In The Know: Proposed income tax cut called $809.5M ‘shell game’ | Advocates plan rally for Hispanic Day at Capitol | Women pushed to sideline in budget talks | More

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

Oklahoma Senate leader on income tax-cut proposal: ‘It’s a shell game that will cost $809.5 million a year’: Two negotiating sessions with House leaders and Gov. Kevin Stitt have not changed Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat’s mind about Stitt and House Speaker Charles McCall’s latest tax cut proposal. “It’s a shell game that will cost $809.5 million a year,” Treat said Friday in Tulsa. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Governor and Republican legislative leaders make budget progress; Democrats sidelined: While this week’s “summit conference” on the budget lasted two days and featured the state’s top GOP leaders, it really was only notable for two things: more agreement between the House and Senate on budget items and Gov. Kevin Stitt’s announcement that he’d taken a .25% cut in the personal income tax off the table. [The Oklahoman]

Stitt vs. Treat: Inside the fight between the governor and the Senate pro tempore: A couple of months ago, shortly after the 2024 legislative session began, Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt made several political moves that, even now, could come back to haunt him. Stitt’s actions weren’t about policy or economic development. They had nothing to do with education or public safety. This was a raw, bare-knuckle game of politics, played by the governor and directed at a one-time ally. So far, the governor hasn’t been successful — but he hasn’t stopped either. [The Oklahoman]

  • Gov. Stitt’s pushback against the Senate is personal, leader Greg Treat says [The Oklahoman]

As OSBI Commission gets AG report on director, general counsel resigns for racial slur in email: Touted as the independent governing body of Oklahoma’s premiere law enforcement agency, the OSBI Commission asked Attorney General Gentner Drummond’s office in February to investigate complaints filed against director Aungela Spurlock by a former agent and his wife. [NonDoc]

Key Criminal Justice Bills in Limbo as Session Winds Down: Bills to charge more shoplifting offenses as felonies and mandate lenient prison sentences for domestic violence survivors are in limbo with three weeks to go in the legislative session, but several other criminal justice measures have been signed into law. [Oklahoma Watch]

Bill to allow kids out of school for religious instruction headed for House vote: State school districts would have to allow students to miss up to three class periods a week for off-campus religious instruction — and possibly give the students course credit for it — under legislation the Oklahoma House of Representatives intends to hear in the next few weeks. [Tulsa World]

Hispanic Day at the Capitol gets makeover in light of Oklahoma’s new immigration law: Latino Oklahomans are raising the volume of their opposition to a recently passed law criminalizing people in the state without legal immigration status. This year, organizers of the annual Hispanic Day at the Capitol are shifting the day’s focus from celebrating the community to protesting House Bill 4156. [KOSU]

  • Hispanic advocates plan rally at Oklahoma Capitol to voice frustration about new immigration law [Oklahoma Voice]

Gov. Stitt on why he signed controversial immigration bill: ‘We have to be a law and order state’: “It was a path too far,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt, explaining why he vetoed a strongly supported domestic violence bill. And, “we have to be a law and order state,” he said as to why he signed another bill opposed by the Latino community, some law enforcement officials and others. [The Oklahoman]

  • Gov. Stitt defends controversial immigration bill, veto of domestic violence bill [The Oklahoman]

AG Drummond fires attorney in company ‘blacklist’ lawsuit, will take on case himself:  Just days after a district judge issued a temporary injunction against the enforcement of the Oklahoma Energy Discrimination Elimination Act of 2022, Attorney General Gentner Drummond announced he was firing the attorney hired by state Treasurer Todd Russ and taking over the case himself. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma governor confident anti-ESG law will withstand lawsuit [Journal Record]
  • Energy Discrimination Elimination Act ruling disappoints governor [Tulsa World]

Political notebook: Treat opposes legislative extension of Cherokee tag compact: The ongoing tribal tag dispute between Gov. Kevin Stitt and the Cherokee Nation may be headed for a lose-lose conclusion. [Tulsa World

Roundup: Judge indicted, Russ and Drummond spar, Epic and St. Isidore cases continue: As they deal with the pressure of crafting a state budget by the end of the month, Oklahoma legislators are not the only politicians raising their dander this May. Two statewide elected officials, Attorney General Gentner Drummond and Treasurer Todd Russ, are involved in a spat over the outcome of a legal case and who should handle the litigation going forward. [NonDoc]

Capitol Insider: Budget, budget, budget: Oklahoma legislators continue to work through a variety of issues as they craft the fiscal year 2025 state budget…and time is running short. [KGOU]

Opinion: Yet again, men are deciding to hurt women, This time, it’s how they engage in Oklahoma politics: Oklahoma’s Legislature and political culture remains a boy’s club. Nothing illustrates that more clearly than the makeup of the people invited to participate in the governor’s historic “Budget Summit” last week. Of the roughly dozen participants permitted to sit at the “adult table” last week to decide how billions of dollars would be allocated, only one was a woman. [Janelle Stecklein / Oklahoma Voice]

Federal Government News

D.C. Digest: Mullin says agency ruling on Miami flooding a ‘significant error’: U.S. Sen. Markwayne Mullin waded into the battle between the Grand River Dam Authority and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission over the long-standing dispute over who, if anyone, is responsible for frequent flooding upstream of the Pensacola Dam and Grand Lake. [Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

Nation’s first tribal-affiliated medical school celebrates first class of graduates: In a state with a rural physician shortage and a large Native population, the nation’s first tribal-affiliated medical school is set to celebrate its first class of graduates this week. [Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

‘Mom’ legislators see their numbers, influence grow but barriers to elected office remain: The number of women serving in state legislatures has more than quintupled since 1971, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University (CAWP). Nearly 33% of the 7,386 state legislative seats are occupied by 2,432 women, the center reported. Meanwhile, Vote Mama Foundation estimates 23% of lawmakers are moms. [Oklahoma Voice]

Health News

Rural physicians in short supply: Currently, 75 out of 77 counties in Oklahoma contain a primary care health professional shortage area (HPSA), according to the Oklahoma State University Center for Rural Health. Only Cleveland and McClain counties don’t have a primary care HPSA. Seven counties have only one primary care doctor and five counties have none. [Journal Record]

Criminal Justice News

Two killed, many injured Friday in ‘group disturbance’ at Lawton prison: Two inmates were killed and more than 30 others were injured Friday during a group fight at the Lawton Correction and Rehabilitation Center, The Oklahoman has learned. Corrections officials said at least two of the inmates sustained serious injuries and were transported to the hospital − one via medi-flight and one via ground vehicle. [The Oklahoman]

Anticipated costs for county jail heat-air fixes leave project shelved for now: Oklahoma County temporarily is shelving plans to use COVID-19 mitigation funds to improve the existing jail’s heating and air system. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Victims of abuse deserve better protections. The Oklahoma Survivors’ Act provides that: The trauma endured by survivors in Oklahoma is real, it is not feigned. It is documented. And it should be considered by courts to overcome Oklahoma’s draconian sentence ranges. [Jan Peery, Dr. Kathy LaFortune, Angela Beatty, Tracey Lyall, Dr. Joy Hadwiger and Dr. Jeanne Russell / The Oklahoman]

Education News

‘I love school’: OKCPS board hires Jamie Polk as new superintendent: During a 15-minute Saturday morning board meeting, about 50 community members and district employees gave a standing ovation as Chairwoman Paula Lewis made the motion to hire Dr. Jamie Polk, the district’s assistant superintendent of elementary schools. [NonDoc]

  • Oklahoma City Public Schools promotes Jamie Polk to superintendent role [Oklahoma Voice]
  • OKCPS board hires from within school district, selecting Polk as its next superintendent [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma schools need more teachers. OKC has a creative way to address the issue: Oklahoma is facing a teacher shortage the likes of which it’s never before experienced, with more than 4,100 emergency-certified teachers — who have had no teacher training in the grade level or subject in which they’re teaching — currently in state classrooms. That number has steadily grown the past few years. [The Oklahoman]

District court judge declines to take immediate action in St. Isidore of Seville case: Oklahoma County District Court Judge Richard Ogden declined Wednesday to require backers of the proposed St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual Charter School to provide immediate depositions to plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking to block the school’s formation. He also declined to grant a protective order against depositions to the defendants. [Tulsa World]

Multiple Oklahoma City Public Schools board members are Latino. Why that’s important: About two-thirds of the students attending Oklahoma City Public Schools are of Latino descent — a percentage that’s steadily grown over the years — but the composition of the district’s school board hasn’t necessarily reflected that. [The Oklahoman]

Tulsa East Central senior has been a voice for students ‘too scared to speak out’: Along with his official leadership role on East Central’s Student Council, Angel Compean was among the student voices heard at the beginning of the 2023-24 school year after Tulsa Public Schools’ accreditation was threatened by State Superintendent Ryan Walters. [Tulsa World]

Community News

Debunking a myth: Denver isn’t sending its homeless to Tulsa by bus: Former Mental Health Association Oklahoma executive director and a longtime advocate for the homeless, Mike Brose has been combating one apparent myth for years — that other cities have actually bused their homeless to Tulsa. [Tulsa World]

Surrounded by friends and family, oldest Tulsa Race Massacre survivor turns 110: Viola Fletcher was just seven years old when she escaped the white mob that destroyed the neighborhood known as Black Wall Street. Her family lost everything and had to live in a tent. But she says love, not bitterness, has kept her alive for so long. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • Well wishes pour in for Race Massacre survivor ahead of birthday celebration [Public Radio Tulsa]

Commemoration Fund awards latest $1 million to groups supporting underserved, minority communities: The Commemoration Fund has announced the recipients of its latest round of $1 million in donations to Tulsa-area organizations supporting underserved, minority communities. The fund’s advisory board chose 32 organizations to support in its fourth grant cycle, continuing an effort that was launched during Tulsa’s centennial commemoration of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. [Tulsa World]

Northeast Oklahoma residents organize against wind turbines: Nearly 50 Delaware County residents dodged heavy rain Wednesday night to gather in a Northeast Tech Campus conference room to share concerns about a coming wind energy project, but their focus quickly turned to a neighboring county. [Tulsa World]

Opinion: Does Oklahoma have a ‘brain drain?’ Maybe the answer is in one’s own experiences: Oklahoma is a state with dramatic social challenges facing many residents. Many Oklahomans feel left behind with little hope for a bright and rewarding future. Our whole sense of a worthwhile public service “safety net” is rapidly eroding. Even core governmental services like the provision of quality public education are challenged. Some elected public officials seem more focused on replacing our shared state responsibility with other forms of private and sectarian institutions. [Jerry E. Stephens / The Oklahoman]

Local Headlines

  • Tulsa mayor supports latest sidewalk obstruction measure before City Council [Tulsa World]
  • The 4th Annual Black Wall Street Legacy Festival returns with Anthony Hamilton as Headliner [The Black Wall Street Times]

Quote of the Day

“I have yet to sit in an economic development meeting and have a company say, ‘We’re not coming because of your personal income tax.’”

-Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, speaking about a false narrative that the state’s tax structure is a serious impediment to economic development. [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Of the 43 states that collect a personal income tax, only 14 states have tax rates lower than Oklahoma’s top marginal rate of 4.75%. [Tax Foundation

Policy Note

Many states are eager to extend Medicaid to people soon to be released from prison: A new policy that allows states to provide Medicaid health care coverage to incarcerated people at least a month prior to their release has drawn bipartisan interest and a slew of state applications. Federal policy has long prohibited Medicaid spending on people who are incarcerated in jails or prisons, except for hospitalization. As a result, when people are released, they typically don’t have health insurance and many struggle to find health care providers and get needed treatment. In a population that is disproportionately likely to have chronic conditions such as heart disease and substance use disorders, that can be deadly. [Stateline]

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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.