In The Know: Lawmakers question employment status of Supt. Ryan Walters’ adviser, call for AG investigation | State distributes $11 million to combat opioid crisis | Sheriff vows to enforce new anti-immigrant law

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.

State Government News

Republicans want Oklahomans to reword Constitution to make crystal clear noncitizens can’t vote: Some lawmakers are calling an effort to strengthen the state’s ban on noncitizens from voting in Oklahoma elections a political stunt and fear mongering. Supporters though say the measure is needed to preserve the integrity of elections. [Oklahoma Voice]

Lawmaker says Ryan Walters’ top adviser is a ‘ghost employee’ and wants an AG investigation: A state legislator who’s now issued two legislative subpoenas to state schools Superintendent Ryan Walters said he hopes Attorney General Gentner Drummond’s office will look deeper into the employment status of Walters’ top adviser, who Walters acknowledged last week is working without a contract or agreement of employment. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Legislators’ lack of action on Ryan Walters administrative rules is ‘truly reprehensible!’: Even though administrative rules for the Oklahoma State Department of Education are to be authorized by legislative request, state schools Superintendent Ryan Walters took the move to submit rules without that authorization. And very few legislators were concerned about relinquishing that power to him. [Janis Blevins / The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Republican governors, including Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, bash Biden on energy policy: Republican governors, including Gov. Kevin Stitt, banded together Monday to pound away at the Biden administration’s energy policy. In a letter to the White House, 20 GOP state leaders call on the president “to pursue an all-of-the-above energy approach that will promote homegrown energy that benefits all Americans.” [Oklahoma Voice]

Tulsa’s Black Wall Street could become a national monument as efforts persist: The push to make Tulsa’s historic Greenwood District a national monument continues more than a century after a white mob destroyed the affluent Black neighborhood in the nation’s largest race massacre. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Sulphur, Chickasaw Nation are using a history of healing to help tornado-ravaged town: In just a matter of minutes, the historic city of Sulphur was smashed to pieces by a tornado that took out an estimated 200 buildings, left its museum without a roof and wiped out its downtown. Can the history of Sulphur be saved? Can it be rebuilt, and if so, how? And why is the city, and its history, worth the effort? [The Oklahoman]

  • Sulphur begins to rebuild, one month after severe tornado leveled town [Public Radio Tulsa]

Indian Citizenship Act centennial commemorated in Oklahoma: Over the weekend, the First Americans Museum recognized 100 years since the Indian Citizenship Act was passed. People gathered at the Five Moons Theater for a night of fellowship, recognizing the day Indigenous people were granted citizenship and the right to vote. [KOSU]

Astronaut John Herrington (Chickasaw) Honored: As a kickoff of the American Indian Festival of Words, the Tulsa City County Library honored astronaut and retired Naval aviator Cmdr. John Herrington by adding him to the Circle of Honor. [Native News Online]

Oklahoma students need a better understanding of the tribes of their state. This educator is leading the effort: Edwina Butler-Wolfe has had a busy start to summer, going from end-of-school assemblies in one town to graduation ceremonies in another. Butler-Wolfe is currently one of four candidates running for mayor of Shawnee, where she grew up and resides today. In a recent interview with The Oklahoman, she said she hopes to create a path for the next generation of female leaders. [The Oklahoman]

Voting and Election News

Cheat Sheet: 6 Republicans seek open Senate District 15 seat: Six Republicans are campaigning in Senate District 15, where Republican incumbent Rob Standridge (R-Norman) is unable to seek re-election owing to term limits. If no Republican attains more than 50 percent of the June 18 primary vote, the top two finishers will face each other in a runoff election Aug. 27. [NonDoc]

Four Republicans vie for southeast Tulsa’s House District 67: Four candidates for the seat — Rob Hall, Bowden McElroy, Ryan Myers and Kane Smith — are entered in the June 18 GOP primary. If none receives a majority, the top two will go to an Aug. 27 runoff. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Congress race ‘like an old fashioned bar fight,’ Tom Cole says: 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]

Health News

Oklahoma awards $11 million in grants to fight opioid abuse: Oklahoma will have $11 million to fight opioid abuse, under a grant managed by the Attorney General’s office. The Oklahoma Opioid Abatement Board announced Tuesday 71 counties, cities, school districts and trusts received grants. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma Opioid Abatement Board awards first round of grants to 71 entities [KGOU]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma County Sheriff Tommie Johnson vows to enforce new immigration law: Local law enforcement officers are preparing for the implementation of Oklahoma’s new immigration law. The Oklahoma County Sheriff says his office will enforce House Bill 4156, which criminalizes anyone in the state without legal immigration status. [KGOU]

Grants to help departments combat driving while high: The state is set to launch a new program to train more police officers and sheriffs’ deputies to recognize when drivers they encounter are impaired by marijuana or other drugs. [Tulsa World]

Education News

Provenzano, Swope raise concern for public education: House Rep. Melissa Provenzano, D-Tulsa, and Rep. Amanda Swope, D-Tulsa, expressed deep concern today for Oklahoma public schools after HJR 1061 and HJR 1059 were not heard this session, despite both being eligible to be heard on the House floor. [Journal Record]

Community News

Go Green for Greenwood: A Community’s Journey Towards Unity and Sustainability: The City of Tulsa has approved a proclamation for Go Green for Greenwood, an initiative commemorating the tragic events of the 1921 race massacre. This initiative involves lighting up the buildings and businesses of downtown Tulsa and the Greenwood area with green lights, hosting community clean-up events, and promoting sustainable living practices. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Local Headlines

  • Deal to purchase property for Public Safety Center still not final, mayor says [Tulsa World]
  • Fate of historic Capitol Hill High still in limbo as plans presented [The Oklahoman]
  • Filmmakers to vacate studio site at 2024’s end for new OKC arena plans [The Oklahoman]
  • OKC council approves rezoning for 1,907-foot Legends Tower [Journal Record]

Quote of the Day

“But the click bait, money making narrative still has bills to pay. So this bill is paying someone’s bills. It’s paying for some political operative out there somewhere that stirs people up and sends out mailers.”

– Sen. Mary Boren (D-Norman), while debating SJR 23—which aims to amend the state Constitution to specify that only citizens can vote—remarked that some people profit by instilling irrational fear. [Oklahoma Voice]

Number of the Day


Percentage of residential land in Oklahoma City that is zoned only for detached single-family homes. [OK Policy]

Policy Note

We Are In A Housing Trap. Can We Escape? (video):  Housing is an investment. And investment prices must go up. Housing is shelter. When the price of shelter goes up, people experience distress. Housing can’t be both a good investment and broadly affordable—yet we insist on both. This is the housing trap. [Strong Towns / YouTube]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.