Weekly Wonk: Every voice matters when shaping public policy | Rolling back SQ 780 would be expensive and ineffective | 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

Policy Matters: Every voice matters when shaping public policy: Every voice matters when it comes to shaping public policy. This was on display earlier this year when an outcry from advocates helped shelve draconian changes to the state’s commutation process. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

Rolling back SQ 780 would be expensive and not address underlying problems (Capitol Update): There is no doubt that retail businesses are vulnerable to theft. A perfect solution has yet to be found anywhere in any state. But one must wonder if the solution Oklahomans passed in SQ 780 has been given a fair chance to work. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Upcoming Opportunities

March 19, 6:00 p.m. [Tuesday]

ONLINE AFFINITY GROUP: Safe Communities (Criminal Justice Reform)


The Safe Communities Affinity Group is for advocates of criminal justice reform in Oklahoma. This statewide group meets online regularly in the spring to discuss legislation, share resources, and plan community outreach. 

Learn more about affinity groups here, or contact Southeast Regional Organizer Roxanne Logan for more information.

March 20, 6:00 p.m. [Wednesday]

ONLINE AFFINITY GROUP: Thriving Families (Hunger, Housing, and More)


The Thriving Families Affinity Group is for advocates of policies that help all Oklahomans thrive, including access to affordable housing and nutritious food. This statewide group meets online regularly in the spring to discuss legislation, share resources, and plan community outreach. 

Learn more about affinity groups here, or contact Northeast Regional Organizer Austin Webb for more information.

March 27, 6:00 p.m. [Wednesday]

ONLINE AFFINITY GROUP: Healthy Oklahomans (Health Care Access & Availability)

The Healthy Oklahomans Affinity Group works to safeguard and expand health care access in Oklahoma. This statewide group meets online regularly in the spring to discuss legislation, share resources, and plan community outreach related to health care reform in Oklahoma. 

Learn more about affinity groups here, or contact Southwest Regional Organizer Katie Applegate for more information.

April 25, 9:00 a.m. [Thursday]


Join advocates and community activists from all across the state on Thursday, April 25, for our 2024 Day of Action at the State Capitol, hosted by OK Policy and Together Oklahoma. Tap into your political power and work toward changes that make our communities safer, healthier, and more equitable.

Day of Action at the Capitol
Second Floor Rotunda | Oklahoma State Capitol
2300 N Lincoln Blvd. | Oklahoma City
Check-in begins at 9:00 a.m. | Event starts at 10:00 a.m.

[Learn More] | [Register]

Weekly What’s That

Engrossed Bill

A bill that passes out of one chamber is engrossed, and then sent to the other chamber. If the bill passes the second chamber but not in its final form (e.g. it has been amended or has had its title or enacting clause stricken), it will again be engrossed. A bill that passes both chambers in its final form is enrolled.

To find the engrossed version of a bill, go to the Legislature’s website, click on Legislation, select Basic Bill Search, enter the bill number (make sure to select the correct session and include HB for a House Bill or SB for a Senate Bill), and choose the “Versions” tab.

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

Quote of the Week

“The Bible contains over 2,000 passages instructing us to protect the poor. It’s time we did.”

-Sister Diane Koorie and the Rev. Jon Middendorf, writing in an op-ed about why supporting the Child Tax Credit is morally important while also providing economic stability for families and communities. [The Oklahoman]

Editorial of the Week

Editorial, Tahlequah Daily Press: Statistics for Oklahoma women don’t bode well:

When it comes to issues that affect women, a recent study confirms Oklahoma is at the bottom of the barrel. Tell us something we didn’t know.

WalletHub is one of those entities that conducts surveys on various topics. Sometimes (our paper) uses such surveys to create local stories, but when the aggregators demand publicity, it complicates the situation. However, The Oklahoman last week combined some of the data to conclude that things don’t look so good for women in the Sooner state.

According to The Oklahoman, 25 key indicators were used in the survey, including living standards, which ranged from typical earnings for female workers, to health care, and to the homicide rates. Oklahoma came in next to last in the economic and social well-being listings for women, with only Louisiana riding drag. As far as women’s health care and safety, the winds of poor health care and safety came sweeping down the plains in last place.

WalletHub isn’t the only survey outfit to confirm the sad data. America’s Health Rankings, in 2021, said 20.5% of Oklahoma women ages 19-44 don’t have either private or public health insurance. This is true despite the availability of so-called “Obamacare.” As far as health care and insurance goes, we might well ask which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Insurance in Oklahoma is not affordable – at least, not in a state when women are paid so poorly. And health care costs are especially high because when many patients can’t pay, the costs are passed along to those who can pay.

What about women being murdered? Oklahoma ties Alaska, Arkansas and Wyoming in terms of sheer numbers. Help In Crisis advocates could probably confirm this statistic easily. This agency has its hands full dealing with battered women and their children in four counties. In 2020, according to the Violence Policy Center, as cited by The Oklahoman, 66 women were murdered by men in this state.

None of this will change, until more women express their opinions at the ballot box. And that seems to be a tall order.

The data reported by The Oklahoman indicates Oklahoma came in at 46th in the country for the percentage of women who cast ballots in the 2020 presidential election. Only Alabama, Arkansas, South Dakota and West Virginia fared worst. That’s a study in irony, because those are all red states. Or, perhaps not; the study indicated that overall, blue states were more “woman-friendly” than red states. As for any woman who disagrees with that assertion, we have some swampland in Arizona that might interest her.

When the most high-profile female on the national scene are the embarrassment to the rest of the women, it doesn’t bode well for progress. It also sends a disturbing message that many women don’t vote, or when they do, they vote against their own best interest. It should be clear to anyone keeping up with current events that most of the Legislature – and indeed, Congress – isn’t interested in what women think, or need. That has to change, but women have to make it happen.

[Editorial / Tahlequah Daily Press]

Numbers of the Day

  • 3 – Oklahoma law sets the minimum amount of notice a tenant must receive for their court date at three days. This means a person could miss their rent on the 1st, and find out on the 8th that they have court in three days that could result in them becoming homeless. [Oklahoma Access to Justice Foundation via OK Policy]
  • 10.56% – Federal pandemic relief funds for education — known as Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) — would represent more than 10% of the state’s pre-pandemic (2018-19) education budget. States with a higher percentage of ESSER funds relative to pre-pandemic education budgets are expected to feel the expiration of these federal funds most deeply. Oklahoma ranked 13th highest by this metric. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]
  • -7% – A study of 23 cities around the U.S. showed shoplifting incidents reported to police declined 7% during the first half of 2023 when compared to the first half of 2019. Including New York City in that data set increased the rate of reported shoplifting rate by 16%. [Council on Criminal Justice]
  • 71 – The number of cents on the dollar that women earn compared with men at the same education level. [Census Bureau via Associated Press]
  • 16th – Oklahoma has the nation’s 16th most regressive tax system, which means lower-income residents pay a larger percentage of their income to taxes than high-income individuals. Regressive tax systems tend to have a disproportionate impact on lower-income individuals because they impose a higher burden on their limited financial resources. [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy]

What We’re Reading

  • Tax cuts fail again in Kansas and Wisconsin; lawmakers should pivot to proven investments: The governors of both Kansas and Wisconsin recently stood up to legislators who tried to push through costly tax cuts that would overwhelmingly benefit the most well-off. Lawmakers in those states and others should shift their focus from expensive, top-heavy tax cuts to tried and true policies that help middle-class and low-income families. [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy]
  • Expiration of Federal K-12 Emergency Funds Could Pose Challenges for States: The final round of federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds is set to end soon: states must commit the funds by September 2024. ESSER funds account for a significant share of current education dollars, which puts schools at risk of shortfalls when these funds lapse. The financial impact of the expiration of ESSER funds for states and school districts will be exacerbated by several factors: costly state tax cuts, the diversion of resources to school vouchers, inadequate school funding formulas, elevated costs, and an uncertain revenue outlook. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]
  • Myth vs. Reality: Trends in Retail Theft: Trends in retail theft are more difficult to assess, in part because of varying data collection and theft reporting methods. That said, the available crime data and industry figures cut against claims of a national increase in retail theft, despite notable spikes in some cities. Regardless, policymakers must take concerns about retail theft seriously. But responding requires a better understanding of the data — and the careful separation of myth from reality. [Brennan Center for Justice]
  • Getting a Good Job Depends More on Race and Gender than Education: Conventional wisdom dictates that the key to a better quality, higher-paying job is more education. Generally, this hypothesis holds true—those who go to college make more than those who don’t, and those who earn graduate degrees tend to have the highest wages. But looking closer, a different picture emerges. When broken out by race and gender—even after decades of increased educational attainment by people of color—job-quality disparities remain. [Urban Institute]
  • Eliminating Income Taxes Would Be an Expensive Giveaway: With the 2024 state legislative season in full swing, anti-tax special interests and their allies in state capitals are up to their usual tricks, but with an alarming twist. Governors and legislative leaders in a dozen states have made calls to fully eliminate their taxes on personal or corporate income, after many states already deeply slashed them over the past few years. The public deserves to know the true impact of these plans, which would inevitably result in an outsized windfall to states’ richest taxpayers, more power in the hands of wealthy households and corporations, extreme cuts to basic public services, and more deeply inequitable state tax codes. Policymakers should immediately hit the brakes. [Governing]


Annie Taylor joined OK Policy as a Digital Communications Associate/Storybanker in April 2022. She studied journalism and mass communication at the University of Oklahoma, and was a member of the Native American Journalists Association. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communications from the University of Central Oklahoma. While pursuing her degree, she worked in restaurant and retail management, as well as freelance copywriting and digital content production. Annie is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation, and holds a deep reverence for storytelling in the digital age. She was born and raised in southeast Oklahoma, and now lives in Oklahoma City with her dog, Melvin.