In The Know: State to resume management of Public Health Lab | Campaign watchdog agency lacks funds to prosecute | 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.

State Government News

Oklahoma health officials will take back management of a troubled laboratory: After more than two years marked with staffing shortages and citations from federal inspectors, management of the Oklahoma Public Health Lab will shift back from a private nonprofit vendor to the State Department of Health at the end of January. [The Frontier]

Campaign watchdog sees evidence of abuses but lacks the funding to prosecute: Oklahoma’s campaign watchdog agency has the evidence needed to prosecute multiple violations of the state’s campaign finance laws, including from out-of-state actors engaged in “dark money” spending. But the Legislature has not given it the money needed to pursue those cases, said Ashley Kemp, executive director of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma seeks answers as it stalls federal program to clean orphaned wells: Oklahoma’s oil and gas regulator has halted progress on a federally funded program to plug environmentally unsafe wells that have been abandoned. [The Oklahoman]

First-time claims for unemployment increase by nearly one-third: First-time unemployment claims in Oklahoma increased by 380, or 31%, compared to prior week totals, according to a government report.  [Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Five things to know about Oklahoma’s clout in the US House: With the new Republican majority in the House, Oklahoma’s all-GOP delegation has influence well beyond its relatively small number. Two of the five lead standing committees, possibly a first for the state, and two serve on the powerful Appropriations Committee, the first time in over 30 years two Oklahomans have served simultaneously on that panel. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Native Americans are Incarcerated at the Highest Rate, New Report Reveals: A newly released report by the MacArthur Foundation shows that Native Americans are incarcerated at a rate 38 percent higher than the national average. The report, commissioned as a part of the MacArthur Foundation’s commissioned as part of its Safety and Justice Challenge, also found that Native Americans were overrepresented in the prison population in 19 states compared to any other race and ethnicity. [Native News Online]

The Repatriation Project: The Delayed Return of Native American Human Remains: America’s institutions maintain control of the remains of hundreds of thousands of Native Americans as well as sacred items. A federal law, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, was meant to help return them, but decades after its 1990 passage, many tribes are still waiting. [ProPublica] | [Search by Tribe, State or Institution]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma executes Scott Eizember, the first of 11 planned executions for 2023: Oklahoma executed Scott Eizember on Thursday, the first of 11 executions planned for 2023 — the most out of any other state in the nation. Eizember was convicted in 2005 and sentenced to death for the murders of A.J. and Patsy Cantrell. [The Frontier]

  • Oklahoma executes man who killed elderly couple in 2003 [Journal Record]
  • Scott Eizember executed for 2003 murders of elderly couple in Creek County [Tulsa World]
  • Protesters rally against the death penalty in front of the Oklahoma Governor’s Mansion [The Oklahoman Photo Gallery]

Mayor’s office, Tulsa police union sign off on 12% pay raise in fight against attrition: Tulsa police officers will see a sizable increase in their salaries over the next year, thanks to a deal struck between the Mayor’s Office and union membership. Mayor G.T. Bynum signed the collective bargaining agreement with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 93 last week, giving current full-time officers about a 12% pay raise in three separate 4% increments in January and July of this year and January 2023, a city spokeswoman said. [Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Commerce Department: Oklahoma scored successes in 2022: Announcements made by companies in 2022 to bring a major airlines maintenance facility to Burns Flat and a rare earth metal and manufacturer to Stillwater represented wins for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, which has focused efforts in recent years on diversifying the state’s economy and on drawing investment to rural areas. [Journal Record]

Egg prices won’t come down anytime soon: Some shoppers at an Oklahoma City metro grocery store Thursday thought twice about purchasing eggs, turned away from the cartons and moved on to the checkout lane without any in their cart. Federal Reserve Economic Data indicates that in U.S. cities, the average price of large, grade A white eggs more than doubled from $1.79 a dozen in December 2021 to $4.25 in December 2022. [Journal Record]

General News

Dwindling survivors, rise in antisemitism make OKC Holocaust exhibit timely, leaders say: Antisemitic incidents reached an all-time high in the United States in 2021, with 2,717 incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism reported to the Anti-Defamation League, according to the Jewish advocacy group’s 2021 Audit of Antisemitism Incidents. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

Officials sign agreement to build south Tulsa-Jenks low-water dam: Jenks Mayor Cory Box didn’t grow up in Oklahoma, but he’s been around these parts long enough to know that people have been talking for decades about building a dam across the Arkansas River between south Tulsa and Jenks. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“The commission should determine which cases to pursue based on the facts. It should not be whether or not we have the funding to adequately litigate.”

– Ashley Kemp, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, speaking on how the Legislature has not given the Oklahoma watchdog agency the money needed to pursue violations of the state’s campaign finance laws. [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Rent increased 26.4 percent in Oklahoma City between March 2020 and December 2022. In Tulsa, that increase was 24.4 percent for the same time period. [Apartment List]

Policy Note

Eighty Percent of Homes on the Market Aren’t Affordable for Households Earning Median Incomes or Less: Home prices have risen substantially above the inflation rate, putting homeownership increasingly out of reach for many Americans. Rising interest rates have slowed home price growth but have introduced a new barrier to affordability. As a result, households earning median incomes or less can afford only 20 percent of homes for sale, compared with the roughly half of homes they could afford in 2016. But affordability varies noticeably across locations, suggesting that a combination of federal and local solutions that target both supply and demand could alleviate cost burdens. [Urban Institute]

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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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