In the Know: Republican leaders agree on budget with no income tax cut | U.S. Department of Justice sues Oklahoma over immigration law | Supt. Ryan Walters further restricts public comment at board meetings | Poverty is a policy choice

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

OK Policy Statement, Re: Budget Agreement Announced on May 22, 2024: Statement below from Shiloh Kantz, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, about the budget agreement announced by legislative leaders on May 22, 2024: “ While we’re heartened that initial signs point to lawmakers protecting state revenue as a result of these negotiations, Oklahomans who want to continue following the process should keep an eye out on the upcoming meetings of the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget (JCAB), the Senate, and the House to ensure public agreements match the final state budget this year.” [Shiloh Kantz / OK Policy]

Policy Matters: Poverty is a policy choice: With nearly 1 in 6 adults — and 1 in 5 children — living in poverty, Oklahoma ranks among the nation’s poorest states. This is not because of bad luck or the character of our people. In many cases, our persistent poverty traces back to policy decisions from state leaders. And many times, our state leaders fail to act because more of us aren’t demanding they do so. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

DOJ Sues Oklahoma Over HB 4156: Challenges Immigration Law: The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is suing Oklahoma, challenging House Bill 4156 under the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause and Foreign Commerce Clause. The justice department called for a declaration for Oklahoma to invalidate HB 4156 and refrain from enforcing the law. [The Black Wall Street Times]

  • Oklahoma House speaker: Immigration law not racial profiling [NewsNation]

FY 2025 state budget deal: Slew of capital projects, sheriff funding, $25 million for #oklaed: Two days after negotiations blew up for the second time in a row, leaders of the Oklahoma Legislature struck an FY 2025 state budget deal Wednesday afternoon that included four items requested by Gov. Kevin Stitt in exchange for assurances he will not veto budget bills. [NonDoc]

  • Budget deal reached after Stitt backs off on income tax cut push [Tulsa World]
  • House, Senate GOP leaders reach agreement on budget — with no income tax cut [The Oklahoman]
  • Gov. Stitt gives up on income tax cut, Oklahoma lawmakers strike budget deal [KOSU]
  • Oklahoma lawmakers reach budget agreement [Journal Record]
  • Oklahoma leaders deal strike deal on budget agreement [Oklahoma Voice]

State Government News

Executive nominations for the Oklahoma Veterans Commission clear Senate committee: The executive nominations of Brett S. Martin and Daniel Orr to the Oklahoma Veterans Commission were unanimously approved Wednesday by the Senate Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs. [Tulsa World]

New law could reduce sentences for Oklahoma domestic violence victims who commit crimes: Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a measure that would let judges give criminal defendants who are domestic violence victims lighter sentences if they can prove prior abuse contributed to the crime. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Oklahoma Survivors’ Act could lead to lighter criminal sentences for some survivors of abuse [KOSU]

Tim Gatz wins Senate committee approval for Transportation post despite senator’s objection: The embattled director of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation could see his tenure at the agency continue after a Senate committee voted 8-1 to advise and consent to his nomination. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: New law creates fund to make Oklahoma homes safer in harsh weather: The frequency of these storms, coupled with rising inflation, has strained the state’s insurance market, pushing Oklahoma to the top of the list for the highest homeowner insurance rates in the nation. [Rep. Mark Tedford / Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

FBI, other officials warn terror groups could target LGBTQ Pride Month events: Federal authorities have issued a public service alert warning that foreign terrorist organizations may potentially target LGBTQ “events and venues” during Pride Month in June. [USA Today via The Oklahoman]

Members of the U.S. Senate face a vote on whether they support contraception access: The chamber would vote on the bill in June. Supporters say it would help to bolster women’s reproductive rights at a crucial time. [Oklahoma Voice]

USDA chief voices ‘deep concerns’ over U.S. House GOP farm bill’s nutrition cuts: The legislation would tie the agency’s hands in responding to natural disasters affecting farmers and force USDA to rely on Congress to enact disaster assistance, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. [Oklahoma Voice]

Tribal Nations News

Cherokee Nation special election will decide fate of constitutional convention: A Cherokee Nation special election is coming up and voters will decide whether to re-frame the Cherokee Constitution. Ratified in 1839, the Cherokee Constitution hasn’t been amended since 2003. It covers an array of topics. One is a requirement to conduct a special election every twenty years to consider amendments via a constitutional convention. [KOSU]

Tribal roundup: Tahdooahnippah new Comanche Nation chairman; Cherokee, Seneca-Cayuga, Iowa elections loom: Across Oklahoma, tribal governments are holding their 2024 election cycles, with the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes and the Peoria Tribe and the Apache Tribe having already concluded their contests. [NonDoc]

Voting and Election News

OKC ballot to include hotel tax increase proposal: Voters will decide this summer whether to increase the city’s hotel tax from 5.5% to 9.25%. The Oklahoma City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to put the question on the Aug. 27 ballot. [Journal Record]

Health News

Oklahoma included in Pedigree dog food recall. See if your pet’s food is affected: Oklahoma is one of four states where certain bags of Pedigree dog food are being recalled from store shelves. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Having a baby? You need to read this: Postpartum depression is a real condition: In the quiet corners of our communities, behind closed doors adorned with what we think of in society as the innocence of newborn smiles and the celebration of a new life, lies a battle often fought in solitude. [Sarah McFadden / The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Advocates demand governor, Legislature look closer at Oklahoma Department of Corrections: Criminal justice advocates rallied at the Oklahoma state Capitol Wednesday, demanding the governor and the Legislature take a closer look at the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. [The Oklahoman]

Judge dismisses domestic violence charge against city councilor: Tulsa City Councilor Grant Miller’s misdemeanor domestic violence charge has been dismissed. Prosecutors accused Miller of kicking his wife into a dresser and grabbing and pushing her during a confrontation. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Governor Stitt vetoes an increase of police retirement funds ‘Down 80 to 90 percent’: One bill that would help with law enforcement retention, would have been SB 102. That’s until the governor vetoed that bill that passed through the Senate and the House in overwhelming fashion. [KTUL]

Trooper fired amid criminal case was disciplined before, agency records show: An Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper who was charged Monday with sexual assault during a traffic stop has prior documented disciplinary findings of similar inappropriate behaviors dating back nearly two decades with the agency. [Tulsa World]

Victory for Del City: OKC Council Denies Jail Permit Amid Outcry: The Oklahoma City Council voted 7-1 in a motion to deny the special zoning jail permit for the proposed Oklahoma County Jail at 1901 East Grand Blvd. Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt was the only one who voted to approve the permit. [Black Wall Street Times]

Housing & Economic Opportunity News

More than 380 Oklahoma County residents on daily eviction court docket: More than 380 Oklahoma County residents are on the eviction court docket Thursday, more than double the amount a single judge normally sees each day. [KOCO5]

  • Oklahoma County Court faces increased eviction cases ahead of Memorial Day [Fox25]

Economy & Business News

Oklahoma’s wheat harvest is under way. How’s it looking?: Winter wheat is Oklahoma’s top crop, and its harvest has begun in the state. Each year, it makes up more than half of the cash receipts from all crops.  [KOSU]

Education News

Ryan Walters sets new rules for public comment ahead of Thursday’s board meeting: “Speakers for public comments will be chosen at random and limited in number. Unless necessary for healthcare, childcare, or ADA purposes backpacks, purses, and similar items are not permitted in the State Department of Education building for Board meetings,” Oklahoma schools Superintendent Ryan Walters said Wednesday regarding public comment at Oklahoma State Board of Education meetings. [The Oklahoman]

  • Department of Education updates public comment policy, restricts items, limits speakers [Fox25]

Oklahoma bill may allow credit for religious instruction during school hours: If signed into law House Bill 1425 would allow public school students to receive school credit for attending religious or moral instruction during school hours. [KTUL]

Community News

Oklahoma City Human Rights Commission, CAIR host bystander intervention training: Bystander intervention is a way to diffuse conflict and help people stop harmful behaviors. Oklahoma City’s Human Rights Commission hosted a bystander intervention training with the Council on American Islamic Relations on Wednesday at the Ronald J. Norwick Downtown Library. [KOSU]

Local Headlines

  • Boy killed in auto-pedestrian crash in Broken Arrow [Tulsa World]
  • Edmond ‘bike bus’ puts a healthy spin on kids’ school commute [KGOU]
  • Oklahoma authorities seize more than 17,500 marijuana plants [The Oklahoman]
  • Elementary student from Stilwell finalist in Google Doodle contest with artwork expressing hope for peace [Tulsa Public Radio]
  • Tulsa police chief search narrowed to five candidates [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“By keeping the Democratic Leaders out of the public budget discussion process, issues important to Oklahomans have not been prioritized, such as affordable and accessible child care, addressing hunger by providing free school lunches to students across our state, and investing in health care to ensure people can access physicians and the care they need.”

-House Democratic Leader Cyndi Munson said in a press release yesterday addressing the budget agreement settled solely by Republican leaders. 

Number of the Day


Inflation has increased 46% since July 2009, the last time the federal minimum wage was raised to its current level of $7.25 per hour. Oklahoma’s state minimum wage is currently tied to the federal minimum wage. [OK Policy]

Policy Note

A tight labor market and state minimum wage increases boosted low-end wage growth between 2019 and 2023: The labor market recovery from the pandemic recession has been tremendous and low-wage workers have been key recipients of those gains, with dramatically fast real wage growth between 2019 and 2023 as we found in our recent report. These gains were due in part to several large spending bills passed during the pandemic—including the vital American Rescue Plan—which provided relief to workers and their families to help them weather the recession and fed the surge in employment. After losing their jobs in record numbers during the initial shock of the pandemic, low-wage workers found better job opportunities and experienced unusually strong leverage to see fast wage growth as employers scrambled to hire workers in the recovery. [Economic Policy Institute]

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Kandis West is a communications professional with more than 15 years of experience. Most recently, she served as the Communications Director for the Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus. She spent nine years in the Olympia/Tacoma area of Washington organizing compensation campaigns for teachers for the Washington Education Association. Kandis has a proven track record of increasing community engagement, public awareness and media exposure around the most pressing issues that impact citizens. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism.