In The Know: Legislation advancing this session | Opportunity to make down payment on state’s future | 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

Legislators have an opportunity to make a down payment on the state’s future: Oklahoma is in a unique position this year to make a downpayment on the future of our state. Through public investments and targeted tax relief for low-income Oklahomans, state leaders can use this year’s larger-than-usual state budget to make long-lasting, positive change. Premature tax cuts will set the state up to fail; investments will allow us to thrive. [Emma Morris / OK Policy]

State Government News

For Pinnell, Oklahoma salesman is ‘the job I wanted’: Days after pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, as many of the nation’s top businesses were feverishly looking to distance themselves from the former president, PGA of America announced it would remove one of its premier golf tournaments from a Donald Trump-owned course in New Jersey. Amid a political firestorm, Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell saw a business opportunity. [The Oklahoman]

Capitol Notebook: Oklahoma Republicans tout wins; Democrats call it political pandering: Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall and his Republican colleagues on Thursday touted advancing this session legislation that protects individual liberties. House Republican legislative leaders said they were following the will of Oklahomans when they approved legislation to restrict abortion, protect Second Amendment rights, combat federal overreach, regulate transgender athletes in school sports and crack down on the black market medical marijuana industry. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma law enforcement could be consolidated into a ‘mega-agency.’ Here’s what that means: Legislation moving through the Oklahoma House would place the state’s law enforcement agencies under the same roof, but some lawmakers continue to ask questions about the cost and the timing. [The Oklahoman]

Capitol Insider: Approval of anti-abortion bill highlights unpredictability of legislative process: Oklahoma made national news this week with passage of one of the most restrictive and punitive anti-abortion bills in the nation, which Governor Kevin Stitt is expected to sign. The bill’s progress to final passage caught some lawmakers and political insiders by surprise. [KGOU]

  • A refuge for Texas patients, Oklahoma clinics brace for abortion ban [Washington Post]
  • Oklahoma abortion law, a near-total ban, would reverberate in Texas and far beyond [USA Today]
  • Oklahoma residents, legislators debate abortion bills [CNHI via Enid News & Eagle]
  • Anticipating a landmark Supreme Court decision, states have been moving to restrict access to abortion [CNHI via The Norman Transcript]

Rematch coming over cockfighting bill: State Rep. Justin Humphrey is not done trying to lessen the penalties for cockfighting this legislative session. Changing the law would keep legitimate game fowl breeders out of jail and pump more money into rural Oklahoma’s economy, said Humphrey, R-Lane. [The Journal Record]

Not just Florida. More than a dozen states propose so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bills: In Oklahoma, a senate bill would ban books from school libraries that focus on “the study of sex, sexual lifestyles, or sexual activity.” [NPR]

  • Over 156 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced or refiled in 39 states since January 2021, according to report [The Guardian]

OTA says public not entitled to know about spending for land purchases: Oklahomans aren’t entitled to know what the state’s Turnpike Authority is paying individual landowners impacted by planned turnpike expansion projects, agency leaders said. [CNHI via The Norman Transcript]

Former legislator to pay $12,500 to state for ethics violations: A former state legislator has admitted to ethics violations involving misuse of campaign funds. Former Rep. Lewis H. Moore agreed to pay $12,500 to the state’s general revenue fund to settle his ethics case. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Biden administration urges justices to reject Oklahoma claim of jurisdiction: The Biden administration urged U.S. Supreme Court justices this week to reject Oklahoma’s claim of jurisdiction over some crimes involving Native Americans on reservations, saying the federal government has exclusive authority. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Cherokee Nation donates $7.5M to public schools in northeastern Oklahoma: The Cherokee Nation is giving $7.5 million to schools in northeastern Oklahoma for its annual Public School Appreciation Day, at least $1 million more than the tribe’s past contribution. [KGOU]

US churches face boarding-school reckoning: As Native Americans cautiously welcome Pope Francis’ historic apology for abuses at Catholic-run boarding schools for Indigenous children in Canada, U.S. churches are bracing for an unprecedented reckoning with their own legacies of operating such schools. [AP News via The Journal Record]

Muscogee return South nearly 200 years after forced removal: Native Americans whose ancestors were forced out of the Southeast almost 200 years ago during a purge that cleared the way for white settlers returned Friday for a two-day festival with a name that sums up its purpose: “We have come back.” [AP News via Public Radio Tulsa]

Voting and Election News

Candidate filing period to formally kick off Oklahoma’s 2022 campaign season: Who’s in and who’s out? We’ll get the answer to that question this week as candidates for federal, state, legislative, judicial and district attorney offices will need to formally declare their candidacy. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • Hundreds of candidates expected to file for political office this week [Tulsa World]

Head of Oklahoma state veterans agency to run for governor: Republican Joel Kintsel, the executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs, announced Friday he will challenge Gov. Kevin Stitt in the race for governor. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Health News

Oklahoma has seen flu activity ramp up this spring: After an especially mild flu season last year, Oklahoma has seen flu activity ramp up this spring, at a time when it’s often winding down. Flu season runs from October through May, though people often think of the flu spiking in the winter months. [The Oklahoman]

  • Virus update: 15 charts that show how COVID-19 is spreading in Tulsa and Oklahoma [Tulsa World]
  • COVID by the numbers in Oklahoma [Tulsa World]

‘I stuck the rifle to my mouth:’ After saving others, first responders must save themselves: The deadly scenes have unfolded across Oklahoma the last three years, with first responders, whose ranks have been battered by high rates of depression and suicide caused by such trauma, arriving to save whoever they can or else identify who already is dead. [The Oklahoman]

Viewpoint: Oklahoma must invest in infants, toddlers impacted by COVID: The COVID-19 pandemic has been with us now for over two years and has touched all of us — some in very devastating ways. No age group has been more affected than infants and toddlers born during this time. [Opinion / The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

‘They need to be gone’: Public housing set for demolition, redevelopment if funds acquired: The long-awaited development could receive funds needed to begin construction if approved by city council Tuesday, but Ward 7 Councilwoman Nikki Nice has said she will vote against funding the project planned for her ward. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Oklahoma’s aerospace industry struggles with labor shortage: Oklahoma is tied for fifth lowest unemployment rate in the country, a signal that there are more open jobs than there are people to fill them. [The Oklahoman]

Economy by the numbers:12 charts that show how the economy is performing in Tulsa and Oklahoma: Find out how the unemployment rate has changed recently, where gas is the cheapest, how weekly earnings compare across the state and more with these charts and maps. [Tulsa World]

Energy companies anticipate increased production: Energy companies in Oklahoma and across multiple states in the region anticipate an average increase in oil and gas production of 7.5% by the fourth quarter of 2022. [The Journal Record]

Preacher and wife use cannabis consulting company to help lessen medical marijuana stigma: Some people may drive by the establishment numerous times, while others are emboldened enough to pull into the parking lot — only to sit in their cars. An Oklahoma minister and his wife are helping people reluctant to visit medical marijuana dispensaries come out of the shadows. [The Oklahoman]

Some restaurant owners persevere — even expand — during tough times: When Angella Elwell first considered owning a restaurant, she imagined the job would be one of elegance and glamour. And then, there’s the reality of a roomful of dirty dishes. [Tulsa World]

Education News

A roundup of education bills that advanced – or didn’t – last week in the Oklahoma legislature: Many of the bills restricting classroom content – a headline-grabbing topic earlier in session – are dead. But Oklahoma House members did advance a bill out of the State Powers Committee featuring new language that will slightly expand last year’s so-called Critical Race Theory ban. [KGOU]

Oklahoma’s failed school voucher bill just the latest battle in an ongoing war: Public education faces increased scrutiny as some lawmakers vow to continue a push to divert more state money to private schools. [The Frontier]

Oklahoma education secretary blasts Stillwater schools’ years-old bathroom policy: Oklahoma’s education secretary is blasting Stillwater Public Schools for a more than six-year-old policy that allows students to use the restroom that matches their gender identity. [The Oklahoman] Last week, Stillwater Superintendent Gay Washington sent a letter to parents in an effort to address “concerns, rumors and misinformation that are circulating regarding the school district’s restroom policy.” [Stillwater News Press]

LGBTQ college students allege discriminatory treatment at Christian schools: When Jace Dulohery started school at Oklahoma Christian University in 2020, no one knew he was transgender. He had already begun to medically and socially transition, and no one questioned him living in male housing his freshman year. [ABC News]

Stitt appoints energy, finance executive to OSU/A&M regents: An energy and finance executive is Gov. Kevin Stitt’s latest choice for the governing board of five Oklahoma colleges. Stitt announced Wednesday he appointed Cary Baetz to the Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents, which oversees Oklahoma State University, Langston University, Connors State College, Oklahoma Panhandle State University and Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

OKC city council considering rate adjustment for monthly water, wastewater and trash bill: Oklahoma City residents could see an increase in their water bills over the next five years, as the city council considers a rate adjustment from the Utilities department. The Oklahoma City Water and Utility Trust conducted a cost of service study, typically done every four to five years, that found a need to increase rates for water, wastewater and trash pickup. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma City dug up the road in to a popular brewery. The owners want payback for lost sales: Vanessa House Beer Company opened its taproom in October 2018 along NW 8 just off Automobile Alley and immediately became a popular spot for craft beer enthusiasts, tourists and happy hour hunters. But trouble was brewing. [The Oklahoman]

East Edmond 2050 lays out city’s long-term development: In August 2020, a team of Edmond City Council members, municipal employees and local residents began the process of formulating a long-term development plan for the city. [NonDoc]

Quote of the Day

“The past two years have been unlike any other in modern history, and the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of working together as community partners to move forward together. I am proud of our longstanding partnerships with school districts in Northeast Oklahoma, and I know our investment in public education means we are all in it together.”

– Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr., speaking about the tribe’s contribution to school districts in northeastern Oklahoma [KGOU]

Number of the Day


Since 1997, Oklahoma has cut taxes by nearly 12%, without much to show for it.

[Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute]

New from OK Policy: Legislators have an opportunity to make a down payment on the state’s future 

Policy Note

A Better Path Forward: A Budget and Tax Roadmap for Oklahoma: A Better Path Forward is a comprehensive report from the Oklahoma Policy Institute detailing how the state cut nearly a quarter of the state’s budget capacity and the implications of those decisions. More importantly, the report includes a menu of budget and tax reforms that can provide vital state revenue while bringing more fairness to the state’s tax system. [Oklahoma Policy Insitute]

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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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