In The Know: State Senate returns for special session next week | Oklahoma Ethics Commission director resigns in frustration | Homelessness in rural Oklahoma | 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

Back again: Why the Oklahoma Senate is returning to an extended special session next week: The Oklahoma state Senate will reconvene at the Capitol next week in a second effort to override two vetoes from Gov. Kevin Stitt. If successful, the action would further curtail the governor’s power over state compacts with Oklahoma tribes. The two bills would extend tobacco and motor vehicle registration compacts set to expire at the end of this year. Stitt, who has long argued his power over tribal governments is total, vetoed the bills earlier this year, saying only he could extend the compacts. [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Ashley Kemp resigns from Oklahoma Ethics Commission: Oklahoma Ethics Commission Executive Director Ashley Kemp has submitted her resignation, citing her frustration with the agency’s funding levels as appropriated by the Legislature. [Tulsa World]

  • Oklahoma Ethics Commission Executive Director is resigning over funding issues [KOSU]
  • Leader of Oklahoma Ethics Commission quitting over ‘lack of adequate funding’ [KOCO]

Oklahoma Republicans in House find fundraising benefit in their majority party status: Members of Oklahoma’s all-Republican congressional delegation filed their latest campaign finance reports over the weekend showing some of the House members continue to raise far more now that they’re in the majority than they did two years ago when they were in the minority party. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

A month after storms hit, Oklahoma still waiting for federal major disaster declaration: An Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management official expressed confidence on Monday that federal funds are on the way to help pay for relief efforts related to last month’s severe storms. But Keli Cain, public affairs director for the department, acknowledged that response times for state requests for federal major disaster declarations can vary. [Tulsa World]

HUD hasn’t inspected some subsidized properties for a decade or longer, agency data says: According to HUD data, dozens of privately owned multifamily properties receiving federal subsidies haven’t been inspected in a decade or longer, despite requirements that they be inspected at least every three years. Renters at a Duncan apartment complex have waited years for their units to be renovated. [Streetlight]

Tribal Nations News

Gaming lawsuit ignites disagreement over tribal relations in Oklahoma: Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond wants to take the lead in representing the state in a long-running tribal gaming lawsuit. But Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office says he has no plans to hand over the reins. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Oklahomans can expect to travel hundreds of miles for abortions: After Oklahoma became the first state in the nation to successfully outlaw abortion last year, Oklahomans seeking abortions can expect to travel hundreds of miles for care. The state’s last abortion provider, the Tulsa Women’s Clinic, performed its final procedure in May 2022. According to the 2022 Oklahoma Abortion Surveillance Report, zero abortions were performed that June. [KOSU]

988 lifeline receives nearly 40K calls in first year of operation: Since launching in July 2022, the 988 Mental Health Lifeline providing mental health support has received tens of thousands of calls. According to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS), the lifeline has received 39,831 calls in its first year. [KFOR]

Oklahoma State Department of Health sends out alert about intestinal illness: A very unpleasant intestinal infection is making the rounds across the country and here in Oklahoma. Local health experts say Cyclospora is an illness caused by a parasite – and while it is extremely uncomfortable, it is treatable. [KFOR]

‘Hospital-at-home’ trend means family members must be caregivers – ready or not: Hospital-at-home programs are for people sick enough to need the attention a hospital provides, but stable enough to be cared for at home. Research on outcomes is not conclusive, yet, but shows promise that it can provide good care and save health care dollars. But a big question looms: What about the family? Are unpaid, untrained family caregivers ready to take on the responsibility of overseeing a critically ill person at home — even with backup from visiting clinicians? [KOSU]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma is set to execute second death row inmate of 2023: Oklahoma is set to conduct its second execution this year on Thursday when it plans to put Jemaine Cannon to death. [The Frontier]

Education News

Oklahoma schools could receive a record level of federal funds, but grants still unclear: Oklahoma public schools are expected to receive $224.7 million in federal funds to support impoverished students this school year, but competitive federal grants are still a question mark. State schools Superintendent Ryan Walters, who at times appeared skeptical of accepting federal dollars, celebrated the allocation as a record investment of federal Title I funds. [The Oklahoman]

Column: SCOTUS affirmative action decision moves diversifying physician workforce two steps backward: There may be one thing we all agree on: Race shouldn’t determine one’s access to higher education. But it does, and the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision gutting affirmative action measures now leaves this problem unchecked. As a former assistant dean in medical education and, currently, as a vice president of health equity, I am deeply troubled that the decision will further threaten the health of minoritized communities. [Jabraan Pasha, M.D. Guest Column / Tulsa World]

General News

In rural Oklahoma, homelessness remains a hidden problem: For Brittany Sullivan, homelessness is a place tucked away in a wooded area on the outskirts of this Custer County town 93 miles west of Oklahoma City. Hidden from the view of passing vehicles, she lives with a friend in a dilapidated, wooden shed with no electricity, running water, or doors. [The Frontier]

Service Oklahoma hires more employees while lines continue to be hours long: Service Oklahoma is an agency, created in 2022, with the goal of clearing long lines that formed due to Real IDs and during the COVID-19 pandemic. For years, News 4 has received countless emails and calls from frustrated Oklahomans who have waited hours for an appointment to get a new driver’s license, only to be turned away in many cases. [KFOR]

Everything Sad is Untrue: Growing up as an Iranian refugee in Edmond: Originally from Iran, Daniel Khosrou Nayeri arrived in Edmond in 1990 after his family fled owing to a fatwa issued against his mother. Two decades later, Nayeri is the author of a book — Everything Sad is Untrue: (A True Story) — that drops the reader into the middle of his childhood and narrates his experiences from his 12-year-old perspective. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Water troubles plague Southwest Oklahoma communities [KGOU]
  • World-class, 12,000 seat amphitheater to come to Oklahoma City [KOCO]

Quote of the Day

“Jails were built to house people to await trial. They weren’t housed to treat mental health conditions, and the staff in them are not trained to do that. So I think all of that creates the levels of violence and the levels of suicide ideation and suicide attempts that we see in jails today and also in prisons, but particularly in jails.” 

– Timothy Edgemon, an assistant professor of sociology and criminology at Auburn University, speaking about the factors that contribute to unsafe jail conditions and detainee deaths. [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


The change in the number of dentists per 100,000 residents in Oklahoma, one of 17 states to see a decrease from 2010 to 2020. The national average increased by 2.9%. [American Dental Association]

Policy Note

States turn to dental therapists to fill care gaps, including in underserved rural areas: Dental therapists are licensed providers who offer basic care traditionally provided by dentists, including fillings and simple tooth extractions. Over a dozen states have turned to them to increase access to oral health care, and federal advisers say at least eight more are considering doing the same. [Stateline]

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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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