In The Know: Oklahoma House advances payday loan bill

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.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including the Legislative Primer and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

Oklahoma House advances payday loan bill: A bill that could allow annualized interest of up to 204 percent on some small loans made it through the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Monday despite the opposition of some religious groups and advocacy organizations and a less-than-glowing recommendation from its author. “I don’t like this type of loan any more than you do,” Rep. Chris Kannady, R-Oklahoma City, told the other members as he summed up House Bill 1913. But, Kannady said, the bill is an improvement on current law and better than sending desperate borrowers to unregulated loan sharks [Tulsa World]. The “small loan” created by the bill would mean big debts for Oklahoma families [OK Policy].

Senate passes measure to halt potential second income tax cut: The Oklahoma Senate on Monday passed a measure to eliminate a trigger that could have further reduced the state’s top income tax rate. Senate Bill 170 by Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, passed by a vote of 39-6 with no questions and no debate. The measure moves to the House for consideration. “Right now, we certainly have more outstanding obligations than we have money,” Thompson said [Tulsa World]. The bill would allow the Legislature to avoid another ill-timed tax cut [OK Policy].

Push to Raise Criminal, Civil Court Fees Persists: The push to raise court fees and fines to help pay for the state’s cash-strapped judicial system is not letting up – and that includes not only criminal cases but civil ones. The Oklahoma House passed a bill Tuesday that would charge a $25 fee for lawyers and parties who represent themselves in civil court. Other bills would increase criminal fees. House Bill 2306, which passed 51-42, creates the fees when someone issues a subpoena or files a motion in civil cases to “enter” – a routine move in which the plaintiff formally notifies the court they are ready to move to the trial stage [Oklahoma Watch]. Excessive fees lock Oklahomans into the criminal justice system without boosting state revenue [OK Policy].

“There is a significant disconnect,” Criminal justice reform leaders criticize legislature for trying to overhaul SQ 780: You voted for it. Now, some Oklahoma lawmakers want to undo it. In November, voters passed State Questions 780 and 781, which would reform some drug offenses in Oklahoma. “There is a significant disconnect between the voters of Oklahoma and the state legislature,” said Kris Steele, chairman of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform. Former House Speaker Steele led the push for SQ 780 and 781 [KFOR]. 

Cancellation of inmate contracts creates hardships for county sheriffs in Oklahoma: Tillman County Sheriff Bobby Whittington says cancellation of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ contract to house state inmates in his county jail is a crushing blow that threatens his department’s existence. “It will be a loss of about 25 jobs to our economically strapped, small rural county,” Whittington said. Roger Mills County Sheriff Darren Atha and Craig County Sheriff Heath Winfrey say cancellation of the state contracts with their county jails will create a “significant loss,” but they expect to weather the crisis without layoffs [NewsOK].

Oklahoma Corrections Department halts purchases to save money: After $4 million in spending cuts this year, the Oklahoma prison system has frozen its purchasing program. The decision by Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh does not affect spending on critical day-to-day needs like food, health care and most safety equipment. This is the third major decision in a month made to save money. The agency implemented a hiring freeze after state budget officials announced a mandatory spending cut in February. Last week, Allbaugh canceled 10 contracts to house state inmates in county jails [NewsOK].

Using lawsuits to fund our schools: Is it time to try again? Studying school funding in Arkansas, I investigated the transformation that took place in statewide education following Lake View School District no. 25 v. Huckabee, one in a series of Arkansas Supreme Court decisions that contributed to an overhaul of the school funding system. Moving back to Oklahoma in 2015, colleagues have frequently asked me, “Why are Arkansas schools funded so much better than Oklahoma schools?” My short answer is always: “Lake View.” [Elizabeth Smith / OK Policy].

Hofmeister: Oklahoma School Accountability Won’t Be Affected By New Federal Guidelines: Under a new federal education law, all states are required to come up with plans for keeping their schools accountable. However, last week, U.S. Senators voted to roll back some of the rules within that law. Now, the U.S. Department of Education will no longer tell states how to judge school quality, or how to identify low achieving schools, among other things. State education officials and other stakeholders are currently working on Oklahoma’s accountability plan. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister says these new, looser regulations will not change it [KOSU].

Oklahoma education groups step up pressure for funding plan: Public school advocates are stepping up their pressure on Oklahoma lawmakers to increase education funding and teacher pay, including a call on the Legislature to meet an April 1 deadline. “What we are asking today is that they simply follow the law they passed in 2003,” said Amber England, executive director of Stand for Children Oklahoma, referring to a law that requires an education budget be in place by April 1 [NewsOK].

Half of Oklahoma state parks could close with budget cuts: With state agencies told to brace for significant funding cuts, the tourism industry in Oklahoma is expecting the worst. In an email provided to NewsChannel 4, the director of the the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department told his staff to be prepared should the state be forced to shoulder yet another decrease in funding. At risk of becoming victims of the cuts: 16 state parks, one state golf course, 80 full-time employees, the Oklahoma Today magazine and the Miami Travel Information center [KFOR].

Congress’ analyst: 14M lose coverage under GOP health bill; would grow to 24M by 2026: Fourteen million Americans would lose coverage next year under House Republican legislation remaking the nation’s health care system, and that figure would grow to 24 million by 2026, Congress’ nonpartisan budget analysts projected Monday. The figures dealt a blow to a GOP drive already under fire from both parties and large segments of the medical industry. The report by the Congressional Budget Office flies in the face of President Donald Trump’s aim of “insurance for everybody,” and he has been assailing the credibility of the CBO in advance of the release [Associated Press].

Oklahoma proposes tax break for doctors to stay in rural practice: Doctors who live and work in rural Oklahoma could get a $25,000 income tax break under a proposed law. House Bill 2301 would let medical and osteopathic doctors claim the exemption for income earned in 2018 and later if they live and work in rural areas. Oklahoma has one of the worst doctor-to-patient ratios in the country, said Oklahoma Hospital Association Vice President Rick Snyder. He said a bill like this could help because it would be an incentive for doctors to move to rural Oklahoma or stay there [NewsOK].

With schools on spring break, Legislature pushes back bill deadline: The Oklahoma Legislature will get a spring break this week too. As schools across the state release their students for the week, the state’s lawmakers will cut the week short on Tuesday. Usually, the end of this week would mark the deadline for bills to get off the floor in their original chambers before starting the process in the other, but in January the Legislature voted to push the deadline back a week, said Malia Bennett, spokeswoman for the Senate. They did so to take some time off when their children and grandchildren are out of school, she said [Journal Record].

Presidential election results in turnover in Oklahoma U.S. Attorneys: The top federal prosecutors in Tulsa and Muskogee have submitted their resignations at the request of President Donald Trump’s administration, clearing the way for Trump to make his own appointments to those federal patronage positions. In Oklahoma City, the top federal prosecutor’s position has been vacant for more than a year, so Trump can make an appointment there without the need for a resignation [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“My question … as a practicing lawyer and someone who cares about our citizens’ rights to access the courts without tremendous financial burdens, is, ‘Should this Legislature stop making people pay to access the courthouse and we in the Legislature should properly fund our courts?’”

-House Minority Leader Scott Inman, criticizing several bills that would raise court fees in order to provide funding for the judicial system (Source)

Number of the Day


Percent of children in Oklahoma who have experienced two or more adverse childhood experiences, the highest in the US. The national average is 22% (2011-2012)


See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How Immigrants Make Communities Safer: A trove of empirical research contradicts the notion that immigrants are the violent criminal horde Trump makes them out to be. In fact, studies consistently show that they commit significantly less crime than native-born Americans, and although the data are difficult to untangle, this appears to be true of both authorized and unauthorized immigrants. Even more, new findings suggest that immigrants may actually cause crime to decline in the areas where they live [Marshall Project].

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Ryan Gentzler worked at OK Policy from January 2016 until November 2022. He last served as the organization's Reserach Director and oversaw Open Justice Oklahoma. He began at OK Policy as an analyst focusing on criminal justice issues, including sentencing, incarceration, court fines and fees, and pretrial detention. Open Justice Oklahoma grew out of Ryan’s groundbreaking analysis of court records, which was used to inform critical policy debates. A native Nebraskan, he holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Oklahoma and a BA in Institutions and Policy from William Jewell College. He served as an OK Policy Research Fellow in 2014-2015.

One thought on “In The Know: Oklahoma House advances payday loan bill

  1. If you insist on incarceration without enough state prison space, you have two options: jails and private prisons. If you cut off jails, what does that leave?

    The march continues.

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