In The Know: Lawmakers approve $180M in new industry incentives, mulling additional Panasonic funds | Capitol Update | 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

Gov. Stitt vetoes bill allowing students to wear tribal regalia at graduation (Capitol Update): It was disappointing to see that the governor vetoed Senate Bill 429 which allows students to wear tribal regalia at official graduation ceremonies. The bill defines “tribal regalia” narrowly as “traditional garments, jewelry, other adornments such as an eagle feather, an eagle plume, a beaded cap, a stole, or similar objects of cultural and religious significance worn by members of a federally recognized Indian tribe or the tribe of another country.” [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

State Government News

Pondering $245 million for Panasonic, lawmakers question Commerce, learn of federal fines: With negotiations over a proposed Panasonic electric-vehicle battery plant slowed by a broader legislative stalemate, combustable questions about a potential agreement with the Japanese mega-manufacturer have sparked examination of how Oklahoma has handled business recruitment efforts. Now, with the Legislature debating whether to make an additional $245 million infrastructure investment “for the benefit of the company,” the Oklahoma Department of Commerce’s executive director has decided to resign. [NonDoc]

  • Oklahoma Commerce Department director to resign [Tulsa World]

Lawmakers approve incentives worth $180M for solar panel factory: A solar panel factory planned for northeastern Oklahoma would get up to $180 million worth of taxpayer incentives according to a deal unveiled by lawmakers Tuesday. Enel North America would receive up to $36 million a year for the next five years as it builds the manufacturing plant at the Tulsa Port of Inola. The legislation does not mention the company specifically, but a senior legislator confirmed the money was for that project. [The Oklahoman]

  • $218.6 million for possible Port of Inola project advanced [Tulsa World]

Bill to limit opposition to industrial water permits has stalled in the Oklahoma Legislature: A measure to prohibit water rights protests passed both chambers, but its author says it’s still awaiting revisions that aren’t likely to meet deadlines, according to reporting from the Tulsa World. House Bill 2053 would throw out protests of permits from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) if the complaints are “based solely on the industry or entity applying to use the water.” Legislative discussions have highlighted the bill’s pertinent to poultry operations, the oil and gas industry and cannibis growers. [KOSU]

Ryan Walters takes jabs at President Biden at FFA convention, criticizes “PC”: State schools Superintendent Ryan Walters drew loud cheers last week at the Oklahoma FFA Convention when he made fun of President Joe Biden during a speech to thousands of high school students and their parents. “Really that’s not the focus of why we’re there or why we’re in front of students,” said Brent Haken, state director of the agency that manages the FFA program. Walters spoke about leadership and work ethic, but quickly pivoted into political speech. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Border bill debated in Tom Cole’s committee as officials prepare for surge of migrants: A House committee headed by Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole engaged in heated debate on Tuesday over a bill that calls for finishing the border wall and other steps to reduce illegal immigration, as the Biden administration prepared for another surge at the border when the health-related order known as Title 42 is lifted this week. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Cherokee Nation vows to help citizens keep health care coverage as COVID Medicaid expansion expires: The COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency is coming to an end and that means in Oklahoma, thousands of people will lose health care coverage. The Cherokee Nation is stepping in to make sure their tribal citizens don’t. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Criminal Justice News

‘Dr. Phil’ speaks at Oklahoma city rally to release Richard Glossip from death row: At the state Capitol on Tuesday, Phil McGraw, host of the highly popular syndicated daytime show, “Dr. Phil,” spoke at a rally calling for the retrial of high-profile death row inmate Richard Glossip. “We are here today to make sure Richard Glossip at least gets a fair trial,” McGraw said on the steps of the Capitol. “I think that he should be set free, personally.” [The Oklahoman]

  • Dr. Phil, an Oklahoma son, pleads for Glossip’s life [Journal Record]
  • Richard Glossip supporters, including Dr. Phil, rally at state Capitol [Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Expansion work reflects strong support for Tinker, MWC: Tinker Air Force Base, a prime economic engine both for Midwest City and the broader Oklahoma City metro area, has been in growth mode, geographically speaking. Base and community leaders recently launched a plan to expand the base east to encompass 220 additional acres acquired by the Oklahoma Industries Authority. Officials have said the move will enhance base security and possibilities for mission growth. An additional benefit should be a reduction in traffic congestion in the area. [Journal Record]

Education News

At Rose State, a new emphasis on aerospace, cybersecurity: Construction of the Tanenbaum Aerospace and Cybersecurity Center on the Rose State College campus is well underway, with the opening scheduled for fall. The former Professional Training Center is being transformed to prepare students for two of the most in-demand careers in Oklahoma and nationally. Some of the world’s most successful aerospace companies operate in Oklahoma, employing more than 120,000 Oklahomans in the aerospace and defense industries. [Journal Record]

Grades are in for Oklahoma City high schools. Here’s how they scored: Without any news release or a summary of good and bad performance, The Oklahoma State Department of Education has assigned letter grades to the state’s high schools, middle schools and elementary schools. Academic achievement and academic growth determined by results of state tests administered in the spring make up the bulk of the points on a school’s A-F report card. Other factors are part of evaluations, too, like rates of chronic absenteeism, high school graduation and progress of students learning English as a second language. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma graded the performance of every public school. Did it matter? [The Oklahoman]

Column: Teacher appreciation needs community and state to deliver words, action: The Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation hosted our annual Stars of Education event recently on the eve of Teacher Appreciation Week. There was a celebratory feel in the Clara Luper Center as the Southeast High School Drumline played and everyone in the room was celebrating Oklahoma City Public Schools’ teachers, support staff, volunteers, community partners and outstanding principals for going above and beyond for our students. [Mary Mélon-Tully Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

General News

On survivor’s 109th birthday, City of Tulsa tries to dismiss Tulsa Massacre suit: “Mother” Viola Ford Fletcher, the oldest known living survivor of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, turned 109 on Wednesday, the same day the city of Tulsa is seeking to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Fletcher and two other living survivors for the century-old crime. For the fourth time, city attorneys will argue that the lawsuit should be dismissed without going to trial. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Oil companies to pay $235,000 settlement over damages to OKC Stinchcomb refuge: An Oklahoma City oil company and its contractor will pay $235,000 to settle a lawsuit that alleged they damaged the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge, stole water from the North Canadian River and then asked Mayor David Holt to intervene in an investigation. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma governor declares ‘Jewish American Heritage Month,’ giving hope to ‘Jewish Okies’: Gov. Kevin Stitt proclaimed the month of May as Jewish American Heritage Month in Oklahoma during a ceremony on Monday at the state Capitol. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Midwest City invests millions in parks, recreation facilities [Journal Record]
  • Norman voters approve hotel tax increase, while Moore and Garfield County voters reject proposals [KOSU]

Quote of the Day

“Right now we have a governor vetoing almost every Senate bill that comes to his desk, not because he doesn’t think they are good ideas, but because they won’t give him everything he wants. House and Senate Republicans hold votes on bills they know won’t pass and trade barbs in press releases instead of sitting down and hammering out a compromise that benefits the most Oklahomans possible. No one can be the adult in the room because absolute control by the supermajority won’t allow anyone else to speak up.”

-House Democratic Leader Cyndi Munson, D-Oklahoma City, writing about the need for communication and respect in the Oklahoma Legislature [The Oklahoman

Number of the Day


The Census Bureau’s estimated tally of the U.S. population as of Census Day 2020, based on a simulated tally involving administrative records from government and third-party sources, was 2.3% higher than the count’s actual result of 331.4 million. That gap was likely driven by noncitizen residents who are missing from the agency’s count, especially those with “unknown legal status.” [U.S. Census Bureau via NPR]

Policy Note

How state taxes make inequality worse: All but a handful of states make poor residents contribute a greater share of their income to taxes than wealthy people do. Economists call that upside-down approach “regressive.” And those policies hit communities of color the hardest. [The Center for Public Integrity]

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Hana Saad joined OK Policy in August 2022 as the Communications and Operations Fellow. She graduated from the University of Tulsa with degrees in Media Studies and English and is part of Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society. At TU, Hana regularly wrote for The Collegian and was the Co-Editor of the Stylus Journal of Art and Writing. She also serves on the team at Puppy Haven Rescue to help in their mission of saving rescue dogs across Oklahoma. Hana is eager to learn more about public policy in Oklahoma and use her skills to support the OKP work to build a more equitable state. In her free time, she loves to read fiction and poetry, walk her dog, and make copious cups of tea.

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