In The Know: Oklahoma’s financial reserves won’t survive an economic downturn | More than 4,000 active bills this #OKLeg session | A second statewide teacher pay raise could be on the way | 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.

Oklahoma News

Economic downturn would wipe out Oklahoma’s financial reserves, study finds: Even a mild economic downturn could burn through Oklahoma state government’s cash reserves in a short time, a budget “stress test” released Thursday says. [Tulsa World]

  • Sen. Kirt says budget stress test may impact Oklahoma’s crucial services [KOKH]

State Government News

Stitt insists Oklahomans need a pay raise, pushes for income tax cut in special session: Despite growing opposition in the House and a reluctant Senate, Gov. Kevin Stitt doubled down Thursday on his call for a special session focused on tax cuts. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma paid for Ryan Walters’ travel for speaking engagements, media appearances and a horror movie premiere: State Superintendent Ryan Walters jetted to Washington D.C. for media appearances and policy meetings, hobnobbed with conservative pundits at a movie premiere in Texas and spoke at conferences on education reform in Philadelphia and Denver — all while billing Oklahoma for his travel. [The Frontier]

How Oklahoma lawmakers are working to address school meal concerns: Lawmakers and child nutrition advocates say there’s a “growing conversation” at the state Capitol on expanding school meal programs, but opinions among the Republican majority are mixed. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma lawmakers to consider expanding school meal programs, but GOP views vary [KGOU]

Oklahoma bill making journalists get licenses, drug tests sparks First Amendment pushback: A state lawmaker’s bill that requires journalists to be licensed and forced to take quarterly drug tests probably won’t get very far in the upcoming legislative session but it’s already sparking pushback from the state’s news media. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma State Senator authors bill to limit freedom of the press [KOSU]

What is a furry? Subculture targeted in Oklahoma bill has nothing to do with litter boxes: If you dress and behave like an animal, does that make you a furry? No, but there are aspects that are similar. The topic came up recently when 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]

  • Oklahoma lawmaker targeting ‘furries’ in schools: Who is Justin Humphrey? [The Oklahoman]

A look into the legislature’s bill filing deadline with the lawmaker who reads every one: Every year there’s a handful of bills that get a lot of attention before session. Right now there’s more than 4,000 active bills that could be heard in both chambers. But one of the Representatives tasked with weeding through what bills are put up for a vote said the House is selective about what is actually passed. Rep. Jon Echols is the Majority Floor Leader of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. [KOKH]

Audit: Worker spent tax dollars for decades on personal items, including ‘literally the kitchen sink’: A Payne County Sheriff’s Office worker is accused of spending thousands of taxpayer dollars on personal expenses. [The Oklahoman]

This Week in Oklahoma Politics: Stitt’s special session, Oklahoma County Jail, tribal income taxes and more (Audio): This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU’s Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and Civil Rights Attorney Ryan Kiesel about the governor’s call for a special session to enact tax cuts, Republican lawmakers pushing changes to a law blacklisting banks who don’t invest in the oil and gas industry and Oklahoma County Commissioners still searching for a location to put the new jail. [KOSU]

Tribal Nations News

Cherokee Nation Chief vs Oklahoma Governor: A look at leadership: As Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt claims Tribal sovereignty is a threat to the state, the Chief of the Cherokee Nation continues to focus on uplifting communities, revealing a stark contrast in leadership styles among two of the most powerful men in Indian Country. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Voting and Election News

Republican senator files bill to ban ranked choice voting in Oklahoma: A Republican state senator wants to ban ranked choice voting in Oklahoma amid national GOP pushback to the voting method being implemented in some cities and states. [Oklahoma Voice]

Health News

In this Oklahoma town, almost everyone knows someone who’s been sued by the hospital: The records indicate McAlester Regional Medical Center and an affiliated clinic have filed close to 5,000 debt collection cases since the early 1990s, most often represented by the father-daughter law firm of Hackler & Hackler. In places like McAlester, a hospital’s debt collection machine can hum away quietly for years, helped along by powerful people in town. An effort to limit hospital lawsuits failed in the Oklahoma Legislature in 2021. [Kaiser Health News via KOSU]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma bill could label Hispanic gangs as terrorists in effort to curb fentanyl smuggling: The bill, House Bill 3133, would classify gang members of Hispanic descent in Oklahoma as terrorists. Humphrey says the goal of the bill is to curb fentanyl smuggling and overdoses. [The Oklahoman]

‘What is going on here?’: Concerns grow as new Oklahoma County Jail site selection lingers: Across Oklahoma County’s political and social spectra, people do not want the jail anywhere near their homes, their church or their children’s school. While commissioners’ list of potential sites seems ever-changing, none of the options appears to tick all of the necessary boxes. [NonDoc]

Housing & Economic Opportunity

Oklahoma lawmaker files bill to combat high eviction rate in the state: Oklahoma ranks among the highest in the country for evictions, according to the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Five days in Oklahoma is all it takes for an eviction to begin. One Oklahoma lawmaker wants to buy families more time. [News 9]

Economy & Business News

Farm Bureau advocacy focus set on zoning, funding for ag programs: The non-partisan voice of Oklahoma agriculture producers has their collective focus on taxes and funding for industry-related educational programming this upcoming legislative session. [Journal Record]

Energy execs: Massive merger great for OKC, state: The founders of Oklahoma’s largest oil companies say Chesapeake’s emergence as the nation’s largest independent natural gas producer will strengthen Oklahoma City’s energy industry and power the local economy to even more growth. [Journal Record]

Canoo delivers EVs to fleet provider Kingbee: Canoo, the electric vehicle startup that recently launched EV production in Oklahoma City, recently delivered the first of thousands of vehicles ordered by Kingbee Vans, a national provider of work-ready fleet vehicles. [Journal Record]

Westwin cobalt/nickel refinery faces opposition in Lawton: Some residents of Lawton, Oklahoma and citizens of the nearby Comanche Nation are joining forces to oppose the construction of the Westwin cobalt and nickel refinery, telling the Black Wall Street Times it would harm the environment and the health of families living near the site. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Education News

Oklahoma lawmakers say another teacher pay raise possible: After raising teacher salaries by the thousands last year, some state lawmakers say Oklahoma should pursue a second consecutive pay increase. Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, is proposing a $1,500 to $3,000 pay boost for certified public school employees, most of whom are teachers. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Education Watch: Teachers Received a Raise in 2023. A Proposal Would Provide Another in 2024. [Oklahoma Watch]

Ryan Walters gets emergency order to suspend license of former Western Heights teacher: The state Board of Education on Thursday approved an emergency order to suspend the teaching certificate of a former Western Heights Public Schools teacher after a report circulated on social media about the teacher’s alleged efforts to meet with an underage boy. [The Oklahoman]

  • Western Heights former teacher license suspended by OSDE [The Oklahoman]
  • ‘Child endangerment’: BOE suspends teaching license amid sexting accusations [KOKH]

Rural Oklahoma students await return of Choctaw Nation heirloom seeds from space: After the seeds come back to earth, students from Jones Academy in Eastern Oklahoma will plant them side by side with seeds that stayed on the ground. The project will test a hypothesis to see whether the seeds’ exposure to space affects their growth. [Oklahoma Voice]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Tulsa International Airport reports increased passenger numbers for 2023 [Tulsa World]
  • New Hard Rock for Oklahoma: Lake Texoma location will include resort community [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“For anything more than a mild downturn, the State would not be positioned to offset much of the impact with its current reserves.”

– Analysis by the Legislative Office of Financial Transparency and Moody’s Analytics Team. [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Analysts estimate that in the long-term, some programs that reduce poverty and provide direct resources for children and families can return $10 for each dollar invested. [Tax Policy Center]

Policy Note

Pro-Growth Tax Policy For Working Families: Advocates for tax breaks often paint them as “investments,” with the promise that they will pay dividends in the long run. Often the promise of long-run benefits are overstated, but research shows helping vulnerable children can pay higher returns than almost any other public investment. A great model is the temporary CTC expansion in 2021, which proved to be an incredibly successful anti-poverty program for families with children. [Tax Policy Center]

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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.