In The Know: Lawmakers to allocate $1.87B in federal relief | Officials threaten to withhold ARPA funds over gender services | Grocery sales tax

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

Lawmakers to allocate $1.87 billion this week: By the end of the week, Oklahoma lawmakers are expected to allocate nearly all of the state’s $1.87 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds when they come back for a special session. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • Oklahoma’s special legislative session expected to finalize $1.87 billion in pandemic relief projects [KGOU]

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt again calls for tax cuts only to be rebuffed by top senators: Members of the GOP-led Oklahoma Senate once again rejected Gov. Kevin Stitt’s calls to cut taxes amid high inflation. [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Lawmakers target ‘gender reassignment medical treatment’ at OU Health: Medical facilities affiliated with the University of Oklahoma will discontinue “certain gender medicine services,” officials said Tuesday after state lawmakers threatened to block as much as $108.5 million in federal funds to the University Hospitals Authority and Hospitals Trust. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Legislature to address lack of child care in special session: Sen. Adam Pugh is the co-chair of the Economic Development and Workforce Working Group that has recommended providing $25 million to the YMCA to expand their child care and after school programs around the state to better serve Oklahoma parents. [The Lawton Constitution]

Bills looks to eliminate rules that reduce social security benefits for public servants: Many teachers, police and firefighters are not getting their full social security benefits, even though they’re paid in. [KTUL]

Column: The economy our children deserve: This year, we are pleased to have a dialogue about economic conditions impacting Oklahomans. The theme, “The Economy Our Children Deserve,” will allow us to delve into various issues impacting state residents, such as housing, health care, child care, and a myriad of other issues along this thread. [Joe Dorman Guest Column / The Daily Ardmoreite

Tribal Nations News

COVID-19 shutdowns cost tribes millions. Should insurance cover the loss in Oklahoma?: After Oklahoma’s tribal casinos shut down all at once amid the COVID-19 pandemic, tribal governments turned to insurance to help fill the financial void. [The Oklahoman]

The Wyandotte Nation’s long road to Land Back: The Wyandottes are one of 574 federally recognized tribal nations in the United States. All of these tribes were at some point subjected to state-sponsored violence, genocide and forced dispossession by the federal government. At its most basic level, the Land Back movement seeks to return territory that was taken from Indigenous tribes during colonization or was promised to them by treaty. [NonDoc]

Voting and Election News

Oklahoma governor race: Six things the polls show between Kevin Stitt and Joy Hofmeister: It’s election season, which means it’s polling season. Oklahoma is six weeks away from the November general election and we are starting to see an increase in polling when it comes to the race for governor, which includes four candidates. Polls aren’t perfect, but they do provide a glimpse at what voters are thinking, especially when you start to combine multiple polls. [The Oklahoman]

Amber Integrated poll shows Democratic lead in state superintendent race: A new poll released Tuesday shows a Democrat ahead of her Republican challenger in the race for State Superintendent. [KGOU]

Trump endorses U.S. Sen. James Lankford: U.S. Sen. James Lankford hasn’t always seen eye-to-eye with former President Donald Trump, but apparently they are simpatico enough for Trump to endorse Lankford’s reelection bid. [Tulsa World]

Health News

Amid syphilis increase, Oklahomans advised to know symptoms, seek testing: Because the symptoms can mimic common skin irritations, state health officials are advising Oklahomans to be on the alert for possible syphilis infections and if needed, to seek free, confidential testing at county health departments. The warning comes as cases of the sexually transmitted disease continue to increase across the state and nation. [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Former Seeworth Academy Superintendent Janet Grigg charged with embezzlement: Late Tuesday, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater filed three counts of felony embezzlement against Janet Grigg, the former superintendent of the shuttered Justice Alma Wilson Seeworth Academy, who was accused in a state audit of misappropriating more than $250,000. [NonDoc]

  • Former Seeworth Academy superintendent charged with financial crimes [The Oklahoman]

Tulsa County DA’s daughter arrested; DA released from hospital after stabbing: One of Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler’s daughters was arrested Tuesday evening on allegations that she stabbed him at his south Tulsa home that afternoon. [Tulsa World]

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler stabbed; daughter arrested, police say: Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler was stabbed multiple times Tuesday but is now recovering at home, his office said. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board denies clemency for Benjamin Cole: Oklahoma is poised for its fourth execution this year after the state’s Pardon and Parole Board denied clemency on Tuesday for Benjamin Robert Cole. [The Frontier]

  • State board rejects clemency for man in baby’s killing [Tulsa World]
  • Benjamin Robert Cole Sr. denied clemency despite mental illness claims [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

As new storms deal worst, OKC firm, Puerto Rico contest payment: Since 2017, when Oklahoma City-based Mammoth Energy Services was contracted to help rebuild the energy grid in Puerto Rico, all but wiped out by Hurricane Maria, the company has been called on to respond to 17 other natural disasters involving major disruptions of power. [The Journal Record]

Education News

Tulsa Public Schools’ test score improvements: Leaders attribute gains to staff efforts: Leaders at three Tulsa Public Schools campuses attribute staff efforts to support students beyond the basics as part of the reason for their sites’ improved state test scores. [Tulsa World]

Google awards $250,000 for new OU Polytechnic Institute in Tulsa: Google has given the University of Oklahoma $250,000 to support the creation of the OU Polytechnic Institute, a new school in Tulsa with bachelor’s completion and graduate degree programs focused on innovation and advanced technology. [Tulsa World]

General News

Nancy Snow: Why the ‘fat, relentless ego’ is at the heart of incivility: What causes people to be uncivil? Presumably, many factors contribute. Three spring immediately to mind: malice, frustration and not knowing how to disagree respectfully. All can be linked to personal insecurities. [Nancy Snow Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“To correctly navigate and engineer a path to the best way to do tax cuts requires time. One could argue that a reason for our complicated tax structure is due to the many one-off tax cuts that were not nor are not of long-term vision.”

-Sen. Dave Rader, R-Tulsa, who chairs the Senate’s working group on tax policy [The Oklahoman]

  • From OK Policy: Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Oklahoma faced a fiscal gap, or “structural deficit,” meaning that economic growth will not produce enough revenue to fund the growing costs of providing our current government services. Projections show that even after nearly a billion dollars in tax increases in 2016-18, this gap will reach $1.1 billion annually by 2030. [A Better Path Forward / OK Policy]

Number of the Day

$306 million

The amount of lost state revenue for Fiscal Year 2023 if the grocery sales tax was completely eliminated. 

[Oklahoma Tax Commission via OK Policy]

Policy Note

Is Ending the Grocery Tax on States’ Tax Cut Shopping List? Because so many states are flush with cash at the moment, all of the current repeal proposals instead rely on current surpluses and predictions of future revenue growth. Still, that may be a risky budget bet given how important these dollars are for education and other spending programs. In some states, including Oklahoma, local governments also tax groceries, and local leaders—who are not enjoying the surpluses of their state counterparts—worry how their tax would work without a state counterpart. [Tax Policy Center]

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


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.