In The Know: Feds warn Oklahoma officials not to enforce immigration law | Lawmakers look to expand religion in schools | School textbooks require ‘traditional’ gender roles, respect for religion | License plate dust up causes heartburn with Tribes

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

Public budget discussions are an opportunity to gain a better appreciation of the state budget process (Capitol Update): For those with interest and time to watch, the negotiations are an opportunity to gain a better appreciation of the state budget process and those who write the budget. If nothing else, the people watching have been treated, for the most part, to civil discussions by knowledgeable legislators doing the work they were elected to do to the best of their ability. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

Feds warn Oklahoma officials not to enforce immigration law, threaten lawsuit: The Department of Justice has warned state leaders that their recently minted immigration law targeting undocumented immigrants is unconstitutional. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Federal government plans to sue Oklahoma over new immigration law [KOSU]
  • Oklahoma clashes with federal government over new immigration law: Battle over HB 4156 intensifies [The Latin Times]
  • Oklahoma’s new immigration law faces two potential lawsuits [The Oklahoman]
  • House Bill 4156: Oklahoma Officials Rebuke DOJ’s Lawsuit Threat [The Black Wall Street Times]
  • OK Republicans push back against Biden Administration’s attack on state’s new immigration law [KSWO]

State Government News

Experts offer mixed views on Oklahoma’s economic strides as argument for tax cuts: According to a study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, some states that cut income taxes earlier in the 2000s didn’t achieve economic growth, and some saw declines. [Tulsa World]

Legislature sends governor revised domestic violence bill: A measure allowing judges more discretion in the sentencing of domestic violence victims who commit violence against their abusers is headed to the governor after passing the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Monday. [Tulsa World]

Opinion: Oklahoma’s ‘anti-ESG’ law is a saber-rattling policy that harms more than helps: As an economist, I’ve long argued that policymakers must take a comprehensive, evidence-based approach when evaluating the merits of legislative proposals. Too often, lawmakers become myopically fixated on their intended objectives, failing to consider the broader implications of their actions. The recent case of Oklahoma’s Energy Discrimination Elimination Act (EDEA) provides a prime example of this tendency ― and the unintended consequences that can ensue. [Travis Roach / The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Biden to announce 1 million claims granted for VA benefits under toxic exposure law: President Joe Biden is set to announce in New Hampshire on Tuesday that 1 million claims have been granted for benefits under the toxic exposure law that Congress approved less than two years ago, following the military’s use of open air burn pits in Afghanistan and Iraq. [Oklahoma Voice]

Tribal Nations News

Choctaw Nation gets grant for energy projects: The Choctaw Nation is receiving $5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to install a battery storage system and make their tribal facilities more energy efficient. [KGOU]

Gov. Kevin Stitt wants Oklahoma to print tribal license plates. Some aren’t buying it: Gov. Kevin Stitt and some Oklahoma legislative leaders want more tribes to let the state issue their license plates to gain direct access to tribal citizens’ car tag and registration information. [The Oklahoman]

  • Some tribes aren’t sharing information with Oklahoma law enforcement amid license plate dust up [Oklahoma Voice]

Joint committee unanimously approves vehicle, tag compacts with Chickasaw, Choctaw Nations: Oklahoma lawmakers on Monday approved motor vehicle registration and license tag compacts with two of the Five Civilized Tribes. [Journal Record]

Trial begins to determine damages from construction of Osage County wind farm: A trial got underway Monday in Tulsa federal court to determine how much in damages an Italian energy company should pay for failing to obtain a mining permit before it erected an 84-turbine wind farm in Osage County. [Tulsa World]

Health News

Abortion numbers grow as telehealth and shield laws increase access: Oklahoma, which has had a total abortion ban for most of the 18-month period, has seen monthly abortions go from around 310 pre-Dobbs to zero between July 2022 and December of last year. [KOSU]

Why Medicaid expansion in the South failed: Southern Republican-led states looked at expanding Medicaid this year to help cover more people who can’t afford health insurance. And even though those efforts made some headway, they struggled to overcome the politics. [NPR]

Criminal Justice News

‘Slap in the face’: Legislative fight over DPS training center roils commissioner: A suggestion by the Oklahoma State Senate’s floor leader to pull back funding on a training center long sought by the Department of Public Safety is an insult to troopers and other law officers who currently use outdated facilities not originally intended for teaching driving and other skills, Department of Public Safety Commissioner Tim Tipton said Monday. [NonDoc]

  • Tense budget negotiations leave DPS chief concerned about funding for a training facility [The Oklahoman]

Housing & Economic Opportunity News

OKC new home lot sizes are getting smaller. See how lot sizes are changing across the U.S.: According to the National Association of Realtors, home sizes across the country are increasing while lot sizes are getting smaller. Specifically, lot sizes have decreased greatly in Oklahoma City, according to a new study. [The Oklahoman]

More than one-third of Oklahoma renters are cost-burdened: According to a 2023 study by a national policy think tank, 47% of Oklahoma renters were categorized as cost-burdened. A different tabulation of 2022 U.S. Census data by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University calculated 45% of Oklahoma renters were cost-burdened. [Oklahoma Watch]

Night Light Tulsa homeless program status remains in limbo as councilors continue discussions: Three city councilors sat down Friday with representatives of City Lights to explore options for potentially moving the nonprofit’s weekly homeless outreach program to a new location a few hundred yards north of its present site. [Tulsa World]

Why the OKC Housing Authority will be selling off 23 homes to the highest bidder: Of the 23 residences the housing authority wants to sell, 18 are vacant, two are occupied and three fire-damaged units. The homes are spread across the city. If approved by HUD, the Oklahoma City Housing Authority will receive an additional housing voucher for each home sold. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

These are the 10 wealthiest counties in Oklahoma. Did yours make the list?: Among 77 counties in Oklahoma, some stand out from the rest when it comes to resident income. We looked at the data from the 2022 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey five-year estimates to find Oklahoma’s wealthiest counties. Here’s what we found. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

New criteria for Oklahoma textbooks asks for ‘traditional’ gender roles, reverence for religion: The state changed textbook review guidelines this year to add a 1990s rule and HB 1775 [Oklahoma Voice]

OSDE: Ryan Walters’ $50,000 contract for ‘public awareness campaign’ revealed: An open records request found that OSDE is paying $150 an hour for the Houston company to assist in creating 10 social media posts and two videos a month, at $7,500 a month. Walter’s current senior advisor, Matt Langston, has a history with the president of Precision Outreach, Jess Fields. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Plaintiffs again question federal judge about slow movement on critical race theory lawsuit: For a second time since they filed their lawsuit more than 2½ years ago, plaintiffs in a case challenging an Oklahoma law against “critical race theory” have asked a federal judge to move along the proceedings. [The Oklahoman]

Senate, House have decisions to make on bills expanding religious options in schools: As the Oklahoma Legislature negotiates the Fiscal Year 2025 budget, a number of policy bills are currently sitting on various rungs of the long legislative ladder, including two aimed at expanding religious options for kids in public schools. [NonDoc]

Community News

Oklahoma doubles how many black vultures ranchers can kill or capture to protect livestock: Black vultures have the critical role of cleaning up animal carcasses. The number of black vultures Oklahoma livestock producers can capture or kill with a sub-permit has increased from five to 10. [The Oklahoman]

Local Headlines

  • Council to consider new Thunder arena developments in downtown Oklahoma City [The Oklahoman]
  • Long-awaited OKC senior wellness center opens [Journal Record]
  • Oklahoma severe storms spawn tornadoes, at least 4 injured [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma weather: Severe weather forecasted through Thursday [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“The United States is committed to the processing of noncitizens consistent with the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). House Bill 4156 is contrary to that goal.”

-The U.S. Department of Justice said in a letter sent to Governor Kevin Stitt and Attorney General Gentner Drummond outlining how HB 4156 is preempted by the federal law and violates the United States Constitution. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma children ages 3 to 4 not enrolled in school, including nursery school, preschool school or kindergarten, during the previous three months from 2018-2022. This marks an increase of two percentage points from 2010-2014. [KIDS COUNT]

Policy Note

Federal Funding Streams for Child Care and Early Childhood Education: While many states have taken action to address child care needs, the federal government remains a key source of funding for child care and early education programs. Several longstanding federal programs support access to child care and early childhood education, which span multiple federal agencies and take a wide variety of approaches to supporting children and families. Many federal programs complement state efforts, but the patchwork nature of federal child care funding can make it difficult for states to understand the full range of funding sources. [National Conference of State Legislators]

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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.