In The Know: Bills to change initiative petition | Corporate franchise tax cut advances | Fines and fees reform in Oklahoma | 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

(Audio) Fines and Fees Reform Clears OK Senate: Join Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform as they dive into fines and fees reform in Oklahoma with David Gateley of the Oklahoma Policy Institute. They’re diving into three bills surrounding fines and fees reform with an added sneak peak into our expungement episode and the massive effect all of these bills would have on hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans. [Pulse / Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform]

 Recently from OK Policy: This session, lawmakers should restructure how we fund vital court services to alleviate the financial burden of criminal fines and fees in communities statewide. Right now, the majority of court funding comes from court fines and fees, and most criminal court collections are levied against the poorest Oklahomans in rural and urban communities. 

Chamber of origin deadline brings heavy workload this week (Capitol Update): With only two days of legislative action last week, there’s not a lot to report, but this week—deadline week for passage of bills off the floor of the chamber of origin—will produce a heavy workload. By the end of the week, it could be possible to start reflecting on what will be some of the major issues that will land on the negotiating table for House and Senate leadership and the governor at the end of session. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma GOP lawmakers seek to make it harder for state questions to get on the ballot: Republican legislators in Oklahoma are pursuing legislation that could make it harder for state questions to get on the ballot and pass. Organizers say the proposed legislation is a political maneuver that could limit residents’ ability to circumvent the Oklahoma Legislature and pursue direct democracy. [The Oklahoman]  

Senate advances bill to put corporate franchise tax on hold: The Oklahoma Senate on Monday passed a bill that would put a moratorium on the corporate franchise tax. It would end it in tax year 2023 and years going forward. The measure would result in a decrease in revenue of $57.2 million for fiscal year 2024. [Tulsa World]

New from OK Policy: Business leaders recognize that poor education and health outcomes are deterrents to new corporations. Oklahoma should focus on investing in shared services rather than continuing to cut corporate taxes.

Editorial: Stitt’s proposal to eliminate waiting list for Oklahomans with disabilities is right move: Gov. Kevin Stitt’s proposal to spend $20 million to clear the 13-year wait list to get services for Oklahomans with intellectual or developmental disabilities is a welcomed and right move. More than 5,000 Oklahomans with disabilities have been put on a list for services managed by the Department of Human Services. [Editorial / Tulsa World

Capitol Watch: Just how transparent is Oklahoma’s Legislature: With no discussion or debate, Oklahoma’s Legislature again brushed off a proposal that could have dramatically changed what the public knows about the bills lawmakers craft. A proposal that would’ve ended Oklahoma’s status as one of a handful of states that allows the legislature to exempt itself from open records and meeting laws quietly, and with little fanfare, failed to clear a key legislative deadline earlier this month. [Oklahoma Watch

State Government News

Oklahoma House gets nitpicky about local control: The Oklahoma House of Representatives decided Monday to let local folks handle school kids with head lice but to stay away from gardening. With a Thursday floor deadline approaching, the House spent considerable time on those two issues, as well as the care and training of elephants. [Tulsa World

‘Coordinate those needs’: Bill tries to expand community school initiatives: Community school initiatives throughout the country focus on partnerships between a school and resources within the community in order to bring those resources into one location for easy access to families. HB 3374, authored by Rep. Tammy West (R-OKC) and Senate Education Committee Vice Chairman Dewayne Pemberton (R-Muskogee), advanced 78-12 off the House floor Monday. [NonDoc

Oklahoma lawmakers taking a conservative approach to budget despite windfall: Oklahoma lawmakers said they have a record $10.4 billion to budget for fiscal year 2023, but they plan to take a conservative approach. While the $10.4 billion is a record high number for lawmakers to work with, Sen. Thompson said he would like to see the Legislature spend only 90% to 91% of the money and keep some for the future, citing economic uncertainties. [The Center Square

Proposal aims to combat ‘period poverty’ in Oklahoma: The state Senate on Monday approved a proposal that calls feminine hygiene products “medically necessary” and seeks to make them more accessible to those in need. [Tulsa World]  

Bill would pay for sheriff’s deputies to assist marijuana grow inspections: An Oklahoma bill in session would direct taxes to local law enforcement agencies to have deputies assist inspectors at grow sites. If passed, House Bill 3530 would create a “County Sheriff Public Safety Grant Revolving Fund” with revenue from the state excise tax on medical marijuana. [The Norman Transcript]

Off-road diesel tax could be used to fix Oklahoma roads damaged by oil and gas production: 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.  [The Oklahoman

Bill would give GRDA authority to regulate public accesses along Illinois River: Legislation allowing Grand River Dam Authority to crack down on people blocking public accesses along the Illinois River floated easily out of the state Senate. [CNHI via The Norman Transcript]

Federal Government News

Ketanji Brown Jackson gives opening statement at confirmation hearings: Following hours of opening statements from Democratic and Republican senators of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson finally broke her silence in an opening statement on Monday afternoon. [The Black Wall Street Times

Economic Opportunity

Complex affordable housing crisis on display across Oklahoma City: What began as an obvious and growing concern about the need for affordable housing opportunities for Oklahoma City’s increasing homeless population has spiraled into a full-blown crisis amid exploding development and high-demand markets. [OKC Free Press]

Education News

Oklahoma school leaders worried about hiring teachers for next school year: Many Oklahoma Public School districts are already planning for next year when it comes to hiring teachers. Green Country District Leaders say there aren’t enough graduates to keep up with the number of teachers who are retiring or leaving the profession. [News On 6

  • Fewer people are getting teacher degrees. Prep programs sound the alarm [Education Week
  • ‘The program changed my life’: OKCPS bridges gaps with diversity teacher initiatives [The Oklahoman
  • Column: Students are the motivation for public school teachers [Column / Tulsa World

Oklahoma Local News

‘Pike Off OTA’ organizes, Council to pass resolution against turnpike plans: A nonprofit organization called Pike Off OTA (Oklahoma Turnpike Authority) has called a press conference ahead of the council meeting Tuesday. The council has expressed unanimous support to adopt a resolution Tuesday to disavow the OTA’s plans to build two turnpikes in Norman — one along Indian Hills Road to connect Moore, Norman and Oklahoma City and another in east Norman, an extension of the Kickapoo Turnpike west of the Lake Thunderbird watershed. [The Norman Transcript]

Oklahoma County Commissioners approve energy incentive, extend burn ban: Monday, the Board of Oklahoma County Commissioners heard from several representatives of property development firms about Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE), a form of financing that is used to make new developments more energy efficient. The Board went on to approve the contract to formalize the establishment of the C-PACE program in Oklahoma County. [OKC Free Press]

Quote of the Day

“After cutting corporate and personal taxes last year, lawmakers are considering further revenue decreases, including the elimination of the grocery tax and further lowering income taxes. Lawmakers shouldn’t forget how those lean (budget) years tore apart the state’s basic services.”

– Tulsa World Editorial Board, describing how budget cuts have hurt the state’s essential services, including services for Oklahomans with intellectual or developmental disabilities which currently has a 13-year wait list. [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


The number of Oklahomans enrolled in Medicaid expansion, as of March 21, 2022

[Source: Oklahoma Health Care Authority]

Policy Note

Why millions on Medicaid are at risk of losing coverage in the months ahead: The Biden administration and state officials are bracing for a great unwinding: millions of people losing their Medicaid benefits when the pandemic health emergency ends. Some might sign up for different insurance. Many others are bound to get lost in the transition. [NPR]

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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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