In The Know: Corporate income tax cuts | Potential change to state judiciary | Expect flurry of legislative activity | 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

Lawmakers voted down a corporate income tax cut this spring. Leadership should leave it out of the budget: Cutting the corporate income tax — which was proposed in the failed House Bill 4358 — overwhelmingly benefits wealthy and out-of-state corporations over everyday Oklahomans and locally owned businesses. The Senate Finance committee rejected the bill 6-3 in April, so legislative leadership should keep the provisions of this bill off the table as they complete their closed-door negotiations for next year’s state budget. [Emma Morris / OK Policy

Expect a flurry of legislative activity as end of session nears (Capitol Update): I don’t know how many bills are left to be considered, but I imagine you’ll see a considerable “firehose” effect this week. There were a few policy disagreements between House and Senate leadership that slowed work the past few weeks, but that’s normal. The biggest remaining issue is the budget, which is accompanied by the tax cut issue. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma’s new abortion law could be undermined, governor admits: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Sunday acknowledged concerns that his state’s strict new law on abortion could be circumvented on tribal lands within the state. “That’s something that a lot of Oklahomans, we’ve heard the rumblings as well,” Stitt, a Republican, told host Shannon Bream on “Fox News Sunday.” Earlier this month, Stitt signed one of the nation’s strictest laws on abortion. [Politico]

  • Oklahoma Gov. defends strict abortion law, addresses whether ‘super liberal’ tribal clinics may use loophole [Fox News] [Full interview on Fox News]
  • Oklahoma governor warns tribes not to create abortion havens [The Hill]
  • Oklahoma abortion restrictions impede patient care, doctors say [The Oklahoman]  [The Oklahoman
  • ‘This is real’: in Oklahoma, a post-Roe world has arrived [The Guardian]
  • Abortion rights supporters rally Saturday at Oklahoma Capitol [The Oklahoman
  • Women’s rights groups march in Tulsa for ‘Bans Off Our Bodies’ protest [KTUL
  • Protesters rally at state Capitol, in Enid to support abortion rights [CNHI via Enid News & Eagle]
  • People of color, the poor and other marginalized people to bear the brunt if Roe v. Wade is overturned [Yahoo News

Change coming to decades-old Landlord Tenant Act: A major law left largely unchecked since the 1970s is getting an update, as Oklahoma legislators give more power to renters. Rep. Carol Bush has led the charge, authoring a new bill that’s been passed into law that tweaks the Landlord Tenant Act. [KFOR]

Recently from OK Policy: Oklahoma needs to do more to ensure everyone has access to a stable home

Column: Keep Oklahoma judges out of politics: Court reform has worked in Oklahoma. Since the mid-1960s there has been little or no rumor of corruption in the judiciary. Where judges are oppressive, they have generally been removed from office quickly. Today, however, the forces of reaction and self-interest threaten to turn the clock back and to reimpose the bad old days on Oklahoma’s legal system. [Opinion / Tulsa World

  • Oklahoma voters could be asked to change state Supreme Court nominating process [The Oklahoman
  • VIEWPOINT: Are uninformed state legislators setting up Oklahoma courts for failure? [Opinion / Enid News & Eagle] 

Recent Capitol Update: Proposed changes would imbue state judiciary system with unnecessary politics

State Government News

Joint Committee on Administrative Rules delays vote on HB 1775: The House and Senate sides of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules met together for the first time Thursday afternoon, and Co-Chairman Rep. Terry O’Donnell (R-Catoosa) withdrew a resolution that sought to reject rules promulgated by the Oklahoma State Department of Education related to HB 1775, a 2021 bill that banned the teaching of certain concepts regarding race and gender in Oklahoma’s public schools. [NonDoc

Oklahoma promised to make toll roads free. After 75 years, here’s where that promise stands: When the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority was created in 1947, the plan was to sell $38 million in bonds to fund construction of a modern toll road between Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Once the debt was paid, the tolls would end. That never happened. [The Oklahoman

Gov. Kevin Stitt responds to critical report by accusing DA of duping grand jurors: An Oklahoma County grand jury on Thursday sharply criticized Stitt in a final report on its months-long investigation of the parole board. Gov. Kevin Stitt on Friday denounced a grand jury investigation of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board as a sham from the beginning. [The Oklahoman

Major changes coming for medical marijuana industry:  A few major changes to Oklahoma’s medical marijuana industry already have been signed into law, while others continue to labor through further discussion in committee during the last few weeks of the legislative session. [The Journal Record

Oklahoma sports betting bill fails: A bill that would have allowed tribes to offer sports betting for the first time in casinos has failed. Revenue from the bill would have bolstered public school funding. [CNHI via Enid News & Eagle]

Capitol Notebook: Oklahoma Legislature sends Stitt bill to stop spam calls: In an attempt to limit spam telephone calls, the Oklahoma Legislature on Thursday gave final passage to a bill that could give residents possible recourse to robocalls and scams. [The Oklahoman]

Voting and Election News

Oklahoma primary election is approaching: With the Oklahoma primary election a little more than one month away, the cost of just about anything has shot up. Oklahoma resident Mike Terry said he’s reeling. [KTEN]

McGirt ruling becomes issue in race to succeed Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe: Some Republicans vying to succeed U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe are expressing deep concerns about the McGirt decision and pledging to author legislation to blunt the impact in eastern Oklahoma. [The Oklahoman

  • Rep. Markwayne Mullin wants to ‘bring Oklahoma values to DC’ in GOP Senate bid [Washington Examiner]

Oklahoma AG candidates on the attack: Spotlight on refunded Biden donation draws ad firing back: If anything matters more in a Republican primary than loyalty to former President Donald Trump, it might be antipathy for current President Joe Biden. That is why Attorney General John O’Connor launched a television ad this week attacking challenger Gentner Drummond for a $1,000 contribution to Biden in 2020 that was quickly withdrawn. [Tulsa World

Clean Up Oklahoma working to cleans up state politics: Clean Up Oklahoma is looking to clean up the political scene in Oklahoma City. While the organization has a statewide mission, many locals, including Tahlequah Mayor Sue Catron, have seen advertisements about the group. [The Express Star]

Health News

Oklahoma State Medical Association gets political with $5M ‘pro-science’ campaign: On the back end of the COVID-19 pandemic that left medical professionals tired and baffled by the politicization of the health crisis, the Oklahoma State Medical Association is taking a more public-facing role in Oklahoma’s political discourse. Medical association President Dr. David Holden said the campaign, which will run through 2024, is unprecedented because of the sheer amount of dedicated funding.  [The Oklahoman

Baby formula shortage: One woman’s quest to secure food for her infants: After Allie Hodges’ twin girls were born premature in early March, the hospital sent them home with about a week’s supply of baby formula made especially for preemies. Hodges said for a few weeks after the twins were sent home, she was able to purchase more of the special formula with relative ease after the hospital-provided supply ran out. [Tulsa World

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma County jail inmate dies after possible drug overdose: An Oklahoma County jail inmate died Friday, the seventh so far this year. Eddie Garcia, 25, of Oklahoma City, was pronounced dead at a hospital at 3:03 a.m. Friday, according to a news release. A detention officer found him unresponsive in his cell about 2 a.m. Friday during a sight check. [The Oklahoman] Jail officials are investigating the death as well as the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner’s Office. [OKC Free Press]  

68-year-old woman suffers multiple broken bones in OHP arrest: A great-grandmother has multiple broken bones after being arrested by an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper earlier this week. According to OHP, Nancy Kemp, 68, was pulled over on I-35 near Seward Road. [KFOR]

Economic Opportunity

‘Game changer’: OU plans Polytechnic Institute in Tulsa: University of Oklahoma President Joe Harroz announced plans to develop a new Polytechnic Institute in Tulsa. Board members are expected to review more details and establish a timeline for the new Polytechnic Institute’s development at their June meeting, but the university hopes the concept will provide significant returns on investment for the state’s economy, its workforce, its business community and the education landscape in Tulsa. [NonDoc

  • University of Oklahoma to found new polytechnic institute in Tulsa [The Oklahoman
  • Investing in Tulsa: Plans for OU Polytechnic Institute discussed at regents meeting [Tulsa World

Debt-free degree path helping Tulsa-area early childhood educators achieve ‘calling’: On Friday, just over a year since starting back, Kiefer resident Sunny Wachsmuth officially graduated from Tulsa Community College with her associate’s degree in early childhood education.  Wachsmuth is the first person in her family to graduate from college, she said. And it was only possible because her education has been — and will continue to be — mostly debt-free. [Tulsa World

Economy & Business News

Striking Apache Dollar General workers quit en masse: On Tuesday, after a one-day, impromptu strike to get the Dollar General corporation to inspect and possibly repair air conditioning at a store in Apache, the workforce at the store collectively walked off the job. [The Lawton Constitution]

Oklahoma reaches 20-year low for continued unemployment claims: The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission reported Thursday that continued claims for unemployment benefits have reached a 20-year low. [The Journal Record]

Education News

Oklahoma has received no complaints of CRT violations in textbooks, Sec. Walters warns publishers anyway: An Oklahoma State Department of Education spokeswoman says the state has not received any formal complaints of textbooks containing Critical Race Theory or information that violates House Bill 1775. But State Secretary of Education Ryan Walters wrote a warning to publishers against publishing any content that might contain CRT anyway. [KGOU

Data breach at OKCPS third-party vendor exposes student information: A data breach at a third-party tech vendor could have exposed sensitive information about individual students in Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS). [OKC Free Press]

OKCPS to expand fun, successful reading program district-wide next year: The Raising a Reader program has already been a rousing success at Willow Brook, Thelma Parks, and Martin Luther King Elementary Schools in Oklahoma City Public Schools. But, beginning with the 2022-23 school season, the program will be in place at every OKCPS school with Pre-K through 2nd grade. [OKC Free Press]

General News

Is conservation worthwhile? Outdoors education, experiences make it evident that it is: As an ecologist, I often am asked, “What is the value of conservation?”  In today’s world of competing, economic land uses (energy and raw goods production, agriculture, recreation) and societal needs (careers, health care, nutrition, shelter), it is legitimate to question whether expending public resources to conserve species near extinction is worthwhile. [Opinion / The Oklahoman

Oklahoma Local News

City facing fierce backlash over ordinance “criminalizing” homelessness: The City of Tulsa is facing backlash over a proposed ordinance that would outlaw houseless Tulsans sleeping on sidewalks. If passed, the proposal makes it “unlawful” for anyone to “sit, kneel, recline or lie down” in a public right-of-way. [The Black Wall Street Times

Bynum visits White House to discuss ARPA funding for law enforcement: Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum visited the White House on Friday to talk about how the city has used American Rescue Plan Act funding to hire new police officers. Bynum was among a group of elected officials, chiefs of police and community violence intervention specialists from across the country who met with President Biden to discuss the benefits of using ARPA funding to improve public safety in their communities. [Tulsa World

Taking pride in the east side: Area Oklahoma City residents push for continued growth: Pride runs deep for residents of Oklahoma City’s historically and still predominantly Black eastside neighborhoods, and after decades of underinvestment, some recent developments are providing hope for further improvements. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

Adding even more corporate income tax cuts would not help the state’s economy. In fact, it could drive businesses away as revenue cuts will continue to constrict the state’s ability to provide basic and vital public services.

– Emma Morris, Health Care and Revenue Policy Analyst for Oklahoma Policy Institute [OK Policy]

Number of the Day


The number of years Oklahoma voters have been waiting for SQ 781’s investments in mental health and substance use disorders, as of May 2022

[Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute]

Policy Note

Voters still waiting for SQ 781’s investments in mental health, substance use disorders: Though the Legislature has again failed to fund the treatments that SQ 781 statutorily required, we know that justice reform has measurably reduced the prison population and that mental health remains severely underfunded. There’s no getting around the fact that sustainable progress in public safety will require a much greater investment in substance abuse and mental health services than lawmakers have shown an appetite for so far. [Oklahoma Policy Institute]

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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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