In The Know: Request for investigation into alleged ghost employee at OSDE | Oklahoma doctors raise the alarm about Medicaid managed care rollout ‘disaster’ | Oklahoma County lawsuit fighting Catholic charter school advances | Oklahoma needs leaders who prioritize people, not politics

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

Policy Matters: Oklahoma needs leaders who prioritize people, not politics: In a time of increasing partisanship, we need more public servants who prioritize people over politics. Doing so would lead to more effective governance, a greater sense of community, and increased opportunities for all Oklahomans to thrive. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma doctors, others raise the alarm about Medicaid managed care rollout ‘disaster’: The Medicaid program’s recent switch to a managed care model has been a disaster, health care providers, a consumer and a state senator said on Wednesday. The problem is more serious in rural parts of the state that already face a shortage of providers and specialists, they said. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Doctors claim they are not getting paid, can’t see patients with SoonerSelect rollout [KFOR]
  • Oklahoma doctors warn of shutdowns as Medicaid payments stall under SoonerSelect [Fox25]

Oklahoma County judge rules most of lawsuit over Catholic charter school can continue: An Oklahoma County judge on Wednesday allowed to stand most of a lawsuit filed by taxpayers opposing state funding for what would be the nation’s first religious public charter school and set a date for a hearing to consider a motion for a temporary restraining order. [The Oklahoman]

  • County judge rules lawsuit against St. Isidore religious charter school can move forward [Fox25]
  • Oklahoma County lawsuit fighting Catholic charter school advances [Oklahoma Voice]

State Government News

District court judge sides with Drummond in Stitt lawsuit over multiple officeholders: An Oklahoma County district court judge ruled in favor of Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond after Governor Stitt and several of his cabinet members filed a lawsuit over a legal opinion issued by Drummond. [KFOR]

Lawmakers formally request Oklahoma AG investigate Ryan Walters’ alleged ‘ghost employee’: Five state lawmakers — all members of the House of Representatives’ education committee — signed a letter Wednesday asking Attorney General Gentner Drummond to investigate the employment status of Matt Langston, a controversial administrator with the Oklahoma State Department of Education. [The Oklahoman]

  • AG will consider potential ghost employee probe, won’t mandate Education Department investigative audit [Tulsa World]
  • Request for investigation into alleged ghost employee at OSDE [Fox 25]

Federal Government News

Migrants are rattled and unsure as deportations begin under new rule halting asylum: A sense of uncertainty prevails among migrants after President Joe Biden invoked powers to suspend asylum for people who cross the border illegally. [AP via Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

1st tribally affiliated medical school in US graduates inaugural class of doctors: The Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine held its commencement ceremony on May 16 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the first graduating class from the new campus at the Cherokee Nation was an integral part of it. [ABC News/Good Morning America]

Osage Nation election: Incumbents hold 5 seats, Whitehorn returns to Osage Congress: Polls opened at 8 a.m., and the congressional candidates’ Election Day campsites — a little delayed by morning thunderstorms — quickly set up for festivities and last-minute campaigning. Just before midnight, about 11:50 p.m. Monday, Osage Nation election supervisor Alexis Rencountre announced results, pausing to check the time as she began. [NonDoc]

Suzan Harjo weaves an Oklahoma story: History is often divided into sections. We think about “American history” or “Native American history” or even “journalism history.” But those divisions all share the same history. So how do we weave more of our stories into a single fabric? Last month that happened when the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame honored Suzan Shown Harjo, Cheyenne & Hodulgee Muscogee, with a Lifetime Achievement Award. [ICT]

Voting and Election News

Cheat sheet: GOP primary to decide House District 50: Voters in House District 50 will choose between four GOP candidates during the June 18 primary election after Rep. Marcus McEntire announced late last year he would not be seeking reelection. The ballot includes insurance agent Stacy Jo Adams, state director of Peer Resolution for Oklahoma Students Andrew Aldridge, Ringling City Councilman Jayce Daniel Miller, and U.S. Navy veteran Clayton T. Pickard. [NonDoc]

Lay, Grable vying to be new state representative for west Tulsa and Jenks: Republican voters in west Tulsa and west Jenks will decide in the June 18 GOP primary who will be the next state representative from District 68. On the ballot are businessman Mike Lay, 69, and student, campaign worker and former legislative aid Jonathan Grable, 40.Both are from Jenks. [Tulsa World]

Health News

Lawsuit: Woman claims OKC hospital shared private healthcare information with Facebook: A woman has accused an Oklahoma City hospital of allowing tracking technology on its website that is alleged to have scraped her private healthcare information and given it to Facebook and other digital platforms. [The Oklahoman]

Parched in the Panhandle: How Seaboard Foods rebuilt the Oklahoma panhandle’s economy, which ushered in a new era of groundwater depletion: Groundwater levels in the panhandle have been declining for decades but depleted at a quicker rate after the opening of Seaboard’s pork processing plant. State water laws have aided the depletion as well users don’t have to prove how much water they use each year. City officials in Guymon say groundwater levels are reaching a crisis stage and they worry about the region’s future. [Investigate Midwest]

Criminal Justice News

Death row inmate Isaiah Tryon loses his last appeal of his conviction: Death row inmate Isaiah Tryon has exhausted his appeals of his conviction a dozen years after he fatally stabbed his ex-girlfriend at a downtown Oklahoma City bus station. [The Oklahoman]

Fired juvenile justice center staffer faces new charges: An employee fired from the Tulsa County Family Center for Juvenile Justice faces new charges related to accusations of a sexual nature from teenage detainees. [Tulsa World]

Opinion: Oklahoma’s punishment-based probation system only speeds up incarceration: rapped within the tangled web of Oklahoma’s probation system, I have felt the crushing weight of its injustices firsthand, revealing a system that promises rehabilitation but delivers only oppression and recidivism. I cannot overstate the challenges and injustices that pervade this often-overlooked aspect of our criminal justice system, leaving individuals like myself trapped in an extended cycle of punishment. [Tiffani Shaw / Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

$1B entertainment district to transform Norman: Norman leaders expect a $1 billion mixed-use development to generate at least 5,000 jobs and provide housing for 3,000 residents. [Journal Record]

Education News

Opinion: Human creativity and empathy come from an embrace of a multi-linguistic cultures: As a professor of linguistics, I sometimes get asked if we are better off speaking one language. English has become so important to global communications, why don’t we just all conform to speak it? I strongly disagree — and not only because I’d be out of a job. Languages are a testament to collective human creativity. [Carol Rose Little / Tulsa World]

Community News

Meet the first Asian woman elected to Oklahoma’s legislature: Raised by a South Korean mother and an Ohio-born father in Oklahoma since she was four, Oklahoma House Democratic Leader Cyndi Munson often felt like an “outsider” next to her friends. Her insecurities grew in eighth grade when her parents divorced, leaving her and her sister to struggle financially under the care of their single father – which Munson described as crucial in solidifying her understanding of the importance of public service. [AsAmNews]

Local Headlines

  • OKC Council approves conservative budget amid slow growth [Journal record]
  • Tulsa City Councilor Jayme Fowler now considering run for reelection [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Frankly, we need more officials who are interested in the state’s long-term well-being, rather than chasing the quick political sugar high from a tax cut during a re-election cycle.”

-Shiloh Kantz wrote in her column addressing the need for Oklahoma politicians who prioritize people over politics. [Journal Record]

Number of the Day


Number of anti-LGBTQ bills identified in the Oklahoma Legislature, as of May 31, 2024. Oklahoma had the largest number of such bills nationwide, and Oklahoma bills represented more than 1 in 10 of the 515 anti-LGBTQ bills being tracked nationwide. [ACLU]

Policy Note

LGBTQ representation in government is growing but still disproportionate: Nearly 1,300 elected officials in the U.S. are a part of the LGBTQ community − a number that continues to grow every election cycle but still falls far short of being representative of the LGBTQ community. While 7.6% of adults identify as LGBTQ+, less than 1% of elected officials in the U.S. identify the same, though there’s no way to quantify those who hold office but haven’t come out publicly. [USA Today]
  • NOTE: June is 2SLGBTQ+ Pride Month

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Kandis West is a communications professional with more than 15 years of experience. Most recently, she served as the Communications Director for the Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus. She spent nine years in the Olympia/Tacoma area of Washington organizing compensation campaigns for teachers for the Washington Education Association. Kandis has a proven track record of increasing community engagement, public awareness and media exposure around the most pressing issues that impact citizens. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism.