In The Know: House and Senate debate tax cuts | Juneteenth in Oklahoma | Water concerns in SE Oklahoma | 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 House, Senate fail to reach deal on tax cuts: The Oklahoma House and Senate failed to reach a deal on cutting the sales tax on groceries and the individual income tax that Gov. Kevin Stitt was urging them to pass. The House adjourned a special session on Wednesday after passing an array of tax cut options, but Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat on Wednesday dismissed the proposals as “political theater.” [AP News]

New from OK Policy: Targeted relief can help Oklahoma families weather inflation

Juneteenth in Oklahoma: how to celebrate throughout the state: There are many ways for Oklahomans to celebrate Juneteenth this weekend, including a celebration in east Oklahoma City. “Juneteenth is the celebration of the liberation Black people in America. It was the day where a general arrived in Galveston years after slaves were already free, but there were people still holding slaves in the Southern U.S.,” said Jabee. [KOSU]

‘We are in desperate need’: communities in southeast Oklahoma run out of water as they wait for repairs: Some people near Sardis Lake in southeast Oklahoma ran out of water last week while waiting on repairs to their water treatment system. The water is back on, but the area is on a boil order without a definite end date. [KOSU]

State Government News

Editorial: Hey legislators! Pay counties for housing state inmates before cutting taxes: Garfield County voters soon will be asked to increase taxes locally to pay for expanding Garfield County Detention Center because of overcrowding. A significant part of the problem comes because the local jail is forced to house dozens of state inmates handed off to counties by the state Department of Corrections. [Editorial Board / Enid News & Eagle]

First-time weekly jobless claims decline second consecutive week: Initial claims for unemployment benefits in the state declined by 17% last week as the state announced a new effort to aid workers in north Tulsa. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that 1,633 claims for unemployment benefits in the state were filed the week ending Saturday, compared to an upwardly revised 1,973 claims the prior week. [Tulsa World]

2 Oklahoma attorneys charged in medical marijuana scheme: Two Oklahoma attorneys were charged Thursday in an alleged medical marijuana scheme that allowed out-of-state growers to skirt the state’s law requiring marijuana businesses to be at least 75% owned by state residents. [AP News] The charges are the latest development in a story that began with a huge marijuana bust in Garvin County in 2021 that later revealed an alleged licensing mill run by local attorneys. [The Journal Record] In a press conference Thursday, Attorney General John O’Connor announced charges against Logan Jones and Eric Brown, who operate a law office – Jones Brown Law Firm – based in Tulsa. [KOSU]

  • Oklahoma attorney general charges two lawyers in ‘ghost owner’ medical marijuana operation [The Oklahoman]

Voting and Election News

Sovereignty is a hot-button issue as Republicans compete in a congressional district mostly on tribal land: With 13 Republicans running for an open congressional seat that covers mostly native land, some District 2 candidates say they support added federal funding for tribal law enforcement, while others are calling to dismantle reservations. [The Frontier]

The race to replace Inhofe, special session, Oklahoma flags and more: This Week in Oklahoma Politics discusses a new poll showing a sizeable lead by Congressman Markwayne Mullin in the U.S. Senate race to fill Jim Inhofe’s seat, a battle over tax reform in a special session between the House, the Senate and the governor and legislation to return oversight of the Tourism Department from the executive director back to the commission. [KOSU]

Oklahoma AG candidates brawl in heated debate: Attorney General John O’Connor and challenger Gentner Drummond expressed diverging views on the McGirt decision while bickering over endorsements, O’Connor’s status as an appointee and Drummond’s past political donations during a rowdy debate Thursday night hosted by NonDoc and News 9 at Oklahoma City Community College. [NonDoc]

Dark money campaign hits state auditor race: Someone is spending a lot of money to keep state Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd from winning a second term, and no one can say with certainty just whom that is. [Tulsa World]

Behenna, Myles disagree on county jail vote during district attorney debate: While Vicki Behenna and Mark Myles mostly agreed with each other on fundamental issues during the Democratic portion of Wednesday night’s Oklahoma County district attorney debates, they emphasized differing experiences and approaches they would bring to the job. [NonDoc]

  • Democratic Candidates for Okla County DA debate ahead of primary [OKC Free Press]
  • Republican candidates for Okla County DA tested in debate before primary [OKC Free Press]

Health News

Second case of monkeypox identified in Oklahoma, public health officials say: State health officials have identified a second probable case of monkeypox after the virus was recently confirmed in a central Oklahoma resident who had traveled abroad. [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Prater seeks to remove David Hooten from office, Blumert outlines awkward messages: Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater will seek the removal of County Clerk David Hooten from office during the Board of County Commissioners meeting next week. Prater confirmed the accuracy of a proposed agenda item provided to NonDoc today, but he said he would withhold further comment at this time. [NonDoc]

  • Oklahoma County Clerk David Hooten to resign while continuing to deny sexual harassment allegations [The Oklahoman]

Why this Oklahoma death row inmate should be freed, according to his supporters: A little more than a week after a federal judge rejected a legal challenge to Oklahoma’s execution protocol, which paves the way for executions to continue here, supporters of one death row inmate released what they say is an independent investigative report proving his innocence. [The Oklahoman]

Annual report marks Tulsa Police Department’s 2021 highlights, effects of use-of-force policy changes: Despite the past two years’ seemingly unrelenting challenges for the Tulsa Police Department, the chief had an encouraging message to share with employees in the department’s annual report released this week. [Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Rate hikes to affect businesses, consumers, expert says: Recent rate increases by the Federal Reserve, including a big one this week of 0.75%, reflect a serious desire to bring prices down on everything from lettuce to laptops, but with inflation festering at 8.6%, regulators have a long way to go, according to Brian Henderson, chief investment officer at Bank of Oklahoma. [The Journal Record]

Education News

Report: Oklahoma community colleges have borne big enrollment losses: A study by the Southern Region Education Board shows enrollment at Oklahoma’s two-year colleges had been falling precipitously before the pandemic. It had dropped 15% between 2016 and 2020. And dropped roughly 10% since 2020, per another report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. [KOSU]

General News

How a Tulsa grandmother became a vicious Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist—in her own words: Hours after the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 children and two teachers dead, it began. “I’m sorry but I have to say it,” one poster wrote on a far-right message board. “We have to have another false flag shooting, killing small children.” [Slate]

Oklahoma Local News

Study: Financially, OKC a good place for seniors: The Oklahoma City metro area ranks among the top 10 places where senior adults are most financially secure, according to a new study. The study by SmartAsset analyzed data for the 100 U.S. metro areas with the largest 65-and-older populations to determine where seniors are the most – and least – financially secure. [The Journal Record]

‘She’s so self-righteous’: Mayor disparages council chair during tense budget talks: A long day of budget discussions at Tulsa City Hall ended Wednesday evening with Mayor G.T. Bynum’s proposed spending plan passing easily — but not before tensions rose between the mayor and some members of the city council, with Bynum calling one councilor “self-righteous” and another’s comments “outrageous.” [Public Radio Tulsa]

Nonprofit coalition urges mayor to abandon proposed ordinance targeting Tulsans experiencing homelessness: A group of area nonprofits delivered a letter to Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum on Wednesday, urging him to rescind a proposed ordinance they say would criminalize homelessness and, ultimately, worsen the city’s problem of unsheltered homelessness. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Quote of the Day

“To add insult to injury, the state of Oklahoma has no coherent explanation for what happened to money to be generated by State Questions 780 and 781, passed by voters in 2016 that was supposed to raise funds for mental health services in county jails.”

– Enid News & Eagle Editorial Board, describing how local voters are left to pay for state jail costs while legislators debate cutting taxes [Enid News & Eagle]

Previously from OK Policy: Rather than cutting taxes, legislators must consider the state’s long-term fiscal health and its structural deficit by maintaining revenue streams this year and for years to come. 

Number of the Day


Although the Emancipation Proclamation that freed enslaved people held in confederate states was made effective in 1863, it could not be implemented in places still under Confederate control. As a result, in the westernmost Confederate state of Texas, enslaved people would not be free until much later. Freedom finally came on June 19, 1865, when some 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas. The army announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state, were free by executive decree. This day came to be known as “Juneteenth,” by the newly freed people in Texas.

[Source: The National Museum of African America History and Culture]

Policy Note

Juneteenth celebrates just one of the United States’ 20 emancipation days – and the history of how emancipated people were kept unfree needs to be remembered, too: The actual day was June 19, 1865, and it was the Black dockworkers in Galveston, Texas, who first heard the word that freedom for the enslaved had come. There were speeches, sermons and shared meals, mostly held at Black churches, the safest places to have such celebrations. The perils of unjust laws and racist social customs were still great in Texas for the 250,000 enslaved Black people there, but the celebrations known as Juneteenth were said to have gone on for seven straight days. [The Conversation]

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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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