In The Know: Top legislative leaders on slowing tax cuts | Oklahoma abortion laws and impact | Tribal health systems and long-standing barriers

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

Tribal health systems need more resources to fight public health emergencies, but there are still long-standing barriers that need to be addressed: Indian Country has always suffered striking health disparities, chronic underfunding, and the delayed fulfillment of the federal government’s trust responsibilities to Tribal Nations. Taken in combination, this means Tribal Nations historically have lacked necessary resources to provide for many basic health services, let alone to tackle a global public health emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, Tribal Nations in Oklahoma were able to effectively utilize what resources were at their disposal to provide strong responses to safety measures and closures, even during the COVID-19 surges. Disparities should be addressed through better resources, data collection, and addressing long-standing discrimination and underinvestment. [Vivian Morris / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Editorial: Top budget legislative leaders embrace true conservative approach: It’s reassuring to hear Oklahoma’s top legislative budget leaders say they plan to go slow on more tax cuts. Last week, House Appropriations and Budget Committee Chairman Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, spoke to the Tulsa Regional Chamber about their reservations on reducing more revenue. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]

Recently from OK Policy: This legislative session, the Oklahoma legislature is set to consider several proposals that would significantly cut state revenue. Rather than cutting taxes, legislators must consider the state’s long-term fiscal health and its structural deficit by maintaining revenue streams this year and for years to come.

State Government News

Oklahoma abortion laws would send providers to prison for up to a decade and worsen access for the region: The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed Texas’ abortion restriction law to stand. That has driven up demand in Oklahoma, and has caused doubts the court would strike down new laws. Oklahoma lawmakers are in a mad dash to eradicate abortion in Oklahoma, passing a slew of bills to restrict — and in some cases, even criminalize — the procedure. These laws now stand a better chance of going into effect, and that if they do, will have a major impact on the region, not just Oklahoma. [KGOU]

  • Oklahoma poised to enact what may be the nation’s most restrictive anti-abortion law [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma’s abortion bill & Indigenous impact [Indian Country Today]
  • Social programs weak in many states with tough abortion laws [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • (Audio) Anti-abortion bill passes, Norman mayor loses reelection, recreational marijuana petition and more [KOSU]

First-time claims for unemployment benefits decline in Oklahoma: First-time claims for unemployment benefits declined nearly 18% last week, when compared to prior week state totals, according to a government report. The U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday that 2,418 first-time claims for unemployment were filed in the state the week ending Saturday, 528 fewer than were filed the prior week. [Tulsa World]

Bill cracking down on automated telemarketing calls advances in Oklahoma Senate: A Senate panel passed a bill Thursday in an attempt to crack down on automated telemarketing calls. House Bill 3168, dubbed the “Telephone Solicitation Act of 2022,” passed the Senate Business, Commerce and Tourism Committee by a vote of 11-0. [Tulsa World]

State Senate panel advances bill to create trade office in Taiwan: A Senate panel passed a measure Thursday that would create an Oklahoma trade office in Taipei, Taiwan. The Southeast Asia Trade Office would be within the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma House Republicans outline priorities of ‘the people’: Guns, vaccines, abortion and individual freedoms – that’s what constituents were most concerned about this year, and so that’s what lawmakers focused on, legislative leaders said Thursday. But some attention will be paid to tax relief before the legislative session ends next month. [The Journal Record]

OG&E wants to increase your rates. Here’s what we know about what happens next:  An administrative law judge at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission will take public comments May 26 on a pending request by Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. to raise the rate it charges customers, the utility announced this week. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Democrats accuse oil companies of ‘ripping off the American people’ on gas prices: Several prominent oil executives, including Devon Energy CEO Rick Muncrief, testified Wednesday before members of Congress regarding the industry’s production levels at a time when consumer prices on products like gasoline continue to increase. [The Oklahoman]

Jackson confirmed as first Black female high court justice: The Senate confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court on Thursday, shattering a historic barrier by securing her place as the first Black female justice and giving President Joe Biden a bipartisan endorsement for his promised effort to diversify the high court. [The Journal Record]

Tribal Nations News

Cherokee Car Tags Net Schools $7.5-million: The Cherokee Nation is contributing $7.5 million to 107 school districts as part of the tribe’s annual Public School Appreciation Day initiative. This year’s disbursement is the largest since the tribe began its annual contributions in 2002. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Osage Nation joins with city, county for economic development projects: A walk in downtown Pawhuska on a brisk Saturday morning in March finds the town bustling. Spring break has brought tourists from throughout the country descending on the Osage Nation Reservation. [KOSU]

Muscogee Nation names new attorney general amid increased volume of cases due to McGirt: The Muscogee Nation has named a new attorney general amid an increased volume of cases following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma. “With this most recent addition of Geri Wisner as attorney general, we are bringing to bear the resources to continue addressing the increased volume of cases that are within our rightful jurisdiction,” said Principal Chief David Hill. [Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

Joel Kintsel to challenge Kevin Stitt in GOP primary: Joel Kintsel, the director of the Oklahoma Department of Veteran Affairs, has become Gov. Kevin Stitt’s third announced Republican primary challenger for the 2022 election cycle. Formerly Oklahoma’s House of Representatives parliamentarian for 14 years, Kintsel was a deputy director for the state agency before being named director by the ODVA board in 2019. [NonDoc] Kintsel also is a lieutenant colonel in the Oklahoma Air National Guard and staff judge advocate of the 137th Special Operations Wing at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma City. [Tulsa World] The announcement paves the way for a semi-crowded GOP gubernatorial primary on June 28. As the incumbent, Stitt is the odds-on favorite to win.  [The Oklahoman

Mullin fundraising letter claims Biden administration ‘tried to kill me’: Second District Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Markwayne Mullin says in a fundraising letter that the Biden administration “Without question … tried to kill me” during his much-publicized trip to the Middle East last August. [Tulsa World]

Health News

Program launched to better care for kids in custody of welfare services: The Oklahoma Health Care Authority and Oklahoma Department of Human Services have announced a partnership and new program to better address the health and behavioral health needs of children in custody of Child Welfare Services. [The Journal Record] OHCA and OKDHS will utilize the SPARK program to identify behavioral health and medical needs earlier and refer children in the program to needed interventions. [KFOR]

Covid numbers creep up in Oklahoma: Covid-19 may not be done with us just yet. For the first time in months the number of Covid cases increased in Oklahoma… not by a lot… but they are still up. Last week, we had 403 new cases reported in Oklahoma. The new cases this week stands a 452. That is an average of seven additional cases per day. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • COVID-19 in Oklahoma tracker: Weekly updates on new cases, deaths, vaccines [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Oklahoma’s big bet on an electric vehicle startup: Oklahoma has bet big on the EV startup Canoo Inc., offering hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives, plus a no-bid contract for state agencies to buy up to 1,000 vehicles, but the company has pushed back the projected opening date for an Oklahoma factory to 2024. [The Frontier]

Investment destination: Owasso area ground zero for recent new development: Economic development in and near Owasso is becoming as dense as rush-hour traffic. In the last two months alone, new commercial construction or expansions in the area have totaled about $130 million. [Tulsa World]

Education News

UCO students protest faculty cuts amid $15 million budget shortfall: A procession of chanting students quieted to murmurs as they came face-to-face with their university president. Several dozen made a short walk Wednesday across the University of Central Oklahoma campus to Old North Tower — the college’s oldest and most iconic building — where administrative offices are housed. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

‘A monster of a fire’: Crews battle massive wildfire in Beaver County, Oklahoma Panhandle: Firefighters in Beaver County on Thursday continued battling a large wildfire that had been ablaze since Tuesday. Red flag warnings signifying an extremely high wildfire danger covered much of western and central Oklahoma Thursday. [The Oklahoman]

  • Wind advisory day ICYMI: Oklahoma ranks in top 10; Meteorologist Kirsten Lang explains why [Tulsa World]
  • Red Flag Fire Warning extended to include Tulsa Metro [Public Radio Tulsa]

Quote of the Day

“The last time Oklahoma approved this type of deep cut was in the late-1990s boom. A decade later, the Legislature faced four revenue failures and a deficit of $1.5 billion. Core agency services were devastated. Highway patrol officers were limited in miles they could drive. Prison reintegration programs cut. Common education sank to almost last in teacher pay and per-pupil expenditure.”

– Tulsa World Editorial Board, writing about the last time Oklahoma’s made deep tax cuts [Tulsa World]

Recently from OK Policy: Cutting taxes this year would be short-sighted and harmful

Number of the Day


Despite the commutations granted by Governor Stitt, the state approved fewer releases in the first year of the pandemic than it had in years prior – 74% of non-violent commutation requests were granted in 2019, compared to just 35% in 2020.


New from OK Policy: Reducing our incarceration population is a matter of public safety — and public health

Policy Note

The Facts on Bail Reform and Crime Rates in New York State: There is no clear connection between recent crime increases and the bail reform law enacted in 2019, and the data does not currently support further revisions to the legislation. Many have argued that bail reform is respons­ible for rising crime in New York State, both in and out of New York City. But crime rose all across the coun­try in 2020, making it unwise to look for explan­a­tions that are confined to New York. Addi­tion­ally, in the nearly two years since imple­ment­a­tion, no direct evid­ence has emerged link­ing bail reform to rising crime. [Brennan Center for Justice]

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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.

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