In The Know: Proposed revenue cuts are ‘irresponsible, shortsighted, dangerous’ | Reducing license suspensions for fines, fees | 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

OK Policy Statement: Half-billion dollars in corporate and individual tax cuts is irresponsible, shortsighted and dangerous: It’s been just three years since Oklahoma lawmakers passed a historic $531 million in additional state revenue to support education. On Thursday, the Oklahoma House approved a sweeping set of corporate and individual tax cuts that undoes that historic achievement — and then some. These measures sacrifice needed revenues for those who need assistance the least. More than half of the individual income tax cut would go to Oklahomans with incomes of $100,000 or more. Most of the $350 million corporate tax cut will go to out-of-state corporations. [OK Policy]

HB 1795 reduces driver’s license suspensions for court fines and fees: House Bill 1795, authored by Rep. Nicole Miller and Sen. Kim David, dramatically reduces driver’s license suspensions for court fines and fees. HB 1795 also significantly increases access to provisional driver’s licenses for the thousands of Oklahomans who have lost their driver’s licenses for non-traffic offenses and who often find themselves caught up in this perverse court funding scheme. Suspension of driving privileges should be reserved for dangerous driving offenses that risk the public’s safety; it should not be used as a tool to collect debt for the judicial system. [Damion Shade / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

House passes bills to reduce personal, corporate income taxes: The Oklahoma House passed bills on Thursday that would reduce what Oklahoma residents and corporations pay in income taxes starting in 2022. House Bill 2041 uses a combination of credits to offer the equivalent of a 0.25% rate cut for all individuals. A sizeable chunk is going to the state’s highest earners. An analysis found households making $1 million or more would get $1,028 back, a larger amount of money than lower-earning households but a smaller percentage reduction of their tax burden than most. Those earning between $10,000 and $12,000 would get $45, a 389% reduction of their tax burden. [Public Radio Tulsa] House Bills 2083 would phase in a set of tax credits and deductions that effectively would eliminate the state’s corporate income tax by 2026. The corporate income tax proposal, HB 2083, would eliminate about $350 million in revenue in FY ‘26 when fully implemented. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt to lift coronavirus restrictions, despite CDC warnings: Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Thursday he will roll back his few remaining COVID-19 restrictions, including limits on public gatherings and a mandate that masks be worn in state buildings. Stitt will lift Oklahoma’s COVID-19 restrictions despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying it’s too soon for states to start undoing virus prevention measures. [The Oklahoman] Gov. Stitt vowed to let Oklahomans “get their summer” back” as cases and hospitalizations drop and vaccinations continue to rise. The state has never put in place a statewide mask mandate, although most of the state’s largest cities continue to have mask requirements. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • More from [AP News] | [Tulsa World] | [Public Radio Tulsa] | [KOSU]
  • About six percent of Oklahomans considered ‘overdue’ for second dose of COVID-19 vaccine [The Frontier]
  • CVS Health to begin offering COVID-19 vaccines at 3 locations in Oklahoma [The Oklahoman]
  • Health Care groups launch PSA campaign asking Oklahomans to ‘do their part’ by getting vaccinated [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Watch Now: Gov. Stitt thanks sign language interpreter for help during COVID-19 pandemic [Tulsa World]
  • COVID-19: State averaging 615 new cases a day; CDC tallies 7,433 Oklahomans’ deaths [Tulsa World] | [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma Department of Corrections begin inmate vaccinations: The Oklahoma Department of Corrections announced on Thursday that it has begun vaccinating its most vulnerable inmate population after receiving its first allotment of COVID-19 vaccines this week. Inmates with comorbidities and those 65 or older will be the first to receive the vaccine, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections said in a news release. [Tulsa World]

Health News

Tribes in Oklahoma begin opening vaccine eligibility to non-natives: Tribal nations in Oklahoma are stepping up their efforts to end the pandemic by expanding vaccination availability beyond tribal citizens. Many tribal nations in Oklahoma have already begun vaccinating Indigenous people, regardless of tribal affiliation. And now, some of them are offering vaccine appointments to non-Native Oklahomans as well. [KOSU]

State Government News

Medicaid regulations advance through Oklahoma House: The Oklahoma House of Representatives moved to regain some degree of control over the state’s Medicaid system from the governor on Thursday with a measure setting rules for provider contracts negotiated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. [Tulsa World]

Senate approves bill that would allow couriers to deliver alcohol: A bill that would let couriers, or third-party vendors, deliver alcohol to consumers passed the Oklahoma Senate on Thursday. [Tulsa World]

Delay possible for Oklahomans in federal jobless aid: Oklahomans eligible for federal unemployment benefits may experience a delay next week as the state waits on guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor to incorporate the latest extension, the head of the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission said Wednesday. [The Oklahoman]

Jobless claims decline by 22% as state prepares to distribute new round of unemployment benefits: About 5,558 Oklahoma workers filed first-time jobless claims last week, according to a government report. The U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday in its weekly report that the number of new jobless filings in the state is about 22.7% fewer than filed the prior week, when a revised 7,198 Oklahomans sought first-time benefits. [Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Oklahoma court says Cherokee, Chickasaw reservations still exist: The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals formally recognized the Cherokee and Chickasaw reservations on Thursday and ruled that the state of Oklahoma has no criminal jurisdiction in cases involving tribal members on those reservations. [The Oklahoman] Though not unexpected, the rulings mean hundreds of state court cases will have to be shifted either to federal or tribal courts. [Tulsa World] Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said in a statement that these cases stress the need for congressional legislation to allow tribal nations to compact with the state on criminal jurisdiction matters. [KOSU]

Lankford and Inhofe break GOP ranks to confirm Garland as Attorney General: While the majority of Senate Republicans voted Wednesday against the confirmation of Merrick Garland to serve as President Joe Biden’s attorney general, Oklahoma’s Jim Inhofe and James Lankford broke ranks and joined Democrats to vote in favor. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Criminal Justice News

Poll: 69 percent of Oklahomans support criminal justice reform: Four years after Oklahoma voters passed landmark criminal justice reform measures, a recent poll revealed support remains strong across the political spectrum. 69 percent of Oklahomans say they generally support criminal justice reform, while 76 percent specifically support a 2016 reform measure, according to a February poll from WPA Intelligence. Another 66 percent believe it is important to reduce the number of people in prisons or jail. [The Black Wall Street Times]

‘Deliberate subversion’ of the law: Prater sues Stitt, Pardon and Parole Board: In a court filing that names Gov. Kevin Stitt as a defendant, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater is seeking an injunction to stop the state Pardon and Parole Board from considering commutation requests until it adheres to statutory and constitutional requirements Prater says the board has been violating. [NonDoc] The governor, in turn, called the lawsuit a political hit job. [The Oklahoman]

‘Shut your camera off’: OKC police quiet after officers charged, body camera footage part of case: As authorities stood around the scene of the deadly police shooting of a 15-year-old robbery suspect in November, an officer with the Oklahoma City Police Department was instructed to stop recording on a body-worn camera. “You can go ahead and shut your camera off,” the officer was told. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

Eviction moratorium expected to conclude at end of March: The eviction moratorium is set to expire on March 31 with the issue of leaving thousands of Oklahomans without a roof over their heads. The new COVID-19 relief bill will provide more than $30 billion to low-income households to help pay with rent and assist those that experience homelessness. [News9]

  • As pandemic’s economic impact continues, Tulsa gears up for massive effort to pay overdue rents [Tulsa World]
  • City of Norman offering rental assistance to residents impacted by COVID-19 [KFOR]

Oklahoma Local News

  • OEA organizer challenges incumbent on troubled Western Heights board [NonDoc]
  • Tulsa International Airport poised to reach national milestone as dementia-friendly airport [Tulsa World]
  • OSHA proposes penalties totaling $205,000 for Sapulpa-based company’s citations [Tulsa World]
  • Mick Cornett Drive dedicated to former OKC mayor [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“The House’s decision to approve $540 million in corporate and individual tax cuts is grossly irresponsible. Oklahomans face enormous needs for education, child care, food security, housing, job training, health care, mental health, substance abuse disorder treatment, and so much more — particularly on the heels of a global pandemic and associated recession.”

-OK Policy statement about proposed state revenue reductions (HB 2041 and HB 2083) [OK Policy]

Number of the Day


The jail population increased 111% in Oklahoma’s 59 rural counties from 2000 to 2015. Oklahoma’s system of cash bail leaves too many Oklahomans experiencing homelessness, struggling with addiction or mental health issues in crisis stuck in jail because they can’t afford to buy their freedom from a bondsman.

[Source: Vera]

Policy Note

Everything Has Been Criminalized,’ Says Neil Gorsuch as He Pushes for Stronger Fourth Amendment Protections: “We live in a world in which everything has been criminalized. And some professors have even opined that there’s not an American alive who hasn’t committed a felony in some—under some state law,” Gorsuch told the state’s lawyer. “And in a world like that, why doesn’t it make sense to retreat back to the original meaning of the Fourth Amendment, which I’m going to oversimplify, but generally says that you get to go into a home without a warrant if the officer sees a violent action or something that’s likely to lead to imminent violence….Why isn’t that the right approach?” [Reason]

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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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