In The Know: Oklahoma’s shift away from private prisons | Mental health services in jail | Policy Matters: Tax isn’t a four-letter word

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: Tax isn’t a four-letter word: Taxes are the price of admission for a functioning and well-organized society. It’s perplexing that Oklahoma politicians want to further lower – or even eliminate – the individual income tax, the state’s primary revenue source. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

State Government News

Education Watch: Democrats Call For Walters’ Impeachment. What’s The Process?: House Democrats on Tuesday made a formal request to Speaker Charles McCall to initiate impeachment proceedings against State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters. [Oklahoma Watch]

Federal Government News

DEA receives marijuana scheduling recommendation to reduce ‘harm’: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has delivered a recommendation to the Drug Enforcement Administration on marijuana policy, and Senate leaders hailed it Wednesday as a first step toward easing federal restrictions on the drug. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Oklahoma DEQ receives $3 million grant to look into the state’s air quality, workforce development: The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality has received a $3 million federal planning grant to develop a statewide greenhouse gas inventory and develop plans for reducing emissions. The funding comes from the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act. [KOSU]

Tribal Nations News

Chickasaw Nation unveils new cultural district along Oklahoma River: As the First Americans Museum completes its second year of operation and construction of the nearby OKANA resort continues, the Chickasaw Nation announced Wednesday the creation of the Horizons District as the city’s latest cultural and entertainment district. [Journal Record]

Health News

People with mental illness are more likely to die in jail. A new Oklahoma County program puts them in treatment instead: There have been nine suicides at the Oklahoma County jail in three years. Another six people with documented mental health issues died of other causes. One woman’s death has helped jumpstart a diversion program. [The Frontier]

Syndrome causing certain meat-product allergies on the rise, relatively high case numbers identified in parts of Oklahoma: Doctors are raising awareness around the lone star tick-born alpha-gal syndrome that can cause certain meat-related allergies. [KOKH]

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum: Share resources that can save a life, strengthen our community: The city of Tulsa’s strategy for mental health is guided by the belief that all Tulsans should have the ability to flourish. But for those with mental health needs, it can sometimes be difficult to find the right resources. [Guest Column / Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma Inches Closer to Eliminating Private Prisons: Change is coming to a southeast Oklahoma private prison plagued with violence and staffing shortages, but advocates for corrections staff and prisoners say further efforts are needed to improve conditions. [Oklahoma Watch]

Jail site committee passes on free land after opposition: The new Oklahoma County Jail will not be built on a plot of land offered to the county for free by a Norman-based real estate company after strong objections by community members during a meeting of the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee today. [NonDoc]

  • Search for Oklahoma County jail site narrows [News 9]

One person arrested in connection with Choctaw football game shooting that left one dead: A person has been arrested in connection with the shooting at the Choctaw and Del City football game, the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed. Several people were injured due to the shooting, and 16-year-old Cordea Carter was shot and killed. [The Oklahoman]

Former Marlow school board member charged with embezzling from Rep. Brad Boles’ company: The former president of a staffing company owned by Oklahoma Rep. Brad Boles was charged Tuesday with six counts of embezzlement related to allegations that he improperly paid himself more than $1.2 million from 2017 through July 2022. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma corrections department aims to revive state’s prison rodeo in McAlester: Oklahoma’s corrections director is backing a $9.3 million effort to revive the state’s prison rodeo, an event that was once among the largest in the nation, drawing thousands of spectators to McAlester every year. [Oklahoma Voice]

Housing & Economic Opportunity

Study finds Oklahomans pay less on bills, 37% of household income: Bills paid annually by typical households in Oklahoma amount to $4,092 less than bills paid by average households across the rest of the country. [Journal Record]

Labor Commissioner Leslie Osborn: Unemployed people are not lazy; they need stronger state resources: Labor Day has been a national holiday since President Grover Cleveland signed the designation into law in 1894. It is always a day to appreciate the people in our labor force who keep our country moving forward, but currently we do not have the necessary workforce in our state. [Guest Column / Tulsa World]

Education News

‘It’s a big deal’: Oklahoma State Department of Education approves four-day school week for two rural districts: Two rural school districts will be having four-day school weeks after the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) approved their waivers. [KOKH]

Former Norman teacher who shared link to banned books still in license limbo: The future of a former Norman High School educator’s teaching license remains unresolved after an attempt to revoke it never came before the state’s top school board in August. [Oklahoma Voice]

Terms of Gist’s separation released with incoming superintendent’s employment agreement: Tulsa Public Schools has disclosed the terms of both its separation agreement with Superintendent Deborah Gist and its employment agreement with incoming interim Superintendent Ebony Johnson. [Tulsa World]

Campus food pantries are seeing greater demand — and more state dollars: At many four-year colleges, meal plans alone typically can cost between $3,000 and $5,500 a year. Combined with tuition and housing, that cost can be out of reach for students who also must pay for textbooks and other basic needs. [Oklahoma Voice]

General News

Study: Oklahoma has some of the most confrontational drivers in the nation: In a recent study conducted by Forbes Advisor, it has been revealed that Oklahoma is home to some of the most confrontational drivers in the nation. The study surveyed 10,000 licensed drivers across all 50 states, comparing them on various metrics related to road rage and aggressive driving. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Final demolition underway at veterans hospital in Tulsa [Tulsa World]
  • This neighborhood ‘inherited the legacy’ of being OKC’s dumping ground [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“I hope we can get the community to understand and have compassion for this population, and that incarceration is not the answer.”

– Michael Hanes, associate clinical director at Hope Community Services, part of the Court-Ordered Outpatient Treatment Program (CO-OP), a new alternative to county jails for people experiencing mental health conditions. [The Frontier]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s rank for state and local tax collections as a percentage of personal income, among the lowest in the nation. Oklahomans pay about 8.3% of their personal income towards taxes, which is the second lowest among neighboring states. Other states include: Texas (8.1%), Missouri (8.4%), Colorado (9.1%), Arkansas (9.6%), Kansas (10.1%), New Mexico (10.3%). The national average is 9.9%. [Tax Policy Center]

Policy Note

State tax systems contribute to inequality. These states are doubling down: Mississippi sliced into its revenue by cutting income taxes in a way that mostly benefits its wealthiest — largely white — residents. It’s one of at least 19 legislatures — including Oklahoma — that seized the opportunity to do so in the midst of budget surpluses fed by federal pandemic funding. [Center for Public Integrity]

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Annie Taylor joined OK Policy as a Digital Communications Associate/Storybanker in April 2022. She studied journalism and mass communication at the University of Oklahoma, and was a member of the Native American Journalists Association. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communications from the University of Central Oklahoma. While pursuing her degree, she worked in restaurant and retail management, as well as freelance copywriting and digital content production. Annie is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation, and holds a deep reverence for storytelling in the digital age. She was born and raised in southeast Oklahoma, and now lives in Oklahoma City with her dog, Melvin.

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