In The Know: Why SQ 820 isn’t on November ballot | Oklahoma test scores show partial rebound | Medicaid expansion improves housing stability

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

Medicaid expansion improves housing stability: Oklahomans who voted for State Question 802 in 2020 knew that Medicaid expansion would bring greater access to quality health care, but what voters may not have known is that Medicaid expansion plays a role in keeping people safely housed. [Sabine Brown / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Here’s the reason recreational marijuana isn’t on the November ballot: Backers of an initiative petition to legalize recreational marijuana in Oklahoma became unwitting guinea pigs in a new process that was meant to speed up and automate the state’s antiquated signature verification system, but a series of delays compounded to keep it off the November general election ballot. [Oklahoma Watch]

Most Oklahoma students are behind despite 2022 growth, test scores show: New testing data shows Oklahoma students made small academic gains last school year, but most are still behind in reading, math and science. [The Oklahoman]

  • 2022 state test scores indicate partial academic rebound [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa Public Schools test scores improve but still lag behind state average [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma state testing scores show rebound, but pandemic’s impact remains [KOSU]

Staffing Shortages, Violence Plague Oklahoma Prisons: Working as a prison guard in Oklahoma is becoming an ever more dangerous job as the state, with one of the highest incarceration rates in the United States, struggles with violence and understaffing at detention facilities. Long hours, dangerous conditions and remote, rural locations have meant fewer guards and a system plagued with increased killings and violence. [AP via U.S. News& World Report]

State Government News

Changes needed: Open Meeting Act missing language for tech age: Changes are needed in the state’s Open Meeting Act to address the emergence of digital technology that allows officials to secretly communicate with each other and constituents during public meetings, some experts say. [The Norman Transcript]

Turnpike studies slated Tuesday: Senate Transportation Committee to hear several presentations: The Oklahoma Transportation Senate Committee will hear several presentations on studies regarding the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority on Tuesday at the state Capitol. [The Norman Transcript]

Oklahoma outlawed school bathroom use by gender identity. This boy is challenging it: In hopes of overturning Senate Bill 615, Andrew Bridge decided to challenge its constitutionality. He and two other transgender students filed a lawsuit against the state earlier this month with the ACLU, Lambda Legal and Covington & Burling LLP. [The Oklahoman]

Senate budget leaders praise hard work by members on pandemic funding; projects will be ‘transformational’ for Oklahoma: Senate Appropriations Chair Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, and Vice Chair Chuck Hall, R-Perry, said Oklahomans would see generational benefits as a result of the incredible hard work and dedication of members of the Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding over the past year. [The Oklahoma City Sentinel

Federal Government News

D.C. Digest: Inhofe, Lankford join Republicans wanting to step up Hunter Biden investigation: Oklahoma’s Jim Inhofe and James Lankford jumped aboard the Senate Republicans’ bandwagon of the week, Texas Sen. John Cornyn’s call for the U.S. attorney investigating Hunter Biden be designated a special counsel. [Tulsa World]

Will U.S. Supreme Court hear another case from Oklahoma linked to McGirt ruling?: In three of its last four terms, the U.S. Supreme Court has wrestled with a question about Native Americans and criminal jurisdiction in Oklahoma. With the court’s new term set to begin, justices are being asked to take on another. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

A tribal delegate in Congress? Cherokee campaign ramps up under treaty promise: Congress is preparing to take a critical first step toward seating a Cherokee Nation delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives. [The Oklahoman]

Voting and Election News

Gubernatorial underdogs say abortion issue, increased voters will help them: Two underdogs hoping to become governor think pushback on abortion restrictions and increased voters will help them at the ballot box. Former Republican state Sen. Ervin Yen switched to independent. Natalie Bruno is running as a Libertarian. They face Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt and State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, who switched from Republican to Democrat, on the Nov. 8 ballot. [Tulsa World]

Tulsa County Election Board slammed with large, complex requests for 2020 voting records: The Tulsa County Election Board has one employee who handles open records requests. Until recently, it had been just one small part of her job. [Tulsa World]

Joy Hofmeister, seizing on voucher plan, says Kevin Stitt would ‘kill’ rural schools: Speaking to a crowd gathered inside a downtown coffee shop, many dressed in Wildcat blue ahead of a Friday night football game, Joy Hofmeister warned that Gov. Kevin Stitt’s reelection would put the local school system — the heart of this small town — in jeopardy. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Child obesity: New initiative to address Oklahoma’s poor ranking, post-pandemic decline: It wasn’t long after the COVID-19 pandemic’s initial surge that doctors who help youths manage their weight began to notice a definite difference. [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Edmond motorcycle officer hurt in collision during pursuit: An Edmond police officer was in “critical but stable” condition after the pickup he was pursuing collided with his motorcycle just south of 33rd Street on Friday, officials say. [The Oklahoman]

  • Update: Police say Edmond Sgt. Joseph Wells shot at pickup before collision Friday [The Oklahoman]

Officer placed on leave after shooting, injuring man accused of earlier stabbing: A nine-year veteran of Oklahoma City’s police force is on administrative leave after shooting and injuring a man who is accused of stabbing another person. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

As drought worsens, Oklahoma ranchers look to the state for relief: As the frequency of extreme weather — like droughts — increases across Oklahoma, farmers and ranchers are increasingly looking to the state for both emergency assistance and long-range plans for how to deal with dry conditions that are becoming more common. [The Oklahoman]

OSU gets $15M contract for counter-drone center: Oklahoma State University officially launched its Counter-UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) Center of Excellence on Friday with the announcement of a $15 million federal contract to coordinate efforts to rapidly develop and test counter-drone capabilities. [The Journal Record]

Thousands in medical marijuana industry facing fines for seed-to-sale noncompliance: Oklahoma’s medical marijuana industry is grappling with seismic changes following the state’s implementation of a “seed-to-sale” tracking system, leaving thousands of licensees facing fines and the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority locked in multiple lawsuits over the matter. [Tulsa World]

OKPOP in limbo as it searches for funding: Officials say another $35-$40 million is needed to finish out the interior, including installation of exhibits. A request for $20 million from the state’s $1.8 billion American Rescue Plan allocation was turned down, and legislative leadership seems cool to further funding the project. [Tulsa World]

Guest Column: Why diaper cost increases are debilitating to impoverished families: The skyrocketing costs of goods and services around the country is frustrating for all people. It’s debilitating to families living below the poverty line, and detrimental to families with young children struggling to make ends meet. This year the cost of a pack of diapers has increased on average 16% nationwide. [Miki Farris / The Oklahoman]

Education News

Tulsa elementary prioritizes health, fitness: ‘It’s part of who we are‘: Local school prioritizes health and wellness through programs that encourage movement throughout the day. [Tulsa World]

Education notebook: Feedback wanted on TPS federal programs: Updates on Oklahoma school systems. [Tulsa World]

‘Counselor Corps’ addressing rising mental health needs in schools: According to the Oklahoma State Department of Education, since the introduction of a new “School Counselor Corps” in 2021, 176 schools in the state have added 201 counselors, 47 licensed mental health professionals, 22 licensed clinical social workers and three recreational therapists to their rosters. They’ve also filled 50 mental health positions through contracted services. [The Journal Record]

  • Oklahoma Speaker of the House calls OSDE’s School Counselor Corps a ‘publicity stunt’ [KTUL]

Preserving history: Bartlesville teacher works to keep Osage language alive: Growing up in Hominy, Corey Maker’s grandfather taught him about his Osage heritage, culture and language. Now he’s doing his part to keep the language alive in a Bartlesville High School classroom. [Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise]

Column: Tulsa’s pre-K programs national model and helped break ground on research: Oklahoma parents often don’t realize that most other states don’t offer 4-year-old programs in public schools. Our state is one of only eight offering this voluntary program to families through local districts, and about 70% of 4-year-olds are enrolled. [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World]

Column: It’s time we vote for leaders who work hard for brighter days for our students: Oklahoma schools are simply not funded to regional market standards. It is why Texas schools are running billboards and sending out offers to recruit our teachers away. Oklahoma remains 47th nationally and is still last in the region for per pupil spending ($10,475). We seem to be expecting to eat steak on a bologna budget. [Clark Frailey Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

General News

Housing issues cloud future for Afghan evacuees in Tulsa: ‘We need to find solutions fast’: YWCA Tulsa reports that because of rising rent, around 45 of the refugee families (about 1 in 4) will need to be rehoused in the coming months, once their 18 months of federally funded rent and utilities coverage runs out. [Tulsa World]

Guest column: How inclusion helps companies, communities value diverse backgrounds: People of color and lower socio-economic backgrounds bring people skills, social skills and soft skills that are nearly impossible to put on a resume. But we brighten up a professional workplace in a way that a degree or employment history can only scratch the surface. [Elizabeth Larios Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“Poor health can be both a cause and consequence of housing instability. Evictions are associated with a broad range of poor health outcomes, including increased mental health hospitalizations, poor birth outcomes, and increased all-cause mortality. Conversely, poor health can lead to absenteeism or job loss and the resulting income reduction can make it hard to afford housing.”

— Sabine Brown, OK Policy’s Infrastructure and Access Senior Policy Analyst, speaking on how Medicaid expansion improves housing stability. [Sabine Brown / OK Policy]

Number of the Day


Total number of Hispanic businesses in Oklahoma [Greater Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce]

Policy Note

Hispanic Heritage Month is great time to showcase growing OKC community, but it shouldn’t stop there: Hispanic Heritage Month is a great time to showcase this growing community, but it shouldn’t stop there. The contributions of the 60 million Hispanic Americans in the United States add up to significant economic and electoral clout. The Census Bureau reports Hispanic Americans earned more than $1 trillion and paid more than $250 billion in taxes in 2017 alone. According to an analysis by EY, Latinos are twice as likely to start a new business as the rest of the U.S. population, and between now and 2048, Hispanics will account for 85% of new job holders in the U.S. workforce. As demonstrated in the 2020 election, Hispanic eligible voters also make up considerable shares of the electorate. [Miriam Campos Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

NOTE: National Hispanic Heritage Month is Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. Each week, OK Policy will share policy notes and numbers to recognize this commemoration.

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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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