In The Know: Cutting corporate income tax hurts public services, local businesses | Vaccine won’t threaten insurance coverage | 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

Want to reduce Oklahoma’s public services, hurt local business, and shrink our economy? Eliminate the corporate income tax!: Tax cuts are not free; we pay for them by reducing government services or increasing other taxes, which thanks to State Question 640 requires supermajority support in both houses. Tax cuts often don’t help the state’s economy because they often benefit higher-income taxpayers who are more likely to save their tax cut than spend it. The state sees little impact from those out-of-state entities who benefit from tax cuts because they may not spend any of the money in our local economy. On the other hand, government spending mainly stays in Oklahoma and supports hundreds of thousands of middle-class, high-skilled jobs. [Paul Shinn / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Insurance commissioner says vaccine won’t threaten coverage: Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine will have no impact on life insurance coverage or benefits, Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Glen Mulready said Thursday in response to what he said was misinformation circulating online. [AP News

  • Facebook group helps 1,400 Oklahomans get vaccine [The Oklahoman]

After Oklahomans waited hours to vote, lawmakers look to extend early voting: After some Oklahoma City voters waited two or more hours to cast early ballots in November, Oklahoma lawmakers are looking to extend the state’s early-voting period. State legislators have advanced a bill to add a fourth in-person early voting day in presidential election years. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Opinion: Oklahoma is on the verge of improved health outcomes: I am one of the lucky Oklahomans who can count on health insurance to cover a large portion of the billing that comes from illness and preventative care. There are far too many out there who are not as fortunate, but that is about to change. With the passage of Medicaid expansion, we will see around 200,000 additional Oklahoma adults qualify for coverage starting in July. [Joe Dorman / Enid News & Eagle]

OHCA board narrowly approves contract merger for company selected to build state health information exchange: In a procedural move, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority board narrowly voted to merge a global software company’s existing contract into its new one to develop a statewide health information exchange. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Free speech at risk under new legislation, Oklahoma organizations say: Several Oklahoma organizations and nonprofits say legislation meant to tighten restrictions on protests will limit free speech and protect only certain citizens. Most of the new legislation was introduced in response to demonstrations calling for police reform and racial justice after the death of George Floyd, and leaders of Oklahoma nonprofits said in a virtual roundtable discussion hosted Tuesday by the Black Wall Street Times that the bills will hinder Oklahomans’ ability to protest and could even put them in danger. [Tulsa World]

Executive tells Oklahoma regulators Southwest Power Pool is reviewing winter storm response: An executive at the Southwest Power Pool told state regulators on Thursday they are conducting a comprehensive review of their response to Feburary’s winter storms, which included rolling blackouts for thousands of Oklahomans during subzero temperatures. [Public Radio Tulsa] The polar vortex that swept across the region the week of Feb. 15 provided situations the Southwest Power Pool had never before encountered, breaking 3,000 daily and 79 all-time local low temperature records. [The Journal Record]

  • Why we still don’t know how much your utility bills will spike after winter storm [The Oklahoman]

Unemployment filings decline as Oklahoma prepares to distribute recently approved program funds: State officials expect to begin distributing new federal unemployment benefits by the end of next week, they said Thursday as a new government report shows unemployment filings continuing to decline. The new COVID-19 relief package, the American Rescue Plan, extends federal unemployment benefits to Oklahomans through Sept. 6. [Tulsa World] Shelley Zumwalt, executive director of the commission, said the agency had been working around the clock for the past week on implementing the provisions of the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill pertaining to unemployment. [The Oklahoman] The new COVID-19 relief package extends federal unemployment benefits to Oklahomans through Sept. 6, 2021, according to information provided by the OESC. [Free Press OKC]

‘Tilting at Windmills’: What happens when the public fights for open records: Welcome to Custer County, Oklahoma, where emailing a public record is apparently a burden for the local sheriff’s office. After a year of limited public interactions and meetings over videoconference amid COVID-19, it may come as a surprise that a case involving emailed records has reached the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals. [Oklahoma Watch]

Column: Don’t break Oklahoma’s Promise by adding financial penalties: It’s often said that if something’s not broken, don’t fix it. An even more basic principle is that if something’s not broken, don’t break it. Oklahoma lawmakers this session risk violating this commonsense principle with legislation, Senate Bill 639, that would cause irreparable damage to one of the state’s most successful and worthwhile programs, Oklahoma’s Promise. [David Blatt Op-Ed / Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Tribes to get record funding from American Rescue Plan: Tribes in Oklahoma are both hopeful and anxious as they wait for the funds and spending rules from the American Rescue Plan that President Joe Biden signed last week. Native American tribes nationwide will receive more than $31 billion as part of the American Rescue Plan, the largest one-time investment to Native American communities in history. However, the amount of money set to be given to Oklahoma tribes on an individual basis is largely unknown and likely will be until further tribal consultation has occurred. [Gaylord News / NonDoc]

Flood of Capitol riot, tribal cases swamps U.S. prosecutors: The U.S. Justice Department’s to-do list was already daunting, especially with this year’s flood of pandemic-delayed federal cases. And now two very different legal concerns — insurrection cases in Washington and tribal land disputes out West — are threatening to totally swamp the department. [AP News]

  • Oklahoma appellate court announces more dismissals following McGirt; federal prosecutors agree to take 2015 murder case [Tulsa World] | [The Oklahoman]
  • Manslaughter conviction for ex-Tulsa Police officer overturned on jurisdiction grounds post-McGirt [Tulsa World] | [Public Radio Tulsa]

Okla. House delegation splits on Violence Against Women Act reauthorization vote: The often-united, all-G.O.P. Oklahoma delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives diverged on Wednesday, with three of five representatives breaking ranks to join Democrats in voting to renew the Violence Against Women Act. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma among states suing Biden in bid to revive Keystone XL pipeline: Attorneys general from 21 states on Wednesday sued to to overturn President Joe Biden’s cancellation of the contentious Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada. Led by Ken Paxton of Texas and Austin Knudsen of Montana, the states said Biden had overstepped his authority when he revoked the permit for the Keystone pipeline on his first day in office. [Public Radio Tulsa] This lawsuit comes after Biden reversed, through executive order, a 2019 approval of the pipeline’s border crossing between the U.S. and Canada by President Donald Trump. [The Oklahoman] The lawsuit states that Biden does not have the unilateral authority to change energy policy that the U.S. Congress has set, Paxton said [Reuters]

Economic Opportunity News

Closing the racial wealth gap focus of summer Economic Empowerment Day: Closing the racial wealth gap will be a focus of Economic Empowerment Day, part of the 10-day event in conjunction with the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commemoration. The goal is to create a collective focal point for the national conversation on the racial wealth gap and the inequality in access to capital. The event will include interactive sessions to drive change and start the national dialogue for economic justice. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Edmond mayoral debate set for Wednesday, March 24 [NonDoc]
  • Two political newcomers vie for Senate District 22 in special election April 6 [Free Press OKC]
  • Area nonprofits partnering with retailers to boost black-owned businesses [Tulsa World]
  • George W. Bush to promote new book with Magic City Books event streaming online [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma ‘Muslim Day at the Capitol’ will be virtual for 2021 [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“What’s the purpose of (open records) laws? Is it transparency for everybody or just transparency for a select few? Ultimately we’re making sure we have good, effective governance.”

-A. Jay Wagner, a Marquette University assistant professor who is suing Custer County officials over a records request [Oklahoma Watch

Number of the Day

More than $100,000

Half of Oklahomans expected to experience tax cuts from House Bill 2041 are those earning more than $100,000 per year

[Source: OK Tax Commission]

Policy Note

Why are we still pretending ‘trickle-down’ economics work?: The Laffer curve has done immense damage to the US economy in the 40 years since its inception. It also ignores a fundamental reality: tax cuts for the rich don’t work. Each and every time state or federal governments have tested Laffer’s trickle-down theory, deficits balloon, rich folks hoard their wealth at the top, and average Americans suffer. [The Guardian]

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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.

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