In The Know: Report: Okmulgee jail illegally held juveniles | Panasonic rebuffs Oklahoma … again | Should fines and fees fund justice? | 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.

New from OK Policy

Rep’s. call for investigation on supervision fee shines light on appropriations, fines & fees (Capitol Update): The problems arising from supervision fees are a result of years of piling fees onto offenders rather than funding the criminal justice system. It’s easy to do because no one has much sympathy for offenders, but it’s counterproductive. It adds to the problems of people who already have problems. It’s also inefficient. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma officials claim the Okmulgee jail illegally held juveniles: State officials claim the Okmulgee County Jail is violating state and federal law by holding juvenile prisoners without proper certification and housing them alongside adults. The jail has held youth facing charges in tribal and federal court in the past and claims state officials have no authority over those prisoners. [The Frontier]

State Government News

Panasonic rebuffs Oklahoma again. Company won’t build EV battery plant in Pryor: A global company has once again decided against building an electric vehicle battery plant near Tulsa despite lawmakers offering a $698 million incentive package and funding millions of dollars in site improvements at the company’s request. [Oklahoma Voice]

Federal Government News

Oklahoma military bases to receive $275 million in federal funding: Oklahoma’s military bases are set to receive $275 million as part of a new Defense Department bill. This comes after congressional approval of the National Defense Authorization Act. [KGOU]

Tribal Nations News

Tulsa says city traffic laws will still be enforced as additional lawsuits persist: Tulsa officials say police will still issue traffic tickets to any driver in the city suspected of breaking traffic laws. The message comes after federal courts ruled in favor of area tribes over whether the city can process tickets given to Native drivers. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • Federal court ruling won’t affect how city, police enforce municipal laws, mayor says [Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

Oklahoma Democrats again open their primaries to independent voters: Registered independents will again be allowed to vote in Democratic primary elections in 2024 and 2025, the State Election Board announced Monday. As of Nov. 30, there were about 431,670 registered independent voters in Oklahoma, according to the State Election Board statistics. [Oklahoma Watch]

Oklahoma Rural Water Association PAC turns itself in for ethics violations: The Oklahoma Rural Water Association’s political action committee has agreed to pay fines to the state and shut down after self-reported financial misconduct. [KOSU]

Health News

State ag officials oppose beef imports from Paraguay: Federal officials did not sufficiently assess the risk posed by a devastating cattle disease when they recently decided to allow beef imports from Paraguay, according to agriculture officials of several top beef-producing states. Oklahoma is among states urging USDA to pause new rule amid concerns about foot-and-mouth disease. [Oklahoma Voice]

The EPA wants to eliminate all lead pipes in 10 years. Here’s what OKC has left to fix: The federal government is proposing the complete elimination of lead pipes throughout the country, a staggering task that will cost billions of dollars to ensure safe drinking water. The Environmental Protection Agency announced last month a goal of replacing 100% of lead pipes within a decade. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma Islamic group sees uptick in threats due to Israel-Hamas war: The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has seen an uptick in Islamophobic hate speech as Israel’s war with Hamas continues. Adam Soltani, the organization’s executive director, said since the war began Oct. 7, CAIR-Oklahoma has received several hate emails and phone calls and been targeted in social media posts. There’s also been an increase in reports of discrimination and other hate-related conduct. [Oklahoma Voice]

Temple B’nai Israel in OKC evacuated after bomb threat, suspected as part of nationwide campaign of threats: Oklahoma City Police investigated a bomb threat on Monday at a Jewish house of worship. Temple B’nai Israel, , 4901 N Pennsylvania, received a threat via email about a possible explosive device about 8 a.m. Monday, Oklahoma City Police Capt. Valerie Littlejohn said. [The Oklahoman]

Housing & Economic Opportunity

City of Shawnee passes ‘no sit, no lie’ ordinance in downtown area: Last night, Commissioners voted 6-1 to pass the new ordinance, which prohibits sitting or lying down on public sidewalks and sleeping outdoors in the downtown area. City manager Andrea Weckmueller-Behringer says the ordinance was drafted in an attempt to make downtown Shawnee more family-friendly and supportive of tourism and businesses. [KGOU]

What you need to know to file for a homestead exemption to save on property taxes in Oklahoma: Filing for a homestead exemption is another way some low-income Oklahomans can reduce their property taxes. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Oklahoma’s military bases to receive $275 million as part of new Defense Department bill: Oklahoma is set to receive almost $275 million in federal funds after congressional approval of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). How much will Oklahoma military installations receive? Fort Sill: $76.65 million, Tinker Air Force Base: $58 million, Vance Air Force Base: $8.4 million. [The Oklahoman]

USDA predicts lower 2024 crop prices, but that won’t immediately show up at the grocery store: In this year’s projections, the United States Department of Agriculture said inflation will increase less than it did in the past year and interest rates will fall slightly. The USDA also projects some important Midwest crops like corn, soybeans and wheat will see lower prices. [KOSU]

Education News

House lawmakers to look into OSDE federal funding update: State House lawmakers on both sides of the aisle remain frustrated with what they describe as a lack of transparency by the Oklahoma State Department of Education. According to a 2022 U.S. Department of Education audit from the Office of Inspector General, Oklahoma failed to support its methods for awarding funds to eligible entities for four of the five initiatives that it funded through GEER. As a result, the office lacked assurance that $31 million of the $39.9 million grant was awarded for initiatives that aligned with the purpose of the GEER grant fund. [Journal Record]

Pronouns, gender identity back in spotlight at Oklahoma Department of Education: The department wants to permanently block gender changes on school records from previous years. According to department documents, the rule would bar districts from making changes to those designations without authorization from the state Board of Education. It makes permanent a rule that temporarily went into effect back in October. [KOCO]

Ryan Walters says delays in federal reimbursements for schools were predecessor’s fault: State schools Superintendent Ryan Walters says the delay of millions of dollars of federal reimbursement funds from the State Department of Education were caused by his predecessor, Joy Hofmeister, a claim at odds with a state audit indicating that as of June 2021, the state Education Department was almost entirely in compliance with federal regulations. [The Oklahoman]

State Supreme Court denies Walters’ 2nd bid to intervene in Catholic charter school suit: For a second time, the Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday denied an attempt by State schools Superintendent Ryan Walters to intervene in a lawsuit that seeks to stop the creation of what would be the nation’s first public religious charter school. [The Oklahoman]

Tulsa school board eyeing strategic plan changes: Tulsa Public Schools’ Board of Education is looking at potentially changing its student outcome goals — but will have to wait until 2024 before voting on the change. [Tulsa World]

Opinion: Homelessness is a crisis facing communities, including Moore Public Schools: A partnership between Moore Public Schools, Bridges Inc. and Moore Public Schools Foundation is working to address the homeless students in the community. Building Bridges is a capital campaign to build housing, residential adviser housing and a student resource center to meet the needs of students living alone in Moore Public Schools. [Zach Swift / The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Three Edmond entities mull MOU to revive sculpture park [NonDoc]
  • Who will pay for this proposed OKC tower? Could it handle Oklahoma tornadoes? What we know [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“There are good reasons to divert young children from the court system. When young children become involved in the justice system, it increases the likelihood that they will be justice-involved as adults. Diverting young children from the justice system to community-based services helps them stay in school, which helps prevent problem behaviors.”

-Jill Mencke, OK Policy Youth Justice Policy Analyst, writing about the need to divert youth from the criminal justice system to preventive community-based services that improve life outcomes. [OK Policy]

Number of the Day


During its 85-year history, the minimum wage has been increased on average every three years — but there have been only three adjustments in last quarter century. The last adjustment was in 2009. [OK Policy analysis]

Policy Note

A history of the federal minimum wageThe minimum wage is a New Deal era policy established initially through the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA). The original bill set a wage floor, instituted a 44-hour work week, and protected children from prematurely entering the workforce. Since its inception, the FLSA has been amended multiple times, with added exemptions and expansions specifying which groups of workers are covered under different aspects of the law. We take a look back at the 85-year history of the minimum wage, how it differs in states and localities, and how minimum wage laws continue to have implications for racial, gender, and economic justice today. [Economic Policy Institute]

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Kandis West is a communications professional with more than 15 years of experience. Most recently, she served as the Communications Director for the Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus. She spent nine years in the Olympia/Tacoma area of Washington organizing compensation campaigns for teachers for the Washington Education Association. Kandis has a proven track record of increasing community engagement, public awareness and media exposure around the most pressing issues that impact citizens. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism.