In The Know: Presidential rally brings national focus, concerns; Mayor says he won’t ‘attempt to block’ event

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

During this economic crisis we want people to work. Let’s give them the tools to do it: In the week ending May 30, more than 60,000 Oklahomans filed new unemployment claims, making Oklahoma one of three states with the largest increases in initial claims. As job growth from the last five years has essentially been lost, those Oklahomans who have been arrested or incarcerated will be hit especially hard by these changes. [Emma Morris / OK Policy]

Census “Get Out The Count” Juneteenth Celebration: How can Juneteenth help the Census?: Throughout the country, efforts are being made to ensure Black communities are counted for the 2020 Census. As we approach this year’s Juneteenth celebration, we have a chance to do just that. [Jacobi Crowley / Together Oklahoma

SoonerCare 2.0 federal comment period open through June 27: The federal agency that oversees Medicaid is now accepting public comments through June 27 about the Governor’s health care proposal that he has been calling SoonerCare 2.0. Comments can be submitted through the website. [] OK Policy and Together Oklahoma are members of the CoverOK coalition, which advocates to protect and expand Medicaid in the state.

Oklahoma News

Gov. Stitt Q&A on Trump rally in Tulsa: A venue change? A tour of Greenwood? The danger of COVID?: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Monday said he has asked President Donald Trump to tour the Greenwood District during his visit to Tulsa on Saturday. The governor said it will be an effort to secure federal dollars for a museum dedicated to the area’s history, including the Tulsa Race Massacre. Stitt also addressed several questions regarding the president’s visit, including a possible venue change, COVID-19 and what precautions to take in large gatherings. [Tulsa World] The first-term Republican governor also revealed that he was one of a number of people who requested that the president’s rally be delayed from its original date of June 19, a day called Juneteenth that recognizes the end of slavery in America. [NonDoc]

  • Oklahoma governor seeks larger event for Trump’s Tulsa rally [AP News]
  • Trump rally spills over into second Tulsa venue, and Pence announces he will also attend [Tulsa World]
  • ‘I’m extremely concerned’: Tulsa Health Department director doubles down on postponing Trump rally while addressing Tulsa school board [Tulsa World]
  • GOP senator defends Trump’s Tulsa rally as health official warns it’s a ‘huge risk factor’ amid coronavirus spike [Washington Post]
  • Trump campaign to give Tulsa rally-goers masks, fever checks [Reuters]
  • Don’t ask Tulsa’s mayor about Trump rally plans [AP News]
  • Black Tulsans apprehensive about possible Trump visit to Greenwood [Tulsa World]
  • Op-Ed: Trump event a dangerous insult to black Tulsans [Op-Ed / Tulsa World]
  • All eyes on Tulsa, The Black Wall Street Times emerges in special print edition [The Black Wall Street Times]
  • Why Trump moved his rally and the need for moral courage from Tulsa leader [Editorial / The Black Wall Street Times]
  • Is Mayor G.T. Bynum allowing an event that will cut lives short? [Op-Ed / The Black Wall Street Times]

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum says he won’t attempt to block Trump rally: Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum announced on Facebook Tuesday morning that he will not “attempt to block” President Donald Trump’s campaign rally scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at the BOK Center. [Tulsa World] Read Mayor Bynum’s full statement.

New Tulsa County COVID-19 cases surge to highest levels yet: COVID-19 in Tulsa County is surging well beyond its original April peak, disappointing those who hoped the disease might at least stay somewhat under wraps during the summer heat, like the flu or common cold. Tulsa County’s seven-day rolling average of new cases on Monday more than doubled the peak in April. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma has 8,417 known coronavirus cases and 359 reported deaths: There have been 8,417 confirmed cases in the state. The state estimates 6,628 people have recovered. At least 359 people had died as of June 15 — 0 more reported deaths than the day before and 11 more than a week ago. [The Frontier] Visit for the latest COVID-19 numbers in Oklahoma. 

Health News

Spike in COVID-19 cases prompts closure of Tulsa industrial plant until at least Monday: A surge in COVID-19 cases has forced IC Bus of Oklahoma to close its Tulsa plant until at least Monday. [Tulsa World]

COVID-19 cases on the rise in Oklahoma, but officials not ready to roll back reopening yet: Oklahoma health officials say the increase in new COVID-19 cases in the metro area is not just a spike, it’s a trend, and a lot of those new cases are in the younger age groups. [KFOR]

Tulsa nursing homes are welcoming visitors again, but not like before COVID-19: Nursing home visits resumed statewide Monday under guidelines approved last week by the governor. Most facilities in Oklahoma jumped immediately to Phase 3 of a three-phase reopening process, but Tulsa, with the number of COVID cases trending up again in recent days, remained under tighter restrictions. [Tulsa World]

The fight to protect abortion access amid the pandemic: Anti-abortion politicians across a large swath of the country seized on the public health crisis in order to push for clinic closures. In Oklahoma, clinic operators struggled to accommodate as many people as possible amid the new protocols. [The Intercept]

State Government News

Appropriations authority drops another $3.4M in last Equalization Board Certification before FY21: The State Board of Equalization on Monday gave one final confirmation of Oklahoma’s fiscal year 2021 budget amount. Lawmakers officially had $6.65 billion to spend as general revenue estimates declined about $3.6 million and their appropriations authority fell $3.4 million in the board’s latest certification. [Public Radio Tulsa] OK Policy: First look at the state’s FY 2021 budget and what must happen next.

OESC encourages unemployment claimants to visit local job centers: The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission is encouraging Oklahomans to visit their local office to file and process unemployment claims in addition to calling the statewide hotline for telephone-based support. [The Oklahoman]

Tulsa World editorial: Financial institutions offer a convenient solution to a nonexistent problem: Many banks and credit unions have announced they will offer notarization of absentee ballots for Oklahomans prior to the June 30 election. That’s a charitable offer, and one that many Oklahoma voters will gratefully accept. More than 40 Tulsa County bank locations are part of the effort. A full list can be found on the state election board’s website. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Federal judge rejects Stitt’s request for opinion on gaming compacts: A federal judge rejected Gov. Kevin Stitt’s call for the court to opine on his legal authority related to his entry into gaming compacts with two Oklahoma tribes after the attorney general and key lawmakers said they are “not authorized” under state law. [Tulsa World] The question at the heart of a hotly contested, nearly yearlong disagreement between Gov. Kevin Stitt and Native American tribes that operate casinos in Oklahoma may be answered soon. [The Journal Record]

High court agrees Oklahoma death row inmate entitled to new hearing: The U.S. Supreme Court confirmed on Monday that Oklahoma death row inmate Jimmy Dean Harris should get a hearing before a federal judge in Oklahoma City on whether his attorney provided ineffective assistance. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Businesses ask patrons to waive right to sue if they get ill: The liability waivers, similar to what President Donald Trump’s campaign is requiring for people to attend a Saturday rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, would protect businesses in states that don’t have liability limits or immunity from coronavirus-related lawsuits. [AP News]

Some restrictions eased in federal PPP loan program: Businesses that were worried their Paycheck Protection Program loan might become more of a liability than a help can find relief in recent changes to the program. The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020, signed by President Trump on June 5, addresses the major areas of concern with the federal Small Business Administration loan program as originally written. [The Journal Record]

Education News

Osage Nation to end Head Start program due to budget shortfall from COVID-19: The Osage Nation will close their 41-year-old Head Start program at the end of June due to budget constraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear said the Nation could face a $16 million budget shortfall after casinos were closed for two months. [KOSU]

General News

As coronavirus reshapes Pride, LGBTQ+ Oklahomans adapt: As the COVID-19 pandemic worsened throughout the beginning of the year, Pride organizers were forced to pivot from festivals and parades to virtual events. [Oklahoma Watch]

Gundy’s OAN support angers star Oklahoma St. RB Chuba Hubbard: Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard and coach Mike Gundy appear to have ironed out their differences for now. Hubbard suggested Monday he may boycott the program after Gundy was photographed wearing a T-shirt promoting the One America News Network, a far-right news channel that has been praised by President Donald Trump. [AP News] In video, OSU coach Mike Gundy promises change after Chuba Hubbard, other players voice concerns [Tulsa World] Hubbard: “I spoke out because I am emotionally drained and I’m tired of seeing stuff happening without results or consequences. I realize I have a platform to generate change and I am trying my best to use it accordingly.” [The Oklahoman]

Oklahomans rethink Confederate monuments around state: Two Confederate monuments commemorating the Cherokee Nation’s role in the Civil War were removed from the Cherokee Nation’s Capitol Square in Tahlequah on Saturday, almost 100 years after they were installed. [The Oklahoman]

So there’s an election this month…: While it’s hard to believe we’ve reached the midway mark in June, the world keeps turning whether or not you’ve caught your breath from the last three wild months since COVID-19 became a reality in Oklahoma. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Stillwater is spiking during Phase III of re-opening [Stillwater News Press]
  • Stillwater, Perkins-Tryon suspend conditioning work due to Payne County COVID-19 spike [Tulsa World]
  • Stillwater City Council weighs options as COVID-19 infections rise [Stillwater News Press]
  • Tulsa Mayor names former emergency medical services chief to lead Tulsa Fire Department [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“I’m extremely concerned… I think we have the responsibility to stand up when things are happening that I think are going to be dangerous for our community, which it will be. It hurts my heart to think about the aftermath of what’s going to happen.”

-Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Bruce Dart, speaking about public health implications from the upcoming presidential rally in Tulsa [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


The number of children with incarcerated parents in Oklahoma on any given day as of 2018.

[Source: The Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Black workers, already lagging, face big economic risks: Black Americans have been slightly more likely to lose jobs or income in the recession that took root as states locked down their economies. They are more worried about the financial toll from the virus than white Americans and have far fewer resources available to ride it out, given that they earn less money and have had less ability to build wealth. And they are dying at higher rates from the virus than whites. [New York Times]

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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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