In The Know: Tribal leaders react to Supreme Court ICWA decision | Lawmakers question Land Office officials over investments | Juneteenth

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

‘Today our heads are not bowed:’ U.S. Supreme Court upholds the Indian Child Welfare Act: The Indian Child Welfare Act, passed in 1978, is considered central to tribal sovereignty by Indian law experts. It will stand following a 7-2 Supreme Court ruling released Thursday. [KOSU]

  • Oklahoma tribal leaders, advocates and Biden administration react to SCOTUS decision on ICWA [KOSU]
  • Tribes, Native American rights groups hail Supreme Court’s rejection of challenges to Indian Child Welfare Act [Tulsa World]
  • Tribal families can be given priority in Native American adoptions, Supreme Court rules [The Oklahoman]
  • Supreme Court ruling preserves Indian Child Welfare Act [Journal Record]

Oklahoma ranks 46th in nation for child well-being, 49th in education: Overall child well-being has taken a dip this year in Oklahoma, which ranked 46th in the nation in a national report that also ranked the state second to last in education. After ranking 40th in the country last year, Oklahoma ranked in the bottom 10 for two major categories and in the bottom 20 for all four categories in the 2023 report. Only one category improved its ranking from last year. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Oklahoma lawmakers question Land Office officials over investment strategy: Oklahoma lawmakers questioned officials with the Commissioners of the Land Office over their $8 million investment in a local company that buys houses in a rent-to-own program for residents who can’t qualify for a mortgage. The questions came Wednesday as the Legislative Office of Financial Transparency presented its draft findings in an examination of the agency. [Oklahoma Watch]

Could Oklahoma’s Law on Anti-Oil and Gas Investments Hurt Pensioners?: Under the guise of protecting oil and gas industry jobs, Oklahoma elected officials have signed onto a playbook being run by an out-of-state network of conservative groups who have set their sights on normally staid state treasurer’s offices and pension funds. [Oklahoma Watch]

Turnpike officials say they can seek new route with feds after getting bond sale approval: The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority told the Oklahoma Supreme Court on Thursday that engineers believe they can agree on a new toll road route through Bureau of Land Reclamation easement around Lake Thunderbird after the agency rejected original plans for a Kickapoo south extension turnpike. [The Oklahoman]

Attorney General Gentner Drummond: State-funded religion violates U.S. and Oklahoma constitutions: “As attorney general, I have a solemn obligation to uphold the constitutions of the United States and Oklahoma. The establishment of a public school that teaches Catholicism, or any other faith, infringes on the rights of all taxpayers and represents a clear threat to both constitutions. The law simply does not allow for a religious school to be funded with public dollars.” [Attorney General Gentner Drummond / Tulsa World]

Stitt endorses DeSantis, House extends special session, medical marijuana bill vetoed and more: KOSU’s Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and Civil Rights Attorney Ryan Kiesel about Gov. Kevin Stitt’s endorsement of presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis, the State House overriding Stitt’s veto of tribal license compacts as well as extending the time for the special session and Stitt’s veto of a bill to extend the operations of the Board of Chiropractic Examiners. [This Week in Oklahoma Politics / KOSU]

Federal Government News

Report: 2020 US census helped guide distribution of $2.8 trillion in annual government spending: The head count of every U.S. resident in 2020 helped guide the distribution of $2.8 trillion in annual federal spending, underscoring the importance of participating in the once-a-decade census, according to a new report released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. [AP News]

Voting and Election News

Oklahoma Gov. Stitt endorsed DeSantis for president. Could that lead to a Cabinet position?: Despite his recent endorsement of presidential candidate Ron DeSantis, history suggests Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt shouldn’t count on receiving a political appointment for it. The Oklahoman reports that since the 1980s, no Oklahoma governors have been chosen for Cabinet roles, even after endorsing candidates who won their presidential elections. [KOSU]

Criminal Justice News

Rep. John Waldron: Continue investing in proven prison reduction programs: “Let’s use state resources to invest in proven methods that turn people’s lives around, reduce the burden of criminal justice on Oklahoma families and save the taxpayer money in the long run.” [Rep. John Waldron Column / Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Could Oklahoma’s Law on Anti-Oil and Gas Investments Hurt Pensioners?: Under the guise of protecting oil and gas industry jobs, Oklahoma elected officials have signed onto a playbook being run by an out-of-state network of conservative groups who have set their sights on normally staid state treasurer’s offices and pension funds. [Oklahoma Watch]

Column: What can we expect locally from the Inflation Reduction Act?: The Inflation Reduction Act, touted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as “the most significant climate change legislation in U.S. history,” includes tax credits and other incentives designed to accelerate an energy shift across America. While many will focus on the law’s benefits for environmental sustainability, business owners like myself see it as a boon to our financial sustainability, as well. [J.W. Peters Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

General News

Fired Fort Sill two-star general will stay at the post outside Lawton until reassignment: Maj. Gen. Kenneth Kamper, an artillery officer who had been leading Fort Sill’s Fires Center of Excellence since March 2020, was fired after initially being suspended for allegedly violating hunting rules onsite, according to [The Oklahoman]

The story behind Juneteenth and how it became a federal holiday: Americans will soon celebrate Juneteenth, marking the day when the last enslaved people in the United States learned they were free. For generations, Black Americans have recognized the end of one of the darkest chapters in U.S. history with joy, in the form of parades, street festivals, musical performances or cookouts. The U.S. government was slow to embrace the occasion — it was only in 2021 that President Joe Biden signed a bill passed by Congress to set aside Juneteenth, or June 19th, as a federal holiday. [AP News]

Column: Votes at Southern Baptist Convention harbinger of politics ahead: From a secular view, the actions of the Southern Baptist Convention to expel churches with women pastors are a harbinger in our nation’s divisive culture war. They signal how conservative evangelicals will seek to sway political life and public policy around women’s rights. [Ginnie Graham Column / Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Home values rise in OKC, nationwide despite market pressures [Journal Record]
  • Report finds 9.4% rental vacancy rate in OKC, widespread housing needs [Journal Record]
  • Modern mix in a historic neighborhood? $80M project near Heritage Hills gets OK [The Oklahoman]
  • Failed Evans-Fintube site developer was given more support than others, officials say [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Often, Native American Tribes have come to this Court seeking justice only to leave with bowed heads and empty hands. But that is not because this Court has no justice to offer them. Our Constitution reserves for the Tribes a place—an enduring place—in the structure of American life. It promises them sovereignty for as long as they wish to keep it. And it secures that promise by divesting States of authority over Indian affairs and by giving the federal government certain significant (but limited and enumerated) powers aimed at building a lasting peace.”

– U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neal Gorsuch writing in the concurrence opinion, along with Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, upholding the Indian Child Welfare Act. [KOSU]

Number of the Day


Number of states and the District of Columbia that legally recognize Juneteenth (June 19) as a public holiday, meaning state government offices are closed. Oklahoma was among the first states to officially recognize Juneteenth in 1994, but today it is among the states that do not recognize it as a public holiday. [Pew Research]

Policy Note

Why Juneteenth Isn’t a Black Holiday, but an American Holiday: Sadly, when we talk about Juneteenth, we have to be reminded there are still plenty of folks in this country who are obsessed with whitewashing American history. They want to pretend that facts are up for debate and the truth isn’t so true after all so they can wipe away generations of struggle minimizing our contributions—Black contributions—until they seem so small that they can be snatched away in one election. [The Root]

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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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