In The Know: Stitt: Education deal close despite recent conflicts | Gov. axes OETA funding over LGBTQ2S+ content | State begins disenrolling Medicaid recipients

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 education talks incite conflict at Capitol, but a deal is ‘close,’ Gov. Stitt says: Months of tension between the Oklahoma House and Senate over education policy reached a fever-pitch on Thursday, but come Friday morning, the governor said he’s optimistic lawmakers are on track to make a deal. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt claims PBS, OETA ‘overly sexualizes our kids’: After vetoing a bill that would allow OETA to continue operations, Stitt claimed that the state’s public broadcasting system is outdated and overly sexualizes children. [The Oklahoman]

  • Stitt defends veto of public broadcasting authorization [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Stitt vetoes OETA bill, accuses network of trying to ‘indoctrinate’ kids [Tulsa World]
  • Gov. Stitt axes PBS funding over shows with LGBTQ+ content [KTUL]

Oklahoma begins disenrolling 270,000 Medicaid recipients: Beginning Sunday, about 30,000 Oklahomans will lose Medicaid coverage each month through the end of the year as a federal health emergency tied to the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

New Oklahoma Senate education funding plan features bigger teacher raises, maternity leave, separates voucher-like tax credits: As Gov. Kevin Stitt continues to veto bills until an education funding stalemate ends, the Oklahoma Senate unveiled its new education package Thursday in the hopes of moving closer to the finish line. [Public Radio Tulsa]

After Contentious Deadline Week, Questions Over Education and Tax Policy Linger: Tensions are rising inside the Oklahoma State Capitol. As the deadlock over education policy drags on, budget negotiations have stalled. The clock is ticking on that front. To avoid a special session, the Legislature and the governor’s office need to reach and agreement by Friday, May 26. [Oklahoma Watch]

Despite confusion over multiple state bans, abortion becomes ‘nonissue’ for OK Legislature: A year after banning nearly all abortion procedures in the state, Oklahoma lawmakers focused very little on the issue this legislative session. Bills that would clarify exceptions and others seeking to toughen punishments have not advanced this session. [The Oklahoman]

Rural Oklahoma’s future uncertain in spite of traditional strength in state Legislature: Rural Oklahoma has long dominated the state’s Legislature, but more than ever its future depends on outside factors it can’t control — global energy trends, federal environmental policy and — most uncertain of all — Mother Nature. [The Oklahoman]

Column: Lawmakers have chance to support critical job services for those with disabilities: Oklahoma’s workforce system can be improved, but combining multiple programs into one means fewer employment opportunities, fewer specialty services and fewer people to serve Oklahoma job seekers with disabilities who are generally more loyal and reliable than other workers who didn’t have to try so hard to overcome discrimination and become employed. [Lauren Carter Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Audio: Impasse over education bills, tax cuts exposes deepening rift: Governor Kevin Stitt is using his veto pen to retaliate against the State Senate to force passage of his education and private school funding plan and tax cuts. [Capitol Insider / KGOU]

Federal Government News

Budget fight could derail air traffic controller training in Oklahoma, agency head warns: The Federal Aviation Administration’s plan to accelerate the training of air traffic controllers in Oklahoma City would likely be derailed by budget cuts or even a budget stalemate in Congress, the head of the agency warned a key congressional subcommittee headed by Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

U.S. Department of Justice issues new guidelines for missing and murdered Indigenous people cases: The U.S. Department of Justice has new guidelines as part of their strategy to combat a nationwide scourge of missing and murdered Indigenous people. They include standards on data collection, coordinating law enforcement agencies responsible for updating databases and improving law enforcement agency response rates. [KOSU]

Oklahoma can place some tribal children in foster care without tribal sign-off, court rules: Oklahoma can take custody of some Native American children on tribal lands without tribal input, the state Supreme Court ruled this week. The decision splits from the widespread understanding of federal law and casts a cloud of uncertainty over some of Oklahoma’s most vulnerable children, legal experts say. [The Oklahoman]

New rules threaten Osage oil and gas production, Oklahoma senators, congressman say: U.S. Sens. James Lankford and Markwayne Mullin and 3rd District Congressman Frank Lucas asked the Bureau of Indian Affairs on Friday to reconsider implementation of complex new rules for Osage oil and gas production. [Tulsa World

Health News

‘I’ll lose my family.’ A husband’s dread during an abortion ordeal in Oklahoma: Most states that ban abortion have exceptions for medical emergencies or the “life of the mother.” But in the months since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, there have been many examples of cases where doctors weren’t sure how to apply those exceptions. In Oklahoma, the legal picture is especially confusing. [KOSU]

Column: Legislature can easily increase health care access: Health care is getting more and more difficult to obtain in Oklahoma. Part of the problem is that Oklahoma is suffering from a shortage of medical providers. We are ranked next to last for physician-patient ratio, and 64 counties have an officially designated shortage. [Toni Pratt-Reid Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Richard Glossip is running out of options to escape the death penalty, but he’s been down this road before: Oklahoma is set to put Richard Glossip to death on May 18, but it’s not clear whether the execution will actually happen. This will be Glossip’s ninth execution date since he was first scheduled to die in 2015, attempts that have been halted numerous times due to various failures by state officials. [The Frontier]

Oklahoma AG sounds alarm on organized crime: ‘We can’t be a top 10 state in this area’: Organized crime related to drugs and marijuana remains one of his biggest challenges, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond told the Tulsa Regional Chamber on Friday morning. [Tulsa World]

Tulsa County chief public defender announces he is stepping down: Tulsa County Chief Public Defender Corbin Brewster said Friday that he would be stepping down from the position to return to private practice, effective June 30. [Tulsa World]

Economic Opportunity

Column: Tulsa needs more housing to end homelessness: In my more than two decades working with people experiencing homelessness, I can attest truth to the oversimplified statement that housing is what ends homelessness. Tulsa has emerging data showing that programs helping people without a permanent home obtain housing are effective as long-term solutions. [Mack Haltom Guest Column / Tulsa World]

Ginnie Graham Column: Living life out of a school bus brings freedom and hardships: Tane Karnes knows she’s homeless but doesn’t feel that way as long as her bus is working. She doesn’t want to think about what will happen if a tire goes flat. About two years ago, the Tulsa resident found herself disabled, unemployed and headed toward the homeless shelters, something she wants to avoid at all costs. [Ginnie Graham Column / Tulsa World]

Education News

Oklahoma’s top education official embraces culture wars: After Ryan Walters won the race for superintendent of public instruction by nearly 15 percentage points, many expected him to pivot toward more substantive education policy: working with lawmakers to improve education outcomes and overseeing the state’s largest — and most-funded — agency. Instead, Walters, a former public school teacher from McAlester, has doubled down on his political rhetoric, focusing his energy on culture-war issues. [Associated Press]

‘Fight Club’ video key evidence in football hazing suit against Kingfisher: Video captured in 2018 seems like something right out of the movie “Fight Club,” but it was part of a ritualized pattern of hazing suffered by Kingfisher High School football players under its Hall of Fame head coach, former team members say. The video is among key new evidence to emerge in a federal lawsuit against Kingfisher Public Schools and head coach Jeff Myers. [The Oklahoman]

Teacher: OEA is an association of hardworking educators who care for Oklahoma schools: As a teacher, I made an educated choice to join OEA, and I plan to remain a member so long as I am working in our schools. This is not only in my best interest, but also in the best interests of the students and families I serve. [Chuck Pack Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Lawmakers: Protecting teachers’ paychecks is an Oklahoma priority: Americans respect teachers. Yet, teachers don’t often get the respect they deserve from the very organizations created to protect their rights: teacher unions. Now, Oklahoma leaders have a chance to set things right. [Sen. Julie Daniels and Rep. Mark Lepak Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Editorial: How much longer do Oklahoma teachers need to wait?: Maybe it’s time to contact those who represent you and let them know that it’s going to take bonuses and pay raises and a dedication to fully fund public education. Remind them that in addition to the teachers, you are watching, as well. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

General News

Oklahoma, Kansas apply for planning funds to link OKC to bevy of destinations by passenger rail: Oklahomans and Kansans are one step closer to being connected by train. Passenger rail could be coming soon to link OKC to Newton, Kansas, but it will still take a while longer. [KOSU]

Tech workers from war-torn Ukraine finding jobs, safe haven through Tulsa program: A 36-year-old Ukrainian’s opportunity was made possible through the inTulsa Visa Network, a program that recruits immigrants to help fill technology jobs with Tulsa-area companies. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Slow response times have Edmond looking for new ambulance provider [The Oklahoman]
  • Final town hall on proposed $772 million Improve Our Tulsa extension set for Monday [Tulsa World]
  • City of Tulsa budgets $50,000 for outside legal counsel to defend Open Meeting Act lawsuit [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“I think there are also folks who won’t know what to do, and won’t know who can help them. That’s a potential pitfall where we might see some people losing coverage because they aren’t sure where to go.”

-Emma Morris, OK Policy Health Care and Fiscal Policy Analyst, speaking about Oklahomans who may be disenrolled and lose their Medicaid health care (SoonerCare) as pandemic health care rules change. [Tulsa World]  

Number of the Day


Number of Oklahomans who will be disenrolled from Medicaid (SoonerCare) after pandemic-related health care coverage rules changed and some residents either no longer quality for coverage or the state doesn’t have current information about eligibility. [Oklahoma Health Care Authority via Tulsa World]   

Policy Note

Research Reinforces: Providing Cash to Families in Poverty Reduces Family Involvement in Child Welfare: Cash assistance to families with low incomes is critical both to help them stabilize their circumstances and to create conditions in which they can thrive. A new body of research from Chapin Hall, a research and policy center that focuses on child welfare and family well-being at the University of Chicago, finds that material hardship increases the risk for child welfare involvement due to neglect and abuse, and when families are given cash assistance, child welfare involvement is reduced. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

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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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