In The Know: School vouchers | Modern-day redlining | More than 3,000 bills filed for upcoming session | Together Oklahoma 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.

Upcoming Together Oklahoma Meetings 

  • Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 6 p.m.: Cleveland & Pottawatomie Counties Community Meeting. Juste Books at Equity Brewing Co., 109 E Tonhawa St Suite #120 in Norman. Join us to discuss the important issues in your region. Online option also available. [More Info]
  • Thursday, Jan. 26 at 6 p.m.: Healthy Oklahomans Affinity Group Meeting (Online). Focusing on policy change that can help Oklahomans live healthier lives. [Join the Meeting Online]
  • Tuesday, Jan. 31 at 6:30 p.m.: Thriving Families Affinity Group Meeting (Online). Focusing on advancing policies that provide equitable opportunity for all Oklahoma families to thrive. [Join the Meeting Online]
  • Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 6 p.m.: Logan, Lincoln, and Payne Counties Community Meeting. Stillwater Community Center, 315 W. Eighth Ave in Stillwater. Online option available. [More Info
  • Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 6:00 p.m.: Protecting Democracy Affinity Group Meeting (Online). Focusing on ensuring that Oklahoma laws and policies provide for governmental transparency and greater participation in the democratic process. [Join the Meeting Online]

Oklahoma News

School voucher bills make a comeback in the Oklahoma Legislature: A heated debate over school vouchers may reignite in the Oklahoma Legislature this year after two lawmakers filed bills that would allow parents to use taxpayer dollars to pay for their child’s private or home school education. [Tulsa World]

  • Two new voucher bills would let state money go to private schools, home-schooling [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma legislators file more than 3,000 bills and joint resolutions for coming session: This year’s total includes 1,116 Senate bills, 18 Senate joint resolutions, 1,901 House bills and 44 House joint resolutions. Those measures will now be assigned to committees in their chambers of origin, with committee chairs generally given the power to decide which are taken up and which are not. [Tulsa World]

  • Oklahoma Lawmakers Complete Pre-Session Bill Filing [Oklahoma Watch]

Oklahoma’s new Attorney General will take control of two more cases involving alleged misuse of public funds: State Attorney General Gentner Drummond will take control from Oklahoma County prosecutors and decide whether to file charges once a criminal probe into Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen’s state contract, as well as a separate investigation into alleged improprieties at the Commissioners of the Land Office conclude. [The Frontier]

  • New Oklahoma AG takes charge on Swadley’s investigation, Land Office probe [Tulsa World]

Redlining continues in low minority Oklahoma home values. Should the appraisal process be changed?: Kimberly Robbins grew up in northeast Oklahoma City, in a mostly Black community that she loved. But now as an adult and a real estate agent, she’s cognizant of how home values in her neighborhood have been held back, failing to appreciate at the same rate of similar properties in different, mostly white parts of the city. It’s a common disparity that has been recognized across the country in the real estate industry. [The Oklahoman]

Nursing homes pushed to the brink as closures, staffing shortages endanger care: The COVID-19 pandemic, wage restructuring and inflation have shrunk options for seniors as nursing homes are pushed to the brink across the country. Many nursing homes are limiting new residents. Some have shuttered entirely, displacing residents from their homes. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

After Swadley’s debacle, Oklahoma Tourism is seeking new state park restaurant operators: After a failed attempt to solicit bids for a new operator shortly after terminating its contract with Swadley’s Bar-B-Q in April, the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation is once again soliciting requests from interested parties for control and operation of restaurants at six state parks. [The Oklahoman]

Tyson, others, lose Oklahoma lawsuit over poultry pollution: The world’s largest poultry producer, Tyson Foods, is among nearly a dozen poultry companies that have less than two months to reach agreement with the state of Oklahoma on how to clean a watershed polluted by chicken litter. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • ‘A great and historic day for Oklahoma’: Federal judge rules Arkansas poultry corporations must remedy pollution in the Illinois River and Lake Tenkiller [KOSU]

Many states allow legal sports betting. Why not Oklahoma?: Oklahoma helped revolutionize the tribal gaming industry in the 1990s and is now one of the largest gaming markets in the United States. But the state has lagged behind its peers when it comes to sports betting and mobile gaming, which have quickly expanded to an $8 billion-plus industry. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma bill would fine, jail drag artists for performing for minors: The bill would make it “unlawful for a person to engage in an adult cabaret performance” in public before a minor. The fine may fall in the range of $500 to $20,000, and it may also incur a prison sentence from 30 days to two years, according to the bill’s text. [Business Insider]

Voting and Election News

Bill looks to remove straight party voting option from Oklahoma ballots: Straight party voting allows a voter to select only a political party on their ballot and all candidates who are part of that party will get one vote. Oklahoma is one of six states in the nation to still offer straight party voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The other states that offered it in 2022 included: Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and South Carolina. [KOSU]

Republican, independent voter registration rises in Oklahoma: Republican and independent registration has continued to grow in Oklahoma, according to new voter statistics that show Democratic registration has slipped below 30%. [The Oklahoman]

Some Concerned About State Question 820 As Others Support: Oklahomans will go to the polls this March to decide whether marijuana should be legal for recreational use across the state. Garry McDevitt, the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Prue, has been rallying church members and the people of Prue to write letters and sign petitions of their own. [News On 6]

Criminal Justice News

Interim Oklahoma County Jail CEO Brandi Garner strives to be ‘more communicative’: As she sweeps through the halls of the Oklahoma County Detention Center, Brandi Garner sees opportunities for improvement almost everywhere. Walls need to be painted, elevators need fixing, and staff members need to focus on jobs that come with life-and-death consequences. Garner recently stepped in as interim CEO of the troubled jail, so now it’s her responsibility to address these issues. While the job might scare some people away, right now it’s the only one she wants. [NonDoc]

Shakeups at Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board result in two new members: Since executions resumed in October 2021, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board has undergone repeated shakeups. The latest came Thursday when Calvin Prince was appointed to replace Scott Williams, who served less than two years. Any change to the five-member board is significant because it votes on all death row inmate requests for mercy. The governor has the final say but can only act if the board recommends clemency. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Oklahoma Tourism Industry Generates Record Breaking $10.1 Billion in Direct Visitor Spending in 2021: In 2021, Oklahoma’s tourism industry showed an impressive rebound, surpassing pre-pandemic levels. New research commissioned by the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department shows the industry generated a record breaking $10.1 billion in direct visitor spending, increasing industry employment by 4.6% and exceeding 2019 visitor spending by 3.2%. [Oklahoma City Sentinel

General News

As Oklahoma seeks universal internet connectivity, Gov. Stitt says ‘affordability’ is key piece: As the state embarks on an ambitious plan to achieve near-universal high-speed internet, reversing Oklahoma’s current status as one of the least connected states in the nation, keeping internet prices affordable for all Oklahomans will be a critical component, Gov. Kevin Stitt said. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

Democrats tout bios in Oklahoma County Clerk forum: Four of the five Democrats running in the Feb. 14 Oklahoma County Clerk primary election highlighted their experience and their contrasts in management philosophy during an hour-long forum Thursday night at the Teamsters Local Union 886 Hall in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma Progress Now, the Oklahoma County Democratic Party, Edmond Democratic Women and South OKC Democratic Women coordinated the event. [NonDoc]

Quote of the Day

“It’s uncanny. If you look at historical redlining maps, and then you look at the difference between the green areas and the red areas, in the modern day those values are still the same. If we stopped redlining, then why didn’t they appreciate at the same rate?”

– Anya Mashaney, a real estate broker and owner of Spaces Real Estate, speaking on the disparities in the real estate industry and how values in Black neighborhoods have failed to appreciate at the same rate of similar properties in different, mostly white parts of the city. [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma ranks 40th in overall child well-being based on data in four domains: economic well-being, health, family and community, and education. [KIDS COUNT] | [See County by County Metrics]

Policy Note

High Natural Gas Prices: A Boost to Oklahoma Heating Bills and Drilling Activity: The sharp rise in natural gas prices in 2022, following a decade of stable and low prices prior to the pandemic, increased interest in Oklahoma’s use and production of the fuel. As might be expected, costs to consumers rose with higher fuel prices, and drilling for and production of natural gas also increased during 2022, although the increase was less than in the nation and prices have cooled recently. [Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City]

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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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