In The Know: Budget bills scheduled for discussion today? | Lawmakers considering additional waiting period for disability services | 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.

New from OK Policy

Legislature tackles major issues of Medicaid expansion funding, budget agreement (Capitol Update): At the beginning of last week, legislators had two big policy issues to resolve before the end of session: The state budget and Medicaid. The job on Medicaid expansion was made easier by the availability of federal funds for use as the state match. Predictions of a tax increase if State Question 802 mandating Medicaid expansion passed proved to be unfounded. In fact, the proposed budget will both fund Medicaid expansion and pass corporate and individual income tax cuts. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Join the team as a Criminal Justice Policy Analyst: The Criminal Justice Policy Analyst researches and analyzes state policy issues related to criminal justice policy, processes and environment, particularly as it relates to fiscal issues and impacts on all Oklahomans, and collaborates with OK Policy team members and partners on criminal justice issues. Click here to learn more and apply. Click here to view all available positions.

Oklahoma News

Wherefore art thou budget bills? Around 2 p.m. today, however, the House and Senate Joint Committees on Appropriations and Budget (JCAB) are expected to hear several bills that contain budgetary specifics and other key policy changes agreed to as part of the broader deal. When paying attention to a legislative process — both federally and at the state level — it’s important to read the language of the actual bills. Unfortunately, as of the distribution of NonDoc’s Monday Newsletter at 7:15 a.m., neither the House nor Senate JCAB agenda has been released. That means the average person — and even most lawmakers — have no idea what bills will be voted on in about five hours. [NonDoc]

  • Oklahoma’s $8.3B budget agreement includes tax cuts, increased education funding [KGOU]
  • Medicaid funding a state budget question mark [The Journal Record]
  • Who are the winners and losers in the state budget agreement? [Tulsa World]
  • Capitol Insider: Budget agreement reached for Fiscal Year 2022 [KGOU]
  • Editorial: Oklahoma’s budget folly will be regretted [Editorial / Tulsa World]
  • Editorial: Proposed tax cuts deflate decent budget proposal [Editorial / The Muskogee Phoenix]

Senate panel passes bill for waiting period on services for some with intellectual disabilities: As Oklahoma lawmakers start to consider this session’s budget bills, a Senate panel advanced a proposal Friday to institute a five-year waiting period for new state residents in need of comprehensive services for kids and adults with intellectual disabilities. Senate Appropriations Chairman Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, said the waiting period is needed while the Department of Human Services reviews its 13-year waiting list for the programs, or roughly 6,000 applicants. Thompson said DHS has received $2 million a year for that study since he’s been appropriations chair. He was named to that post in 2018. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma governor booted from Tulsa Race Massacre commission: The commission formed to observe the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre announced Friday that it had booted Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt from his seat on the panel a week after he signed a bill outlawing the teaching of some race and racism concepts in public schools. [AP News] In a statement on Friday, the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission said its members had met on Tuesday and had “agreed through consensus to part ways” with Gov. Stitt. The statement did not offer a reason but said that no elected officials or representatives of elected officials had been involved in the decision. [New York Times]

  • Sen. Matthews: ‘No politicians’ involved in what comes after Race Massacre Centennial Commission [Public Radio Tulsa]

Health News

Oklahoma identifies cluster of 17 cases of COVID-19 variant first detected in India: The Oklahoma State Department of Health has identified a cluster of 17 recent cases in Oklahoma of a variant of COVID-19 first detected in India. Three of the cases in the cluster were in people who were fully vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine, health officials said. Two were partially vaccinated at the time their symptoms began. [The Oklahoman]

  • Plunging COVID vaccination rate leaves opportunity for virus resurgence despite improving state metrics [Tulsa World]
  • Masks still a reality of life for some OKC businesses, regardless of CDC recommendations [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Some Republicans oppose Stitt health care plan: The Oklahoma Legislature appears split on its plan for Medicaid expansion, which is expected to take effect July 1. Lawmakers have until the end of the month to alter the state’s course, as it currently is set to use Gov. Kevin Stitt’s plan that would outsource Medicaid to four different private insurance companies. House members have given the state another option by passing SB 131 that would require the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to oversee the expansion. However, it’s unclear whether the bill will get any consideration in the Senate. [Tahlequah Daily Press]

Oklahoma bucks red-state trend, extends early voting: Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, signed legislation this week that adds a day to in-person early voting in the state and an extra hour to Saturday early voting, and it also makes changes to ensure mail-in ballots are received in time to be counted. The move comes as voting has become a top issue among Republicans — but in the other direction. [AP News]

‘Advancing Oklahoma’ education series focusing on race, social issues planned for state’s leaders: A consortium of state groups will hold an 11-month online educational series for the state’s leaders starting next month. Leadership Oklahoma, The Oklahoma Academy, the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice, the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame have partnered to plan and deliver the educational series. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma House resolution on Israel draws flak: The Oklahoma House of Representatives’ latest show of support for Israel encountered passionate opposition on Friday from the Legislature’s only Muslim and from some Democrats who said the state should not be taking sides in that nation’s latest armed conflict with Palestinians. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Republican lawmakers find another route for ‘President Donald J. Trump Highway’ naming: Oklahoma Republican lawmakers have jump-started their efforts to rename a stretch of road in Cimarron County “President Donald J. Trump Highway.” [Public Radio Tulsa]

Federal Government News

Sen. Inhofe wants to give police $7.5 million for mental health training: Less than a week after a man who said he was mentally ill was killed by Oklahoma City police, Sen. Jim Inhofe announced legislation that would boost mental health training for law enforcement. On Friday morning at the Tulsa Police Officers’ Memorial, the Republican senator told a small group of reporters that he plans to file the Law Enforcement Training for Mental Health Crisis Response Act of 2021 next week. [Oklahoma Watch]

Congress to discuss Tulsa Race Massacre as 100-year anniversary approaches: The oldest known living survivor of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 is among witnesses scheduled to testify Wednesday before a congressional subcommittee exploring potential legal paths to compensate survivors and descendants. Viola Fletcher, who turned 107 last week, is expected to discuss the lawsuit filed last year against the city of Tulsa, Tulsa County, the Tulsa Regional Chamber, the Oklahoma National Guard and others. [The Oklahoman]

  • 74 photos that show the impact of the Tulsa Race Massacre [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

With Oklahoma tribes deeply divided, Rep. Tom Cole’s McGirt bill faces long road: Nearly a year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Congress never explicitly disestablished the Muscogee Nation’s reservation in Oklahoma, Congress is being asked to deal explicitly with some of the consequences of the high court’s decision. [The Oklahoman]

Federal murder charges in 11 Oklahoma cases due to McGirt: Eleven men whose murder convictions in Oklahoma were overturned because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on state jurisdiction in tribal territories have been charged with federal murder counts, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday. [AP News]

  • Here’s how Cherokee Tribal courts are handling the surge in cases due to the McGirt ruling [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

OKC police shooting footage should be released to public sooner, consultant says: Oklahoma City police take too long to release video from officer-involved shootings, the city’s law enforcement reform consultant says. In a letter this week, 21CP Solutions recommended the department develop a policy for releasing body-worn camera footage “at the earliest practical time.” [The Oklahoman]

Security concerns and allegations of prison misconduct will keep Julius Jones from appearing at his commutation hearing: Julius Jones will be barred from participating in the second stage of his commutation hearing because of two prison infractions he allegedly committed in 2020, according to records reviewed by The Frontier. Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board executive director Tom Bates also said prisoners in maximum security prisons are barred from making “personal appearances” at their hearings, a rule that would seemingly keep all future death row prisoners from making appearances before the board. [The Frontier]

Oklahoma County settles lawsuit over jail inmate’s murder: After being beaten at the Oklahoma County jail in 2017, inmate Maurice Dewayne Pendleton knew he was going to die. His family blamed his death on the county commissioners and the sheriff at the time and the “unconstitutional conditions” at the jail. Still pending are more than a dozen similar lawsuits that could result in higher taxes for property owners. Pendleton was beaten when he was left alone with other inmates on the jail’s eighth-floor basketball court. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

New beginnings for Tulsans brought in from the streets in pandemic, February’s extreme cold: Bringing Tulsa’s homeless people in from the streets because of the coronavirus pandemic or February’s brutal cold spell could have been one-time events. But months later, some Tulsans are still working behind the scenes to ensure these moments in time mark a new beginning for some of the city’s most vulnerable residents. [Tulsa World]

Go inside the new grocery store opening today in a Tulsa food desert: The bright lighting inside Oasis Fresh Market brings out the vivid colors of store’s large produce section. It also illuminates the possibilities for what owner A.J. Johnson envisions will be a community centerpiece. [Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Sales tax revenue up, unemployment down as Oklahoma City emerges after COVID precautions: The metro area is returning to work and economic activity, as reflected in sales tax revenue, is through the roof — indicators of a rebound after 14 months of COVID-19 precautions. The U.S. Labor Department says metro-area nonfarm employment increased 1.9%, to 634,100, from February to March. Unemployment fell to 4%. Oklahoma City sales tax revenue for the period from mid-March to mid-April set an all-time record as shoppers appeared to shake off the pandemic. [The Oklahoman]

  • 6 charts that show how the economy is doing in Tulsa and Oklahoma [Tulsa World]
  • OKC businesses struggle to find workers as customers return from pandemic [The Oklahoman]

Energy from neighboring states made a difference in last February’s historic storm: Energy providers and lawmakers are still hashing out last February’s winter storm. State climatologist Gary McManus gave on overview of the storm to an Oklahoma House committee. He said it may not be the coldest storm on record, but it did give Oklahoma its coldest single day ever: the average temperature across the state on February 15th was -.7 degrees. [Public Radio Tulsa]

‘It was a sign I had to start the brewery’: Oklahoma’s first Native American-owned brewing company, inspired by the recipes of the owner’s father, will open an independent location this summer. SkyDance Brewing Co., owned and operated by Jacob Keyes, a member of the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, opened in 2018 when Keyes started the business in honor of his father. [NonDoc]

Data center launched in Oklahoma City could soon support autonomous vehicles: It’s no longer science fiction. Autonomous vehicles and devices are very much a part of modern society, with delivery robots, autonomous and self-driving cars gaining a foothold in the world. [The Oklahoman]

Chesapeake Energy posts first-quarter profit after exiting bankruptcy earlier this year: Chesapeake Energy posted a net profit of $295 million according to its first quarterly earnings report since emerging from bankruptcy earlier this year. [The Oklahoman]

General News

Food for the soul: Muslim meals result in community connections: The holy month of Ramadan is all about community. For the past two years, local restaurants have been providing carry out meals for the Muslim community in lieu of large in person gatherings. [The Oklahoman]

John Legend to headline Tulsa Race Massacre centennial event ‘Remember & Rise’: Singer and activist John Legend will headline the nationally televised Tulsa Race Massacre event “Remember & Rise.” In addition to Legend, “Remember & Rise” will feature keynote speeches from national civic leaders and musical performances from additional artists on May 31, the 100-year anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, which falls fittingly on Memorial Day. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“The situation adds further legitimacy to the annual frustrations of House and Senate Democrats who argue they — and the general public — are routinely given little opportunity to read and review the year’s biggest pieces of legislation. Where is the commitment to transparency? Perhaps it is being drafted along with the budget bills.”

NonDoc Monday Minute Newsletter, noting that the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget had not yet posted its Monday agenda, which may include introduction of budget bills, even a handful of hours before the meeting is scheduled to start. 

Number of the Day


The racial disparity in the likelihood Black Tulsans will be subjected to physical force, including tasers, police dog bites, pepper spray, punches, and kicks as compared to White Tulsans. Black Tulsans are nearly three times as likely to be subjected to physical police force as their White neighbors. [Human Rights Watch]

Policy Note

Police shootings of children spark new outcry, calls for training to deal with adolescents in crisis: Stavian Rodriguez squeezed his 15-year-old body through the drive-through window of the Okie Gas Express convenience store, poking his hands out first so police could see they were empty. He jumped to the ground, holding his hands in the air, and then lifted his shirt to reveal a gun tucked into his front waistband. Using the tips of his thumb and index finger, Rodriguez gently pinched the end of the barrel far from the trigger — and dropped the weapon to the ground. [Washington Post]

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


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.