With next week bringing the dealing for bills to get out of committee of origin, we saw A LOT of bills being heard.
House A&B Sub: Education
The House Appropriations & Budget subcommittee on Education saw two good and one bad. HB 1029 by Rep. Tally advanced; this directs the State Department of Education to create a report on Student Homelessness. HB 1037 by Rep. Rosecrants codifies a stipend for school psychologists to encourage them to stay in our schools instead of leaving for better paying jobs in the private sector.
However, HB 2077 by Rep. Caldwell advanced (not without much debate from Rep. Waldron & Rep. Fugate) that would create an online transparency curriculum to aid parents in monitoring school curriculum. A bill like this would cause a myriad of issues of parents picking and choosing what is acceptable for their children to learn, when those decisions are best left to qualified educators. Some topics may not be comfortable for everyone, but parents are there to educate and guide their children through life, not a classroom. This seeks to threaten children’s ability to learn what is necessary, not just what is easy.
House A&B Sub: Health
The House Appropriations & Budget Subcommittee on Health heard one bill on our tracker. HB 2827 works to create a grant program to employ school nurses, counselors, and mental health professionals. This saw clarification from Rep. Sneed on school districts working together, and support from Rep. McEntire who is working on a similar plan involving Medicaid.
House A&B Sub: Finance
The House Appropriations & Budget Subcommittee on Finance saw a bill on housing, HB 2040 by Rep. Monroe, which increases the total cap on credits allocated to the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Act to $10 million. It passed with a compliment to the chair and no debate. The bill will now go to the full House A&B Committee.
House Elections and Ethics
As the name suggests, this committee hears several bills on voting. One bill HB 1415 (Rep. Crosswhite Hader) seeks to emphasize state power over federal guidelines for voting passed. HB 1768 by Rep. Gann increases strictness on proof of residency for voter registration, and HB 2056 (Rep. Roberts) makes voters wait to reregister in their county after cancelling registration. We oppose both bills and only saw no votes from Rep. Dollens and Rep. Swope.
However, HB 1629 did advance, by Rep. Goodwin, which helps clarify language on previously incarcerated person registering to vote and getting their voting rights restored.
House Common Education
A positive bill from Rep. Ranson out of Stillwater, HB 2017 advanced, which allows for violence de-escalation training made available to school districts. She emphasized the need to teach kids to self-regulate, and the lasting impacts this makes. However, HB 1634 (Rep. Staires) passed that permits to search students including removing shoes, hats, and gloves. This bill did include an amendment for religious head coverings to not be searched, but the precedent this bill would create is problematic.
House Public Safety
A busy committee, public safety saw some choice bills this past week. One we oppose, HB 2737 by Rep. Duel seeks to strike limitation on caliber of firearm to include more calibers up to .45. When questioned, the author said people already carry stronger firearms, so the current caliber rating was arbitrary. Passed.
Another opposed bill, HB 2051 (Rep. Hardin) also advanced. This expands the Castle doctrine which gives people the legal right to defend themselves against an “intruder” in home or on property. Rep. Goodwin inquired why we are expanding laws when more people are dying by gun violence every day, and asked why we are making more laws based in fear instead of facts.
Two more bills heard were HB 2010 (Rep. Davis) and HB 2055 (Rep. Hardin) that previously lacked language (shell bills). HB 2010 language ended up not aligning with our policy platforms. HB 2055 requires people making suppressors in Oklahoma to get a declaratory judgement, and to stamp or engrave “Made in Oklahoma” and requires them to stay in Oklahoma. There was a note in committee that this measure seeks to supersede the federal government, and it passed.
HB 2161 (Rep. Ford) received lengthy debate. The bill looks at questions of officer misconduct and requires entities investigating law enforcement misconduct to have two-thirds presence of CLEET certified law enforcement officers. This would also require a majority vote when making decisions.
The House Rules committee saw several shell bills, which are often placeholder bills for further language, that passed from committee.
House States’ Powers
Only one bill of concern was heard, but it received many questions. HB 2648 (Rep. Steagall) expands state preemption provisions involving firearms to include ammunition and components in addition to changing guidelines on who violates. Rep. Waldron and Rep. Swope asked of the author Rep. Steagall that this seems to expand on people who can get sued but remained the only no votes at the end.
House Criminal Justice & Corrections
As the name suggests, this committee is charged with hearing some sticky legislation. HB 1026 (Rep. West), which was presented last year and died in the Senate, was presented again. The bill, which we oppose, removes the ability of CLEET to certify any legal resident alien as a police officer. There were no changes made and no answer to why it was not heard in Senate last year. Passed committee.
HB 2532 (Rep. Humphrey) seeks to add police officers to the Stand Your Ground act, which allows citizens to use deadly force when they feel their lives are in danger. This would also require the District Attorney to prove a person was in danger of their life before they are charged. Rep. Turner asked for clarification between the difference of qualified immunity and the impacts of this bill. Rep. Humphrey described qualified immunity which looks at whether someone’s steps out of training, policy or law and if not, they are also protected. However, this bill aims to increase protections by requiring proof before charges, even outside of qualified immunity case.
Rep. Turner was the only no vote, and it passed.
House Judiciary- Criminal
One of two in our track that was heard, HB 1612 (Rep. Worthen) seeks to add “shooting into a dwelling” to the 85% crimes which are those that require persons to serve a minimum of 85% of their sentences. The structure of the bill sought to align itself with other statutes like those on drive by shootings and shooting with intent.
The other bill in our track on this committee was HB 2159 (Rep. Ford) which aims to make it a misdemeanor to use a laser against law enforcement officers and their assets (aircraft). It advanced.
House Public Health
A popular committee this session, charged with hearing bills on gender related treatment and surgeries. HB 2177 by Rep. West was presented banning gender reassignment surgeries under 18 and placing a ban on facilities that receive public funding. With much debate between Rep. Ranson, the author, and Rep. Randleman, a key takeaway was a focus on parents’ rights to make these decisions with their children and doctors, and that legislators and government should not be part of this discussion.
House Appropriations & Budget
With much debate, HB 2860 (Rep. Wallace) on raising wages for state officials advanced. There were many questions raised, particularly highlighting the need for teachers’ wages to increase first. There was also an inquiry about people with two titles, potentially referring to State Superintendent Ryan Walters, who was also appointed as the Secretary of Education. Both positions draw a salary, meaning that Walters will make more money in 2023 than Governor Kevin Stitt.
House Judiciary- Civil
One of the most problematic bills heard for our community, HB 2058 (Rep. Roberts) would add felony charges for tenants who have property damages exceeding deposit. With no data on need, the author was convinced that adding felony charges will deter damages up front. However, with no statistics it seems more likely to criminalize people already suffering financially with little protection. However, HB 2109 by Rep. Pae on landlord anti-retaliation laws did advance unanimously.
HB 2378 (Rep. Kannady) also passed (good news) which established rights for interpreters during civil procedures for people with limited English proficiency. HB 1923 (Rep. Sims) increases sheriff’s fees related to process serving and property sales (oppose).
House Rural Development
Chaired by Rep. Pae, the Rural Development committee had its first ever meeting! Rep. Alonso-Sandoval presented HB 2422 creating an Emergency Medical Services Interstate Compact that would enact license reciprocity across participating states that advanced.
House Appropriations & Budget
A long committee with just two bills, the committee heard HB 2775 by Rep. McCall that would make appropriations for teacher pay raises and funds for school districts. There was much discourse on the various versions of the bill, and the timeline on how it was presented. Representatives felt deceived that there had been so many last-minute changes, and the content is now in two bills.
There was also much discussion on the disproportionately affected larger schools like 6A districts that would receive the same amount of money as other smaller districts.
We did not catch all the committee hearings, but can note that two SB 380 (Sen. Bergstrom) and SB 382 (Sen. Garvin) passed with titles stricken. This means that they will have to be reworked and sent back for a vote. SB 380 looks at making excess tax credits refundable, which we oppose. SB 382 is on sales tax exemption for feminine hygiene products (support).
Senate Business & Commerce
With a stricken title to allow for more work, advanced SB 1077 (Sen. Stewart) that would establish confidentiality provisions for person with criminal records in the job market (support).
Both bills we were looking at had title stricken to allow for more work and advanced. SB 126 (Sen. Bullard) which seeks to require law enforcement to notify schools and add arrest to record. Also SB 364 (Sen. Pugh) on school employees and maternity leave.
Senate Retirement & Insurance
SB 143 and SB 144 both by Sen. Hicks had title stricken, and advanced. SB 143 looks at diabetes expenses and SB 144 seeks to create a list with costs of diabetes medications.
This committee saw several voting related bills this week. Starting off with SB 481 (Sen. Rader) which would seek protection for election officials with claims of increased threats and people impersonating election officials, passed with no debate. SB 376 (Sen. Howard) also passed which clarified for people who cannot sign absentee ballots themselves, whoever signs for them will sign for the voter’s name, not the signer’s name. SB 89 (Sen. Kirt) also advanced, relating to Open Records, requires response within 10 days or information on delay.
In a different note, and much debate, SB 68 (Sen. Daniels) passed (we oppose). This bill looks at if there is error in sentencing, and a defendant did not receive a jury trial they may not receive one in resentencing. They may also offer to waive resentencing but must be before resentencing occurs.
All good bills on our radar passed this committee last week. SB 11 (Sen. Rader) which allows incarcerated person to receive tuition grants, SB 292 (Sen. Stanley) on increased syphilis testing for pregnant persons, and SB 561 (Sen. Haste) on TANF requirements.
Senate Public Safety
The committee saw several bills on criminal justice reform issues. SB 452 (Sen. Standridge) added more narcotics to Schedule 1 Controlled Dangerous Substances list. These were fentanyl related synthetic opiates that were not on the list before. SB 537 from Rep. Pugh strikes the words bodily harm from domestic assault language, he claimed that while many cases are violent 86% were not considered a crime. SB 1046 (Sen. Weaver) also clarified domestic violence language and would make domestic violence against a pregnant woman a felony but only if they knew they were pregnant.
All these advanced, and while the language may seem like good news, a lot of these clarifications end up with more incarceration and less due process.
SB 978 (Sen. Green) was also heard and advanced which would allow for carrying firearms on boats. Even though as one Senator highlighted you are allowed to drink and have open containers of alcohol on boats…
SB 1000 (Sen. Floyd) the only one we supported of those heard from our list, aims to address the backlog of rape kits and give OSBI custody. It passed unanimously.
Senate General Government
This committee heard two bills of interest. SB 842 (Sen. Paxton) which is all new law, would prohibit state and local entities from entering into contracts with large businesses that have firearm prohibitions or “discriminate against the firearm industry”.
There was no knowledge of the current fiscal impact and no idea of the future fiscal impact of this bill, but it advanced.
However, SB 193 (Sen. Garvin) also passed which would provide 12 weeks of paid leave for state employees for the birth or adoption of a child if voted into law.