In The Know: Fed. judge blocks key provision of HB 1775 | Gov. bans no-bid PR contracts | June 18 election previews | Outside money increases in state elections

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.

Oklahoma News

Federal judge issues temporary injunction blocking key provision of House Bill 1775: More than 2½ years after the lawsuit initially was filed, a federal judge in Oklahoma City issued a temporary injunction Friday that keeps the state from enforcing a key section of House Bill 1775, which bans the teaching of certain racial and gender topics in Oklahoma classrooms. [The Oklahoman]

  • Judge issues orders in lawsuit challenging HB 1775 [Tulsa World]

Broadband adoption numbers differ in some western Oklahoma counties: The number of people getting connected to broadband differs in a few northwest Oklahoma counties when compared to the rest of the state, according to the Oklahoma State University Extension. [KOSU]

Juneteenth 2024: Here’s what will be open and closed on the holiday in Oklahoma: Juneteenth is a holiday celebrated on June 19 commemorating the final end of slavery in the rebelling states just after the end of the Civil War. As celebrations commence across the country, here’s what will be open and closed during the holiday. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Celebrating Juneteenth isn’t rejecting the Fourth of July. It honors freedom for all: Embracing Juneteenth universally underscores our collective responsibility to acknowledge and learn from the historical injustices that have shaped our present society. [Carla D. Pratt / The  Oklahoman]

State Government News

After final vetoes include line-items on OSDE, Stitt issues order on all state PR contracts: Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Friday afternoon that he vetoed five bills passed by the Oklahoma Legislature in the final days of its regular session. He also quietly line-item vetoed a budget-limits bill that had provoked the ire of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters, but the governor issued an executive order dealing with the same topic to apply restrictions statewide. [NonDoc]

  • Stitt Vetoes Legislature’s Limits on State Superintendent’s Media Outreach [Oklahoma Watch]
  • Governor issues his own order on outside PR: ‘It’s wasteful and we’re putting a stop to it.’ [The Oklahoman]
  • Stitt bans no-bid PR contracts. But it won’t impact Oklahoma education agreement, spokesman says. [Oklahoma Voice]
  • Gov. Stitt vetoes restrictions on Ryan Walters, issues executive order on promotional contracts [Tulsa World]
  • Governor Stitt bans wasteful PR spending after FOX 25 exposes tax dollar misuse [Fox 25]

‘Head held high’: Sen. Roger Thompson submits resignation weeks after removal as budget chairman: Sen. Roger Thompson submitted his irrevocable resignation from the Oklahoma Legislature Friday, about six weeks after he was suddenly removed as chairman of the Senate Appropriations and Budget Committee. Thompson (R-Okemah) was first elected in 2014, meaning he had two years left in a third and final term that would have expired in 2026. His resignation will become effective Nov. 1. [NonDoc]

  • Senator Thompson resigns, triggers special election [Oklahoma Voice]
  • State Sen. Roger Thompson, a leader in budget negotiations, announces his resignation [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Ethics Commission receives funding to replace Guardian System: A $1.2 million appropriation to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission in the recently signed budget will fund the replacement of the Guardian System. The Guardian System is a database used to track campaign finance reports and the registration of lobbyists. [Oklahoma Voice]

Political notebook: State’s general revenue steady in May: The state’s general revenue receipts continued to run well below last year’s in May but remained enough ahead of projections to trigger $71 million apportionments to reserve funds. The General Revenue Fund is the state’s primary operating account. [Tulsa World]

Backlash against DEI spreads to more states: In several states, lawmakers are enjoying growing success in their pushback against DEI programs at public universities, many of which have hired administrators and established departments dedicated to creating more diverse faculties and student bodies. [Oklahoma Voice]

Federal Government News

D.C. Digest: Lankford lets loose on arrests of possible terrorists: The arrest last week of eight immigrants from Tajikistan suspected of ties to the Islamic State prompted U.S. Sen. James Lankford to ask more questions of the Biden administration — and to gently remind his Republican colleagues that the bill he helped negotiate and they shot down would likely have kept the eight out of the country. [Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

100 years of citizenship: Tribal advocates urge more Native voter participation: This year is the 100th anniversary of the Indian Citizenship Act, yet tribal leaders and advocates say too many Natives are still hesitant to vote in local, state and federal elections. [Tulsa World]

Native American boarding school records reveal hidden truths: A newly launched digital archive of materials chronicling the era of Native American boarding schools, referred to as Indian boarding schools in the archive, could ultimately alleviate some challenges for boarding school survivors, their descendants and researchers. Staff of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, known as NABS, have spent four years compiling and digitizing records from around the country. [USA Today via The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma hasn’t hit saturation point for gaming, economist tells tribal stakeholders: Odds are that casino-style gaming will continue to grow in Oklahoma in coming years, as evidence indicates markets in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and in rural border communities will remain popular with patrons and draw new ones, including many from other states. [Tulsa World]

Comanche, Caddo Nations teach environment, culture to Indigenous youth in Wichita Mountains: Dozens of Indigenous children deepened their environmental and cultural knowledge at the Wildlife Explorers Environmental Camp in southwest Oklahoma. The Caddo Nation and Comanche Nation partnered together, launching a two-day youth camp last week at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge near Lawton. [KOSU]

Voting and Election News

Voting for the primaries in this year’s general election will be held 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday, June 18. For information about Oklahoma elections, visit the OK Voter Portal.

  • What to expect in Oklahoma’s state primaries [AP via Journal Record]
  • Oklahoma primary elections guide 2024: Who’s on the ballot, where to vote, results [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma voters head to the polls Tuesday [Oklahoma Voice]
  • Who’s on the ballot in the June 18th primary election in Oklahoma [KOSU]
  • June 18 primary election: What’s on the ballot for the Tulsa area [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Get educated before the June 18 primary: See all our election coverage here [Tulsa World]
  • Cheat sheet: GOP primary crowded in House District 20 [NonDoc]
  • Cheat sheet: 4 Republicans seek open House District 67 [NonDoc]
  • Democratic primary to decide Tulsa’s open House District 72 seat [NonDoc]
  • Mike Lay, Jonathan Grable compete for open House District 68 seat [NonDoc]
  • Cheat sheet: Former sheriff, country singer among 5 GOP candidates seeking HD 15 [NonDoc]
  • Bixby mayor, House member seek GOP nomination for open Senate District 25 [NonDoc]
  • Darrell Knox, Ron Stewart compete in Dem primary to decide House District 73 [NonDoc]
  • Cheat sheet: 4 seek Senate District 33 GOP nod in hopes to succeed Sen. Nathan Dahm [NonDoc]
  • Sen. Nathan Dahm’s exit due to term limits leads to four-way GOP primary [Tulsa World]
  • Primary pits Rep. Regina Goodwin against Joe Williams for Tulsa’s Senate District 11 [NonDoc]
  • House District 88 Candidates Push for Diversity in Legislature [Oklahoma Watch]
  • Jett facing three challengers, term limits in Senate District 17 race [The Oklahoman]
  • Mann, Grimaldo leading four-man contest in Senate District 46 race [The Oklahoman]
  • Incumbent faces two challengers in GOP primary for House District 98 [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa County District 2: Three Democrats talk courthouse, juvenile center authority [NonDoc]
  • Tulsa County District 2: Trio talks Berryhill, Gilcrease toll at GOP primary debate [NonDoc]

Outside Spending Soars Ahead of Primary Election: Spending by outside political groups, many funded by dark money organizations, has soared ahead of the June 18 primary election. While the spending is not illegal, critics argue it can harm voters who are bombarded with messages from questionable sources. [Oklahoma Watch]

‘Behind the scenes guy’ spurs turmoil, OSBI inquiry in Tillman County sheriff election: The Republican primary for Tillman County sheriff took a weird turn this spring when candidate Robert Wallace used his watch to make a surreptitious recording of a meeting requested by the chairman of the county jail trust, who attempted to dissuade Wallace from filing for office. [NonDoc]

Health News

Concerns grow as ‘gigantic’ bird flu outbreak runs rampant in US dairy herds: More than three years into a worldwide outbreak of bird flu, the virus continues to expand in the U.S., with growing impacts to food production and animals. Over 80 million chickens, thousands of wild birds and dozens of mammal species, including a polar bear, have been infected. [USA Today via The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Oklahoma healthcare is a wreck — surprised?: So here’s the hypothesis: If Oklahoma farms out Medicaid to insurance companies, which by the way costs taxpayers more money, somehow it will be better. What knucklehead came up with that idea? Hmmm. It’s our current state leaders. [Joe Carter / Norman Transcript]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma man facing June 27 execution plans to request clemency at hearing: A convicted killer on Monday is expected to ask the Pardon and Parole Board for clemency ahead of his scheduled execution later this month. Richard Norman Rojem, Jr., 66, is set to be executed June 27 for the 1984 kidnapping, rape and murder of his 7-year-old former stepdaughter Layla Cummings. [Oklahoma Voice]

Opinion: This Father’s Day, remember the impact of a father’s presence, even those incarcerated: For some children ― such as the 15% of Oklahoma children that have a parent in prison during their growing up years ― the bittersweetness of Father’s Day lacks any semblance of sweet. Perhaps a little girl’s dad had tried to take care of her but allowed addiction to ruin his right to parent. Everything came crashing down and he is facing a decade in prison, the remainder of his daughter’s childhood years. [Cheri Fuller / The Oklahoman]

Housing & Economic Opportunity News

Opinion: OKC lacks smaller, affordable housing. Ordinance for added dwelling could be one solution: The OKC metro lacks over 77,000 smaller, affordable housing options to accommodate these groups. Serving their needs will help make larger homes available for larger families. [Sarah Casey / The Oklahoman]

Education News

‘Prioritizing affordability’: OSU freezes tuition, mandatory fees for third year in a row: For the third straight year, Oklahoma State University will not be increasing tuition or mandatory fees for students. [Tulsa World]

  • Oklahoma State will freeze tuition again for the third year in a row [The Oklahoman]

‘Was not expecting this reaction’: TFCU pulls conference sponsorship after online uproar: On Thursday, Tinker Federal Credit Union announced it pulled its sponsorship of the InspireOK 2024 education conference. The decision followed an online uproar after public education advocates faulted TFCU for aligning itself with the event. [Fox 25]

Opinion: Oklahoma needs increased investment to tackle growing problem of chronic absenteeism: In my experience, high-challenge schools with high levels of students from generational poverty, who have endured multiple traumas, felt more pressure to increase attendance rates, which had long been an accountability metric, as opposed to tackling the much more complicated and difficult problem of chronic absenteeism. The first step it requires is outreach. [John Thompson / Oklahoma Voice]

Community News

Longtime head of OKC YWCA retiring after decades of effort to reduce domestic violence: For more than 27 years, Jan Peery has squared off with one of Oklahoma’s most persistent problems ― the number of women’s deaths caused by domestic abuse. Peery has served as chief executive officer of the Oklahoma City YWCA since 2004, starting as a part-time worker in the agency in 1997. Now, after nearly three decades of working to provide care and hope to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, she said she is ready for retirement. [The Oklahoman]

Local Headlines

  • Tillman County Sheriff William Ingram has died, officials confirm [The Oklahoman]
  • Tillman County Sheriff Bill Ingram dies after wreck [NonDoc]
  • Norman Planning Commission approves $1B entertainment district [Journal Record]
  • Project to replace ‘hallmark’ north Tulsa library breaks ground [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa utility bills to increase 5.2% for most residents starting this fall [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa City Council approves $1.03 billion budget for FY 2024-25 [Tulsa World
  • Tulsa Mayor Bynum to join Saint Francis Health System after leaving office in December [Tulsa World]
  • Part of a special audit into the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office is out. [The Oklahoman]
  • Buyers want affordable downtown housing, but OKC prices continue to go up: [The Oklahoman]
  • Newkirk confronts postal issues as 40% miss utility bills, considers electronic delivery [Fox 25]

Quote of the Day

“Maybe we’re jaded, and rightfully so, but we need to help people understand that if we show up in numbers, it can have positive impacts, like getting elected officials that support tribal sovereignty.”

-Ginny Underwood, a Comanche with Rock the Native Vote voting campaign, saying she has seen voter anxiety in Native people centered around mistrust for state and federal governments. [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day

$3 million

From April 15 to June 15, politically involved nonprofits spent more than $3 million to influence Oklahoma voters, more than three times what was spent over a similar period in 2020. [Oklahoma Watch]

Policy Note

Heinous Allegations — Abuses in Youth Custody in Tulsa County, Oklahoma: A new comprehensive report details serious abuses within the Tulsa County Family Center for Juvenile Justice. It details years of systemic neglect at the Family Center for Juvenile Justice. This investigation highlights systemic issues with management, oversight, and ongoing negligence. [Oklahoma Appleseed Center for Law & Justice]

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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.