In The Know: Senate has ‘no appetite’ for corporate tax cuts | Getting vaccines to hesitant, hard-to-reach Oklahomans | 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 Senate has ‘no appetite’ for corporate tax cuts, Sen. Greg Treat says: The leader of the Oklahoma Senate does not support legislation to phase out the state’s corporate income tax over the next five years. Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, said there is not widespread support in the Oklahoma state Senate for the proposal from House Speaker Charles McCall, meaning the hotly debated tax cut legislation is unlikely to succeed this year. [The Oklahoman] “We are living in a time that is uncertain financially,” Treat said. “Having come through COVID we are sitting very nicely financially as a state. But I need to remind you we cut the budget by $1.3 billion last year when it turns out we needed to cut it about $800 million. So, the $500 million of the billion surplus comes from cutting deeper than we had to last session.” [Tulsa World]

Empty appointments at mass vaccination sites mark a new priority: Hesitant and hard-to-reach Oklahomans: Mass vaccination sites — which just a few months ago felt like a pipe dream — are now seeing days pass with thousands of slots left empty. These Points of Dispensing Sites, or PODS for short, were a major part of the state’s vaccine strategy at the beginning of this process, but Deputy Commissioner of Health Keith Reed says that’s changing. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

House committee revives legislation banning transgender athletes: Legislation to bar some transgender athletes from women’s sports in Oklahoma reappeared Thursday in a different guise of its own. The language seemed to be dead several weeks ago, but Thursday morning was inserted into a bill that originally dealt with consolidating school administrative functions, and was then heard an hour later in the House Criminal Justice Committee. [Tulsa World] On the fly Thursday morning, the House Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee amended legislation dealing with the School Finance Review Commission to become the “Save Women’s Sports Act.” Despite legislative Republicans, including the bill’s author, saying the proposal has nothing to do with transgender students, transgender women would likely be adversely affected by the bill that is similar to GOP-backed legislation introduced in more than 20 states. OK Policy: Our lawmakers should steer legislation through the process in the broad light of day with ample time for residents to participate. 

State Government News

Bill targeting teachers’ association dues advances in Oklahoma House of Representatives: A bill some educators view as retribution for the 2018 occupation of the state Capitol but whose House sponsor says is really “pro-teacher” easily survived a committee vote on Thursday. Senate Bill 634, by Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville, targets school employees’ automatic payroll deduction for “professional organization” dues, although House sponsor Terry O’Donnell, R-Catoosa, maintains that the proposed change is for legal rather than political reasons. [Tulsa World] [Journal Record]

Dems blast Oklahoma lawmaker who compared slavery, abortion: A white Republican lawmaker from southeast Oklahoma is facing criticism for comparing lawmakers’ efforts to end abortion to the fight against slavery. Rep. Jim Olsen, of Roland, made the comments Wednesday during a meeting of the House Public Health Committee that was considering several anti-abortion bills. [AP News via The Oklahoman]

This Week in Oklahoma Politics: State Senate Special Election, Charter School Funding, Epic Termination Trial & More (audio): The discussion centers on the special election to fill the seat of now-Congresswoman Stephanie Bice along with other elections in central Oklahoma, lawmakers working to undo a resolution by the State Board of Education settling a lawsuit giving charter schools more access to public funds & the State Virtual Charter School Board setting a trial date for the contract termination of Epic. [KOSU]

Criminal Justice News

‘Is this the best system?’: Cherokee Nation urges compacting in criminal jurisdiction: Over the last few months, the Seminole Nation, Chickasaw Nation and the Choctaw Nation have all had their reservation boundaries affirmed. Several post-conviction relief cases involving felony defendants challenged the state’s right to try their cases after last summer’s landmark McGirt v. Oklahoma decision ruled that the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s reservation was never disestablished. Now, all five tribal nations must handle an increasing number of cases and responsibilities. [KOSU]

McGirt fallout: Mayes County man indicted in 2019 hammer-beating death of girlfriend: A federal grand jury has indicted a Mayes County man in connection with the 2019 hammer-beating death of his girlfriend. Harvey Dale Murphy, 39, is charged with first-degree murder in Indian Country in yet another state criminal case that appears to be affected by the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt decision regarding tribal jurisdiction. [Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

First-time jobless claims jump 15% in state: First-time jobless claims increased nearly 15% last week in Oklahoma, hitting totals not seen since late June, according to a government report. The U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday that 11,894 Oklahomans filed initial claims for unemployment compensation during the week ending Saturday, 1,537 more than filed the week before, according to revised, unadjusted figures. [Tulsa World]

Education News

Commissioners of the Land Office an ‘unsung hero’ for education funding: During Thursday’s meeting of the Commissions of the the Land Office, state leaders approved a longterm lease for a new Kay County wind farm, purchased a pair of north Oklahoma City office buildings, celebrated a high-water mark for the agency’s School Land Trust of $2.6 billion, and approved a settlement agreement with a twice-bankrupt petroleum company. [NonDoc]

Editorial: Oklahoma can underwrite a richer, smarter future: The Oklahoma Legislature is close to fulfilling the state’s matching portion of endowed professorships at 17 state colleges and universities. In last year’s COVID-shortened legislative session, lawmakers increased the bonding capacity and provided a mechanism to meet the state’s fund matching obligation for the endowed chairs program. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

General News

1,000 pinwheels for child abuse awareness planted at Tulsa County Courthouse: Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office employees planted 1,000 pinwheels at the Tulsa County Courthouse on Thursday to bring awareness to child abuse. District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said his office wanted to make a statement of their desire to end child abuse, and he said he hopes the pinwheels can bring the issue to the forefront of Tulsa County residents’ minds. [Tulsa World]

The Oklahoma Eagle Editorial: Race Massacre victims, criminalized free speech and Black on Asian attacks have to stop: In this year, the search for justice for the 1921 Race Massacre continues in many ways. There is the search for the fallen, the effort to teach the real history, to honor the legacy of Black Wall Street and to honor the surviving members of the massacre. Is it too little too late or does justice never have a deadline? [Editorial / Oklahoma Eagle]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Oklahoma City mask mandate likely will expire April 30, Mayor David Holt says [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma County Commissioners meet two days over masks, pending litigation, terrorism [OKC Free Press]

Quote of the Day

“In the middle of a pandemic, Oklahomans are facing real issues. We need infrastructure, but my colleagues continue to double down on legislation that denies the existence of trans youth. Trans girls are girls — full stop.”

-Rep. Mauree Turner, D-Oklahoma City, speaking of House approval of Senate Bill 2 that would prevent transgender athletes from playing on girls’ and women’s sports teams at public schools, colleges and universities. SB 2 originally was sent to the House as a measure to modify the duties of the School Finance Review Commission, but an amendment to overwrite the bill with the new language was filed an hour before it was heard in committee. [The Oklahoman]   

Number of the Day


Number of charter schools in Oklahoma [Oklahoma Public Charter School Association]

Policy Note

Chartered for Profit: The Hidden World of Charter Schools Operated for Financial Gain: Many Americans are skeptical of charters run for profit, and they should be. The first responsibility of any for-profit company is to maximize profit for its owners and, in the case of a public corporation, its shareholders. The typical way to enhance profit is to cut costs. Therefore, when the private sector is given the authority to operate a public service with public funding, it is inevitable that conflicts of interest arise. Maximizing profit becomes as important, if not more important, than educating children. [Network for Public Education]

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David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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