In The Know: Expanding unemployment insurance to more workers would protect families and Oklahoma’s economy | Capitol Update | 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

Expanding unemployment insurance to more workers would protect families and Oklahoma’s economy: Immigrants without work authorization were shut out from both federal and state unemployment insurance, despite the fact that they’ve paid millions into the program. In order to support everyday workers, Oklahoma needs to create an excluded workers fund — similar to existing unemployment insurance — specifically for people typically left out of the unemployment system. [Gabriela Ramirez-Perez / OK Policy]

Balancing state savings versus investments in Oklahoma’s needs (Capitol Update): The Board of Equalization certified $8.7 billion available for appropriation from the General Revenue Fund for Fiscal Year 2024 (beginning July 1, 2023) — an 18.5 percent increase over this year’s certification. One of the questions legislators will be asked to resolve, as Rep. Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, Chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, put it is, “How much savings is enough?” [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

State Government News

What’s ahead on the Oklahoma political front? Eight storylines to follow in 2023: 2022 was a captivating year for Oklahoma politics, which included compelling elections, the fall of Roe v. Wade that triggered a state abortion ban, and numerous reports of financial scandals. But the state’s political landscape over the next 12 months could be equally as interesting with more elections, new administrations and policy proposals that would significantly alter everything from health care to taxes. [The Oklahoman]

Looking Ahead to the 2023 Legislative Session: Bill filing is still underway, with the legislature facing a Jan. 19 deadline to introduce bills and joint resolutions. But through public statements and initial filings, lawmakers have started to signal what their priorities will be in the coming months. [Oklahoma Watch]

Treat, McCall officially chosen to lead Oklahoma’s Legislature in 2023: Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, will continue serving as Senate president pro tempore, and Atoka Republican Charles McCall retained his post as speaker of the House. Treat was first elevated to the position in 2019, and McCall has been House speaker since 2016. [The Oklahoman]

Appeals court: No common thread in fracking class action: A group of plaintiffs injured by earthquakes caused by wastewater disposal injection in hydraulic fracturing operations in Oklahoma cannot form a class action to sue oil and gas companies for damages, the Oklahoma Court of Appeals has affirmed. The plaintiffs’ claims involve several different earthquakes that affected several counties, and their claims were too varied to form a class, the court ruled. Instead, the plaintiffs may be able to seek judgment against some of the largest oil and gas companies in Oklahoma on an individual basis. [Journal Record]

Turnpike authority votes to continue expansion work amid threat of lawsuit: More than $132 million in contracted engineering and consulting work was put on hold last month when Seminole County Judge Timothy Olsen ruled turnpike officials “willfully” violated the Oklahoma Open Meetings Act when they withheld details of ACCESS Oklahoma before commissioners voted on contracts at their Feb. 22, 2022, meeting. [The Oklahoman]

Gov. Kevin Stitt: ‘I support sports betting in Oklahoma: Stitt’s comments come after Rep. Ken Luttrell (R-Ponca City) recently introduced another bill seeking to legalize sports betting in the Sooner State. [KOKH Fox 25]

  • Governor Kevin Shows Support For Betting In Oklahoma [New 9]

First Asian-American nominated for Speaker of the Oklahoma House: Representative Cyndi Munson (D-Oklahoma City) was nominated for the Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, becoming the first Asian-American to be nominated as leader of either legislative body in Oklahoma history. [Stillwater News Press]

Federal Government News

House adjourns without a new speaker as McCarthy loses three rounds of voting: recap: The House of Representatives adjourned Tuesday without a new speaker after GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy lost three straight ballots in the face of hardline opposition, the first time in a century the usually pro-forma process has taken more than one vote. [USA Today via The Oklahoman]

  • New Oklahoma congressman breaks on House speaker vote as lawmakers begin new terms [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Warren Clinic celebrates opening of new $27.5M facility in Owasso: Saint Francis Health System hosted a blessing and dedication ceremony with nurses, physicians and community leaders at its new hospital near 116th Street North and U.S. 169. The approximately $27.5 million, 48,000-square-foot building is two stories and features an urgent care and a rehab facility for patients in the Owasso and Collinsville communities. [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Tulsa, Muscogee Nation police shoot, kill man following pursuit with gunfire: According to statements from the departments, the man fled a Muscogee Nation Lighthorse police officer who tried to pull him over for a routine traffic stop around 3:30 a.m. Saturday near 61st Street and Riverside Drive. The man led the officer and Tulsa police on a pursuit and fired multiple shots as he fled, according to a Tulsa Police Department news release. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma County commissioners designate $40 million for mental health facility near new jail: In its first meeting of the new year today, the Oklahoma County Board of Commissioners voted to set aside $40 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for a behavioral health services facility to be constructed alongside the new jail. [NonDoc]

Economic Opportunity

OKC to invest in Martin Luther King Jr. neighborhood: The Martin Luther King Jr. neighborhood will be the next community the Oklahoma City Planning Department will assist under its Strong Neighborhoods Initiative. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma Local News

Cleveland County Budget Board returns; Grissom sworn in as county commissioner: Cleveland County commissioners on Tuesday voted to reinstate the County Budget Board, which was dissolved in 2021. The Budget Board is made up of all eight county elected officials who each vote on the county’s total budget before the county’s Excise Board and all three county commissioners approve it. [Norman Transcript]

Maughan: Oklahoma County elected official pay increase unfair to some: Oklahoma County elected officials are slated to get a pay raise in 2023, though some will be seeing a larger increase than others owing to state statutes that govern county officers’ ability to raise their own pay and when those pay raises take effect. But one commissioner believes the planned increase is unfair. [NonDoc]

Quote of the Day

“Constitutionally the (Oklahoma) attorney general is independent of the governor, which is a different model than the federal model, and I think a lot of your readers and some of our elected officials fail to grasp that distinction.”

-Oklahoma Attorney General-Elect Gentner Drummond [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day

$13 billion

During the past decade, undocumented workers in the United States have paid an estimated $13 billion in taxes for unemployment insurance trust funds, which they cannot access to due to their employment status. [Fiscal Policy Institute]

Policy Note

Advocating for American Rescue Plan funding for immigration legal services: Essential workers were crucial in keeping our day-to-day lives going during the height of the pandemic. Immigrant workers stepped up and provided support to their communities through their labor, all while many of them live with undocumented or temporary status in the United States. Advocates say a portion of the American Rescue Plan funds to go toward immigration legal services at the local nonprofit level, is because investing in essential workers during the pandemic should be a top priority. Strengthening the local immigration legal services infrastructure in a community allows immigrants and their family members to have access to low-cost, high-quality immigration application assistance. [UnidosUS]

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Hana Saad joined OK Policy in August 2022 as the Communications and Operations Fellow. She graduated from the University of Tulsa with degrees in Media Studies and English and is part of Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society. At TU, Hana regularly wrote for The Collegian and was the Co-Editor of the Stylus Journal of Art and Writing. She also serves on the team at Puppy Haven Rescue to help in their mission of saving rescue dogs across Oklahoma. Hana is eager to learn more about public policy in Oklahoma and use her skills to support the OKP work to build a more equitable state. In her free time, she loves to read fiction and poetry, walk her dog, and make copious cups of tea.

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