In The Know: Attempts to restrict State Questions fail | Other voting bills move | Gov. vetoes tribal judicial bill | 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

Proposed changes would imbue state judiciary system with unnecessary politics (Capitol Update): Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, has introduced Senate Joint Resolution 43 that would abolish our current court system and establish a new judicial department. Among the far-reaching changes proposed in SJR 43 is a new way of selecting our appellate and lower-court justices and judges. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy

Oklahoma News

Attempts to restrict State Questions fail to pass: A package of bills that would’ve made it harder for state questions to get on the ballot, or pass on Election Day, are among the bills no longer moving forward this session. But after a recent legislative deadline passed for bills to clear both the full Senate and House in order to continue, few proposals remain. [Oklahoma Watch

Previously from OK Policy: Oklahoma’s state question process should be protected

Voting bill targets multi-person housing, election funding as group expands registration effort: Republican-led measures to alter voting processes have been under the Oklahoma Legislature’s microscope this session, and while many of the partisan bills have failed, a few are set to become law, including one that requires investigations into certain voter registration cases. [The Oklahoman

Proposed Medicaid solution in legislation aims to improve efficiency and outcomes: After the courts put an end to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s plan to privatize much of the state’s Medicaid program last year, it was left to lawmakers to come up with an alternative solution – one that would improve efficiencies and outcomes while keeping administrative dollars in-state. [The Journal Record

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt vetoes tribal judicial bill: Governor Kevin Stitt has vetoed a bill that aimed to increase coordination between tribal judicial agencies and state agencies. The bill would have had the Department of Public Safety Act on convictions on tribal lands in the same way they would in state or municipal court cases. [KSWO] House Bill 3501 received support from more than 96 percent of the Oklahoma Legislature, according to the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. [KFOR]

  • Inter-Tribal Council issues statement on Governor Stitt’s veto of public safety bill [Indian Country Today]

State Government News

Lawmakers mull override of transparency legislation veto: Pressure is mounting on the Legislature to overturn a veto of a measure that seeks to require financial disclosures for any gubernatorial appointees to agency director or cabinet secretary posts. [CNHI via Enid News & Eagle]

House sends stricter catalytic-converter theft penalties bill to governor: Motor vehicle owners whose cars and trucks have been targeted during the rash of catalytic converter thefts of recent years no doubt believe the perpetrators are deserving of a special place in Hades. The bill specifies that stealing “tires, wheels, and catalytic converters” is third-degree burglary, punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. [Tulsa World

Gov. signs bill to update Oklahoma newborn screening to match federal standards: Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed a new law Monday to update the state’s list of newborn screening conditions to match the federal recommendations. [KFOR]

New law hikes cap on road, bridge projects: A bill that its authors said would give county commissioners better ways to complete county road and bridge projects quicker was signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt last week. House Bill 3740 increases the cap on costs for road and bridge projects before engineering plans are required. [Southwest Ledger]

(Audio) Tulsans join other cities across nation in protesting abortion restrictions: On Sunday, a group gathered at the county courthouse downtown to object to the taking away of women’s rights at both the state and federal levels. [Public Radio Tulsa

  • Abortion rights activists protest at State Capitol Sunday [KFOR]
  • An Oklahoma abortion clinic was a safe haven for women fleeing Texas ban. It will shut down if Roe falls [CNBC]
  • How the fall of abortion rights could threaten gay and interracial marriage [The Black Wall Street Times]
  • Tulsa World Opinion podcast: Abortion is the biggest wedge issue of our time [Opinion / Tulsa World

Federal Government News

Low-income households could be eligible for free or reduced internet service under a new federal program: The pandemic placed the digital divide in the foreground, as people who can’t afford the internet have had less access to vaccine information, education, the courts and public assistance, like rent relief. Under a new federal program, about 48 million low-income households will be eligible for reduced or free internet service. [Big If True

$20 Million HUD Grant doubles size of eviction legal help: The Department of Housing and Urban Development is doubling the size of its eviction protection program, designed to fund legal assistance for tenants seeking to stay in their homes. The $20 million HUD grant, announced Monday, will not provide any sort of direct rental relief; instead, it will fund legal services and representations for families facing eviction. [AP via News 9

Tribal Nations News

Supreme Court hears arguments for McGirt-related case: The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case the state of Oklahoma hopes will give it permission to prosecute non-Indians who commit crimes against Native Americans in Indian Country. The state’s position is that it has “concurrent authority” to prosecute non-Indians. The Cherokee Nation and other tribes disagree, arguing in their own case filings that tribes and the federal government retain jurisdiction within Indian Country. [Cherokee Phoenix]

Key pieces of stolen Native American ballerina statue recovered; sculptor to restore it: Key pieces of a stolen Native American ballerina statue have been found and one of the original sculptors will restore it in the coming months, officials at the Tulsa Historical Society’s museum said. [Tulsa World

Voting and Election News

Inter-Tribal Council issues statement on Senate candidate Alex Gray’s McGirt remarks: “It is disheartening to see a candidate who seeks to represent Oklahoma echoing shameful anti-tribal rhetoric that is altogether based on fearmongering and half-truths. Senate candidate Alex Gray needs to know that Oklahoma is strongest when our tribal nations are treated with respect and when elected leaders commit to working with us, rather than wasting resources and working to divide our state over issues that have been settled time and time again. [Indian Country Today]

Health News

Vast majority of Oklahomans who are eligible for second COVID booster haven’t gotten one: The vast majority of Oklahomans eligible for a second COVID-19 booster haven’t gotten one, data shared by the state Health Department shows.  Of the roughly 446,000 residents who are eligible for a second booster, only about 50,000 — or 11% — have received a second booster. [The Oklahoman

Mental health important at every stage of life: May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illnesses in America. Mental health is an important part of overall health and well-being. Mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. [Woodward News]

Criminal Justice News

Two former Lawton officers charged in fatal shooting of Black man: Two former Lawton police officers have been charged in Comanche County District Court with first-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of a Black man in December. [The Oklahoman] Body camera footage released by the Lawton Police Department shows Sanders stands as he is confronted by police outside a Lawton home on Dec. 5, 2021 [AP News]

Detention center installs temporary fix for air conditioning, awaits permanent fix: Since February, the Comanche County Detention Center’s central heating unit has needed drastic repairs to continue functioning. With lingering supply chain issues, the permanent fix likely won’t come until the end of the year. [The Lawton Constitution]

Trump supporter from Oklahoma pleads guilty to civil disorder for role in US Capitol riot: A Trump supporter from Fort Gibson has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of civil disorder for going inside the U.S. Capitol three times during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot. Jerry Edward Ryals, 27, acknowledged Friday his actions “impeded and interfered” with police efforts to protect the Capitol. [The Oklahoman

Economic Opportunity

Dollar General Employees in Apache go on Strike, citing lack of air conditioning: On Monday, amid morning temperatures already above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and projected to break 100, customers at the Dollar General Store in Apache were met with an unusual sight. [The Lawton Constitution]

Economy & Business News

Drought slashes Oklahoma wheat crop in half: Prolonged drought has taken its toll on Oklahoma’s winter wheat crop, which is expected to be about half what was produced last year. The recent Oklahoma State University crop tour, which surveys the anticipated crop in the state to provide an early estimate on production, projected a harvest of about 57 million bushels, said Grant Mason, an agronomist with Wheeler Brothers Grain, who helped determine the estimate. That compares to the harvest of 110 million bushels last year. [CNHI via The Norman Transcript]

Education News

School data aggregator finds Oklahoma City Public Schools enrollment loss among highest in nation: A national group found that Oklahoma City Public Schools had the highest drop in public school enrollment in the country among urban districts between last year and this year. But that doesn’t capture the full picture. [KGOU

General News

Bob Dylan Center opens today: ‘A true tourist draw to Tulsa for all the right reasons’: The Bob Dylan Center, a museum and archive celebrating the Nobel laureate’s work, opens Tuesday in Tulsa. The center offers an immersive film experience, performance space, a studio where visitors can play producer and “mix” different elements of instrumentation in Dylan’s songs and a curated tour where people can take a musical journey through his career. The archive has more than 100,000 items, many accessed only by scholars through appointment. [Tulsa World] The focus of the 29,000-square-foot center in downtown Tulsa is on what Dylan is most known for – his remarkable music career. [The Journal Record

Oklahoma Local News

TPD’s new Real Time Information Center will likely start with 25-50 cameras, police chief says: The $2.5 million in proposed funding for a Real Time Information Center for the Tulsa Police Department would pay for approximately 25 to 50 video cameras, 18 new employees and the hardware and technology necessary to get the facility up and running, Police Chief Wendell Franklin said. [Tulsa World

City selects developer for Evans-Fintube property; project includes saving Oklahoma Iron Works Building: The Oklahoma Iron Works Building on the 22-arce Evans-Fintube property north of downtown will be saved after all. The city has selected Be Good Development Partners and J.E. Dunn to develop the southern half of the land, and the first step in that process will be to reclaim and reimagine the historic building. [Tulsa World

Urban Renewal being asked to use $5 million in MAPS 4 funds to acquire blighted NE OKC corner: Oklahoma City is moving forward with providing urban renewal officials $5 million in MAPS 4 funding to acquire an eastside corner that was once envisioned for $30 million shopping center. [The Oklahoman

City to overview trust authority budgets; sales tax boost to cover next year’s planned budget deficit: The city of Enid is budgeting at a slight deficit next fiscal year, to be covered by ongoing city fund balances using higher-than-projected tax revenue from this fiscal year, city accounting staff said at last week’s first budget meeting with city commissioners covering the general fund. [Enid News & Eagle]

Quote of the Day

“Now is the time for young adults to make their voices heard”

– Jenni Gray, spokesperson for the “Grab Your Future by the Ballot” campaign by the Oklahoma League of Women Voters, which targets potential voters between the ages of 18-34. Young voters, between the ages 18-29, made up just under 22% of the state’s registered voters, while voters between the ages of 30-44 made up just shy of 25%. [The Oklahoman

Number of the Day

$20 million

In 2025, the tax cut in HB 3350 will mean $20 million less in the 1017 Fund. Oklahoma’s schools would be directly impacted by this lost revenue because the 1017 Fund is directly appropriated to public education.

[Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute]

Recently from OK Policy: Personal income tax cuts won’t deliver relief to low- and middle-class Oklahomans

Policy Note

Implementation Risks Lurk in US State 2022 Tax Cut Plans: Major tax policy changes under consideration or already enacted by US states in response to a second year of exceptional revenue growth could have negative long-term credit implications if current revenue growth is not sustained, Fitch Ratings says. The permanence of tax policy changes and their links to revenue triggers, as well as evolving macroeconomic conditions, could have crucial implications for long-term credit risks. [Fitch Ratings]

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Kristin Wells served as the Communications and Operations Fellow for OK Policy from October 2021 to July 2022. She previously worked as a digital content producer for News On 6. A native Kansas Citian, Kristin graduated with a B.A. in Media Studies and a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Tulsa in 2020. While there, she was accepted into the Global Scholars program, spurring her interests in policy, social movements, global identities, and the importance of education and advocacy. She hopes to use her skills to continue to learn and create a more equitable future for Oklahomans. An avid sports fan, Kristin lives in Tulsa with her rescue dog and is passionate about college basketball, documentaries, and coffee.

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