This week’s look at the latest and sometimes greatest bills passing through our local legislature.
SB1430: The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2018 would prohibit all parents from aborting children with Down Syndrome or other genetic anomalies. While I appreciate the sentiment, the government should still not be allowed to meddle in a person’s right to choose whether they carry a child to term. Abortion is about bodily autonomy, and as such, the government should not step in to regulate those decisions unless it has to do with making those decisions safer.
SB1158: This bill would remove a clause from a firearms law that regulates the possession of firearms in cars, among other things. It would remove the rule that people cannot have firearms in cars in which a passenger has been convicted of a felony. Persons with felonies cannot always control what the driver of the car has in their car, and the bill acknowledges that life has a funny way of making the worst possible thing happen at the worst time. The bill is a fair concession to coincidence and a felon’s lack of control over their surroundings.
SCR16: Concurrent resolutions are put forth by both chambers and don’t have the force of law in the way that bills do, but they do express the will and interest of the legislature. This concurrent resolution requires the State Regents for Higher Education to submit a report in December of 2018 detailing the salaries of all professors and related staff members, their courses and the hours of those courses, tenure policies and the number of faculty who had tenure in the 25 public colleges and universities in Oklahoma. Accountability for schools is always a good plan, and the state legislature is right to formally require that information.
SB957: Currently, deadly force against an assailant is explicitly legal in a person’s home or place of business. This bill would extend that protection to places of worship. While we all should expect to be safe from gun violence, this bill misses the point. Instead of worrying about whether we can kill intruders at our local church or mosque, we should be looking at why we feel so unsafe in public. The effort to amend this bill would be better spend looking into how to enforce existing gun laws in Oklahoma or scrutinizing ways to improve gun ownership laws.
SB921: This bill would amend current law to expand the list of people who are not able to serve on a jury to include all law enforcement. Which is rather intuitive, up to a point. People who are integrated in the justice system will have long-set views and are likely to have preconceived notions about cases because they know the people that are on the case or other conflicts of interest. People deserve an unbiased appraisal of their case, and while I’m sure that law enforcement officials do their best to avoid such bias, it cannot be completely avoided.