In The Know: Special sessions on the horizon | Calls for gun control | Updates to Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship

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

Special sessions on the horizon (Capitol Update): With legislators barely having time to unpack their bags after the four-month regular session ending May 27, Gov. Kevin Stitt has called them back to town for a special session on June 13. Special sessions in Oklahoma have been rare and usually called only when urgently needed. And most often only after legislative leaders and the governor have agreed on a plan. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy

Oklahoma News

How Oklahoma lawmakers have loosened gun regulations the past decade: Mass shootings at the Saint Francis Hospital on Wednesday in Tulsa, a Memorial Day festival in Taft, an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas and a supermarket in Buffalo, New York have reignited the gun control debate. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • Bynum, most other city elected officials, quiet on gun control measures [Tulsa World
  • Tulsa shooting renews calls to address violence in health care, raises security questions [The Oklahoman
  • Tulsa shooting puts focus on waiting periods for gun buyers [AP
  • Tulsa police response to mass shooter appears to be drastically different from Uvalde [Tulsa World
  • Taft residents try to reclaim ‘sense of community’; suspect charged with first-degree murder, 8 counts of shooting with intent to kill [Tulsa World]
  • Faith and firearms: Some Oklahoma religious leaders share their views on gun control [The Oklahoman
  • Never wrong to ask for help: Laureate Institute for Brain Research experts offer guidance navigating trauma of Saint Francis mass shooting [Tulsa World
  • Ginnie Graham: Americans do not have to live like this [Column / Tulsa World

State Government News

Oklahoma lawmakers addressed some challenges, passed on others in just-ended session: State lawmakers gathered four months ago for their annual legislative session at a time when grocery and gas costs were rising, schools were trying to overcome the learning losses of virtual class during the pandemic, and most state agencies were warning of a worsening worker shortage. Four months later, the Legislature adjourned after addressing some of the state’s biggest issues, while seemingly ignoring other pressing needs altogether. [The Oklahoman

New law bases Oklahoma’s Promise income limits on family size: Legislation to base income requirements for the Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship program on family size has been signed into law. Sen. Adam Pugh, chair of the Senate Education Committee, is the principal author of the measure, and said since the program’s creation, the income cap has been the same, regardless of how many children were in a family. [The Lawton Constitution]

Advocates say abortion ban and bathroom restriction laws could impact Oklahoma’s economy: Oklahoma now has the strictest abortion ban in the country and a new law restricting bathroom access to students. While the conversation at the state legislature has revolved around protecting a woman’s reproductive rights or protecting the life of an unborn child, what’s come up after the Governor’s signature is protecting Oklahoma’s economy. [Fox 25

  • Supporting abortion bans while advocating for capital punishment is not the Oklahoma Standard [Opinion / The Oklahoman
  • Empty clinics, no calls: The fallout of Oklahoma’s abortion ban [The Washington Post]

Guest column: The way to cut Oklahoma abortion rates is to boost education, health spending: On May 21, 2022, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill that bans abortion from fertilization. The bill has been cited by news sources and media outlets as the most restrictive ban in the country. Already, Oklahoma is one of the most difficult and traumatic places to raise a child. Banning abortion forces more children to be born into a state that takes less than minimal measures to ensure safety and security. [Column / The Oklahoman

‘More than roads and bridges’ : A day in the life of a county commissioner: County commissioners across the state are best known as three-member boards that repair roads and bridges in unincorporated areas, but the job is much more than that, say three longtime commissioners. [The Norman Transcript]

Tribal Nations News

Feds decline more than 5,800 criminal cases since McGirt ruling: Federal prosecutors in Oklahoma have declined to file thousands of criminal cases since the Supreme Court’s 2020 McGirt decision swamped U.S. attorney’s offices in the state with new case requests, according to a Tulsa World analysis of prosecution data. [Tulsa World]

  • Since McGirt, Tulsa DA says he worries about cases referred to tribes, unknown outcomes [Tulsa World]

Should the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding Schools have subpoena authority?:  Efforts to create a federal commission to explore the legacy of the nation’s Indian Boarding Schools have hit a stumbling block. Questions about who would have subpoena authority are triggering warnings in a key House subcommittee, as backers hope to advance a bill establishing a Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding Schools. [NonDoc

Oklahoma City Indian Clinic promotes LGBTQ+ health during Pride Month: Oklahoma City Indian Clinic (OKCIC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit clinic providing health and wellness services to American Indians in central Oklahoma, wants American Indians in the LGBTQ+ community to prioritize their health and wellness. [Indian Country Today]

Voting and Election News

Ballots available to vote in emergency situations: Registered voters who become physically incapacitated after 5 p.m. June 13 and cannot make it to the polls still will have an opportunity cast ballots in the June 28 primary election. [The Lawton Constitution]

Oklahoma Republicans gave party a double-digit registration edge in all five districts: Republicans hold voter registration advantages over Democrats ranging from 16 to 28 percentage points in the five congressional districts redrawn last year by the GOP-controlled state Legislature, according to new figures from the Oklahoma Election Board. [The Oklahoman

The Misinformation Election: Lies, Conspiracy Theories Prominent in Many GOP Races: An Oklahoma Watch review of statements, social media posts and campaign literature from legislative and congressional revealed more than a dozen candidates who have repeated lies that widespread voter fraud cost Donald Trump the 2020 election. As Oklahoma and the nation prepares for the first major set of elections since 2020, experts are warning that having these lies go unchallenged could further undermine future election results and Americans’ confidence in democracy. [Oklahoma Watch

Army veteran, former county GOP leader and former actor seek House District 31: The successor to Rep. Garry Mize in House District 31 will either be a military combat veteran, a former vice chairwoman of the Logan County Republican Party or a former Hollywood actor. [NonDoc

Economy & Business News

Norman builders maintain cautious outlook during steep drop in lumber futures: Lumber supply prices continue to drop significantly, but Norman-based, metro-area builders aren’t holding their breath in a volatile building costs market, and prospective new homebuyers won’t likely see a drop in prices in the coming weeks. [The Norman Transcript]

Enid to consider 2 new incentive agreements for wind energy business: The city of Enid is again trying to entice a new wind energy business using the popular method of covering development costs with newly generated property tax revenue — a process city officials began wielding nearly two decades ago to ultimately mixed results. [Enid News & Eagle]

Education News

New Pride book exhibit goes up at Enid library, first under new policy rules: Over a dozen library books with LGBTQ+ themes once again stand on easels as part of a Pride Month exhibit that members of the local advocacy group spent an hour setting up Saturday afternoon as part of the Enid library’s new policy on outside exhibits. [Enid News & Eagle]

Oklahoma Local News

Mayor Bynum amends homeless ordinance following outrage: According to Tulsa Housing Solutions, “On January 27, 2022, a total of 1,063 individuals, including children, were experiencing homelessness in Tulsa.” Mayor Bynum set forth an ordinance that would take a complex viewpoint to address the homeless population, which is now being amended. Following backlash, officials prepared an updated version, specifying the ordinance’s purpose while also addressing any questions and concerns. [The Black Wall Street Times

Enid to consider 2 new incentive agreements for wind energy business: The city of Enid is again trying to entice a new wind energy business using the popular method of covering development costs with newly generated property tax revenue — a process city officials began wielding nearly two decades ago to ultimately mixed results. [Enid News & Eagle]

Quote of the Day

“There is no higher priority than investing in our public schools, yet this budget includes little new investment in education, which is essentially a cut”

– Sen. Carri Hicks (D-Oklahoma City) speaking about education funding in the fiscal year 2022 – 2023 state budget. [The Oklahoman

Number of the Day


Percentage of transgender Oklahomans who reported being fired, not hired, or denied a promotion as a result of their gender identity or expression in 2015

[Source: U.S. Trans Survey]

Previously from OK Policy: To ensure every resident has equal opportunities for success, Oklahoma’s elected officials and policymakers must understand the variety of ways discrimination impacts LGBTQ2S+ Oklahomans’ lives.

Policy Note

2015 U.S. Transgender Survey Complete Report: The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS) is the largest survey examining the experiences of transgender people in the United States, with 27,715 respondents nationwide. The USTS was conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality in the summer of 2015. The results provide a detailed look at the experiences of transgender people across a wide range of categories, such as education, employment, family life, health, housing, and interactions with the criminal justice system. [U.S. Trans Survey]

NOTE: June is Pride Month to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. The month is a time of reflection, celebration, and commitment to achieving equal justice and equal opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQ2SIA+) Americans. 

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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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