In The Know: Teachers’ group seeks to stop Oklahoma anti-tax question

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. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

In The News

Teachers’ Group Seeks to Stop Oklahoma Anti-Tax Question: A group representing Oklahoma teachers is asking the state’s highest court to stop an effort to overturn a tax-hike package to fund teacher pay raises the Legislature approved amid a national uprising of educators seeking more classroom money. The Professional Oklahoma Educators filed a protest petition with the state Supreme Court last week against the anti-tax group’s signature-gathering effort [Washington Post].

Home Schoolers Get Tax-Credit Funds to Attend Private School Part-Time: For the first time ever, students can attend an Oklahoma private school part-time yet have most or all of the tuition paid by scholarships funded through a state tax-credit program. The scholarship program, promoted by school-choice advocates, is typically used to subsidize tuition costs for full-time students at private schools. But The Academy for Classical Christian Studies, with three schools in the Oklahoma City area, has added a twist to the program [Oklahoma Watch].

With Veto, Fallin Cites Potential Problems with Vision Fund: When Gov. Mary Fallin acted on scores of bills Friday evening, she vetoed a measure intended to hedge against oil and gas revenue volatility. The Oklahoma Legislature passed two bills that would have created a Vision Fund for the state. They would order officials to set about 5 percent of annual revenue from the oil and gas production tax aside and place it into a trust fund. Lawmakers would be able to appropriate less than 5 percent of the principal each year after that. Supporters said the fund would grow over the years and offset not only volatility in the commodities’ market but also long-term depletion of the unrenewable resource [Journal Record].

Legislator Says Law Aimed to Prevent New Fees on Families: A Democratic lawmaker Monday touted a new law aimed at stopping the Department of Human Services from imposing new fees on families that rely on child support. State Rep. Jason Lowe, D-Oklahoma City, said his measure will stop the Department of Human Services from further increasing the current 3 percent collection fee the agency is now charging parents who receive child support. Going forward, he said the Legislature would need to approve any increases [Stillwater News Press].

(Capitol Update) A Wild Ride for First-Term Legislators: As a postscript to this year’s legislative session, I’ve been thinking about what it would be like to have been serving your first term in the Legislature this past two years. If my count is correct, 54 of the 148 members of the Legislature are serving in their first two years, having been elected at the general election in 2016 or at a special election to fill one of the several vacancies that have occurred. For most of them with little direct involvement in state government, it’s hard to imagine they had even a clue as to what they were letting themselves in for [OKPolicy].

Tribes Encouraged by Supreme Court Ruling on Sports Betting but Need State to Set up Legal Framework: A U.S. Supreme Court decision issued Monday improves the odds of legal sports betting at Oklahoma’s tribal casinos some day. But it isn’t likely to happen any time soon — if it ever happens at all. That’s because the state of Oklahoma would have to allow sports betting, and the Legislature has not shown much interest in doing that. Two attempts in the House of Representatives last year to pass enabling legislation in anticipation of the Supreme Court ruling came to naught, meaning it will likely be next year at the earliest before action is taken [Tulsa World].

Tribes Decry President Trump’s Proposed Budget Cut to Bureau of Indian Affairs: Tribes are not happy with President Trump’s proposed 2019 budget for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. “The 2019 president’s budget for Indian Affairs would be a 15.6 percent decrease from the FY2018 CR level. Nearly every line item in the BIA budget would see reductions,” said National Congress of American Indians President Jefferson Keel. Keel, who is also lieutenant governor of the Chickasaw Nation, said that means nearly every spending area will be cut, and some tribal priorities could be completely done away with [Public Radio Tulsa].

Muslim Woman Accuses Tulsa County Deputies of Forcing Her to Remove Hijab; Sheriff’s Office Denies Allegation: Two civil rights groups are alleging Tulsa County sheriff’s deputies forced a Muslim woman to remove her hijab in public in front of male deputies while attempting to enter the county courthouse. A spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office disputed the allegations, saying female deputies asked the woman to lift her head covering after it set off metal detectors at courthouse security [Tulsa World].

Majority of Oklahoma DHS Workers Dropped from Lawsuit: A federal appeals court has dismissed most of the social workers in a lawsuit that alleges the Oklahoma Department of Human Services failed to protect children from decade-long abuse by a couple. The Oklahoman reports that the appeals court ruled 14 of 17 agency workers should be dropped from the lawsuit filed by nine children who were under Jerry and Deidre Matthews’ care [Public Radio Tulsa]. 

In Oklahoma, Voter ID Wins in a Landslide: Although voter identification laws in other states have drummed up significant controversy, Oklahoma’s has elicited little response from its passage in 2010 to last week’s Oklahoma Supreme Court decision upholding it. Several states have passed laws that require identification, often a photo ID, at the polls. Some of those, such as Texas and Alabama, have faced years long legal battles. Oklahoma’s law is less restrictive than the ones that have triggered political scraps [Journal Record].

Despite Industry Opposition to Tax That Led to Teacher Raise, CEOs at Some of State’s Largest Energy Companies Got Pay Increases: CEOs at some of the state’s largest energy producers saw big bumps in compensation last year, despite industry opposition to a 5 percent gross production tax increase to give Oklahoma teachers a pay raise. Harold Hamm, Chairman and CEO of Continental Resources Inc., saw his overall compensation increase by about 38 percent over the previous year to $12.2 million in 2017, according to regulatory filings [The Frontier].

Oklahoma City Councilman to Plead Not Guilty, Attorney Says: An attorney told The Associated Press on Monday that Ward 7 Oklahoma City Councilman John Pettis would plead not guilty to embezzlement and tax charges. Pettis was charged Friday in Oklahoma County District Court with three counts of embezzlement and one count of intentionally failing to file state income tax returns [NewsOK].

Sticker Shock Jolts Oklahoma Patient: $15,076 for 4 Tiny Screws: Two weeks after surgery, Young received a letter from her insurance plan, BlueCross BlueShield of Oklahoma, stating that it had not approved her hospital stay. Staying overnight was not “medically necessary,” according to the letter, because foot and shoulder surgery are typically performed as outpatient procedures. The letter “put me in a panic,” said Young, who was suddenly worried that she would have to pay the entire $115,000 bill herself [KOSU].

Quote of the Day

“I think this law, in general, is one of those interesting ways out; lawmakers have found a way (to ensure) it’s exactly legally permissible. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean it’s good policy or that you should.”

-Allie Shinn, director of external affairs for American Civil Liberties Union Oklahoma, speaking about Oklahoma’s voter ID law which was recently upheld by the state Supreme Court [Source].

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma legislative seats up for a vote this year that will have no contested race in the general election, down from 62 percent in 2014.

Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute 

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Fed Officials Worry the Economy Is Too Good. Workers Still Feel Left Behind: Yet Federal Reserve officials are beginning to worry about a possibility that seems remote to workers who still feel left behind: the danger of the economy’s running too hot, destabilizing financial markets and setting off a rapid escalation in wages and prices that could force the central bank to slam the brakes on growth. Officials at the Fed have in the last few weeks escalated a public and private debate over how close the economy is to “overheating,” a condition when abnormally low unemployment can trigger spikes in inflation and destabilize financial markets [The New York Times].

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.