Weekly Wonk: Who is a Tribal Citizen? | Steps to improve budget transparency next session | Efforts to reclassify state’s criminal code maybe getting traction | 100th anniversary of American Indian citizenship

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

Tribal-State Policy 101: Tribal Citizenship: While American Indians long predate the establishment of the United States, the federal government has only recognized American Indians as U.S. citizens since 1924. Public policy impacts American Indian citizens in unique, distinct ways. Understanding Tribal citizenship is foundational to better engaging and understanding Tribal-state public policy in Oklahoma. [Vivian Morris / OK Policy]

Policy Matters: Steps to improve budget transparency next session: This legislative session, lawmakers placed great emphasis on budget transparency. It’s been revealing to watch the process unfold, but there are steps lawmakers can take to build on this progress for next year. [Journal Record]

Efforts to reclassify state’s criminal code maybe getting traction (Capitol Update): Providing more realistic guidelines for sentencing, which is lacking in Oklahoma, should provide a meaningful, measurable effect on Oklahoma’s overuse of incarceration. HB 1792, if it passes, could mark a starting point. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Weekly What’s That

Interim Study

Interim studies are studies of legislative and policy issues that may be requested by any member of the House or Senate. They often address issues that have been the subject of legislation that failed to pass in previous sessions, or emerging issues that are deemed worthy of more in-depth consideration.

Interim studies must be requested by House and Senate members by a deadline set by each chamber. The two chambers handle interim study requests differently. In the Senate, the President Pro Tem assigns all interim study requests to the appropriate Senate committee; the committee chair then decides which studies will be heard. In the House, the Speaker decides which  studies to approve or disapprove. In some cases, House study requests on similar subjects are combined into a single study. Some studies may be considered jointly by the House and Senate. In 2023, Senate President Pro Tem approved 61 interim studies while House Speaker Charles McCall approved 85.

Interim studies are typically held from September to November and usually meet at the State Capitol. A committee may devote anywhere from a single hour to several full meetings to each study. Local and national experts may be invited to testify at interim study meetings. Interim studies rarely generate formal reports or recommendations, but their work can guide future legislation.

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

Quote of the Week

“Our power and possibility of achieving self-determination and sovereignty comes from being dual citizens, both U.S. and Tribal citizens. We will provide a path towards sovereignty by exercising both citizenships – at the ballot box and through organizing Native grassroots political power to achieve self-determination and sovereignty.”

– Judith LeBlanc, Executive Director of Native Organizers Alliance, speaking about the importance of dual citizenship for American Indians/Alaska Natives. [Native News Online]

Editorial of the Week

Tulsa World Editorial Board: Lawmakers finalize Oklahoma budget with clear winners, losers

Though the state’s annual budget process was open to the public this past session, it had a typical finale, with agreement reached only in the last few days. As usual, the end result includes winners and losers.

For the first time in memory, the budget was discussed in the open. While some critics point to the theatrics of some lawmakers, it was still better to see who was at the table (and who wasn’t), along with what was said.

Moving forward, we urge lawmakers to keep budget discussions public and open. [Read the full editorial at the Tulsa World website]

Numbers of the Day

  • 75.5% – More than 3 in 4 (75.5%) of Oklahomans in jail are being detained awaiting trial. [R Street]
  • 1 in 4 – About 1 in 4 Oklahomans (1 million) live in areas considered dental health professional shortage areas, as of March 2024. [U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration]
  • -5% – Percentage decrease in Oklahoma’s tax revenue collected for calendar year 2023 versus calendar year 2022. [Urban Institute]
  • 1924 – The year that American Indians were granted U.S. citizenship through the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924. [Native News Online]

What We’re Reading

  • Bail clampdowns don’t match what research says about suspects, experts say: Crime is shaping up as a potent election issue, and one of the key points of debate is over bail: Which suspects should be jailed before trial, and which ones should be released on bond — and for how much money? Some conservatives argue that lenient bail policies put suspects who are likely to commit crimes before their upcoming court hearings, or who might skip bail altogether, back on the street. But some progressives say research does not support that contention. They argue that detaining defendants because they can’t afford financial bonds is unfair, and note that such defendants are disproportionately Black, Latino and low income. [Stateline]
  • Can dental therapists fill the gap in oral care?: Dental therapists have been practicing in other parts of the world for decades, but in the U.S. they are relatively few and far between. Like a hygienist, dental therapists can do cleanings as well as some procedures usually reserved for dentists, like simple extractions. They could also be the solution to getting underserved, rural communities better oral care. Today on the show, new momentum for dental therapy and why the American Dental Association is pushing back. [NPR]
  • State Tax and Economic Review, 2023 Quarter 4: Preliminary data for the first quarter of 2024 suggest ongoing sluggishness in overall state tax revenue collections nationwide, primarily due to continued weakness in personal income tax revenues. Total state tax revenues increased 1.9 percent in nominal terms in the first quarter of 2024 compared with the same period in 2023, with the median state growth at 1.3 percent. [Urban Institute]
  • Celebrating the Centennial of American Indian Citizenship: For most of U.S. history, Native Americans weren’t second-class citizens. In fact, they weren’t even citizens. It wasn’t until June 2, 1924, when Calvin Coolidge signed the Snyder Act, that American Indians were granted U.S. citizenship. With the centennial of American Indian citizenship coming up, Governing spoke with John Echohawk, executive director of the Native American Rights Fund, about civil rights progress since then. [Governing]
    • Native Organizations Announce National Day of Action and Reflection on Citizenship Centennial [Native News Online]
    • NOTE: June 2, 2024 marks the 100-year anniversary of the Indian Citizenship Act, also known as the Snyder Act.

  • From the OK Policy Archives: A lack of data hinders policy efforts to address anti-LGBTQ2S+ discrimination: When it comes to advocating for a marginalized community, particularly one that is as small a minority as our LGBTQ2S+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, and Two-Spirit) community, data is power. Given the importance of data to advocacy efforts, our state government should pursue policies that will further our understanding of anti-LGBTQ2S+ discrimination. [OK Policy]
    • NOTE: June is 2SLGBTQ+ Pride Month


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.