The Legislative Digest is your weekly look at the happenings of Oklahoma’sstate legislature, upcoming bills and the terms to know.
Oklahoma’s legislative session starts this week, on February 5. They will start to read over bills, moving them to appropriate committees to be heard, and eventually they’ll vote on bills. Here’s a look at some of the bills to keep an eye on as we go forward:
SB1457: Please imagine the most disappointed face possible. Now imagine that I am making that face. It’s okay if you don’t know what I look like, any kind of disappointed face will do, as long as you understand that it is me in some sense. That is my face on reading this proposed update on a bill, which says that “all wildlife found in this state is property of Almighty God,” wherein “Almighty God” replaces “the state.” There is no reason to say that everything is property of God in legislation except to move us closer to a theocracy where I can be stoned because I cut my hair short and wear mixed fabrics. This world is scary enough without government holding me accountable to the laws of a singular religion that isn’t practiced by everyone. Hard pass.
SB950: This bill would update the regulations for schools’ ability to give out non-prescription medication. Specifically, it allows students to apply sunscreen without parental consent, and for public school officials to apply sunscreen for children who can’t do it themselves with parental consent. I’m amazed that this wasn’t allowed before or perhaps just not formally written down. The addition of a clause allowing school officials to help when necessary with parental consent is a thoughtful addition that I’m impressed by. It’s a strange update to the law, but an enormously useful one in terms of efficiency.
HB2895: I’m a big fan of legislators who the attorney general deems guilty of dishonorable conduct having genuine repercussions. This bill would help. It would use funds from the campaign account to help offset the cost of the ensuing special election to fill their seat. Their retirement plan may be dumped into the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System to help with associated costs. The chamber (House or Senate) that the legislator belonged to could reverse the attorney general’s decision if they have a simple majority (66 percent agreement), which does seem counterproductive. What if the legislator in question was popular and corrupt or otherwise behaved unethically? Generally, though, the bill would help to fund costly elections and put money to better use than propping up disgraced legislators.
HB3114: Short, concise and wholly necessary, this proposed bill would prohibit anyone and anything that contracts with the state of Oklahoma and receives tax credits or tax incentives from firing employees based on sexual orientation. If you support anything this session, and if you contact your local legislator for anything this session, consider throwing your voice behind this bill. People deserve full protection against discrimination. No one should have to compartmentalize their lives and systematically hide who they are for fear of losing their livelihood.