In The Know: State has shared no improvement proposals for Tulsa schools | Initiative petition process is vital to democracy | 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

Initiative petition process is vital to Oklahoma’s democracy: Lawmakers should keep it accessible: Oklahoma’s lawmakers must keep our democracy strong and stop putting forward legislation designed to diminish the power of the initiative petition and state question process in Oklahoma. In 2020, Oklahomans passed State Question 802 to expand Medicaid access in Oklahoma, continuing a years-long pattern of approving people-centric ballot initiatives. In response, the Oklahoma Legislature has since heard numerous bills to make the state question process less effective. This has been part of a larger national push to make direct democracy (such as the state question process) less powerful, which is a concerning trend. [Cole Allen / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Tulsa Public Schools officials say they have heard no specific plans from state superintendent to address concerns: Along with pushing back on some of his claims, officials with Tulsa Public Schools said they have had no direct contact with state Superintendent Ryan Walters regarding any specific plans to address his concerns about the district. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Oklahoma City law firm chosen for market manipulation case: An Oklahoma City law firm has been chosen to lead any legal action by the state arising from natural gas price manipulation during the February 2021 Winter Storm Uri, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond said Tuesday. [Tulsa World]

  • OKC law firm selected to help OK AG with potential winter storm cost litigation [KFOR]

Federal Government News

U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas’ hip surgery successful after injury, his office says: Third District Congressman Frank Lucas underwent successful surgery to repair a broken hip Tuesday in Oklahoma City, his office said. [Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

Tribal leaders talk with feds on violence against Native women, enforcement challenges: About 20 federal officials were in Tulsa on Tuesday morning to begin hearing from tribal leaders across the country about violence against Native American women and attempts to police and and eliminate it. [Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

Tulsa voters approve $814 million bond package, Chickasha will get new water plant: Thousands of Oklahoma voters in 14 counties cast ballots in a number of elections to determine the future of school bonds, municipal propositions and more. These August elections — with relatively low voter turnout — determined the fate of hundreds of millions of dollars in local projects across the state. [KOSU]

  • Improve Our Tulsa 3 capital improvements package passes easily [Tulsa World]
  • Capital improvement package Improve Our Tulsa passes [Public Radio Tulsa]

Criminal Justice News

Edmond Police lieutenant arrested for fatally shooting brother, investigation continues: The Edmond Police Department investigation into the Thursday morning fatal shooting of 36-year-old Sean Haddock by his sister, off-duty EPD Lt. Jennifer Haddock, is continuing this week, with Oklahoma County District Attorney Vicki Behenna’s office saying Friday that a “decision on how to proceed” is pending. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma City Council approves Community Public Safety Advisory Board for police complaint review: The Oklahoma City Council approved the creation of a Community Public Safety Advisory Board. The body will review police complaint investigations and processes. [KOSU]

Pay raises under consideration at Oklahoma County jail: Oklahoma County jail CEO Brandi Garner and her management team are crafting plans to boost pay rates for employees at the facility. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Broken Arrow to send $52 million school bond package to voters: A third suburban school district will be hosting a bond election this fall. At a special meeting Monday night, the Board of Education for Broken Arrow Public Schools voted unanimously to send a four-part, $52 million general obligation bond package to voters on Nov. 14. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma school settles with teacher fired after she refused to work at school amid COVID: Western Heights Public Schools has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by a former teacher who accused the district of firing her because she asked to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic to avoid contracting the virus. [The Oklahoman]

Column: What to do about Oklahoma education ranking on or close to the bottom of list after list: Whatever you think about Oklahoma’s low education ranking, there is a trend. Oklahoma remains at or near the bottom in education, as well as in the rankings of the status of children and women. With all the things we love about our state, it’s hard to feel good about being 50 on any list. This isn’t a time to point fingers at our schools. This is truly a time to point fingers at ourselves, because we, the collective we, are the problem. [Mary Mélon-Tully Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Column: Educators can foster a welcoming environment by showing empathy for parents and students: Even though I am about to embark on my 35th year in education, I still experience a mixture of anxiety, anticipation and excitement about the journey that lies ahead. Students are often surprised when I share my feelings of nervousness about the first day, just like they are surprised when they see their teacher at a store or restaurant. [Cathy Adams Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Health News

‘Work to be done’: Clinton Regional Hospital on track to reopen this year after being shut down for months: The Clinton Regional Hospital has sat empty for eight months, but now after being issued a new license to operate, a reopening date is on the horizon. [KFOR]

General News

Nine policies to address homelessness: Tulsa to take action on task force recommendations: A city task force charged with formulating long-term strategies for addressing homelessness unveiled nine short-term policy recommendations on Tuesday. The initiatives include establishing a low-barrier shelter, providing locations for unsheltered homeless people to sleep, adding kennel services in shelters and clarifying city ordinances to make it clear that it is against the law for people to block a sidewalk. [Tulsa World]

Attorneys decline to apologize, reimburse Oklahoma electrician wrongly named in $60M lawsuit: Spencer Struck is no longer named in a $60 million lawsuit that mistakenly targeted his company Red Dirt Electric, but he is wondering why the law firm responsible for the bad filing isn’t reimbursing his legal costs or making a public apology. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Could PGA come to Edmond? Why county leaders are putting their hope in Waterloo [The Oklahoman]
  • Win some, lose some: OKC retailers are projected to grow, but some still on the downturn [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“The chaos caused by a sudden big government takeover as hinted at by Walters could only stall our children’s growth. This is not speculation. Several national studies of school governance models found no evidence that a state takeover improves academic achievement.”

-Rep. Suzanne Schreiber, writing in an op-ed about State Superintendent Ryan Walters’ threats to downgrade Tulsa Public Schools accreditation and have the state take over the school district oversight after the new school year starts. [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Turnout rate for the March 2023 election in which State Question 820 (recreational marijuana) was on the ballot. During the three previous state questions held on general election ballots in November, the turnout rate ranged between 56% and 69%. [Oklahoma Election Board via OK Policy

Policy Note

Initiative and Referendum Overview and Resources: In political terminology, the initiative is a process that enables citizens to bypass their state legislature by placing proposed statutes and, in some states, constitutional amendments on the ballot. The first state to adopt the initiative was South Dakota in 1898. Since then, 23 other states have included the initiative process in their constitutions, the most recent being Mississippi in 1992. That makes a total of 24 states with an initiative process. [National Conference of State Legislatures]

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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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