In The Know: Tax cuts look unlikely this session | Early voting expanded by 1 day | Nickel & diming our justice system

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: Nickel and diming our justice system: Our state’s courts and justice systems have a funding problem, one that is placing an outsized burden on the backs of rural Oklahomans. Due to systematic underinvesting by the state, our courts and public safety services have become increasingly dependent on a vast array of fines and fees that pay for even the most basic operational costs. A new analysis from the Oklahoma Policy Institute found rural Oklahomans are often asked to pay more in court fines and fees – and have higher collection rates – than their urban counterparts. This inequity means rural Oklahomans effectively contribute more to fund our courts than those living in urban areas. [Ahniwake Rose / Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

Cutting Oklahoma’s corporate or personal income taxes this year looks increasingly unlikely: Senate Republicans have blocked plans to phase out Oklahoma’s corporate income tax this legislative session and lawmakers have yet to reach an agreement to lower personal income taxes as they try to map the state’s financial future after the pandemic. House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, has championed tax reform as a way to entice businesses and remote workers to relocate to Oklahoma as the pandemic wanes. He says the timing is right as lawmakers revel in a budget surplus spurred on by federal COVID-19 stimulus funds. [The Frontier]

New laws alter Oklahoma’s initiative petition process after narrow passage of SQ 802: After Oklahoma voters narrowly passed a state question to expand Medicaid, new laws will change the state’s initiative petition process. Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law bills that will allow for recounts of state questions and require some initiative petitions to include a fiscal impact statement. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma governor signs bill to extend early voting by 1 day: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill to expand early, in-person voting by one day during general elections. The bill Stitt signed late Tuesday will add one day of early, in-person voting from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the Wednesday before a general election. Oklahoma currently has 2 1/2 days of early, in-person absentee voting on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The bill would also require voters to request mail-in absentee ballots earlier to ensure election officials have time to receive and count the ballot by Election Day. [AP News] The change comes as Republicans in Georgia, Texas, Arizona and Florida have sought to implement stricter voting rules in the wake of false allegations of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. [The Oklahoman]

Health experts continue pushing Oklahomans to get COVID shots as vaccination rate keeps dipping: Health experts continue to urge Oklahomans to get vaccinated against COVID-19, especially now that increased genetic sequencing has revealed additional variants. The B.1.617.1 and B.1.617.2 variants that originated in India have been identified in Oklahoma. The country is coming out of a devastating mid-spring surge. [Public Radio Tulsa]

State Government News

Legislative redistricting bills head to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk: The Oklahoma House and Senate redistricting bills are headed to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk. The House on Wednesday passed the Senate redistricting plan, Senate Bill 1066, by a vote of 90-1 with no discussion or debate. The Senate passed the House redistricting plan, House Bill 1198, by a vote of 44-1 with no debate. The Legislature is required to realign legislative and congressional districts every decade based on population changes. [Tulsa World] However, the maps approved by the Oklahoma Legislature on Wednesday may not be the final maps that will take effect next year. Lawmakers may alter some legislative districts in a special legislative session this fall. [The Oklahoman] OK Policy: An OK Policy report on the 2020 census highlights missed opportunities in getting a complete count in Oklahoma.

John Hope Franklin Center pens open letter to Governor Stitt denouncing HB 1775: The John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation (JHFCR) Board of Directors is deeply concerned about the passage of HB 1775. This bill allows teachers and school administrators to be penalized for teaching students about systematic racism. The John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation (JHFCR) promotes civil discourse through scholarly work. [John Hope Franklin Center / The Black Wall Street Times]

Time running out on Oklahoma Legislature managed care Medicaid expansion plan: The clock is ticking for the Oklahoma legislature. If a new law is not passed in the next couple weeks, Oklahoma’s Medicaid expansion will go forward under the privatized plan proposed by Gov. Kevin Stitt. But there is a bill that could keep the expansion in the hands of the state. [KFOR] OK Policy: Managed care is a bad investment for Oklahoma, but could be especially harmful for patients, providers, and Indigenous communities. See complete roundup of OK Policy analysis about the impacts of managed care in Oklahoma.

New tax credit expected to fund training of more medical residents, nurses in Oklahoma: The Oklahoma Legislature passed a bill earlier this year to invest in health care workforce development. Lawmakers and top officials at OU Health touted a program Tuesday that will fund training for nurses, nurse practitioners and doctors. They held a press conference on Senate Bill 79, which creates a tax credit for the medical system to the tune of about $6 million annually. [KGOU]

Proposal for Trump highway gets revived thanks to bill language change: Republican lawmakers determined to name a stretch of Panhandle highway after former President Donald Trump have pulled their proposal out of the ditch, and with it the Sen. James Inhofe Interchange in Midwest City. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt grills burgers, steaks under PETA billboard: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Wednesday fanned the flames in his feud with an animal rights group. After People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals put up in a billboard in southeast Oklahoma City calling the governor a “meathead,” Stitt hosted a cookout under the billboard. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Emergency program to give people $50-$75 off internet bill: Americans can begin applying for $50 to $75 off their monthly internet bill on Wednesday as part of an emergency government program to keep people connected during the pandemic. The $3.2 billion program is part of the $900 billion December pandemic-relief package. The government is increasing spending on broadband as the pandemic made stark that millions of Americans did not have access to, and could not afford, broadband at a time when jobs, school and health care were moving online. [Tulsa World]

Majority Of Oklahoma Congressional delegation votes yes on Cheney ouster: Three of Oklahoma’s five U.S. Representatives, all Republicans, on Wednesday morning supported the successful vote to remove Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as House Republican conference chair due to her outspoken criticism of former President Donald Trump’s repeated lies about the 2020 election. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Criminal Justice News

As the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board grows more active, its members find themselves under increased scrutiny from district attorneys: The attention comes as the board is playing a more pivotal role than ever in the criminal justice system in Oklahoma, finding itself embroiled in a high-profile death penalty case and hearing more commutation requests than ever. Two members of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board have been repeatedly targeted by district attorneys from across the state in an attempt to keep them from hearing cases of prisoners who are trying to have their sentences shortened. [The Frontier]

‘Every day is a great day’: Women in Oklahoma prisons encourage people struggling through the pandemic: Despite the dangers of COVID-19 and prison limitations, 470 incarcerated women used a long distance writing program to connect with people outside prison walls. The women and their writing partners helped each other get through the pandemic. Last month, participants wrote letters and poems meant to help people who were having a hard time coping with the harsh realities of the coronavirus. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Economic Opportunity

Downtown Tulsa’s ‘tent city’ seems to be growing again as homeless encampments close down in other areas: Downtown Tulsa’s homeless encampment seems to be growing again, rebounding from a cold snap that reduced the “tent city’s” population earlier in the year, officials said. Roughly 36 people are camping this week on the sidewalks along Archer Street and Elwood Avenue in the northwest corner of downtown, near The Salvation Army and other social service agencies, officials said. [Tulsa World]

Editorial: Nation must balance needs of workers and employers in addressing economic damage of COVID-19: It’s a bit odd, but news that the U.S. economy created 266,000 new jobs in April was broadly described as “disappointing” last week. The disappointment was that a federally stimulated COVID-19 rebound didn’t create 1 million jobs in the month, as had been anticipated. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Rule change tossed over independent contractors: It’s back to square one for employers trying to determine who is an independent contractor versus an employee. The U.S. Department of Labor has withdrawn a rule change that was rolled out in the waning days of the Trump administration aimed at clarifying workers’ status under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Biden administration postponed the rule from taking effect in March and last week withdrew it completely. [The Journal Record]

Education News

How much money will Oklahoma universities get from the American Rescue Plan?: The U.S. Department of Education announced Tuesday how it would allocate more than $36 billion to higher education institutions as part of the American Rescue Plan. Universities, career techs and even seminaries are eligible for a portion of the American Rescue Plan’s disbursement for higher education. A total of 90 Oklahoma institutions could receive a total of more than $418 million. [KGOU] OK Policy has published a webinar exploring what the American Rescue Plan Act means for Oklahoma.  

General News

Tulsa City Hall hacking update: Email system working again; water service shutoffs, utility late fees on hold: Less than a week after a ransomware attack caused the city to shut down its computer system, the employees’ email system is back up and running. Mayor G.T. Bynum said email service was restored late Tuesday afternoon. [Tulsa World]

National Black Power conference coming to Tulsa ahead of Race Massacre Centennial: Organizers of a National Black Power conference convening in Tulsa just ahead of the Race Massacre Centennial say they’re hoping to build relationships with local Black community leaders and support them in any way possible. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • May 11 election results: What passed, what failed [NonDoc]
  • Norman City Council swears in two new members, Bierman departs [NonDoc]
  • Q&A: Edmond City Council members take on new roles [NonDoc]

Quote of the Day

“Teaching the truth about history is the responsibility of a courageous educational system, and Oklahoma must rise to the occasion and engage in critical conversations around the history of racism in this country.”

-John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation’s Board of Directors in an open letter regarding the signing into law of HB 1775, which restricts race-related teaching in Oklahoma’s public schools and universities [The Black Wall Street Times]

Number of the Day


The difference between Georgia House and Senate (higher) versions of the state budget for school support. Oklahoma’s Legislature does not require the two houses to publicly state their budget positions.

[Source: Georgia General Assembly]

Policy Note

Building State Budgets: Effective Process and Practice: Every year, or every other year, states face the challenge of creating budgets that adequately address the needs of their residents while also keeping in mind their short and long-term fiscal health. Different rules and institutions have developed over time as states faced changing economic and fiscal conditions and dealt with competing interests. What are these rules, and do they help states meet the needs of their residents while preparing for the future? To help sort through the web of state budget processes, we’ve highlighted chapters from our comprehensive review of state budget practices. [Tax Policy Center]

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


Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.