In The Know: State Supreme Court vacancies | Massacre cemetery site search finds more coffins | ‘National Day of Learning’ | 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.

New from OK Policy

Policy Matters: Good ideas get better with more input: If only there were a “good idea” fairy who could swoop down and grace us with brilliant insights. Instead, good ideas are birthed through a curiosity to find a better way, and they become shaped through experience and expertise. A good idea doesn’t wither during conflict or debate. Rather, it becomes stronger through the process. [Ahniwake Rose / The Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

COVID-19 in Oklahoma: One-third of Oklahomans are fully vaccinated as virus cases continue dive: The Oklahoma State Department of Health on Wednesday reported fewer than 1,000 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 for the third week in a row. The total new cases for the one-week period that ended Saturday, 997 according to OSDH data, brings the seven-day rolling average of new cases to 142. [Tulsa World]

Gov. Kevin Stitt gets three finalists for Oklahoma Supreme Court vacancy: Three female judges made the final cut Thursday for the Oklahoma Supreme Court vacancy, as the state Judicial Nominating Commission set up Gov. Kevin Stitt to pick his third justice for the nine-person court. The finalists announced by the commission are: Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Dana Kuehn; Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals Judge Stacie Hixon; and Tulsa County District Judge Rebecca B. Nightingale. [The Oklahoman]

  • Interviews set for Oklahoma Supreme Court candidates [The Oklahoman]

Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial News

Harvard professor talks Tulsa Race Massacre reparations and white supremacy during ‘National Day of Learning’: As people come to terms with the horrific truth of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, a Harvard University professor says there isn’t one definitive answer to what reparations here should look like a century later. But the matter boils down to institutions being committed to repair and accountability, specifically regarding structures and resources, said Cornel West, also a philosopher, author and activist. [Tulsa World]

  • Cherokee Tribal councilor representing north Tulsa calls for race massacre reparations [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Greenwood Rising links Tulsa’s tragic history to today’s struggles [New York Times]
  • Tom Hanks: You should learn the truth about the Tulsa Race Massacre [Opinion / New York Times]

5 more coffins found in Tulsa Race Massacre victims search: Crews searching a Tulsa cemetery for victims of the 1921 Race Massacre found five more coffins on Thursday, bringing to 20 the number of coffins found at a mass-grave feature there, city officials said Thursday. [AP News] Hand excavation, exhumation and documentation of the burials will begin next week with the arrival of archaeologists from Cardno Inc. of Tampa, Florida. The eight-member team is expected to be in Tulsa for six to eight weeks. [Tulsa World]

Foundation gifts $100,000 to living Tulsa Race Massacre survivors: A local nonprofit that has been fighting for reparations for the three living survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre has provided each of them with a six-figure gift. The Justice for Greenwood Foundation presented Hughes Van Ellis Sr., Lessie Benningfield Randle and Viola Fletcher $100,000 each during a ceremony recognizing the 100-year anniversary of the massacre. [Tulsa World]

Health News

Oklahomans will soon get texts about the COVID-19 vaccine from the state Health Department: Oklahomans can expect to get texts beginning this week from the Oklahoma Health Department with information about COVID-19 vaccinations. The department is launching a statewide texting campaign to reach people across the state with details about how to find an appointment near them. [The Oklahoman]

  • Free beer, other new incentives for Biden’s ‘vaccine sprint’ [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma’s public health lab will conduct newborn health screenings locally again: Oklahoma health officials say they will resume newborn screenings in the state’s public health lab. Oklahoma’s outdated public health laboratory has been a thorn in state officials’ sides for decades. The Stitt Administration announced in October it would construct a new one, but the plan immediately proved controversial. It involved moving the lab out of Oklahoma City’s biomedical hub and to Stillwater. Since then, the lab has outsourced several critical tests to out-of-state labs, and its director has resigned. [KGOU]

Insurance rate dispute between Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma, OU Physicians ends: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma and OU Physicians have ended their rate dispute that could have caused thousands of Oklahomans looking for new doctors. The feud has pitted the state’s largest health insurer against one of the state’s largest medical providers. [KGOU]

State Government News

We fact checked the debate over a new law on what Oklahoma students learn about race: The Frontier took a closer look at claims Oklahoma public officials have made about critical race theory, as well as the potential impact of House Bill 1775. [The Frontier]

Plans to outsource Medicaid program axed by Oklahoma high court: The governor’s push to outsource the state’s Medicaid program hit another roadblock this week after the state’s highest court ruled that the Oklahoma Health Care Authority pressed forward without proper legislative authority. [CNHI via The Ada News]

Economic Opportunity

Oklahoma parents struggle to find summer childcare: Summer break is here and parents are still looking for childcare. The problem 2 News is hearing about has to do with facilities being filled to capacity. Parents are stuck signing up for waiting lists. Amplifying the pressure of finding childcare is the upcoming expiration of federal unemployment benefits. Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt recently announced he’s cutting those at the end of this month. [KJRH]

Economy & Business News

Continental Resources accused of action ‘reminiscent of the Watergate Scandal’: An oil and gas company claims in a lawsuit filed last week that a representative of oil giant Continental Resources accessed, reviewed and photographed confidential information belonging to the company in an action “reminiscent of the Watergate Scandal.” [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Coveducation recap: Epic Youth Services must turn over financial records: The State Auditor & Inspector’s Office was recently granted access to financial records for Epic Youth Services by an Oklahoma County District Court judge following months of litigation. Meanwhile, two school districts will ask voters to approve school bond propositions during Oklahoma’s June 8 special election. [NonDoc]

Former OU volleyball player sues over exclusion from team because of political views: A former University of Oklahoma volleyball player has sued her coaches and the university, alleging she was branded a racist and disenfranchised from the team because of her politically conservative views. [The Oklahoman]

Tulsa Public School bond supporters make one last push as county GOP remains opposed: Tulsa Public Schools boosters took one more shot on Thursday at drumming up support for a $414 million bond package on the ballot Tuesday. The bond package is split among four propositions covering building improvements, technology, transportation and learning materials. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma Local News

  • City Awards Dozens Of Tulsa Nonprofits $6.5M Total For Pandemic Response And Recovery Programs [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • What will Oklahoma City’s post-COVID economy look like? We have your guide [The Oklahoman]
  • As Oklahoma works to revive Route 66, life is returning to this abandoned Arcadia landmark [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“I understand needing to get back into the workforce. I do, but they are expecting everybody to try to do this when not all daycares are open. What daycares are open, there’s a waitlist.”

-Randi McKinney, an unemployed Oklahoman talking about the shortage of available daycares slots [KJRH]

Number of the Day


The Black poverty rate citywide in Tulsa, more than twice the rate of white poverty in the city

[Source: Human Rights Watch]

Policy Note

The Tulsa Race Massacre at 100: An Imperative for International Accountability and Justice: For almost a century, the Black residents of Tulsa and their descendants have fought for some semblance of justice. They have been met with denials of responsibility from government officials, impunity for those responsible for the Massacre, and active efforts to prevent the Greenwood community from rebuilding. [Stanford]

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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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