoma teachers earned top salaries in the region. It’s not true. But, the analysts had added a couple of subjective factors into the formula to get that result. [Ginnie Graham Column / Tulsa World]

Tulsa schools could offer Kiowa language classes: Monday night’s school board agenda includes a memorandum of understanding with the Kiowa Tribe to offer Kiowa language and culture classes to any interested TPS student in the 2022-23 school year, as well as professional development sessions for teachers. [Tulsa World]

General News

An Oklahoma city’s first openly gay mayor resigned. Then came the fallout: At a time of deepening polarization in the United States, the fallout in The Village points to troubling consequences on the cul-de-sac level: Not even old friends are immune to the forces pitting us against each other. [Washington Post]

‘A really good man’: Former Sen. Mike Johnson dies at 78: Former Oklahoma State Sen. Mike Johnson, a Kingfisher auto dealer who became the first Republican in state history to serve as Senate appropriations and budget chairman, died Saturday at age 78 following complications from a recent hip surgery. [NonDoc]

Quote of the Day

“This is designed to make teachers and librarians and school officials look over their shoulders, afraid that they’re going to get more of these frivolous complaints from any direction. And it’s certainly not going to help us make deals with companies like Panasonic if we have medieval standards of conduct in our public schools.”

-Rep. John Waldron, D-Tulsa, a former Tulsa history teacher, said the recent decision by the state Board of Education would spark fear among educators and keep new companies from coming to the state creating new jobs [The Frontier]

Number of the Day


Percentage of rural births that are covered by Medicaid [Kaiser Health News]

Policy Note

Medicaid: Fiscally responsible and morally mandated: The Medicaid program, since it was signed into law in 1965, has provided access to affordable health care for millions, strengthened private insurance and Medicare, and positively impacted state budgets. Passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 improved the program and the entire United States health system by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of preexisting conditions, covering preventive services, and eliminating lifetime limits on coverage. [Emma Morris / OK Policy Archive

Note: July 30 marked the 57th anniversary of the federal bill that created Medicaid and Medicare. For 57 years, Medicaid has made comprehensive health coverage accessible for millions of Americans so they can get the care they need. Medicaid covers hospital visits, routine check-ups, prescriptions and much more. We are sharing this analysis our staff wrote last year for the 56th anniversary. Also see OK Policy’s recent report Medicaid Expansion in Oklahoma: Year One.

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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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