Weekly Wonk: A look at ARPA proposals | Strengthening state, tribal government relations | 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

Legislature passes ARPA relief proposals; Governor signs 8, vetoes 3, while 21 others pass into law without his signature (Capitol Update): The legislature recessed its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) special session on Sept. 29, giving the governor until last Wednesday (Oct. 5) to act on the bills. Gov. Stitt, largely uninvolved in allocating the $1.8 billion in ARPA funding, had three choices: Sign the bills, veto the bills, or allow them to become law without his signature. During the three-day session, legislators passed 32 measures. The governor acted on only 11 of the measures, signing eight and vetoing three bills. He allowed the remaining 21 bills to become law without his signature. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Policy Matters: Honoring Native cultures, strengthening relations: On Monday this week, Oklahomans around the state celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day by acknowledging the history and honoring the culture of tribes in our state. Alongside the positives, however, we must also face the complex relationship tribes have – both historic and present – with the state and federal governments. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

Upcoming Opportunities

Post-debate panel discussion set for Oct. 19 gubernatorial debate: Lawmakers and representatives from community organizations and the media will discuss state issues during a virtual panel discussion immediately following an Oct. 19 debate for the Oklahoma governor’s race. The Governor’s Debate Panel Discussion is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m., or immediately following “Executive Session,” the Oct. 19 gubernatorial debate between Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt and Democratic State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. [Together Oklahoma]

Weekly What’s That

Tribal Gaming Compacts

In 2004, Oklahoma voters approved SQ 712, which set up a model compact between the state and Native American tribes to regulate tribal gaming operations. Under the compact, tribes were authorized to operate specified games in return for making exclusivity payments to the state. The compacts were signed for a 15-year period. Although Governor Kevin Stitt claimed that the compacts expired at the end of the initial 15-year term in 2019, a federal judge in 2020  ruled that the compacts automatically renewed for another 15 years. In addition, compacts that the Governor  signed in 2020 with several tribes were struck down by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

The tribal gaming compact provides for the state to receive a share of gaming revenues generated by the compacting tribes from Class III games. The state’s share of adjusted gross revenues from electronic games begins at 4 percent and rises to 6 percent once a tribe’s revenue exceeds $20 million. For table games, and for ball and dice games that were authorized as of 2018, the fee is 10 percent.

After an initial $250,000 is allocated to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for gambling education and treatment, 88 percent of gaming revenues go to the 1017 Education Reform Fund, which can be appropriated only to the Department of Common Education, and 12 percent to the General Revenue Fund.

In FY 2021, a total of 33 tribes were operating 133 facilities offering Class III games. Tribal revenue from Class III games and table games was $2.74 billion, of which tribes paid $163.0 million to the state, an all-time high. Over two-thirds of gaming revenue was generated by just four tribes – the Chickasaw Nation, Choctaw Nation, Cherokee Nation, and Muskogee (Creek) Nation. Gaming revenues increased by $39.4 million, or 32 percent, compared to FY 2020, when gaming activity was limited for several months by COVID-19.

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

Quote of the Week

“Tribal sovereignty benefits all Oklahomans. Tribal nations contribute billions to the state’s economy. These issues are a long way from being over and settled. We look forward to challenging any threat to our inherent sovereignty every step of the way.”

– Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief David Hill speaking about the recent Oklahoma Tax Commission ruling that the state could tax wages for tribal citizens who work for tribes and live on tribal land. [NonDoc]

Editorial of the Week

Enid News & Eagle Editorial: Lack of child care options keeping women out of the workforce

There are always a plethora of workplace issues that need improvement in our state, but one topic keeps coming up time and time again — the need for more child care resources in our communities.

Local business leaders met with representatives of the State Chamber’s Employers in Action program this past week to discuss issues employers face. Although we have experienced low unemployment in our state, we still have too many people who could work but are not participating in the workforce. Many of them are women who have no day care options.

This is an issue that is only going to get worse, particularly with the state’s restrictions on abortion. A potential outcome is that more children will be born into vulnerable circumstances, and their mothers will need to be able to make a living and provide for their families.

Many of these women are shift workers who don’t work a typical 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule. They will need child care very early in the mornings or late in the evenings.

Krista Roberts, St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center chief executive officer, said for her hospital the “6 a.m. to 6 p.m. shift work causes problems for day care with our employees.”

But it’s not just shift workers effected. Many professional women also are electing to stay home instead of contributing their talents because of the lack of affordable and accessible child care.

As with everything else, the COVID-19 pandemic squeezed many child care services out of business.

Some solutions that were brought up during the pandemic, but could still be helpful, include:

  • Consider subsidies for child care centers or subsidies for parents who need child care in order to participate in the workforce.
  • Ensure child care providers have access to a variety of benefits, such as direct grants, zero-interest loans, mortgage forbearance, deferral of rents and support for utilities and insurance for a minimum of three months.
  • Provide assistance in securing SBA loans and ensure all workers have access to paid family leave and paid sick leave.

Our child care system in Oklahoma is leaving too many families too few options to be a part of the labor force and to lift our state’s poverty rankings. Oklahoma has an obligation to work toward solutions to keep child care programs economically stable and feasible for families.

[Editorial / Enid News & Eagle]

Numbers of the Day

  • 26 – The number of states — including Oklahoma — that recognize Indigenous People’s Day [The Oklahoman]
  • $42.9 million – Amount of local, state, and federal taxes paid in 2019 by Oklahomans who were eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an administrative relief that protects from deportation eligible immigrants who came to the United States when they were children. [New American Economy]
  • 44th – Oklahoma’s national rank for employed Registered Nurses to population ratio, which was 7.96 Registered Nurses per 1,000 residents. The national average was 9.19 employed Registered Nurses per 1,000 reisdents. [Nurse Journal]
  • 26% – Share of all wealth in Oklahoma held by individuals and households with a net worth greater than $30 million. This means that just over $1 in every $4 of wealth in Oklahoma belongs to individuals and households representing just .2% of all Oklahomans who could be expected to file tax returns. [ITEP: Rankings by State] | [Full Report]
  • 50,000 – Number of Oklahoma families who are in the “family glitch,” which meant they were generally ineligible for financial assistance for purchasing health care on the exchange/marketplace if their employer offered affordable health insurance that also met other criteria. [KFF

What We’re Reading

  • For Our Future: An Advocate’s Guide to Supporting Indigenous People’s Day (2020): It’s important that we acknowledge that Americans have been fed a false history. The story told of Native peoples in history books erases the trauma and persecution carried out upon Native communities and ignores the truth of our resiliency and strength. Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day is an important part of our movement— it is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate Native peoples, our resiliency and our future, in the present. [IllumiNative] | [Additional Resources from IllumiNative]
  • How Immigrants Expand Opportunity for All Americans: In a time where hyperpartisanship and division seem to dictate the news, it is the immigrant story that unites us and keeps the American Dream alive. Immigration reform is possible: it just needs to be driven by immigrants’ stories. [The Next 100]
  • Voting Laws Roundup: October 2022: As voters cast ballots in the 2022 midterms, they face significant changes in the voting rights landscape since 2020. 2021 was a record-breaking year for legislative activity around voting rights, and many of the same trends have continued into 2022. Oklahoma enacted a relatively unique law that will make it more difficult for voters without traditional addresses — such as voters living on tribal lands and homeless voters — to register to vote and cast a ballot. [Brennan Center For Justice]
  • The Geographic Distribution of Extreme Wealth in the U.S.: Economic inequality in the U.S. is large, growing and highly unpopular. Excessive concentration of wealth runs counter to our national aspiration for genuine equality of opportunity, and it saps the vitality of our democracy through the consolidation of power and influence. Tax policy offers a powerful means of beginning to address our nation’s stark level of inequality, but current law is clearly falling short of its potential. Federal and state tax codes include little in the way of direct taxes on the wealth holdings of extremely affluent families and instead often favor sources of income that are derived from wealth. [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy]
  • IRS regulations fix the ACA’s ‘family glitch’ as of 2023: From 2014 through 2022, some families were generally ineligible for financial assistance if they wanted to purchase their own health coverage through the exchange/marketplace. But that’s changing as of 2023. The IRS has finalized a new regulation that replaces a 2013 IRS regulation that created the “family glitch.” The new regulation fixes the family glitch, making some families newly eligible for marketplace premium subsidies as of 2023. [HealthInsurance.org]


Hana Saad joined OK Policy in August 2022 as the Communications and Operations Fellow. She graduated from the University of Tulsa with degrees in Media Studies and English and is part of Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society. At TU, Hana regularly wrote for The Collegian and was the Co-Editor of the Stylus Journal of Art and Writing. She also serves on the team at Puppy Haven Rescue to help in their mission of saving rescue dogs across Oklahoma. Hana is eager to learn more about public policy in Oklahoma and use her skills to support the OKP work to build a more equitable state. In her free time, she loves to read fiction and poetry, walk her dog, and make copious cups of tea.

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