In The Know: A look back at 2024 regular legislative session | Lawmakers quietly approve $4.1 million to resolve mental health lawsuit | OKC shows increase in homelessness count | Who is a Tribal Citizen?

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New 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]

State Government News

Immigration, graduation and a tax cut: 10 of the biggest bills this legislative session: Many Oklahomans cheered action by the state Legislature this year to repeal the grocery tax, providing at least some relief from inflation. But others expressed concern about a new law threatening state arrest and prosecution of those in Oklahoma without proper immigration documents. Here are details about the 10 bills considered by the Legislature this year that drew the most interest and controversy. [The Oklahoman]

  • Wondering what went down during Oklahoma’s 2024 legislative session? Here’s a recap. [KGOU]
  • State lawmakers override five gubernatorial vetoes as session ends [The Oklahoman
  • Bumpy legislative session ends with hundreds of bills on Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma Governor to decide fate of nearly 100 bills as legislative session ends [Fox 25]
  • OKPOP, levees among Tulsa earmarks from 2024 legislative session [Tulsa World]
  • Capitol Insider: Legislators race to finish, House and Senate adjourn sine die  [KGOU]

Questions over six-figure state salary for Ryan Walters’ campaign manager prompt flareup: Two Oklahoma House leaders drew the ire of State Superintendent Ryan Walters at the close of the legislative session by demanding answers about a part-timer drawing a six-figure salary from the state while also running a political campaign consulting business. [Tulsa World]

  • Ryan Walters, state employee rally supporters to seek veto of bill stopping spending on PR [Tulsa World]
  • ‘I don’t like it’: Gov. Stitt considers ban on OSDE public relations spending [KFOR]

Oklahoma lawmakers approve $4.1 million to resolve mental health lawsuit: A $4.1 million appropriation was quietly tucked away in the state budget in anticipation of  resolving a lawsuit alleging Oklahoma’s mental health agency is not providing timely treatment to county jail inmates. [Oklahoma Voice]

Oklahoma lawmakers shield poultry farms from some lawsuits in final-day vote: Some Oklahomans are crying foul over a chicken poop bill set to become law. The controversial measure blocks people from suing to stop farms from spreading poultry litter onto land, as long as farms are following state-approved plans. [The Oklahoman]

State entity boosting Oklahoma-Israel ties may be reinstated with governor’s signature: A state entity that once cultivated ties between Oklahoma and Israel will be reestablished if the governor adds his signature to a bill approved in the waning hours of the 2024 legislative session. [The Oklahoman]

Stitt defends his nominees not confirmed by Senate: Gov. Kevin Stitt will have to go back to the beginning of the hiring process for several of his Cabinet secretaries and agency heads after the Senate declined to confirm seven of his nominations. [Tulsa World]

Opinion: Women don’t need a ‘Bill of Rights’ to define gender. We need policies that improve our outcomes: I don’t need our government to tell me that I’m a woman. And, I shouldn’t have to prove I am one either. Yet, our Republican lawmakers want to require just that through the so-called “Women’s Bill of Rights” that the governor signed into law last week. [Janelle Stecklein / Oklahoma Voice]

Federal Government News 

D.C. Digest: Oklahoma congressional delegation condemns Trump conviction: No one in Oklahoma’s seven-member congressional delegation has any background in the law. But, like most Americans, that did not prevent them from voicing strong opinions about former and perhaps future President Donald Trump’s conviction last week in a New York state court on all 34 counts of feloniously falsifying business records. [Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

100 years later: A congressional act that didn’t ensure equal justice: The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 finally made Indigenous people American citizens, but they didn’t gain the express right to vote until decades later. Obstacles persist today. [Native News Online]

Constitutional question, 16 candidates on 2024 Osage Nation election ballot: Expanding health care coverage and the status of the tribe’s reservation have emerged as two top issues in the 2024 Osage Nation election — scheduled for Monday, June 3 — where 16 candidates are competing for six seats in the Osage Nation Congress. [NonDoc]

Osage Nation won’t be offering summer food supplement after all: Citing technology issues, the Osage Nation will not be participating in a new federal program meant to combat summer food insecurity among children. [Tulsa World]

Cherokee Nation continues construction momentum thanks to $1.17 billion investment: The Cherokee Nation is currently witnessing a surge in construction activity. With funding exceeding $1.17 billion, numerous projects across a spectrum of initiatives, including health, education, and language preservation, are underway. [Native News Online]

Voting and Election News

The Frontier fact-checked a flood of negative campaign ads as Tom Cole faces off with Paul Bondar: Does a mysterious congressional primary challenger live in a Dallas mansion? Did Tom Cole support a federal program that spied on Donald Trump? The Frontier looked into these and other claims. [The Frontier]

Attorney, former OKCPS Board member seek Democratic nomination for Senate District 46:  Sam Wargin Grimaldo and Mark Mann will vie for the Democratic nomination in Oklahoma’s June 18 primary, with the winner landing on November’s ballot alongside Republican Charles Barton and independent David Pilchman. [NonDoc]

Political notebook: Cole, Bondar spending big money on CD 4 primary: Roll Call reported around $7 million has been spent by 4th District Congressman Tom Cole, Republican primary challenger Paul Bondar and political action committees backing Cole. [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Inmate at Oklahoma County jail dies Sunday: The death of an Oklahoma County jail inmate is under investigation. About 1:40 p.m. Sunday, officers discovered Jeremy Birchfield, 45, unresponsive in his assigned cell, jail officials said in a news release. [The Oklahoman]

‘Losing the ARPA funds’: Clock ticking for mental health facility, officials say: During a press conference on Friday, organizers with the People’s Council for Justice Reform urged officials to change course on a planned mental health facility as $50 million in federal funds hang in the balance. [Fox 25]

Pittsburg County sheriff facing bribery charge amid embezzlement case: Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris has had a bribery case brought against him just two weeks after being charged with felony embezzlement. [Tulsa World]

  • Oklahoma sheriff accused of taking bribes, claims charges are election interference [The Oklahoman]

Female TPD officers’ advocacy leads to end of pre-employment rectal exams: For years, the city of Tulsa’s Medical Office has been administering rectal exams to female applicants to the Tulsa Police Department. Not anymore. [Tulsa World]

Housing & Economic Opportunity News

Oklahoma City sees rise in homelessness; over 1,800 affected in latest count: On Friday, Oklahoma City released the 2024 Point In Time Count, detailing the number of people in the city experiencing homelessness. The latest figures from the count show that 1,838 people were homeless; an increase of 402 people from last year’s count. [Fox 25]

  • Oklahoma City’s Encampment Rehousing Initiative makes strides in combating homelessness [Fox 25]
  • Oklahoma City homelessness: 2024 Point in Time count shows 28% increase, yet progress made [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma City releases 2024 Point in Time Count [KGOU]
  • Oklahoma City count finds 20% increase in people experiencing homelessness [KOSU]
  • OKC releases annual 2024 Point in Time Count [Journal Record]
  • OKC Point in Time Count Report [Key to Home]

Tulsa Day Center animal shelter will help homeless people, pets stay together: On Friday a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the Tulsa Day Center for a new animal shelter, which when finished will house up to 10 animals while their owners are staying at the shelter or accessing services. “Data tells us that about 20% to 25% of unsheltered individuals have pets and that oftentimes that’s a barrier to them coming in to access services,” said Mack Haltom, Day Center director. [Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Low-wage states with cheap housing dominated the post-pandemic jobs boom: Oklahoma made the biggest jump in the analysis of job creation rankings, from No. 31 to No. 9. The state has seen a reversal of the “brain drain” it experienced in the late 2010s.[Oklahoma Voice]

Opinion, Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Glen Mulready: What a ‘hard insurance market’ is and what to expect: A hard insurance market is a period marked by rising rates and coverage becoming more difficult to obtain, in contrast to a soft market, where conditions are favorable to stable or falling prices and plenty of coverage options. Let’s look at what a hard market means, what’s happened historically, and what the next few years will look like. [Glen Mulready / Tulsa World]

Education News

The fate of Ryan Walters’ administrative rules for education department rests with Stitt: The fate of controversial administrative rules proposals for the Oklahoma State Department of Education being pushed by state schools Superintendent Ryan Walters now rests with Gov. Kevin Stitt. The Legislature chose not to act on administrative rules for any state agency before its 2024 session ended Thursday, choosing instead to punt the political football to the governor. [The Oklahoman]

Opponents of public religious charter school seek a court injunction to halt its opening: Opponents of what is proposed to be the nation’s first religious public charter school have asked a district court to issue a temporary injunction preventing the school from opening in Oklahoma City and receiving state funds. [The Oklahoman]

Education notebook: More summer meal sites, bookmobiles and administrative moves: The child nutrition departments at Broken Arrow, Catoosa, Claremore, Jenks, Sand Springs, Skiatook and Union public schools will begin their summer meal services Monday. [Tulsa World]

Northeastern State University Offers Direct Admission for Local High School Seniors: Northeastern State University (NSU) has launched a new initiative in partnership with local high schools to offer direct admission for qualified high school seniors, significantly simplifying the college entry process. [Native News Online]

Community News

Tulsa Race Massacre survivors seek justice as search for graves, family roots continue: The survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, which is considered one of the most heinous acts of racial violence in U.S. history, can vividly remember when a white mob destroyed the robust all-Black Greenwood District in Tulsa. Decades later, neither Viola Fletcher nor fellow survivor Lessie Benningfield Randle have been compensated for the harrowing experience. [USA Today]

Identification of possible Tulsa Race Massacre victims getting closer, DNA researchers say:  On the anniversary of Tulsa’s 1921 Race Massacre, researchers say they’re close to identifying the remains of possible victims buried in Oaklawn Cemetery. [Tulsa World]

Pride celebrations kick off all weekend across Oklahoma City: June has only just begun, but Pride celebrations were already underway across Oklahoma City this weekend. [KOCO]

In Tulsa, Stitt recalls 2019 flood as he celebrates $50 million for levee upgrades: As Gov. Kevin Stitt celebrated the signing of a bill to fund $50 million in Tulsa levee upgrades, he said it brought back 5-year-old memories of a devastating flood, when the 20-mile system bent but did not break. [Tulsa World]

Opinion: Oklahoma Standard of kindness, compassion should apply to more than just disasters: Oklahomans face numerous challenges that extend beyond rebuilding after storms. A rhetoric of hatred often pervades political discourse. Legal initiatives to limit the rights of people to be who they are and make their own choices are directly contrary to the values embodied in the Oklahoma Standard. [Nancy Snow / The Oklahoman]

Local Headlines

  • Edmond’s Pelican Bay to undergo $6.3M renovation [Journal Record]
  • Was that a quick Tulsa police chief selection process, or what? [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa mayoral candidates lay out goals for first 90 days in office [Public Radio Tulsa]

Quote of the Day

“Citizenship was a step toward reestablishing both individual Indian agency over their own lives and equally important, the tribal authority… We’ve used our citizenship over the years in ways that repowered our communities.”

-Kevin Gover (Pawnee), Undersecretary of Museums and Culture at the Smithsonian Institute, speaking about 1924’s Snyder Act, which granted citizenship to American Indians. [Native News Online]

Number of the Day


Percentage of individuals experiencing homelessness in Oklahoma who were families with at least one child. The overall number of homeless families increased by about 14% in comparison to last year, but none were found to be sleeping outside. [OKC Point in Time Report]

Policy Note

A Century Ago, This Law Underscored the Promises and Pitfalls of Native American Citizenship: The 1924 Indian Citizenship Act sought to assimilate Native people into white society. But the legislation, signed by President Calvin Coolidge, fell short. [Smithsonian Magazine]

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David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.