In The Know: U.S. Supreme Court to decide if states can criminalize homelessness | OKC’s Mexican diplomat speaks out against anti-immigrant bill | Oklahoma Hispanics, Blacks have worse health outcomes | Capitol Update

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.

New from OK Policy

Competing budget transparency efforts may have process more confusing than ever: The House last week revealed its position on the Fiscal Year 2025 budget that begins on July 1 and upstaged the Senate’s transparency gambit with a new “transparency portal” that can be accessed on the House of Representatives website. Even with the talk of — and effort toward — transparency, the budget process this year seems more confusing than ever. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

House committee examines rule promoting use of Christian-touted college-readiness exam: Discussion from a House committee Monday centered around issues in education policy, including concerns about agency rules that tie academic scores to accreditation and the use of a test that’s not accepted at public universities in Oklahoma. [Journal Record]

  • Ryan Walters’ proposed education rules receive support from GOP lawmakers in a committee [The Oklahoman]
  • House committee discusses controversial education rules [Tulsa World]

State Government News

OKC’s top Mexican diplomat takes opposition of immigration bill to Gov. Stitt: Edurne Pineda from the new Oklahoma City Consulate said she opposes a new bill that would give local and state law enforcement the ability to detain and arrest people suspected of being in the country illegally. [KOCO]

State lawmakers divided over bill fining homeless for trespassing on state-owned land: A bill proposing fines or jail time for homeless individuals trespassing on state-owned land has sparked a divide among lawmakers at the state Capitol. [KOCO]

New Oklahoma law allows for anonymity on homemade food product labels: A new Oklahoma law will allow producers to use a label for homemade food products that does not include their full name, address and phone number. [KOSU]

Oklahoma debates handgun purchase age amid high gun violence rate: Oklahoma ranks amongst the top 20 states experiencing a high rate of gun violence. According to, Oklahoma has the 13th-highest rate of gun violence in the US. But are tighter gun laws the answer to stop it? [KTUL]

Oklahoma joins other states questioning law used to shield tech companies from lawsuits: Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond has signed onto a legal brief questioning a federal statute that shields tech companies from civil lawsuits. [KOSU]

Stitt signs bill putting more rules on third-party supervised visitation: Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a measure that gives judges more information about third-party volunteers performing supervised visitation with children. The measure also requires the volunteer to be able to see and hear all interactions between the supervised parent and the child. [Oklahoma Voice]

Opinion: Broadband expansion is this generation’s rural electrification: The Oklahoma Broadband Governing Board recently approved 142 ARPA State and Local Fiscal Recover Fund grants totaling $374 million to 31 internet service providers — from locally and family owned operations to rural cooperatives to investor-owned corporations. When factoring in the private match requirement, the total investment is around $500 million. The awards will expand broadband access in 57 of the state’s 77 counties, connecting 20% of the unserved and underserved. [Mike Sanders / The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Legislature needs to pass laws to protect renters and provide safe, affordable housing: Discussion of Oklahoma’s affordable housing crisis is missing something. Yes, Oklahoma’s affordable housing stock is severely low. But another, equally important crisis plagues low-income tenants: a lack of safe, affordable housing. [Adam Hines / The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

New minimum staffing mandate for nursing homes rolled out by Biden Administration: On Monday, the Biden Administration announced the first-ever minimum staffing rule for nursing homes in the United States. Opinions are split on the new rule with some saying it’s what the healthcare industry needs right now but finding qualified employees could be tough. [Fox25]

U.S. House votes down border bill favored by conservatives: The U.S. House Saturday failed to pass a border security bill that Republican leadership intended as an incentive for conservatives to support a foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. [Oklahoma Voice]

U.S. Supreme Court appears to lean toward Oregon city in complex homelessness case: A majority of U.S Supreme Court justices Monday seemed inclined to side with an Oregon town’s law that bans homeless people from sleeping outdoors, in a case that could have broad implications for local ordinances related to homelessness across the country. [Oklahoma Voice]

Health News

Hispanics, Blacks have worse healthcare outcomes of all racial and ethnic groups in Oklahoma, study finds: The nonprofit’s 2024 State Health Disparities Report analyzes how health care systems are functioning by state, and race and ethnicity. White Oklahomans scored the highest in the state at 47 out of 100. But that’s still below the nation’s average health system performance score of 50 out of 100. Hispanic Oklahomans scored just four out of 100 followed by Black Oklahomans with a score of 10 out of 100. [StateImpact Oklahoma / KGOU]

Oklahoma bill would make decisions on insurance coverage more transparent: A study released by the Oklahoma State Medical Association found 84% of Oklahoma voters support limits to prior authorization — where health insurers decide if a service is medically necessary and if they will cover it. A bill that passed the Senate Appropriations Committee last week could provide more transparency in the process. [KOSU]

Opinion: I’m a STEM graduate who had to leave Oklahoma to flourish. State needs to change its ways: One major factor in my decision to move away from Oklahoma was the way the state seemed to downplay women, especially the health issues we face. It seemed especially clear in the state’s efforts to deny access to comprehensive, evidence-based education about sexual health and reproduction. [Lauren Jones / The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Why family-owned businesses flourish in Oklahoma City: From small shops to large companies, one-third of businesses in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area are family-owned, and more than 4 in 10 employees work at one of them. The metro area has the third highest percentage of family-owned businesses (33.4%) among large U.S. cities, according to a study by the small business lender OnDeck. [Journal Record]

Education News

Fewer high school students submitting FAFSA applications, concerning for Oklahoma colleges: The number of students who turned in applications for financial aid is down dramatically from a year ago. This year, the number of completed applications compared to the number from last year shows a 40% drop for students receiving federal aid. [Fox23]

Judge denies request by Ryan Walters to dismiss defamation suit filed by ex-Norman teacher: A federal judge has denied a request by state schools Superintendent Ryan Walters to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed against him by a former Norman teacher. The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Jones in Oklahoma City means Summer Boismier’s lawsuit against Walters can move forward, although no hearing date has yet been set. [The Oklahoman]

Last Year’s Teacher Pay Raise Hasn’t Slowed Resignations — Yet: Teacher turnover hit its highest point since the pandemic last school year, when more than 6,000 Oklahoma public school teachers left the classroom. The crush of school departures occurred even as the state implemented the largest salary increase for educators since 2018 at $3,000 to $6,000 per teacher, depending on experience. [Oklahoma Watch]

Opinion: Some college campuses have been restricting speech. Oklahoma schools intend to protect it: HB 3543 created the Oklahoma Free Speech Committee. An adjunct to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, the committee trains, reviews institutional policies and accepts complaints regarding campus free speech. [Andy Lester / The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Metro Tech committed to graduates’ positive outcomes. That means a job or continued education: Metro Tech takes great pride in reflecting on our achievements and the positive impact we’ve had on our students, community and local businesses, reminding us of the remarkable strides we’ve made and the accomplishments we’ve garnered, which paint a picture of success we’re eager to share. [Aaron Collins / The Oklahoman]

Community News

Tulsa makes progress in addressing inequality gaps, Equality Indicators report shows: Tulsa’s overall Equality Indicators score inched up again in 2023, according to a document released last week. The city’s aggregate score of 42.37 out of 100 is the highest it’s been since the first report was issued in 2018. The report looks at six themes, or areas: economic opportunity, education, housing, justice, public health, and services. Each indicator is scored on a scale from 1 to 100, with 1 indicating high inequality and 100 indicating high equality. In all, 54 indicators — nine for each theme — are measured to come up with the score for each theme and the city’s overall score. [Tulsa World]

  • Tulsa Equality Indicators Report, 2023 Annual Report [City of Tulsa]

OBU, Shawnee move ‘toward renewal’ one year after devastating tornado: A college student remembered huddling in the basement of a historic house of worship on the night an EF-2 tornado barrelled its way through campus one year ago. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Missing Kansas women were found dead. Did anti-government extremism contribute to their murders?: What should we make of “God’s Misfits?” That’s the name Oklahoma authorities say a small antigovernment group who held worship services in their homes called themselves. Four of these “misfits” have been charged with the kidnapping and murder of a pair of southwest Kansas women missing since March 30. [Max McCoy / Oklahoma Voice]

Quote of the Day

“Homelessness is a result of systemic issues such as a lack of affordable housing, exorbitant rents, and a shortage of well-paying jobs. Arresting and fining people for sleeping on the streets is ineffective, keeps people homeless for longer, and distracts from real solutions like those we see working in communities across the country.”

-Sarae Lewis, a spokesperson for Community Solutions, said in a statement to U.S. Supreme Court Justices regarding the Oregon City homelessness case determining the legality of criminalizing homelessness. [Oklahoma Voice]

Number of the Day

$34.4 million
Taxes paid by Oklahomans with DACA status in 2021. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a federal program that protects certain undocumented immigrants from deportation and allows them to work legally in the United States. The program is no longer processing new requests pending review by the courts. [New American Economy]

Policy Note

Why Don’t Immigrants Apply for Citizenship?: Many people wonder why all immigrants do not just come to the United States legally or simply apply for citizenship while living here without authorization. These suggestions miss the point: There is no line available for current undocumented immigrants and the “regular channels” are largely not available to prospective immigrants who end up entering the country through unauthorized channels. [American Immigration Council]

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Kandis West is a communications professional with more than 15 years of experience. Most recently, she served as the Communications Director for the Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus. She spent nine years in the Olympia/Tacoma area of Washington organizing compensation campaigns for teachers for the Washington Education Association. Kandis has a proven track record of increasing community engagement, public awareness and media exposure around the most pressing issues that impact citizens. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism.