In The Know: Eliminating state income tax faces challenges | Board chair refuses to sign religious charter school contract | ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ | 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.

State Government News

Eliminating state income tax faces same challenges it did more than two decades ago: A fundamental overhaul of the state tax system and elimination of the personal income tax keeps coming up, largely driven by advocacy groups promising greater economic growth — and usually representing interests in higher income tax brackets. Most recently, Gov. Kevin Stitt renewed the call to phase out Oklahoma’s individual income tax. In all likelihood, further reductions in state income tax rates, or tax relief of some kind, will be a major issue in the 2024 legislative session. [Tulsa World]

Board chair refuses to sign controversial Catholic charter school contract: A state contract to create the nation’s first religious charter school has not yet been executed, and the chairman of the governing board that voted 3-2 to authorize it refuses to sign off on the document. [Tulsa World]

Ethics Commission job posting redone, Legislature asked to triple budget: Under the watchful eye of a deputy general counsel from the state Attorney General’s Office, the Oklahoma Ethics Commission met Friday and approved qualifications for a new executive director and specified where the job opening would be posted, discussions that apparently took place three months ago in a private executive session that was closed to the public. [NonDoc]

  • Oklahoma AG says Ethics Commission violated Open Meeting Act in search for new director [The Oklahoman]

Capitol Insider: Just what is an interim study…and why should we care?: As legislators consider issues and possible legislation during interim studies, we thought it would be a good idea to discuss what they are and what to watch for. [KGOU]

Political notebook: September general revenue beats expectations but less than a year ago: The state’s general revenue receipts were above projections in September but less than for the same month a year ago, the Office of Management and Enterprise Services reported last week. The deposits to state government’s principal operating account totaled $774.4 million. That was 11.4% above projections but 8.8% below last year. [Tulsa World]

Opinion: We asked former Oklahoma governors their perspectives on collaboration, cooperation: In light of the current climate, we asked Oklahoma’s former governors to share their insights on collaboration from their experiences as head of state. Their perspectives on how they would approach some of today’s dilemmas also will be addressed at a luncheon Oct. 26 at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church during a session called “Lessons from the Mansion: If I Were Governor Today.” [The Oklahoman]

  • Former Gov. George Nigh explains how current elected officials could be more effective [The Oklahoman]
  • What former Gov. David Walters has to say about the polarization of current politics [The Oklahoman]
  • Frank Keating advises lawmakers work together; if the USS America goes down, we all go down [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Oklahoma’s hydrogen hub bid rejected. Federal funding opportunity slips through consortium’s hands: Oklahoma officials remained optimistic Friday about the state’s potential to become a leader in the hydrogen industry despite a revelation that President Joe Biden had rejected a regional bid to become a hydrogen hub. [Oklahoma Voice]

D.C. Digest: Mullin says supporters of Palestinians ignorant: Sounding a little like a previous generation complaining about the demonstrators of the 1960s, U.S. Sen. Markwayne Mullin took to task campus protesters who are critical of Israel and supportive of Palestinians. [Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

Oklahomans concerned contentious law impacts teaching of ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ history: With the movie release of “Killers of the Flower Moon” only days away, questions still persist about Oklahoma schools’ ability to teach the historical events depicted in the film. The source of the uncertainty is House Bill 1775, a 2021 state law regulating classroom discussions on race and gender. Tribal leaders have called on the state Legislature to repeal the law, citing widespread confusion and fear among educators who worry teaching unvarnished American and Indigenous history could put them at risk. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ premieres Oct. 20. What to know about this Oklahoma story [The Oklahoman]

Osage chief’s own kin took extraordinary steps to remain safe during Reign of Terror: Geoffrey Standing Bear’s connection to the time period depicted in the upcoming film adaptation of “Killers of the Flower Moon” isn’t only his tribal heritage. It’s also his family heritage. [Tulsa World]

  • It’s authentic’: Osage Nation Chief Standing Bear praises film ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ [The Oklahoman]
  • The trials and tribulations of convicting the Osage murderers [Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

States that send a mail ballot to every voter really do increase turnout, scholars find: Lately, a rough consensus has emerged among people who study the impact of voting policies: Though they often spark fierce partisan fighting, most changes to voting laws do little to affect overall turnout, much less election results. But one fast-growing reform appears to stand out as an exception. When every registered voter gets sent a ballot in the mail — a system known as universal vote-by-mail — voting rates tend to rise, numerous studies have found. [Oklahoma Voice]

Health News

Paycom CEO’s trauma treatment inspires creation of retreat to help others: A sprawling ranch once owned by furniture store magnate Bud Mathis is now a place of healing where “functioning adults” have a shot at a free weeklong mental health retreat. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion, Ginnie Graham: Grand Mental Health entering Tulsa’s mental health services landscape: Grand Lake Mental Health Center was founded in 1977 in Vinita and in the past decade has expanded into 12 rural counties. It is now entering Tulsa’s co-occurring substance abuse and mental health provider landscape. [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Perry Lott Is Exonerated After 30 years of False Accusations: After 30 years, justice has finally prevailed for Perry Lott. Lott, who had been falsely accused of rape and burglary, was granted his freedom with the aid of DNA evidence. In 1987, Lott was charged with rape and burglary and went on to spend three decades behind bars. [The Black Wall Street Times]

  • After 35 Years, Perry Lott Receives Delayed Justice [Oklahoma Watch]
  • Opinion: Latest Oklahoma exoneration of inmate who served 30 years ought to wake people up to criminal injustice [Tony Green / Tulsa World]

In rural Oklahoma, sexual assault survivors are hours away from help: There are sexual assault nurse examiner programs in each of Oklahoma’s metropolitan areas and many are scattered throughout central and eastern Oklahoma. Out west, it’s a different story. [The Oklahoman]

Enid man sentenced after threatening Stitt, Huckabee Sanders, DeSantis: An Enid man was sentenced Friday to one year and a day in federal prison for threatening government officials online. [The Oklahoman]

Housing & Economic Opportunity

Oklahoma Section 8 halt common, but points to housing crisis: A state agency closing its application process for housing vouchers isn’t uncommon, but it does speak to larger issues. The Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency will close its waiting list for Section 8 vouchers Monday due to demand for eligible housing exceeding the supply. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Economy & Business News

Fed energy survey reflects expectations for half-year: Energy producers surveyed recently in Oklahoma and across the region reported a decline in activity in the last quarter but expectations for some pickup over the next six months. [Journal Record]

Education News

$17.7 Million in GEER 2 Money Went to Six Projects: The governor distributed all of his remaining federal COVID-19 relief dollars for education, just under $18 million, prior to a Sept. 30 deadline. Six projects were funded with Gov. Kevin Stitt’s second round of the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, or GEER. The largest of those dedicated $11 million to purchase classroom supplies for thousands of Oklahoma teachers through DonorsChoose, an online platform where teachers post needs and donors select projects to donate to. [Oklahoma Watch]

Epic co-founders, CFO facing additional charges, receive delay in preliminary hearing: Epic Charter School’s co-founders are facing additional criminal charges and have just received a judge’s OK to delay their preliminary hearing, which had been set for later this month. [Tulsa World]

Opinion: Why the threat to freedom of speech on college campuses is real: If, as Thomas Jefferson said, eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, it is also true that liberty itself requires eternal examination.  We must understand both the threat and the liberty being protected. This is especially true with freedom of speech and expression. [Jeremy D. Bailey / The Oklahoman]

General News

Report on possible reparations, repairs for 1921 Race Massacre expected in November: A report detailing Tulsans’ ideas regarding possible reparations and repairs for those harmed by the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and their descendants is expected to be presented to city councilors next month. [Tulsa World]

Designers hope future Clara Luper Civil Rights Center a ‘conduit for keeping stories alive’: When project leaders invited Oklahoma City residents to share their thoughts on the construction of a museum honoring civil rights icon Clara Luper, they heard decades’ worth of stories. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: With a mix of Gen Zs, millennials and baby boomers, new perspectives meet veteran knowledge: Employers today across all fields and industries are facing a wide variety of challenges. One of the most interesting comes from changing demographics, as new generations enter the workforce or start to move up to leadership positions. [Richard Brown / The Oklahoman]

Editorial: Why we support building a new arena: We’ve seen much commentary in recent weeks about Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt’s proposal for an estimated $900 million arena to accommodate the OKC Thunder through 2050.  [Editorial / The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • New service priority emerges in annual survey of OKC residents [Journal Record]
  • Oklahoma City selects health care nonprofit to operate new senior health, wellness center [KGOU]
  • Editorial: Don’t let a grocery store halt a project that would add housing and retail to downtown Tulsa [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“We’re in a very interesting political dynamic where on one side you see the state of Oklahoma promoting (Killers of the Flower Moon) because they gave tax credits to the filmmaker while at the same time the content of the story isn’t fit to be taught in public schools.”

-Former Osage Nation Principal Chief Jim Gray speaking about the impacts of HB 1775, which regulates classroom discussions on race and gender. [Oklahoma Voice]

Number of the Day


Estimated number of Oklahoma children who could lose child care as the result of the ending of federal child care subsidies. [The Century Foundation]

Policy Note

Four tax credits that states can adopt to ease the child care crisis: With the end of federal child care subsidies, states are scrambling for ways to keep the industry afloat and parents working. Sept. 30 marked the end of the federal fiscal year and of $24 billion in pandemic child care relief, heightening concerns about the future of an industry that has been struggling to stay afloat. [Route Fifty]

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David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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