In The Know: Looking at pandemic relief projects approved during special session | Lawmakers discuss tax cuts, inflation relief | Nursing home shortage

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

What Pandemic Relief Projects Oklahoma Lawmakers Approved, Omitted in Special Session: A last-minute disagreement between the Oklahoma House and Senate over a pandemic relief bill to fund domestic violence programs is the only piece of unfinished business from a two-day special session that allocated almost $2 billion to water infrastructure, broadband and mental health needs. The Legislature gave itself until Oct. 14 to conclude the special session for rural economic development and approval of projects under the federal American Rescue Plan Act. That will give lawmakers time to come back and attempt to override any vetoes by Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • ‘Generational’ investments: Legislators send ARPA projects to governor [NonDoc]
  • State lawmakers’ disagreement sidelines $35.7 million for federally funded Tulsa projects [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma lawmakers commit $250 million for rural development [CNHI via Norman Transcript]

Tax cuts unlikely until next year, Oklahoma Senate leader says: Despite Gov. Kevin Stitt’s persistent calls for state lawmakers to cut taxes, the Oklahoma Legislature likely won’t take up tax reform until next year. [The Oklahoman]

‘Our communities need relief:’ Inflation is driving political talking points and policy debates: Inflation, or responding to it, has become a central policy debate in the state Capitol, and it’s a political issue in the governor’s race. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma nursing homes shuttering as need for senior care soars: ‘Likely the next public health emergency’: At least five Oklahoma nursing residences have closed in 2022, including a large one in Sapulpa that specialized in patients on ventilators and three small ones in Vinita, according to state records. [Tulsa World]

  • ‘Oklahoma is way behind’ in nurse shortage, with nursing home execs ‘deeply concerned’ [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Attorney provided evidence to claim turnpike invalid: A local attorney who has sued the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority over a proposed turnpike in east Norman claims there is evidence in long-forgotten legislative history that proves the agency has violated state law. [The Norman Transcript]

Column: It’s time for Oklahomans to reframe discussions on poverty: High levels of incarceration, poor education outcomes, and dramatic health and mental health statistics can all be tied back to Oklahoma’s 43rd ranking in poverty. We must start this conversation by agreeing poverty is a real issue. [Justin Brown Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Editorial: Oklahoma’s outdated housing law creates power imbalance, putting renters in squalid homes: Federal coverage of rent and utilities will be running out, and about one in four Tulsa evacuee households are unable to meet the higher housing costs. That means they will need new homes. [Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Some borrowers may not see their student loans forgiven after all. Here’s why: The White House updated President Joe Biden’s student loan debt forgiveness guidelines Thursday amid ongoing criticism and opposition from legal firms and state leaders. [The Oklahoman]

Need for judicial nominations in focus as federal judge in Tulsa moves to senior status: As U.S. District Judge Claire Eagan takes senior status Friday, after two decades on the bench full time, the need to fill vacant judicial positions in the Tulsa federal court comes into sharper focus. [Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

Osage Nation Congress calls for repeal of law limiting instruction on race, history: The Osage Nation Congress unanimously adopted a resolution Friday calling for the repeal of an Oklahoma law limiting instruction on race, gender and history. “History’s ugly,” Osage Nation Congresswoman and resolution sponsor Whitney Redcorn said. “I don’t know how you avoid any emotion attached to it. This started out as pursuing a gentle ask, but the deeper we dove, the more apparent it became a soft ask wouldn’t work, as there’s no way to make the bill (House Bill 1775) better.” [Tulsa World]

Tribal courts now have more power over non-Native defendants. Here’s what to know: Tribal courts can file more charges against non-Native defendants under a new law that took effect Saturday. [The Oklahoman]

Indigenous language classes growing in Oklahoma public schools: According to data compiled by the Oklahoma Advisory Council on Indian Education, through the end of the 2021-22 school year, the number of Oklahoma public school students taking an Indigenous language for a world language credit has increased by almost 1,000 pupils over the last two school years. [Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

Stitt, Hofmeister make their cases for Oklahoma governor on dramatically different terms: Not surprisingly, Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt and Democratic challenger Joy Hofmeister offered very different assessments of the past four years, and in particular the last two, during separate visits to the Tulsa World last week. [Tulsa World]

A look at the four Oklahoma Supreme Court justices on the retention ballot in November: The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled in recent years on major questions of state policy, including Medicaid, pandemic measures, a statewide vote on recreational marijuana and opioid litigation. In coming months, the court could rule on whether abortion is protected by the Oklahoma Constitution. Oklahoma voters will be asked on Nov. 8 whether to retain four of the nine justices on the state Supreme Court for new terms. [The Oklahoman]

Political notebook: O’Connor opposes Biden voter registration order: Oklahoma’s John O’Connor joined other Republican attorneys general in protesting President Joe Biden’s executive order directing federal agencies to facilitate voter registration. [Tulsa World]

Vast majority of likely Oklahoma voters believe corruption exists in state government, poll finds: An exclusive poll shows that a vast majority of likely Oklahoma voters believe corruption exists within state government. [KOCO5]

Health News

Column: Oklahoma can turn tides against overdose deaths: Many Oklahomans may not realize that our state is a national leader in preventing and reducing overdose deaths. [Zach Stoycoff Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

1 teen killed, 1 wounded in Tulsa homecoming game shooting: A teenager was killed and another was wounded in a shooting at a high school homecoming football game in Oklahoma Friday night, police said. [AP News]

  • Head of Miami Public Schools looks to suspend school activity with McLain High School [Tulsa World]
  • Woman, girl also reportedly injured at McLain homecoming shooting that killed teen, Tulsa police say [Tulsa World]
  • McLain High School cancels classes for Monday [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma warden stands by decision that death row inmate Benjamin Cole is still competent: Death row inmate Benjamin Cole sat slumped over in a prison wheelchair for most of an almost four-hour court hearing Friday, his head at his knees and his eyes closed. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Tight labor market squeezing employers across state, nation: Amid a persistently tight labor market, desperate employers from across the country are beginning to use remote workplace technology to poach workers from the Sooner State. [The Journal Record]

Education News

Column: Early Birds special: How parents and caregivers can give children jumpstart on education: It’s fall — a time for families to help children prepare for school success. It’s a critical time for developmental play and learning for children of all ages, especially those from prenatal to age 5. [Guest Columnist Sandy Cotton / The Oklahoman]

Greenwood Rising, OKC National Memorial plan student exchange program: Kari Watkins of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Phil Armstrong of Greenwood Rising said ninth-graders from the Tulsa and Oklahoma City areas will trade cities on the same day and then discuss their experiences visiting the respective museums. [Tulsa World]

Thousands of public school students applied, approved to transfer under new Oklahoma law: Heading into the new school year this fall almost 11,000 students requested to transfer under Oklahoma’s new open transfer law. [KOSU]

General News

Column: Oklahoma nonprofits alliance shows we are better together: The trajectory of our state would change if we looked past that which divides us and embraced our common humanity through service to one another. [Marnie Taylor / The Oklahoman]

Column: I’ve seen us at our best – and our worst – on immigration: I want to look at what has long troubled me about our country: the conflict of its lofty ideals and its sometimes bitter realities. While our ideals are high and success stories real, the relationship we have with immigrants has been fraught with nativism, racism and fear. [Bob Doucette Column / Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

Members of OKC Human Rights Commission include councilor who voted against its formation: Community members were appointed to Oklahoma City’s newly created Human Rights Commission on Tuesday, with a rare appointment of a city council member as her ward’s representative. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“I think people are constantly shocked … that people who make $18,000 or $25,000 are paying income tax. If we want to talk about relief at all, we need to talk about very targeted relief that truly hits the people who are paying a larger percentage of their income and have a hard time getting by.”

– Sen. Julia Kirt, D-OKC, speaking about the regressive nature of Oklahoma’s income tax system [The Oklahoman

Number of the Day


Number of Oklahoma’s 77 counties with Hispanic or Latino populations above 10%. 31 counties had Hispanic or Latino populations between 5% and 10%, and 21 counties had Hispanic populations under 5%.

[U.S. Census Bureau]

Policy Note

Why Immigrants Are More Likely to Become Entrepreneurs: From a policy perspective, the findings suggest that the entrepreneurial potential of immigrants extends beyond the small group of late-stage international entrepreneurs who are usually the target of entrepreneurship visa programs and investment promotion agencies. Public policy should also support nascent entrepreneurs among immigrants by providing funding, training, access to work spaces, and help navigating the administrative processes associated with starting a business as an immigrant. [Harvard Business Review]

NOTE: National Hispanic Heritage Month is Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. Each week, OK Policy will share policy notes and numbers to recognize this commemoration.

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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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