Although the legislative session ended in May, legislators are still going to be working through this Fall. One of the things they do is hold Interim Studies, studies of legislative or policy issues that may have been the subject of previous bills, or emerging issues that need a deeper look. Interim studies are requested by House and Senate members in the spring. Then the Senate President Pro Tem will assign all requests to Senate committees for the committee chair to decide which studies will be heard. In the House, the House Speaker will decide which studies are approved and which are not; he may also combine similar requests into one longer study. Some studies are considered jointly by both chambers. These studies, held at the State Capitol in the Fall, last anywhere from an hour to several full meetings long. They often include experts on the local or national level who testify, presenting information that guides the committee hosts.
Interim studies can also be important points for advocacy. The experts called in to testify are not required to fit any particular standards and are not given specific guidelines for how to present their research. In 2016, then-Representative John Bennett proposed and conducted an interim study on “Radical Islam, The Muslim Brotherhood, and Terrorism in Oklahoma,” claiming in its proposal that “it is time for our leaders to understand radical Islam and how American citizens are being radicalized here in Oklahoma as well as the rest of America.” During the study, the “expert” testimony included reports from John Guandolo, a former FBI agent who resigned after inappropriate relationships with other agents and confidential informants; Frank Gaffney, the director of the Center for Security Policy, a hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center; and Kamal Saleem, a former Muslim and conspiracy theorist who claimed that President Barack Obama was a Muslim set on infiltrating the American government. Bennett claimed on record that Muslim organizations such as CAIR-OK, mosques and Islamic centers, and Muslim student associations were hotbeds for radical terrorism. Thanks to the presence of interfaith leaders at this study, however, CAIR-OK and our interfaith partners were able to push back against the lies using the trending hashtag #NotMyEnemy, drawing attention to our years of peaceful collaboration.
Better interim studies in recent years have led to revealing resources on tenant rights, criminal legal reform, racial equity, and public health accessibility. This year, we will be watching several proposed interim studies to see which ones are heard and who is called to testify at these meetings.
- IS-2022-06: Addressing and treating mental health challenges, including PTSD, in first responders and other public employees; requested by Sen. Julie Daniels.
- IS-2022-11: Applying ACE Screenings Results to Assist in Preventative Treatment; requested by. Sen. Garvin.
- IS-2022-12: Making Oklahoma a Top Ten State for Women (Garvin)
- IS-2022-20: Non-profit Governance (kirt)
- IS-2022-21: Ethics: studying best practices for ethic systems for elected state officials (Kirt)
- IS-2022-23: US Civil Rights Trail Public/ Private Tourism Initiative, Matthews
- IS-2022-26: School safety and Security, Montgomery
- IS-2022-30: Prison Culture, Reform & Fiscal impact of Crime, Rader
- IS-2022-38: Judicial Reform, Treat
- IS-2022-41: Race & Equity Commission, Young
- 22-008: Examine sensible policy proposals to ensure Oklahomans have a level playing field at achieving homeownership in the competitive real-estate market. Dollens
- 22-013: Open Meeting Act (Pae, Fugate; Senator Howard)
- 22-016: Sales Tax Exemption for 501-(c)(3) charitable non-profit organizations based in Oklahoma and within good standing with the Secretary of State (Stark)
- 22-017: School Security in Oklahoma, (Rosecrants, Pae)
- 22-021 Underlying Causes of Homelessness
- 22-043 Wrongful Criminal Convictions Munson, Cyndi
- 22-047 Quality of life for women in Oklahoma Roe; Cynthia, Senator: Garvin; Jessica
- 22-060 Diversion program enhancements Waldron, John
- 22-064 Title: Workforce strategies to strengthen reentry for those returning home from incarceration Miller, Nicole
- 22-068 Why statewide, aggregated pre-trial incarceration data is needed. How it can lead to better criminal justice policy, and what it will take to get it. Blancett, Meloyde; Hardin, David; Humphrey, Justin
- 22-078 Examination of post-incarceration transitional living facilities. Turner, Mauree
- 22-079 Examination of Gendered Language in Oklahoma legislation. Turner, Mauree