In The Know: House OKs $698M incentive package | Personal income tax cuts hurt low, middle-income Oklahomans | 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

Personal income tax cuts won’t deliver relief to low- and middle-class Oklahomans: Cuts to the individual income tax rate are unfair to low- and middle-class families since they return the largest benefit to the wealthiest Oklahomans. Tax cuts now can devastate state revenue and funding for services like public education in future years. Despite its impacts on everyday Oklahomans, state lawmakers are considering a significant personal income tax cut this year. [Emma Morris / OK Policy

Oklahoma News

House OKs up to $698M economic incentive package: In debating a $698 million incentive package to lure a $3 billion to $5 billion electric vehicle battery factory to Pryor, no one in the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Tuesday really disputed the claim that such a project would bring arc-bending change to the community, the region and even the state. “I can’t get past the question, why are we giving hard-earned tax money away, and give it to a corporation that doesn’t need it?” said Rep. Tom Gann, R-Inola. [Tulsa World] The vote was not divided along party lines, but instead revealed the widely disparate views held by Oklahomans as to whether or not corporate tax incentives amount to “corporate welfare” or help the state compete for economic development. [The Journal Record

Why Are You Running? Oklahoma candidates say why they’re in the race: Hundreds of candidates officially joined Oklahoma’s 2022 campaign season by formally filing with the state over last week’s three-day filing period. The candidates will now begin making the case to voters why they should be elected later this year. [Oklahoma Watch

State Government News

DA requests forensic audit in Swadley’s deal with Tourism as part of criminal probe: In a letter sent late Monday, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater formally requested a forensic audit from State Auditor Cindy Byrd’s Office in concert with the ongoing criminal probe by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. [The Oklahoman

  • Brent Swadley in 2018: ‘Wouldn’t be where I’m at today if I followed by the rules’ [NonDoc
  • Swadley’s asking for millions more after signing state contract [Fox 25

Marijuana state questions can proceed, Oklahoma Supreme Court rules: The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled two marijuana initiative petitions were valid. Both seek to gather 178,000 signatures to ask voters to change the constitution. [Tulsa World

Measure to reschedule school board elections moves ahead; opponents say bill benefits GOP: A bill set to adjust the timeframe of school board elections for districts across Oklahoma has passed through a House committee, as Republicans emphasized a potential for higher voter turnout and Democrats voiced opposition to partisan politics. [The Oklahoman

Bill protecting free speech on college campuses heads to Governor Stitt’s desk: Free speech was on the agenda at the Capitol, and state lawmakers are making sure college students have the protections to voice their opinions. [Fox 25

State senator from Norman wants audit of Oklahoma Turnpike Authority: A Norman state senator is pushing for an audit of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority as the agency pursues a controversial turnpike expansion in her hometown. [The Oklahoman

OTA reveals land costs related to turnpike expansion plans: Oklahoma Turnpike Authority has reversed course and now agrees it is required by law to release what it’s paying to individual landowners impacted by planned turnpike expansion projects. Officials also said they inadvertently miscalculated by nearly $707,700 the amount spent on land. They discovered the “Excel formula tabulation mistake” while conducting a legal review of CNHI Oklahoma’s records denial. [CNHI via Enid News & Eagle]

Federal Government News

Face coverings no longer required at Tulsa International Airport following judge’s ruling: Face coverings no longer are required at Tulsa International Airport (TUL) following a Monday ruling by a federal judge in Florida, an airport spokesman said. [Tulsa World] While some public health officials expressed concerns, most major airlines had issued statements by Monday night wearing a mask on flights would now be optional. [The Black Wall Street Times

  • Majority of Americans want masks for travelers, new poll finds [Tulsa World

Tribal Nations News

Chief Hoskin, Deputy Chief Warner sign revised Public Health, Wellness Act to build drug treatment facilities: Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner officially enacted a revised “Public Health and Wellness Fund Act” during a signing ceremony Thursday at the Cherokee Nation Outpatient Health Center in Tahlequah. [Indian Country Today]

Voting and Election News

State superintendent candidates talk teacher shortage, state funding and new ideas for Oklahoma: Oklahoma voters had their first chance to hear from all five candidates running for state superintendent in 2022 at an online forum Tuesday evening. April Grace, Jena Nelson, John Cox, Ryan Walters, and William Crozier are running to succeed State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, who is term-limited and in the fall announced that she was changing her party registration to launch a bid for governor. [Tulsa World

An Oklahoma candidate called himself ‘The Patriot.’ His opponent wants him off the ballot.: Oklahoma’s Labor Commissioner wants one of her GOP opponents tossed from the ballot because he referred to himself as “The Patriot.” [The Oklahoman

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma corrections employees will receive long-awaited pay raise: An Oklahoma correctional officer recruit earns $15.74 per hour, on par with entry-level positions at convenience stores and chain retailers.  That could change by mid-summer. [Oklahoma Watch

Economic Opportunity

Redlined neighborhoods have double the oil and gas wells: Neighborhoods that were redlined have nearly twice as many oil and gas wells as neighborhoods that were historically considered “desirable,” a new study has found. The findings underscore the connection between structural racism and polluting oil and gas infrastructure. [High Country News]

Library offering new program to connect those in need with service providers: A new program is available at the Lawton Public Library for those facing homelessness, hunger, mental illness and other crises in Southwest Oklahoma. [The Lawton Constitution]

Economy & Business News

OKC home builders to corporate investors: You’re not welcome here: Big corporate investors with deep pockets are bulk buying brand-new homes directly from builders across the country, to rent out, and disrupting already frazzled local housing markets by competing with everyday people looking for homes. Oklahoma City’s top home builders want none of it. [The Oklahoman

Report finds 10.3% of Oklahoma workers business owners: Self-employed people account for 10% of all workers in the nation, according to data reported by the U.S. Census Bureau for 2020, but the percentage is slightly higher in Oklahoma. An analysis of census data by found that 10.3% of workers in the Sooner State run their own businesses. [The Journal Record

Four years later, medical marijuana is big business in Oklahoma: In the almost four years since Oklahoma voters legalized medical marijuana by approving State Question 788, a green wave has rolled across the state. [Stillwater News Press]

Education News

Jenks Public Schools teacher alleges he was fired for displaying rainbow pride flags in his classroom: A teacher at Jenks Middle School alleges he was fired by the school district after declining to remove rainbow pride flags from his classroom. Tyler Rathe, a seventh-grade science teacher, claims he was asked to remove several versions of pride flags from the walls of his classroom, where he says he hung flags representing his students’ communities, identities and countries of origin. [Public Radio Tulsa

Stillwater Board of Education asks for binding guidance on student restrooms: The Stillwater Board of Education has issued a resolution asking the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the Oklahoma State Board of Education to adopt an emergency rule that would provide clear guidance to all public schools in the state about student restroom policies. [Stillwater News Press]

General News

Oklahoma City remembers April 19, 1995 bombing victims, survivors: Tuesday, somber visitors, family members and public officials gathered in the First United Methodist Church across the street from the Oklahoma City National Memorial where 168 people including 19 children were killed by right-wing extremists who set off a massive explosion 27 years ago. [OKC Free Press]

Quote of the Day

“I think with (OTA) agreeing to open up the records is another example of what we need to be doing as far as accountability and transparency, so I’m very happy to hear that”

– State Rep. Danny Sterling, R-Tecumseh, who is running legislation to ensure greater transparency with the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s expansion plans. [CNHI via Enid News & Eagle]

Number of the Day


For Oklahomans in the lowest 20 percent of earners, HB 3350 would cut their taxes by an average of $4 per year, while middle-class Oklahomans would get a tax cut of about $61. The wealthiest one percent of Oklahomans would receive an average tax cut of more than $2,000 annually.

[Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute]

New from OK Policy: Under HB 3350, the majority of the benefit would go to the richest Oklahomans and leave the state scrounging for revenue to provide services that support us all.

Policy Note

Some Lawmakers Continue to Mythologize Income Tax Elimination Despite Widespread Opposition: Half a dozen states have cut individual income tax rates this year and others continue to advance tax-cut bills; fortunately, the most egregious anti-tax measures (full income tax elimination) have not advanced as voices across the political spectrum have admitted that getting rid of income taxes would devastate states’ ability to raise revenue. Some lawmakers claim that tax cuts have no measurable consequences on spending, ignoring decades of evidence that cutting taxes leaves fewer resources for education, infrastructure, health services and other key priorities that benefit us all. [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy]

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Kristin Wells served as the Communications and Operations Fellow for OK Policy from October 2021 to July 2022. She previously worked as a digital content producer for News On 6. A native Kansas Citian, Kristin graduated with a B.A. in Media Studies and a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Tulsa in 2020. While there, she was accepted into the Global Scholars program, spurring her interests in policy, social movements, global identities, and the importance of education and advocacy. She hopes to use her skills to continue to learn and create a more equitable future for Oklahomans. An avid sports fan, Kristin lives in Tulsa with her rescue dog and is passionate about college basketball, documentaries, and coffee.

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