In The Know: Fallout from signing controversial HB 1775 | Cherokee, Chickasaw leaders endorse proposed criminal jurisdiction legislation | 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

Pressure mounts on centennial commission as Tulsa Race Massacre anniversary approaches: With three weeks to go until the centennial of Tulsa’s 1921 Race Massacre, life keeps getting more complicated for the commission attempting to steer the city through an emotionally complex anniversary. The commission met into the night Monday as pressure mounted to expel some of its most prominent members, including Gov. Kevin Stitt, while it dealt with potentially crippling legislation, the completion of the Greenwood Rising History Center, and an announcement by the New Black Panther Party and affiliated organizations that 1,000 armed black men will march in Tulsa on the weekend of the observance. The dispute over House Bill 1775 seems to illustrate the apparent gulf between Oklahoma’s minority population — in this case Black Oklahomans — and the state’s political leaders. [Tulsa World]

‘Indian land’: Draft of Cole bill on Cherokee, Chickasaw nations’ reservations revealed: Leaders of the Cherokee Nation and Chickasaw Nation announced their support Monday for federal legislation being proposed by U.S. Rep. Tom Cole that would allow the two tribes to negotiate compacts with the state of Oklahoma on criminal jurisdiction issues. But the language of the proposed bill — revealed below — has other potential implications. [NonDoc] Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr., and Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby have been calling on Congress for months to give them the flexibility to negotiate with the state on criminal jurisdiction. [The Oklahoman] Both tribal nations have been working with U.S. Rep. Tom Cole and other members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation to get language together that would allow for compacting. [KOSU] Three of the other Five Tribes — the Choctaw, Muscogee and Seminole nations — have not indicated that they would be willing to negotiate a compact over criminal jurisdiction. [AP News] Though the legislation will allow the Chickasaws and Cherokees to compact with the state to allow county district attorneys to prosecute non-Indian on Indian crime, the other three tribes thus far affected by the McGirt decision have previously expressed hesitance to involve Congress, and have suggested the federal government send more resources to the U.S. Attorneys offices to deal with the lack of prosecution resources. The Muscogee Nation said in a statement that the tribe respects the other tribes’ willingness to seek legislation, but also cautioned that, if not done properly, such legislation could pave the way for the federal government to force other tribes into similar compacting arrangements. [The Frontier] Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter, through a spokesman, issued tentative support for federal legislation aimed at addressing McGirt jurisdictional issues. [Tulsa World]

Health News

State begins publishing COVID-19 variant data as it still ranks last in U.S. for genetic sequencing: Oklahoma remains last in genomic sequencing for COVID-19 variants in the U.S., federal data show, but the state now is releasing its data publicly in a weekly report as it says it’s ramping up that work. [Tulsa World]

As demand slows, OKC-County Health Dept. takes COVID vaccines on the road to fill gaps: As the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations slows in Oklahoma and other parts of the U.S., the Oklahoma City-County Health Department is taking inoculations into communities for pop-up clinics. The approach is a way to remove potential barriers preventing someone from getting to a vaccination site, like lack of transportation, and offer convenient shots to those who otherwise might not seek one out, said OCCHD Executive Director Patrick McGough. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma officials prepare to offer COVID-19 vaccines to teens as shots near approval [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

House leadership taking up multicounty grand jury recommendations from Epic Charter Schools investigation: Members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives are dusting off legislation that lay dormant and considering other new recommendations because of last week’s call to action by the state’s multicounty grand jury, which has been investigating Epic Charter Schools. [Tulsa World]

  • Editorial: After studying Epic schools for 13 months, Oklahoma’s multicounty grand jury has issued an agenda for reform. The state needs to listen. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Gov. Kevin Stitt signs bill making it misdemeanor to honk at bicyclists, animal-drawn vehicles: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Monday signed a bill that makes it a misdemeanor to honk at a bicycle or at an animal-drawn vehicle. House Bill 1770 says drivers can’t use a horn with passing a person on a bike or in an animal-drawn vehicle if no imminent danger of a collision exists. The measure also allows a bike rider to go through a stop sign if the rider determines there is no immediate hazard. [Tulsa World]

Adrian Beverage: SAFE Banking Act ‘very important’ for Oklahoma: Adrian Beverage has practically grown up in Oklahoma’s banking industry. His father, Roger Beverage, shepherded the Oklahoma Bankers Association as president and CEO for more than three decades. The Oklahoma Bankers Association assists its members with government relations, educational programs, legal and compliance services, communications, insurance products and numerous other products and services. [NonDoc]

Federal Government News

Stimulus money released for state, local and tribal governments: The Biden administration on Monday began releasing billions of dollars in aid to state, local and tribal governments, with fewer strings attached than last year’s relief funding and much more time to spend the money. The state of Oklahoma would get nearly $1.9 billion in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, while Oklahoma City would get $122.5 million and Oklahoma County would receive about $155 million, according to figures released by the U.S. Treasury Department. [The Oklahoman]

  • The fund will award $126.5 million to Tulsa County and $87.8 million to the City of Tulsa. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Federal authorities helping with investigation of ransomware attack that is slowing city services: The FBI and Department of Homeland Security are assisting the city in its investigation of a ransomware attack that Mayor G.T. Bynum acknowledged Monday is slowing the delivery of city services, including the work of police and firefighters. [Tulsa World]

  • ‘It’s a lot more attractive to target a city’: An expert explains Tulsa ransomware attack [Public Radio Tulsa]

Criminal Justice News

Visitors, volunteers return to Oklahoma prisons as cases drop, vaccine access widens: It was a long 18 months for Chele Mickle and her brother Charles, who is serving 30 years at the Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville for armed robbery. The siblings reunited May 4 during a two-hour socially distanced and masked visit. While corrections officers restricted physical contact, Mickle said the in-person visit was more fulfilling than a phone call could ever be. [Oklahoma Watch]

Economic Opportunity

Commemoration fund announces $1M in inaugural grants to address problems caused by systemic racism: A charitable trust focused on supporting nonprofits that serve Tulsans of color has announced its first slate of grants — a total of $1 million. The Commemoration Fund picked 20 organizations out of around 75 applicants for awards ranging from $5,000 to $160,000. They’ll help pay for things like increased access to healthy food, out-of-school education programs and even an original album performed entirely in Cherokee. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Stay order issued in CDC eviction moratorium ruling: A federal judge has issued a stay order following a ruling that would rescind the CDC’s eviction moratorium. “We know, just in Oklahoma, thousands of cases have been paused on moratorium that are in the court system,” Katie Dilks, Executive Director for Oklahoma Access to Justice Foundation, said. However, that could soon change following a ruling by a federal judge last week. [KFOR]

Taxpayers’ bill for panhandling case not settled yet: The city of Oklahoma City has until May 26 to respond to a request for $1.3 million in fees sought by civil rights attorneys who successfully challenged a 2015 panhandling ordinance. A federal appeals court panel in Denver ruled last summer the ordinance was unconstitutional. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Fuel shortage not expected for Oklahoma motorists after Colonial Pipeline closure: Oklahomans aren’t expected to see a fuel shortage after the cyberattack-caused shutdown of a pipeline system that provides nearly half of the fuel consumed on the U.S. East Coast. But it’s likely national per-gallon prices for fuel will continue to climb, both because of the Colonial Pipeline shutdown and the approach of the heavily traveled Memorial Day holiday weekend. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Issues emerge over student computers: The pandemic put devices in the hands of more schoolchildren than ever before, as schools pivoted to remote learning. Students, teachers and administrators learned how to adapt – and so did those who would exploit students’ data for personal gain. Friday’s JR/Now webinar focused on how that data is being managed by schools and the companies they contract with to make remote learning possible. [The Journal Record]

General News

Oldest known survivor of Tulsa Race Massacre honored by politicians and celebrities: Mother Fletcher, one of the last known living survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre, continues the fight to receive reparations in her lifetime. In recognition of Viola “Mother” Fletcher’s 107th birthday, politicians, celebrities, and leading activists came together for a NowThis compilation video highlighting her century-long fight for justice and accountability, organizers of the Black Wall Street Legacy Festival (Legacy Fest) announced today. [The Black Wall Street Times] | [Tulsa World]

Report: Tornadic activity on the rise: Tornadoes have been rare across Oklahoma this spring, but what does that mean for the rest of 2021? Absolutely nothing, said Rick Smith, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service Norman Forecast Office. A slow start to the peak tornado threat period – March through May – does not foretell the future. “You can’t say scientifically that it will be a slow season or we’re due,” Smith said. [The Journal Record]

Oklahoma Local News

  • ‘Curveball’: Edmond council delays sales tax idea over referendum, contract concerns [NonDoc]
  • You can see some of the best public art in the country in Oklahoma City [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“The next time that the United States fully funds programs that affect Indian Country will be the first time they’ve done it.”

-Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.  [The Frontier]

Number of the Day


The number of committee hearings held on Oregon’s education budget so far this year. Oklahoma committees do not accept public testimony.

[Source: Oregon Legislative Information System]

Policy Note

State budget actions tell us how well our democracy is working: Forty-seven states must pass state budgets this year. The majority of them have introduced budget bills and are debating them in public, often inviting participation from citizens. Many will devote months to an open, public discussion of the state’s service and fiscal priorities. Oklahoma, by contrast, is one of few states where there is currently no introduced budget and limited discussion of budget priorities. Oklahoma is likely to once again wait until late in the legislative session to introduce a budget and then to bypass regular legislative rules to pass a budget in just a week or two with little to no public debate. [Paul Shinn / OK 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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