In The Know: Treasury responds to revenue cuts & stimulus package | Changes to state COVID-19 data | More

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: State revenue cuts are not pro-business: The Oklahoma House last week approved bills that would significantly reduce state revenue – slashing $540 million, which equates to about 7.5% of the current fiscal year budget. House Bill 2041 and HB 2083 would reduce individual income taxes and phase out the corporate income tax, respectively. The bills are now with the Senate for consideration. [Ahniwake Rose / Policy Matters]

Oklahoma News

Treasury says state tax cuts OK if separated from virus aid: Responding to concerns from state officials, the U.S. Treasury Department said Wednesday that states can cut taxes without penalty under a new federal pandemic relief law — so long as they use their own funds to offset those cuts. The Republican-led Oklahoma House last week passed bills to reduce the corporate and individual income tax rates and restore the ability for a refund of the earned income tax credit. The Oklahoma Tax Commission estimates those bills could cost the state $103 million next year and $284 million the following year. [AP News] OK Policy: The revenue cuts proposed in HB 2041 and 2083 have been made without discussion — public or otherwise — about how to best serve the needs for Oklahomans, including our most vulnerable friends and neighbors. 

Oklahoma State Health Department moving to weekly updates of its COVID-19 dashboard: The Oklahoma State Department of Health is making several changes to its online COVID-19 dashboard and transitioning to weekly updates of some data, the department announced Wednesday. The state will continue to provide a situation update on weekdays with a daily case number, but the dashboard will be updated weekly on Wednesdays with data from the state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [The Oklahoman]

  • COVID-19: State reports 4,788 investigated deaths; data reporting change comes amid decreasing cases, increasing vaccinations [Tulsa World]
  • State makes changes to COVID-19 data reporting [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Visitation at Oklahoma prisons set to resume [KOSU]
  • Health officials concerned with return from spring break [The Lawton Constitution]
  • New Oklahoma Blood Institute, Harvard research gives insight into blood types and likelihood to catch COVID-19 [KXNET]

A Native American tribe in Oklahoma denied Black citizens COVID-19 vaccines and financial relief: While tribal leaders and the Indian Health Service have been hailed for successfully rolling out COVID vaccines across the country, Letta Osborne-Sampson is one of six Freedmen who told BuzzFeed News that the Seminole Nation has denied them vaccines, health services, and COVID financial relief based on the ancestry listed on their tribal ID cards. [Buzzfeed News] Other Freedmen told BuzzFeed that the Seminole Nation had denied them vaccines, health services, and covid-19 financial relief based on the ancestry listed on their tribal ID cards. [The Moguldom Nation]

  • Area tribes offer mass vaccinations at Expo Square, Osage and Quapaw casinos [Tulsa World]
  • Muscogee (Creek) Nation clinic plans vaccine clinic in Tulsa [AP News] | [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Mercy launches COVID-19 vaccine registration portal for Oklahomans [The Oklahoman]
  • Meet the volunteers signing up hundreds of Oklahomans for COVID-19 vaccine appointments [The Oklahoman]
  • OKC-County Health Department turns to outreach groups to increase vaccine equity [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Oklahoma must inspire and encourage more women into elected office: In 2004, our freshman class represented the largest number of Republican women elected in a single cycle to the Oklahoma State House of Representatives. Five of us were sworn in together, ready to change the course of history and lead a new era in the public square. Fifteen years later, Oklahoma still ranks 40th in the nation for the number of female members in its state Legislature, and of the 33 women in today’s elected body, 52% are Republicans. The figures do not get any better for Oklahoma when assessing female representation among mayors, county commissioners, district attorneys or Congress. [Lisa Billy and Lee Denney / Tulsa World] OK Policy Executive Director Ahniwake Rose: Correcting this representation imbalance would go a long way toward advancing legislation that supports women and provides us autonomy on matters ranging from the physical to the fiscal.

State Government News

Sunshine week: Open records critical to keeping Oklahoma informed: In honor of Sunshine Week, The Frontier staff is taking a look back at some of the stories we reported over the past year with the help of Oklahoma’s open records and open meetings laws. [The Frontier]

Civil rights groups, activists closely watching bills to restrict protesting in Oklahoma: Civil rights groups and activists say Oklahoma is not alone in considering a flurry of anti-protest legislation after protests last year over the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. [Public Radio Tulsa]

OU graduates building website to change the conversation between Oklahoma lawmakers, voters: In an era where social media dialogue often quickly devolves from talking to yelling, two University of Oklahoma graduates are trying to change the conversation. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

New law: Paid leave for vaccination, recovery: In light of the travel and other factors that may place a burden on workers, the latest round of federal coronavirus relief, dubbed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, expands qualified reasons for paid sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to include employees’ time spent obtaining and recovering from the vaccine. [The Journal Record]

Despite criticism, confirmation of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland makes history: The U.S. Senate made history Monday with its confirmation of Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) as the next interior secretary, making her the first Native American to head a Cabinet agency. [NonDoc]

Two serving life without parole get new trial under McGirt as another pending murder case is moved to federal court: Two men serving life without parole for unrelated killings and another man charged in the death of his uncle face murder complaints in Tulsa federal court in anticipation that their state cases will be dropped or overturned. [Tulsa World]

Lankford Sticks To Religious Opposition To Equality Act During Judiciary Committee Hearing: As the Judiciary Committee held a hearing Wednesday on the Equality Act, Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford laid out his case for opposing it on religious grounds. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Democrats Introduce Federal Resolution Commemorating Race Massacre Centennial, Condemning Racism: Democrats in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have introduced a resolution in each chamber that would recognize the 100-year anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and condemn historic and ongoing systemic racism. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Health News

Oklahoma becomes 1st state to expand Medicaid coverage to include opioid treatment: The federal government has approved the expansion of Medicaid coverage in Oklahoma to pay for different treatments. Oklahoma is now the first state in the entire country to offer this coverage and state leaders said it’s a big help. [News 9]

Oklahoma outsources newborn screenings as public health lab moves from OKC to Stillwater: The Oklahoma State Department of Health said the change is temporary after the lab’s director discovered inconsistencies in the testing and realized Oklahoma wasn’t screening for a rare genetic marker that is included in newborn screenings in most states, according to a news release. [The Oklahoman]

Latest teen birth numbers show slight increase for Tulsa County: Following a decade of dramatic decline, teen birth rates in Tulsa County inched up slightly in 2019, according to state data released this week. The county birth rate for the year was 25.5 per 1,000 females age 15-19, up from 24.2 in 2018. Females age 19 and younger accounted for 530 births in Tulsa County in 2019, compared to 500 the previous year. The county rate comes in lower than the state’s 27.4, but still is well above the national rate of 16.6. [Tulsa World]

Roe Fund Board Member Kurt Gwartney Speaks With KWGS About Access To Abortion Care In Oklahoma: The Roe Fund, an arm of the Oklahoma Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, is a Tulsa-based nonprofit that provides direct financial assistance to Oklahomans seeking abortions. Board member Kurt Gwartney spoke with Public Radio Tulsa’s Chris Polansky about what they do, the state of reproductive rights in Oklahoma, and how those intersect. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Criminal Justice News

Jury awards man $175,000 in excessive force lawsuit against Tulsa County jail: A jury has awarded a Tulsa man the maximum amount permitted in a lawsuit that alleged a jail detention officer smashed his face into a wall and fractured his knee while he was being detained inside the Tulsa County jail. [Tulsa World]

Education News

No Letter Grade: Evaluating Oklahoma Public Schools Without A-F: There will be no school report cards this year, one of many disruptions caused by COVID-19. That’s because the grades rely significantly on student test scores, and exams were canceled last spring. The Board of Education in January approved pausing the Oklahoma School Report Cards for the 2019-20 school year, though graduation data will still be displayed. But there are other ways the public can evaluate a school using records and data. [Oklahoma Watch]

Oklahoma public schools awarded $1.5 billion in federal COVID-19 stimulus aid: Oklahoma public schools will receive $1.5 billion in stimulus funds this month, nearly doubling the amount of federal aid distributed to school districts since the COVID-19 pandemic began. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Eleven Oklahoma County jail inmates accused of beating another inmate with broom handle [The Oklahoman]
  • Much at stake for City of OKC, OKCPS in April 6 election — Are you ready? [Free Press OKC]
  • Enid ends mask mandate, approves electric scooter ordinance addition [Enid News & Eagle]

Quote of the Day

“[T]he ‘it’s cheaper to do business here’ mantra is an inadequate lure when our state won’t meaningfully invest in the long-term well-being of our friends and neighbors.”

–Ahniwake Rose, OK Policy Executive Director, on the proposal to cut state revenue by phasing out corporate taxes and reducing individual income taxes. [The Journal Record]

Number of the Day

3 days

Number of days HB 2041 went from a shell bill (containing no content) to being amended into its current 66-page bill and being approved by the Oklahoma House.

[Source: OK House of Representatives]

Policy Note

Tax cuts and economic stimulus: how effective are the alternatives?: Corporate tax cuts that do not make new investments more profitable are unlikely to have much effect on investment or consumer spending, especially when the economy is in a recession, and the effect of corporate rate cuts is likely small. [Congressional Research Service]

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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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