In The Know: Supporting immigration will boost state economy | Court rules for local control on school masking | Justice reform in Oklahoma

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

Supporting immigration will boost Oklahoma’s economy: Immigrants are an integral part of Oklahoma’s economy. They work in essential industries, create jobs by starting businesses, care for our aging population, and contribute to the public services upon which we all rely by paying taxes. Because of the many ways in which immigrants support our state, increasing Oklahoma’s immigrant population is a crucial way to protect the long-term health and prosperity of our state economy. Oklahoma’s policymakers should make our state more accessible to the country’s foreign-born population by creating a state office of immigrant and refugee affairs, working to retain our international students, and uplifting immigrant contributions to our state and community. [Gabriela Ramirez-Perez and Josie Phillips / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

In Oklahoma, a Red State Model of Criminal Justice Reform: In the last half-decade, Oklahoma has enacted a series of landmark legislation that has reclassified drug offenses, removed barriers to reintegration, and reappropriated funding to social services — all with stunningly positive outcomes. More than a one-off effort, these policies span two different governorships and demonstrate how justice reform can earn bipartisan support and a warm public reception — all while helping people involved in the carceral system. [Arnold Ventures

Oklahoma Supreme Court rules school districts, not governor, should decide mask mandates: The Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down the governor’s influence over school mask mandates in an opinion issued Tuesday, ruling in favor of doctors and parents who challenged a state law that at one point effectively blocked masking requirements in public schools. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma Supreme Court rules school masking requirements don’t need governor approval [KGOU]
  • State Supreme Court tosses school mask requirement restriction [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma holds drives across state to push people to register to vote (video): There’s a nationwide push to get people to register to vote. There were registration drives across the state and country on Tuesday. The big message is that your voice matters. [KOCO via MSN]

State Government News

Legislature expected to resume special session next week: The Oklahoma Legislature expects to resume its recessed special session next week after a joint committee on Tuesday puts its stamp on more than $1 billion in projects to be paid for with COVID-related federal funds. [Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

Tribal leaders criticize Castro-Huerta ruling during congressional hearing: A congressional subcommittee investigating the impact of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned decades of precedent in Native American law heard testimony today that the court ignored tribal sovereignty to reach its decision. [NonDoc]

Voting and Election News

Editorial: Lack of contested races hurts Oklahoma: Nearly 70% of Oklahoma’s state legislative elections in 2022 will be decided without a single vote cast in November, a recent Oklahoma Watch story reported. [Enid News & Eagle]

Economy & Business News

OKC to fund new office to promote film industry: Oklahoma City will provide $750,000 in economic development funds over the next three years to launch a new office that will promote and support the emerging film industry. [The Journal Record]

OKC home prices not greatly affected by rising mortgage rates: Most people selling homes in Oklahoma City haven’t had to reduce asking prices much, if at all, even as rising mortgage interest rates have acted to slow home sales in markets across much of the rest of the country. [The Journal Record]

Japanese company to buy Oklahoma wind energy: In a sign of the increasing interconnectedness of businesses around the globe, and of the increasing interest many have in investing in green energy to offset carbon footprints, a company in Japan has agreed to become a major purchaser of energy produced by a wind farm in Oklahoma. [The Journal Record]

Education News

OKC Public Schools sees increased enrollment over last year: Oklahoma City Public Schools is 98.6% staffed and has enrollment up over last year at this time according to OKCPS Superintendent Sean McDaniel. [Oklahoma City Free Press]

The Frontier fact-checked Oklahoma’s book-banning controversy: Some news reports on book bans have lacked nuance and context, or contained factual errors. Statements by public officials sometimes repeated inaccurate information. [The Frontier]

Results of Oklahoma’s Purdue settlement beginning to take shape at OSU’s Center for Health Sciences: With Wednesday National Opioid Awareness Day, officials with OSU Center for Health Sciences say unexpected developments have changed the National Center for Wellness and Recovery’s trajectory, with research accelerating to the extent that the center could soon be involved in groundbreaking discoveries. [Tulsa World]

‘Maddening and frustrating’: UCO staff member outraged about possibility of job cuts: An email sent to University of Central Oklahoma says declining enrollment could force UCO to cut 30 faculty positions by the end of the school year. The university says UCO is facing financial challenges related to declines in enrollment, there are no decisions or current plans to eliminate faculty positions. [OKC Fox 25]

General News

Oklahoma’s water resources are plentiful, yet exhaustible: The summer of 2022 is likely a preview of things to come as climate change and a growing population in central Oklahoma and other parts of the state put additional stress on water resources, including in parts of western Oklahoma that have seen extreme drought in recent years. (Following this year’s dry summer, even swaths of eastern Oklahoma are showing “extreme drought.”) [NonDoc]

Local News

‘Unbelievably unethical’: retired Tulsa Police officer sues city for discrimination: A former major with the Tulsa Police Department has refiled a lawsuit against the city seeking at least $600,000 in damages for discrimination. She is also seeking damages for embarrassment, humiliation, and mental anguish. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Quote of the Day

“Oklahoma’s progress on criminal justice reform changed my life. I am home with my family today because Oklahoma voters and state leaders knew something had to change. I am grateful to have a second chance to give back to my community and contribute to my family.”

– Kevin Ott, whose life without parole sentence for a drug offense was commuted in 2018. []

Number of the Day


Annual cost for housing one person in an Oklahoma correctional facility [Oklahoma Department of Corrections via the Oklahoman]

Policy Note

Turning the Page: Oklahoma’s Criminal Justice Reform Story: Since 2016 when Oklahoma had the nation’s highest incarceration rate, the state began turning the page on more than two decades of explosive jail and prison growth that was out of step with evidence-based public safety strategies. As a result of implementing a number of reform measures, Oklahoma’s criminal justice system has gotten smaller, less expensive, more fair, and more just. More work remains to be done. Even after all this progress, Oklahoma still has the third-highest overall imprisonment rate and the second-highest women’s imprisonment rate in the country. [

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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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