In The Know: Latest special session call is political grandstanding | Lawmakers considering meal programs for children | Capitol Update

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

Statement from OK Policy regarding the governor’s latest call for special session: Instead of grandstanding with yet another special session call, the governor could ask lawmakers to deliver targeted relief to everyday Oklahomans who need it most, rather than across-the-board tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy. The governor’s latest call for a special session — to occur just one week before the regular session starts — is merely political theater that seeks to circumvent the regular legislative process and waste taxpayer dollars. [Full statement and additional research from OK Policy]

Gov.’s task force is latest step away from practical solutions in Tribal/state relations (Capitol Update): The dispute over state/Tribal law enforcement jurisdiction brought about by the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt v. Oklahoma decision in 2020 took its latest turn last week. Members of the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee, and Seminole Nations) rejected participation in Gov. Stitt’s One Oklahoma Task Force. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

State Government News

Stitt calls (another) special session to cut income tax: Undeterred by his most recent special session call lasting five hours and accomplishing nothing, Gov. Kevin Stitt today announced he is calling lawmakers back for another special session to seek a 0.25 percent reduction in Oklahoma’s personal income tax rate. [NonDoc]

  • Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt calls another special session on tax cuts [Oklahoma Voice]
  • Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt again calls Legislature into special session to talk tax cuts [The Oklahoman]
  • Stitt calls special session for 0.25 percentage point income tax cut [Tulsa World]
  • Gov. Kevin Stitt explains need for latest special session to address tax cuts [KOCO]

Oklahoma lawmakers to consider expanding school meal programs, but GOP views vary: Lawmakers and child nutrition advocates say there’s a “growing conversation” at the state Capitol on expanding school meal programs, but opinions among the Republican majority are mixed. The topic has been in and out of Oklahoma news headlines over the past year, most recently when Gov. Kevin Stitt turned down federal funds for a summer food assistance program for children. [Oklahoma Voice]

State agency says it has addressed slow payment complaints: Responding to complaints from other state agencies that the Office of Management and Enterprise Services has been delinquent with payments to vendors, Deputy Director Jerry Moore told a legislative panel that the four- to six-week average of a few months ago has been reduced to six to eight days. [Tulsa World]

Proposed resolution affirming Oklahoma’s support of Israel draws support, criticism: Two lawmakers have proposed a resolution affirming Oklahoma’s support of Israel. The resolution won’t be considered for adoption until the state Legislature convenes in February, but it has already drawn both support and criticism from some Oklahoma organizations. [The Oklahoman]

Zumwalt to add Cabinet secretary duties to her tourism plate after appointment by Stitt: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday appointed Shelley Zumwalt as the state’s tourism secretary, filling an opening in his Cabinet that’s been vacant since last July. Zumwalt, who has served since October 2022 as the executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation, will continue in that role in addition to her new duties. [The Oklahoman]

  • Stitt expands Shelley Zumwalt’s role to Cabinet position [Tulsa World]

Bill round-up:

  • Oklahoma bill proposes labeling Hispanic gang members as terrorists [Fox 25]
  • New bill would allow gun courses in Oklahoma schools [Fox 25]
  • Oklahoma lawmaker targets ‘furries’ in school with bill to involve animal control [Fox 25]

Editorial: First move from lawmakers ought to be eliminating waitlists for CareerTech: With 7,500 Oklahomans waiting to get into CareerTech job training programs, lawmakers have an easy decision to make: Bolster the workforce and state’s economy by funding the elimination of those wait lists. [Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Child tax credit expansion, business incentives combined in new congressional tax plan: Democrats have been pushing to permanently raise the tax credit that low-income families receive per child after a temporary increase during the COVID-19 pandemic illustrated significant reductions in child poverty. [Oklahoma Voice]

Voting and Election News

With abortion on the 2024 ballot, campaigns could see millions in funding from familiar players: Before the Dobbs ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2022, abortion was rarely an issue of such significance in elections that individuals and national political action committees poured millions of dollars into ballot questions and gubernatorial and judicial races. But since Dobbs triggered the fall of Roe and abortion access became a central question in subsequent elections, it has become a much different story. [Oklahoma Voice]

Health News

Medical deserts, affordability, access plague Oklahomans: According to a recent U.S. News and World Report ranking of Health Professional Shortage Areas, 61% of Oklahomans live in medical deserts. About 54% of Oklahoma patients say there are times they can’t afford health care for themselves or their family, higher than the national average of 43% of patients. A whopping 62% of Oklahomans added that affordability is the biggest barrier in the state to accessing health care. [Journal Record]

Criminal Justice News

Long Story Short – Oklahoma Crisis: Mental Health and Detention (audio):  Reporter Whitney Bryen and Payne County Jail Director Capt. Reese Lane examine the challenges at the intersection of mental health and detention in Oklahoma in this special 55-minute episode. Ted Streuli hosts. [Oklahoma Watch]

Housing & Economic Opportunity

Lawsuit: Moore landlord sexually harassed, filmed female tenants while threatening eviction: The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a civil rights lawsuit against a Moore man, alleging that he sexually harassed female tenants at residential properties he recently owned or operated in the Oklahoma City metro area. [The Oklahoman]

How did Tulsa’s homeless survive the cold? Here are some answers: Tulsa has not recorded a death for an individual experiencing homelessness since an Arctic blast arrived late last week, officials say, and that can be attributed in great part to the network of service providers, nonprofits and public safety officials whose job it is to get the city’s most vulnerable residents off the streets when Mother Nature is raging. [Tulsa World]

General News

Beyond Apology Report proposes Tulsa reparations commission: Released on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, the “Beyond Apology” report recommends the City of Tulsa establish a reparations commission. The scope of the commission should “at the very least include survivors and descendants of the Tulsa race massacre and Black Tulsans who have been impacted by discriminatory policies and practices,” the report states on its website, [The Black Wall Street Times]

  • Report recommends city establish a commission to consider reparations for 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • OKC council approved operators for MAPS 4 Mental Health & Addiction project. Who are they? [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“The Senate will adhere to the call of the special session, as we have always done to respect and uphold our constitutional duty. However, I do not know what will be different between the last week in January and the last time he pulled this stunt in October.”

-Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat (R-OKC), speaking about the governor calling the Legislature into a special session the week before the regular session begins and saying it’s a needless waste of taxpayer money. [NonDoc]

Number of the Day


A .25-percent reduction in Oklahoma’s personal income tax would result in the lowest-income Oklahomans receiving $15 back while middle-income taxpayers would get back only about $93. The wealthiest 1% would get about $2,380. [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy via OK Policy]

Policy Note

In Most States, the Tax Code Makes Inequality Worse: The vast majority of state and local tax systems are upside-down, with the wealthy paying a far lesser share of their income in taxes than low- and middle-income families. The overall regressivity in state and local tax codes is in large part the result of weak or nonexistent personal income taxes in many states. In those states, much of the income of the very wealthy avoids tax altogether, and there is a larger reliance on more regressive taxes like sales and excise taxes. [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.