In The Know: Special session starts | Legislators consider tax cuts | Rally at Capitol for stricter gun laws | 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

Hits, misses regarding justice reform during the 2022 session (Capitol Update): There were very few criminal justice reform measures passed this session. A couple of promising bills that would have repealed various court cost and fee penalties currently imposed in criminal cases to partially pay for the court and law enforcement system also failed to make it through the process. One bill that did pass, HB 3925 by Rep. Danny Sterling, R-Tecumseh, and Sen. Brent Howard, R-Altus, could have a major impact on people who owe fines, costs, and fees but do not have the ability to pay. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma lawmakers to mull tax cuts during special session: The Oklahoma Legislature will return to the Capitol for a special session to consider tax cuts the governor wants and how to allocate federal COVID-19 relief funds that were part of the American Rescue Plan Act. After the session opens Monday, Gov. Kevin Stitt wants lawmakers to consider eliminating the state sales tax on groceries and reducing the top individual income tax rate from 4.75% to 4.5%. [Public Radio Tulsa

  • Gov. Kevin Stitt demanded more than $500M in tax cuts. Will Oklahoma lawmakers deliver? [The Oklahoman
  • Oklahoma lawmakers return to Capitol for two special sessions [KGOU
  • Oklahoma House to introduce bills Monday for inflation relief [The Lawton Constitution]
  • Oklahoma tax collections continue to rise, but reflect inflation’s effect [The Journal Record
  • (Audio) Headlines: Dueling special sessions, monkeypox in Oklahoma & OU baseball playoffs [KOSU

Recently from OK Policy: Cuts to the individual income tax rate are unfair to low- and middle-class families since they return the largest benefit to the wealthiest Oklahomans. Tax cuts now can devastate state revenue and funding for services like public education in future years. 

Editorial: Flattening state revenues warrant caution on proposed tax cuts: Oklahoma saw record-high revenues in May, but dark clouds over the national economy may be casting a shadow here. Lawmakers steered clear of these cuts during their regular session, wanting to wait and see what impact past tax cuts would have on state revenues. Some expressed concerns about future economic prospects. We believe this is wise. We don’t know the full impact of last session’s tax cuts, and there are several state services that cannot afford budget cuts should revenues tail off. [Editorial / Tulsa World

Hundreds rally at Oklahoma State Capitol for stricter gun laws with March for Our Lives: Over 100 Oklahomans gathered at the State Capitol on Saturday for the student-led March for Our Lives rally. The rally calling for stricter gun laws was also held in over 450 different cities worldwide. The message at the March for Our Lives rally was clear: the people do not want to ban guns, they want stricter gun laws and a ‘summer of peace’ in Oklahoma City. [Fox 25] The rally was one of a number of March For Our Lives demonstrations held across the country Saturday following mass shootings across the United States, most prominently in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York. [CNHI via Stillwater News Press]

  • “We have a deal”: US Senators reach agreement on gun safety reform [The Black Wall Street Times
  • Oklahoma congressmembers oppose gun bills [Tulsa World
  • Taft shooting aftermath: Muskogee NAACP addresses gun violence, mental health after shootings [Tulsa World
  • Making peace: Metro-area initiatives focus on curbing gun violence, bridging cultural divide [The Oklahoman

State Government News

Oklahoma AG’s office requests 25 execution dates: Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor’s office asked a state appeals court Friday to set execution dates for 25 death row inmates. Attorneys filed notices of execution dates with Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals in the case against Richard Glossip and 24 other death row inmates who have exhausted appeals. [Enid News & Eagle]

After Rep. Terry O’Donnell’s indictment, lawmakers cautious about conflicts of interest: After a top Oklahoma Republican legislator was indicted for allegedly changing state law for his family’s personal benefit, more state lawmakers this year opted out of voting on bills that could be perceived as a conflict of interest. [The Oklahoman

Oklahoma’s abortion law raises questions about N.C.A.A.’s softball world series: The N.C.A.A. has restricted previous events in response to state lawmakers. It faces that test again in Oklahoma, where softball championships are a mainstay and a restrictive abortion ban recently became law. The deepening roots of Division I softball’s championship tournament, which has been played almost exclusively at this site in OKC since 1990, and the state of Oklahoma’s standing as the epicenter of the sport may soon be tested by an unlikely foe: politics over abortion rights. [The New York Times

Federal Government News

Census wants to know how to ask about sexuality and gender: Recognizing the difficulty of persuading people to reveal information many find sensitive, the U.S. Census Bureau is requesting millions of dollars to study how best to ask about sexual orientation and gender identity. The results could provide much better data about the LGBTQ population nationwide at a time when views about sexual orientation and gender identity are evolving. [AP News]

Previously from OK Policy: To ensure every resident has equal opportunities for success, Oklahoma’s elected officials and policymakers must understand the variety of ways discrimination impacts LGBTQ2S+ Oklahomans’ lives.

Voting and Election News

With Mullin missing, other GOP Senate candidates tout conservative credentials in debate: Working hard to establish their conservative credentials, GOP candidates in Oklahoma’s open U.S. Senate election touted their hardline stances on the Second Amendment and the National Commission to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack, while also offering viewers a contrast in how best to move forward following the McGirt decision, during a 60-minute debate Thursday night hosted by News 9. [NonDoc

  • Oklahoma GOP candidates for Jim Inhofe seat face questions on issues, controversies [The Oklahoman
  • Political notebook: Republican primaries are throwbacks to earlier era [Tulsa World

Drummond discusses AG issues during Enid visit: Gentner Drummond said he has the two major qualifications needed to be attorney general, which are being able to efficiently manage a large agency and understand law. Drummond, a Republican, is running as a conservative, entrepreneurial attorney, he said. [Enid News & Eagle]

We fact-checked Republican Corporation Commission candidates: Republican candidates for Oklahoma Corporation Commission sparred on issues ranging from utility prices to the McGirt U.S. Supreme Court decision during a debate hosted by NonDoc and News 9 on Tuesday at the OSU Hamm Institute for American Energy. From deaths from winter storms to jurisdictional challenges following the McGirt Supreme Court ruling, we found some inaccuracies in candidates’ claims. [The Frontier

Meet the neighbors: Primary to decide Oklahoma County’s new House District 36: With House District 36 containing an entirely different base of constituents after redistricting, and term-limited incumbent Rep. Sean Roberts running for Oklahoma labor commissioner, five Republicans are vying to be the first representative within HD 36’s freshly drawn eastern Oklahoma County boundaries. [NonDoc

League of Women Voters encouraging younger voters in new campaign: The League of Women Voters of Oklahoma is hoping to increase the amount of residents who vote during local and general elections. [The Norman Transcript]

Health News

Probable case of monkeypox identified in Oklahoma, public health officials say: State health officials have identified Oklahoma’s first probable case of monkeypox and said they are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation. [Tulsa World

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma executions could resume in August; AG says victims’ families ‘waited decades’: Oklahoma’s execution chamber would become the busiest in the nation, under an ambitious schedule proposed by the attorney general. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals is being asked to set executions for 25 of the 28 convicted murderers who lost a legal challenge to the state’s lethal injection protocol. [The Oklahoman

Latest Oklahoma County jail inspection renews concerns: Can a new building fix problems?: A fourth failed health inspection in just over a year has again highlighted longstanding troubles at the Oklahoma County jail. With just weeks to go before voters decide on a $260 million bond package, the question remains whether a new facility is enough to solve the problems.  [The Oklahoman

Tulsa police officer resigns amid allegations of on-duty rape: The Tulsa Police Department is encouraging any additional victims to come forward after one of its officers was charged with raping a woman while on duty. Deangelo Reyes, an officer of five years, resigned from the department Thursday before Tulsa County prosecutors formally charged him Friday. [Tulsa World

General News

Baby missing for 40 years after parents’ murders living in Oklahoma: Two parts of a three-part mystery — what happened to a Florida couple and their infant daughter who vanished more than 40 years ago — have been solved with an unexpected result: baby Holly has been found in Oklahoma, alive and 42 years old. [The Oklahoman

Oklahoma Local News

Oklahoma County approves $111.7 million “essentially flat” budget for upcoming fiscal year: Oklahoma County officials approved a $111.7 million “essentially flat” budget for the upcoming fiscal year on Thursday, saying department costs were mostly held constant. [The Oklahoman]

City survey: Homelessness No. 1 issue in Norman: A recent poll shows many Norman residents believe homelessness is the top issue in the city. A survey given by the City of Norman in April showed 45% of the 510 respondents said homelessness was the top issue “needing immediate addressing from city government.” It exceeded infrastructure/maintenance and public safety, which were tied at 32%. [The Norman Transcript]

Quote of the Day

“We’ve got about 10 percent in savings … So what family out there would say, ‘Hey, we’ve got 10 percent of our income in savings. We need to start giving it away.’ We look at our future, and our future is going to be challenging. And I think the state of Oklahoma is poised very well for our future as we move forward to make sure we are able to continue the services that Oklahoma wants.”

– Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah [NonDoc] [Sen. Thompson’s June 9 Budget Break Down

Number of the Day

$4

For Oklahomans in the lowest 20 percent of earners, a cut in the personal income tax rate would reduce their taxes by an average of $4 per year, while middle-class Oklahomans would get a tax cut of about $61. The wealthiest one percent of Oklahomans would receive an average tax cut of more than $2,000 annually. Cuts to the individual income tax rate are unfair to low- and middle-class families since they return the largest benefit to the wealthiest Oklahomans.

[Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute]

Recently from OK Policy: Cuts to the individual income tax rate are unfair to low- and middle-class families since they return the largest benefit to the wealthiest Oklahomans. Tax cuts now can devastate state revenue and funding for services like public education in future years.

Policy Note

Reality Check: Drastic Income Tax Cuts Are Dangerous Despite What Anti-Tax Supporters Say: Income taxes are the backbone of most state budgets, but you wouldn’t gather this fact based on the current trend to cut or eliminate them. States are flush with cash right now and some lawmakers are using this opportunity to score political points. What many aren’t saying is that cutting taxes now will create structural imbalances that either make it that much harder to raise revenue during tougher economic times or will force regressive sales and other tax increases that fall more heavily on low-income households. Most people don’t want to live in a state where a wealthy business owner pays a lower tax rate than a teacher’s aide. This is not a laudable policy goal. [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy]

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kristin Wells joined OK Policy in October 2021 as the Communications and Operations Fellow. 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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