In The Know: Textbook publishers withdraw from Oklahoma classrooms | OSDE told to find larger location for public meetings | Rebranding unpopular private school vouchers | 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.

New from OK Policy

Rebranding private school vouchers: The art of political makeovers (Capitol Update): Public polling in March 2022 showed 61 percent of Oklahomans were opposed to the use of taxpayer dollars going toward private school scholarships. Despite the polling, in the poll that counts, Gov. Stitt was re-elected, and elections have consequences. Still unable to overcome opposition to “vouchers,” in overall end-of-session budget negotiations, legislators put lipstick on the pig and passed a bill giving credits to taxpayers to reimburse tuition for private schools. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

Textbook publishers withdraw from Oklahoma as fight over classroom content grows: An increasingly politicized fight over what is taught in public schools has caused growing alarm that Oklahoma, as a result, could be losing out on quality textbook publishers and curriculum providers, including one of the few companies that tailors its materials to the state’s academic standards. [Oklahoma Voice]

Electric utilities, consumer groups square off over rate proposal: Representatives of Public Service Company of Oklahoma and OG&E want the state to adopt what is known as a performance-based rate system, which they say would provide smoother and more predictable rates and company operations but which opponents say would result in higher costs to consumers. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Advocacy group urges Oklahoma State Department of Education to find larger meeting space for public accessibility: Inside the OSDE building, the State Department of Education holds their monthly board meetings, and on meeting days, the outside is packed with people waiting to possibly get into the meeting, and several of them are forced to wait outside or in the hallway due to a lack of space. [KOKH]

  • ‘No excuses’: Two letters sent to OSDE cite Open Meeting Act violations for not moving monthly meeting to larger venue [KFOR]

Votes in May showed Oklahoma Legislature still solidly behind tax rebates for Thunder: As the state House of Representatives prepared to extend tax rebates to the Oklahoma City Thunder which have already topped $75 million, a Tulsa Democrat asked why the state of Oklahoma should keep providing incentives to the team. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Department of Transportation seeks public input on new Strategic Highway Safety Plan: The plan is part of the Highway Safety Improvement Program and is a statewide coordinated safety plan that provides a comprehensive framework for reducing fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads. [KTUL]

Oklahoma’s Right of First Refusal: Balancing electricity production and economic impact: The Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee met today to examine the issue of the Right of First Refusal (ROFR), and how it relates to Oklahoma’s electrical transmission system. [KOKH]

New driver’s license system coming to Oklahoma: Lawmakers created “Service Oklahoma” last year to help address the problem, but recurring outages and understaffing have only led to long lines and miscommunication on where you’re supposed to go. Now, the agency believes a new computer system will finally be the fix to the frustration. [KFOR]

Federal Government News

Tulsa, Texoma designated as tech hubs, opens door for millions in federal grants: Tulsa and the Texoma region are now officially recognized by the federal government as technology hubs — and the local tech sectors are looking at money tied to the designation. [KOSU]

  • White House names Tulsa among selected ‘tech hubs’ [Journal Record]

Tribal Nations News

Five tribes support nomination of Sara Hill for federal judge: President Joe Biden has announced his intent to nominate Hill, a Cherokee Nation citizen and the tribe’s former attorney general, for the position. If confirmed, Hill will be the first female Native federal judge. The Five Tribes unanimously passed the resolution of support for Hill. Gov. Kevin Stitt on Friday criticized the nomination. [Tulsa World]

Native lands lack clean water protections, but more tribes are taking charge: White Earth leaders are joining a growing effort by tribal nations to protect waters in Indian Country — asserting their sovereignty to target pollution that’s threatening wild rice in Minnesota, shellfish in Washington and salmon in California. [Oklahoma Voice]

Voting and Election News

Several Oklahoma cities, school districts holding bond elections in November: School districts and cities across Oklahoma are anticipating an upcoming election as officials prepare for the Nov. 14 ballot. Sample ballots are available online, although voters have until Monday to request an absentee ballot. [News 9]

  • Check your voter registration status, register online, view your sample ballot, and more [Oklahoma Voter Portal]

Health News

University of Oklahoma receives $16 million federal grant to address health care shortage in underserved communities: The University of Oklahoma is set to receive a $16 million federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The grant will be used to recruit, retain, and graduate medical students from tribal, rural, and medically underserved communities in Oklahoma. [KOKH]

Criminal Justice News

Republican Lawmakers Join Fight to Halt Upcoming Execution: Phillip Hancock admits he shot and killed two men during an altercation at a southwest Oklahoma City home on April 27, 2001. But the 59-year-old death row prisoner maintains that an Oklahoma County jury got it wrong when they convicted him of murdering Robert Jett and James Lynch and sentenced him to death by lethal injection. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • The complicated history of the death penalty rages on in Oklahoma [KSWO]

Education News

Exploring the potential of art therapy in Oklahoma schools: Senate committee studies benefits and licensure: An interim study on art therapy was held today in order to examine the benefits and the potential need for Oklahoma students. [KOKH]

General News

Rising concern over PFAS contamination in Oklahoma’s water supply, DEQ investigates: As more Oklahoma towns have water quality issues, we’re learning about how per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) may be to blame. Experts are still researching what impacts this may have, but early results aren’t encouraging. [KOKH]

Lawmakers, wildlife experts wrestling with sudden drop in wild turkey population: Despite efforts targeted to protect it, Oklahoma’s wild turkey population is declining from a peak about a decade ago and has dropped sharply just in the last six years, a group of wildlife experts told a Senate committee Monday. [The Oklahoman]

  • Lawmakers explore decline of Oklahoma wild turkey population [Oklahoma Voice]

Oklahoma Local News

  • ‘We were dying’: Nonprofit aims to improve maternal health outcomes across OKC [KFOR]
  • Home prices on decline in OKC metro [Journal Record]

Quote of the Day

“Diversity is our biggest asset as a community, as a nation, as a state, and so we need every voice in the room.”

– Tori Caswell, mom of three Stillwater Public Schools students and member of Defense of Democracy, emphasizing the importance of accommodating concerned members of the public who currently find themselves waiting in line outside during Oklahoma State Department of Education meetings in their current location. [KOKH]

Number of the Day


More than 51,800 Oklahomans in the service industry (restaurants, home health aides, etc.) receive food assistance through the SNAP program. This represents about 30% of the nearly 173,000 SNAP recipients in the state last year. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

Policy Note

4 Ways SNAP Provides Key Benefits to Workers and Their Families: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the nation’s largest anti-hunger program, helps more than 40 million people put food on the table each month. While two-thirds of participants aren’t expected to work because they are children, adults over age 60, or people with disabilities, SNAP plays an important role in supplementing workers’ low or fluctuating wages or helping them during periods of unemployment. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

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Annie Taylor joined OK Policy as a Digital Communications Associate/Storybanker in April 2022. She studied journalism and mass communication at the University of Oklahoma, and was a member of the Native American Journalists Association. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communications from the University of Central Oklahoma. While pursuing her degree, she worked in restaurant and retail management, as well as freelance copywriting and digital content production. Annie is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation, and holds a deep reverence for storytelling in the digital age. She was born and raised in southeast Oklahoma, and now lives in Oklahoma City with her dog, Melvin.

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