In The Know: Warnings on potential tax cuts | Mitigation efforts kept justice-involved youth safe during pandemic | Gov. Stitt signs ban on transgender athletes

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

Mitigation efforts helped keep our justice-involved youth safer during the pandemic: Justice-involved youth have faced a heightened risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. Youthful offenders, already likely burdened with childhood trauma and the stress of separation from family, faced considerable risks living in shared facilities with other youths during a highly infectious global pandemic. This increased risk was disproportionately placed on Latinx, Black and American Indian youth who are much more likely than their white counterparts to be held in custody. These disparities are the legacy of racial and ethnic oppression and implicit bias in the criminal justice system. COVID-19 could have been a nightmare for youths in custody. Thankfully, the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA) took swift action to ensure the safety of youth in their care while maintaining public safety. [Ashley Harvey and Sabine Brown / OK Policy]

Report: State must look outside juvenile justice system to improve it: A state policy group released a report Monday with recommendations on how to improve the juvenile justice system in Oklahoma. Oklahoma Policy Institute Policy Director Carly Putnam said at a press conference marking the release of “Better Tomorrows” that the report draws on the state’s history to explain current juvenile justice problems. [Public Radio Tulsa

New Report from OK Policy: Better Tomorrows: A Landscape Analysis of Oklahoma’s Youth Justice System and Suggested Reforms reviews the historical context for Oklahoma’s youth justice system, examines contemporary processes and actors within the system, and recommends a series of reforms that can help achieve better outcomes for justice-involved children and their families.

Oklahoma News

Implementation risks lurk in US state 2022 tax cut plans: Substantial tax policy changes can negatively affect revenues and lead to long-term structural budget challenges, especially when enacted all at once in an uncertain economic environment. Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Oklahoma and Virginia have all either enacted, or are considering, permanent tax cuts. Fitch views permanent and immediate cuts as the riskiest to credit. [Fitch Ratings]

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. 

Former Kansas lawmaker urges neighbors to proceed cautiously when considering tax cuts: As a former Kansas legislator who worked to clean up the mess left by sweeping tax cuts in our state, I’ve wanted to cover my eyes lately as several other states, including some of our neighbors, pass or consider their own tax-cut packages. Much was written about what happened here in Kansas after then-Gov. Sam Brownback and the Legislature enacted massive income tax legislation in the early 2010s. The claim at the time was that the tax cuts would cause such great economic growth that it would more than offset any revenue losses. But rather than creating an economic boom, the tax cuts led to huge budget shortfalls that threatened our prosperity. [Nebraska Examiner

Oklahoma Governor signs bill that bans transgender students from playing sports consistent with gender identity: Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed into law Senate Bill 2, a bill preventing transgender students from playing school sports that passed the House last year, and then was revived and rushed through the Senate last week for passage. Against the guidance of leading health experts, the Governor signed the bill in a ceremony alongside anti-equality legislators. [Human Rights Campaign]

State Government News

Bills re-create health care power of attorney law ‘inadvertently deleted’ last year: Oklahoma lawmakers are in the process of re-creating the durable health care power of attorney statutes they accidentally deleted last year. Earlier this month, HB 3815 passed the House 90-0 and SB 1596 passed the Senate 41-3. [NonDoc

(Audio) Long Story Short: A ticking clock for Afghan refugees, poor jail conditions, a threat to direct democracy: Oklahoma Watch reporters provide deeper insight into their recent or upcoming stories: Lionel Ramos about the legal complications faced by Afghan refugees in Oklahoma; Keaton Ross about his investigation into substandard health conditions in Oklahoma jails; Trevor Brown about a package of bills designed to make it harder for the public to put a state question on the ballot. [Oklahoma Watch

Swadley’s Bar-B-Q contract with Oklahoma Tourism, spending at state parks raise questions: Millions in payments to a private business raised enough concerns with lawmakers to prompt a deeper look into the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department’s accounting practices and a contract it issued in 2020. [The Oklahoman

Senate committee approves bill to incentivize teaching field in OK: The Senate Education committee approved a House bill Tuesday that would develop a scholarship program in hopes to incentivize students entering the teaching field. House Bill 3564 is authored by Representative Mark McBride, R-District 53 and Senator Dewayne Pemberton, R-District 9. [KFOR]

Oklahoma Senate approve bills relating to law enforcement agencies, mental health: The Senate gave the go-ahead to two bills regarding law enforcement in Oklahoma. One bill would consolidate state agencies under the Department of Public Safety, and create a Mental Wellness Division, and the other directs the DPS to establish and maintain the Mental Wellness Division. [KFOR

Oklahoma lawmakers hope to lure cryptomining businesses with incentives, tax credits: Through tax credits and incentives in Senate Bill 590, Oklahoma legislators are intending to draw cryptomining businesses to the state. Cryptominers solve complex math equations using computers. [KOSU

Senate committee gives nod to measure modifying jury duty exemptions: The Senate Judiciary Committee gave approval to House Bill 2972 on Tuesday, a measure that would make it easier for Oklahomans to access a medical exemption for jury duty. [The Lawton Constitution]

Voting and Election News

Some OKC residents have new City Council members as council approves new ward map: Over 100,000 Oklahoma City residents now live in a new ward, thanks to city council’s approval this week of a new ward map after a months-long redistricting process. [The Oklahoman

What Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt is doing in Israel: Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt is visiting Israel this week, one of several U.S. mayors on a trip hosted by the American Jewish Committee. The American mayors are participating in Project Interchange, the American Jewish Committee’s nonprofit educational institute. [The Oklahoman

National political influence seen in divide among Edmond schools candidates: In the non-partisan races for Edmond’s Board of Education, one candidate in each district is choosing to stick to divisive cultural themes that are reshaping political campaigns across the country. [The Oklahoman

Putnam City Schools Board president challenged by former teacher: Putnam City Schools Board incumbent Jay Sherrill is being challenged in for reelection by Richenda Bates, a retired teacher who taught Sherrill’s Oklahoma history class when he was a student at Putnam City High School. [NonDoc

OKCPS board candidates debate district challenges: During a forum held Tuesday evening ahead of the April 5 Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education election, candidates Dr. Sharri Coleman and Adrian Anderson discussed the use of police department resource officers in schools, critical race theory and the biggest challenges facing the district. [NonDoc

Health News

(Audio) Memory loss, debilitating fatigue and more: Oklahomans share their experiences with long COVID symptoms: Even though cases are down, thousands of Oklahomans are still dealing with COVID symptoms. As many as one in three who are infected with the virus will continue to have symptoms for weeks — or even months — after recovery. [State Impact Oklahoma

Oklahoma doctor laments COVID death after patient took ‘inappropriate treatments not proven to help’: Oklahoma is in a much better place than a year ago to combat COVID-19 with widely available treatments that are proven effective — but only if used and used early. [Tulsa World

Criminal Justice News

‘This is gonna be so fun,’ TPD officer says before violent arrest of elderly woman in apparent mental health crisis: The Tulsa Police Department is responding after footage of an October arrest was posted to social media in which an officer is seen laughing about an arrestee’s mental health status. [Public Radio Tulsa] In the footage, Tulsa Police Officer Ronni Carrocia can be seen laughing at and provoking 71-year-old Ladona Paris, who was locked in a bathroom and suffering from a manic episode, EMSA medics later confirmed. [The Black Wall Street Times

  • Tulsa police respond after video shows arrest of woman in mental health crisis [Tulsa World

(Audio): The Transcript debuts ‘Protected,’ a podcast exploring Rebecca Hogue’s case: Join host Emma Keith in exploring the criminal justice system that convicted and sentenced Rebecca Hogue, the Norman, Oklahoma mother found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of her son. [The Norman Transcript]

Economy & Business News

Skyrocketing costs are forcing Oklahoma farmers to rethink their 2022 plans: A worsening drought pushed its way east across most of Oklahoma as 2021 wound down, and pandemic-caused fertilizer and weed control chemical shortages drove up prices for both products. [The Oklahoman

Education News

Rural school districts get creative to maintain spirit of popular four day schedule: A 2019 law was designed to limit four-day school weeks across Oklahoma, but those districts are making an effort to keep their four-day calendars alive. [State Impact Oklahoma

This is how three minutes changed an Oklahoma tenured college professor’s life: A tenured college professor wasn’t alarmed when he was summoned to the offices of the university’s leaders just a few days before spring break. He said he walked into the meeting with administrators with a job and left without one in early March, having no knowledge that someone had complained about a guest speaker in his class and his own behavior afterward. [The Oklahoman

Kevin Stitt names Bob Ross to the OU Board of Regents: Gov. Kevin Stitt has nominated Inasmuch Foundation President and CEO Bob Ross for a seven-year term on the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents. [NonDoc

General News

Anti-death penalty advocate weds man on Oklahoma death row: Anti-death penalty advocate Lea Rodger says she is keenly aware of the realities facing her and Richard Glossip, who she married this week inside the Oklahoma State Penitentiary where he sits on death row. [Public Radio Tulsa

Oklahoma Commission on Status of Women names 2022 Guardian award recipients: Lawton Dist. 62 Rep. Daniel Pae is one of two state legislators to receive an award from the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women. Pae and Sen. Darrell Weaver, R-Moore, will receive the 2022 Guardian Award. [The Lawton Constitution]

Oklahoma Local News

Developers offer differing visions for the New Greenwood: Evans-Fintube, a colossal new development complex, is poised to go up in the Historic Greenwood District over the next few years.  The entire look and vibe of the Historic Greenwood District is on the verge of a transformational overhaul. [Oklahoma Eagle] The construction of the project, estimated to cost tens of millions to build and employ hundreds of contractors and other workers, is the biggest construction enterprise in the downtown Tulsa area since the BMX Center. [Oklahoma Eagle

Why a new fire station? Chief Terry Essary explains: Changes are needed as the Stillwater Fire Department adapts to new demands being placed on it and the growth of the city it serves. One of those changes will come more quickly if voters approve a $9 million bond issue on April 5 that would fund construction of a replacement for the historic campus station, Fire Station 2. [Stillwater News Press]

Quote of the Day

“I urge lawmakers in other states to learn from our experience and prioritize protecting those services as they look at ways to deliver relief to residents. Doing so can help head off damaging consequences that will harm your states and your residents in the long run.”

– Jim Karleskint, who served as a Republican member in the Kansas House of Representatives from 2017 to 2020, urging neighbor states to be cautious when considering tax cuts [Nebraska Examiner]

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. 

Number of the Day


American Indian youth are nearly twice as likely to be arrested when compared to white youth, in Fiscal Year 2020. These disparities are the legacy of racial and ethnic oppression and implicit bias in the criminal justice system.

Source: Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs

New Report from OK Policy: Better Tomorrows: A Landscape Analysis of Oklahoma’s Youth Justice System and Suggested Reforms reviews the historical context for Oklahoma’s youth justice system, examines contemporary processes and actors within the system, and recommends a series of reforms that can help achieve better outcomes for justice-involved children and their families.

Policy Note

The Future of Youth Justice: A Community-Based Alternative to the Youth Prison Model: Is America getting what it wants and needs by incarcerating in youth prisons young people who get in trouble with the law? If not, is there a better way? For 170 years, since our first youth correctional institution opened, America’s approach to youth incarceration has been built on the premise that a slightly modified version of the adult correctional model of incarceration, control, coercion, and punishment — with a little bit of programming sprinkled in — would rehabilitate young people. Sometimes the names attempt to camouflage the nature of the facility, but whether they are called “training schools” or “youth centers,” nearly all of these facilities are youth prisons. [National Institute of Justice]

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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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