In The Know: Senate Republicans call for hiking motor fuels taxes as special session opens

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.

Today In The News

Senate Republicans call for hiking motor fuels taxes as special session opens: Senate Republicans on Monday proposed increasing the gasoline and diesel tax as one way of plugging the budget hole that brought lawmakers back to the Capitol for a special session. Lawmakers met briefly in separate chambers Monday for the start of a special session called by Gov. Mary Fallin after the Oklahoma Supreme Court said lawmakers had violated the law in passing a $1.50 cigarette tax as a “fee” during the regular session [Tulsa World]. No agreement was made after the first day of special session [Oklahoma Watch]. Lawmakers have good revenue options for special session if they have the will to use them [OK Policy].

McCall: Cigarette tax ‘first priority,’ GPT not focus right now: After Oklahoma’s 56th Legislature gaveled in this afternoon for the state’s first special session since 2013, House of Representatives leadership said passage of the storied $1.50 cigarette tax is top priority in filling a $215 million budget hole. “First priority of the House (…) will be to take up the tobacco tax,” House Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka) said Monday. “That is the issue that will fix the hole that’s been created, and to the extent we can do that, that dictates other conversations we’ll have.” [NonDoc]

As Legislature gathers, Oklahomans await results: When the compressor broke on the industrial refrigerator at the Cocina De Mino Mexican restaurant in south Oklahoma City, co-owner Tim Wagner faced a $5,000 replacement or a quick fix for around $1,500. “I just went ahead and paid for a new one because you can’t always put a Band-Aid on problems,” said Wagner, sitting in his windowless office behind the kitchen, between stacks of purchase orders and food inventory lists [NewsOK]. The special session started quietly [Journal Record].

Fallin says she won’t accept any more cuts to state budget: Gov. Mary Fallin has given the Oklahoma Legislature fair warning. As lawmakers prepared to come into special session to deal with a budget hole of more than $200 million for the fiscal year that started July 1, Fallin promised a veto for any proposals to cut appropriations to state agencies. That only leaves lawmakers with one solution to the budget hole: more revenue [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]. Finding new revenue sources must be part of the equation [Editorial Board / Enid News]. 

Oklahoma families worry about cuts to disability services: Austin Reynolds is a man of few words, but his mom, Rebecca Reynolds, can see what his job means to him in his face when he gets ready to leave for work. Austin, 27, is one of nearly 1,500 adults statewide who benefit from the in-home support waiver, which was developed to give people with disabilities an alternative to living in institutions [NewsOK]. Care for seniors, people with disabilities is at risk as DHS grapples with budget shortfall [OK Policy].

GOP senators unveil new ‘Dreamers’ bill: A new Senate GOP proposal released Monday would create a pathway to legalization for so-called Dreamers, but it wouldn’t allow them to sponsor family members to the United States — one of several provisions that make the bill far more conservative than other relief measures for young undocumented immigrants. The chief writers of the bill — Republican Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and James Lankford of Oklahoma — have touted their plan as a more GOP-friendly vision for the fate of young undocumented immigrants in the United States, especially compared to the DREAM Act, which was introduced by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) [Politico]. Congress must pass the Dream Act to protect young Oklahomans and our economy [OK Policy].

Small-town clash between police, men on UTV leaves one person paralyzed and a host of unanswered questions: Night had fallen by the time Kyle Lindsey and Zayne Mann climbed into a UTV and left a gas station on the outskirts of Webbers Falls. Lindsey headed south on Highway 100, crossed a bridge over Interstate 40, and made his way to where the road turned to gravel as it curved to the right ahead of him in the dark. In a federal lawsuit filed last month, attorneys for Lindsey and Mann wrote that’s where the two met Officer Brandon Hyler [The Frontier].

State board set to vote on order sending water from Sardis Lake to Oklahoma City: The Oklahoma Water Resources Board will consider granting a long-delayed application by the City of Oklahoma City to begin withdrawing water flowing from Sardis Lake and the Kiamichi River in southeastern Oklahoma. On Monday, an OWRB hearing officer issued a proposed board order that would grant Oklahoma City’s application to pull 115,000 acre-feet, or around 37.5 billion gallons, of water annually from Sardis Lake and the Kiamichi River for municipal use by the city and the city’s current and future wholesale and retail water customers [The Frontier].

Many Oklahoma Residents Without Jobs: Many Oklahoma residents are out of the workforce despite the state’s low unemployment rates. About 25 percent of state residents between ages 25 and 54 don’t have a job, the Tulsa World reported . Shelley Cadamy is the executive director of Workforce Tulsa, an organization connecting workers with businesses. Cadamy said the state has more jobs than qualified applicants. “I’ve been trying to figure out the secret sauce to get people back into the workforce for a long time,” Cadamy said. “We need them.” [Associated Press]

Anger, frustration expressed at rally for deaf man killed by police: A diverse group numbering more than 100 gathered Sunday outside the steps of Oklahoma City City Hall to protest the shooting death of Magdiel Sanchez. Deaf and developmentally disabled, Sanchez was killed Tuesday night by an Oklahoma City police officer [NewsOK].

Richardson puts $1 million of his own money into Oklahoma gubernatorial campaign: Saying he’s “in it to win,” Tulsa attorney Gary Richardson issued a news release Sunday announcing that he has put $1 million of his own money into his campaign for governor. “I refuse to be beholden to the special interest groups that have poured millions into the governor’s race,” Richardson said. “The people of Oklahoma are my only special interest group.” Richardson, a Republican, said he would welcome small contributions from people across the state [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“We knocked close to 10,000 doors (during the campaign) and a lot of the feedback we were getting from the voters was they were not happy with the way things ended this year during the regular session. They were not happy that the education funding issue didn’t get solved or even really attempted. That was punted.”

– Mike Edwards, chairman of the Cleveland County Republican Party (Source)

Number of the Day


Out of all Oklahoma workers whose jobs are covered by a union or an employee association contract, the percentage who are not members of that union or association.

Source: OK Policy analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

2020 Census Funding: This Chart Says It All: A Census doesn’t happen all at once. While the Census year itself is the most expensive, the Census Bureau has to ramp up for the big count with a decade-long cycle of spending. We can model that cycle by looking at spending each year relative to each decade’s year 1. But there’s no sign that 2020 Census funding is ramping up this year [The Census 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.

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