In The Know: Gov. calls for another special session focused on taxes | Cherokee Nation passes largest budget in its history | 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.

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt calls special session on tax issues, budget transparency: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Monday called a special session on tax cuts, budget transparency and issues related to ongoing litigation over whether tribal citizens are exempt from paying state income taxes in certain situations. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Gov. Kevin Stitt calls special session for ‘tax fairness’ [NonDoc]
  • Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt calls lawmakers back for another special session [KGOU]
  • Stitt tries again for tax cuts, calls lawmakers into special session [Tulsa World]
  • Gov. Kevin Stitt calls special legislative session in October to address three proposals [The Oklahoman]
  • From OK Policy: Oklahoma lawmakers have lowered the state’s individual income tax several times during the past 20 years in the name of economic development, but the reality is that our state’s economic position and overall quality of life have worsened as lawmakers cut taxes. [Full Statement] | [A Better Path Forward]

State Government News

Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s $500M bond proposal gets conditional approval: The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority on Monday received conditional approval to issue $500 million in second senior lien revenue bonds to fund its long-range expansion program. [Journal Record]

  • Turnpike Authority’s expansion plans to move forward [Oklahoma Voice]
  • OTA moves closer to restarting ACCESS Oklahoma project, could sell bonds in October [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma transportation officials eye widening I-35: Oklahoma transportation officials are working on plans to six-lane portions of Interstate 35 from the Red River to Oklahoma City. [Tulsa World]

Could rank-choice voting be coming to Oklahoma?: A Piedmont lawmaker said she wants to study to see if making the change to rank-choice voting could help or hurt the state’s election system. State Rep. Denise Crosswhite Hader spoke to KOCO 5 ahead of an interim study set for Tuesday morning. [KOCO]

Tribal Nations News

Cherokee Nation passes $3.8B budget, largest in tribe’s history: The Cherokee Nation on Monday passed a $3.8 billion budget, the largest comprehensive budget in the tribe’s history. The Council of the Cherokee Nation approved the Fiscal Year 2024 General Operating Budget of nearly $3.034 billion and a capital investment budget of more than $753 million during Monday night’s Council meeting. [Anadisgoi]

  • Cherokee Nation Investing $10.6M to increase salaries for more than 80% of government, health care employees [Anadisgoi]

Voting and Election News

What’s on the ballot for the September 12th special election in Oklahoma: Voters in 34 counties across Oklahoma are heading to the polls on Tuesday to determine the future of school bonds, municipal propositions, mayoral elections and more. [KGOU]

GOP candidate for president wants Trump disqualified from Oklahoma ballots: A Texas Republican running for president is asking a federal judge in Oklahoma to disqualify Donald Trump from state ballots next year for allegedly engaging in an insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Cherokees refocus on COVID, new vaccinations: The Cherokee Nation Health Committee meeting heard reports from several departments and an update on the Oklahoma State University medical school during a Sept. 11 meeting. [CNHI]

Criminal Justice News

15-year-old charged as adult with first-degree murder in shooting at Choctaw-Del City football game: A 15-year-old boy has been charged as an adult with first-degree murder in a fatal shooting at a high school football game. He is accused of killing Cordea Carter, 16, “willfully and with malice aforethought” at Choctaw High School on Aug. 25. [The Oklahoman]

  • ‘We want it done’: Attorney demands D.A. charge off-duty officer in shooting [KFOR]

Oklahoma County district attorney seeks to dismiss case against man who served 48 years in Oklahoma prison: Oklahoma County District Attorney Vicki Behenna requested Monday that the case against Glynn Simmons, 70, be dismissed, according to a news release from the DA’s office. Simmons was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Carolyn Sue Rogers after a 1974 Edmond liquor store robbery. [The Oklahoman]

Muscogee woman whose murder conviction was overturned in jurisdiction dispute resentenced: A member of the (Muscogee) Creek Nation whose homicide conviction was overturned amid a jurisdictional dispute has been formally resentenced in the case. [The Oklahoman]

Six Oklahomans accused of embezzling almost $1 million in COVID relief funds: A half dozen Oklahoma residents are facing criminal charges for obtaining almost $1 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. [KGOU]

Public defenders work 3 times too many cases, milestone study and new data show: Public defenders across America regularly work triple the cases they can effectively handle, and some work upwards of 10 times too many cases, according to an analysis of Lee Enterprises data based on a milestone study of public defender workloads released Tuesday. [Tulsa World]

Housing & Economic Opportunity

Proposed overlay districts could streamline Edmond’s planning process, but some fear losing input: Newly proposed overlay districts for downtown Edmond could streamline the process by which property owners can construct new residential buildings, but some residents have said eliminating the public hearing process in front of the Planning Commission and City Council would be a mistake. [NonDoc]

Education News

‘Very open with who I am’: Western Heights principal defends drag queen alter ego: Shane Murnan has worked in Oklahoma public education for 26 years while also racking up awards as the colorful drag queen Shantel Mandalay, a persona he adopts on evenings and weekends as self-described therapy and performance art. Recently, however, Murnan’s theatrical side has made national headlines highlighting the classroom culture war. [NonDoc]

  • Drag queen controversy puts Western Heights Public Schools in national spotlight [Oklahoma Voice]

Reading Partners to expand literacy access, and educational equity: Reading Partners Tulsa is gearing up to expand literacy access to students across the city, even as the state’s far-right superintendent claims not enough is being done to improve reading scores. [The Black Wall Street Times]

General News

Walters says he’s ‘continuing MAGA agenda’ as Oklahoma state superintendent: State Superintendent Ryan Walters spoke at a Sunday evening event in Tulsa in support of former President Donald Trump and described his many controversial statements and actions since taking elected office in January as “continuing that MAGA agenda.” [Tulsa World]

  • Local officials appear with State Superintendent Ryan Walters at ‘Tulsarusalem’ event [Public Radio Tulsa]

Quote of the Day

“It’s all been outside voices. I’ve gotten some (emails) from Oregon. I’ve gotten some from Montana. From Texas, Georgia, Indiana.”

-Western Heights Board President Briana Flatley who said she’s received death threats and an “overwhelming” number of emails since LibsofTikTok posted about Western Heights Principal Shane Murnan, who performs as a drag queen. Messages from people who live or work in Western Heights have been mostly supportive, she said, while most of the criticism has come from elsewhere. [Oklahoma Voice]

Number of the Day


Estimated number of children living in Oklahoma households that were food insecure at some point during the past year, which is about 1 in 5 Oklahoma children. [KIDSCOUNT]

Policy Note

Young Children and New Parents in Every State Could Be Turned Away From WIC or Have Their Benefits Cut Under Pending Appropriations Bills: Funding in fiscal year 2024 Senate and House appropriations bills for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) falls far short of what is needed to provide all eligible families who apply with the full nutrition assistance benefit. Across the states, these proposed funding levels would result in WIC turning away 600,000 eligible new parents and young children, and the House bill would sharply cut benefits for another 4.7 million. Congress must ensure that the final appropriations bill fully funds WIC to avoid eligible families losing access to the program’s critical benefits. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

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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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