In The Know: A wrap on the 2023 regular legislative session | Gov. proposes special session for tax cuts | OSDE threatens to fire employees over media leaks | 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.

New from OK Policy

Statement: FY2024 state budget proposal has promise, but could do more for everyday Oklahomans: OK Policy shares a first look at the FY2024 budget with wins, missed opportunities, and decisions that don’t center the needs of everyday Oklahomans. [OK Policy]

Last-minute budget dispute offers insight into closed-door negotiations (Capitol Update): Strange as it may seem, since both legislative chambers represent the same constituents, members of the leadership of each chamber—all members of the same party—independently develop their own set of priorities, mostly through discussions with their members. The priority can be a widely held conviction of most of the chamber, or sometimes it may be a strongly held conviction of one of the leaders who has a seat at the table. It’s important to have leaders at the table who are knowledgeable and principled, yet reasonable. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

AG opinion reiterates GRDA bonds’ backing, but loan capacity question lingers: As the Grand River Dam Authority continues to pursue increased bonding capacity and power-generation growth, Attorney General Gentner Drummond has issued an opinion affirming the state of Oklahoma’s ownership of the public power utility’s assets. [NonDoc]

Those caring for a family member may soon receive a tax break: Oklahomans caring for an older family member could soon be eligible for a tax credit that was included by lawmakers in next year’s state budget. The new tax credit for the caregiver is $2,000 annually, or $3,000 if the person being cared for is a veteran or diagnosed with dementia. [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Who were the winners and the losers of the 2023 legislative session? Our comprehensive list: Oklahoma legislators wrapped up a 2023 regular session on Friday that reflected the deep divisions in the state — and nation — over education and social issues, as they approved public aid for private schools and barred health care money from being spent on transgender youth. [The Oklahoman]

  • ‘Tantrum’: Legislature overrides 19 Stitt vetoes, but some budget bills hit snag [NonDoc]
  • What Oklahoma Lawmakers Did and Didn’t Do for Taxpayers [Oklahoma Watch]
  • What bills did not get passed this legislative session? [KFOR]
  • 2023 Oklahoma legislative session adjourns Sine Die [KGOU]
  • Lawmakers adjourn tense session, but leave with unfinished business [The Oklahoman]
  • Legislature sends budget bills to governor and adjourns — sort of [Tulsa World]
  • A look at what Oklahoma lawmakers didn’t pass this year [Tulsa World]
  • Senate Pro Tem Treat Comments on Conclusion of the 2023 Regular Session [The City Sentinel]
  • Lawmakers Wrap Up Regular Session But Could Soon Return to Capitol [Oklahoma Watch]
  • Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt mulls calling special session on tax cuts [Tulsa World]
  • Gov. Stitt says he may call a special legislative session. Here’s why [The Oklahoman]
  • Did OKPOP’s bubble burst on last day of legislative session? [Tulsa World]

Editorial: State budget finds right balance in times of plenty: Oklahoma legislators found their way around to a reasonable budget in a session that was unusually testy for a Republican supermajority control. A $12.9 billion negotiated budget addresses some big needs, such as boosts in education, while leaving about $3.6 billion in various savings accounts. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Oklahoma State Department of Education threatens to fire employees for leaks to news media: An email from Oklahoma State Department of Education leadership threatened any employees who share agency documents and internal discussions with the news media will be fired. [The Oklahoman]

Shropshire confirmed as first woman to lead Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services: The Oklahoma Senate on Thursday confirmed Dr. Deborah Shropshire as executive director of the state Department of Human Services, making her the first woman to lead the massive department. [The Oklahoman]

In late rush, medical marijuana bills sent to governor: Lawmakers sent Gov. Kevin Stitt several significant changes to the state’s medical marijuana laws as the 59th Legislature hurried to final adjournment of its first regular session. [Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Lucas favors national coordination of drone R&D: Efforts in Congress to accelerate drone research and development are needed to help the nation keep pace with China in the critical arena and also may help strengthen Oklahoma’s position as a leader in the emerging industry, U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said. [Journal Record]

Tribal Nations News

Oklahoma lawmakers voted to extend tribal tobacco compacts. Gov. Stitt has the next move: The Oklahoma Legislature has signed off on a proposal to renew cigarette tax compacts with tribal nations through 2024. Lawmakers also voted to extend vehicle tag compacts with three of the largest tribes based in the state. [The Oklahoman]

What Cherokee leaders say Oklahoma’s governor got ‘wildly’ wrong about tribal elections: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt questioned the legitimacy of Cherokee Nation elections Friday, drawing immediate rebuke from the leader of the country’s largest tribe. It is the second time in as many weeks that the state’s top elected official has cast doubt on the operations of the Cherokee Nation, a sovereign government that recognizes him as a citizen. [The Oklahoman]

Voting and Election News

What Lawmakers Did and Didn’t Do for Voters and Election Officials: State lawmakers opted not to sweeping changes to Oklahoma’s voting laws, instead focusing on measures aimed at cracking down on threats or fraud ahead of the 2024 presidential election cycle. As the Legislature’s 2023 session winded down Friday, here’s a look at how state lawmakers approached voting and election administration policy. [Oklahoma Watch]

Health News

What Lawmakers Did and Didn’t Do for Healthcare Providers, Patients: House and Senate Republicans moved quickly to advance a bill outlawing certain transgender youth healthcare, but measures clarifying or carving out exceptions in the state’s near-total abortion ban stalled early in the legislative process. Here’s a look at what state lawmakers did and didn’t do on healthcare policy during the 2023. [Oklahoma Watch]

Column: U.S. remains in a constant state of mourning gun violence deaths: Last year during a 72-hour span during Memorial Day weekend, 300 shooting incidents occurred across the U.S. that ended with more than 130 people murdered, according to the Gun Violence Archive. [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma Lawmakers Finally Fund Criminal Justice Reforms Voters Approved in 2016: State dollars will soon begin flowing to counties to support diversion and drug treatment programs, but an ongoing effort to update the state’s criminal sentencing code lost momentum in the final weeks of session. Here’s a look at how state lawmakers approached criminal justice issues during the 2023 legislative session. [Oklahoma Watch]

Southern Baptist Convention makes changes to who will be included in sex abusers database: A group tasked with implementing Southern Baptist Convention sex abuse reforms recently disclosed the criteria that will ― and won’t ― be used initially to determine who will be included in a database of sexual predators. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

What Oklahoma Lawmakers Did and Didn’t Do for Teachers and Students: After months of negotiations, lawmakers committed to putting $625 million in additional recurring appropriations into public education. But a bill outlawing corporal punishment of students with disabilities stalled after clearing the House. Here’s a look at what the Legislature did and didn’t do for teachers and students during the 2023 session. [Oklahoma Watch]

Column: Legislators, remove Ryan Walters. End his toxic crusade against Oklahoma teachers: Oklahoma, we elected a superintendent of public instruction who willfully neglects his duty to foster conditions for the academic growth of our children. Instead, he cares more about pushing harmful propaganda and demoralizing our teachers, already exhausted by his toxic rhetoric. [Clytie Bunyan / The Oklahoman]

General News

Oklahoma Abuse Victim Support Jeopardized By Nonprofit’s Misspent $500k: The only statewide organization that supports Oklahoma abuse victims is in jeopardy after federal auditors determined former staff and board members misspent more than $500,000 in public money. [Oklahoma Watch]

What’s Next? Black Wall Street’s Innovation Ambitions: The 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre shone a national spotlight on Greenwood/Black Wall Street. While the renewed attention and investment in our community was good, the true test of all our efforts is whether or not our community can harness this renewed energy in a way that results in long term systemic macro-economic empowerment for Black Tulsans. [The Black Wall Street Times]

  • Tulsa Race Massacre: Ramifications of what happened in 1921 can still be seen today [KOSU]

Still standing: The legacy and history of an Oklahoma Rosenwald school: Oklahoma history and the history of Black Americans has been inextricably linked by a number of events throughout time. And in a small rural town about an hour southeast of Oklahoma City, one of the 13 surviving historically Black towns, stands another prominent piece of Oklahoman and American history. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • ‘Look what we’ve got going on’: OKCPS wants more kids on more teams with new summer program [The Oklahoman]
  • OKC’s deadCenter Film Festival returns to its roots [Journal Record]
  • Drugs continue to get inside Oklahoma County jail, leading to overdoses [The Oklahoman]
  • New courthouse or renovate? Tulsa County officials weigh options [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsans to vote on multimillion-dollar improvement campaign [Journal Record]
  • Mother Fletcher To Host Pre-Release Of Memoir In Tulsa [The Black Wall Street Times]

Quote of the Day

“They’re falling back into their old habits of demonizing people and punishing them. That’s a big government solution to a problem that affects Oklahoma families. It’s a bad direction to go in.”

– Rep. John Waldron, D-Tulsa, on HB 2153, a bill signed into law last week that imposes stiffer penalties for certain repeat drug possession offenses. Opponents argue that the new legislation directly opposes SQ 780, passed by Oklahoma voters in 2016. [Oklahoma Watch]

Number of the Day


Rate of Oklahoma children who are food insecure. More than 183,000 Oklahoma children, or about 1 in 5, lack consistent access to enough food for every person in a household to live an active, healthy life. [KIDS COUNT]

Policy Note

Debt Ceiling Agreement Reflects Improvements Over House Bill, Harmful Provisions Remain: While the debt ceiling agreement announced last week is a significant improvement over the radical House bill, it is not the deal the country deserves. There are a number of troubling elements, including the provision that will put at risk food assistance for very low-income older adults. The nation must pay its bills — but that shouldn’t mean enacting legislation that leaves people who already struggle to afford the basics worse off. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

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Annie Taylor joined OK Policy as a Digital Communications Associate/Storybanker in April 2022. She studied journalism and mass communication at the University of Oklahoma, and was a member of the Native American Journalists Association. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communications from the University of Central Oklahoma. While pursuing her degree, she worked in restaurant and retail management, as well as freelance copywriting and digital content production. Annie is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation, and holds a deep reverence for storytelling in the digital age. She was born and raised in southeast Oklahoma, and now lives in Oklahoma City with her dog, Melvin.

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