In The Know: ‘Catastrophic scene’ of Tulsa mass shooting | Lawmakers and governor prepare for special session | Everyone can be a change maker |

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

Policy Matters: Everyone can be a change maker: Up until a dozen years ago, I might have said that it’s only the well-connected few who can create or shape state laws and policies. However, in the last decade, I have seen firsthand how everyday Oklahomans have helped raise their political voices to move our state forward. They have flexed their political power – individually and collectively – through public protests, the state question process, and the ballot box in order to create change. [Shiloh Kantz / The Journal Record

Oklahoma News

‘Catastrophic scene’ inside Tulsa medical building where five people died in mass shooting: Tulsa police described a “catastrophic scene” inside a medical office building in south Tulsa where five people died and multiple more were injured during a mass shooting on Wednesday afternoon. [Tulsa World

  • Five dead, including shooter, on Saint Francis Hospital campus: Update expected this morning [Tulsa World
  • What we know about shooting at Tulsa medical center [The Oklahoman
  • A Medical Worker Rushed to Escape From a ‘Labyrinth’ of Offices in Tulsa [The New York Times
  • Tulsa mass shooter targeted Black doctor at Saint Francis medical building [The Black Wall Street Times
  • Tulsa shooting draws reactions from Oklahoma lawmakers, elected officials [The Oklahoman
  • Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent calls for task force to research mass shootings [Public Radio Tulsa

101 years on, Tulsa Race Massacre survivors and descendants are still fighting for long-delayed justice: The memory and effects of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre are still felt around this city more than a century after the racist attack on Greenwood, community leaders here said during anniversary events this week. [Public Radio Tulsa

  • Biden marks 101st anniversary of Tulsa Race Massacre [AP News]
  • President Biden marks 101st anniversary of ‘Black Wall Street’ racial violence in Oklahoma. ‘This was not a riot, it was a massacre’ [Fotune]

Oklahoma lawmakers, governor prepare for special session: Lawmakers will return as ordered later this month to take up inflation relief and possible tax reform, but they’ll be doing it on their terms, the most powerful Republican in the state House said. “What the governor does not understand is you never call a special session until you have an agreed-upon plan to run,” said House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka. “But we will show up. We are going to continue to lead in the Legislature.” [Enid News & Eagle]

Column: Asking for more this Pride Month: Our state leadership seems both unwilling to change and intent on continually making Oklahoma less and less welcoming to LGBTQ+ individuals. I would hope that as residents of this place, we can work to become a more accepting and loving electorate, one that rejects bigotry and those who ensure its survival. [Column / Norman Transcript

Upcoming Event: Together Oklahoma, in conjunction with the City of Lawton and the McMahon Memorial Authority, is excited to announce the upcoming Statewide 2SLGBTQIA+ Listening Session: Pride and Policy. Featuring best-selling author John Paul Brammer, this hybrid event will be held in Lawton, Oklahoma and available to join online via Zoom across the state. Learn more about this and other listening sessions.

State Government News

What Oklahoma lawmakers did and didn’t do on criminal justice this session: Oklahoma’s four-month regular legislative session adjourned sine die on Friday. In the realm of criminal justice, we now have a clear picture of where reform efforts stand. [Oklahoma Watch

Voting law legislation might lead to more confusion than change: Oklahoma lawmakers worried about election security stirred up some dust during the recently completed legislative session, but it may have settled on more confusion than change. Most of the dozen or so election-related bills that made it through the sausage grinder into statute are primarily technical in nature. [Tulsa World

Hundreds of bills passed the Legislature. Just a dozen were authored by Democrats: An Oklahoma Watch review found that of the more than 430 bills making it to the governor’s desk during the four-month session that ended Friday, just a dozen bills had a Democrat as the original lead sponsor. [Oklahoma Watch

Critics say Oklahoma’s abortion and Critical Race Theory crackdowns rely on fear: Vague laws leave residents wondering what’s legal and what isn’t. Opponents argue that is by design. Oklahoma’s new abortion laws are confusing. So confusing, even the lawmakers who voted to approve them struggle to understand them. [State Impact Oklahoma

  • Could Oklahoma’s abortion ban restrict IVF? Here’s what experts say, and why patients are ‘panicking’ [The Oklahoman

When it comes to news, southeast Oklahoma counties disconnected from state: Deep in southeast Oklahoma, there’s a running joke that, as far as the Legislature is concerned, Oklahoma ends in McAlester, a city about an hour and a half north of the Texas border. Far from the center of either Oklahoma or Texas, places like Durant can end up as information outcasts, grafted into the coverage area of the closest major city, even if it’s in a different state, or left in a dead zone when it comes to news that affects the local community. [NonDoc

Oklahoma Adopts Mini Telephone Consumer Protection Act: Oklahoma joins Florida in passing its own version of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) called the “Telephone Solicitation Act of 2022.” The legislation is set to take effect on Nov. 1, 2022. [Mondaq]

Voting and Election News

Voter registration for Oklahoma’s primaries ends June 3rd: Friday, June 3rd is the last day for Oklahomans to register to vote in the state primaries on June 28th. It is also the last day current voters are able to change their address information. [The Black Wall Street Times

Oklahoma County jail: What to know before the $260M bond vote June 28: Oklahoma County officials have pinned their hopes on a $260 million bond issue to replace the long-troubled county jail. And they don’t appear to have a fallback plan if voters reject the proposal on June 28.  [The Oklahoman

Health News

Oklahoma adopts new system for Medicaid management: After years of battle in the courts and at the state Capitol over how best to manage the state’s $7 billion Medicaid program, Oklahoma lawmakers and Gov. Kevin Stitt are agreed on a new structure scheduled to go into effect on July 1. [The Journal Record

Economic Opportunity

Homeless count highlights need for continued investments in OKC affordable housing: The results of Oklahoma City’s annual homeless count were released Wednesday, and despite a decline in the number of people counted, area homeless service providers say consistent issues remain across the city, especially concerning affordable housing. [The Oklahoman

Economy & Business News

Oklahoma City Starbucks becomes first in the state to unionize: The national movement for Starbucks unionization had its first major victory in Oklahoma Tuesday. Following a vote of 15-2, the Starbucks on 23rd and Robinson in Oklahoma City became the state’s first store to win a union. [KGOU

Education News

Oklahoma Bets on School Counseling Corps to Address ‘Mental Health Deserts’: Maggie Maples is part of the Oklahoma Counseling Corps, a new effort to increase the number of mental health professionals in Oklahoma schools. She sees children individually and serves groups of students “who can’t make it through a typical school day,” she said. Prior to the pandemic, the state legislature repeatedly rebuffed state Superintendent Joy Hofmeister’s request for $58 million to hire 1,000 new counselors. [The 74

Oklahoma officials look at certification requirement obstacles with teacher shortage: Officials are seeking new ways to address some of the reasons behind Oklahoma’s continuing teacher shortage. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said she wants to ensure qualified individuals can teach in Oklahoma classrooms without being bogged down by state-specific exams. [KOCO

Quote of the Day

“Often or almost always in rural Oklahoma, we are forgotten. We are the grassroots of what has contributed to our great state, and we are very proud of what our contributions have been. But we also have voices, and we want them heard.”

– Janet Reed, executive director of the Durant Area Chamber of Commerce. [NonDoc]

Number of the Day


Percent of Oklahoma children K-12 enrolled in public school

[Source: Census American Community Survey 5-Year Estimate]

Policy Note

Assessment Inequities Hurt Black Households: The assessment inequity issue is a compounding one for many communities of color. On top of historic federal programs that disproportionately advantaged white Americans over Black Americans (such as Urban Renewal, the GI Bill, and, most obviously, Jim Crow Laws), Black Americans still have to face subtle inequities hidden in opaque systems, as seen in property assessments. [Strong Towns]

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Kristin Wells served as the Communications and Operations Fellow for OK Policy from October 2021 to July 2022. She previously worked as a digital content producer for News On 6. A native Kansas Citian, Kristin graduated with a B.A. in Media Studies and a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Tulsa in 2020. While there, she was accepted into the Global Scholars program, spurring her interests in policy, social movements, global identities, and the importance of education and advocacy. She hopes to use her skills to continue to learn and create a more equitable future for Oklahomans. An avid sports fan, Kristin lives in Tulsa with her rescue dog and is passionate about college basketball, documentaries, and coffee.

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