Last week was the final push for bills to be heard in committees of the opposite chamber before continuing in the process to become law. This often includes much political maneuvering to accomplish certain agendas, and last week was no exception.

Multiple bills were “shucked” last minute, meaning the original language was replaced with a different bill that was not connected to the previous topic. During committees, legislators tried to highlight rules that are supposed to prevent actions like these. One such rule states that the new language is supposed to be “germane” or relevant; however, this relevance is solely determined by the chair of the committee it is being heard.

House Side

Senate Bill (SB) 729 by Sen. Paul Rosino (SD 45, OKC) and Rep. Mark McBride (HD 35, Moore) would fund a “fiscal and industry office” in Israel to strengthen the relationship between Israel and Oklahoma. Currently, Israel has been carrying out a genocide on Gaza, and has killed over 40,000 civilians and many more remain at risk due to conditions of famine and a demolished health care system. Oklahoma needs legislation that prioritizes issues here at home including a lack of affordable housing, healthcare, and high rates of female domestic abuse and death. Instead, we are continuing to reaffirm “our connection” and send thousands of dollars to fund suffering across the globe.

This bill made it through with language regarding motor vehicles from the first part of the session last year. It was shucked prior to the committee hearing and passed with only one no vote from Rep. Amanda Swope (HD 71, Tulsa).

Senate Joint Resolution, SJR 34, by Sen. Julie Daniels (SD 29, Bartlesville) and Rep. Mark Lepak (HD 9, Claremore) sends a state question to a vote on a constitutional amendment for the people. The question would regard how appellate justices and judges are chosen, with the focus being on how the Oklahoma Supreme Court is chosen. It would move the nomination to the Governor, and approval would be managed by the State legislature. Currently Oklahoma uses a judicial nominating system that is very balanced, which selects candidates that are then voted on by the people.

Our current Judicial Nominating Commission has existed based on a state question, decided by the people, since 1967. It was created and still exists to help support the system of checks and balances that maintain democracy. To find out more information about how this structure works, check out here: About JNC – JNC (

Oklahoma legislators have shown concern on recent decisions made by our Supreme Court, and efforts such as these seek to disrupt our checks and balances by taking power away from our nonpartisan, independent judiciary, in favor of partisan politics at the legislature and the governor’s office.

Unfortunately, the resolution passed out of committee with only two no votes. It has garnered much attention from advocacy groups, and the Oklahoma Bar Association has come out against the legislation.

In a different vein, SB 1100 by Sen. Paul Rosino (SD 45, OKC) and Rep. Steve Bashore (HD 7, Miami) passed out of committee last week. This bill seeks to modernize laws around intimidation and harassment to include online platforms. It makes repeat offense a felony, and clarifies language, but the focus from the author is to curb online bullying. There was concern from Rep. Jason Lowe (HD 97, OKC) on the impact this could have on children using social media and posting things. The author clarified there are different levels and does not violate free speech. Rep. Lowe voted no.

SB 36 by Sen. Nathan Dahm (SD 33, Broken Arrow) and Rep. Kevin West (HD 54, Moore) was one of the bills that was shucked last week. The bill started off as legislation focused on law enforcement and was changed to become a bill that allows volunteer chaplains to act as school counselors. There were multiple bills filed of this nature at the beginning of session that had become dormant in previous stages of the bill process. This bill would also permit the hiring of these chaplains, which would mean public money would be going to religious initiatives.

Chaplain services such as these do not have a place in public schools, and measures such as these continue to stretch the lines of separation between church and state in our home. In fact, many religious leaders themselves have spoken out against these measures, saying that they are unqualified and don’t wish to take on this kind of role.

Senate Side

House Bill (HB) 3023, by Rep. Justin Humphrey (HD 19, Lane) and Sen. David Bullard (SD 6, Durant) title was struck, there are still working on cleaning up language on the subject. Its current title focuses on protections for state agency whistleblowers against retaliation. However, it also creates a new crime for those who try to suppress whistleblowers. The original language included criminal prosecution by the whistleblower, but this will be amended with new language. There were previous merit protections and an appeals board that is being reformed with the new bill. Sen. Michael Brooks (SD 44, OKC) and Sen. Kay Floyd (SD 46, OKC) led with questions and remained the two no votes.

HB 3095 was introduced by Rep. Mark Tedford (HD 69, Tulsa) and Sen. Cody Rogers (SD 37, Tulsa) earlier this session as an “anti-retaliation” bill. It was done via an “amendment” that changed a substantive part of the bill that would enable retaliation by predatory landlords. It was scheduled to be heard last week in Senate Judiciary. However, in large part due to advocacy by groups concerned about housing stability, it failed to be heard in committee. This means it becomes dormant for the rest of the session, and the only way for this harmful initiative to proceed is via replacing the language in another bill.

HB 3958, by Sen. Adam Pugh (SD 41, Edmond) and Rep. Sherrie Conley (HD 20, Newcastle) seeks to prohibit school personnel from engaging in communication with a student without including their parent or legal guardian. The author claims the heart of the bill is to prevent the use of personnel devices from communication and keep parents aware. The title was removed to work on language. Sen. Carri Hicks (SD 40, OKC) asked if he was willing to consider relatives and how this might be burdensome. Sen. Hicks was the only no vote. There have been concerns about the progress of this bill, as many children find schools to be their only safe space, and this eliminates the opportunity to share concerns or find privacy from dangerous home situations.