In The Know: Some rural counties left out of DHS office modernization | Ballot language and the state question process | What rising COVID numbers mean in state

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.

State Government News

Oklahoma DHS plans 80 new offices. Some rural counties won’t benefit: The Oklahoma Department of Human Services will move much of its staff out of large, dilapidated office buildings into smaller, more centrally located facilities. The agency’s office modernization strategy could exclude about 30 Oklahoma counties. [Oklahoma Voice]

New law seeks to maximize investment yields, Oklahoma officials say: Oklahoma city and county governments will have the ability to pool their investments when a new law takes effect later this year. [Oklahoma Voice]

Tribal Nations News

Dusk Monetathchi ousts Steven Woods from Chickasaw Nation Tribal Legislature: The only race that drew a challenger for the Chickasaw Nation’s 2023 electoral cycle culminated Tuesday with political newcomer Dusk Monetathchi ousting 20-year incumbent Steven Woods from the Tishomingo District’s third seat on the Tribal Legislature. [NonDoc]

Cherokee Nation makes big investments to further Native representation in film: Last week, Cherokee Nation announced an expansion and reorganization of its filmmaking hub. Cherokee Film’s portfolio includes four branches — Cherokee Film Productions, Cherokee Film Studios, Cherokee Film Commission and Cherokee Film Institute — and represents more than 30 full-time employees. And on Wednesday, the tribe celebrated the groundbreaking of its second soundstage at Cherokee Film Studios in Owasso. [Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

Voters choose Oklahoma’s new online registration option: More than 1,600 Oklahomans have registered to vote or updated their registrations using the state’s new online voter portal. The new technology, which launched in July, allows Oklahomans to submit voter registrations online for the first time. The option comes nearly eight years after legislators first passed a law allowing it. [Oklahoma Voice]

Not just Ohio: Biased language is the hot new tactic to thwart ballot measures: Abortion-rights supporters filed a lawsuit Monday against what they call “deceptive” ballot language produced by Ohio officials for the state’s closely-watched upcoming referendum on the issue. But it isn’t just the Buckeye State that’s lately seeing fierce battles over the once-obscure topic of ballot language. [Oklahoma Voice]

Ryan Walters didn’t report all campaign donations, made mistakes on others, review shows: Ryan Walters failed to report three donations from political action committees in his run for the state’s top education post last year, including one from an organization that says it is committed to abolishing critical race theory in public schools, a review of campaign filings shows. [Tulsa World]

Health News

COVID-19 hospitalizations are once again rising. What does it mean for Oklahomans?: As summer comes to an end, kids go back to school and families start planning for the fall, some are wondering if they should once again be concerned about COVID-19. COVID-19 hospitalizations in the United States have been on the rise since mid-July, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tracker. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma receives $2.6 million in federal money for response to fentanyl, opioid crisis: The U.S. Department of Health announced more than $2.6 million in awards Thursday to support Oklahoma’s response to fentanyl and other opioid overdose risks in rural communities. [KOSU]

Recovery homes provide security, structure for those with substance-use issues: Recovery homes offer a safe and supportive transitional housing arrangement to help individuals with substance-use issues sustain long-term recovery. These homes bridge the gap in an individual’s recovery journey by offering supports until they are ready for successful independent living. [NonDoc]

Criminal Justice News

Oversight board nixes 6 proposed Oklahoma County jail locations, including one offered for free: School administrators, residents and a county commissioner voiced their concerns Wednesday about the possibility of building a new Oklahoma County jail next to a high school in northeast Oklahoma City. Members of a committee appointed to help select the future jail site made their concern known, too, and nixed the site as a possible location the same day. [The Oklahoman]

Argument between husband-and-wife sheriff’s deputies ends in homicide, authorities say: A Cleveland County sheriff’s deputy, shot and killed early Wednesday, is being remembered as a courageous and compassionate woman who loved serving others.  [The Oklahoman]

Housing & Economic Opportunity

Two years after Vista Shadow Mountain closure, city updates code for tenants: The City of Tulsa started proactively inspecting housing last month, and with an updated ordinance, it’s going to continue.[Public Radio Tulsa]

Debt collection most common type of lawsuit in Oklahoma but system is lacking, says nonprofit: The most common thing Oklahomans are taken to court for is debt. But a new report from Oklahoma Access to Justice Foundation shows many people being sued for debt lose because they don’t engage. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Harm of anti-LGBTQ laws includes economic pain for communities, families: As anti-LGBTQ laws spread across Tennessee and the rest of the country, many LGBTQ people and their families are assessing whether they should move to a state with a more LGBTQ-friendly political climate. [Oklahoma Voice]

Education News

Tulsa students can achieve reading success, but experienced teachers are critical, experts say: Tulsa Public Schools has only months to achieve considerable growth in student reading scores. Experts say student outcomes can be accelerated, but it will require having qualified, experienced teachers in Tulsa classrooms at a time when there’s a substantial shortage of those educators statewide. [Oklahoma Voice]

These are the top 10 best high schools in Oklahoma, according to U.S. News & World Report: The publication’s 2022-2023 report on the best high schools in Oklahoma used factors such as college and career readiness assessments, curriculum breadth, underserved student performance and graduation rate with data from the Oklahoma State Department of Education. [Tulsa World]

How kids would benefit if technology education resources were distributed equitably: Technology in education has become essential in today’s ever-changing world. Nevertheless, the difficulty of securing access to instructional technology and encouraging its practical usage persists. It is vital to alter Oklahoma Statute 70-1-118 to establish a separate technology fund and provide consistent support for the purchase and implementation of educational technology. [Brett Knight Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Tulsa World Opinion podcast: A discussion with TPS school board president Stacey Woolley: Ginnie Graham and Stacey Woolley talk about a variety of public school topics ranging from Deb Gist’s departure, who might be next, the fight between TPS and Ryan Walters and more. [Tulsa World]

Column: Teaching should not be religion nor Western culture, but America and for what it stands: It seems the Oklahoma state schools Superintendent Ryan Walters is trying to reinvent America. His distorted political leanings have caused him to come up with a conspiracy statement that “schools have become indoctrination factories.” [Richard C. Hall Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Superintendents applaud productive meeting with Walters: State Superintendent of Schools Ryan Walters met with area business people and local educators during a visit to Enid. The two meetings were private and not opened to the public or media. [CNHI]

Editorial: State superintendent should heed opinions from rural school leaders: State Superintendent of Schools Ryan Walters was in Enid on Wednesday to speak with a variety of constituents on the critical issue of education policy. That’s good news. It would have been better if those or other meetings were open to the public. [Editorial / Enid News & Eagle]

General News

SBA Offers Disaster Assistance to Oklahoma Businesses and Residents Affected by Severe Storms, Straight-line Winds, Tornadoes and Flooding: The deadline is Friday (Sept 1) for Oklahoma businesses and residents to apply for disaster assistance if their property was damaged during this year’s Father’s Day storms. [Small Business Administration]

Sit-in activist helped desegregate OKC, writes “Gwen Didn’t Care”: Dr. Gwendolyn Fuller Mukes was just a teenager when she, her advisor Clara Luper and a dozen other students in the NAACP Youth Council braved violent hatred to stage a sit-in at the lunch counter of a whites-only drug store. [The Black Wall Street Times]

‘We deserve better.’ OKC neighborhood fights against decades of environmental injustice: Residents on the northeast side of Oklahoma City don’t have to look far to see an industrial site, or their lingering scars. [The Oklahoman]

Judge rules against woman who claimed Tulsa airport screener illegally searched her: A judge on Thursday ruled against a Las Vegas woman who claimed that Tulsa International Airport security screeners falsely arrested her after she had to remove a feminine hygiene product to satisfy security concerns. [Tulsa World]

Mayor David Holt: We have not yet fully delivered upon the promise of equal opportunity for all: Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt was invited to speak at the 60th anniversary gathering of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech Aug. 26 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Here’s a transcript of his speech. [David Holt Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Program offers remote workers chance to “try out Tulsa” for a week [The Black Wall Street Times]
  • Tulsa promises water quality monitoring in Zink Lake after completion of nearby construction project [KOSU]
  • City officials detail monitoring process for water discharges into Arkansas River, plans for Zink Lake [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa Transit sees its highest monthly ridership ever, official says [Tulsa Transit]
  • South Oklahoma City church’s grand opening is delayed thanks to vandals [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“Those people are not protected from complaining about black mold, from complaining about screens not being on their windows, from complaining about just those basic things that they’re legally required to have when they’re signing a lease.”

-Tulsa City Councilor Lori Decter Wright about rental housing complaints from vulnerable residents. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Number of the Day

1 in 12

Oklahoma’s labor force in 2018 included 149,512 immigrant workers, which represents about 8 percent of the labor force or about 1 in 12 workers. [American Immigration Council]

Policy Note

There’s a labor shortage in the U.S. Why is it so hard for migrants to legally work?: Lawmakers around the country have been pressing the federal government to expedite work papers for asylum-seekers. Business leaders are also desperate for more work permits. [NPR]

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David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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