[Weekly Wonk] Everyone is a change maker | Capitol Update | TOK Listening Sessions scheduled throughout June | We’re hiring!

What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.

This Week from OK Policy

Policy Matters: Everyone can be a change maker: Up until a dozen years ago, I might have said that it’s only the well-connected few who can create or shape state laws and policies. However, in the last decade, I have seen firsthand how everyday Oklahomans have helped raise their political voices to move our state forward. They have flexed their political power – individually and collectively – through public protests, the state question process, and the ballot box in order to create change. [Shiloh Kantz / The Journal Record

A look back at the 2022 session (Capitol Update): Throughout the years, quite a few legislative sessions have looked like they were going to end in a “trainwreck.” But they usually come together toward the end with legislative leaders finally agreeing with each other and — to a greater or lesser extent with the governor — on a few major items including the state budget. There’s usually time for everyone to take a victory lap and give the session a high grade. It looked like the same would happen this session, but this year was different. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy

Upcoming Opportunities

TOK Listening Sessions scheduled statewide throughout June: Together Oklahoma will be hosting six upcoming Listening Sessions, which will offer the opportunity for you to express your ideas and views on policy matters in a collaborative way and let our TOK staff members get the chance to hear directly from you. These listening sessions will highlight the voices and lived experiences from rural residents, women, the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, native Oklahomans, OKC-area residents, and southern Oklahomans. There are six upcoming Together Oklahoma Listening Sessions, which start on Wednesday, June 8. All events will have virtual options to attend. [Learn More] [Register]

We’re Hiring!

Join the team: OK Policy is currently hiring for three positions: Youth Justice Policy Analyst and Regional Organizer for Together Oklahoma (two positions, one each for Central Region and Northeast Region).  The application deadline for these positions in July 7, 2022 at 5 p.m. Visit OKPolicy.org/jobs for the full job description and compensation. 

Weekly What’s That

Special Session

A special session, also known as an extraordinary session, may be called to address issues that are unresolved during regular legislative sessions, which can run only from the first Monday in February through the last Friday in May of the year.  When the governor calls a special session, it is restricted only to those matters the governor specifies in calling the special session; however, the governor may amend the call during special session. As the result of passage of SQ 540 in 1980, the Legislature can also call itself into special session by gaining the signatures of two-thirds of the members of both chambers. The Legislature may not prevent the calling of a special session by the governor; however, it is not obliged to take action on the issues it has been asked to address.

There is no constitutional limit on the length of special sessions. However, a special session called during one Legislature cannot extend past the swearing in of the next Legislature. Regular and special sessions can run concurrently.

Look up more key terms to understand Oklahoma politics and government here.

Quote of the Week

“Often or almost always in rural Oklahoma, we are forgotten. We are the grassroots of what has contributed to our great state, and we are very proud of what our contributions have been. But we also have voices, and we want them heard.”

– Janet Reed, executive director of the Durant Area Chamber of Commerce. [NonDoc]

Editorial of the Week

Enid News and Eagle, Editorial: No, it isn’t too soon to demand policy discussions on guns, violence

Lawmakers calling for more expansion of gun ownership and gun carry rights as an answer to stopping gun violence are sending the wrong message.

We know that may be controversial statement in a state that values the Second Amendment. We value the Second Amendment, too. We understand that the Second Amendment assures law-abiding citizens the right to have firearms. We don’t believe in overzealous bans on firearms or disarming law-abiding citizens.

However, there are much better messages and pragmatic conversations that we all should be having in dealing with increased gun violence and mass shootings.

Yes, we do need to talk about gun access, and we also need to talk about why our society has become so desensitized to violence.

We should talk about being more proactive in reforming our gun laws. We should discuss reasonable requirements, such as expanded background checks and waiting periods. Eliminating the gun show loophole that allows gun purchases without a background check should also definitely be on the table, as should making 21 the minimum age to purchase firearms.

These are basic starting points in a responsible and reasonable discussion about improving our gun laws.

Our society has a real problem with people being desensitized to violence. There is no question that we are influenced by what we hear and read. We are all exposed to an endless barrage of information, much of it presented in a divisive way. The news and commentary in mass media and the internet influence our thoughts and play a large part in how we feel about politics, race, religion and violence. Those feelings, for some, produce outrage.

So no, it’s not too soon to talk about these issues and demand some action. We have to begin solving these problems, and it will take long-term, thoughtful and reasonable discussions, not political posturing.

The general public is fed up with the violence, and they’re fed up with the inaction of lawmakers as the bodies keep piling up.

[Enid News and Eagle, Editorial]

Numbers of the Day

What We’re Reading


David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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