In The Know: Poverty and health by county in Oklahoma | Grocery tax elimination | Top marks for pre-kindergarten in OK | 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

Policy Matters: Reclaiming our political voice: We often refer to our capitol buildings as “the people’s house” as a sign these buildings don’t belong to a single person or elected official. Rather, these buildings belong to all of us, and everyone should have equal access to our elected officials. Despite this, far too few of us exercise our political voices to influence state laws and policies. For most Oklahomans, our halls of power – and the levers to create change – seem distant and difficult to navigate. [Ahniwake Rose / The Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

Report links poverty and poor health in Oklahoma counties: A new study that ranks Oklahoma’s 77 counties from the healthiest to the least healthy looks not only at diet, exercise and doctor visits, but also social and economic factors. Canadian County in central Oklahoma ranks the healthiest and Harmon County in the southwest corner is the least healthy, according to the 2022 County Health Rankings National Findings Report. Nearly every county in the southeast quarter of the state ranks in the bottom half. [The Journal Record]

Oklahoma lawmaker promises state is close to eliminating grocery tax: A legislative leader has promised Oklahoma is still close to eliminating the grocery tax and lowering the income tax. Collin Walke, a Democrat, said the state couldn’t afford last week’s massive incentive package, apparently for Panasonic, along with those two tax priorities that would give relief to Oklahomans. [KOCO]

Recently from OK Policy: Tax cuts now can devastate state revenue and funding for services like public education in future years. Rather than universally cutting taxes, state lawmakers should consider providing targeted tax relief to those who need it by expanding tax credits like the Sales Tax Relief Credit and the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit. 

Education Watch: Oklahoma receives top marks for pre-kindergarten: Oklahoma’s pre-kindergarten has long been a bright spot in education, and a new report out this week shows the program still shines. The state ranked second in the country for access among 4-year-olds and met 9 of the 10 quality benchmarks measured by the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, which compiles the annual report. [Oklahoma Watch]

State Government News

Stitt vetoes bill requiring gubernatorial appointees to file financial disclosure forms: Gov. Kevin Stitt vetoed legislation Tuesday that would require his appointed Cabinet secretaries and state agency directors to file financial disclosure forms. In his veto message, Stitt asked the Oklahoma Legislature to take a more holistic approach to requiring financial disclosures by also requesting the same information from legislative appointees to boards, commissions and agency leadership positions. [The Oklahoman]

House sends law enforcement consolidation, charter school reform back to Senate: This year’s nearly annual attempt to consolidate state law enforcement agencies stayed alive by the narrowest of margins on a busy Wednesday in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. With another legislative deadline looming, the House hustled through 70 bills and resolutions, among them a slew of law enforcement- and justice-related measures and a charter school reform bill on which the digital ink had barely dried. [Tulsa World]

  • Charter school reform bill passes Oklahoma House [The Oklahoman]

Bill requiring OTA studies, report on proposed Norman turnpike passes: A bill regarding the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA) and the planned turnpike through Norman passed on Wednesday. Senate Bill 1610, which was amended by floor substitute, would require the OTA to do a study and make a report consisting of certain information regarding the proposed construction of the South Extension Turnpike, Outer Loop-East-West Connector Turnpike, or any part of the turnpike that would pass through any portion of Norman. [FOX 25]

Oklahoma attorney general urges lawmakers to pursue legislation on school bathroom access: Oklahoma’s attorney general encouraged lawmakers on Wednesday to pursue legislation limiting school bathroom access to strictly biological sex, not gender identity. John O’Connor urged lawmakers to “act while there is still an opportunity during session,” according to a letter from his deputy solicitor general, Zach West. [The Oklahoman]

Bill prohibits state contracts with companies that discriminate against gun, ammo makers: The Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday advanced a measure that would bar state contracts with companies that discriminate against gun and ammunition manufacturers. House Bill 3144 passed by a vote of 37-8 and returns to the House for consideration. [Tulsa World] Bond issues for municipalities throughout Oklahoma could become more expensive due to new legislation that would prohibit banks that have “anti-gun” policies from contracting with the state. [The Journal Record]

‘Sparked something for me to be here.’ Page programs mold Oklahoma’s future, current leaders: It’s a quick, fast-paced and eye-opening job to be a page at the Oklahoma state Capitol. And for the high school students who take part in either the House or Senate page program, a lasting impression and a motivation to return to the building on Lincoln can change the course of state politics. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

In Castro-Huerta arguments, SCOTUS considers scope of state jurisdiction after McGirt: In more than two hours of oral arguments regarding Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta on Wednesday morning, the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court probed the legal consequences and practical implications of granting the state jurisdiction in crimes committed against Indians by non-tribal citizens in Indian Country. [NonDoc]

  • Oklahoma tribal leaders hopeful after Supreme Court hearing linked to McGirt decision [The Oklahoma]
  • Justices wrestle with McGirt-related case, with some concerned about lack of prosecutions [The Oklahoman]
  • Criminal cases in ‘Indian Country’: Supreme Court hears arguments over state jurisdiction [Tulsa World]
  • Supreme Court seems divided in Oklahoma Indian Country case [AP News]
  • Supreme Court Debates Limits of Ruling for Tribes in Oklahoma [New York Times]
  • Question of state authority involving American Indian victims reaches high court [CNHI via Muskogee Pheonix]

Health News

Having an accurate ID lowers the risk of suicide among transgender, nonbinary youth, study says: The Trevor Project study comes just a day after legislation eliminating inclusive gender markers from official documents was signed into law by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R). In a statement after the bill was passed by the state House of Representatives last week, Oklahoma Rep. Sheila Dills (R), the House sponsor of the bill, said official documents should reflect “clarity and truth.” [The Hill]

Criminal Justice News

Jurors recommend death sentence in killing of Tulsa police sergeant: Jurors on Wednesday recommended execution for the man convicted of shooting and killing a police officer during an east Tulsa traffic stop in 2020. [Tulsa World]

  • 2 jurors dismissed in murder trial of Tulsa officer’s killer [AP News]

Family, friends of Euwins confused over no-charge in shooting; say he wasn’t an aggressor: The person Shed Euwins’ loved ones knew him as — and specifically, the demeanor and mental health they remember — has raised questions about the Cleveland County District Attorney’s decision to not charge the man who shot and killed him. [The Norman Transcript]

Economic Opportunity

Tulsa Housing Authority to purge 3-year waiting lists, start over with new applications: With some people in line for more than three years, the Tulsa Housing Authority will purge waiting lists at several properties and start over with new applications, officials said this week. Many of the existing applications are so old that information has become outdated and inaccurate, which officials said complicates processing efforts. Purging the lists and replacing old applications with updated paperwork will help speed up the process of approving applications, said Aaron Darden, THA’s president and CEO. [Tulsa World]

New from OK Policy: A home is vital to well-being. Oklahoma should celebrate Fair Housing Month by reducing housing disparities.

Spears Business, United WE unveil research on the Status of Women in Oklahoma: The Spears School of Business and United WE, a non-partisan nonprofit organization, released Wednesday a year-long study examining women’s economic status in Oklahoma and to highlight areas of possible action to economically empower women and their families. The Status of Women in Oklahoma report shows that women in Oklahoma face challenges that hinder them from achieving their full economic impact. [Oklahoma State University]

Economy & Business News

‘Land of opportunity’: Pryor builds on foundation for growth with new wave of investors, jobs: Pryor has been riding an economic development wave the past 10 months. Over that span, more than $750 million in investment has been announced at the local MidAmerica Industrial Park (MAIP) from electric vehicle maker Canoo ($482.6 million), tech company Northern Data ($270 million) and the Cherokee Nation ($16 million). [Tulsa World]

General News

OU contributes research on rising flash flood risks to U.N. report: Researchers at the University of Oklahoma who contributed to the latest United Nations report on climate change found that localized flash flooding events are likely to occur more often in the future in a world that will be unavoidably warmer than it is now. [The Journal Record]

Oklahoma Local News

City of OKC allocates $1 million in American Rescue Plan COVID-19 funds to arts nonprofits: The Oklahoma City Council on Tuesday, April 26, approved the allocation of $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to eligible arts and cultural nonprofits. Allied Arts will partner with the city to administer the federal funds to grant recipients. [The Oklahoman]

South Oklahoma City seniors heartbroken about losing Woodson senior center: The city of Oklahoma City’s Parks and Recreation Department announced last week that the building that has served southside seniors for 25 years — located in Woodson Park, just south of SW 29 and May — will end senior programming May 13 and become a temporary home for a Boys & Girls Club on May 23. The building eventually will be demolished, parks Director Melinda McMillan-Miller said. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“We found that women – especially minorities, young adults, adults with low education and low-wage workers – have been the hardest hit during the pandemic, and that there is a desperate need for better access to child care for working mothers. The child care crisis is so bad that one in five women have decided to leave the workforce permanently, citing family obligations as the main reason.”

– State Senator Carri Hicks, D-Oklahoma City, who led an interim study that identified lack of affordable child care as a serious threat to the well-being of families and the state’s economy [The Journal Record]

Previously from OK Policy: While the state acted swiftly to provide some guidance and support, a larger long-term investment in the child care industry is still desperately needed

Number of the Day


Number of Oklahomans living in households receiving federal rental assistance

[Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

New from OK Policy: A home is vital to well-being. Oklahoma should celebrate Fair Housing Month by reducing housing disparities.

Policy Note

Unemployment Insurance: Economic Lessons from the Last Two Recessions: Empirical evidence has shown that the unemployed spend a large fraction of their unemployment insurance income, which also helps the overall economy to recover faster from a recession. Furthermore, the financial assistance allows workers to search longer for a desirable job, enhancing the productivity and ensuring the longevity of the job match. [Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond]

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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