In The Know: State budget expected this week | Tribal-state compact renewals spark political fight | New Mexican consulate opens | 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.

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma lawmakers could have struck education deal sooner, House speaker says: After two months of buildup and tension, Oklahoma House and Senate lawmakers have reached a long-awaited agreement on public-school funding with a $785 million package, but one legislative leader said a solution could have been accomplished much sooner. [The Oklahoman]

  • The mediator and the wonks: How an elusive education deal happened in the Oklahoma Legislature [The Oklahoman]
  • Teacher pay raises, private school tax credits: What to know about Oklahoma’s education plan [Tulsa World]
  • Legislature sends education bills to governor, turns attention to budget [Tulsa World]
  • Budget Deal, Policy Decisions Expected in Final Week of Regular Legislative Session [Oklahoma Watch]
  • Oklahoma could see budget agreement this week [The Oklahoman]
  • 3 takeaways from this week’s news conference with Gov. Kevin Stitt [The Oklahoman]
  • State budget heads legislative agenda for last week of regular session (Audio) [KGOU]

Oklahoma state-tribal compact renewals spark political fight: A political power struggle may be brewing at the state Capitol over the renewal of some state-tribal compacts. A House panel advanced two bills on Wednesday that would renew for five years compacts the state has entered into with Oklahoma’s Native American tribes on the sale of tobacco products and motor fuels, as well as the costs associated with vehicle licensing and registration. But Gov. Kevin Stitt on Friday criticized the move and said the tribes are trying to block him from renegotiating the compacts by pushing the renewals back until he’s out of office. [Tulsa World]

  • Legislature eyes cutting Gov. Stitt out of Oklahoma’s tobacco, fuel compact negotiations with tribal nations [KOSU]
  • Oklahoma House action on tribal compacts angers Stitt [Journal Record]

State Government News

Farm kids can hit the road in Oklahoma with special permit later this year: Farm kids in Oklahoma as young as 14 can apply for a special driver’s license later this year. House Bill 1962 — authored by Rep. Carl Newton, R-Cherokee — allows 14 year-olds who live or work on a farm to apply for a Class D driver’s license, but only drive under certain conditions. It was signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt earlier this month. [KOSU]

New consulate in Oklahoma City will serve ‘vibrant Mexican community’ in Oklahoma: Around a dozen people received their Mexican passports, birth certificates and other government-issued documents Saturday morning as the new Mexican consulate was inaugurated in Oklahoma City. Dignitaries and elected officials, both local and from Mexico, lauded the consulate’s opening as a commitment to continue supporting the growing Mexican-American population in the state of Oklahoma. Citizens of Mexico living in the state no longer have to make the trek to cities like Dallas, Little Rock, Arkansas, or Kansas City, Missouri, to receive consular services. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Cultural nods not an uncommon request for area graduations: In an effort to provide more uniform guidance districtwide, a Tulsa Public Schools spokeswoman said that the district’s Language and Cultural Services Department is in the process of developing a form to be used by seniors across all of TPS’ secondary sites. Once in place, those requests would be vetted at the district level rather than by campus leaders. [Tulsa World]

  • More than 80 Broken Arrow seniors have requested a dress code exemption at graduation [Tulsa World]
  • Statement: National Native Scholarship Providers Statement on Right to Wear Tribal Regalia at Graduations [Advancing Indigenous People in STEM]

Cherokee women to take part in 950-mile Ride to Remember: Six women representing the Cherokee Nation will undertake a journey in June spanning roughly 950 miles, following the path taken by thousands of their Cherokee ancestors forced to travel the infamous Trail of Tears from Georgia to Oklahoma in 1838 and 1839. The women won’t walk the trail. They’ll make the journey from Georgia through Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and finally to Oklahoma aboard bicycles, but there’s little question that the three-week trek will give them – and the many Cherokees who will travel with them in spirit – time to reflect on the hardships endured by their forebears. [Journal Record]

Voting and Election News

Regional transit election likely by early 2025, will fund commuter rail network: Oklahoma City, Edmond and Norman residents will likely be asked by early 2025 to decide whether to approve a sales tax to create a regional transit system that would include a mix of commuter rail and bus rapid transit. In addition to establishing frequent fast connections between the three cities and Tinker Air Force Base, talks underway with the BNSF Railroad include track improvements that would reduce or eliminate trains parking across street crossings. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Over 300,000 Oklahomans being dropped from Soonercare: Hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans are being disenrolled from Soonercare, this comes after Congress passed federal regulation ending the public health emergency that began during the COVID-19 Pandemic. [KTUL]

Criminal Justice News

Statewide lockdown issued at Oklahoma correctional facilities after Hominy incident: Visitation at all Oklahoma correctional facilities is canceled through at least Monday during a statewide lockdown. The lockdown, implemented Friday by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, is in response to a stabbing at Dick Conner Correctional Center in Hominy, department spokesperson Kay Thompson told The Oklahoman Saturday. [The Oklahoman]

McCurtain County officer arrested on felony charge, allegations of racist remarks: Haworth Police Officer Jerry Neal Pollard was arrested Thursday and faces a felony charge after allegedly pointing a firearm at a man and calling him a racist remark, according to court records out of McCurtain County. Pollard was reportedly off-duty when the incident happened back on April 24. [KFOR]

Column: OKC police and DA’s approach to overdoses appears to be punishment over prevention: According to recent police reports and related court filings in Oklahoma County District Court, on April 22 a man was arrested and charged with first-degree murder after calling 911 when a man he was using substances with was overdosing. Later that week another man was arrested and charged when a man he had been using substances with had overdosed, and he didn’t call. Also that week, three other people were arrested and charged with murder because they had supplied substances that people had overdosed on. I know these deaths make us sad. I know we’re angry at the people involved. However, this approach doesn’t help with substance use, addiction or overdoses. [Walker Milligan Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Column: The use of 911 calls is on the rise. Let’s find alternative solutions if no threat to life: The use of 911 calls for civil issues reflects a concerning reliance on police to extend beyond their main responsibility of public safety and address every issue or minor inconvenience. Not only does this create more work for police, but it also contributes to unnecessary escalation and criminalization of behaviors that can better be addressed in other ways. Involving the police pulls funding from the services and departments better suited to address these noncriminal matters. [Sue Ann Arnall Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Italy’s Enel to invest more than $1 billion in Oklahoma solar panel factory: Italy’s Enel SpA (ENEI.MI) said on Monday it will invest more than $1 billion in a solar cell and panel factory in Oklahoma, seeking to capitalize on the U.S. push to build a homegrown clean energy manufacturing sector to compete with China. The facility will be among the largest to produce solar equipment in the United States, where most projects are built with imported panels. It is also one of the first U.S. factories to produce silicon-based solar cells on a large scale. [Reuters]

  • Enel to build $1 billion solar panel plant at Tulsa Port of Inola [Tulsa World]

Corporation Commissioner: Oklahoma must remain an ‘all of the above’ energy state: The Biden administration’s Environmental Protection Agency recently announced new emission standards that require coal and natural gas-fired power plants to cut or capture the vast majority of their carbon dioxide emissions by 2040. Oklahomans should be worried about this federal overreach because it will increase the cost to produce energy, decrease reliability of our grid, and ultimately cause utility bills to increase. [Kim David Guest Column / The Oklahoman

Education News

Ryan Walters says ‘Gender Queer,’ Bible aren’t comparable in response to letter on bans: An Oklahoma education official seeking to ban books featuring “graphic pornography” could toss Christianity’s holy book on his pile of potentially prohibited tomes, a national atheist group said. This sentiment was expressed in the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s recent letter to state schools Superintendent Ryan Walters. [The Oklahoman]

Paycom founder, top donor to UCO, objects to former Oklahoma Lt. Gov.’s hiring as UCO president: The hiring of a former state lieutenant governor as the University of Central Oklahoma’s next president has drawn fierce opposition from the college’s biggest donor, who alleged the candidate won the job from “political favors.” [The Oklahoman]

Tulsa Holocaust educators conference expanding for statewide reach: The World Must Know: 2023 Eva K. Unterman Conferences for Holocaust Educators will be held in two locations this year: June 15 in Oklahoma City and June 16 in Tulsa, with a deadline to register of June 1. The goal is to encourage more teachers to incorporate Holocaust lessons into their classes. Participants will receive seven hours of professional development credit for attending, along with lesson plans that are easy to implement. [Tulsa World]

General News

Obama Foundation recognizes Tulsa as My Brother’s Keeper model city: The Obama Foundation has named Tulsa one of four model communities for the foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper alliance. My Brother’s Keeper was started by former president Barack Obama in 2014 to close opportunity gaps for boys and young men of color in the United States. While Impact Tulsa joined My Brother’s Keeper as the city’s partner agency just two years ago, from 2013 to 2019, the nonprofit led efforts to increase pre-k enrollment by 33% among students of color. Because of this, Tulsa achieved the MBK milestone of entering school prepared to learn. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Editorial: Tulsa police chief speaks common sense and truth about gun violence: During the past year, no positive changes occurred in pro-gun Oklahoma. Nothing has made it any safer in the past year. The only change was more dead Oklahomans from gun violence. In an interview with Tulsa World reporter Kevin Canfield last week, Tulsa Chief of Police Wendell Franklin noted this lack of action: “People talk — the legislators talk about it — but nobody has put pen to paper and done anything to try and help curb this.” [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Grocery store built in food desert celebrates two years in business [Tulsa World]
  • If Tulsa gets a new public safety center, does it need to be downtown? Public safety officials weigh in [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Mexican Americans in Oklahoma City are entrepreneurs. They own restaurants and grocery stores and media outlets. They’re teachers and priests, police officers, firefighters and elected officials. Mexican Americans are vital contributors to this dynamic city.”

– Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt, speaking on the new Mexican consulate in Oklahoma City, which will serve Oklahoma’s Mexican community. [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


For a majority of employed U.S. adults (56%), focusing on increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion at work is a good thing, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. But opinions about DEI vary considerably along demographic and political lines. [Pew Research]

Policy Note

The Rediscovery of Indian Country in Eastern Oklahoma: The existence of “Indian country” – generally defined as all land within Indian reservations, dependent Indian communities and Indian allotments – has legal significance because it is “the benchmark for approaching the allocation of federal, tribal and state authority with respect to Indians and Indian lands.” Generally, the federal and tribal governments have primary authority over Indians within Indian country, while state jurisdiction is more limited. Outside of Indian country, on the other hand, states generally have jurisdiction over Indians and non-Indians alike. [Oklahoma Bar Association]

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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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