In The Know: Gov’s call for tax special session, trigger law draws criticism | Woman files federal complaint over state abortion law | Charter school board member’s eligibility in question | 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 governor’s call for special session on tax fairness raises criticism, crickets: Oklahoma legislative leaders were largely quiet Tuesday in reaction to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s surprise call for a special session to consider slashing taxes. The session appears to be Stitt’s latest attempt to push back against the effects of the McGirt ruling. It also represents a renewed effort by the governor to live up to one of his signature campaign promises of reducing taxes for Oklahoma residents. [The Oklahoman]

After being denied life-saving abortion, Oklahoma woman files hospital complaint: An Oklahoma woman who says she was turned away from a local hospital system when seeking an abortion due to life-threatening pregnancy complications has filed a federal complaint against OU Health. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • ‘Oklahoma’s laws nearly killed me.’ Woman files federal complaint over state abortion law [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma woman files federal lawsuit after life-saving abortion denied by state hospitals [Tulsa World]
  • ‘Wait in the parking lot to die’: Okla. woman files complaint against hospitals after abortion ordeal [Public Radio Tulsa]

State Government News

Questions about member’s eligibility in Oklahoma charter school board loom over officer election: Oklahoma’s Statewide Virtual Charter School Board elected its last round of officers before the board dissolves next year at Monday’s board meeting. Despite an open question about whether board member Brian Bobek can even begin his term on the board, he was elected to the vice chairperson position. Robert Franklin will continue serving as chair, and William Pearson was elected as board clerk. Though Bobek has been attending and voting in board meetings since June, the Oklahoma attorney general’s office says state law doesn’t allow Bobek to serve until November. [KGOU]

‘No sexual misconduct … occurred,’ acting Pardon and Parole Board chairman says: The acting chairman of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board said Tuesday he is not stepping down. Ed Konieczny, 68, spoke out for the first time since he was identified last week as the retired Episcopalian bishop at the center of an unwanted physical contact complaint. “To be direct, no sexual misconduct or inappropriate verbal comments occurred,” Konieczny said. “I am committed to fulfilling my duties on the Pardon and Parole Board.” [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Lucas missing as U.S. House reconvenes: Members of the Oklahoma delegation returned to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023, to cast their first votes since the August break ended. But as the members filed into the House chamber, one key Oklahoma voice was missing. Rather than walking the halls of the Capitol, Congressman Frank Lucas was at his ranch near Cheyenne, 150 miles west of Oklahoma City, recovering from a recent surgery. [CNHI]

Tribal Nations News

Muscogee (Creek) Nation Election Previews:

  • Muscogee Nation chiefs face challengers [NonDoc]
  • Former reps seek return to Muscogee National Council [NonDoc]

Opinion: Clash over jurisdiction: What tribal leaders, Gov. Stitt, others say will move Oklahoma forward: The erosion of trust between tribes and some state leaders is clear, yet overriding that is a unifying voice among tribal leaders for working together “through cooperation and compromise” with Gov. Stitt and state leaders for a better Oklahoma. [Opinion / The Oklahoman]

Voting and Election News

Sept. 12 election roundup:

  • Sapulpa passes $279 million bond package, while McLoud and Luther proposals fail [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Norman voters pass ONG franchise agreement by narrow margin, elect McHughes to county commission [Norman Transcript]
  • Sapulpa passes school bond package; Allen Bowden proposal fails [Tulsa World]
  • McAlester voters pass changes to Charter, Frink-Chambers bond fails [CNHI]

Health News

State’s largest inpatient mental health treatment facility to move to Oklahoma City: State health officials have announced plans to relocate the state’s largest inpatient mental health treatment facility to Oklahoma City from Norman, where it has stood for more than a century. A $147 million replacement facility for Griffin Memorial Hospital will be built on the Oklahoma State University’s Oklahoma City campus. The hospital, which is projected to open in 2026, will serve both adults and children in the new 330-bed facility. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Oklahoma announces location for 330-bed mental hospital in Oklahoma City [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Christian University offers low-cost mental health care through new clinic: Oklahoma Christian University, in partnership with the Chickasaw Nation, is ushering in its first full school year with an on-campus mental health clinic providing low-cost services for Oklahomans and hands-on experience to marriage and family therapy masters students. [KGOU]

Housing & Economic Opportunity

Downtown OKC apartments for $875 a month? ‘Truly affordable’ living coming to former Holiday Inn: The Oklahoma City Council on Tuesday approved providing $2.9 million in tax increment financing to convert the former downtown Holiday Inn into 204 micro-apartments with monthly rents averaging $875. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

USDA awards grants to help Oklahoma businesses lower energy costs: Oklahoma State University will receive a grant of just under $100,000 to revive a Rural Energy Assessment Center on its Stillwater campus. The center will conduct energy audits to help rural small businesses and agricultural producers in Oklahoma reduce their energy consumption and save money [Oklahoma Voice]

General News

Election extending sales tax proposed to cover bulk of $900 million new OKC Thunder arena: Oklahoma City voters will be asked in December to authorize a sales tax extension to pay a massive portion of a $900 million arena for the Oklahoma City Thunder, a proposal that Mayor David Holt said would keep the team in OKC until at least 2050. Ward 6 Councilwoman JoBeth Hamon said Tuesday there are plenty of questions and concerns around the arena proposal announced Tuesday, starting with transparency. [NonDoc]

  • Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt announces plan to build new OKC Thunder arena [KGOU]
  • Cost, timeline, and more: 6 things to know about OKC’s proposed new Thunder arena [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Bartlesville sets Oct. 10 election set for $17.6 million bond election [Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise]
  • Tulsa Mayor announces new Asian Affairs Commission [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Tulsa takes first steps toward forming Asian Affairs Commission [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa city councilor at church’s ‘Tulsarusalem’ event: Don’t let Tulsa ‘be another San Francisco’ [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“His attempt to rework the entire tax code, simply to avoid working with tribes or following well-established and decades-old laws, is just shameful. Once again, the Legislature is going to have to clean up his mess.”

-David Hill, Principal Chief of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, responding to Gov. Stitt’s call for a trigger law to ensure that if courts rule tribal citizens do not have to pay state income taxes, then no Oklahoman should. Chief Hill described the proposal as the latest example of Stitt’s “irrational hostility” toward tribes. [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


National poverty rate for children, up from 5.2% the previous year when pandemic relief programs such as the expanded federal Child Tax Credit were still in effect. State level data will be released later this week. [NPR]

Policy Note

Record Rise in Poverty Highlights Importance of Child Tax Credit; Health Coverage Marks a High Point Before Pandemic Safeguards Ended: The number of people with incomes below the poverty line in 2022 rose a sobering 15.3 million, new Census data show, reflecting the expiration of pandemic relief programs including the expanded Child Tax Credit. The poverty rate for children more than doubled from a historic low of 5.2 percent in 2021 to 12.4 percent in 2022, erasing all of the record gains made against child poverty over the previous two years. Progress made in 2021 in narrowing the glaring differences between the poverty rates of Black and Latino children compared to white children was largely reversed. [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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