In The Know: Teacher pay raises proposed | Legislation targets LGBTQ+ community | Lawmakers propose putting abortion to state vote | 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

Oklahoma lawmakers have thousands of bills to consider this legislative session: As of 4 p.m. Thursday, at least 2,500 individual pieces of legislation were filed at the state Capitol, although this number represents only those bills that are available online and is likely to increase as legislative staffers work through the backlog. [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Oklahoma bill against lewd acts targets pride parade, drag shows, opponents say: Critics of a measure that would criminalize lewd behavior in public say the measure targets pride parades and drag shows. Under Senate Bill 503, authored by Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant, no political subdivision could allow or permit a public display of lewd acts or obscene material in public places or where children could see them. The law would cover parades, shows, concerts, plays and any other activity where a minor could witness lewd acts or obscene material or any person could unwillingly see them. [Tulsa World]

  • ‘First Amendment civil rights violation’: Controversial bill concerns LGBTQ+ community [KOKH]
  • Oklahoma Anti-Drag Bill Will Outlaw Women Displaying ‘Feminine Persona’ [Newsweek]

Oklahoma lawmakers, cannabis businesses want more marijuana tracking options this year: Pressure is mounting at the Oklahoma Legislature to rebid a contract with the state’s seed-to-sale marijuana tracking system. Lawmakers and cannabis businesses have complained that the current tracking system, implemented by Metrc on behalf of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, is confusing and has caused problems for those trying to follow the law. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Oklahoma court says Kickapoo reservation no longer exists: The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed on Thursday that the Kickapoo tribal reservation was disestablished in the 19th century, rejecting a Native American’s claim that he was wrongfully tried by the state for crimes committed on the Pottawatomie County land once held by the tribe. [The Oklahoman]

  • Appellate court: Kickapoo tribal reservation disestablished over 100 years ago [Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

Tulsa city councilor pushes medical marijuana policy changes while quietly operating his own cultivation business: The city councilor advocating for Tulsa to change its medical marijuana policy for firefighters and potentially other city employees is a licensed cannabis grower. Councilor Grant Miller never mentioned his involvement in the business when he proposed the idea to his fellow councilors and the mayor at a planning retreat last week. [Tulsa World]

Legislation would let voters legalize abortion, but supporters say it won’t see the light of day: A bill filed Thursday would let Oklahoma voters decide to legalize abortion, but supporters say there’s no chance it will see the light of day in the Legislature. Lawmakers passed bills last session effectively making abortion illegal in Oklahoma. [Tulsa World]

Health News

With ‘crazy infectious’ new COVID strain, doctors warn at-risk patients to get tested, seek treatment: COVID-19 and influenza case counts may be declining, according to state health data, but doctors want older Oklahomans and those with diabetes or other comorbid conditions to know the risk with infection is still significant. [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

TPD Muzzles Citizen Complaint Information: Both the 2020 and 2021 TPD Annual Report lack information previously provided as recently as 2019 in the TPD Internal Affairs Annual Report. In an email to the Eagle, the department’s Public Information Officer, Captain Richard Meulenberg, said, “We started to incorporate that data into the TPD annual report by combining the IA report with the TPD Annual Report.” The “IA” or Internal Affairs report ceased publication in 2019. But a careful inspection by this Eagle reporter revealed that almost all of the data was missing when the “combining” took place. [Oklahoma Eagle]

Despite new law, high prison phone rates still an issue: Health issues rendered the 42-year-old Tulsa woman unable to work. His transfer to a private facility in Lawton made visits more expensive and less frequent. In December, the Lawton Correctional Facility announced a 10.5% price increase for commissary items. Hammon buys her husband’s hygiene supplies and extra food because she worries the prison doesn’t provide enough nutrition. [Journal Record]

Economy & Business News

Chesapeake sells big stake in Brazos Valley for $1.4B: Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy has agreed to a deal to sell approximately 377,000 net acres and 1,350 wells in the Eagle Ford formation in the Brazos Valley region of east-central Texas for $1.425 billion. The sale to WildFire Energy I LLC reflects a continuing shift at Chesapeake away from oil-producing assets, with more focus being placed on production of natural gas. [Journal Record]

Officials review ARPA spending at chamber forum: Oklahoma City studied carefully how to best use the $122.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act pandemic relief to ensure the one-time funds would have a lasting impact, according to panelists who spoke at a Greater Oklahoma City Chamber forum on Wednesday. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma economic growth among highest in country: The state’s real GDP grew 5.5% at an annual rate from the second quarter to the third quarter, behind only Alaska, at 8.7%, and Texas, at 8.2%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. [The Oklahoman]

Higher rates affect real estate markets in OKC, across US: It’s taking longer to sell homes and fewer are selling for more than their asking prices in Oklahoma City and across the country, according to online real estate marketer Zillow. [Journal Record]

Education News

Oklahoma teacher could get pay raise from $541 million proposed education plan: Amid worsening teacher shortages and lagging academic outcomes, a proposed $241 million teacher pay raise package is spurring optimism among education circles. Senate Bill 482, if passed, would prompt the state’s first wage increase in four years for Oklahoma teachers. [The Oklahoman]

  • Here are the details of a $541 million plan for education from Oklahoma Senate leaders [KGOU]

SB 131 would allow parents to sue schools over parents’ bill of rights:  A state lawmaker wants Oklahomans to be able to file lawsuits against schools if their rights as parents are violated. Supporters say it would empower parents but those against it say it could scare off teachers. [KTUL]

Two new voucher bills would let state money go to private schools, home-schooling: State Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville, and Sen. Shane Jett, R-Shawnee, submitted separate, but similar, voucher bills. Both bills suggest families should be able to use the same amount of money the state would have spent on their children’s public schooling to instead put toward private-school or home-school costs. Each family would have an account with the Oklahoma State Treasurer to spend on qualifying expenses, such as tuition, tutoring or uniforms. [The Oklahoman]

  • OK Senators file education freedom bills for families [KFOR]

General News

  • A Formerly Homeless Man’s Journey from Shelters, Hotels and Cars to Housing [Oklahoma Watch]

Oklahoma Local News

Quote of the Day

“Something that would be incredibly helpful is if the state or the city would offer a benefit to homeowners or landlords who have empty units and rent to people experiencing homelessness. Once you are inside and have somewhere warm and safe to sleep, you can start focusing on your recovery. How are you supposed to focus on getting clean if you can’t even focus on being able to sleep?”

-D’Metryus Freeman, a formerly unhoused adult in Oklahoma City, reflecting on his journey to being able to support himself financially and resources that could help others do the same. [Oklahoma Watch]

Number of the Day


Approximate number of Oklahoma children who are currently insured by Medicaid who may be at risk of losing coverage when pandemic Medicaid provisions lapse due to changes in eligibility or administrative issues such as outdated contact information. [OK Policy]

Policy Note

States Must Act to Preserve Medicaid Coverage as End of Continuous Coverage Requirement Nears: In December, Congress passed its year-end omnibus spending bill, which delinked the Medicaid continuous coverage requirement from the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), established the certain date of April 1, 2023, for resuming Medicaid terminations, and set standards to help mitigate coverage losses as the requirement ends.[1] With this advance notice, states must now act to ensure that eligible individuals stay covered. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

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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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