The Weekly Wonk: Olivia Hooker’s legacy; early bill filings; economic optimism; and more…

What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.

This Week from OK Policy

In his weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt wrote about the need to honor Olivia Hooker’s legacy and continue to repair the enduring traumas and divisions caused by the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update looked at early bill fillings and what they could mean for the new legislature. 

OK Policy in the News

Blatt spoke with The Journal Record about a new economic report that is bringing optimism ahead of the legislative session. The Enid News & Eagle ran Policy Director Carly Putnam’s piece on Oklahoma’s opportunities to reduce the rate of uninsured children. 

Weekly What’s That

Motor Vehicle Taxes, What’s That?

Oklahoma’s motor vehicle taxes are a combination of an excise (sales) tax on the purchase of a vehicle and an annual registration fee in lieu of ad valorem (property) taxes. Until 2017, motor vehicles were fully exempt from the sales tax, but under HB 2433, the exemption was partially lifted and motor vehicles became subject to a 1.25 percent sales tax. The state’s current motor vehicle taxes are based on State Question 691, approved in 2000 by an 80 percent vote. Only the state collects motor vehicle taxes, which are split between the state general revenue fund, schools, local governments, and several other small uses. Click here to read more.

Look up more key terms to understand Oklahoma politics and government here.

Quote of the Week

“I don’t have to go back this time. I get to go home with you guys.”

-Juanita Peralta, speaking to her 4 children after her sentence of 15 years for simple drug possession was commuted. Peralta was among 23 Oklahomans highlighted by a campaign to help some of those serving excessive prison sentences for low-level offenses. Gov. Fallin commuted sentences for 21 of those Oklahomans on Wednesday. [Source: Tulsa World]

Editorial of the Week

Wayne Greene: My take on what happens when you fill the Capitol with a bunch of freshmen legislators

When he was running for governor, Kevin Stitt said that we can’t expect different results in state government if we keep hiring the same people. We’re going to have a chance to give that proposition the acid test real soon. My colleague, Randy Krehbiel, recently reported that 11 of 48 senators and 46 of 101 House members in the 2019 Legislature will be newcomers. All together, 37 percent of the players on the field will be rookies. Almost 70 percent will have four years or less of legislative experience. [Tulsa World]

Numbers of the Day

  • -4.7% – Decrease in reports of larceny in Oklahoma from 2016 to 2017.
  • 113% – The percentage of their intended inmate capacity that Oklahoma’s public prisons are holding in 2018.
  • 37 – Number of counties in Oklahoma where the median household income decreased from 2016 to 2017, while it increased in 40 counties.
  • 82,000 – Estimated number of uninsured children in Oklahoma, enough to nearly fill the OU football stadium.
  • $7,247,797 – Amount of revenue the Broken Arrow Public Schools lost due to business tax abatements in FY 2017, the most of any Oklahoma district that reported its tax abatement losses.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Voters want criminal justice reform. Are politicians listening? [The Marshall Project]
  • Another 3,815 Arkansans lost Medicaid in November due to rigid work requirement. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]
  • During Obamacare enrollment in the Trump Era, states face greater challenges. [Governing]
  • A Trump immigration rule could devastate rural hospitals. [Talk Poverty]
  • Countering the geography of discontent: Strategies for left-behind places. [Brookings]


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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