In The Know: The future of recreational marijuana in Oklahoma | Debates ensue over OG&E rate hike | Capitol Update

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

Legislative freshman class includes 24 new senators, representatives (Capitol Update): It’s always interesting after an election to take stock of the new members who are joining the legislature. This year produced a relatively small freshman class. In the 48-member Senate, there will be eight new senators, and in the 101-member House, there will be 16 new representatives. The genius of representative government is that we select people from within our communities who bring with them their experiences, biases, strengths, and weaknesses. When things are working right most every point of view gets represented. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma, other states look to new future for marijuana: In the Sooner State, a vote has been scheduled for March on whether adult recreational marijuana use should be legalized. With about 2,500 licensed dispensaries already in operation in the state, and about 380,000 people – nearly 1 in 10 Oklahomans – legally allowed to grow, buy, or consume medical marijuana, the state already has a robust industry rooted in cannabis. [Journal Record]

Gov. Kevin Stitt comes under fire for claiming ‘every square inch’ of Oklahoma for Jesus: Gov. Kevin Stitt is under fire from local and national individuals and groups for saying that he has claimed “every square inch” of Oklahoma for Jesus. [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

New state legislators to be sworn in Wednesday: House members will take the oath of office at 11 a.m. Wednesday in the lower chamber, followed by senators at 3 p.m. in the upper chamber. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma to receive $6.8M in Google location-tracking settlement: Oklahoma will receive nearly $7 million as part of a multistate settlement with Google over the company’s location-tracking services. [Tulsa World]

Three commissioners. Multiple proposed plans. Zero agreement over OG&E rate hike: Bob Anthony, Todd Hiett and Dana Murphy listened to hours of testimony and questions this month about OG&E’s plans to charge Oklahomans $463 million to recover fuel costs the utility incurred this year. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Running out of time: The child tax credit filing period closes Tuesday night: Families who have yet to file for their expanded 2021 Child Tax Credit under the American Rescue Act are running out of time to file. [KOKH Fox25]

More legislation filed to restrict transgender people this year than ever before: This year, more than 150 bills were introduced that aim to curb the rights of transgender people across the country. Oklahoma is home to 10 of these bills. [KTUL]

US to keep COVID public health emergency through January: The COVID-19 public health emergency will remain in effect until at least mid-January, after the Biden administration did not notify states and health providers of any plans to lift it. [KFOR Oklahoma City]

Rep. Kevin Hern looks forward to greater influence in next Congress: First District Congressman Kevin Hern wasn’t tipping his hand Monday afternoon just before Republicans began the process of choosing top leadership and likely the Speaker of the House of Representatives for the 118th Congress. [Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

Cherokee Nation opens $20 million immersion facility where English becomes a foreign language: Officials wanted literally everything to be written in Cherokee at the tribe’s new $20 million language center — restroom signs, office names, even the “wash your hands before returning to work” posters next to the sinks. [Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

Who was behind fake mailers? An Oklahoma judicial election is over, but mystery remains: A first-time judicial candidate overcame a bizarre attempt to derail her campaign and easily beat the incumbent last week. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Medical association to continue political push through lobby for abortion exceptions: The Oklahoma State Medical Association says it will push during the next legislative session for exceptions to Oklahoma’s strict abortion laws. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Criminal Justice News

Religious leaders call on Oklahoma to stop executions: Religious leaders from several Christian denominations called for a moratorium on the death penalty in Oklahoma, even as another execution is scheduled for Thursday. The clergy’s plea, which cites scripture in its argument against capital punishment, went unanswered on Monday by Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office, though the governor recently claimed “every square inch” of Oklahoma “in the name of Jesus” during a public prayer he recently delivered at the Oklahoma Capitol building. [Journal Record]

Economy & Business News

Old Century Center becomes OKC media hub: Downtown Oklahoma City has a new media hub at 100 W. Main St. at a time when the national media landscape is changing dramatically. The former Century Center – which the company bought, renovated and renamed 100 West Main – also houses The Oklahoman newspaper and the nonprofit news organization Oklahoma Watch. The Oklahoman occupies a fraction of the space that it did when it first moved into the building seven years ago. [Journal Record]

Column: Oklahoma Joe: Businesses set low bar for workers – ‘Just show up’: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently published a story about the “unprecedented challenge” that companies and businesses face in filling jobs. It said the U.S. has about 10 million job openings but “only around 6 million unemployed workers.” [Journal Record]

Education News

An audit, a slur and an investigation: Tense times at Talihina Public Schools: Residents in this rural McCurtain County town had already been waiting more than three years for the state to complete an investigative audit of Talihina Public Schools when Amber Stepp, the mother of a fifth-grade boy, posted on Facebook that a teacher had been bullying her son and using homophobic slurs. [NonDoc]

Union school board to send $152 million bond package to voters: Without debate, Union Public Schools’ Board of Education voted unanimously Monday night to send a $152 million bond package to voters on Feb. 14. [Tulsa World]

Changes are coming to OKC school board boundaries. Here’s what you should know: The district Board of Education unanimously approved a new map on Monday that designates which neighborhoods, schools and parts of town that seven of its board members represent. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

What’s next for downtown OKC? The Oklahoman’s Steve Lackmeyer answers readers’ questions: Lackmeyer will be doing live chats each Friday at 10 a.m. Readers can log in to their account and add questions and comments about the happenings in and around Oklahoma City. [The Oklahoman]

Body with gunshot found in search for Tulsa massacre victims: A second body of a possible victim of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre has been found to have a gunshot wound, according to the city. [Journal Record]

Quote of the Day

“I was the only one in the house with a job, so I had to go back to work just days after delivering my baby.”

-A woman incarcerated in an Oklahoma prison for child neglect after her husband smothered her two-month-old child. The mother was arrested for child abuse and neglect and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Her husband received a 10-year prison sentence. []

Number of the Day

$15.3 million

Estimated state and local taxes paid by Oklahoma DACA recipients and DACA-eligible individuals in 2018. [American Immigration Council]

Policy Note

‘Home is here’: DACA walkout features love for Oklahoma (2019): Like the earlier immigrants to Oklahoma — and the generation who survived the Great Depression, won World War II and committed to a better life for Baby Boomers like me — dreamers seek to do more than just survive. Their goal is to thrive, and they are dedicated to bringing our community up with them. [NonDoc]

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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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