In The Know: Regular session recap | Tulsa Race Massacre anniversary | Budget focus of second special session

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

A look back at the 2022 session (Capitol Update): Throughout the years, quite a few legislative sessions have looked like they were going to end in a “trainwreck.” But they usually come together toward the end with legislative leaders finally agreeing with each other and — to a greater or lesser extent with the governor — on a few major items including the state budget. There’s usually time for everyone to take a victory lap and give the session a high grade. It looked like the same would happen this session, but this year was different. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy

Oklahoma News

Irked lawmakers override Stitt vetoes on last day of regular session but accept his challenge to create a better budget: The Legislature on Friday overrode some of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s vetoes, including one from last year, and called him some names, but it did not overturn his vetoes of key budget items. Instead, the House unanimously upheld Stitt’s vetoes of the two bills, so that they never went to the Senate, and accepted his challenge to come up with more comprehensive tax relief in a special session. [Tulsa World

  • Lawmakers override vetoes, Martinez calls Stitt ‘racist’ [NonDoc
  • Oklahoma lawmakers criticize Gov. Kevin Stitt, override vetoes [The Oklahoman] [CNHI via The Norman Transcript]
  • (Audio) Capitol Insider: Lawmakers seek overrides of governor’s vetoes during final day of session [KGOU
  • Oklahoma legislature overrides several governor vetoes, will return for special session in June [KOSU]
  • Democracy Watch: Lawmakers close out 2022 general session, but special sessions loom on the horizon [Oklahoma Watch

Biden promised justice for Buffalo. Tulsa survivors are still waiting: Black communities have long been targets of white violence. The slaughter of 10 people in Buffalo, many of them elders, is just the latest example. A lone gunman is allegedly responsible for that shooting, but for centuries, this kind of violence was deliberately overlooked or even orchestrated by local white leaders. Perhaps the most notorious example is the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. [Slate

  • 101 years after Tulsa Race Massacre, crowds flock to Black Wall Street history center [The Oklahoman
  • Timeline: The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Disability waiting list still waiting on details about $32.5M investment: Legislators passed a budget that included $32.5 million to serve more than 5,100 Oklahomans who have waited an average of 13 years to receive developmental disability services – and to boost wages of the direct care workers who serve this vulnerable population. However, with 16 times more public dollars invested than ever before, this appropriation also deserves a watchful eye. [The Oklahoma City Sentinel

Culture wars, anti-abortion bills dominate Oklahoma legislative session: Going into an election cycle, Oklahoma lawmakers prioritized culture war issues and anti-abortion legislation in the four-month regular legislative session that concluded Friday. [The Oklahoman

Anti-corruption group visits Oklahoma Capitol to promote transparency, voting rights: Gathering in a cold wind and rain outside the state Capitol on Wednesday, a new anti-corruption group is calling on Oklahomans to take out the trash. Clean Up Oklahoma, a recently formed Political Action Committee, has begun a drive to address perceived corruption in state politics through a grassroots effort aimed at incumbents and first-time political hopefuls.  [The Oklahoman

House committee declined to hear turnpike bill, interim study planned, chair says: A committee that could have approved a bill to force the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to perform studies prior to issuing bonds for a toll road in Norman declined to consider it, but a committee member says it’ll be reviewed in an interim study before the 2023 Legislative Session. [The Norman Transcript]

Oklahoma’s marijuana regulator is undergoing its biggest change yet: Oklahoma’s cannabis regulator was busy last week working on final implementation of a “seed-to-sale” tracking system, the latest major update as it prepares to be reformed as a standalone agency this fall. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Lankford challenges WH on energy crisis as gas prices pass $4 a gallon in Oklahoma: As gas prices in Oklahoma soared to record highs this week, Oklahoma’s junior senator joined fellow Republican senators challenging the White House for its response to the energy crisis. [Enid News & Eagle]

Inhofe asking for $550 million in Oklahoma projects as he nears retirement: Retiring Sen. Jim Inhofe is asking congressional appropriators for $550 million to fund transportation, military and research projects in Oklahoma and build on a nearly 30-year record of securing federal money for the state. [The Oklahoman

Tribal Nations News

More details emerge on proposed immigration intake facility at Cherokee Industrial Park: The federal government has identified Cherokee Nation Management & Consulting Services as the company capable of putting up an emergency intake facility in time to accommodate an expected summer surge in unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in the country, according to a U.S. Department of the Interior document. [Tulsa World

Opinion: Vote against politicians who consider tribal sovereignty a “threat”: “McGirt is the greatest threat to Oklahomans,” said one politician. Attacking the Supreme Court’s McGirt decision, which held that the Cherokee Nation Reservation remains intact, as a “threat” is a breathtaking assault on tribal sovereignty. Our sovereignty is in the crosshairs, but Cherokee voters can take a stand in the upcoming Oklahoma primary elections.  [Opinion / Cherokee Phoenix

Voting and Election News

Senate District 2 GOP primary: Guns, abortion and ‘godless commies’: After eight years serving State Senate District 2 in northeast Oklahoma, term-limited Sen. Marty Quinn (R-Claremore) is running for Congress in the 2nd Congressional District. Four candidates are running for the Republican nomination to replace him in SD 2, including one who wants the U.S. to claim all of outer space as its territory. [NonDoc

Health News

Editorial: Initial step taken to address Oklahoma youth suicide epidemic: Among the new laws passed this legislative session is one moving toward solutions for what advocates have called Oklahoma’s youth suicide epidemic. House Bill 4106 by Rep. Mark Vancuren, R-Owasso, was signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt last week. It directs public school districts and local mental health providers to develop a protocol for handling students in crisis. [Editorial / Tulsa World

Criminal Justice News

1 dead, 7 injured in Oklahoma festival shooting: Authorities said a 26-year-old man was in custody after one person was killed and seven people were injured in a shooting early Sunday at an outdoor festival in eastern Oklahoma, where witnesses described frantic people running for cover amid gunfire. [AP News]

  • Woman killed in Taft shootings identified; suspect remains jailed [Tulsa World]

ICE transfers detainees out of Oklahoma due to conditions in Okmulgee County facility: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) removed 17 of their detainees out of the Moore Detention Facility in Okmulgee Friday. ICE confirmed to FOX23 since Monday, they already removed 40 other detainees from the facility. [FOX 23]

Southern Baptists’ list of alleged abusers contains at least 20 people with Oklahoma ties: At least 20 individuals with Oklahoma ties are included in a list of alleged abusers that have been made public by the Southern Baptist Convention. [The Oklahoman

Economy & Business News

Oklahoma’s average gas price pushes past $4 per gallon: As the average gas price in Oklahoma has soared to record highs, the state’s junior senator has joined fellow Republicans in challenging the White House for its response to the energy crisis. Average prices jumped above $4 for the first time in the energy-rich state. Oklahoma had been one of only three states that had managed to stay below $4 until last week. [Gaylord News via NonDoc

Unemployment rates near 50-year lows in Oklahoma, across nation: Unemployment rates in Oklahoma and across the nation continue to hover near their lowest in half a century. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the current unemployment rate in Oklahoma is 2.7%. By comparison, the rate for the rest of the nation stands at 3.6%. [The Journal Record

Investment group warns that state abortion laws could hurt business growth: Oklahoma’s new anti-abortion laws will harm the state’s economic development, as companies concerned about legislative interference in business decisions and fearful of lawsuits will think twice about coming, an investment group said last week. [CNHI via Enid News & Eagle]

  • What Roe v. Wade being overturned could mean for startups in red states [Fortune]
  • Why is Planned Parenthood halting abortions before bans go into effect? [Slate]

Education News

Oklahoma education secretary raises eyebrows with tweet about arming teachers: Oklahoma’s secretary of education raised eyebrows with a social media post urging school districts to arm teachers and staff in a bid to ensure that students “are not sitting ducks in a classroom” targeted by gunmen. [The Norman Transcript]

NPS says school safety top of mind despite claims in February incident: As districts across the country reel from the shockwaves of another mass school shooting, a Norman Public Schools administrator said the district has almost fully completed its bond-funded school safety measures. [The Norman Transcript]

SPS officials react as Gov. Kevin Stitt signs school bathroom bill: On Wednesday, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law a bill that requires students in Oklahoma public schools to use the bathroom that matches the gender they were assigned at birth. [CNHI via Stillwater News Press]

General News

Willa Johnson, Oklahoma City’s first Black city councilwoman, has died at 83: Willa Johnson, the first Black woman to serve on the Oklahoma City council, died in her sleep overnight Thursday. She was 83. Public service was Johnson’s “mainstay,” said her Douglass High School class of 1957 classmate and The Black Chronicle publisher Russell Perry. [The Oklahoman]

Fate of abandoned cemeteries uncertain: Abandoned cemeteries are prolific across the state, according to Veronica Redding, a researcher with the Oklahoma Historical Society, who said that a cemetery is considered abandoned in Oklahoma if no internments have been made in 25 years. [The Lawton Constitution]

Oklahoma Local News

A fast ride between downtown OKC and Tinker eyed as part of Regional Transit Authority: An east route linking downtown Oklahoma City with Del City and Tinker Air Force Base could likely start with bus rapid transit, with the service connecting with either Capitol Hill or the future OKANA resort along the Oklahoma River. [The Oklahoman

Quote of the Day

“These people are 108, 107, and 101 plus. They’ve lived through everything, and nothing has changed. We are still trying to get the Department of Justice to open an investigation into the largest crime in the history of this country.”

– Attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons, speaking about the clients he represents who are survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre. This year is the 101st anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. [Slate

Number of the Day

$306 million

Estimated revenue that will be lost if Oklahoma repeals the state sales tax on groceries

[Source: Oklahoma Tax Commission]

Previously from OK Policy: Completely eliminating the sales tax on groceries will cost critical revenue now and in the future. To avoid this, lawmakers should consider significantly expanding the Sales Tax Relief Credit that would provide targeted tax relief to Oklahomans who need it, cost less revenue, and give lawmakers more flexibility to raise revenue in the future.

Policy Note

Cities Support Community Land Trusts to Protect Affordable Housing: As housing prices skyrocket in neighborhoods across the country, some state lawmakers and local officials are turning to a decades-old model for keeping homes affordable: community land trusts. Known as CLTs, community land trusts are mostly nonprofit organizations that operate within a specific neighborhood facing development pressure. [Pew Trusts]

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Kristin Wells served as the Communications and Operations Fellow for OK Policy from October 2021 to July 2022. She previously worked as a digital content producer for News On 6. A native Kansas Citian, Kristin graduated with a B.A. in Media Studies and a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Tulsa in 2020. While there, she was accepted into the Global Scholars program, spurring her interests in policy, social movements, global identities, and the importance of education and advocacy. She hopes to use her skills to continue to learn and create a more equitable future for Oklahomans. An avid sports fan, Kristin lives in Tulsa with her rescue dog and is passionate about college basketball, documentaries, and coffee.

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