In The Know: $700M incentive plan awaits Gov. Stitt’s signature | Was request too rushed and secretive? | More

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.

Oklahoma News

$700M incentive plan to lure multibillion company awaits approval from Gov. Kevin Stitt: The Oklahoma Senate on Thursday gave final passage to legislation that would allow state officials to offer a $698 million financial incentive package to entice a multibillion-dollar company to locate near Tulsa. Lawmakers fast-tracked the bill to create a new incentive program that appears intended to entice Panasonic to build a massive electric vehicle battery factory in northeast Oklahoma. [The Oklahoman] House Bill 4455, dubbed the “Large-scale Economic Activity and Development Act of 2022,” passed the Oklahoma Senate by a vote of 41-5 after a lengthy period of questions and debate. “I applaud my colleagues in the Legislature who voted overwhelmingly to pass the LEAD Act with bipartisan support and ensure Oklahoma is positioned to be globally competitive and secure the biggest economic development project in our state’s history,” Stitt said. [Tulsa World

  • (Audio) Tulsa World Opinion podcast: Was $698 million tax incentives request too rushed and secretive? [Tulsa World]
  • (Audio) This Week in Oklahoma Politics: Stitt’s “mega legislation”, gubernatorial & U.S. Senate races and more [KOSU]
  • Oklahoma legislature passes Act to lure a Fortune 500 company to Oklahoma [KJRH]
  • Mega bill giving tax incentives to big business headed to Oklahoma Governor’s desk [KFOR]

New Column from OK Policy: Executive Director Ahniwake Rose: Like many Oklahomans, I was surprised at the breakneck speed with which Gov. Stitt this week introduced and gained enormous momentum for new legislation that would provide $700 million of incentives to woo a potential manufacturer to our state…If our state leaders would use that same level of energy to constructively address the struggles facing everyday Oklahomans, it’s breathtaking to imagine what we might be able to accomplish.

State Government News

Bill outlawing ‘nonbinary’ birth certificates headed to governor: Legislation barring the state from issuing new or amended birth certificates listing gender as anything except “male” or “female” won final passage from the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Thursday and is headed to Gov. Kevin Stitt, who is expected to sign it. [Tulsa World]

Bill that would earmark money to fix rural roads one step closer to approval: Trucks and heavy machinery used predominantly by those in the oil and gas industry can have destructive effects on Oklahoma roads — damage that when left unfixed can cause safety concerns. But help is on the way. [The Oklahoman]

Bill would ensure vehicle energy options for consumers: A bill that would prohibit municipalities or counties in Oklahoma from passing local ordinances showing either favor or disfavor for particular types of power sources for vehicles has advanced to the governor’s desk. [The Journal Record]

Medical marijuana overhaul moving forward: A slew of bills designed to overhaul Oklahoma’s medical marijuana industry are inching closer to the governor’s desk, while a pair of initiative petitions designed to do the same surmounted a legal challenge this week. [The Journal Record]

Stitt signs bills aimed at helping Oklahoma National Guard members: Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a pair of bills aimed at helping National Guard service members enrolled in Oklahoma colleges who have a permanent address out of state or moved to the state too recently to establish residence. [KOSU]

Initial, continued state jobless claims decline: Initial state jobless claims declined 22% last week compared with the prior seven-day period as continued claims hit a new low, according to a government report. The U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday that first-time jobless claims for benefits declined from an upwardly revised total of 1,936 the week ending April 9 to 1,508 claims the following week. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Turnpike Authority opens up about payments for land acquisition: The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA) is changing course on a previous decision regarding releasing information for individual property transaction information. [KFOR]

Oklahoma Restaurant Association names state senator as next CEO: A Republican state senator from Bristow who plans to leave the Legislature at the end of the current session has been named the new president and chief executive officer of the Oklahoma Restaurant Association. The election of Sen. James Leewright by ORA board members was formally announced on Thursday. [The Journal Record]

Tribal Nations News

Oklahoma should refund Muscogee citizen’s income taxes, administrative judge concludes: An administrative law judge for the Oklahoma Tax Commission found the state should refund the income taxes of a Muscogee Nation citizen who works for her tribe and lives on its reservation. The Tax Commission now must decide how it will act on the judge’s findings. Several lawyers who represent Native American taxpayers say the case could signal an important turning point nearly two years after McGirt v. Oklahoma. [The Oklahoman] In a decision filed on April 12th, the judge ruled that MCN citizen Alicia Stroble, who is an employee of the MCN National Council, was exempt from state income tax for the years 2017, 2018, and 2019, because she had proven that she worked for the tribal government and lived in Okmulgee County. [Mvskoke Media]

Cherokee leader expect congressional delegate hearing before year’s end: The principal chief of the Cherokee Nation said he expects his tribe’s congressional delegate to get a committee hearing in 2022. “I’m still optimistic, but I also know that Congress has short attention spans sometimes,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin said Thursday at the Tulsa Press Club. [Tulsa World]

Centennial Land Run Monument in OKC still seeing challenges after 20 years of creation: Four dozen large bronze sculptures of people, spread across several hundred feet of land and frozen in a frenzied moment of Oklahoma history, comprise the Centennial Land Run Monument in Oklahoma City’s Bricktown. But Native American tribes and activist groups have long been critical of the monument, even before it was completed, claiming that the monument glorifies a mythologized version of history that erases Indigenous representation and whitewashes violence. [The Oklahoman]

Cherokee Nation, National Park Service agreement protects culturally significant plants: To protect the plants and land, Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner signed the region’s first agreement between a tribal nation and the National Park Service. Hoskin and Warner also signed an executive order designating almost 1,000 acres of deciduous forest near Bell in Adair County as the Cherokee Nation Medicine Keepers Preserve. [KOSU]

Health News

For Oklahomans facing mental health crises, 988 call center could make ‘world of difference’: With a crisis call center vendor selected, Oklahoma is preparing for the July launch of 988, a new national three-digit phone number for people to call in a mental health crisis. [The Oklahoman]

New maternity program that ’empowers’ mothers continues Tulsa, Oklahoma expansion: A new nationwide maternity program that Tulsa’s Saint Francis Health System helped nurse through its infancy is continuing to expand. The TeamBirth program, first introduced at Saint Francis’ main Tulsa hospital, is now available at Saint Francis South and Saint Francis Muskogee, officials said. [Tulsa World]

COVID-19 in Oklahoma tracker: Weekly updates on new cases, deaths, vaccines: The number of positive COVID-19 tests reported Thursday by the Health Department increased by 1,745 since April 14 to a cumulative total of 1,038,224. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Failure To Protect: Oklahoma Woman Reflects 2 Years After Pardon: In 2019, Governor Kevin Stitt pardoned Tondalao Hall and momentum was growing to change the law that put her in prison. Now, after two years of freedom we check back in with her and look into what’s happened to the state’s law on Failure to Protect. Tondalao Hall was supposed to spend 30 years behind bars for failing to protect her two young children from their father’s abuse. The abuser, Robert Braxton, received time served and never spent a day in prison. [News 9]

DA Allan Grubb files last-minute recusal before Ron Arthur hearing: In Pottawatomie County District Court today, Special District Judge David Cawthon issued a continuance in the case of former Shawnee Public Schools assistant athletic director Ron Arthur after District Attorney Allan Grubb recused himself from the case at the request of the alleged victims. [NonDoc] A new prosecutor is taking over the sex crimes case against Ronald Gene Arthur, the former boys basketball coach at Shawnee High School. [The Oklahoman]

Tulsa cop says he can’t recall shooting that killed sergeant: A Tulsa police officer who was wounded in a shooting that killed a police sergeant told jurors Thursday that he does not remember the events of that night, including what led to the gunfire. [AP News] Both sides rested Thursday in the trial of a man accused of shooting two Tulsa police officers after testimony from the surviving officer and the defendant. [Tulsa World]

CJAC hears subcommittee reports on Jail facility progress, med releases: The Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory Council, or CJAC, held its monthly meeting on Thursday afternoon at NorthCare. [OKC Free Press]

Economy & Business News

‘The sound of money’: Wind energy is booming in deep-red Republican states: Driving west from Oklahoma City to the outskirts of Weatherford, wind turbines don’t just dot the landscape; they dominate it. From oil and gas booms and busts to heavy rains followed by drought, Oklahoma is no stranger to extremes. One constant is the wind, which is so bracingly strong that what locals call a breeze will send hats flying and whip open car doors suddenly. [CNN]

Prices for eggs and dairy rise, as production costs remain high: Oklahomans are seeing higher prices for goods like dairy products and eggs in their local grocery stores. Global issues, pent-up demand from the COVID-19 pandemic, higher feed prices and bird flu are all playing roles in the rising costs. [KGOU]

Education News

Epic Charter Schools: A Tulsa World investigation: Tulsa World Staff Writer Andrea Eger has been reporting about Epic Charter Schools since the discovery that it was under investigation by state and federal law enforcement agencies. Here is all of the reporting on Epic since January 2019. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma State University professor creates software for researchers to easily publish articles: Oklahoma State University associate professor, Dr. Steph Link, is a first-generation American and a first-generation college student. Dr. Link admittedly struggled with academic language, but found success in the applied linguistics field. She used her own experiences to create a research writing software called Dissemity. [KOSU]

Oklahoma Local News

Northeast Oklahoma City invited to ‘imagine a better future’ through revival of landmarks: Dozens of Northeast Oklahoma City community members gathered nearly two weeks ago to discuss two historic Black landmarks and the ongoing efforts to revitalize them. [The Oklahoman]

Bynum proposes city budget with big bump in police, fire funding: Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum presented his proposed fiscal year 2023 municipal budget at a meeting of the Tulsa City Council on Wednesday, outlining his desire for big increases in spending on the Tulsa fire and police departments. [Public Radio Tulsa]

City of Moore City Council responds to wrecker service complaints: On April 18th, the City of Moore had a long and contested debate around a proposal to enact more limits on local wrecker services and impound yards. [OKC Free Press]

General News

List Of Earth Day Events Across Oklahoma 2022: Earth Day 2022 is Friday, April 22, and there are a number of happenings celebrating the annual event in Oklahoma. [News On 6]

For those with storm anxiety, Oklahoma’s severe weather season can be a stressful time: Spring in Oklahoma means severe weather season is upon us. It’s normal to have some worry when severe weather approaches, but for some with storm anxiety this time of the year can oftentimes be debilitating. [KGOU]

  • Demand for storm shelters explodes after twisters hit in Tornado Alley [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“I feel like I am her and she is me”

– Tondalao Hall, an Oklahoma mother whose sentence was commuted in 2019 by Gov. Stitt after serving 15 years of a 30 year sentence for failing to protect her two young children from their father’s abuse, describing her reaction to Rebecca Houge being sentenced in February 2022 in Cleveland County after her former boyfriend killed her son. In 2019 when Toni’s case was in the headlines, a bipartisan bill in the legislature would have added provisions in the law for victims of domestic violence and reduced sentencing maximums, but the bill did not go on to become law. [News 9]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s Department of Health has seen a 40 percent cut since 2009

[Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute]

New from OK Policy: Under HB 3350, the majority of the benefit would go to the richest Oklahomans and leave the state scrounging for revenue to provide services that support us all.

Policy Note

States Forecast Weaker Revenue Growth Ahead of Growing Uncertainties: Just as state governors and legislators are figuring out how to spend their unexpected budget surpluses, global events could wipe out much of those gains in fiscal year 2023. State revenue growth was strong in fiscal year 2021, despite widespread economic disruptions caused by the global pandemic. But it appears the current fiscal year 2022 (July-June for 46 of the 50 states) may end up with weaker revenue growth, and forecasters are now projecting a gloomier outlook for fiscal 2023. The current global geopolitical crisis, continued uncertainties related to the ongoing pandemic, high inflation, and evolving federal monetary policy could all muddle the revenue outlook for the states. [Tax Policy Center]

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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