Ramadan Mubarak and happy deadline week! Last week was the final chance for bills to get voted on and pass out of their chamber of origin. Which means we now have under 200 bills left in our tracker that are of interest to our community’s well-being.
This week was filled with frantic debate, and some extremely long days for our legislators. Here’s our recap of some of those discussions.
On the House Floor:
To start with the good news first, House Bill (HB) 2109 by Rep. Pae passed the House with little debate. This bill would provide tenants with protection from retaliation by a landlord in cases of good faith complaints on housing conditions. While some amendments were made, this is a big win for many allies, and we hope to see the Senate seal the deal.
HB 1028, by Rep. Talley of Stillwater banning corporal punishment for disabled students in schools was reconsidered, having not received enough votes last week. In a happily dramatic turn, the measure passed 84 to 8, compared to last week’s 45 to 43.
A new member passed a bill unanimously, which would help with emergency medical services across the state. Rep. Alonso-Sandoval authored HB 2422, which would recognize interstate EMS (Emergency Medical Services) personnel through a compact creating license reciprocity.
It takes a lot for a bill to get heard in committee first, and even more for it to make it to a House or Senate hearing. Much of this is based off political agendas, and the work of lobbyists. In Oklahoma, many bills that survived this process looked at firearms, or the increase of use of firearms.
HB 1144, a troubling bill, would authorize an individual from both the House and Senate side to be CLEET certified, carry a gun, and report to the Speaker of the House. They would be selected from the current Sergeant-at-Arms, individuals charged with maintaining decorum in either chamber. As argued by opponents of the bill, these individuals are already trained in de-escalation and as officers of peace.
Rep. Goodwin and Rep. Fugate highlighted that there are already many State Troopers who patrol and carry, and many times there is more law enforcement than visitors present. Rep. Fugate inquired why in the people’s house we are afraid of the people?
We oppose measures to further militarize and limit people’s access to government. Another bill in a similar vein that passed is HB 2136 that would allow city councils to vote and allow employees to carry firearms.
HB 2139 also passed, which would permit licensed school personnel to carry guns if voted on in the Senate.
This session has seen a myriad of bills and conversations focused on schools. Whether limiting access, expanding gun rights, or free meals for certain students (HB 1376) schools and education are a central focus these next few weeks.
Last week, HB 2546 received a hefty amount of discussion time. It seeks to prohibit classroom instruction regarding sexual orientation and gender identity for Pre-K through Grade 5. With serious concerns about violations to our First Amendment rights, several legislators who are retired educators fought against this bill. It would also prohibit conversations of the human body as it pertains to gender.
The bill still succeeded, with 79 Ayes.
Another classroom focused bill, HB 1397 passed which would create a limited and inequitable teaching on Civil Rights in the United States. We heavily oppose this bill which would continue to support a targeted and false narrative of history in our country.
Sometimes bills sneak in as shell bills (lacking language) and then end up being extremely heinous with less time to advocate against. HB 1976 is just that. A bill seeking to create an intelligence gathering organization across local, state, and federal levels to investigate people for “suspected terrorism.” It would be headed by the Commissioner of Public Safety and people would be prohibited from applying for information on records.
On the Senate side:
With less people involved overall, the Senate can either seem very amicable or like a family caught in a feud. One bill that exposed some of these stark differences was Senate Bill (SB) 669, detailed more here. It would have allowed people with Individual Tax ID Numbers to apply for a driver’s license but failed to get to the voting stage.
To contrast, the Senate did unanimously pass SB 429 which would allow tribal regalia to be worn at graduation ceremonies. A solid step towards hopeful future progress acknowledging and celebrating the dozens of Native American tribes represented in Oklahoma, and honoring the land we live on.
SB 978 continues the firearm trend seen in the House. With a mostly partisan vote, it passed. It aims to remove limits on transporting firearms on maritime vessels and broaden the legal reasons for discharging a firearm from a vessel.
Looking at healthcare, SB 147 was successful by Sen. Hicks which looks to allow schools to stock glucagon, a life-saving insulin product. SB 368 by Rep. Garvin also passed which clarifies that laws pertaining to abortion will not impede contraceptive care.
Some bills fall into a category all on their own. SB 111 is one of those choice pieces of proposed legislation. By Sen. Dahm, it would prohibit any institution in the State System of Higher Education from accepting funds from anyone or any entity associated with the Chinese Government.
Oklahomans need less regulation on their bodies, religion, and expression and more access to healthcare, employment, and stability. Bills like this demonize communities and distract from the day-to-day issues that affect our lives.
Next week, bills go back to committees in the opposite chamber! Many efforts will be made by advocates and lobbyists to get bills heard so they can keep moving. Let us know what concerns you, and we can help you advocate.