In The Know: Long-term impact of cutting state grocery tax | McCall’s 5 tax ‘discussion pieces’ | Court costs for justice-involved children | 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

Column: Lower courts costs for justice-involved children: Parenting can be a high wire act, even on the best of days. For the families whose children have become entangled with the youth justice system, they can quickly find themselves struggling to regain their balance — only to face mounting court debts that move their circumstances from truly awful to nightmarish. The Oklahoma Policy Institute spent several months talking with folks statewide who were referred to the youth justice system. [Ahniwake Rose / Tulsa World

Oklahoma News

Despite bipartisan support, some worry about the long-term impact of cutting taxes on groceries: There are no plans to replace an estimated $300-million in revenue the tax generates for the state each year. Emma Morris, a revenue policy analyst with the Oklahoma Policy Institute, said lawmakers tend to cut taxes when the state has high revenues and struggle to fund needed services years later when facing a budget shortfall. As state revenues recovered from the pandemic last year, lawmakers cut about $280 million in annual tax revenue from personal and corporate income taxes, some of it dedicated to funding public schools. [The Frontier

New from OK Policy: While the sales tax on groceries is regressive and should ultimately be addressed through comprehensive tax reform in Oklahoma, the state is not in a position to implement this change this year.  These cuts would harm the ability of both our state and local governments to deliver the shared public services all Oklahomans use.

Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall unveils 5 tax relief bills as ‘discussion pieces’: Citing concerns about rising inflation, Oklahoma’s House speaker on Thursday unveiled a package of proposals to cut taxes, issue one-time refunds to taxpayers and increase a tax credit intended for low-income Oklahomans. [The Oklahoman

Report from OK Policy: A Better Path Forward: Oklahoma has cut its taxes and public services too much, and this has created real harms to the health, safety, and prosperity of all Oklahomans. Each year our elected officials and policymakers have fewer dollars to answer today’s needs or to invest in our state’s future success

Oklahoma health officials eye shift toward ‘endemic’ COVID response. What does that mean?: With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations having fallen dramatically in Oklahoma, the state Health Department is preparing to make changes to how it approaches the pandemic response. [The Oklahoman

  • In two years of COVID, Oklahoma has come far, but ‘we’d be foolish to say that this is over right now’ [Tulsa World
  • Oklahoma health officials eye shift to ‘endemic’ COVID response, reporting changes [Tulsa World

State Government News

Editorial: Embrace fiscal responsibility instead of dubious ‘inflation relief’ bill: Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall would like to give Oklahomans a break from inflation, but the bill he is proposing doesn’t do much for the cause of fiscal responsibility. [Editorial / Tulsa World

Funding needed for direct support professional workforce: State legislators recently got a glimpse into a day in the life of a direct support professional (DSP), the frontline workers who support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) so they can live at home in the community. A typical work day often includes help with getting dressed, taking medication, preparing meals, job coaching and other daily living activities. [The City Sentinel]

Proposed bill would make evictions easier for landlords: Oklahoma lawmakers are considering a bill that would make it easier for landlords to evict tenants who fall behind on their rent. According to new data from Open Justice Oklahoma, more than 60,000 evictions have been filed since March of 2020, the start of the pandemic. [News On 6

Previously from OK Policy (2021): Much-needed reforms to landlord-tenant law should aim to stop the flood of eviction filings by big, corporate landlords and a handful of attorneys, and instead implement mediation and other alternate methods of dispute resolution that can level the playing field between landlords and tenants.

Debate brews on whether law enforcement unification bill would improve or politicize corruption cases: Would a long-discussed proposal to “unify” three powerful law enforcement agencies improve or politicize the ability to investigate and prosecute public corruption cases in Oklahoma? [NonDoc

Bill would establish disaster mitigation, recovery fund: Natural disasters ranging from wildfires to ice storms pummel Oklahoma often enough that the state should have special funding set aside to help communities recover, a state lawmaker said. [The Journal Record

Capitol Watch: Where voting, election bills stand after the Legislature’s first deadline week: Last Thursday was the cut-off date for bills to make it out of committee in their chamber of origin. We can now see how many of the thousands of bills introduced before the session are alive. [Oklahoma Watch

(Audio) Capitol Insider: Procedural wheels turn as lawmakers advance bills at deadline: In the last week, Oklahoma legislators acted on more than 400 bills in the House and Senate. With a committee deadline upon them, they employed numerous procedural methods to push favored legislation forward. [KGOU

Federal Government News

D.C. Digest: Oklahoma delegation uses war in Ukraine to argue for oil and gas, against renewal energy: The Ukraine crisis has given Oklahoma’s congressional delegation another reason to holler about the Biden administration’s energy policy and call for more production of domestic oil and gas. [Tulsa World]

  • As oil prices rise, Oklahoma’s big producers remain reluctant to boost production [The Oklahoman]
  • Inflation, war expected to slow Oklahoma’s economic growth [The Journal Record

Tribal Nations News

Oklahoma’s tension with tribes attracts attention of western states: While Oklahoma remains in a power struggle with its 39 tribes on criminal jurisdiction and whether Native American reservations still exist, some Western states have been collaborating with their tribes for years. [Gaylord News / The Norman Transcript]

A drive to save a language: By itself, being able to read smartphone home screens in Cherokee won’t be enough to safeguard the Indigenous language, endangered after a long history of erasure. But it might be a step toward immersing younger tribal citizens in the language spoken by a dwindling number of their elders. [Indian Country Today]

Voting and Election News

Ginnie Graham: Don’t mess with Oklahoma’s citizen-led initiative petitions: A crusade is underway at the Oklahoma Legislature to make it harder to pass citizen-led initiative petitions and legislative referendums under the guise of protecting residents from out-of-state interests. [Column / Tulsa World

Oklahoma GOP Chairman John Bennett announces run for Congress: Oklahoma GOP Chairman John Bennett became the latest Republican to announce his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives, aiming to grasp the 2nd Congressional District seat that is being vacated by Rep. Markwayne Mullin. [The Oklahoman

Sen. James Lankford challenger Jackson Lahmeyer claims support of grassroots Republicans: Republican Jackson Lahmeyer acknowledges he is the underdog in his race to unseat U.S. Sen. James Lankford and compared the campaign to the fight between David and Goliath. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

988 mental health crisis call center launching soon in Oklahoma with ‘tremendous amount of capability’: The crisis line, to become available July 1, will connect callers to the state’s new 988 Call Center, where — among other options — they will be able to talk with a crisis counselor, receive quicker access to providers or have a crisis team dispatched for an in-person intervention anywhere in the state. [Tulsa World

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma used wrong drug labels during recent executions: Oklahoma has used the wrong drug labels during at least three recent executions, prison officials said Friday during testimony in a federal trial on whether the state’s three-drug lethal injection method is unconstitutional. [AP

  • Expert calls executions humane following complaints from Oklahoma death row inmates [The Oklahoman
  • Under a fake name and in writing, Oklahoma’s execution doctor explains role [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma ranks in top 10 for gun violence, study finds: Oklahoma ranked in the top 10 in a recent study of gun violence nationwide. Among all large U.S. counties, Oklahoma County had the 10th-highest gun-related death rate. With a slightly smaller population, Tulsa County ranked at 15th among midsized counties nationwide. [The Journal Record

Economic Opportunity

Rents are skyrocketing across Tulsa as the city faces a shortage of affordable housing: With a housing shortage driving up costs nationwide, rental rates jumped more than 19% in south Tulsa last year and seem likely to continue climbing in 2022, according to recent data from the city. [Tulsa World

Point in time homeless count resumes with annual effort across city: Once again, volunteers fanned out across Oklahoma City to count the city’s homeless Thursday. And, once again, the largest effort was first, to find them. [OKC Free Press]

Economy & Business News

Seed to sale a go but opportunities to improve it abound: Oklahoma’s seed-to-sale program is back in business following a Feb. 25 ruling by Oklahoma County District Judge Natalie Mai. But there is still plenty of work to be done to implement the system, according to Rep. Scott Fetgatter (R-Okmulgee). [NonDoc

  • What to know about the newest round of Oklahoma medical marijuana legislation [State Impact Oklahoma

Oklahoma wants to be the home of electric-, hydrogen-fueled vehicles: Gov. Kevin Stitt’s administration is betting big on electric- and hydrogen-fueled vehicles coming to Oklahoma. Officials say they’re pressing forward with an aggressive recruitment campaign courting as many as 14 companies, including one business that reportedly is eyeing a location in Pryor that could create as many as 4,000 to 6,000 jobs in Northeast Oklahoma. [CNHI via The Express Star]

Education News

Editorial: Private school vouchers won’t improve public education: The latest private school voucher bill offers more of the same; nothing that would improve Oklahoma education and only harms public schools. [Editorial / Tulsa World

OKC Public Schools to consider ending student uniforms at middle schools and high schools: After nearly a decade requiring uniforms districtwide, Oklahoma City Public Schools could relax the policy in middle and high schools. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

‘We don’t want it!’: Norman town hall draws massive crowd protesting turnpike expansion: Some Norman residents are furious that a turnpike is being planned that could pave over their homes ― a plan the state didn’t tell them about until after the route was determined. [The Oklahoman

Researchers seek new search for Tulsa Massacre victims; oversight committee members voice frustrations: The discovery of human remains that could possibly be victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre in Oklahoma shows that the search for mass graves should continue, researchers said. [Public Radio Tulsa

They fled Afghanistan for their lives. Now, two refugee brothers, 13 children, have a home, new hope in Tulsa: Tulsa’s allotment of refugees, all officially now here, are among the more than 1,800 allotted to the state — among the tens of thousands who were evacuated from Afghanistan with the U.S. withdrawal. [Tulsa World]

Mount St. Mary rocked by resignations as scope of sexual assault allegations widens: Former principal Talita DeNegri resigned Dec. 29 after an independent investigation commissioned by the school board revealed “The Mount administrative leadership failed to take action in response to reported allegations of sexual harassment and assault by students against other students,” the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City said in a statement at the time. [The Oklahoman]

  • Amid sexual assault allegations among students, Mount St. Mary vice principal, counselor resign [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“I think it’s easy to make tax choices annually, to say we have extra revenue, so let’s just make a cut. Or we have flat revenue, so let’s not cut taxes. We have a tendency to just think one year down the road.”

– Emma Morris, Revenue and Health Care Analyst at the Oklahoma Policy Institute, speaking about the state sales grocery tax and the state legislature’s propensity to cut revenue despite long-term needs [The Frontier]

New from OK Policy: While the sales tax on groceries is regressive and should ultimately be addressed through comprehensive tax reform in Oklahoma, the state is not in a position to implement this change this year.  These cuts would harm the ability of both our state and local governments to deliver the shared public services all Oklahomans use.

Number of the Day

82 cents

Amount women earn for every dollar a man earns

[Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020]

March is designated national Women’s History Month to honor the contribution of women and girls to our nation’s history.

Policy Note

What is the gender pay gap and is it real? This primer examines the evidence surrounding the gender pay gap, both in the literature and through our own data analyses. It explains the different ways the gap is measured, and then goes deeper into the data using hourly wages for analyses, culling from extensive national and regional surveys of wages, educational attainment, and occupational employment. [Economic Policy Institute]

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


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.

Leave a Reply

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