In The Know: State’s challenge to McGirt raises questions | Housing equity | Transparency lawsuit against the state

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

Oklahoma should work towards true housing equity: Fifty-four years ago this month, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination in housing because of race, national origin, religion, or sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation). In 1988, the law was expanded to prohibit discrimination based on disability and familial status (pregnant women or the presence of a child under 18). Even with this federal legislation, racial disparities in housing still exist. [Sabine Brown / OK Policy

#SecondChanceMonth Twitter Chat: The Oklahoma Policy Institute will be joining Prison Fellowship Advocacy for a Twitter Chat today at 12 pm CST about the impact of second chances on communities & public safety upon reentry. OK Policy’s Criminal Justice Policy Analyst David Gateley will be taking over our Twitter to join the discussion. Follow @okpolicy or #SecondChanceMonth to participate!

Risk assessment tool needs to be carefully crafted to best serve justice-involved youth (Capitol Update): Senate Bill 1282,  presented on the House floor last week, requires a risk-assessment screening tool approved by the Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA) to be used when a child is taken into custody pursuant to the Oklahoma Juvenile Code, to help determine if the child should be detained. The bill exposed a usually unnoticed conflict. Risk-assessment screening tools are controversial. Who knew?  [Steve Lewis / OK Policy

Oklahoma News

Justice Watch: As Legislative session progresses, some justice reform bills stall: The end of the 2022 legislative session is in sight. April 14 was the final day for bills to advance past committee in the opposite chamber. Two notable criminal justice bills stalled and won’t be eligible for consideration until next year. Bills aimed at reducing court fines and fees and making employment more accessible to people with involvement in the justice system have gained the most traction this session. [Oklahoma Watch

Recently from OK Policy: The 2022 session brings rare opportunity for significant progress in our criminal justice system. Criminal fines and fees don’t just burden families. They harm courts and law enforcement, too. HB 3316, Oklahoma’s Clean Slate law, can knock down a major barrier to employment, housing, and education.

Some Oklahoma lawmakers want to cut taxes rather than provide $698 million business incentive: The $698 million incentive package aimed at bringing a Panasonic electric vehicle battery manufacturing plant to Pryor is expected to reshape conversations around tax cuts in the final month of the legislative session. With a booming economy and record savings heading into session, lawmakers from both parties have proposed hundreds of millions in tax cuts. Proposals include eliminating the state’s grocery tax and franchise taxes, creating a gross production tax exemption and modifying income tax rates. [CNHI via The Norman Transcript]

New 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. 

‘It’s shameful,’ Oklahoma parents speak out about 13-year-long state waiting list: This legislative session, lawmakers have hired a consulting firm to tackle the developmental disability services waiting list. The Medicaid Waiver Waiting List is embarrassingly long in Oklahoma. For the first time ever, the Department of Human Services (DHS) has a plan to eliminate the waiting list that has grown to 13 years long. [KFOR]

Where is Oklahoma getting its numbers from in its Supreme Court case?: This week, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta, a case that is seeking to limit the scope of a decision the Court made less than two years ago. In July 2020, the Supreme Court ruled in McGirt v. Oklahoma that Congress never annulled the Muscogee Nation reservation. To prove that McGirt wreaked havoc in Oklahoma, the state is claiming that it has lost jurisdiction over 18,000 prosecutions a year, many of which are now “going un-investigated and unprosecuted, endangering public safety.” The problem is that this number seems to have come out of nowhere; Oklahoma doesn’t provide any source for it. [The Atlantic

  • SCOTUS to hear state’s McGirt challenge in Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta [NonDoc
  • Supreme Court takes another look at McGirt issues [Indian Country Today]
  • Supreme Court to hear Oklahoma appeal in Tribal jurisdiction case [AP News via Public Radio Tulsa
  • U.S. Supreme Court hears Oklahoma tribal dispute in Breyer’s last case [Reuters]

State Government News

Oklahoma Watch files transparency lawsuit against state agency over federal relief funds: Oklahoma Watch has filed a lawsuit against Oklahoma’s Office of Management and Enterprise Services over its decision to keep secret billions of dollars in applications for federal coronavirus relief funds. [Oklahoma Watch

Democrats blast Stitt, lack of ‘transparent’ budget process: The questionable contract between Swadley’s and the state is just the latest in a string of financial debacles involving state funds, House Democrats said Tuesday as they pressed for greater transparency in the budgeting process. [The Journal Record

  • Foggy Bottom breakdown: Staff left stranded as legislators call for tourism director’s job [The Oklahoman

House measure limiting fees paid to outside law firms moves forward: A bill that would limit the amount paid to private law firms working for state government cleared the House Rules Committee this month and is expected to be heard by the full House soon. [Southwest Ledger]

Turnpike Authority approves $200 million line of credit to start ACCESS Oklahoma: The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority on Tuesday approved taking out a $200 million line of credit with Wells Fargo to pay for engineering, expansion or construction of toll roads in advance of a $5 billion statewide expansion. [The Oklahoman

Unemployment claims at 52-year low: Nationwide claims for unemployment benefits in the week ending April 16 dipped to their lowest level in 52 years, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims that week was 184,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 186,000. [Southwest Ledger]

New from OK Policy: Oklahoma’s lawmakers should recognize the importance of a well-designed unemployment insurance program and strengthen this necessary program rather than undermine it. Unfortunately, a piece of legislation (House Bill 1933) recently passed by the state Senate threatens the efficacy of our state’s unemployment insurance program

(Audio) ‘Ongoing psychological warfare’: lawmaker decries legislation degrading trust in voting: House Bill 2974 would have the state election board forward addresses with more than ten registered voters to law enforcement for investigation. [Public Radio Tulsa

School board elections bill moves out of committee: After languishing in the Oklahoma House for almost a year, a bill that would move public school elections to November cleared the House Rules Committee last Monday. Senate Bill 962, authored by Senate Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City and House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, would move the date of school board elections from April to November, aligning those elections with the general election of U.S. President. [Southwest Ledger]

Stitt signs ban on nonbinary birth certificates: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill Tuesday explicitly prohibiting the use of nonbinary gender markers on state birth certificates, a ban experts say is the first of its kind in the nation. [AP News Public Radio Tulsa] The new law essentially makes permanent an executive order from Stitt that blocked the Oklahoma Health Department from issuing gender-neutral birth certificates. [The Oklahoman] Oklahoma’s Department of Health first permitted nonbinary markers on birth certificates last year as part of a lawsuit settlement – a decision that was reversed by Stitt in November using an executive order. [CNN]

State House sends another bill restricting abortion to governor: Oklahoma’s Republican-controlled Legislature continued to lay plans Tuesday in the expectation that abortion rights’ foundational Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision soon will be reversed or greatly modified. [Tulsa World

  • Arkansas could see spike in abortion patients following Oklahoma law [THV 11]
  • Fewer abortions from Oklahoma counted in Kansas [The Journal Record]

Bill on marijuana grow reclamation passes House: Senate Bill 1697 requires all applicants for a medical marijuana commercial grower license and commercial grower licensees to file with the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) a bond in an amount of no less than $25,000 for each license sought or held that covers the land where the licensee will conduct grow operations. [The Lawton Constitution]

Governor signs bills providing educational support to Oklahoma National Guard members: Pursuing a higher education will soon be more affordable for members of the Oklahoma National Guard following the signing of two bills by Gov. Kevin Stitt. [The Lawton Constitution

Senate passes bill on solicitation calls: Oklahomans could be getting fewer irritating solicitation calls thanks to legislation unanimously approved Tuesday by the Senate. House Bill 3168, by Sen. Bill Coleman, R-Ponca City, creates the Telephone Solicitation Act of 2022, which would prohibit numerous types of marketing calls and set strict parameters on when others can be made. [The Lawton Constitution]

Tribal Nations News

Cherokee Nation Chief Hoskin speaks at United Nations Public Forum on Indigenous Issues: Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., spoke before the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Monday, advocating for the preservation of Indigenous languages including Cherokee and other languages across the globe. [Indian Country Today]

Artist, chief, Oklahoma lawmaker Haney dies: Enoch Kelly Haney, an artist, Seminole Nation chief and Oklahoma state lawmaker, has died at age 81. Haney’s death was announced Saturday by Brian Palmer, assistant chief of the Seminole Nation. [Indian Country Today]

Apache Tribe election results: Unofficial election results from Saturday’s general election for Apache Tribe of Oklahoma officials have been released. The results will become official following a three-day protest period. [The Lawton Constitution]

Voting and Election News

After 17 hours of hearings, 3 candidates struck from ballots: After conducting nearly 17 hours of candidate contest hearings that started Monday morning and concluded early Tuesday morning, the Oklahoma State Election Board struck three prospective candidates from their respective ballots. [NonDoc

  • Democratic US Senate candidate Madison Horn gets to stay on ballot in Oklahoma [The Oklahoman

Political rivals accuse Stitt of being soft on crime: With violent crime increasing in many parts of the country, Republicans see a winning strategy in portraying Democrats as soft on crime ahead of this year’s elections.  But in Oklahoma, where Gov. Kevin Stitt is being targeted for mass commutations and a crime that involved cannibalism, the attacks are different: Stitt is a Republican. [The Journal Record

Health News

Oklahoma health experts see slight increase in new COVID-19 cases: Oklahoma health experts say they are starting to see a small increase in COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma. They say that is because there is a new variant spreading that’s more contagious. [News On 6]

Criminal Justice News

Hogue case follows pattern of questionable decisions by Cleveland Co. prosecutors: The Cleveland County District Attorney’s Office stunned many when it prosecuted Rebecca Hogue, but it’s not the first time the office and its members have made contentious decisions on who and how to prosecute. [The Norman Transcript]

OKC police officer shown kneeling on the back of a man who later died from lack of oxygen: A federal lawsuit has been filed against the city of Oklahoma City, police chief and three police officers involved in the April 2020 death of Dawawn McCoy, 35, who died six days after officers tased, pepper sprayed and knelt on his back while attempting to remove him from a hotel room. [The Oklahoman

Tulsa Police Response, Policies Questioned After Arrest of Woman in Bipolar Episode: LaDonna Paris was in the throes of a manic bipolar episode when Tulsa police kicked in the door of the bathroom where Paris had locked herself, knocked her to the ground and handcuffed her. In response to public scrutiny, the department launched an internal investigation late last month. [Oklahoma Watch]

Deals OK’d for county jail expansion financial services: Garfield County commissioners approved deals with financial agencies needed for a planned expansion and renovation of the county jail before a proposed sales tax increase appears on the ballot later this year. [Enid News & Eagle]

Economic Opportunity

Housing shortage, soaring rents squeeze US college students: College students squeezed by a massive housing shortage and surging rents are paying too much for moldy apartments, commuting long distances or sleeping in their cars to get an education — and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. [Muskogee Phoenix

Education News

As Pre-K enrollment suffered across the country, Oklahoma kept access strong: Parents across the country were hesitant to send their 4-year-old children to school during the pandemic.  But in Oklahoma, there was some good news: roughly three-fourths of Oklahoma 4-year-olds attended pre-K in the 2020-21 school year. [KGOU] The National Institute for Early Education Research has named Oklahoma’s program the second-best in the nation, up three spots from last year. [News 9

  • Oklahoma preschool students receiving second-best education in US, according to report [FOX 25]

OKC schools planning ‘transformational’ bond issue for November ballot: With its first potential bond issue in six years, Oklahoma City Public Schools is preparing a package administrators hope will be a “transformational” investment. The school district is targeting the Nov. 8 general election for a public vote. [The Oklahoman

Oklahoma Local News

Hundreds show up for meeting, opinions mixed on tax incentive to lure huge plant to MidAmerica Industrial Park near Pryor: Mayes County residents gathered at the fairgrounds here Tuesday night to discuss the possible establishment of a tax increment financing district to lure a massive electric battery plant to MidAmerica Industrial Park. [Tulsa World

Council approves ARPA funds, massage ordinance, Housing Authority dev: The Council approved a $1 million allocation of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for aid for arts-related nonprofit organizations. Council also heard about an exciting new opportunity for addressing Youth Homelessness in Oklahoma City. [OKC Free Press]

Bulk of county ARPA funds destined for radios: The Payne County Board of Commissioners still has decisions to make about how to spend the $15.9 million in federal ARPA funding that Payne County will be receiving for COVID-19 pandemic relief. [Stillwater News Press]

Council initiates discussion about what to do with marijuana money: A City Council member with a background in social work said she wants to start the discussion about how tax revenue from medical marijuana sales could help residents combat addiction. [The Lawton Constitution]

Quote of the Day

“(Indiana) managed to take care of their citizens like Sarah. I don’t see why Oklahoma can’t do it. My biggest disappointment in moving back to Oklahoma has been that they just don’t seem to value families who need these services.”

– Barbie Garrison, speaking about the developmental disability services waiting list in Oklahoma compared to the support she received in Indiana. Her daughter, Sarah, is on a waiting list 13 years long in Oklahoma. [KFOR]

Number of the Day


Number of Oklahoman children lifted out of poverty by SNAP between 2013 and 2017

[Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

New from OK Policy: State lawmakers are considering tax cuts that could devastate state revenue and funding for public services like public education in future years.

Policy Note

The social insurance system in the US: Policies to protect workers and families: Nearly everyone in the United States directly benefits from the social insurance system at some point in their lives. Moreover, everyone indirectly benefits from it—either from knowing the system would be there for them during some unexpected hardship or simply because it helps to support the overall economy. [Brookings]

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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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