In The Know: Oklahoma primaries today | Oklahoma to decide SQ 802 | Tulsa remains virus hot spot | Changes in Gov.’s cabinet

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.

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Oklahoma’s primary is today: Get out and vote (safely): On Tuesday, Oklahomans will go to the polls for the statewide primary election, which also includes State Question 802 to expand Medicaid. If you have not already cast an absentee ballot or participated in early voting, polls will be open for in person voting from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday. We encourage all Oklahomans to cast their ballots safely during this election, and we’re sharing some additional tips for those voting today. We also encourage a YES vote for SQ 802 because Medicaid expansion has a proven track record to creating healthier communities. [OK Policy

Medicaid expansion can address Oklahoma’s mental health and criminal justice needs: To have any hope of aspiring to “top 10” status in fighting mental illness and addiction, Oklahoma needs a large infusion of dollars into the Oklahoma Departement of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. As luck would have it, that may now be possible. More than 313,000 Oklahomans signed the petition for State Question 802, which would expand Medicaid coverage that would pump over $1 billion annually into Oklahoma health care. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma voters to decide whether to expand Medicaid: Oklahoma voters will decide Tuesday whether to expand Medicaid to tens of thousands of low-income residents and become the first state to amend their Constitution to do so. While an increasing number of Oklahoma voters took advantage of mail-in voting for Tuesday’s primary, polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. statewide. [AP News]

  • Tribal officials look to Oklahoma primary for Medicaid expansion [NonDoc]
  • Oklahoma set to hold state’s first election during coronavirus pandemic [KOCO]
  • From suggested masks to unprecedented mail-in absentee ballot numbers, state braces for first pandemic election [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahomans urged to wear a mask to vote Tuesday [The Oklahoman]
  • Record number of mail-in votes for Tuesday primary [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma Votes: June 30 Primaries [KOSU]
  • What you need to know about today’s elections in Colorado, Oklahoma and Utah [FiveThirtyEight]
  • ‘America, are you listening?’ A civil rights leader unmasks the risks many are taking [Commentary / Oklahoma Watch]
  • Editorial: It’s time for the people to speak [Tulsa World Editorial]

Tulsa area remains hot spot; surge in cases at poultry plant in southeast: Confirmed cases of COVID-19 spiked in Oklahoma in the last week of June, with more than 2,600 new cases reported by the Oklahoma State Health Department. Young and middle-aged adults made up most of the new cases from June 19 to June 26. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • COVID-19: Death toll at 385 as cases rise by 228 across Oklahoma [Tulsa World]
  • Mobile testing sites seeing surge in demand [CNHI via The Duncan Banner]
  • Dozens of Oklahoma businesses temporarily closing due to coronavirus spike [KOSU]
  • New OSU re-opening guidelines include face coverings for all employees and students [Stillwater News Press]
  • ‘I really hadn’t thought about who would care for me and my well-being because my mom did that’ [KOSU]

People camp outside Oklahoma unemployment office overnight in hope of getting help: At least 200 people lined up Monday at Oklahoma’s unemployment office, desperate for help as some have waited months to get unemployment benefits amid the coronavirus pandemic. [KOCO]

Black Lives Matter OKC leader criticizes DA for protest charges: The executive director of Black Lives Matter Oklahoma City on Monday called the filing of criminal charges against protesters deeply disturbing, heartbreaking and an “instance of oppression.” [The Oklahoman] Multiple OKC protestors charged with terrorism, rioting, assault and battery [KOSU]

Health News

As opioids flooded tribal lands across the U.S., overdose deaths skyrocketed: At the height of the opioid epidemic, Native Americans overdosed and died at a rate that rivaled some of the hardest-hit regions in Appalachia. Nationwide, from 2006 to 2014, Native Americans were nearly 50 percent more likely to die of an opioid overdose than non-natives, a Washington Post analysis found. [The Washington Post]

Tribe steps up health service as pandemic numbers rise: Oklahoma saw an increase in positive COVID-19 cases over the past week, bringing the total number up to more than 13,000 statewide. And Cherokee Nation Health Services facilities remain vigilant in case of an increase in patient visits. [Tahlequah Daily Press]

State Government News

Key Stitt cabinet members on coronavirus stepping down: Two of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s key cabinet members at the forefront of the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic announced Monday they are stepping down to return to their full-time jobs. [AP News] After about 15 months on the job, Secretary of Health and Mental Health Jerome Loughridge and Secretary of Science and Innovation Dr. Kayse Shrum are stepping down from their positions in Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s cabinet to return to their full-time careers. Shrum and Loughridge had been leaders within the Stitt administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. [NonDoc] Both were volunteers in the Stitt administration and were juggling the duties of public service, along with their professional work. [The Oklahoman] Stitt announced their replacements on Monday with the appointment of Kevin Corbett as secretary of health and mental health and Elizabeth Pollard as secretary of science and innovation. [Tulsa World]

Dozens of new Oklahoma laws to take effect July 1: Roughly two dozen new state laws will take effect in Oklahoma on Wednesday. Here’s a look at some of the new laws, which include cost-of-living adjustments, corrections employee pay raises, pay raises for poll workers, judicial pay raises, virtual charter school reforms, school sports safety, teaching certificates, local grocery stores, and carryover education funds. [The Oklahoman]

Two new gaming compacts go into effect in Oklahoma: Despite pending lawsuits in both state and federal court, two new gaming compacts will go into effect. On Monday, the Department of Interior published the agreements in the Federal Register for compacts signed at the end of April between the state of Oklahoma and the Comanche Nation, and the Otoe-Missouria Tribe. [KOSU] But whether they will be allowed to remain in effect is an issue currently pending before the Oklahoma Supreme Court. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Businesses ask Congress to bail out governments, sensing tax targets on their backs: City halls and statehouses are getting a boost in their scramble for federal aid from an unexpected source: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber, whose primary job is to look out for big businesses, says if help doesn’t come, states and cities will likely lay off more workers, cut services and raise taxes, deepening the economic crisis. Businesses are concerned, especially about taxes. [Politico]

Oklahoma lawmakers seek information about reported Russian bounties on US troops: Oklahoma lawmakers on Monday expressed deep concern about reports that Russia placed bounties on U.S. service members and troops from other Western countries serving in Afghanistan. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

‘We need this community to come together’: Police chief asks for prayer, unity after officers shot during traffic stop: Police Chief Wendell Franklin asked for prayer while noting the situations his officers have faced in recent weeks — from the pressure of a search for two missing children to the anger directed at officers during protests against police brutality. [Tulsa World] One is a department veteran with a track record of problem solving, entrusted with training reserve officers and supervising novice officers. The other is just such a novice, only six weeks into patrol duty. [Tulsa World]

Citing no evidence, police union claims ‘anti-police rhetoric’ played role in Tulsa Police officers’ shooting: Citing no evidence, the head of Tulsa’s local police union claimed in a statement that a “national anti-police narrative” played a role in the shooting of two Tulsa police officers during a traffic stop early Monday morning. [Public Radio Tulsa] “As I’ve spoken with police overnight and into this morning, we can’t help but see the work of the national anti-police narrative here,” Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police Chairman Jerad Lindsey wrote on Facebook. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma County Jail Trust talks contracts, COVID-19 before July 1 takeover: Two days before officially taking over management of the county jail on July 1, the Oklahoma County Jail Trust shored up last-minute contracts and discussed the COVID-19 situation the new management team will be stepping into at the facility. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

North Tulsa grocery store breaks ground: On June 26, the Tulsa Economic Development Corporation (TEDC) broke ground on Oasis Fresh Market, a long-awaited grocery store for North Tulsa. The new Oasis Fresh Market is being built in a location known as a “food desert,” an area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or fresh food. [The Oklahoma Eagle]

Economy & Business News

With bankruptcies surging, 2020 may become one of the busiest years for Chapter 11 filings since the Great Recession: Twelve midsize to large corporations – all with more than $10 million in debt – filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection during the third week of June, another consequence of the coronavirus pandemic and continued trouble in America’s oil industry. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Tulsa school board approves calendar with COVID flexibility built in for 2020-21 school year: Major changes are coming this fall for Tulsa Public Schools, which will start the 2020-21 school year almost two weeks later than usual and implement district-wide distance learning on Wednesdays. The Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education approved an unprecedented calendar on Monday evening that changes the start date for the coming school year to Aug. 31 and the end date to June 8. The school year will consist of 152 instructional days lasting 436 minutes instead of the traditional 166 days lasting 400 minutes. [Tulsa World]

OKC schools to offer in-person and virtual classes next year: The largest school district in Oklahoma is pushing toward traditional and virtual education in the 2020-21 school year with a device for every student, extensive health protocols and a possible increase to substitute teacher pay. [The Oklahoman] The plan this year is for the district to leverage technology to provide options upfront for parents and students as well as a smooth way to transition to all-virtual if the pandemic becomes worse in the fall and schools are ordered closed again. [Free Press OKC]

Oklahoma Local News

  • OSBI takes over Norman sexual assault investigation [The Oklahoman]
  • Major County candidate to host private event for band tied to Nazi symbols [Enid News & Eagle]
  • As events return to Expo Square, county turns to Tulsa Health Department for guidance [Tulsa World]
  • ‘Revive the spirit of Black Wall Street’: Program for Black student entrepreneurs kicks off 12th summer with new $1,000 prize [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“When you look at the hospitals throughout rural Oklahoma, they’re the lifeblood of many of these communities. And if these hospitals go away, there is no emergency room to go get a COVID test. There is no place if you’re having a heart attack to go have someone save your life. There is no place to go if you have a stroke.”

-Shawn Terry, Muscogee (Creek) Secretary of Health [NonDoc]

Number of the Day


Percentage of uninsured Oklahomans, which ranks the state second nationally for number of uninsured residents.

[Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The Impact of Medicaid Expansion on States’ Budgets: To date, dozens of studies have documented the fiscal effects in expansion states. While the studies do not account for every possible impact, all find that the net cost of Medicaid expansion is well below the sticker price. In many cases, researchers have found that Medicaid expansion generates enough savings and/or new revenue to more than offset a state’s share of the cost. Building from these studies, researchers in at least eight nonexpansion states project similar savings and revenue, should their states expand Medicaid. [Commonwealth Fund]

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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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