The Legislative Digest is your weekly look at the happenings of Oklahoma’s state legislature and upcoming bills and the terms to know.
Legislators have passed few bills thus far in the legislative session, but there are some interesting bills circulating the committees. Here’s this week’s look at what your legislators are looking at.
SB993: The Health and Human Services Committee recommended this bill be passed, and with good reason. It increases the scope of investigation for suspected abuse on vulnerable adults (those who are elderly, incapacitated and disabled) in thoughtful ways. The bill encourages law enforcement and the Department of Human Services to work together and outlines how interviews will be conducted in a manner that is better for the alleged victims.
HB2624: This bill would require health care facilities that require employees be vaccinated to allow employees to skip vaccinations based on religious beliefs. I’ll add that very few religions actually ban vaccinations as part of their theology. Let me restate: the person checking you into a clinic, the nurse at the hospital, the cashier at the pharmacy who had previously been required to be vaccinated, would no longer have to be. These are people who deal with sick people, with people with compromised immune systems! This is a bad idea! And let’s face it, religious exemptions are already easy to get for kids; they wouldn’t be any harder for adults. (You fill out a form and send it to the school. I found the form in less than two minutes with Google, and it’s easier to fill out than it is to get my transcripts.) Religious objections are valid and important, but in a healthcare setting, you have to understand that many people have complex problems, and your lack of vaccination shouldn’t feed into those problems. It received five yes votes and two no votes in committee.
SB1185: The Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Pilot Program Act would allow people to apply to grow hemp. Hemp was long been outlawed in Oklahoma and the U.S. in general, which is ridiculous considering the benefits of industrial hemp, which include everything from paper to clothing. It’s a good bill that takes advantage of a resource that we’ve discouraged because legislators thought that hemp and cannabis were the same thing (spoiler, they’re not). And even if they were, hemp is still an excellent way to increase productivity and decrease deforestation. It was referred to the Appropriations Committee from the Agriculture and Wildlife Committee, who gave it a “Do Pass.”
SB1135: When the state appoints children to live with a guardian, this amendment to the law would require the guardian, along with all adult members of the household, to undergo a background check. The background check would also include looking into any sex offenders that might live in the house. The law doesn’t state how much extra money would be spent on these checks, but surely any amount is worth it. My only question about this bill is whether this wasn’t already done before, and if not, why? It seems like the kind of thing that should really, really be mandatory.