In The Know: Top state lawmakers plan to introduce a Texas-style immigration bill | Signature drive for min. wage state question to start Tuesday | Right to counsel for tenants

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Oklahoma News

Leaders in OK legislature say they’ll propose a bill to make “impermissible occupation” a crime: A new piece of immigration legislation working its way through the Oklahoma Legislature and sponsored by the Republican leaders of each chamber, would clamp down on illegal immigration and create the crime of impermissible occupation. [The Oklahoman]

Signature drive to begin on minimum wage state question: Supporters of a minimum wage increase in Oklahoma have been given the go-ahead to start collecting signatures on an initiative petition that could set the stage for a statewide vote. According to a posting Thursday on the website of Oklahoma Secretary of State Josh Cockroft, signature collection on the petition promoting State Question 832 has been scheduled to begin Tuesday. If proponents manage to gather 92,262 signatures of registered Oklahoma voters within 90 days, and barring legal roadblocks, a vote on the question would be scheduled. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Where are the budget numbers? Oklahoma Senate ‘still waiting’ on House: The Oklahoma Senate closed out week two of a budget stalemate with the House of Representatives Thursday, doing exactly what it said would do: stall any House budget legislation until the House sent the Senate its final budget numbers. [The Oklahoman]

  • Battle brews over budget negotiations for Oklahoma lawmakers [Fox 25]

Bills would amend Energy Discrimination Elimination Act: Oklahoma’s Energy Discrimination Elimination Act, the controversial law intended to protect the state’s oil and gas industry against discrimination by banks and other entities with which the state does business, would be modified under two bills that advanced through a House committee Thursday. [Tulsa World]

Porn bill requiring age checks advances in Oklahoma Legislature: Legislation that proposes to make people confirm their age before being able to access porn sites advanced a step at the Oklahoma Capitol on Thursday. [Tulsa World]

Democrats call education board’s rules ‘void’ and say AG Gentner Drummond is on their side: Democrats in the Oklahoma Legislature called Thursday for their Republican counterparts to join them in rejecting administrative rules created in recent months by the Oklahoma State Board of Education, claiming the creation of those rules had no legal basis. [The Oklahoman]

  • House, Senate Democrats ask for GOP support to rein in Ryan Walters [Journal Record]
  • ‘Void, unenforceable’: OK House, Senate Democrats say OSDE is breaking state law by creating rules [KFOR]

This Week in Oklahoma Politics: Candidate filing, Congressman Tom Cole, budget stalemate and more (audio): The panel discusses a low turnout in the number of candidates filing for the 2024 election, a governor’s task force calling for a lifting of the cap on individual donations to political campaigns, and Congressman Tom Cole’s elevation to chairman of the powerful U.S. House Appropriations Committee. [KOSU]

Editorial: Oklahoma lawmakers now desperate enough to start shucking bills: Oklahoma legislators say they want transparent government, until they don’t want anyone tracking what they’re doing. Then they suspend the rules and hide their work. The Legislature is at the point in the session where lawmakers are desperate to keep measures alive. This means they turn to shucking — the popular tool for an end-run around open government. It’s a legal sleight-of-hand that’s also undemocratic. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Editorial: Oklahomans need truth-telling about state needs and effect on budgets: The governor wanted flat budget requests from state agencies this year, along with cuts to the personal income tax. Flat budgets ignore the rise in cost-of-living — such as inflation on everyday items and health care — and lingering capital needs. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

The partnership between tribal nations and small businesses is invaluable. The IRS could unravel it: The Senate Finance Committee has a hearing with IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel coming up, and this is another opportunity for members of the committee to stand up for small business owners utilizing microcaptives to mitigate risk. [Mark Weitz / The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Tribal nations sue social media companies: Two tribal nations are accusing social media companies of contributing to the disproportionately high rates of suicide among Native American youth. [Journal Record]

Health News

Opinion: Oklahoma’s Adult Protective Services needs an overhaul: In my over 40 years of social work practice, I have never known Adult Protective Services to enjoy a good reputation in the larger social services community. When social workers have contacted Adult Protective Services, often they get a polite response of, “We would like to help, but we just don’t have enough staff and funding.” My reaction is to point out that no nonprofit has enough staff and funding, but here we are. [Mike Brose / Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Politically connected Oklahoma pot attorney charged again, this time in federal court: A politically connected attorney is accused in a federal indictment of conspiring with a Mandarin-speaking real estate broker in a “ghost-ownership scheme” that allowed foreigners and others to establish black-market marijuana farms in Oklahoma. Both the attorney, Matt Stacy, and the broker, Chong Iu Phu, deny wrongdoing. [The Oklahoman]

  • Former Stitt appointee indicted by federal grand jury for marijuana “ghost licensing” [Fox 25]

Housing & Economic Opportunity News

Right to Counsel Program seeks to reduce eviction rates in Oklahoma County: Oklahoma’s eviction rates are on the rise post-pandemic — more than 48,000 evictions were filed across the state last year. One solution being pursued by housing attorneys is simple, yet effective — increasing access to legal representation. [KGOU]

Economy & Business News

OKC businesses featured in homelessness documentary: Documentary filmmakers stopped at two local businesses that offer supportive employment to people experiencing homelessness on Wednesday to shine a light on solutions to the nationwide problem. [Journal Record]

Education News

She couldn’t wait to work for Ryan Walters’ administration. Now she’s worried public schools won’t survive the rest of his term: For the first time, someone once chosen by State Superintendent Ryan Walters to be a leader in his administration – only to later resign — is speaking out, telling News 4 she’s greatly concerned for the future of public education in Oklahoma under Walters’ watch. [KFOR]

Why TPS is moving a special education program to a campus that hasn’t housed classes for three decades: Officials with Tulsa Public Schools made their case Wednesday morning for moving a growing post-secondary special education program to a northeast Tulsa campus that has not housed classes for more than 30 years. [Tulsa World]

Community News

OKC Planning Commission advances massive Legends Tower, proposed jail site: The Oklahoma City Planning Commission this afternoon approved part of a plan to construct the largest tower in the United States, while also approving controversial plans for a new Oklahoma County Jail to be located near the city’s southeast boundary with Del City. [NonDoc]

Local Headlines

  • ‘I am fiscally responsible’: Cleveland County sheriff responds to financial concerns [Fox 25]

Quote of the Day

“Lawmakers need to decide what Oklahomans expect in public services and fund those. The key is knowing the truth about the state’s needs. So often, the honest number remains hidden among political agendas or not known at all.”

-Tulsa World editorial, addressing the need for Oklahoma elected officials to have robust conversations about the costs to adequately pay for vital state services. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma County eviction judgements during 2023 that were due to the tenant not being present at court. [Shelterwell

Policy Note

Making Rental Assistance Work Better for People Struggling to Afford Housing: Housing Choice Vouchers are highly effective at helping people with low incomes afford housing, but they could do better in important ways. Federal lawmakers should prioritize enacting legislation to make the voucher program more efficient and more responsive to the needs and choices of the people it serves. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

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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.