In The Know: Sen. Inhofe confirms retirement | Oklahomans react to Ukraine invasion | Anticipating state budget ups and downs

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: Good times don’t last forever: Buoyed by anticipated record high state revenue, Oklahoma lawmakers are talking a lot about cutting taxes. This session, there are more than 10 significant tax-cutting bills that – if they were all enacted – together would cut more than $1 billion annually from the state budget in future years. [Ahniwake Rose / The Journal Record

Hiring deadline is today! Join our team: The applications for three full-time staff positions with OK Policy is today, Friday, February 25 at 5:00 PM (CST). We are currently hiring for a Manager of Organizational Advancement, a Staff Accountant, and a Digital Communications Associate / Storybanker. Remote work is available for Oklahoma residents. Read the job descriptions and apply today, or share the positions with someone you know. [Learn more and apply]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma’s Inhofe confirms he is resigning US Senate seat: Oklahoma’s U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, says he will step down before his six-year term is up and that he is “absolutely” at peace with the decision. Inhofe has held the seat since 1994 and his departure will trigger a special election for his replacement. [AP]

  • Sen. Jim Inhofe expected to announce retirement [The Frontier
  • Why U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe may announce retirement before March 1 [NonDoc
  • Sen. Jim Inhofe, 87, to step down after replacement elected [The Oklahoman
  • James Mountain Inhofe: A Look At the Career Of Oklahoma’s Longest Serving U.S. Senator [News 9

‘I’m just physically ill’: Tulsans with Ukraine ties react to Russian invasion: With news of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine changing by the hour Thursday, Tulsa-area residents with ties to Ukraine were bracing themselves, worried that the situation was only going to grow worse. “My brain is still kind of refusing to accept it,” said Tulsan Andriy Shyrokonis, a native of Ukraine. “Even up until it happened, a full-scale invasion seemed unlikely. How is it possible in the 21st century? [Tulsa World

  • Oklahoma senators blast Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, representative calls out Biden [The Oklahoman
  • Cyberattacks accompany Russian assault on Ukraine [The Journal Record

State Government News

Oklahoma Deems Billions In Federal Covid Relief Fund Applications A Secret: Oklahoma’s purchasing director has decided almost $12 billion in applications for federal money under last year’s COVID-19 funding package for states should stay secret as the Legislature and Gov. Kevin Stitt’s administration consider projects for approval. [Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma Attorney General drops obscenity investigation of school books: Attorney General John O’Connor says he will no longer investigate after The Frontier reported that dozens of titles were under review as part of new wave of book challenges. [The Frontier] “Our office is not conducting an investigation in this matter at this time,” O’Connor said in a statement released Thursday. [Tulsa World

Oklahoma turnpikes: Cashless tolling, political push led to proposed improvements: The launching of cashless tolls and a political push by Gov. Kevin Stitt are being credited with inspiring an unprecedented $5 billion makeover of the state’s turnpike system. [The Oklahoman

Oklahoma judge considers restrictions for LGBTQ parents: Freedom Oklahoma recently released a statement on an Oklahoma court case that could have far-reaching implications for LGBTQ parents. One Oklahoma judge’s ruling could restrict a non-gestational parent from accessing their parental rights. Non-gestational refers to parents who didn’t physically give birth. [The Black Wall Street Times

Mammogram bill advances in Oklahoma Legislature: A bill that would require insurance companies to cover the costs of diagnostic mammograms has advanced through the Oklahoma House Appropriations and Budget General Government Subcommittee. House Bill 3504, authored by state Rep. Melissa Provenzano, D-Tulsa, would requires insurance coverage of diagnostic mammograms ordered by a physician. [The Journal Record

Federal Government News

Joe Biden taps Ketanji Brown Jackson for high court: President Joe Biden on Friday will nominate federal appeals court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, according to a person familiar with the matter, making her the first Black woman selected to serve on a court that once declared her race unworthy of citizenship and endorsed segregation. [The Black Wall Street Times

Treasury: Most COVID rental aid went to low-income residents: More than 80% of the billions of dollars in federal rental assistance aimed at keeping families in their homes during the pandemic went to low-income tenants, the Treasury Department said Thursday. [Fox 25

Criminal Justice News

The Experts Testifying in Oklahoma’s Lethal Injection Protocol Trial: The death row prisoners’ lawsuit has proceeded to a trial, with arguments set to begin Monday. The prisoners argue that the sedative midazolam, the first drug the state uses in its execution protocol, does not fully render a person unconscious and causes excess fluid to build in the lungs, creating a sensation of suffocation or drowning. The state contends that midazolam almost instantly renders the prisoner unconscious and unable to feel pain. [Oklahoma Watch

Economic Opportunity

Weekly jobless claims totals continue to decline in Oklahoma: First-time jobless claims declined 21% last week in the state, compared to upwardly revised figures for the prior week, according to a government report. [Tulsa World

Economy & Business News

Oil, gas prices likely to remain high, head of state producers’ group says: Oil prices of $90 to $100 per barrel following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are likely to remain, at least in the short-term, the head of a state oil and gas industry group said Thursday. “Depending on what happens — especially if Russia continues to invade the whole country — I think the price will go up more,” said Dewey Bartlett Jr., president of Keener Oil and Gas and chairman of the Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance. [Tulsa World

Scam losses reach nearly $30M in state in 2021: “Impostor scams” that often start out as an email, text or phone call from a supposed bank, “IRS investigator” or relative or friend in urgent need of help are adding up to big money losses for Oklahomans, according to the Federal Trade Commission. [The Journal Record

Partnership to advance nursing education offered at OCU: Higher education technology firm Everspring has announced it will support Oklahoma City University’s Kramer School of Nursing by providing marketing, admission and student retention services related to the school’s expanding online nurse training programs. [The Journal Record

Education News

Teachers Tackle Black History Month, Under New Restrictions: In states where laws now limit classroom discussions about race and discrimination, many teachers are watching what they say, and are more anxious about their jobs. In Oklahoma City, a history teacher began to think twice about using the word “white” to describe people who defended slavery. [The New York Times

Four Years After the Walkout, this Team of Teachers is Still Visiting the Capitol: It’s been almost four years since teachers converged on the state Capitol to protest inadequate funding for public education. For a group of Duncan educators, the legacy of that advocacy continues. [Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma Local News

A different Greenwood neighborhood is emerging, thriving: The brick façade at 101 N. Greenwood Ave. is just about the only piece of the original business district that survived the fire and destruction of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. The Greenwood District in 2022 is growing, with development spurred by nationwide interest in the area’s history. [The Journal Record

Tulsa Mayor: Allowing 2020 mid-pandemic Trump rally may have been a mistake: Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said Thursday he still thinks about the June 2020 Trump rally at the BOK Center “every day,” and remains unsure whether he made the right decision by allowing it to go forward amid the COVID-19 pandemic. [Public Radio Tulsa

Quote of the Day

“I don’t have a right to choose what information you wish to consume, nor do you have a right, in my opinion, to choose what information I want to consume.”

-Tim Miller, president-elect of the Oklahoma Library Association and executive director of the Clinton-based Western Plains Library System, discussing a possible effort by Oklahoma’s attorney general to review books under the state’s obscenity laws. [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Percentage of small business owners who support paid family and medical leave programs [Small Business Majority]

Policy Note

How Small Companies Can Offer Great Paid-Leave Programs: Research has found that paid leave policies can help employers recruit top talent, especially in the highly competitive tech sector. A 2016 Deloitte survey found 77% of employees said that whether a firm offered paid leave — and the length of it — had some bearing on where they chose to work. Half said they’d rather have more paid leave than a pay raise. [Harvard Business Review]

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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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