In The Know: Oklahoma patients voice major concerns on health care quality and access | Governor creates AI task force | Capitol Update | 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

Tax cut deja vu: Governor’s income tax proposal echoes past attempts (Capitol Update): The Governor’s latest “new idea” is to gradually eliminate the state income tax, the largest source of state revenues. Oklahoma has suffered revenue failures in fiscal years 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2020. Some seasoned legislators remember those years and hope to avoid crippling budget meltdowns in the future. They know there are very few “new ideas,” only good ideas and bad ideas. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

State Government News

Interim studies in full swing at State Capitol: The 2024 legislative session is more than four months away, but one mechanism that helps shape policy is well underway at the state Capitol. Last week House and Senate members hosted four interim studies, with topics ranging from regulation of the hemp industry to the criminal prosecution of mothers with substance abuse during pregnancy. [Oklahoma Watch via The Duncan Banner]

Some State Agencies Cancel More Public Meetings Than They Hold: Meeting cancellations pile up for some entities, including those with direct regulatory or consumer protection functions. Oklahoma Watch used data from the secretary of state’s office, which keeps track of statewide meeting notices, to determine the agencies, boards and commissions with the most canceled meetings in the past five years. [Oklahoma Watch]

Gov. Kevin Stitt wants AI to help make Oklahoma’s government more efficient: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt is creating a task force on artificial intelligence. Stitt says AI has the potential to revolutionize the way society works, and his task force will identify how it can be used to make government more efficient and improve education. [KOSU]

‘Believe it when I see it’: State funds eyed to support huge theme park plan near Vinita: Local leaders from northeast Oklahoma are planning to ask the Legislature for at least $36 million of infrastructure improvements to support a massive $2 billion theme park and resort announced in July by a Branson-based entertainment company. The request for state funding, however, could be much larger, and at least prominent lawmaker has expressed a desire for more details. [NonDoc]

Federal Government News

Food benefits for low income families at risk in a government shutdown, White House says: As Congress barrels toward a partial government shutdown, the White House Monday warned that a program that helps millions of low income families afford healthy food could see substantial cuts. Over 72,700 Oklahoma women, children and infants participate in WIC. [Oklahoma Voice]

Tribal Nations News

Governor remains confident in Native American liaison despite tribal opposition: Oklahoma’s governor continues to have confidence in his newly appointed Native American liaison and will continue to rely on him to build tribal relations, his spokeswoman said Monday. Despite opposition from five of the state’s most powerful tribes, Gov. Kevin Stitt will retain Wes Nofire as his liaison, said gubernatorial spokeswoman Abegail Cave. [Oklahoma Voice]

Muscogee Nation Principal Chief will lead for four more years: Principal Chief David Hill and Second Chief Del Beaver received more than 50% of the vote in this month’s primary. A second term will mean both will secure their legacy as leaders who implemented policy in the wake of the landmark McGirt v. Oklahoma decision. [KOSU]

Health News

1 in 4 Oklahoma patients give health care a failing grade in new report: In a new report, Oklahoman patients have voiced major concerns and named barriers to their healthcare. A recently released Harris Report found that 1 in 4 Oklahoma patients give healthcare a failing grade. The findings come as part of a healthcare report examining how patients view the current state of healthcare, including wait time to get appointments, affordability and delaying care. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma has third-highest obesity rate in the nation, CDC says: The report using new population data from 2022 shows that 22 states have an adult obesity prevalence at or above 35%, compared to 19 states in 2021. Just ten years ago, no state had an adult obesity prevalence at or above 35%. [The Oklahoman]

New Oklahoma insurance plan will offer free, unlimited access to physicians: Cleveland and Canadian County residents will soon have access to a new insurance policy combining traditional health coverage and access to direct primary care. [KOSU]

Criminal Justice News

Leadership changes at Oklahoma prison under scrutiny for sexual misconduct allegations: An Oklahoma prison warden, whose facility faced scrutiny from a state lawmaker for allegedly mishandling inmate sexual misconduct reports, has resigned. [Oklahoma Voice]

Oklahoma County grand juries are rare. New DA now wants one available to review police shootings: An Oklahoma County grand jury is being convened to review police shootings, including one at the Del City-Choctaw football game Aug. 25 that left a man in the hospital. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Southeast Oklahoma contractor accused of exposing employees to hazardous work conditions, leading to death: Investigators found a project manager and other workers employed by Rocking L Dozer and Land Management LLC, out of Caney, could have prevented a trench collapse that fatally injured one of their workers at a McAlester worksite in May. [KOSU]

Education News

Column: How having diverse teachers in our schools can increase students’ positive outcomes: Teacher diversity makes a difference for students. Increased academic achievement, reduced discipline, improved attendance, increased graduation and college attendance, as well as increased social-emotional outcomes like grit and sense of self-efficacy are all attributable to having diverse teachers in our schools. [Mary Mélon-Tully Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

General News

Tulsa mass graves investigation continues as survivors appeal: Investigators for the 1921 Tulsa Mass Graves Investigation announced the exhumation of a fourth set of remains during the city’s third excavation at Oaklawn Cemetery. In total, previous findings have uncovered dozens of remains, 22 of which have been sent to Intermountain Forensic in Salt Lake City, Utah for analysis. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Oklahoma City Council to discuss city tax for new arena [News 9]
  • East Village building blaze leaves restaurant, coffee house ownership facing ‘long road’ to rebuild [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Without the urgent investment of additional funds, state WIC offices could soon be forced to consider waiting lists for prospective participants — a drastic step not seen in nearly 30 years.”

– Kate Franken, board chair of the National WIC Association, which is the non-profit advocacy arm of WIC, on the potential cuts to the program if a federal government shutdown takes effect. Over 72,700 Oklahoma women, children and infants are enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), according to data released by the White House. [Oklahoma Voice]

Number of the Day


Estimated number of people incarcerated in Oklahoma prisons. [Prison Policy Initiative]

Policy Note

Justice Reform 101: What to Read, Watch, and Listen To: To gain a more comprehensive view of issues and stories around justice reform, the Vera Institute recommends the following books, documentaries, and podcasts. [Vera Institute]

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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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