The Legislative Digest is your weekly look at the happenings of Oklahoma’s state legislature and the bills and politics you need to know.
State Congress reflects Oklahoma constituents for better or worse. This week we’re looking at a few good and a few terrible bills moving through the legislature just ahead of Spring Break, where we can forget for a short week about politics and the way a few people make vital decisions that will affect our daily lives.
SB870: County officers and sundry might, “[u]nder the direction of forest rangers and upon receipt of the landowner,” help prevent forest fires. Smokey Bear would be proud. SB 870 would allow them to do prevention work (like setting backfires or digging trenches, according to the bill) on “private lands without incurring liability to any person.” Sure, giving them the leeway to do this on private lands might raise some red flags, but if the land were already being taken care of, it wouldn’t need their prevention efforts. It’s already been passed by the Senate with 43 votes for and zero against and has moved on to the House.
HB622: I know we jest and we joke about how useless government can be, but this? This is laughable. It would make it legal for “[c]ities and towns … to adopt ordinances enabling the painting of blue lines on city streets and the posting of signage” to show their support of law enforcement. They pay the police for their work, what more do you want? No citizen is required to fawn over any institution. Cops don’t need this either. They clock in and out of their jobs just like the rest of us do. The police force is still less dangerous than many professions common in America, but I don’t see us painting green stripes on buildings to let loggers know that we support them. The bill wouldn’t bring joy to most people, it takes up legislators’ time and would take up cities’ and towns’ time as well.
SB446: Oklahoma teachers may soon have the resources to better help students under Senate Bill 446, which awaits approval or rejection in the House. It would include “information, training and resources to help school employees recognize and address the mental health needs of students.” It will further a holistic approach in ensuring that students achieve their full potential in school, even (or especially) when non-school problems arise. Plus, don’t our teachers deserve as many tools to succeed and help their students as they can get as well?