In The Know: Changes to state question process | Candidate filing period this week | Gov. Stitt signs near-total abortion ban | 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.

Editor’s note: The Number of the Day has been updated to correct the number of statewide initiatives.

New from OK Policy

Oklahoma’s state question process should be protected: State questions provide the opportunity for Oklahoma voters to consider changes to Oklahoma laws or the state constitution through a vote of the people. From Medicaid expansion to criminal justice reform, Oklahoma voters have used initiative petitions to implement solutions addressing our state’s dire problems when lawmakers may have been unwilling or unable to take action themselves. In response, legislators this session have filed several bills that would increase the threshold for citizen-led petitions or raise the bar needed to approve them once they’re on the ballot. [Sabine Brown / OK Policy

2022 Statewide candidate filing period this week (Capitol Update): Sometime in the late fall preceding an election year, most politicians begin to occasionally sense an ever-so-slight tightening in the pit of their stomach that they can’t readily explain. The filing period for state office is this Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Filing period for incumbents is something only those who have experienced it, and those close to them, can appreciate. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update

Oklahoma News

Editorial: Legislature should scrap plan to make initiative petition process impossibly difficult: Oklahoma voters could see more of their say in government stripped away if a proposal working its way through the Legislature becomes law. House Joint Resolution 1002 would drastically change the way initiative petitions and referendums make their way to the ballot. [Editorial / Tulsa World

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signs near-total abortion ban that will take effect in August: Oklahoma will outlaw most abortions come August after Gov. Kevin Stitt signed Tuesday a bill to classify performing the procedure as a felony. [The Oklahoman] The legislation bans all abortions unless they’re necessary to save a pregnant person’s life. A person found guilty of providing an abortion would face up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $100,000. [Axios]

  • Oklahoma governor signs bill criminalizing the performing of abortions [The Washington Post]  [ABC News]  [CNN]
  • Where will abortion still be legal after Roe v. Wade is overruled? [Vox]

Efforts afoot to suspend franchise tax: Multiple measures to suspend the franchise tax on businesses – removing Oklahoma from a short list of states that still levy a franchise tax – are gaining steam. [The Journal Record

Recently from OK Policy: This legislative session, the Oklahoma legislature is set to consider several proposals that would significantly cut state revenue. Rather than cutting taxes, legislators must consider the state’s long-term fiscal health and its structural deficit by maintaining revenue streams this year and for years to come. 

State Government News

Bills seek to solve problems with property tax protests: A package of bills being considered this legislative session aims to address the instability school districts, various county resources and the state’s energy industry face owing to property valuation disputes between county assessors and energy companies. [NonDoc

Incentives for students studying teaching pass through the House: HB3564, that passed through the House this week, would create a scholarship fund for high school students working for teaching degrees. Representative Mark McBride, (R)- Moore, said the scholarship could impact around 1,200 to 1,500 students. [Fox 25

Nearly half of Oklahoma voters favor permanent daylight saving time: Nearly half of Oklahoma voters would prefer to have permanent daylight saving time, according to a new poll taken amid efforts in Congress and the state Legislature to address concerns about biannual clock changes. [The Oklahoman

  • Oklahoma doctors explain why sleep experts want to see an end to twice yearly time changes [The Oklahoman

House sends governor bill seeking to limit public access to images of dead law officers: Legislation its authors say would make more difficult the release of some law enforcement crime-scene images passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives and was sent to the Governor’s Office on Monday. [Tulsa World

Tribal Nations News

Cherokee chief calls on government to help end opioid crisis: The Cherokee Nation is using millions of dollars in opioid-settlement funds for drug-treatment centers, but more resources are needed from the government to address addiction within the reservation, the chief told members of a U.S. House panel. [Cherokee Phoenix]

  • Cherokee Nation Chief Hoskin, Deputy Chief Warner propose building drug treatment facilities using initial opioid settlement funds [Indian Country Today]
  • Where do US opioid trials, settlements stand? [Indian Country Today]

Oklahoma City Indian Clinic cyberattack causes pharmacy disruptions: Oklahoma City Indian Clinic (OKCIC) experienced a cyberattack that has disabled certain pharmacy services indefinitely, a statement on its website explained. [Health IT Security]

Muscogee Nation names new Surgeon General, first of its kind: The former commissioner of health for the state of Oklahoma has been named the first surgeon general for the Muscogee Nation. Dr. Lance Frye, who is a citizen of the Choctaw Nation, led Oklahoma’s response to the pandemic before resigning last October. [Indian Country Today]

Voting and Election News

Dills plans to leave Oklahoma House: State Rep. Sheila Dills, R-Tulsa, has announced she will not seek reelection to represent House District 69. Dills was first elected in 2018, and has championed multiple issues, including charter school reform. [The Journal Record

Candidates to be asked to sign anti-corruption pledge by Clean Up Oklahoma:  A recently formed political action committee will be asking candidates for office to sign what they are calling an anti-corruption pledge. Clean Up Oklahoma will be asking candidates who file for statewide, legislative and other offices to sign the pledge. [Tulsa World

Health News

Report ranks Oklahoma 49th for physically active adults: Oklahomans were among the least physically active Americans even before the pandemic, and COVID-19 lockdowns and economic slowdowns only made things worse, according to a study by [The Journal Record

Criminal Justice News

As makeup of parole board shifts, members question policy: The makeup of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board has shifted and its members are more strenuously questioning parole policy. At the board’s April meeting Monday, members agreed to seek the opinion of Attorney General John O’Connor on the board’s role in administrative parole. [Public Radio Tulsa

Five ways communities can use jails less: Overcrowding at local jails has been a problem in the United States since at least the 1960s. High-population jails are more vulnerable to disease, including covid, and have been linked to increased violence against inmates and jail staff. Jails are expensive, costing taxpayers a total of $25 billion by 2017—a sixfold increase in 40 years, according to a 2021 report from the Pew Charitable Trusts. But this problem is not intractable. [Big If True

New from OK Policy: As Oklahoma’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic made clear, our state can incarcerate fewer people without an increased risk of crime, which in turn also helps make our communities safer and more healthy.

Return of the firing squad: a quicker but less sanitized method of execution is gaining ground in the US: South Carolina is not alone: Oklahoma and Mississippi have also formally adopted the firing squad, though Utah remains the only state that has actually used the method in the past century. [The Guardian]

Police to hold second public meeting on license plate reader cameras: The second in a series of public meetings on the Tulsa Police Department’s plan to install license plate reader cameras is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Ellen Ochoa Elementary School, 12000 E. 31st St. The meeting will be held in both English and Spanish. [Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Experts: Inflation won’t end anytime soon: The inflation described as transitory when it began squeezing consumers and businesses one year ago isn’t going anywhere soon, experts agree. It likely will hang around another two years or more. The annual rate of inflation in the United States, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, rose from 1.23% in 2020 to 4.7% in 2021, but it didn’t stop there. [The Journal Record

Recently from OK Policy: How should Oklahoma’s Legislature respond to inflation?

Education News

Enid library board bans some book displays, programs as questions remain over interpretation: The Enid library board followed through on twin proposals banning sex- and gender-related book displays and library programs with two narrow votes at the tail end of a 2½-hour meeting Monday. [Enid News & Eagle]

Anderson, McElhaney sworn in to OKCPS Board: Two people began new terms of office with the administration of the oath of office for Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education Monday. [OKC Free Press]

Oklahoma Local News

‘Back where we belong’: Public defender’s office returns to courthouse: After a 25-year hiatus, the Tulsa County Public Defender’s Office is back under the roof of the Tulsa County Courthouse, where many interested parties, as well as state statute, say it should be. [Tulsa World

Emergency management plans for future wildfire responses: On April 5, at the Great Plains Coliseum, Comanche County Emergency Management officials met with representatives from fire departments throughout the county for an after-action review. The subject of the review was the outbreak of fires on March 20 that resulted in the death of volunteer firefighter April Partridge. [The Lawton Constitution]

Quote of the Day

“The states with the lowest per capita state and local tax revenues are not thriving economically compared to other states at higher per capita levels. While this observation is merely a correlation it suggests that adequately funded government services are essential for economic growth.” 

– Susan Pace Hamill, professor of law at the University of Alabama School of Law, noting that low taxes are not necessarily the key to prosperity [The Journal Record]

Recently from OK Policy: Cutting taxes this year would be short-sighted and harmful

Number of the Day


Since statehood, Oklahoma voters have passed 235 statewide initiates that reached the ballot via initiative petition, legislative referendum, or popular referendum.

[Source: NCLS Statewide Ballot Measures Database]

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

Policy Note

Direct Democracy and the Fate of Medicaid Expansion: Oklahoma and Missouri are the most recent states to expand Medicaid under the ACA through direct democracy rather than legislation or executive decisions. The vote margin in Missouri (53%) was more comfortable than in Oklahoma, where slightly more than 50% of voters endorsed expansion. Yet the consequences of both states’ amendments are considerable. By 1 estimate, more than 200 000 Oklahomans with low incomes will gain Medicaid coverage, while Missouri’s Amendment 2 will close the coverage gap for roughly 230 000 people. Moreover, because both of these expansion efforts were passed as constitutional amendments, their gains will be difficult for governors or legislators to reverse. [JAMA Health Forum]

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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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