In The Know: Budget bills, revenue cuts sent to Gov. | Senate approves legislative oversight for Medicaid plans | 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

Oklahoma Legislature sends FY ’22 state budget bills to governor: The Oklahoma Legislature bundled up nearly four dozen bills constituting the fiscal year 2022 state budget and sent them to Gov. Kevin Stitt on Thursday. The package includes a general appropriations bill — House Bill 2900 — and an array of additional instructions on how a total of $9.1 billion in state revenue is to be spent, and cuts in individual and corporate income tax rates. Thursday was the Senate’s turn to give final approval to the general appropriations bill and the tax cuts. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Senate approves framework, restrictions for Stitt’s Medicaid plan: The Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill to add legislative oversight and legal guardrails to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s plan to outsource care for most Medicaid recipients. The passage of an updated version of Senate Bill 131 gives opponents of third-party managed care a victory, but perhaps not the victory they wanted. [The Oklahoman]

  • Details are scarce on how Oklahoma’s plan to privatize Medicaid will affect mental health services [The Frontier]

Oklahoma AG opposes teaching of race theory, ’1619 Project’: Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter has joined with 19 other state attorneys general opposed to new federal rules regarding the teaching of critical race theory and the Pulitzer Prize-winning “1619 Project.” In a letter Wednesday to the U.S. Department of Education, the group said they oppose a department rule prioritizing grants for schools teaching critical race theory and the “1619 Project.” [AP News]

Health News

“History in the making:” Thousands of volunteers turn out for Oklahoma’s COVID-19 vaccine effort: Vaccines on a shelf won’t usher the end of a pandemic, and getting them into arms takes work. Oklahoma has administered nearly 3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine. Like all other states, it has done so free of charge to residents. That is possible largely because thousands of volunteers pitched into the effort. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

  • Oklahoma’s slowing COVID-19 vaccination rate could leave state vulnerable [The Oklahoman]
  • ‘Game Changer’: Vaccine rollout has Oklahoma’s top education official optimistic about fall [KOSU]
  • What to know about the COVID-19 variant identified in Oklahoma [The Oklahoman]
  • Canadian County COVID-19 vaccine tracker: 36% of people fully vaccinated [The Oklahoman]
  • Pottawatomie County COVID-19 vaccine tracker: 28% of people fully vaccinated [The Oklahoman]

State & Local Government News

Oklahoma to award 10 times more tax credits for school donations: Donors to public and private schools can expect a tenfold increase in allowable tax credits, marking a key policy priority for Republican lawmakers. Gov. Kevin Stitt said he will sign a bill to raise the maximum tax credits from $5 million to $50 million for donations to schools. Public and private schools each would have a $25 million cap on tax credits for donors through the Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Act. [The Oklahoman]

Senate OK’s bill negating charter schools access to local property tax revenue: The Senate passed a bill Thursday that would negate a recent State Board of Education decision that allows charter schools to access public school local property tax revenues. Senate Bill 229, known as the “Redbud School Funding Act,” heads to the House for consideration. The measure would tap more than $30 million in medical marijuana tax revenue to make grants to more than 300 public school districts and brick-and-mortar charter schools that receive below average local tax revenue. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Public Health Lab director resigning after 4 months on the job: After less than four months in the role, the director of the state’s embattled Public Health Lab has resigned amid the facility’s turbulent transition from Oklahoma City to Stillwater. Dr. Michael Kayser submitted his resignation letter on April 16, about three months after he stepped into the job. The letter said his resignation went into effect on April 30, but ongoing negotiations had kept Kayser in his role to “ensure a smooth transition,” an Oklahoma State Department of Health spokesman told The Frontier on Thursday. [The Frontier] The lab has been a matter of controversy since October, when the Stitt Administration announced it would move the facility to Stillwater. [KOSU]

‘No one likes surprises’: Multiple Injury Trust Fund director replaced as solution sought: The director of Oklahoma’s Multiple Injury Trust Fund — which pays certain workers’ compensation claims — has been replaced by Gov. Kevin Stitt amid frustrations from legislative leaders over benefit furloughs and what they call poor communication about the issue. Stitt appointed Stefan Wenzel to lead the typically non-appropriated state agency late Wednesday, replacing Richard Cole, who had served as the MITF’s director since the 1990s. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma posts third-largest first-time jobless claim increase in the country over past week: After seeing two weeks of declining numbers, Oklahoma posted the third-highest increase in initial jobless claims among the states last week, according to a government report. The U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday that 11,703 Oklahoma workers filed initial claims for regular state jobless benefits for the week ending Saturday. [Tulsa World]

Tulsa City Hall hacking update: Officials ID source of attack, but decline to say who is responsible, citing federal investigation: Law enforcement officials have identified the source of the recent ransomware attack on the city but are not releasing the information at this time, Mayor G.T. Bynum said Thursday. [Tulsa World]

Former Sen. Connie Johnson files to run for governor: Former Sen. Connie Johnson has filed to seek the Oklahoma Democratic Party’s nomination for governor next year. Johnson registered her campaign Monday, according to data from the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. Donald Heath is listed as the campaign’s treasurer. [NonDoc]

Federal Government News

Bice breaks with most Republicans to back Jan. 6 commission: Rep. Stephanie Bice broke with her Oklahoma colleagues and most Republicans on Wednesday to support the creation of a national commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol complex. “It is critically important that the commission’s work not interfere with ongoing criminal investigations, but there is much more we must know about the circumstances surrounding that day,” the freshman Oklahoma City lawmaker said. [The Oklahoman] She was the sole member of the Oklahoma delegation to vote in favor of a bipartisan Congressional commission to investigate the insurrection. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Inhofe: Objecting to electoral college results hurts country, helps Dems: Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) told a conservative group on Wednesday that he believes there are two main threats to the American electoral system: Democrats pushing to move from the Electoral College to a national popular vote in presidential races; and Republicans who are delegitimizing the Constitution by objecting to Electoral College results. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma delegation seeks lower lumber prices: Three Oklahoma members of Congress were among nearly 100 asking U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai to do more to lower the cost of lumber in the United States. Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Tulsa, led the bipartisan letter after his discussion with Ambassador Tai at last week’s House Ways and Means hearing on U.S. trade policy. [Southwest Ledger]

Criminal Justice News

State Corrections Board Votes to Extend Private Prison Contract: The Oklahoma Board of Corrections on Wednesday unanimously approved two contracts that will keep the North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre and Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville open through July 2023. CoreCivic, a Tennessee-based private corrections company, owns both of the prisons. The facilities combined house just under 4,200 prisoners or nearly 20% of Oklahoma’s total prison population. [Oklahoma Watch]

Lawsuit filed by family of Black man who died after Oklahoma County jail altercation with authorities: The family of a Black man who died last year following an altercation with personnel at the Oklahoma County jail has filed an excessive force lawsuit against local law enforcement and county officials. Olain Jefferson Jr., 56, died May 14, 2020, and his family is seeking a jury trial in Oklahoma County District Court. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice Advisory Council discusses Jail, SHINE, mental health: The Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory Council (CJAC) met on Thursday afternoon for their first monthly meeting in person since the early days of the pandemic. During the subdued meeting, the Council heard presentations on the ReMerge program, a facilities subcommittee, Mental Health issues, a legislative update from Carrie Slatton-Hodges, and an update on the state of the Oklahoma County Detention Center (Jail) from Trust CEO Greg Williams. [OKC Free Press]

Economy & Business News

401(k) plan launched for area small businesses: One-in-3 private-sector workers have no access to a workplace retirement plan, according to a 2020 Congressional Research Service report. The ramifications can be alarming. A 2019 report from the Federal Reserve Board shows 25% of non-retired adults have no retirement savings or pension whatsoever. [The Journal Record]

General News

Oklahomans differ on Israeli–Palestinian conflict, but all mourn lives lost in clash: As Israel and Hamas on Thursday announced a cease-fire, local people with ties to the region are dealing with the emotions sparked by an 11-day war. Mukarram Zuhair’s voice trembled with emotion as she spoke about the recent clash between Israeli Defense Forces and the Hamas terrorist group in the Gaza Strip. For Zuhair, the eruption of Middle East violence was personal. The Norman woman said 14 members of her family were recently killed by Israeli firestrikes. [The Oklahoman]

Remember & Rise tickets available online starting at midnight; more guests announced: With free tickets available online starting Friday, Tulsa’s Remember & Rise commemoration marking the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre is adding a few more special guests to its growing lineup. Organizers previously announced that singer-songwriter John Legend will headline the event, scheduled for Memorial Day, Monday, May 31, at ONEOK Field, with political activist Stacey Abrams serving as keynote speaker. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Water cutoff looms for south Tulsa apartment residents; management owes more than $100k to city [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa Port of Inola eyes future development by OK’ing infrastructure study [Tulsa World]
  • OKCPS NW Classen vertical students, families, staff offered COVID tests [OKC Free Press]
  • More details surface about OKCPS Taft Middle School closing [OKC Free Press]

Quote of the Day

“You know, we’re all for tax reform. So, let’s do tax reform instead of doing this one-off that is not accessible to everybody, that does pick a winner and it does hurt the state. It goes 0-for-3.”

-Sen. Dave Rader, R-Tulsa, speaking out against a proposed corporate income tax cut saying the bill didn’t meet three conservative standards he was taught make good tax policy. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Number of the Day


Number of incidents nationwide of cars driving through protesters from May 27 to July 7, 2020. Less than half of the drivers have been charged in those incidents.

[Source: Chicago Project on Security and Threats]

Policy Note

Protesters hit by cars recently highlight a dangerous far-right trend in America: As anti-police-violence protests spread across the U.S., dozens of drivers have accelerated into the crowds. In the U.S., vehicle rammings gained popularity on the far-right as a violent anti-protest tactic during the early waves of Black Lives Matter street-blocking protests in 2015. Memes online then normalized this behavior and encouraged drivers to take matters into their own hands. [NBC News]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.