In The Know: School vouchers and an education ‘mandate’ | Gov. shakes up boards | Capitol Update

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

A look at leadership in the state House and Senate (Capitol Update): The House and Senate went into session for “organizational day” last week and the leadership teams in each chamber were formally elected. There wasn’t a lot of change in either chamber. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

State Government News

Legislators discuss education, voucher bill as Walters declares ‘mandate’: Almost a year ago, Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R-OKC) pushed the controversial Oklahoma Empowerment Act to the state Senate floor, where it divided lawmakers and eventually failed by two votes. The bill, which had support from Gov. Kevin Stitt, would have created a school voucher system for the state, allowing parents to use public money for private school options for their kids. [NonDoc]

Agencies meet with Oklahoma lawmakers to make budget requests: Legislators on the various House and Senate appropriations subcommittees don’t yet know exactly how much money they’ll have to work with, but the budget hearings this week give agency leaders a chance to thoroughly describe, in a public forum, their own priorities and needs. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt shakes up Board of Education, replaces 4 of 6 members: Gov. Kevin Stitt reshuffled the Oklahoma State Board of Education on Tuesday, replacing four of the six appointed members of the board. [The Oklahoman]

  • Stitt overhauls State Board of Education membership as Walters takes office [Tulsa World]

Stitt drops four from Veterans Commission: Gov. Kevin Stitt terminated four of the Oklahoma Veterans Commission’s nine members on Tuesday, including Chairman Jerry Ball, a vocal supporter of Executive Director Joel Kintsel. [Tulsa World]

Drummond takes back Epic Charter Schools case, says AG ‘should be responsible’: On his first full day in office, Attorney General Gentner Drummond took back control of the prosecution case against the founders of Epic Charter Schools, a case his predecessor relinquished control of last year. [The Oklahoman]

Future unclear for Oklahoma House panel investigating Swadley’s, tourism agency: When Oklahoma’s legislative session gets underway next month, it’s unclear whether a special legislative committee will continue digging into a sweetheart deal a state agency inked with a local barbecue chain. [Tulsa World]

Stitt creates task force on child welfare: The task force will study, evaluate and make recommendations regarding policies, programs and proposed legislation that will reduce the time to permanent placements from the foster care system and reduce the amount of reentries to foster care after discharge to permanency. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Speaker of the House highlights priorities for upcoming legislative session: Lawmakers are less than a month from gaveling into session, and the conversations of this year’s key bills are underway. Charles McCall, the Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, has held his leadership position for longer than any other member has. [KTUL]

Federal Government News

Broadband map holds the key to how much federal funding states will get to expand internet service: States, local governments and internet providers have until Friday, Jan. 13 to challenge the Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband Map. The map shows where service is and isn’t across the country.
Where you live can have a big impact on your internet connection. [KOSU]

Oklahoma’s Jim Inhofe reflects on more than three decades in the U.S. Senate: His controversial slogan during his first run for U.S. Senate was “God, Guns and Gays,” and he still stands by it 28 years later — consistently voting against abortion, gun control and gay marriage. [The Frontier]

Health News

Column: Too many insured patients delay dental care for out-of-pocket costs: Patients who pay monthly premiums for dental insurance expect that insurance to pay for their dental care. Unfortunately, I have seen that this is not always the case, causing major problems for patients. The Oklahoma Legislature can provide the solution by requiring that at least 85% of patients’ dental insurance premium dollars are spent on patient dental care. [Dr. Matthew Cohlmia Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma psychiatrist explains why children have become suspects in violent crimes: It has been a headline in several states this past week, and many families are looking to address the problems surrounding it. KOCO 5 spoke with Dr. Britta Ostermeyer, the chief of psychiatry at OU Health, who explained why these things may happen and what can be done to help prevent them in the future. [KOCO Oklahoma City]

Economy & Business News

Prices continue to climb as housing market cools: A tumultuous housing market that saw intense bidding wars and rapidly rising prices in 2022 is stabilizing as the new year begins. Realtor Carolyn Sims said sale prices are expected to keep climbing, but interest rates have come down from the peak and are expected to range from 6% to 7% in 2023. [Journal Record]

OKC Chamber: Keep guns out of big public venues: Most of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber’s priorities for the 2023 legislative session are in line with what lawmakers have promised to deliver – but a few items pit individual freedoms against the rights of private business leaders, particularly regarding firearms and vaccinations. [Journal Record]

Economic Opportunity News

(Event) Public Opinion Meeting: Housing and Homelessness in Oklahoma: Please join the University of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Housing Finance Authority as they continue research on housing and homelessness in the State of Oklahoma through the American Rescue Plan, Housing. The purpose of this research is to gather information on the impact, severity, and opinion of housing in Oklahoma in order to figure out how to better serve the population. All members of the public are welcome to attend. [Register via the University of Oklahoma]

Oklahoma Local News

Who is Tulsa’s next mayor? These seven potential candidates are thinking about running: Mayor G.T. Bynum isn’t leaving office for 23 months, but already the list of potential candidates to succeed him is growing longer by the day. Or so it seems. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Rural educators are going to have to really work hard to make sure that we are convincing urban Oklahomans that what is good for rural Oklahoma is also good for urban Oklahoma. I don’t know that urban folks really understand the dynamic of the school being the largest employer in a small town and how important it is to assist the community and how important it is to the local economy.”

– Rep. Toni Hasenbeck (R-Elgin), a former teacher, speaking on how instituting a school voucher system for the state, which allows parents to use public money for private school options for their kids, could be harmful to rural schools. [NonDoc]

Number of the Day


Minimum wage in Oklahoma was last increased when the federal rate was increased in July 2009. [U.S. Department of Labor]

Policy Note

23 states and D.C. saw minimum wage hikes ranging from $0.23 to $1.50 an hourOn January 1, 23 states and Washington, D.C. increased their minimum wages, raising pay for an estimated 8.4 million workers across the country. In total, workers’ wages will increase by more than $5 billion, with average annual raises for affected full-time workers ranging from $150 in Michigan to $937 in Delaware. In addition, 27 cities and counties increased their minimum wages on January 1, adding to the number of workers likely to see increased earnings. [Economic Policy Institute]

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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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