Legislative Digest

27 April 2017
Raven Fawcett, Apprentice Editor

The Legislative Digest looks at the bills and resolutions passed by Oklahoma’s state legislators.

Things are heating up in Oklahoma Congress as many new and engrossed bills are stricken. “Stricken” is a term used to describe a piece of legislation where a chamber of Congress has effectively struck through a necessary part of the bill, like the title or enacting clause. Bills without these important parts are not permissible under the state’s Constitution, so they are passed back through that chamber for more changes to be made. Striking a bill isn’t an outright rejection, but a way to get more time to work with a bill.

HB1679: This measure would remove electrocution from the list of explicitly approved methods of execution in Oklahoma — a list that still includes lethal injection, nitrogen hypoxia (a gas that effectively suffocates people), firing squad and any other execution not prohibited by the US Constitution. Additionally, the Director of the Department of Corrections would be in charge of deciding the manner of death. House Bill 1679’s title was stricken and its fate remains undecided. A bill title is the statement at the top of a bill that tells the reader what the bill is about, usually short phrases or keywords that allow readers to understand the gist of a bill at a glance.

HB2177: If you’ve ever been in a public place, let’s say a courthouse, and suddenly realized you don’t know what the fifth of the Ten Commandments is (“Remember the Sabbath”), or to whom the Magna Carta was addressed (“JOHN, by the grace of God King of England”), this is the bill for you. Public areas could display historical documents such as the above texts as well as the Mayflower Compact, United States and Oklahoma Constitutions and other historically important documents should the measure pass.

HB1811: Passed and signed by Governor Mary Fallin, this law tightens the language and slightly adapts the procedures for dealing with child pornography or obscene material after a conviction. Convicted persons or their codefendants’ child pornography and other obscene materials can be destroyed, the bill mostly introducing the clause extending this practice to the codefendants. This can only be done after a final conviction when there are no reasonable steps to be taken after the conviction (further state or federal action, for example).

HB2181: Minutes of school board meetings and municipal bodies must be given to legitimate newspapers within range of the school if the newspapers asks for them. House Bill 2181 drops the number of days that the minutes must be provided from five to four business days. Business days do not include weekends or holidays. The bill helps newspapers to include a more timely examination of goings-on within their community.

SB88: Active, full-time peace officers have to undergo a minimum of 25 hours of continued law enforcement training certified by the Council on Law Enforcement and Education Training. Every year, as of 2017, active reserve officers must attend eight hours of continued law enforcement training. The bill, passed and approved by the governor, includes that inactive full-time and reserve officers must participate in the 25 hours of annual training, at least one hour of which has to deal with mental health, when transitioning from inactive to full-time active service. Additionally, when transitioning to active reserve status, officers will have to undergo the eight hours of training.

HB1825: An amendment to the Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act passed Congress and was approved by the governor. The bill expands the definition of deployment to include civilians and contractors deployed to combat zones, and defines civilians as people who were hired by the Department of Defense. This provides more rights for people who work for the Department of Defense without being a direct part of the armed forces, and provides more clarity to the law pertaining to the custody of children whose parent or parents work for the armed forces.