The Legislative Digest is your weekly look at the happenings of Oklahoma’s state legislature, upcoming bills and the terms to know.

Legislative Digest

HB 2546:
This bill concerns the rights of victims of sexual assault. It establishes a right to “consult… with a sexual assault victims’ advocate.” The bill also guarantees that forensic evidence taken from a sexual assault victim cannot be used to prosecute misdemeanor crimes or as evidence of misdemeanor crimes as a basis for a search.

Crucially, the bill also ensures sexual assault victims are informed of these rights throughout the legal process. Both cops and doctors must inform the victims of their rights in their respective processes. The rights also are guaranteed to apply “regardless of whether the victim agrees to participate in the criminal justice system.”

This bill establishes great protections for an incredibly vulnerable group of people. These are essential rights that ensure justice is achieved while preserving the autonomy of victims. Sexual assault is still an incredibly under-confronted issue in our society, and this bill is a good first step towards just treatment for victims.

In a rare glimmer of hope for the legislature, the bill passed through the House with a unanimous vote. I see no reason to believe it will encounter any real resistance in the Senate, and should hopefully be on the Governor’s desk by the end of the month.

Until March 31, this bill was an utterly benign proposal to reconsider Oklahoma’s border along the Red River. However, after a recent amendment, the bill’s text is completely eliminated and replaced by a ban on “gender or sexual diversity training” in public bodies. The swap occurred after the bill had already passed through the House, though it will have to be re-approved by the House if the Senate passes it.

If the language of the bill sounds familiar, it’s because the law was already shot down in the form of HB1888 earlier in the year. Thankfully, this new bill doesn’t include the stipulation forcing school counselors to inform parents of LBGTQ+ students of their children’s identities. Still, the bill is a disgusting display of hate and has no place.

When HB1888 was being proposed a few weeks ago, I wrote that the bill “seems to have been stalled.” This is still true, and the Republicans in the legislature know it. The bill was essentially dead, facing too much opposition in the House. Of course, failure in the democratic process isn’t enough to stop this kind of hate.

It’s yet another example of the shady practices of Republicans in the legislature, which is more closed to public input and oversight than most other state legislatures in the country. If bills being voted on and passed were truly the will of the people — i.e. democratic — these practices would be unnecessary.

Post Author: Justin Klopfer