In The Know: Special session | What to know about how tax cut really impacts you | Lawmakers urge SDE to rethink bonus clawbacks

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.

State Government News

Special session might be nothing special, but tax cuts could still be on the horizon: The Oklahoma House of Representatives, the Senate and the administration don’t get along that well among themselves, and the special legislative session scheduled to begin Monday doesn’t appear likely to improve relations. [Tulsa World]

  • Senate won’t cut taxes in special session, Treat says [Journal Record]
  • Oklahoma House speaker seeks comprehensive tax reform in final legislative year [Oklahoma Voice]
  • Special Session Kicks Off Today [Oklahoma Watch]
  • Listen Frontier: Oklahoma Senate leader says he’ll consider a tax cut, just not yet (audio) [The Frontier]
  • Capitol Insider: Special session begins as lawmakers consider individual income tax cut [KGOU]

How would a personal income tax cut affect low, middle-income Oklahomans?: Lawmakers will convene for a special session Monday to discuss cutting the income tax. Low and middle-income Oklahomans will see marginal returns compared to their wealthiest neighbors. [KOSU]

Oklahoma lawmakers not on board with demanding teachers give back bonuses paid in error: A plan by the Oklahoma State Department of Education to claw back thousands of dollars in bonuses it wrongly paid to a handful of teachers isn’t going over well with members of the Oklahoma Legislature. [The Oklahoman]

  • Political notebook: Top lawmakers say OSDE at fault for bonus foul up [Tulsa World]

Lawmakers have thousands of bills to sift through this session. Here are the biggest ones up for consideration: Come Feb. 5, members of the Oklahoma Legislature are in for a whole lot of reading. With its first deadline passed, the Oklahoma Senate filed 841 new bills and 13 Senate Joint Resolutions for the new legislative session. In the House, members filed 1,210 bills and 12 House Joint Resolutions for 2024. [The Oklahoman]

  • Legislators outline business goals for upcoming session [Journal Record]

High-speed internet grants of more than $300 million awarded by Oklahoma officials: More than $374 million in grants were approved this week by officials with the Oklahoma Broadband Office. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: State boards and commissions should be filled with Oklahoma residents, not out-of-staters: The appointment of a former real estate agent with no obvious direct ties to Oklahoma signals that Walters seems to believe out-of-state residents are better equipped to decide what’s taught in our schools or available for our children to read. But even more disheartening is that appointment seems to indicate a lack of faith in Oklahomans, including the voters who supported Walters’ candidacy for state superintendent. [Janelle Stecklein / Oklahoma Voice]

Federal Government News

US Rep. Frank Lucas optimistic about chances for approval of new farm bill soon: Despite ongoing issues gridlock in Congress — and the fact 2024 is a presidential election year — U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas remains optimistic a new farm bill will be passed and signed into law this year by President Joe Biden. [The Oklahoman]

D.C. Digest: Lankford continues quest for border security legislation: U.S. Sen. James Lankford’s border security negotiations with two other senators continued last week even as former President Donald Trump and some Republican hardliners tried to torpedo the deal. [Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

Native American tribes are making a big economic impact in Tulsa: Native American tribes in Oklahoma have poured more than $15.6 billion into the state, while generating billions more from companies that support the tribes’ business operations, according to the most recent Oklahoma Native Impact report (fiscal year 2019). [America City and County]

Health News

Analysis: More than 4,500 pregnancies may have been result of rape since Oklahoma enacted abortion laws: There have been an estimated 4,529 Oklahoma pregnancies from rape since July 2022 when abortion was effectively outlawed in the state, according to a peer-reviewed analysis of data published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahomans say they paid more for health care, prescriptions in 2023: Nearly 70% of Oklahoma voters polled recently said they paid more for health care and prescription drugs in 2023. More than 600 people across the state who plan to vote in the 2024 general election weighed in on who is responsible for the higher costs and whether government should step in and do something about it. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma ranked No. 3 state for most e-cigarette use, has most residents who vape daily: If you think you’ve noticed more e-cigarette usage around town, you’re probably not wrong according to Forbes Advisor. The business magazine released a study about e-cigarette, or vape, usage across the country, and Oklahoma ranked at No. 3. [The Oklahoman]

Flu cases on rise, Oklahoma health officials say: Flu cases are on the rise across Oklahoma, state health officials are pointing out, with RSV on a downward trend while COVID-19 has plateaued. [Tulsa World]

Opinion: Dobbs Overturned Much More Than Roe v. Wade: Let’s look again at Tennessee and Oklahoma. These states (and others, like Texas, Florida and Missouri) are dominated by conservative and reactionary Republican lawmakers who are doing everything in their power to impose traditional patterns of domination under the guise of parents’ rights or family values. [The New York Times]

Criminal Justice News

Glynn Simmons is suing the police and cities involved in his wrongful conviction: The man who served the longest wrongful conviction in U.S. history is now suing the Oklahoma police whose investigation of a murder nearly 50 years ago led to him spending most of his life in prison. [The Oklahoman]

Could Oklahoma begin using nitrogen for executions after Alabama? Not yet: The Oklahoma Department of Corrections is interested in Alabama’s use of nitrogen gas to carry out death penalty executions, but they’re not ready to follow suit — just yet. [The Oklahoman]

  • Alabama attorney general defends first execution by nitrogen gas, anticipates national trend [Oklahoma Voice]

Oklahoma judge who texted during murder trial admits that it was inappropriate: A suspended judge is fighting to keep her job even though she admits that texting during a trial was inappropriate. Lincoln County District Judge Traci Soderstrom said she “recognizes her actions have brought disgrace and embarrassment to her family, constituents, the legal profession, her office and the judiciary in general.” [The Oklahoman]

Housing & Economic Opportunity

Yearly count of Tulsa County’s homeless population conducted Friday: An annual effort to assess the level of homelessness in Tulsa County was carried out Friday, with agency outreach teams and volunteers canvassing the area. The “Point-in-Time Count,” coordinated by Housing Solutions, is conducted every January on a given night to both count and survey homeless people in the area. [Tulsa World]

Code enforcement case raises questions about future of long-standing homeless program: City councilors on Thursday will visit Crosbie Heights to assess what impact City Lights’ weekly service program for the homeless has on nearby property owners. [Tulsa World]

Education News

‘Re-imagine what is possible’: How an OSU-OKC program is helping turn around lives: The Center for Social Innovation is a workforce development program that provides post-secondary education and training for Oklahomans who have recently experienced incarceration, homelessness, domestic violence, addiction or other trauma. [The Oklahoman]

Removing Osage Wind farm leaves school district with huge funding gap: With nine years’ worth of payments left to retire Shidler’s school bond debt, the superintendent said he has to rethink how the district of 180 students in kindergarten through 12th grade will repay the bonds after a federal judge in December ordered the removal of an Osage County wind farm. [Tulsa World]

Pronoun rules made permanent by Oklahoma Board of Education, despite looming lawsuit: Despite a pending lawsuit in federal court, the state Board of Education on Thursday made permanent a rule change that would prohibit school districts and local schools from altering sex or gender designations in past student records without the board’s authorization. [The Oklahoman]

  • State Board of Education refers seven teachers for revocation hearings [Tulsa World]

For first time in many years, state board suspends teacher certificates for breaking contracts: The Oklahoma State Board of Education just did something extraordinary at Glenpool Public Schools’ request because of the state’s chronic, statewide teacher shortage. After a discussion with Glenpool Superintendent Curtis Layton behind closed doors at Thursday’s meeting, the state board voted without commentary to suspend the state-issued teacher certificates of two teachers for “breach of contract” with the suburban Tulsa school district. [Tulsa World]

Libs of TikTok creator targets OKC entrepreneur after diatribe against Ryan Walters: Conflicts at an Oklahoma state Board of Education board meeting Thursday bled online after the “Libs of TikTok” account reposted a video from the meeting of a man’s rant against the account’s creator. [The Oklahoman]

Records outline criminal case against former TPS executive, more accusations: Tulsa Public Schools stands to recoup hundreds of thousands of dollars lost to alleged embezzlement and misappropriation by a former senior administrator, newly obtained public records indicate. [Tulsa World]

General News

Oklahoma Republicans condemn Lankford on immigration amid GOP infighting: Some members of the Oklahoma Republican Party voted Saturday to condemn U.S. Sen. James Lankford for working on a bipartisan immigration deal that they say runs counter to the state party’s platform. But the former chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party said the resolution passed Saturday, which stated the Oklahoma Republican Party will “cease all support” for Lankford, occurred in an illegitimate meeting and does not represent the views of all Republicans in the state. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • State GOP officials criticize Treat, Lankford in weekend social media posts, meeting [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Oklahoma is on track to turn cybersecurity vulnerability into a strength: A spate of cyber breaches at some of the state’s largest health care providers have left many Oklahomans questioning the integrity and security of their health care services. The frequency and severity of these attacks will only increase as health care becomes increasingly virtual and health cybercrime continues to pay. [Conor Godfrey and Sahee Abdelmomin / The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Historic Black Oklahoma City school to be celebrated with plaza and displays [The Oklahoman]
  • Candidates for Tulsa Public Schools Board meet to hear citizen concerns [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • City of Tulsa hires its first chief mental health officer [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“You know, we talk about the Oklahoma Standard … We are doing the opposite. We gave out $7,500 tax credits for private school attendance. If we had that much zeal and excitement about helping the people who cannot afford to have a place to live or eat, imagine what kind of state we would be.”

-Shiloh Kantz, Executive Director of OK Policy, speaking about the disinvestment in shared public services as the result of  decades of state revenue cuts. [KOSU]

Number of the Day


Percentage of low-income families with children in Oklahoma. This is defined as families with children under age 18 with household incomes less than 200% of the federal poverty level and at least one parent worked 50 or more weeks during the previous year. [KIDS COUNT]

Policy Note

In the Absence of the Expanded Child Tax Credit, Many Families with Children Faced Material Hardship in 2022: Working-age adults with children were more likely than adults without children to face difficulty meeting basic needs in 2022, despite having higher family employment rates. Adults living with children tend to be younger and at an earlier stage of their careers, while also facing child care costs and additional child-related expenses. This fact sheet explores how expanding the child tax credit could provide a much-needed economic boost for families with children struggling to pay for food and housing. [Tax Policy Center]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.