At the beginning of the session, Oklahoma lawmakers filed over 3,200 potential pieces of legislation. The CAIR Oklahoma Government Affairs teamed flagged over 1,000 of these bills to track that ranged in categories of concern for freedom of expression, criminal justice reform, right to medical access and more. 

With the legislative session concluded, here are the numbers.

  • Filed: 3,274 

  • Tracked: 1,107  

  • Passed and waiting signature: 434 

  • Vetoed: 46 

  • Overturned: 19 

How does this line up with our policy platform we released at the beginning of the year? Here are some highlights for actions that occurred in each area of our policy platform.   


In housing, there were 35 bills related to housing that we were keeping an eye on. There were several good bills that would have addressed the shortage of affordable housing in Oklahoma, in addition to the meager protections that renters have. House Bills (HB) 2040, 2870 and 2098 would have increased funding and programs for housing development. However, they did not survive the legislative process this round. 

Additionally, a bill aiming to add air conditioning as a requirement for habitability failed to even get a committee hearing. One bill did make it further; HB 2109, which would have protected renters from landlord retaliation, failed to get a final hearing on the Senate floor.  

Other bills that did pass include HB 2792 that would require eviction notices among other forms to be developed in plain language, which is a great move for our state. Another bill, HB 1737 passed; this measure would consider individuals being ejected from lodgings as trespassers subject to law enforcement actions. Living without a home is not a crime; with a lack of attainable housing, more compassionate avenues need to be explored.  

We look forward to further advocacy opportunities next session to continue pushing for attainable housing for all Oklahomans.  

Afghan families speak on the housing available to them in this Law360 article:

“We told [the resettlement agency], ‘This is a house, we are supposed to live here, not just stay here for an hour or two,'” said [an Afghan woman] who came to the U.S. with her 10-year-old son and her sister. “Yes, we came [from] Afghanistan, but our houses in Afghanistan were way better than this house.”

This legislative session saw many attacks on medical care rights in Oklahoma. We earmarked over 100 bills that targeted pregnant persons’ access to healthcare and individuals seeking gender affirming care. During many committee meetings and floor hearings, Democratic legislators highlighted that they were elected to make laws, not medical decisions. Decisions on pregnancy and health should be left to a person and their healthcare provider, not relegated by the government.  

There were some positive steps made: HB 1036 passed which will create a Veteran Suicide Task Force. Additionally, modifications for TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) applicants were passed. One new bill will include minors living at home to receive the same benefits as a pregnant applicant. Another one will remove certain standards that disqualify individuals  struggling with substance abuse from receiving TANF benefits.   

Further bills passed include one by Sen. Hicks on providing diabetes medicines in schools and another by freshman Rep. Alonso-Sandoval on Emergency Medical Services (EMS) interstate licensing compacts which will help increase patient care opportunities.  

Two notable bills, SB 711 and SB 712, passed unanimously through both chambers, but then were subject to Gov. Stitt’s veto rampage. At the end of April, he swore to veto any bills from Senators who did not support his school voucher plan, whether the bill was school related or not. Both bills by Sen. Rosino sought to increase access to Narcan and other opioid antagonists that function as life-saving overdose medications. These bills would implement further access in jails and hospitals. Fortunately, both bills were heard again and received enough support to override the Governor’s veto.  

A hot topic in Oklahoma, firearms and the rights to their use constitute a large percentage of the bills filed every session. This year we had 86 in our tracker. There were bills filed to expand usage, remove caliber limitations, and restrict contracting with companies that “discriminate” against the firearm industry.  

While we do not oppose the second amendment, serious considerations need to be made on how people acquire and qualify to possess a firearm. As of the time of this writing, over 13,900 people have died from gun violence this year; 578 of these fatalities were children and teenagers. There have been 184 mass shootings and 13 shootings in K-12 educational institutions, where our children spend most of their time. No one should feel validated by these numbers, and everyone needs to consider what this means.  

To highlight the journey of some of these NRA (National Rifle Association) backed bills go through, we did a small piece on the process. It also highlights the damage some of these bills due to our society, especially when there is so much more Oklahoma needs to focus on.  

Number of mass shootings in the U.S. in 2023

Education became one of the grisliest topics, with inflammatory rhetoric from Superintendent Ryan Walters fanning the flames. With bills focused on library censorship, teacher pay raises, and school vouchers, both chambers faced a battle amongst themselves and the chief executive on the best ways to save Oklahoma’s failing schools.  

With the original education package proposed from the House of Representatives taking center stage and creating massive amounts of collateral damage, a deal was finally struck before the end of session. The $625 million package includes a structured pay-raise depending on experience, paid maternity leave for teachers, and most of the money going to the educational funding formula. This package also includes a tiered system of tax credits for private and homeschool students and additional funding for school security officers. An additional $150 million is going directly to parents of private school students.  

 This takes money away from other legislative projects, public schools, and the people. It will not serve most Oklahoma students or schools and will damage lower-income and rural areas the most.  

Additionally, feeding into the political culture wars, legislators filed a resolution to defund any state-funded institutions of higher education that do not eliminate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) from their institution. While resolutions do not carry the same weight as laws, they do serve as a will or opinion.  

Referring to DEI as “Divide, Exclude, and Indoctrinate”, this message plays into “parent’s rights” arguments that pushed legislators to file bills on parental controls in school and education censorship bills. People often say that history is written by the winning side, and much of that is an inaccurately homogeneous view which frequently disregards minorities. Oklahoma is indigenous territory, as is the whole United States. Yet these stories and those of Black Americans are continually erased. DEI programs are crucial to education and growth of people to recognize all diverse groups in society.  

While not typically the most glamorous attention-grabbing topic, civic engagement and voting access also saw a fair amount of legislative attention this session. Some bills that passed would help clarify voting rolls. Another would prohibit non-voters from election enclosures and put further restrictions on electioneering.  

There were a handful of bills that also sought to put further difficulties into the ballot initiative process, and others to eliminate straight-party voting. Oklahoma already does not allow for public testimony in the legislature, so citizen initiatives like ballot questions are one of the best ways people can get their voice heard. Just last year, Oklahoma residents voted against State Question 820 which would have legalized recreational marijuana. This initiative began after years of leadership in the legislature saying they would not consider propositions in either chamber.  

Switching to another option such as ranked choice voting is seen as threatening to supermajority areas like Oklahoma. However, it actually serves as a more equitable voting platform that streamlines the process and helps combat voter fatigue. It saves money by condensing elections, increases voter turnout, and improves representation for women and people of color.   

In a recent victory, a bill that passed unanimously through the legislature only to be vetoed by Gov. Stitt survived to become law. Senate Bill (SB) 429 allows students to wear tribal regalia during graduation ceremonies. Every year, dozens of indigenous students find themselves unable to wear the tribal regalia that honors their cultural traditions and religious beliefs during important milestones such as graduation ceremonies. Oklahoma still has a long way to go recognizing and supporting its indigenous tribes, but this is a huge step forward.  

There were a few discriminatory bills filed targeting “foreign land ownership” in the state of Oklahoma that became dormant. Any bills that fail during the process still have a chance to be picked up again in the second part of the session. One bill that caught attention and a lot of hateful debate was SB 669 by Sen. Brooks. It sought to provide driver’s license to individuals possessing a tax identification number, was met with much rebuttal and dehumanization with messaging on “illegal aliens.” It made it through committee before being laid over on the Senate floor and failed to be re-heard or voted on.  

At the start of session, with so many bills filed, there is a lot of fear and excitement. While only maybe a third make it all the way to become law, it is the message that is often more important. With many bills targeting diversity, healthcare, and education, much of the rhetoric of the session has been aggressively polarized. For some, whether the bill becomes a law or not, the messaging can read that you are not wanted here.  

Oklahomans deserve better than legislators that play into polarizing nationally funded schemes. Becoming a Top 10 state includes all of us. Civil rights should be simple, not contorted as a mechanism to oppress others.  

The session started off with restricted seating to the State of the State, blurred lines on protest rules, and dozens of late-night agenda postings for hearings. It reached a peak at the end where legislators trying to support transparency with their constituents did not even know how anymore because they were barely aware of what was happening.  

Throughout the session, bills were discussed in committees lacking representation from people of color, women, and more. For example, a bill looking on changing civil rights teachings did not consult a single member of the Black Legislative Caucus. Similarly, Democrats were excluded from the education package discussion.  

For the people doing the work, tracking, researching, and attempting to combat bills infringing on our rights, the majority does their best to limit people’s ability to engage with the process. Although dubbed the People’s House, fewer and fewer people feel safe being present there.  

Our criminal justice related bill tracking saw nearly 100 bills filed for the session. A majority of them became dormant early on, failing to get out of their respective committees.  

Some of the bills that made it all the way: 

  • SB 1000, which authorizes OSBI to handle sexual assault evidence kits that are not processed in due time. 
  • SB 1046 increases penalty for domestic violence in cases of pregnant persons. 
  • SB 537, which removes the intent stipulation from situations of domestic violence.  
  • HB 1937 permits drug testing strips not to be considered drug paraphernalia.  
  • HB 2041, allows officer discretion with certain outstanding warrants. 

Some bills we were glad to see fail: 

  • HB 1976, which would have increased power to Commissioner of Public Safety and increased authority to unconstitutionally investigate residents of Oklahoma. 
  • Hb 2531 establishes standards of qualified immunity for law enforcement officers and related subdivisions.  
  • SB 108 creates additional penalties for repeat substance abuse situations. 

Criminal justice reform in a state with one of the highest incarceration rates is not going to happen overnight. However, the people expressed their will in previous ballot initiatives that they want fewer of their fellow Oklahomans behind bars. CAIR Oklahoma supports moves that prioritize people over profit, especially when it comes to justice. Oklahoma’s leading incarceration rate costs the state hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. Much of this burden is placed on court fines and fees, which defendants face impossible odds to pay, contributing to recidivism and trapping people in an unjust system. There are many bills that go under the radar because they seem potentially helpful but turn out to target our most vulnerable populations.  

Many of the people currently living behind bars are further marginalized by circumstances out of their control. Poverty and desperation drive people to commit acts that more secure individuals might not contemplate. Addiction is not a crime, and treating it as such will only create further suffering for all involved. People who experience mental health crises frequently find themselves at the mercy of a criminal legal system that is unsympathetic to their needs. We need more resources to combat poverty, support those struggling with addiction, and treat mental illnesses as health concerns rather than moral failings. Furthermore, we need to prioritize training throughout the criminal justice system that breaks down racial bias and protects communities of color from continually being disproportionately affected by our justice system.  

Oklahoma's Rate of Incarceration, the 3rd Highest In the 50 States:

One bill that did proceed and become law in this category, HB 1144, will increase armed security at the Capitol. It authorizes the commission of a peace officer for both chambers, in addition to the already present State Troopers.  

In further negative moves, HB 2903 passed which will put more School Resource Officers in schools as well. Oklahoma students need more teachers, lunch meals, and access to counseling, not militarization.  

An unfavorable bill that did fail in this category would have created a citizen review board made up of two-thirds law enforcement officers (not-citizens).  

There were a few bills filed in this arena that did not become law. Some related to the Open Records Act, aiming to expand its ability and expediency, failed to get heard. However, there were other bills filed to increase legislative power regarding school curriculum and library materials.  

There were other facets of checks and balances carried out through Attorney General (AG) opinions and Supreme Court decisions.  

Executive Branch:

The Oklahoma Attorney General, Gentner Drummond, has been busy, with one of his first moves since election ruling that the State Department of Education acted outside its powers when it came to book bans in libraries. 

He later ruled to vacate the trial of Richard Glossip, who was convicted of murder in 1997 and in prison for 25 years. AG Drummond also filed a non-enforcement agreement on SB 613 which seeks to ban gender affirming care for minors.  

Judicial Branch:

The Oklahoma Supreme Court also flexed their balance muscles this session, striking down SB 1503 and HB 4327, which were copycat laws from Texas that would prohibit abortions except in emergency cases. While abortion is still illegal in the State of Oklahoma, this decision expands the health and safety exceptions to the abortion restrictions already in place, making it less likely that people experiencing dangerous pregnancies can terminate without risking criminal or civil penalties. We understand that abortion is a sensitive subject for our community, but we remain firmly committed to the principle that medical decisions should be made within the purview of the patient, their family, their doctor, and potentially their spiritual leader, not the legislature.  

With the budget debate dominating the last weeks following the end of session, many people awaited the nail-biting conclusion. As of June 02, Gov. Stitt failed to sign the state budget, allowing it to become law, even though he deemed it fiscally unwise. The governor has made no secret of his support for cutting taxes and was unwilling to budge on other issue items unless this wish was someday granted.  

The nearly $13 billion budget was rushed through at the last minute, and with the aid of a special session running alongside regular session. Some highlights include $215 million to a new housing program, efforts to improve mental health transportation, and a six-week paid maternity leave for state employees. There are no grocery tax cuts or personal income tax cuts.  

State Budget for Fiscal Year 2024, a 20% increase over previous year

Oklahoma has been fortunate to become a place of resettlement for over 2,000 new Afghan neighbors. However, their status to stay in the United States relies on Congressional actions for security. Currently our new neighbors are forced to reapply as parolees to remain in the country. This parolee status does not grant them the same rights and protections as refugees even though they qualify as such. Furthermore, this protection is only granted for one or two years.  

Many of our interfaith friends and other organizations have joined in advocacy this session on the federal level to encourage Congress to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act (AAA) which would remove this uncertainty and provide a safe, legal pathway for our Afghan allies to citizenship. We will continue to keep an eye on this and push partners to contact members of Congress to fulfill promises made to these new members of our community who risked it all to support our country.  

For More Information on Afghan Advocacy:


While the news highlighted much of the chaos and strife that occurred these past few months in the State Capitol, not everything was doom and gloom. Several new legislators successfully passed great bills, which bodes well for their careers.  

However, more changes need to be made. From the stalemate between the chambers to petty vetoes and last-minute budget pushes, Oklahomans suffered due to egotistical leadership. Plenty of good legislation died as collateral, and the will of the people continues to be side-lined.  

It is crucial to stay informed, get involved, and hold elected officials accountable for their actions. Oklahoma is not Top 10, and state leaders should not be acting like it is. Attainable housing does not exist, educators are leaving our state, and our justice system is still incarcerating and executing innocent people. Our children deserve to live and love the place they call home. Progress will not happen overnight; it takes people keeping each other accountable and fighting for every inch to protect our most vulnerable and elevate our state.   

by Nicole Baumann

by Nicole Baumann

Advocacy Coordinator

Nicole Baumann has served as CAIR Oklahoma Advocacy Coordinator since November 2022. Prior to joining the CAIR Oklahoma team, Nicole worked in our office as an intern in 2016.