In The Know: Tribal nation compact extensions up for vote | Oklahoma Co. DA drops charges against officers | National Guard deployed to Texas border | 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

Oklahoma legislators need to do more to expand access to housing: Legislators made a significant investment in affordable housing during the 2023 legislative session, but missed other opportunities to expand the state’s stock of affordable housing and ensure a level playing field between landlord and tenant in eviction proceedings. It is vital that advocates continue to talk to their lawmakers about increasing investments in affordable housing and revising policies that will slow the rising tide of evictions. [Sabine Brown / OK Policy & Justice Jones / Housing Solutions

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma could extend some tribal compacts for 1 more year. But will relations improve?: The Oklahoma House of Representatives will vote Monday on the final piece of the Legislature’s plan to renew cigarette tax agreements with tribal nations through 2024. [The Oklahoman

  • Capital Insider: State-tribal compacts spark legislative action and controversy [KGOU

Oklahoma County DA drops manslaughter charges against 7 police officers in 3 cases: New Oklahoma County District Attorney Vicki Behenna announced her decision Friday to dismiss manslaughter charges her predecessor had filed against seven police officers in three separate fatal shootings. To reach her decisions to dismiss all three cases, Behenna said she sought help reviewing evidence from a “team of lawyers,” as well as Clarence Chapman, a retired sheriff’s deputy from California who operates National Justice Consultants, Inc. [NonDoc]

  • Criminal cases over three fatal police shootings in Oklahoma being dismissed [The Oklahoman
  • Why new DA had different conclusion than predecessor on fatal police shooting (video) [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma County DA dismisses criminal charges of 7 police officers who shot and killed three people [KGOU]
  • ‘Stick with the law’: DA’s office hired California use-of-force expert for police cases [KFOR]
  • Oklahoma senator calls for change after DA drops charges in 3 shootings by police officers [News 9]
  • Charges dropped against 7 Oklahoma police officers in 3 separate fatal shootings [AP]

State Government News

Oklahoma sending 50 National Guard members to Texas-Mexico border, aiding Operation Lone Star: After a weekend farewell ceremony, Oklahoma is sending 50 National Guard members to the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas. Gov. Kevin Stitt ordered the deployment earlier this summer, following a request from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. [KGOU]

Service Oklahoma takes measures to reduce driver’s license wait times: A newly created state agency and tag agents are working to reduce the wait times for driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations. Service Oklahoma, created in 2022 by House Bill 3419, has replaced the Department of Public Safety and Oklahoma Tax Commission for purposes of registering motor vehicles and issuing driver’s licenses. [Tulsa World

Political notebook: In a nation of popular governors, Stitt is less than most: According to the survey, 51% of Oklahomans approve of Stitt’s job performance, compared to 40% who disapprove, a plus-11 differential. [Tulsa World

Tribal Nation News

Column: Making the legal case for seating the Cherokee Nation’s delegate in Congress: In the Treaty of New Echota, signed in 1835 by the Cherokee Nation and the United States, the Cherokee Nation bargained for and received a right to have a delegate seated in Congress. The nation paid a high price for its treaty — the forced removal of our ancestors from our aboriginal home in the southeastern United States, which resulted in the deaths of thousands of our people on the infamous Trail of Tears. Now, we are asking Congress to uphold its end of the bargain and make this treaty promise real. [Sara Hill Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Federal News

Congressional delegation does victory dance after delisting lesser prairie chicken: The lesser prairie chicken has been off and on various lists for more than a decade. Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives followed the Senate in voting to rescind the Biden administration’s listing of the lesser prairie chicken and the northern long-eared bat, which also has an Oklahoma presence. [Tulsa World]

D.C. Digest: Lankford says something has changed in Hunter Biden case: While legal problems mounted for the nation’s two leading 2024 presidential candidates last week, the state’s all-Republican congressional delegation zeroed in on the unraveling of Hunter Biden’s plea agreement. [Tulsa World]

Health News

Feds award $5M in funding to aid rural health care providers: When a Hugo-area child on a ventilator lost power following an EF4 tornado on the evening of Nov. 4, the Choctaw County Ambulance Authority was able to provide vital assistance with its equipment funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant for rural medical providers. [The Journal Record

Nonprofit Dissolves After Federal Investigators Froze Funding: The Oklahoma nonprofit that trains advocates who care for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, lobbies for legislation to protect them and garners millions in federal funds to support them will cease operations next month. [Oklahoma Watch

SoonerCare now covering doula services: Some Oklahoma families have a new resource that could help expecting moms. SoonerCare enrollees are now eligible for doula services. [KFOR

Facing Systemic Barriers, Many Journalists Take Mental Health into Their Own Hands: Elizabeth Montgomery knows firsthand how stressful and demanding the journalism industry can be, especially for Black journalists who are underpaid and underrepresented. A 2019 study found that 33 percent of journalists interviewed said they were suffering from moderate to severe depression. [The Black Wall Street Times

Youth mentorship program inspires underrepresented students to enter medical field: About 100 Tulsa-area high school students learned from local health care professionals Friday during Youth Medical Mentorship’s first Summer Medical Summit. [Tulsa World

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma County may reopen refocused location search for a new county jail: Oklahoma County may trim its list of potential locations for a future county jail. At the same time, however, it may be willing to consider additional spots that failed to make an initial cut because of time constraints the county had placed on landowners interested in offering up their properties for a jail’s use. [The Oklahoman

Column: Reflections a year after Julius Jones’ death sentence was commuted: This summer marks 24 years since we believe Julius was wrongly arrested just six days after his 19th birthday. Going all the way back to that fateful day shows how injustice often starts long before a person goes to trial and is wrongly convicted. It starts with racial bias that is embedded deep within our society. [Cece Jones-Davis Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Education News

Oklahoma State Education Board draws heated public comment as Walters courts controversy: Tulsa Public Schools and Infinity Generation Generals Preparatory School out of Oklahoma City will have their accreditation reviewed at next month’s board meeting. TPS has been under fire from State Superintendent Ryan Walters, who says the “severity” of the district’s issues warrants another month of review before evaluating a potential downgrade. [KOSU

Oklahoma ranked 50th worst state for education, new study reports: With the start of school around the corner, a new study has ranked Oklahoma school systems as the worst in the nation. Oklahoma ranked 50th in WalletHub’s 2023’s States with the Best & Worst School Systems. The state ranked 50th in school quality and 31st in safety. [The Oklahoman]

Edmond Public Schools Teacher of the Year believes her students ‘can change the world’: With students returning to the classroom Thursday, Aug. 17, Lauren Dile recently answered questions on her background, life in the classroom, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and navigating the “cultural waters of education.” [NonDoc]

Business & Economy News 

How Harold Hamm helped start the shale revolution and why he didn’t join the Trump Cabinet: Oklahoma City oilman Harold Hamm rejected the idea of serving in the Trump administration because he didn’t want to put his assets in a trust, according to a new book by Hamm that details his company’s role in transforming energy exploration. [The Oklahoman]

Column: If Oklahoma wants to be top 10 state for business, better workers’ comp is a must: If Oklahoma wants to become a top 10 state for business, we must improve the benefits we provide for injured workers. It’s the least we can do for people who make Oklahoma such a great state. [Joseph C. “Joe” Biscone II Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

General News

Will Justice Prevail For Race Massacre Survivors?: With Tulsa County District Judge Caroline Wall’s dismissal of the Race Massacre survivor’s case for reparations, the burning question is whether there is any remaining hope for justice for the victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, the most murderous, violent acts in the city’s history. [The Oklahoma Eagle

Column: With zero political jabs, Holt rallies OKC to continue investing in itself: Instead of throwing punches, OKC Mayor David Holt used his State of the City speech to rally everyone behind one idea: that Oklahoma City must continue investing in itself in order to continue its momentum. When the public is exhausted from political mudslinging, such a speech is worth celebrating. [Russ Florence Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • $800,000 grant shows promise for Oklahoma City road safety [Oklahoma City Free Press
  • Dissenting voices get their say on proposed Improve Our Tulsa 3 captital improvments package [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa Municipal Court to offer Thursday night sessions for city citations [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“By not playing ball with the tribes, the state of Oklahoma is leaving money and opportunity on the table. It’s harming the people of Oklahoma by not providing these resources that we need, especially in rural Oklahoma.” 

– Christine Pappas, political science professor at East Central University in Ada, speaking to the relationship between the state and tribal nations. An agreement to renew cigarette tax agreements with tribal nations is up for a vote Monday in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. [The Oklahoman

Number of the Day


Number of eviction filings in Oklahoma courts during 2022. Evictions in Oklahoma have now surpassed pre-pandemic levels, which were among the highest per capita in the country. [Open Justice Oklahoma / OK Policy]

Policy Note

Preliminary Analysis: Eviction Filing Patterns in 2022: Over the last three years, eviction filing rates across the United States fell below levels that were normal prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. A wide range of policies contributed to this reduction: federal, state, and local eviction moratoria; an unprecedented investment of $46.6 billion in emergency rental assistance (ERA); expansion of the right to legal representation in eviction cases in a number of cities and states; and the growth in eviction diversion programs. These policies prevented millions of American renters from losing their homes to eviction during this public health emergency. [Eviction Lab]

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Kristin Wells served as the Communications and Operations Fellow for OK Policy from October 2021 to July 2022. She previously worked as a digital content producer for News On 6. A native Kansas Citian, Kristin graduated with a B.A. in Media Studies and a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Tulsa in 2020. While there, she was accepted into the Global Scholars program, spurring her interests in policy, social movements, global identities, and the importance of education and advocacy. She hopes to use her skills to continue to learn and create a more equitable future for Oklahomans. An avid sports fan, Kristin lives in Tulsa with her rescue dog and is passionate about college basketball, documentaries, and coffee.

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