In The Know: Budget discussions continuing at Capitol | Some Tribal leaders concerned about removing world language requirement | Watch Sales Tax Relief Credit town hall

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

Put Cash Back in the Pockets of Everyday Oklahomans: Sales Tax Relief Credit Town Hall (2024): Oklahoma’s Sales Tax Relief Credit is intended to provide targeted fiscal relief, but it hasn’t been updated since it was set at $40 more than three decades ago. Staff from the Oklahoma Policy Institute and its Together Oklahoma grassroots advocacy program talk about why the Sales Tax Relief Credit is the most targeted, most affordable, and most fiscally responsible way to deliver fiscal relief to everyday Oklahomans. [OK Policy / YouTube]

State Government News

‘Tremendous progress’: With big issues lingering, budget summit 2.0 still chippy: Leaders of the Oklahoma Legislature and Gov. Kevin Stitt gathered today for the second time this week around 30 feet of conference table at the State Capitol in hopes of closing in on a budget agreement for Fiscal Year 2025. While the discussion proved significantly more fruitful than Monday’s first bite at the apple, a handful of major decisions are still ripening on the vine. [NonDoc]

  • Oklahoma budget negotiations appear to yield progress [Oklahoma Voice]
  • Stitt, lawmakers try again with another Budget Summit [Journal Record]
  • Stitt says 0.25 percentage point income tax cut ‘off the table’; flat rate pushed [Tulsa World]
  • Stitt backs away from .25 personal income tax cut; calls for ‘flattening’ of income tax brackets [The Oklahoman]

Bill that adds math credit, subtracts world language requirement passes House: Both chambers of the Oklahoma Legislature have agreed to require a fourth math credit for students to graduate high school, but some have complained it comes at the expense of foreign language classes. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Oklahoma tribal leaders oppose bill removing world languages as graduation requirement [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • House sends new high school diploma requirements to governor [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma judge temporarily blocks State Treasurer from enforcing ban on ‘woke banks’: A state judge has temporarily blocked Oklahoma from enforcing its ban on using so-called “woke banks” for state business. [KOSU]

From alcohol to homemade foods: New Oklahoma food and beverage laws: A few bills affecting Oklahoma purveyors of food and beverage have made their way to the desk of Gov. Kevin Stitt in the last several months and received his signature. [The Oklahoman]

AG Drummond fires state treasurer’s outside attorney over ESG lawsuit’s loss: Attorney General Gentner Drummond fired an outside attorney hired by State Treasurer Todd Russ and “removed” Russ from “any decision-making authority in the lawsuit defending Oklahoma’s anti-ESG (environmental, social and governance) law,” he said Thursday. [Tulsa World]

This Week in Oklahoma Politics: Public budget talks, Title IX lawsuits, age of consent and more: The panel discusses legislative leaders coming together to hold budget negotiations in public, State Superintendent Ryan Walters and AG Gentner Drummond filing separate legal challenges to the new rules from the Biden Administration over Title IX rules and state leaders raising concerns about a drop in Oklahoma high school rankings in a national publication. [KOSU]

Federal Government News

Oklahoma AG Drummond pushing for Congress to cut ties with UN aid group in Gaza:
Utah’s Sean Reyes and Oklahoma’s Gentner Drummond are two of 24 Republican attorneys general lobbying Congress to stop funding the United Nations agency that oversees humanitarian efforts for Palestinian refugees, calling the group “terrorist-embedded.” [Oklahoma Voice]

U.S. House Republicans pass bill to stop census from counting noncitizens: U.S. House Republicans passed a bill Wednesday to add a citizenship question to the census and exclude noncitizens from the official headcount when determining population for representation in Congress and electoral votes. [Oklahoma Voice]

Tribal Nations News

Indigenous students have first graduation season with regalia bill protections: With five Tulsa-area high school graduation ceremonies scheduled for Thursday and Friday, this week marks the start of the first graduation season since the adoption of Senate Bill 429. [Tulsa World]

Otoe-Missouria Tribe expands recycling program with $1.5 million EPA grant: A federal grant will help one Oklahoma tribe increase its recycling efforts for citizens and non-citizens. The Otoe-Missouria Tribe in northern Oklahoma plans to increase its recycling rate to 50% with the assistance of a $1.5 million EPA grant. [KOSU]

Voting and Election News

Editorial: Time for written policies to deal with elected officials accused of criminal violence: It’s time our city — and government at all levels — put into writing processes to suspend an elected official accused of violent criminal behavior and to appoint a replacement until the situation is resolved. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma court changes how executions are scheduled after concerns raised about rate of killings: The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ruled this week it would change the manner by which executions are scheduled in the state, opting to set each execution date individually instead of in groups. [The Frontier]

Tulsa death-row inmate deemed incompetent to be executed: A judge has determined that Wade Greely Lay, a Tulsa man on death row, is incompetent to be executed because of his severe mental illness. [Tulsa World]

  • Death row inmate Wade Lay spared from execution because of mental state [The Oklahoman]

Former Oklahoma County jailer faces accusation of mistreating detainee: A former sergeant at the Oklahoma County jail is facing a misdemeanor assault and battery charge after being accused of pushing a detainee’s head into a wall multiple times. [The Oklahoman]

Fired juvenile justice center staffer accused of trafficking teenage resident: An employee fired from the Tulsa County Family Center for Juvenile Justice has been charged with human trafficking after a 17-year-old resident accused him of paying the youth for sex. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma judge now faces two indictments over drive-by shootings: An Oklahoma judge was indicted Thursday over a drive-by shooting at his brother-in-law’s ranch last year. The state’s multicounty grand jury accused Brian Lovell of shooting up a house on the ranch near Bison in northern Oklahoma on Feb. 12, 2023. No one was injured. [The Oklahoman]

Editorial: Public deserves answers about serious problems alleged at Tulsa County’s juvenile center: Appalling allegations of abuse of youths along with a recent state probation at Tulsa County’s Family Center for Juvenile Justice must be addressed with public scrutiny. [Editorial / Tulsa World

Housing & Economic Opportunity News

Opinion: Lindsey House mothers showing strength to change lives, generational trauma: Today, 24 moms and 41 children call Lindsey House home. At some point, they all experienced or were at risk of situational homelessness. By removing the uncertainty of where they’ll sleep each night, they can now focus on setting and achieving their goals. [Maggie Hoey / Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Off the rails? Company claims Vinita theme park developer owes $5.5 million for unpaid work: As Missouri-based Mansion Entertainment Group attempts to tweak the design of the $2 billion American Heartland Theme Park and Resort it has proposed near Vinita, a Canadian firm hired to design the massive project has filed a lien claiming it is owed nearly $5.5 million from unpaid invoices. The filing comes as the Oklahoma Legislature continues to consider a $35 million request from the City of Vinita for water infrastructure upgrades to accommodate the project. [NonDoc]

  • Legal action filed against planned $2 billion theme park in Vinita [Tulsa World]

Education News

Education Watch: These Two Education Bills Await Final Approval: After all the wrangling over private school vouchers and tax credits the past two legislative sessions, this year seems relatively quiet on the education front. There are, though, two bills worth watching for the big impact these initiatives will have on students. [Oklahoma Watch]

Opinion: Oklahoma’s poor financial literacy on track for improvements: Gov. Kevin Stitt recently signed House Bill 2158, a commendable move toward fostering financial responsibility among our youngest Oklahomans. Unlike other education legislation, this bill is a step in the right direction, but it still has a long way to go. [Louise H. Short / Tulsa World]

Opinion: Will student medical forms to play sports and be in band be used against them?: It’s springtime in Oklahoma, which means students wanting to participate in athletics or marching band next school year must complete and submit a physical evaluation form. It includes questions regarding heart health, bone and joint health, family health, general medical questions, and a section for female students only, which asks multiple questions about menstruation, including the age of the first menstrual period, how many menstrual periods have occurred during the past 12 months and the date of the most recent menstrual period. [Rev. Lori Allen Walke / The Oklahoman]

Community News

Switchyard Festival to explore rural issues: Tulsa’s Switchyard Festival will soon be underway in earnest. This year’s theme for the festival that bills itself as a celebration of culture and ideas is rural America. Organizers said the rural focus was inspired by our next presidential election and a desire to hear people outside of cities. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Local Headlines

  • As Tulsa mayoral election nears, County Commissioner Karen Keith emerges as the frontrunner [The Frontier]
  • Norman Natural Grocers workers vote to join union [KGOU]
  • Former Gov. George Nigh has delivered graduation speeches for decades. For year 75, he’s returning to his alma mater [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“You don’t (arrive at) a home budget based on bonuses you get or money left over in a sock drawer. You have to have real recurring income to make recurring budget decisions. You don’t go out and make a major purchase or investment without knowing you can pay for it in the long term.”

-Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, talking about why Senate leaders are apprehensive about additional tax cut proposals this session following this year’s $400 million revenue loss from the elimination of the state portion of the grocery sales tax. [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Rate of Oklahoma renters who are considered cost-burdened, meaning their households spend 30% or more of household income on rent and utilities. In comparison, 18.7% of Oklahoma homeowners are considered cost-burdened. [Prosperity Now]

Policy Note

The Wealth Gap between Homeowners and Renters Has Reached a Historic High: Homes are often families’ largest assets and one of the most effective ways to build wealth, but countless news stories and studies detail just how out of reach homeownership has become. Recent housing wealth gains are largely driving median wealth disparities. Because of supply shortages, home price went up, and rent prices also increased faster than incomes. This resulted in a higher housing cost burden among renters. Left with limited savings after paying for housing, renters have also not benefited from the strong financial market in the past several years, which further fueled the gap. [Housing Matters]

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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.