Last week was the deadline for bills to be heard in the origin committee. Meaning, if they do not get heard in a committee, they will not proceed with this legislative session as a bill unless added on to another or made from a shell bill.
So, it was a very busy week. We cannot catch every bill we would like to track, but with the help of many hands, here is what we have for Week 4 at the Capitol.
House A&B Sub: Human Services
One bill by Rep. Hefner passed from committee (support). HB 2717 focused on modifications to eligibility requirements and payments of the Family Support Program.
House Banking, Financial Services & Pensions
A bill we do not support passed this committee. HB 2218 would prevent government entities from contracting with businesses that discriminate against firearm and firearm accessory manufacturers. There were concerns raised how this could open the way for more bills targeting groups and discriminating further.
House County & Municipal Government
This committee heard one bill of interest, HB 2165, which aims to add fines for minors in possession of tobacco, nicotine, or vapor products. The fine would apply if the child does not complete mandatory education program.
House Elections & Ethics
HB 1823 received a fair amount of discussion in this committee. One of several problematic bills regarding elections and voting, this bill would put school boards and city council elections in odd years and federal and state in even years. While voter apathy is a huge problem in this state, attempts to alter and put nonpartisan elections on partisan ballots is not the answer.
House Higher Education & Career Tech
HB 2160 passed, which adjusts membership and provisions of the Oklahoma State University Medical Authority.
House A&B Sub: Judiciary
HB 1777 (support) which also passed committee last year, passed again. It previously got hung up in a judicial review evaluation. It seeks to remove various fines and fees throughout the court system.
House A&B Sub: General Government
This committee saw two bills in question last week. Both passed from committee. HB 1829 would permit counties participating in multi-county library system’s from requesting budget information from other counties. The other, HB 1889 received more commentary. Authored by Rep. Waldron, it aims to create an Oklahoma Holocaust Commission to address problems of anti-Semitism and aid schools in programming. It is important to support endeavors that highlight education, especially in areas of diversity and history that are so crucial.
House A&B Sub: Finance
With no debate, HB 2163 passed. This bill would allow for psychology interns or post-doctoral students to bill for reimbursement from private insurance under their supervising practitioner.
House Common Education
This committee has been tasked with several grim bills this session. HB 1397 is definitely one of them. It seeks to “address treatment of MLK [Martin Luther King, Jr.] teaching in schools”. With questions from Rep. Rosecrants, Rep. Provenzano, and Rep. Sterling about the meaning of the bill. Concerns were raised on the scope, limiting the Civil Rights Era to beginning in 1954 instead of the countless anti-slavery, anti-segregation, and anti-racism movements throughout American history since the country’s inception. The NAACP is opposed to the bill, and the author was not sure if the Tulsa Race Massacre would be taught, having gone out of his way to avoid using the word “racism” in his defense of the bill. Unfortunately, the bill passed from committee, with 7 yes votes and 3 no votes.
HB 2078 passed unanimously, which would require all school materials purchased be made available for inspection on school property. HB 2513 and HB 2007 also passed unanimously. HB 2513 “Handle with Care Bill” would require schools to facilitate coordination with law enforcement when a child goes through a traumatic event.
HB 2007, a request bill from OKCPS, on items removed during a school search. Requires outerwear to be removed prior to searches by school officials for weapons, controlled substances, alcohol or stolen property. The superintendent may also designate school personnel to transport confiscated items off-site. This bill was amended in committee and stripped of language that potentially would have allowed school officials to remove “head coverings,” which may have included hijabs, in the course of a search. However, we remain concerned about infringements on students’ rights to privacy, as well as implications on the school-to-prison pipeline for students who are penalized under this law.
House Public Safety
A handful of firearm and criminal justice related bills were heard this past week. HB 1789, which is a “cleanup language bill” for firearms passed with no debate. HB 2041 by Rep. Nichols is a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill seeking to give officer discretion when stopping person with misdemeanor warrant. Passed.
HB 2157 encourages crisis intervention training from the State Department of Mental Health for law enforcement officers. It also requires officers to document why those choose not to involve mental health personnel in mental health/substance abuse crises. HB 2374 is a “small fix” to the CLEET Act, the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training certifications.
This committee heard a proposal for a joint resolution that aims to call a convention to propose an amendment to the Constitution regarding term limit of U.S. Congress and Senate. There was some inquiry from Rep. Fugate, but the resolution advanced.
HB 2373 advanced on increasing the limit for tort claims. Also HB 2724, focused on housing advanced. We support this bill which would help promote affordable housing. With title struck, the author Rep. Menz plans to link it to another bill, HB 2098.
Senate Business & Commerce
SB 465 passed unanimously. This looks at when rental payments can be terminated, especially in cases of sexual assault and domestic violence. Once notice is made and the thirty-day rental period is paid, no further payments are required. This bill has also passed the Senate floor vote. We support this bill and other measures that make it easier for survivors of domestic and sexual violence to find safe lodging away from their abusers.
By Sen. Hicks, SB 143 passed from committee. It would require high deductible insurance plans to offer the ability to set aside funds for out-of-pocket diabetes expenses (support).
SB 36 would add drones to the open records acts; the language also specifies any audio or video recordings (support). Any “ongoing investigations” are excluded, but the language was changed to encompass cameras and recordings that may not be taken via bodycam.
SB 426 (oppose) passed unanimously, which authorizes the secretary of County Election Board to use GPS to ensure a voter is assigned to a precinct.
SB 410 seeks to “finally define electioneering” as 300 feet from building, including loudspeakers and materials. It passed with Sen. Floyd as the only No vote.
With several clarifying questions from Sen. Floyd, SB 1056 passed, which aims to narrow the obscenity standards for minors, and “give best tools to our D.A.s” to prevent materials from being given to minors.
SB 714 takes a different turn and looks at new voting systems being required to incorporate technology to create serial numbers to check voting.
A busy committee last week heard several contentious bills. A key one, SB 129 prohibits public funds being used for gender transition treatment. We oppose this bill, as everyone should have the right to choose their medical care in private and have equal access to funding. Bills of such a discriminatory nature threaten the livelihood of all. There were also bills on maternity leave and feminine hygiene products taxes.
Additionally, two on criminal justice reform and creating sentencing requirements on the fourth instance of drug-related offenses. We oppose bills that seek to further incarcerate and punish addiction or mental health crises. All bills advanced.
Senate Energy & Telecommunications
Only one of note, SB 107: the “State Infrastructure Protection Act” prohibits state agencies from entering contracts with countries that are “sponsors of terrorism” and concerns were highlighted to “prevent Chinese hackers” from infiltrating the state. This list would be created by the Governor in cooperation with two positions appointed by him.
We strongly oppose bills of this nature. It continues to give more power to the Governor’s office, and it continues to play into fear and xenophobic intentions.