In The Know: Black leaders critical of Gov.’s race panel; Poll: Oklahomans split on COVID-19 vaccine, masks; and more

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

Oklahoma News

Ongoing Coverage of Statewide Protests 

  • OKCPD meets Black Lives Matter’s demand by releasing video of Derrick Ollie Scott’s arrest [KOCO]
  • Derrick Ollie Scott heard telling officers ‘I can’t breathe’ shortly before dying in OCPD custody in 2019 [KOCO]
  • Norman advocacy group calls NPD review plan ‘an empty gesture,’ lists demands [Norman Transcript]
  • Norman group seeking police changes plans to ‘occupy’ City Hall on Tuesday [The Oklahoman]
  • Young activists standing up for racial injustice [The Norman Transcript]
  • ‘It can’t just be mere words’: OU athletes among marchers in Norman (Photo Gallery) [The Oklahoman]
  • Peaceful protest in Ponca City sees hundreds march, and ride, to City Hall [The Oklahoman]
  • Black Lives Matter protest in Ada honors Anthony Meely, George Floyd [KXII]
  • Kneel at Noon in Woodward [Woodward News]
  • Protest of just 3 people in Collinsville [KTUL]
  • OU Physicians to hold kneeling ceremony at Tulsa clinic to honor George Floyd [KTUL]
  • Clergy-led march against police violence combines prayer, calls for justice [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • ‘We can’t keep quiet anymore’: Tulsa ministers, faith leaders unite for prayer march on City Hall [Tulsa World]
  • Group plans to continue protesting outside police headquarters [FOX25]
  • Advocacy groups call for OKC City Council to defund police department [KOCO]

Black caucus leaders pan Oklahoma governor’s race panel: Leaders with Oklahoma’s Legislative Black Caucus criticized Gov. Kevin Stitt’s weekend roundtable on race for what they say was a lack of diversity on the panel. [AP News] A House Democrat Monday said the governor missed the mark when he hosted a race roundtable minus female panelists, young activists or organizers of the state’s Black Lives Matter movement. [CNHI via The Duncan Banner] Charlie Hannema, Stitt’s communications director, said the program was intended to be the first of several and represents a “first step.” [Tulsa World] In response, the Black Women Voices group will host its own roundtable discussion on race and social justice issues at 6 p.m. Wednesday. The event will be livestreamed through the Black Women Voices Facebook page. [The Journal Record] “The governor also moderated this racial conversation; therefore, he had the privilege of choosing how in-depth it would go on racial injustice. And he didn’t even scratch the surface.” [Editorial / The Black Wall Street Times

How an act of racial violence reverberates across generations: For generations, Tulsa, Oklahoma had a secret. The secret was passed on from generation to generation. The Tulsa Race Massacre happened 99 years ago, when white Tulsans descended on the city’s thriving black district, known as Black Wall Street. White rioters killed hundreds of black residents, and burned the neighborhood to the ground. [CBS News] As demonstrations continue, Tulsa mayor tells national news the 2016 killing of Terence Crutcher by a Tulsa Police Department officer was not race-related [Public Radio Tulsa]

Poll shows partisan split in Oklahoma on COVID-19 vaccine, masks: Less than half of likely Republican voters in Oklahoma would get vaccinated against COVID-19, while more than 70% of likely Democratic voters would get the vaccine if it became available, according to a new poll. And though a majority of voters in both parties surveyed wear a mask at least some of the time when they go out in public, nearly three times as many Republicans as Democrats said they rarely or never wear one. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma reports additional death, 55 new COVID-19 cases: Oklahoma health officials on Monday reported 55 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death. The Department of Health reported the latest death was a Tulsa County woman older than 65 who died Friday. [AP News] Visit for the latest COVID-19 numbers in Oklahoma. 

Health News

Infusion of federal cash to boost telehealth in Oklahoma: Money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act will be allocated to Duncan Regional Hospital for new telehealth conferencing equipment. Some $84.96 million has been distributed across 41 states so far. [Government Technology]

OMRF uncovers clues for lupus risk in African Americans: A study conducted at the Oklahoma City-based nonprofit is taking physicians closer to understanding the immune system features that result in higher lupus rates in African-American patients, potentially paving the way for better preventive treatment options. [The Journal Record]

Tulsa drug rehab center expanding as meth overdoses skyrocket: While health officials have been grappling with Oklahoma’s opioid crisis, methamphetamine has quietly made a comeback with new, extremely potent doses imported from China and other countries, prompting a Tulsa treatment center to ramp up services. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Backlog cleared of unemployment claims; many wait for money: A huge backlog of claims made by Oklahomans for unemployment assistance has been whittled down, but many are still waiting to receive the financial help they need, the interim director of the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission said Monday. [The Journal Record]

ABLE Commission adopts emergency rules for curbside and delivery alcohol sales: The Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission has set emergency rules governing curbside and delivery sales of beer, wine and spirits. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma House sets interim study request deadline: The deadline for members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives to file interim study requests is June 26. Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall will consider each request on the basis of its merits, on committee and staff workloads and on the effect of Capitol renovations. [The Journal Record]

Federal Government News

Feds approve Oklahoma’s newly negotiated gambling compacts: The federal government approved new gambling compacts between Oklahoma and two tribal nations, Gov. Kevin Stitt announced on Monday, but the governor still remains locked in a legal dispute over tribal gambling with other tribes and legislative leaders from his own party. [AP News] But other tribes and state officials still claim that the compacts are illegal and that litigation will continue. [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

’60 Minutes’ investigates how Oklahoma’s child abuse law treats women differently than men: Eighteen years ago, Oklahoma adopted a law designed to stop child abuse. It’s commonly known as “Failure to Protect” and on paper, it makes perfect sense. Any parent or guardian who knows a child is being abused and fails to protect the child can be charged with a felony and sent to prison. But in practice, Oklahoma’s courts and prosecutors have treated women differently than men under the failure to protect law. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board denies DA’s request to disqualify two members: In response to a request from the district attorney for Logan and Payne Counties, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board said Monday it has no authority to disqualify members from hearing cases over potential conflicts of interest. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Meet the Oklahoma County jail’s new administrative team: Since the Oklahoma County Jail Trust hired longtime Oklahoma Department of Corrections administrator Greg Williams in November to be the county jail administrator, five other individuals have been brought on to manage key areas like human resources and IT. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

Study identifies several concerns with Tulsa County eviction process: Landlords have a clear upper hand in the more than 1,000 evictions filed each month in the Tulsa County court. A review by law students in TU’s Terry West Civil Legal Clinic of nearly 1,400 January cases found 82% of landlords have an attorney, while 3.5% of tenants do, even with attorneys from legal service nonprofits generally available at court. [Public Radio Tulsa] The study also shows 66 percent of tenants failed to appear at their eviction hearings in January. In some of those cases, tenants lost their home over less than $50. [KJRH]

Economy & Business News

Fed eases terms of Main Street loans, says registration will begin soon: The U.S. Federal Reserve eased the terms of its “Main Street” lending program on Monday, cutting the minimum loan size in half to $250,000 and lengthening the term by a year to encourage more businesses and banks to participate. The new borrowing minimum may still not be low enough as some businesses need loans smaller than $250,000. [Reuters] OK Policy and its Open Justice Oklahoma program have been tracking Oklahoma’s evictions and foreclosures filed since the March 15 state of emergency and provided analysis on the issue.

Restaurant commerce dips 66% during pandemic, Oklahoma Main Street Center survey says: Restaurant sales have fallen 66% and retail sales 70% during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to respondents to a survey conducted by the Oklahoma Main Street Center. [Tulsa World]

No loans, less business. But these OKC Hispanic restaurants are managing (video): As part of the Coronavirus Storytelling Project, hear how the pandemic impact struck Hispanic restaurants in Oklahoma City. [Video / Oklahoma Watch]

As COVID-19 disrupts beef supply chain, Oklahoma ranchers look for local solutions: A growing demand for more locally-sourced food options has been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on large meat processing hubs throughout the country. Oklahoma ranchers want to increase the state’s cattle processing and packing capacity to provide more local beef options for Oklahoma consumers. [KOSU]

Thousands Of Oklahoma farmers approved for coronavirus relief funds: According to payment data released by the department on June 8, more than 7,000 applications of financial aid for Oklahoma farmers are included in those aid payments. [KOSU]

Millennials’ market: Young finding ways to buy OKC real estate: Many are taking advantage of low interest rates and state incentives that allow people with limited means an entrance into Oklahoma’s homeowners’ market. [The Journal Record]

Education News

Federal funds drive $10 million budget increase for OKC schools: Despite economic shortfalls, Oklahoma City Public Schools will see about a $10 million budget increase in the next fiscal year. The school district’s Board of Education approved a budget of $685,864,000 for Fiscal Year 2021 on Monday, up from nearly $676 million the year before. [The Oklahoman]

General News

Editorial: ​New people, processes and polling places could mean trouble for the June 30 election: There are a lot of reasons to worry about the state’s June 30 election… Potentially, we’ll have voters running around town on June 30 trying to find their precincts, where they’ll find long lines and inexperienced officials. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Oklahoma financial institutions to offer free absentee voting services: The Secretary of the Oklahoma State Election Board joined representatives of the Oklahoma Bankers Association, Oklahoma Credit Union Association, and Community Bankers Association of Oklahoma Friday to announce that financial institutions across the state plan to offer free absentee voting services to all Oklahoma voters. [Oklahoma State Election Board / The Ada News]

Some Oklahoma State Parks to charge fees starting June 15: Nearly two dozen Oklahoma State Parks will begin charging entrance fees next week. The fees, which will be charged per vehicle, will be used to help fund a backlog of deferred maintenance and park improvements. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Oklahoma County reports increase in COVID-19 cases as protests continue [FOX25]
  • City of Chickasha: Firefighters test positive for COVID-19 [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Comanche, Jackson, Stephens counties report slight increase in COVID-19 cases over weekend [Texoma’s Homepage]

Quote of the Day

“For years, the Black Caucus collectively has created bills related to law enforcement reform only to meet disregard and rejection from leadership… Beyond conversation, we need good legislation to be implemented.” 

-State Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa [CNHI]

Number of the Day


Percentage of child care workers who are women of color. Women of color represent 20% of the U.S. population. 

[Source: Real Clear Politics]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The forgotten essential workers: Women of color in child care: As politicians and pundits rightfully praise essential workers during this pandemic, rarely does anyone mention another group of genuine heroes: those who care for the children of other essential workers. Could it be that because these workers are disproportionately women of color, their service is overlooked and undervalued? While women of color represent only 20% of the American population, they comprise 40% of the roughly 1.5 million child care workers in the United States. [Real Clear Policy]

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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