In The Know: Continued reactions to Tulsa Race Massacre lawsuit dismissal | Early voting ongoing for general election primaries | Gov. issues order to shield state from Chinese Communist Party

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

Stitt signs $12.5 billion budget, praises transparency: Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a $12.5 billion budget package Wednesday. He praised House and Senate leadership for the transparency involved in the budget process this year. Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, made transparency of the budget process a top priority for his final session. Oklahomans had the opportunity to watch the budget process through live streams of the legislators negotiating. [Oklahoma Voice]

Oklahoma to receive nearly $10 million in Johnson & Johnson talc powder settlement: Oklahoma has joined a $700 million nationwide settlement with Johnson & Johnson with the state’s share reportedly at $9.8 million. The lawsuit alleged that Johnson & Johnson deceptively promoted and misled consumers in advertisements related to the safety and purity of some of its talc powder products. [KOSU]

Drummond highlights illegal cannabis crackdown, accountability commitment at luncheon: The state of Oklahoma has seen a substantial decrease in marijuana grows since Attorney General Gentner Drummond took office in January last year. [Journal Record]

Gov. Kevin Stitt issues executive order to prepare Oklahoma for possible Indo-Pacific conflict: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt is preparing the state for possible conflict between the United States, its Indo-Pacific allies and The People’s Republic of China. [KOSU]

  • Governor Stitt issues order to shield Oklahoma from Chinese Communist Party threats [Fox 25]

Oklahoma teens can now get their learners permit at 15 under new law: Young Oklahoma drivers can now get their learner permit six months earlier at age 15 after the state lowered the age this year through legislation. [The Oklahoman]

This Week in Oklahoma Politics: Primary elections, special session, new jail land and more (audio): The panel discusses upcoming primary elections, Gov. Kevin Stitt’s call for a special session to consider his nomination of Mike Holder to the Board of Regents for A&M Colleges and Oklahoma County Commissioners moving forward with the purchase of land near Del City for a new jail. [KOSU]

Tribal Nations News

Cherokee Nation recognizes first official Pride Month: The Cherokee Nation took another step toward 2SLGBTQ+ equity this week, as Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. declared the month of June as Pride Month. [KGOU]

Voting and Election News

Early voting has started for the primaries for the general election. Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

  • For information about Oklahoma elections, visit the OK Voter Portal.
  • Cheat sheet: 3 seek GOP nod to succeed Anthony on Oklahoma Corporation Commission [NonDoc]
  • In open Senate District 48, Nice offers new blood as Johnson seeks old seat [NonDoc]
  • GOP primary between teacher, preacher to decide House District 23 seat [NonDoc]
  • Legal troubles loom over House District 99 candidates [NonDoc]
  • Oklahoma elections: Ajay Pittman, Brittane Grant face off in House District 99 [The Oklahoman]
  • Inflation, immigration and education are on the minds of prospective voters in District 60 [The Oklahoman]
  • House District 79 primary sees Tulsa GOP vice chair challenge repeat candidate [Tulsa World]

Opinion: Where There’s a Trump Highway but Not Many Trump Flags: As a historian who believes that this summer will be a pivotal one in the future of American life, I’m interested in how communities that are rarely in the media spotlight are thinking about that future. Two weeks ago, I traveled to one such place in Cimarron County at the very tip of the Oklahoma Panhandle. [Scott Ellsworth / The New York Times]

Health News

‘This is not good’: OHCA responds to concerns over SoonerSelect: On Thursday, an Oklahoma Health Care Authority representative sat down with FOX 25 for a wide-ranging interview on the rollout of SoonerSelect, the state’s managed care model for Medicaid. The shift to SoonerSelect took effect on Apr. 1. State lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1337 in 2022, which directed the OHCA to make the change. Two years later, however, some are expressing concern over the program. [Fox 25]

Oklahoma group reacts to U.S. Supreme Court decision preserving abortion pill access: In a unanimous ruling, The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a case Thursday that would have restricted access to mifepristone — a drug that is used with another drug, misoprostol, to induce medication abortions. This means access to the drug will remain available in the U.S. [KOSU]

Ascension cyberattack traced to malicious file; just seven of 25,000 servers affected: A recent cyberattack on the Ascension health care system was the result of a malicious file being accidentally downloaded by an employee, the company said Thursday, adding that investigators now believe that only seven of the network’s some 25,000 servers were affected. [Tulsa World]

Part of a special audit into the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office is out: Cleveland County Sheriff Chris Amason’s re-election campaign has coincided with a state audit investigation into his agency’s overspending. Cleveland County commissioners diverted $3.2 million to the sheriff’s office Monday in order to pay outstanding bills, payroll and other operational expenses as the fiscal year’s end draws near. Then Wednesday, the first part of a requested special report from the state auditor was published, detailing explanations for the audit and what the state officials are looking into. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

OG&E proposed settlement cuts requested rate hike, drops increasing investor returns: OG&E is set to submit an uncontested settlement offer Monday to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission that cuts a requested rate increase in half and drops a request to raise the cap on shareholders’ return on earnings. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma wheat harvest is sweeping up the plains: How this important crop is faring so far: Rain and soggy fields caused some delays, but combines and grain trucks kept rolling and Oklahoma’s annual wheat harvest is already more than half complete, with the weather, as usual, making some farmers winners and others mere participants. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Ruling over school library control could encourage other lawsuits on administrative rules: The Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling this week that asserted local school boards, and not state schools Superintendent Ryan Walters or the Oklahoma State Board of Education, has control over the content in school libraries likely will be the end of the case, but it could encourage the filing of similar lawsuits, according to both a lawmaker and an Oklahoma City University legal expert. [The Oklahoman]

OSDE pays $75K to outside counsel, teachers could drop lawsuit: A tentative agreement was reached this week in a civil case involving the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the botched rollout of the teacher bonuses. A new receipt also has been uncovered, made out to the law firm Goodwin & Lewis PLLC. for being the interim legal counsel for OSDE starting in February for $75,000. [KFOR]

Ryan Walters enlists political influencers for summer teachers conference: Ryan Walters’ administration has introduced like-minded political and advocacy groups and embedded representatives of those groups as instructors at the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s annual summer professional development conference for teachers. [Tulsa World]

Community News

The Christian right is coming for divorce next: Today, a counter-revolution is brewing: Conservative commentators and lawmakers are calling for an end to no-fault divorce, arguing that it has harmed men and even destroyed the fabric of society. Oklahoma state Sen. Dusty Deevers, for example, introduced a bill in January to ban his state’s version of no-fault divorce. [Vox]

Black community reacts to state Supreme Court decision on Tulsa Race Massacre reparations: In the wake of the state Supreme Court dismissing a lawsuit in which survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre sought reparations, some in the Black community said the court’s decision was expected but they remained disappointed. [The Oklahoman]

Open Letter: Angry over Oklahoma Supreme Court Decision and Heartbroken for Survivors: Like many of you, I am heartbroken and angry at the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision to deny justice to the two remaining survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre: 110-year-old Mother Viola Ford Fletcher and 109-year-old Lessie Benningfield Randle. [Nehemiah Frank / The Black Wall Street Times]

‘A marathon of entrepreneurs:’ Juneteenth ribbon-cutting event celebrates local Black-owned small businesses: Small-business owners took over Greenwood Avenue on Thursday. The Tulsa Juneteenth Festival kicked off a weekend of celebration and education with the Buy Black Community Ribbon Cutting at the Greenwood and Archer Stage. Festival organizers honored new Black-owned businesses through an event that allowed the entrepreneurs to cut their own green ribbons on stage. [Tulsa World]

Opinion: Juneteenth is coming — make a joyful noise and reflect upon its meaning: Frederick Douglass asked: “What, to the slave, is the Fourth of July?” He further declared: “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice; I must mourn.” Douglass, himself formerly enslaved, knew all too well the dichotomous America that held high the principle of freedom while shackling those of darker hue. His simple but piercing interrogation of slavery amidst freedom — of American duality — exposed contradiction and hypocrisy and helps explain the significance of Juneteenth, a day recognizing independence for African Americans. [Hannibal B. Johnson / Tulsa World]

Local Headlines

  • Norman Police Department begin trespass enforcement program for community protection [KFOR]
  • Edmond considers GO bonds to address $495M in capital needs [Journal Record]
  • TPD lieutenant found not guilty of shooting cover-up [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Witnesses: Police officer didn’t say to flee or hide guns, but delayed investigation [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • OKC police lieutenant cleared in fatal May 5 shooting [The Oklahoman]
  • Children take oath of citizenship through New Tulsans Initiative [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“I wish I could live in the same land of puppies and sunshine that the health care authority’s living in right now. Unfortunately, I’m hearing directly from doctors who are saying this is not good.”

-Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant, speaking about the state’s switch to third-party vendors to manage the state’s Medicaid program earlier this year. The move has left many providers unpaid. [Fox 25

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s ranking among all states for economic well-being for children living in the state. [KIDS COUNT]

Policy Note

Report spotlights imbalances among child well-being for Oklahoma’s children of color: A national report out in January 2024 shows that child well-being outcomes for Oklahoma’s children of color are generally worse than their national peers with index scores below the national average. However, those results are in the context of a nationwide failure to equip all children to succeed, with policy choices and lack of support for families resulting in particularly dire outcomes for Black, Latino, and American Indian or Alaska Native. These policy choices have been especially acute in Oklahoma due to state lawmakers disinvesting in the services that help our children thrive. [OK Policy Archive]

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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.