In The Know: Senate bill banning gender-affirming care for minors advances | Safe, affordable housing should not be a luxury | 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

Policy Matters: Safe, affordable housing should not be a luxury: All Oklahomans deserve to experience the security that comes with having a roof over their heads and knowing their loved ones are safe. However, it’s growing harder for everyday Oklahomans to secure safe and affordable housing due to rising rents, a shortage of housing stock, and the skyrocketing costs of real estate. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma Legislature takes aim at transgender procedures for minors and adults: Oklahoma could soon ban gender transition procedures for minors and also make transgender adults seeking treatment pay medical bills out of their own pocket with no insurance coverage. [The Oklahoman]

  • Bill banning gender-affirming care for minors advances in Oklahoma Senate [KOSU]
  • Oklahoma Senate passes bill banning gender-affirming care for minors [Tulsa World]
  • Senate approves ban on gender-affirming care for minors [CNHI via Enid News & Eagle]

Walters wants to demand schools disclose sex-related ‘identity’ changes to parents, allow partial sex ed opt-outs: State Superintendent Ryan Walters has now formally proposed new rules for what materials could be considered obscene in public schools and new parental rights on sexual matters, including information about “material changes” in a child’s identity. Public comments about the proposals can be made in writing through March 17 or in person at public hearings set for that same date. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Bill to hike statewide elected officials’ pay moves through House committee: House Bill 2860, by Rep. Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, would provide for the 11 statewide office-holders’ first pay raises since 2008 and would not go into effect until the current terms for each expire. The first office to be affected would be the Corporation Commission seat coming open in 2024. The other 10 positions would see increases after the 2026 elections. [Tulsa World]

Stitt, Oklahoma lawmakers seek solution to state workforce problem: Oklahoma’s Chamber of Commerce said the state has a serious workforce problem. That’s why they said lawmakers, the governor, educators and businesses are stepping in to identify a solution. In their efforts to attract businesses to the state, the chamber has determined Oklahoma is short some 40,000 workers [KOCO Oklahoma City]

Court rules in case of oil-field worker whose legs were crushed: The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that an injured oil-field worker can either claim workers’ compensation or sue the company that manufactured allegedly defective equipment – but he can’t do both. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma veterans director could be fired if feud with state board persists: The head of a state veterans agency could be fired if he continues to skip meetings and ignore the authority of the Oklahoma Veterans Commission, the chairman of the governing board said Wednesday. Commission Chairman Robert Allen said firing Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs Director Joel Kintsel would be the “logical consequence” if the state agency head continues to fight the board. [Tulsa World]

  • Oklahoma Veterans Affairs director Joel Kintsel could be fired soon, chairman says [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Cherokee Nation offers a ‘judgment free zone’ for Oklahomans facing addiction: The Cherokee Nation is using a holistic model to fight addiction in Northeast Oklahoma. The new harm reduction center is part of a much broader $100 million dollar investment made possible by a Public Health and Wellness Act Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. passed in 2021. It will also be funded through a $75 million settlement reached with opioid drug manufacturers McKesson, Amerisourcebergen and Cardinal Health. [KOSU]

Cherokee Nation investing millions in health care in eastern Oklahoma: The Cherokee Nation recently unveiled $15 million in improvements at four outpatient health centers in eastern Oklahoma, part of an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in health care. The tribe also has announced an investment of more than $435 million in other health care projects, including planned construction of a new $400 million hospital in Tahlequah. [Journal Record]

Voting and Election News

OKC Council elections showed ‘power of incumbency’ and more money doesn’t always win: Though four seats were up for election Tuesday, the Oklahoma City Council will only see one new face on its horseshoe starting in May. Some voters hoped to see a couple of seats flip, but with three incumbent victories in Ward 2, 6 and 8, the city council will remain much the same. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

‘Relentless Pace’ of Oklahoma Executions Traumatized Corrections Staff, Former Directors Say: Oklahoma’s “nonstop executions” traumatized corrections staff, leaving them vulnerable to mental health distress and botched procedures, nine former Department of Corrections officials warned last month. [Oklahoma Watch]

Education News

Roundup: 46 school bond elections have passed this year, 7 have failed: Out of 53 Oklahoma public school district bond proposals that appeared on Jan. 10 and Feb. 14 ballots this year, just seven have failed to receive the 60 percent support threshold required for approval. [NonDoc]

Education Watch: Catholic Leaders’ Public School Proposal To Test Legal Boundaries: Catholic leaders on Tuesday made their pitch for a publicly funded charter school to the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board. The board has until late April to approve or deny the proposal. [Oklahoma Watch]

Column: In the Red River battle for teachers, Oklahoma is losing. We need to act:  There are a number of reasons why we have this issue of a teacher shortage, and pay is certainly one of them. When a neighboring state buys outdoor boards inviting our teachers to come south for the money, we need to pay attention. [Mary Mélon-Tully Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • The Market at EastPoint in OKC lowers prices with community help [The Oklahoman]
  • What is BRT and why is OKC spending $61 million on it? Here’s what to know [The Oklahoman]
  • Plan for north Tulsa tiny home village for homeless advances despite community objections [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“To the families who have reached out time and time again as their children are being attacked by this body in our words and in our deeds: I do not condone the actions of my colleagues who would seek to deny your mere existence by denying you access to best medical treatments — safe medical treatments.”

-Sen. Carri Hicks, D-Oklahoma City, during Oklahoma Senate debate about SB 613 that would ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth. [KOSU

Number of the Day


Average hourly wage needed for a worker to afford a one-bedroom rental in Oklahoma. The state’s minimum wage has not changed since the federal minimum wage was last raised in 2009. [National Low Income Housing Coalition via OK Policy]

Policy Note

Three Roommates or Four Jobs Needed to Afford a Two-Bedroom Rental on Minimum Wage: Based on the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, it would take nearly four full-time minimum wage workers to afford the typical national two-bedroom rental, spending a maximum of 30% of household wages on their rent payments. Renters have been squeezed by record-fast rent growth while incomes haven’t kept up and the country’s housing shortage has taken a toll. [Zillow]

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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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