In The Know: Students going to court for school infractions | Residents saddled by pre-trial costs, fines, fees | Rep. Martinez to resign Sept 1 | 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

In Oklahoma, hundreds of students go to court for school infractions: Hundreds of Oklahoma students ticketed at school, a common practice applied when officials decide behavioral incidents violated city laws. Fining students as a method of school discipline has come under scrutiny and even been outlawed in other states, including Texas and Illinois. Some have criticized it for criminalizing behavior that could be handled in the principal’s office, initiating what many call the “school-to-prison pipeline.” [The Oklahoman]

‘Oklahoma is ground zero’: More options for people saddled by pre-trial costs: As detention centers swell with people who can’t pay pre-trial cash bail, court fines or other administrative costs, there are efforts in place to provide more help for Oklahomans. [KFOR]

  • Fees add financial burden to offenders: One of the primary ways of paying for the justice system in Oklahoma is by fines and fees. The state depends on offenders to pay for a system that is funded less than 40% by tax money. [Enid News & Eagle]

State Government News

Amid ‘legal uncertainty’ of court challenge, Rep. Ryan Martinez to resign Sept. 1: Two days after Gov. Kevin Stitt responded to a filing before the Oklahoma Supreme Court by saying he would call a special election because believed Rep. Ryan Martinez’s recent guilty plea on a felony DUI charge vacated House District 39, Martinez announced late Friday that he will resign. [NonDoc]

  • Edmond state Rep. Ryan Martinez to resign following guilty plea in non-driving DUI [The Oklahoman]
  • A State Rep. resigns amid DUI controversy [KFOR]
  • Edmond lawmaker resigns Oklahoma House seat following non-driving DUI, legal dispute [KOSU]

As Restricted Banking List Narrows, Oklahoma Pension Systems Eye Exemptions: Oklahoma Treasurer Todd Russ has cut the state’s restricted financial company list by half as his office continues to police banking and pension policies alleged to be hostile to the state’s energy industry. [Oklahoma Watch]

Canoo could collect up to $110 million in state incentives over the next decade: The EV-startup Canoo Inc. says it can reap more than $100 million in incentives and tax breaks to manufacture its vehicles in Oklahoma, but three previous economic development deals with the state have fallen through in as many years. [The Frontier]

Gov. Kevin Stitt, other governors to discuss mission after sending troops to southern border: Gov. Kevin Stitt will be at the Southern Border in Texas on Monday with other governors after he ordered Oklahoma National Guard members to help law enforcement there. [KOCO]

  • Stitt to appear in Texas to address illegal immigration [News 9]

Lawsuit claims Gov. Stitt’s marijuana agency chief lacks legal qualifications: The owner of a medical marijuana dispensary in Moore has filed a lawsuit claiming hundreds of enforcement actions taken by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority should be invalidated because the executive director doesn’t have the qualifications legally required to run the agency. [The Oklahoman]

Sports betting remains stalled in Oklahoma, home to the most casinos in the country: Despite having the most casinos in the country (143), efforts to legalize sports betting in Oklahoma have remained stalled. So people who want to legally bet make trips to Caney and Wichita, Kansas, and to Hot Springs, Arkansas. [Tulsa World]

Capitol Insider: Oklahoma Broadband Office seeks input and expansion of service: Reliable broadband service is essential in today’s world, and we discuss Oklahoma’s plan for improving access with the new executive director of the Oklahoma Broadband Office. [KGOU]

  • Oklahoma Broadband Office Launches Interactive Internet Service Map [Okemah News Leader]

Federal Government News

Two Oklahoma members of Congress report assets worth as much as $100 million each: Two Oklahoma members of Congress have assets worth as much as $100 million, according to financial disclosure reports that show a majority of the state’s lawmakers in Washington are worth at least $1 million. Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Tulsa, reported dozens of assets with a total range of value between $36 million and $110 million, while Sen. Markwayne Mullin’s assets carry a value between $26 million and $100 million. [The Oklahoman]

D.C. Digest: Republicans, Democrats spar over economy: While Oklahoma’s Republican congressional delegation spends most of August in the state talking about inflation it blames on President Joe Biden, the Biden White House is working the phones on record-low unemployment rates. [Tulsa World]

Commentary: Preserving funding for public media: Congress is considering a bill that would eliminate funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a vital source of funds for KGOU and most other public radio and television stations across the nation. Elimination of CPB funding would cost KGOU a quarter of a million dollars per year. [Dick Pryor / KGOU]

Tribal Nations News

Chief draws parallels in Osage murders, Tulsa Race Massacre: Hollywood is shining a renewed spotlight on the violent tragedy that plagued the Osage Nation with the October 6 release of “Killers of the Flower Moon.” A former Osage Nation Principal Chief who was instrumental in the direction of the film says stories about the Osage people and the Black residents of Historic Greenwood District should be taught vigorously in schools. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Muscogee Nation among tribes expanding holistic alternatives to criminal justice system: The concept of treating people in the criminal justice system holistically is not new in Indian Country, but there are new programs coming on board as well as expanded approaches. About one-third of the roughly 320 tribal court systems across the country have aspects of this healing and wellness approach, according to the National American Indian Court Judges Association. [AP via The Oklahoman]

Violence against Indigenous people a product of culture that devalues Native women, expert says: Years of historical trauma, high rates of crime and violence worsen the missing and murdered Indigenous persons epidemic in the U.S., making cases hard to solve and limiting the power of Indigenous women. About 4 in 5 Indigenous people in the U.S. have experienced some form of violence, according to a study by the National Institute of Justice. [Tulsa World]

  • MMIP advocates, families push for more legislation addressing crisis [Tulsa World]
  • A son goes missing. What do parents and investigators do next? [Tulsa World]
  • ‘Just raise hell’: Families of missing, murdered Indigenous women share their stories [Tulsa World]
  • ‘We keep dying’: Indigenous Oklahomans fight state’s missing, murdered crisis [Tulsa World]
  • Jurisdiction complicates cases of missing, murdered Indigenous people [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Another retired judge joins Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board: The newest member of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board is a retired judge who said he has the experience to take on the job. The Oklahoma Supreme Court appointed Robert E. Reavis II to the five-member board Thursday. [The Oklahoman]

Column: They will forever be known as ‘thief,’ ‘drug addict’ and ‘murderer,’ instead of wife, mother: Hope, in itself, is a powerful word. But can it be the difference between life and death? To the women of Mabel Bassett Correctional Center, hope is something many of them have long been unfamiliar with. They’ve spent years ― sometimes even decades ― in a frozen state where their whole identity boils down to the single worst moment of their lives. Perpetually punished for a past they cannot change. [Crystal Avilla Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Column: It’s time for OKC leaders to admit we have a crime problem, then try to solve it: When it comes to law and order, Oklahomans assume their state stands head and shoulders above the others, and who could blame us. Our civic leaders tell us crime is under control. [Bob Funk Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Column: How teams can succeed without always sharing a physical workspace: Many businesses and industries are struggling with a big question these days: Should employers require employees to be in the office full time? High-performing employees want to feel trusted, and they don’t have to be in a cubicle 40 hours a week to earn that trust. [Heath Clinton Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Education News

Tulsa mayor on state takeover of TPS: ‘We do not want it, and we do not need it’: After a Friday morning meeting with State Superintendent Ryan Walters — which included members of the Tulsa Public Schools board and state board of education — Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum called going ahead with Walters’ threats of a state takeover of Tulsa Public Schools an “extreme action” and “an affront to democratic principles of self government upon which our country was founded.” [Tulsa World]

Elite Oklahoma High School Plagued By Complaints of Sexual Harassment: An investigation by Oklahoma Watch found that women continued, for years, to report sexual harassment by other male staff at the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics. [Oklahoma Watch]

Students discuss TPS accreditation status at town hall: Students from Tulsa Public Schools are concerned about their education this year due to the uncertainty of the district’s accreditation status. [News on 6]

  • As accreditation threats loom, TPS students rally for district [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Students for TPS accreditation: ‘At the end of the day, we’re going to be the ones impacted by this.’ [Tulsa World]

Embezzlement case at TPS highlighted in Walters’ state takeover threats. What happened?: A high-profile embezzlement case involving an individual formerly in one of the most senior administrative roles at Tulsa Public Schools has been used by State Superintendent Ryan Walters to call into question all fiscal management at the district. The Tulsa World took a look at what is known about the still-ongoing investigation by federal law enforcement, and gathered new insights into what went wrong and what is being done to prevent a repeat of the scandal. [Tulsa World]

OU counters ‘spending spree’ rap, says university ‘healthier and stronger than ever’: University of Oklahoma officials aren’t claiming the school has always made the most prudent decisions in its spending. But after being singled out as one of higher education’s biggest spenders in a recent national story, they say it’s important to understand how things have changed since fiscal responsibility became a renewed emphasis. [Tulsa World]

5 Oklahoma colleges will get a cyberinfrastructure boost thanks to $1.2 million grant: Some smaller higher education institutions in Oklahoma are going to see a boost in their cyberinfrastructure, thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation. [High Plains Public Radio]

Oklahoma FFA membership reaches an all-time high this year: The Oklahoma FFA Association recently reached record-high membership this year of 29,207 students. That’s a nearly 5% increase from last year. [KOSU]

General News

65 years after OKC’s sit-in, Clara Luper’s ‘radical love’ still reverberates today: The demonstration changed Katz’s segregation policy after a few days and launched an entire sit-in movement in Oklahoma City that lasted the next six years until the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Many Oklahoma City restaurants and businesses were desegregated, thanks to the sit-in participants’ relentlessness. [The Oklahoman]

  • Participants, activists reflect on 65th anniversary of sit-ins [The Oklahoman]
  • Living History: 65 years after Clara Luper led OKC’s sit-in, participants carry the torch [The Oklahoman]
  • A 1958 drug store sit-in helped shape civil rights in OKC [KFOR]
  • ‘A watershed moment’: The Oklahoma City sit-in that changed America [KFOR]

Tulsa honors late 1921 Massacre researcher with commemorative sign: The city is honoring with a commemorative street sign a man who devoted decades of his life to researching the Tulsa Race Massacre. James Kavin Ross, who died in May, served on the Public Oversight Committee searching for graves from the 1921 massacre. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Searching for ‘forever chemicals’ in Oklahoma’s drinking water: Before you take a sip of water from a public water supply, it runs a gauntlet of tests to make sure it’s safe for you to drink. But in about half of America’s public water supplies lurks something regulators haven’t been testing for — a family of so-called “forever chemicals” or PFAS. [KOSU]

Commentary: We hate each other: Growing incivility undermines the values of our democracy: At virtually all levels of our country’s democracy, partisans — the most loyal Democrats and Republicans — increasingly loathe one another. Political scientists call it “affective polarization.” Last year, the Pew Research Center reported data demonstrating, among other things, that Republicans and Democrats increasingly dislike one another, distrust one another, and are more motivated by this hostility than they are by positive feelings toward their own parties. [James Davenport Column / NonDoc

Column: In a world of echoes, Oklahoma, we can be the dream: The opportunity in America is great and there is room for all of us, but what America really needs is not what is being asked for. We are being asked to be just another echo of the division in America. Being an echo is not our destiny. Oklahoma has been prepared for something greater. Like generations before us, there is always an opportunity to rise above the reaction that is easy, less challenging and expected. [Clarence Hill Jr. Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“If you ticket a child, it’s not a strategy for understanding why kids might miss in the first place. If tickets come with fines and one of the reasons kids are missing school are issues of poverty … then, in fact, fining kids and their families could exacerbate some of the underlying issues that cause them to miss school in the first place.”

-Hedy Chang, Executive Director of Attendance Works, who said fining students for truancy keeps schools from being a place where students feel engaged, connected and hopeful about the future. [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Among the 4.7 million K–12 students who were enrolled in private schools in fall 2019, about 66 percent were white, 12 percent were Hispanic, 9 percent were Black, 7 percent were Asian, and 5 percent were students of two or more races. [National Center for Education Statistics]

Policy Note

Research on school vouchers suggests concerns ahead for education savings accounts: Private school choice is having quite a moment. Whether structured as traditional school vouchers paying direct appropriations for private tuition, scholarships funded by redirected state income tax liabilities, or as new education savings accounts (ESAs), the use of public funds for private schooling has never been more prominent. In 2023 alone, seven states passed new programs and nine expanded existing plans. This push is largely a red state phenomenon. Of the new or expanded private choice states, all but two went for Donald Trump in the 2020 election. [Brookings]

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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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