In The Know: Public meeting on budget hearings slated for Monday | Report finds lax staff oversight in Lawton prison murder | Every eligible citizen should have opportunity to exercise voting rights

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.

Oklahoma News

Oklahomans to get ‘a front row seat’ to budget process as historic public hearings slated: Legislative leaders and Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office are expected to sit down Monday in what could be a historic public meeting on budget negotiations. House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, on Thursday appeared more optimistic on a forthcoming budget agreement than his counterpart, Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat. McCall and Treat both asked that the Monday budget negotiation be live streamed so the public could watch. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • A state budget agreement could still be an uphill battle despite the special summit next week [The Oklahoman]
  • Senate goes back to the beginning with budget negotiations as deadline looms [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Bill barring use of private school tax credit to offset delinquent taxes heads to governor: Legislation barring the use of a private school expenses tax credit to offset taxes or other debts landed on Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk Wednesday after final passage by the Oklahoma House of Representatives. [Tulsa World]

Lawmakers concerned with OSDE after News 4 report on skewed U.S. News rankings: Oklahoma’s most powerful senator says he is concerned after a News 4 report revealed the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) did not submit some key data to U.S. News and World Report, causing Oklahoma schools to plummet in the publication’s yearly rankings. Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s House Speaker said he would be hesitant to use his power to intervene with State Superintendent Ryan Walters’ leadership over OSDE. [KFOR]

Oklahoma’s Blockchain Basics Act sets the standard: Oklahoma could lead the way with the implementation of digital-currency legislation if a recently-passed measure is signed by the governor. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma ‘legend’ Askins to retire from courts job: Former Lt. Gov. Jari Askins is retiring as administrative director of the courts. Her last day is June 30. [Oklahoma Voice]

This Week in Oklahoma Politics: Illegal immigration law, Shelley Zumwalt, Ryan Walters and more (audio): The panel discusses the governor signing a controversial Texas-style illegal immigration bill and more trouble for Tourism Director Shelley Zumwalt. The trio also talks about the leader of the State Senate abruptly replacing his Appropriations Chairman with less than a month left in the state legislature and State Superintendent Ryan Walters threatening a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education over Title IX rules. [KOSU]

Opinion: United Methodists ‘do not condone corporal punishment,’ Oklahoma bishop says: I am not a lawmaker or an elected leader of our state’s secular representative government, but I take notice when I see theological discussions enter the public debate at places like the Oklahoma Senate. It happened quite publicly when the Senate debated over passage of House Bill 1028, which is legislation that would ban schools in Oklahoma from using corporal punishment on children with disabilities. Two verses from the Book of Proverbs were used as tools of persuasion against the legislation. [Bishop James G. Nunn / The Oklahoman

Federal Government News

Will the DEA reclassify marijuana as a Schedule III drug? What change means for Oklahoma: About six years ago, Oklahomans voted to legalize medical marijuana in the state. Now, the U.S. Drug and Enforcement Administration is debating reclassifying weed as a less dangerous substance. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal News

DNC Marks Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day Across the Country with a Multi-State Ad Campaign: The Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced today it will launch a new print and digital awareness campaign to commemorate the upcoming Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day on May 5. [Native News Online]

Tornadoes Touchdown on the Mvskoke Reservation in Oklahoma: According to Muscogee (Creek) Nation Emergency Management Director Bobby Howard, no MCN tribal facilities were damaged. MCN emergency response departments coordinated with the state, county and municipal first responders to clean up the affected areas and conduct search and rescue efforts. Teams worked tirelessly around the clock through late night hours. [Native News Online]

Voting and Election News

Missing campaign finance reports may cost Oklahoma County Commissioner Myles Davidson: Oklahoma County’s newest commissioner likely will have to pay late fees after failing to file quarterly campaign finance reports. Commissioner Myles Davidson on Wednesday took responsibility for not making sure the reports were filed. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Every eligible citizen should have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote: Voting is the cornerstone of a democratic society, providing citizens with a voice in the governance of their communities and the shaping of their future. However, for far too many Americans, this fundamental right remains elusive due to systemic barriers and discriminatory practices. One of the most egregious forms of voting disenfranchisement is the targeted suppression of marginalized communities, including people of color and low-income people. [Regan Brewer / The Oklahoman]

Health News

How Oklahoma’s transition to managed Medicaid happened and what’s next: Most of Oklahoma’s Medicaid population is transitioning to managed care. This means that instead of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority paying providers directly, it’s paying private companies to coordinate some enrollees’ care. Proponents say the new system incentivizes better preventative care, which could cost the state less in the long run. That transition has been decades in the making. [KOSU]

Black & Queer Mental Health with Dr. Jonathan Mathias Lassiter: Traditionally, whiteness has dominated the field of therapy. Many aspects of therapy are rooted in Eastern or South Asian fundamentals. However, in the U.S., White women are most likely to seek out and work in mental health. Navigating the world of clinical psychology has looked a lot different for Dr. Jonathan Mathias Lassiter than for others who work in the world of healing. [Black Wall Street Times]

Long Story Short: The Unique Challenges of Heath Care for The Unhoused (audio): Reporter Jennifer Palmer discusses her story about the high rate of teacher turnover in Oklahoma, Paul Monies reports on the state’s Free Speech Committee, and Heather Warlick talks about the health care challenges unique to those experiencing homelessness. [Oklahoma Watch]

Criminal Justice News

Staff Oversight Lax As Lawton Prisoner Murdered, Left Undetected in Trash Can: Three Lawton Correctional Facility staff members on duty when a prisoner was brutally murdered and left undetected in a trash can for hours violated several state policies and procedures, an internal Oklahoma Department of Corrections investigation determined. [Oklahoma Watch]

As Tulsa’s police chief retires, he urges successor from within department ranks: Chief Wendell Franklin hopes the next person to lead the Tulsa Police Department comes from within its ranks, he said Thursday. Speaking to reporters one day after he announced his pending retirement, Franklin reflected on his four-plus years as chief and offered advice for his successor. [Tulsa World]

  • Chief Wendell Franklin to retire after 27 years at Tulsa Police Department [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa Police Chief Franklin to retire [Public Radio Tulsa]

Housing & Economic Opportunity News

Tulsa City Council discusses latest version of sidewalk obstruction ordinance amendment: More than a year and a half after it was tabled, city councilors on Wednesday resumed their discussion of a proposed ordinance amendment originally intended to address complaints about homeless people blocking sidewalks and other rights of way. [Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

States rethink data centers as ‘electricity hogs’ strain the grid: Compared with other employers that states compete for, such as automotive plants, data centers hire relatively few workers. Still, states have offered massive subsidies to lure data centers — both for their enormous up-front capital investment and the cachet of bringing in big tech names such as Apple and Facebook. But as the cost of these subsidy programs balloons and data centers proliferate coast to coast, lawmakers in several states are rethinking their posture as they consider how to cope with the growing electricity demand. [Oklahoma Voice]

Tulsa City Council approves project plan, incentive package for proposed $800 million data center: The Tulsa City Council on Wednesday approved an ordinance adopting the project plan for a proposed $800 million data center and creating an incentive district for the project. [Tulsa World]

Education News

Education Watch: Schools Disrupted by Tornado Damage: Sulphur Public Schools will remain closed through at least Friday after a deadly tornado ravaged the community. The storm on Saturday night destroyed the district’s entire fleet of school buses and damaged several school buildings, reported KOSU. Nearby Davis Public Schools provided buses to transport Sulphur’s track team to a regional competition on Monday. [Oklahoma Watch]

Community News

Opinion: ‘Bad faith arguments’ by politicians, school authorities are assaults on civility: Banning books in school libraries is ostensibly done in order to protect children, but the real issue is power or control. Banning books about trans or gay people is an attempt to suppress information that could help young people be better informed about sexuality. It is part of a landscape of attempted sexual oppression. Interference with teachers’ ability to select curricular materials is another example of bad faith arguments at work. [Nancy Snow / The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Never forget past U.S. racist immigrant law passed out of fear, nativism, bigotry: The Johnson-Reed Immigration Act of 1924 was a nasty, draconian piece of legislation that carefully described the universe of immigration, namely what kind of newcomer would be good for America and who would remain forever behind the door. It was, in its way, a natural product of its time: the perfect storm of bigotry, nativism, and a visceral, racist fear of the Other. [Rabbi Marc Boone Fitzerman / Tulsa World]

Local Headlines

  • OKC looking for input on city budget, community needs in new feedback site [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma AG concerned about sex offenders near proposed Tulsa Public Schools program site [Tulsa World]
  • OKC Mayor David Holt touts election reform and Thunder during Tulsa appearance [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa city councilor pleads not guilty to misdemeanor charge of domestic assault and battery [Tulsa World]
  • OKC voters may be asked to approve a hotel tax increase. Here’s how the money would be spent [The Oklahoman]
  • Dollar Tree distribution center employees question future in Marietta after Oklahoma tornado [KFOR]

Quote of the Day

“If you weren’t quite sure how this process worked … you’re going to get a front row seat to it next week.”

-House Speaker Charles McCall, speaking about next week’s public budget negotiations with the governor and legislative leaders. Senate and House leaders are pushing for the meeting to be livestreamed. [Oklahoma Voice]

Number of the Day


Number of years since lawmakers have adjusted Oklahoma’s Sales Tax Relief Credit, which is a $40 tax credit focusing on helping low- and moderate-income Oklahomans. [OK Policy]  

Policy Note

Corporate Taxes Before and After the Trump Tax Law: Following the implementation of the tax changes signed into law in 2017 by President Trump, the vast majority of the nation’s largest corporations saw substantial tax reductions. The 296 companies in the Fortune 500 and S&P 500 that were consistently profitable from 2013 to 2021, and for which U.S. profits and federal income taxes are disclosed, collectively saw the share of their profits that they paid in tax drop from 22.0 to 12.8 percent. While these corporations’ profits grew by 44 percent, their federal tax bills dropped by 16 percent. [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.