In The Know: OK Supreme Court hears arguments on taxing tribal citizens | Families fight ban on gender-affirming care | Should paid leave be added to Oklahoma’s Quality Jobs criteria? | Oklahoma needs solutions, not grandstanding

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

Policy Matters: Oklahomans need solutions, not grandstanding: When we elect folks to public office, they’re supposed to represent our best interests while tackling large-scale problems. The grandstanding from some Oklahoma politicians lately, however, is doing nothing to solve pressing issues facing our state. The most recent example came Tuesday when the governor called for yet another special session — his second special session call in four months — to direct lawmakers to cut the state’s personal income tax. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

Post-McGirt case could have far-reaching impact on Oklahoma tax policies: The state’s high court on Wednesday heard oral arguments in a case that could exempt more tribal citizens from state income taxes if they live and work within their tribe’s reservation. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • During Stroble arguments, Oklahoma Supreme Court hints at SCOTUS appeal [NonDoc]
  • Can state tax tribal citizens on reservations? Oklahoma Supreme Court considers case [The Oklahoman]
  • Tribal citizen fighting state income tax argues before Oklahoma Supreme Court [Tulsa World]

Appeals court hears arguments in Oklahoma transgender suit: Questions about sex discrimination, parental rights and even a landmark abortion case dominated oral arguments on Oklahoma’s transgender care laws heard Wednesday morning by a three-judge 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Bill seeks to crack down on deceptive artificial intelligence campaign tactics: A state senator wants to crack down on how artificial intelligence is used in political campaigns. Senate Bill 1655 would prohibit the use of AI to create fake, misleading or inaccurate images, video and audio of candidates within 90 days of the election. [Oklahoma Voice]

Oklahoma bill proposes paid leave as Quality Jobs criteria: An Oklahoma lawmaker has proposed that companies that receive tax benefits through the state’s Quality Jobs Program should have to provide paid family leave and sick pay for their employees. State Sen. Julia Kirt, D-Oklahoma City, said that strengthening paid time-off benefits would be good not only for workers but also for the businesses they work for and the Oklahoma economy as a whole. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma bill would require ‘furries’ be picked up from school by parents, animal control: One Oklahoma lawmaker, Rep. Justin Humphrey, R-Lane, decided to file a bill targeting “furries,” or people in a subculture interested in anthropomorphic animal characters, in Oklahoma schools. [The Oklahoman]

New law proposed to give tenants more warning, additional time before eviction: Oklahomans facing eviction have more warning and more time for a trial under a measure being proposed by an Oklahoma City senator. State Sen. Julia Kirt, a Democrat, said Senate Bill 1575 would extend the window for setting an eviction trial to 10 business days and extend the timeline for notice of a trial to a week. Under current state law, renters facing eviction have only five days’ notice of their eviction hearing, then 48 hours to get out. [The Oklahoman]

Bill Roundup:

  • Oklahoma bill would require ‘furries’ be picked up from school by parents, animal control [The Oklahoman]
  • ‘Ridiculous’: Oklahoma lawmaker proposes school ‘furry’ ban, stirring global controversy [Fox 25]
  • House bill proposes strict limits on public insurance adjusters, clients [KFOR]
  • Sen. Prieto proposes bill to stop anonymous child abuse reports, introduces new tracking [Fox 25]
  • OK lawmaker reconsiders language as bill targeting Latino community sparks controversy [Fox 25]

State Employee Move To Telework Leads To New Corrections HQ: The increased use of work-from-home and hybrid workplaces among state employees was a catalyst in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ recent move to a new headquarters in Oklahoma City. [Oklahoma Watch]

Stitt’s second special session seeking income tax cut is no slam dunk: Gov. Kevin Stitt earlier this week called for a special session of Oklahoma’s 59th Legislature beginning Jan. 29, to seek a .25% reduction in the personal income tax. Only one caucus leader has expressed vocal support for an income tax cut, while others are dubious about the idea that a reduction is financially responsible. [Journal Record]

Editorial: Keeping hungry kids in hunger is bad for Oklahoma: Playing politics with hungry children is a bad look for Oklahoma and even worse public policy. Children in poverty should be helped, not used as political game pieces. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Members of U.S. Senate, advocates discuss problems in states that limit abortion access: Abortion rights advocates and Democrats in the U.S. Senate pressed for a return to legal, safe access throughout the country during a briefing Wednesday. The nearly three-hour conversation featured doctors speaking about the challenges they and their patients face in states that have implemented restrictions on abortion since the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion. [Oklahoma Voice]

Sen. James Lankford, of Oklahoma, has negotiated ‘meaningful reforms’ in immigration policy: Passage of a multi-billion-dollar supplemental package hinges on curbing an executive authority used to grant immigration protection. [Oklahoma Voice]

Tribal Nations News

Pawnee Nation receives $14 million federal grant to build new behavioral health center: According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Pawnee County faces critical health issues including a 20% mental illness rate with patients facing a five-week wait time for treatment due to limited resources and availability. The grant supports a new facility located on Tribal land in Pawnee, Oklahoma to enhance healthcare accessibility for Pawnee Tribal and non–tribal members. [Clearinghouse Community Development Financial Institution]

Osage Nation grieves former Chief John Red Eagle: The Osage Nation flags are at half-staff this week as citizens mourn the loss of a former chief, John Red Eagle. [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma Department of Corrections prison tablet initiative gets mixed reviews: A few years after the first tablets were issued to Oklahoma prison inmates, the program is receiving a mixed reception. Some question the effectiveness of the initiative and whether the costs inmates have to pay for access are reasonable. But supporters say the program assists inmates in navigating some of the complexities of reentry into society and helps the Department of Corrections cut down on contraband and illicit activity behind bars. [Oklahoma Voice]

Housing & Economic Opportunity

Anti-homelessness ordinance enacted, as Shawnee grapples with lack of resources: There are fewer than 20 beds available at Shawnee’s Salvation Army at any given time, and there is no other homeless shelter in the city. Erika Genty, Shawnee’s Homeless Program coordinator, said a lack of resources is the community’s biggest problem. [KOSU]

Education News

State Supt. set to hold emergency board meeting focused on teacher misconduct: On Wednesday, State Superintendent Ryan Walters announced an emergency meeting of the State Board of Education on Thursday, January 18. Walters is set to consider an emergency suspension of an Oklahoma teacher recently named in incidents involving sexual misconduct. The Board will also consider the Department’s revocation docket and ongoing investigations into school districts and teach misconduct. [KFOR]

  • Emergency meeting called to discuss Ryan Walters’ plan to protect students from predators [KOCO]

Norman teacher filed defamation suit over HB 1775 saga. Now Ryan Walters aims to dismiss case: Attorneys for state schools Superintendent Ryan Walters have asked a federal judge to dismiss a defamation suit filed by a former Norman teacher who clashed with Walters over what sort of books should be available for high-school students to read. [The Oklahoman]

OU Regents OK new degree programs: The regents approved a new aerospace and defense option for the Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies program and a new Master of Arts in Econometrics. [Journal Record]

Former Sapulpa coach, teacher charged with drug trafficking: A former Sapulpa teacher and coach has been charged with drug trafficking after he was found leaving the high school campus with counterfeit prescription pills in November. [Tulsa World]

Opinion, Rep. John Waldron: I’m not letting State Superintendent Ryan Walters fool me twice: Recently, State Superintendent Ryan Walters unveiled a $3.7 billion education budget, one he called “the most innovative in state history.” But on a closer look, there are serious problems of transparency, accountability and follow-through that make me wonder if we are looking at the emperor’s new budget, that is, an exercise in deception and delusion. [Rep. John Waldron / The Oklahoman]

Opinion: There is growth and opportunity happening in OKCPS: Growth and Opportunity were the key themes at the State of OKCPS meeting held a few weeks ago. This gathering is an annual event where Oklahoma City Public Schools leaders share highlights with state legislators and local leaders. [Mary Mélon-Tully / The Oklahoman]

General News

Opinion: Youth disconnected from civic life because elected leaders ignore their values, stoke division: Admittedly, I get worked up about leadership and policies more than an average 17-year-old, but only because I am looking for answers — and I want the best for myself, family and community. Here’s the thing: We’ve become so deeply divided by political nuance that we can’t even express our own thoughts about what we need from leadership. [Kimberlee Wilson / Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • OK County commissioners approve contract with company that will help find land for new jail [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma City councilman appointed to National League of Cities advocacy committee [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“The majority of Oklahoma workers do not have paid leave and can’t even afford to take unpaid leave when they or family members are ill. When we consider how best to invest in great jobs that help families be self-sufficient, strengthen our local economies and keep our state competitive, we must think about benefits, not just wages.”

-Senate-elect Minority Leader Juila Kirt supporting the bill she plans to introduce, Senate Bill 1267, that would add paid leave to the qualifications employers would have to meet to be considered for Oklahoma’s Quality Jobs Program. [Journal Record]

Number of the Day


Estimated number of Oklahoma children in low-income families who would benefit from the proposed bipartisan federal Child Tax Credit expansion. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

Policy Note of the Day

About 16 Million Children in Low-Income Families Would Gain in First Year of Bipartisan Child Tax Credit Expansion: The bipartisan Child Tax Credit expansion in the tax bill negotiated by Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith takes an important step toward making the credit work for children in families with low incomes. While smaller than the American Rescue Plan credit expansion that expired at the end of 2021, the proposal’s top priority is getting more of the credit to most of the roughly 19 million children who currently get a partial credit or none at all because their families’ incomes are too low. The bipartisan proposal pairs corporate and small business tax provisions with Child Tax Credit improvements that cost a similar amount, reportedly about $35 billion for each set of proposals. With the exception of a modest indexing proposal, all of the benefits from the Child Tax Credit improvements go to children left out of the full credit because their families’ incomes are too low. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]


Kandis West is a communications professional with more than 15 years of experience. Most recently, she served as the Communications Director for the Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus. She spent nine years in the Olympia/Tacoma area of Washington organizing compensation campaigns for teachers for the Washington Education Association. Kandis has a proven track record of increasing community engagement, public awareness and media exposure around the most pressing issues that impact citizens. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism.