In The Know: Proposed tax cuts could jeopardize federal stimulus funding | State responds to managed care lawsuit | 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

Oklahoma AG says the stimulus bill could threaten tax cuts: A provision of the latest federal stimulus package could threaten a series of state tax cut bills moving through the Legislature, Attorney General Mike Hunter said Tuesday. Hunter, a Republican, said a provision in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 passed by Congress by party-line votes prohibits states from cutting taxes until 2024 if they get funds from the $1.9 trillion package. [AP News] Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall says his tax relief plan does not go against a provision in the federal stimulus package that prevents states from cutting taxes. [The Oklahoman] OK Policy: The revenue cuts proposed in HB 2041 and 2083 have been made without discussion — public or otherwise — about how to best serve the needs for Oklahomans, including our most vulnerable friends and neighbors

State responds to lawsuit seeking to stop privatization of health care: State law allows the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to pursue managed care without specific details of the change being mandated by the Legislature, the agency says in a legal brief in response to a lawsuit seeking to stop it. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority and its chief executive officer, Kevin Corbett, are defendants in the suit filed last month with the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which is asked to assume original jurisdiction. Gov. Kevin Stitt has been a strong advocate for converting the state’s Medicaid system to managed care — or privatization — while many lawmakers have said they oppose it and were left out of the decision-making process. [Tulsa World]
OK Policy: Managed care is a bad investment for Oklahoma, but could be especially harmful for patients, providers, and Indigenous communities.

Oklahoma prisons reopen to visitors as vaccine access grows: State prison inmates in Oklahoma will again be allowed visitors, more than six months after visitations were suspended due to the coronavirus, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections announced Tuesday. Inmate visitation was suspended Sept. 30 in an effort to stem the spread of the virus. [AP News] Visitation is a critical part of recovery and needed for connection to a community and society, said Justin Wolfe, a DOC spokesman. [Tulsa World]

  • How COVID-19 vaccines are getting to Oklahoma City’s homeless population [The Oklahoman]
  • Norman’s homeless residents begin receiving vaccinations [Norman Transcript]
  • COVID-19: State reports 232 new infections; hospitalizations see slight increase [Tulsa World]
  • Point of view: When science dies, we die [Op-Ed / The Oklahoman]

State Government News

After Oklahomans waited hours to vote, lawmakers look to extend early voting: After some Oklahoma City voters waited two or more hours to cast early ballots in November, Oklahoma lawmakers are looking to extend the state’s early-voting period. State legislators have advanced a bill to add a fourth in-person early voting day in presidential election years. [The Oklahoman]

OMMA creates grace period for expiring patient licenses: A new policy from the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority will allow some flexibility for those who have expiring patient licenses and who have already been approved for renewal. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma doctors practicing in rural areas could qualify for tax credits: Doctors practicing in rural areas of Oklahoma would qualify for up a tax credit up to $25,000, under legislation passed by the House. House Bill 2089, by House Speaker Charles McCall and Speaker Pro Tempore Terry O’Donnell, would grant the tax credit on income from compensation directly related to the practice of medicine or osteopathic medicine by a qualifying physician. [The Lawton Constitution]

Sunshine Week: Covering COVID-19 means focusing on accountability: Sunshine Week, an annual focus on access to public records and open government, comes a year after the state reported its first coronavirus death. Oklahoma’s public records laws are designed to guarantee our right to access public information and meetings, allowing the public to view decision making and hold the government accountable. The coronavirus pandemic sparked a burst of public data from Oklahoma state agencies, such as a COVID-19 dashboard, daily hospitalization reports and more recently, vaccination counts. [The Frontier]

Federal Government News

Despite strong support from tribes, Haaland nomination opposed by Oklahoma senators: Despite the historic nature of Deb Haaland’s nomination to head the Interior Department and strong support from Oklahoma tribes, both Oklahoma senators voted not to confirm the first Native American cabinet secretary because of her views on fossil fuels. [The Oklahoman] Their votes against Haaland went against the wishes of the leaders of 26 tribal nations in Oklahoma, who sent a letter to the two senators in January urging them to support her. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • Tribal Nations hope new Interior Secretary will make drilling easier [KOSU]

Feds assume jurisdiction in two more murder cases: Federal officials in Tulsa have assumed jurisdiction in two more state murder cases that qualify under recent court rulings that deal with crimes on tribal reservations. [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

‘Depth of discernment’: Scott Williams appointed to Pardon and Parole Board: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has appointed minister, international consultant and former prison warden Scott Williams to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, a five-member body that hears commutation requests and was recently sued by a local district attorney for alleged conflicts of interest and legal violations. [NonDoc]

City commission tables ordinance proposing police demographic data collection: City commission discussions about tabling a proposed demographic data collection ordinance and broader police department transparency and oversight dovetailed Tuesday night into a passionate, public-comment tête-à-tête of racial profiling in Enid. [Enid News & Eagle]

Economic Opportunity

Rental assistance program available for Oklahomans struggling to pay rent amid COVID-19 pandemic: Millions of dollars are available for Oklahomans who might be struggling to pay their rent or utilities. Eligible families could start applying today through the Community Cares Partners COVID-19 Relief program. [KOCO]

Economy & Business News

Oklahoma City bar owners seek court opinion on COVID-19 curfews: More than three months after Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt rolled back police enforcement of a bar curfew during the COVID-19 surge in Oklahoma, the question of whether elected officials can mandate the closure of businesses to promote public health continues to make its way through Oklahoma County District Court. [The Oklahoman]

Young farmers say student loans are keeping them from owning land: Plenty of younger people are eager to build careers in farming, but more land up for grabs won’t necessarily make it easier to get started. Access to land and capital are two of the biggest hurdles facing first-generation farmers today, and some say they face an extra barrier to both — student loan debt. [KOSU]

Education News

OSSAA wants more say in streaming service hired for NFHS Network events: The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association is committed to making sure a man who spewed racist speech directed at the Norman High girls basketball team over an open microphone never gets the opportunity again during an OSSAA regular-season or playoff event. [Tulsa World]

  • Norman High coach proud of players’ example after subjected to racial slur [The Norman Transcript]
  • Attorneys: Litigation possible against broadcaster Matt Rowan for racist rant about Norman girls [Public Radio Tulsa]

How 2 communities have approached reopening schools: The CDC has all kinds of recommendations for how to open classrooms. But a year into the pandemic, many schools, including two in Massachusetts and Oklahoma, have found their own way of doing things. [KOSU]

Health News

Oklahoma Health Care Authority to increase coverage for opioid treatment programs: The OHCA is the first Medicaid agency in the nation to receive federal approval to provide Medicaid coverage and reimbursement for all FDA-approved medication-assisted treatment (MAT) prescriptions through opioid treatment programs and office-based opioid treatment settings. [KXII]

Oklahoma health officials outsource newborn screenings: Oklahoma’s newborn screenings will be outsourced to a private lab after top state health officials said Tuesday that they found “inconsistencies” in how certain tests were being run and reported. A private lab located in Pennsylvania will continue to conduct the testing “until a thorough review of all testing is completed by the department,” health officials said in a statement Tuesday. [CNHI via The Norman Transcript]

General News

Remembering Tulsa: The Promise of Oklahoma: In October 1907, eleven black leaders from the “Twin Territories,” out on the frontier, traveled to Washington, D.C. in a last-ditch effort to prevent Oklahoma from becoming a state. Among them were A.G.W. Sango, a prominent real estate investor who wanted to draw more black people out West; W.H. Twine, a newspaper editor whose weekly Muskogee Cimeter had been mounting a forceful opposition campaign against statehood for weeks; and J. Coody Johnson, a lawyer who was a member of the Creek Nation and had served in its legislature in the town of Okmulgee. [Smithsonian Magazine]

  • Remembering Tulsa: American Terror: A century ago in Tulsa, a murderous mob attacked the most prosperous black community in the nation [Smithsonian Magazine]

Oklahoma Local News

  • OKC City Council approves homelessness grants, temporary water bill relief [Free Press OKC]
  • Tulsa Public Schools looks to leverage Biden relief package funding to support students [Public Radio Tulsa]

Quote of the Day

“The governor bypassed the Legislature for a decision involving more than $2 billion per year, roughly one-fourth of next year’s fiscal budget. It is not a stretch to call this a hold-up.”

-Patti Davis, president of the Oklahoma Hospital Association, about the state’s Medicaid program moving to a private managed care model [Journal Record]

Number of the Day


Percentage of state budget reduction resulting from HB 2041 and HB 2083

[Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute]

Policy Note

‘Competitive’ distractions: Cutting corporate tax rates will not create jobs or boost incomes for the vast majority of American families: Cutting corporate tax rates ranks as the least effective form of fiscal support for employment generation, since corporate tax cuts primarily benefit rich households—who are less likely to increase their consumption than low- or middle-income households when they receive tax cuts. [Economic Policy Institute]

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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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