In The Know: Senate passes bill making it harder to get a state question on the ballot | Govt. actions can help Oklahoma families, businesses | 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.

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Policy Matters: Government actions can help Oklahoma families, businesses

This week I joined four other Oklahomans testifying as part of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee field hearing in Yukon. I am grateful that lawmakers from this important committee visited Oklahoma to hear directly how federal policy impacts our economic health. I hope lawmakers heard that federal government efforts – such as child care assistance, Paid Family Medical Leave, and targeted tax credits – can support Oklahoma’s economic health while delivering much-needed relief to low- and moderate-income families. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

State Senate passes bill to make it harder to get state questions on the ballot: The Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would make it more difficult for citizen-led initiative petitions to get on the ballot. Senate Bill 518, by Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville, passed the Republican-majority Senate by a vote of 38-8. It now heads to the House for consideration. [Tulsa World]

Hope for marijuana legal reform remains despite failed pot question: Although Oklahoma voters quashed an attempt to legalize recreational marijuana on Tuesday, support for criminal justice reforms related to low-level cannabis crimes may be growing. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Rep. Mauree Turner gets violent hate mail after Republican censure: A day after Oklahoma House Republicans censured Rep. Mauree Turner (D-OKC) and stripped them of all their committee assignments, a violent, racist and hate-filled e-mail directed to Rep. Turner was shared on social media. [Black Wall Street Times]

  • ‘Reprehensible, inexcusable’: House Speaker responds to e-mail sent to Rep. Mauree Turner [KTUL]

Trans rights activists clash with Republican lawmakers after censure vote: Tensions continue to escalate in the state Capitol between a vocal group of transgender rights advocates and House Republicans. Those tensions continued to boil Wednesday — a day after House Republicans overwhelmingly voted to censure the Oklahoma Legislature’s lone non-binary and transgender lawmaker and remove their right to serve on committees. The move, supporters said, effectively limits the voice of the 40,000 constituents state Rep. Mauree Turner serves in a heavily Democratic Oklahoma City area. [McAlester News Capitol]

Oklahoma Senate bill would require insurance companies to cover high-tech medical screenings called biomarker tests: Biomarker testing is a tool that doctors use to get a clearer picture of a medical problem — often cancer. Biomarkers are proteins, genes or some other substance in a sample that gives doctors clues about the patients’ needs. In Prothro’s case, her samples showed two different forms of cancer that needed different treatments. [StateImpact Oklahoma via NPR]

Column: It’s time to shine a light on open government: This upcoming week is Sunshine Week, an annual celebration of access to public information and open government. As Oklahoma’s attorney general, one of my top priorities is to aggressively enforce the Open Records and Open Meeting Acts across state government. [Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Voting and Election News

Rural Oklahoma turned out against SQ 820: The votes against recreational marijuana were overwhelming in nearly every county, but more so in rural Oklahoma. State Question 820 lost every one of Oklahoma’s 77 counties. Only three got anywhere close to passing 50% support: Oklahoma, Tulsa and Cleveland counties. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma didn’t say ‘no’ to recreational pot – it said ‘hell no’ [The Frontier]
  • States rake in billions from taxes on weed sales. Here’s where the money goes [KOSU]

Criminal Justice News

Eufaula Councilman Dan Kirby indicted for involuntary manslaughter: An indictment of former Oklahoma legislator and current Eufaula City Councilman Dan Kirby for involuntarily manslaughter was unsealed today three weeks after a federal grand jury voted to charge him Feb. 15. [NonDoc]

Cleveland Co. Commissioner: Jail Health Care Expansion Unrelated to Recent Deaths: Elected officials approved a plan to increase medical and mental health staff at the Cleveland County jail following the recent deaths of three people incarcerated there. After Monday’s vote, county Commissioner Rod Cleveland said the move is not a response to those deaths, but to the jail’s growing population. [Oklahoma Watch]

Tulsa needs to put in work to improve equal justice, report shows: When it comes to justice equality, Tulsa still has a long way to go. The Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Equity and the Community Service Council released the fifth annual Tulsa Equality Indicators report this week. Justice is the only one of six themes to have a decrease from the 2018 baseline. [KTUL]

Economy & Business News

California company opens indoor farming campus in Skiatook: A company that promotes indoor farming in “Grow Pods” using soil-less, hydroponic technology announced on Wednesday that it is moving from its home on Corona, California, to a new campus in Skiatook. [Journal Record]

Poll: No end in sight to hiring woes: Nine in 10 U.S. companies expect to face continuing staffing challenges this year, according to a new survey from The Harris Poll commissioned by Oklahoma City-based Express Employment Professionals. [Journal Record]

Education News

Two board vacancies filled by governor, House speaker ahead of Catholic online charter school vote: Two vacancies on the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board have been filled less than two weeks before an expected vote to determine whether the state of Oklahoma will sponsor the nation’s first religious online charter school. [Tulsa World]

  • Editorial: Oklahoma’s virtual board ought to deny tax dollars for religious education [Tulsa World]

Survey results show education a top priority for Oklahomans: Amber Integrated released a new survey recently reflecting voter attitudes on issues they deemed as most important in the Sooner State. Education came out on top as the most pressing. [Journal Record]

‘Biased, unethical’: Educators upset about OSDE sharing school choice information online: Oklahomans now have access to more information about school choice, but it’s raising some concerns among teachers. That’s because you can find it all on the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s (OSDE) website. [KTUL]

General News

  • Tom Love, entrepreneur, quintessential Oklahoman, dead at 85 [Journal Record]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Second window draws three more candidates for vacant TPS seat [Tulsa World]
  • Two board vacancies filled by governor, House speaker ahead of Catholic online charter school vote [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“The use of the emergency clause is intended to deny us our constitutional right to a referendum (veto) petition. This is an abuse of power designed to take power from the people.”

– Cindy Alexander, co-leader of the Indivisible Oklahoma Direct Democracy Team, speaking on Senate Bill 518, which features an emergency clause, meaning the bill would become law if and when it is signed by the governor. SB 518 would make it more difficult for citizen-led initiative petitions to get on the ballot. [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Wealthy families making more than $200,000 annually were the largest groups taking advantage of voucher tax credits, which reimburse individuals and businesses for “donations” they make to organizations that give out vouchers for free or reduced tuition at private K-12 schools, according to a recent analysis of such programs in Arizona, Virginia, and Louisiana. [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Policy Note

Tax Avoidance Continues to Fuel School Privatization Efforts: One of the most disturbing recent shifts in U.S. public policy has been the renewed push to privatize the nation’s K-12 education system. In short, school privatization proponents have managed to set up state policies that harness deficiencies in federal tax law and the self-interest of wealthy families to gin up enthusiasm for privatizing the U.S. public education system. [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy]

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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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